In recent years, technological advancements have emerged as critical tools for addressing global challenges such as poverty and climate change. Digital tools are ubiquitous today. When deployed correctly, they can have a number of benefits, including job creation, improved access to finance and markets, and increased efficiency and productivity across sectors.
TechnoServe uses digital technologies across its programs to reach more people and improve their skills, knowledge, connections, and confidence. Our work is grounded in local expertise and understanding of the needs of people in developing countries.
Technological Advancements for Development
Earlier this month, TechnoServe organized Benin’s first Tech4Dev event in Cotonou. The event highlighted the organization’s recent technological innovations related to entrepreneurship and cashew production. Tech4Dev brought together stakeholders from the public and private sectors to discuss the role of technology as an effective tool for creating a more inclusive and sustainable development. The event highlighted four main technological innovations TechnoServe has been developing.
I’m convinced that technology is an essential lever for sustainable development. It must be inclusive, accessible, and adapted to the realities of each country. The Ministry of Development congratulates and supports TechnoServe’s Tech4Dev initiative, which confirms the Government’s commitment to making Benin a technology hub for Africa.”
– Cyriaque Edon, Director General of Development Programming, Ministry of Development and Coordination of Government Action
4 Technological Advancements Fighting Poverty in Benin
- Cajù Dashboard The Cajù Dashboard is a digital dashboard that provides a comprehensive, interactive, geospatial view of the cashew sector in Benin. It includes information about cashew plantations and nurseries, training data, and yield survey data. The satellite map of the cashew sector was developed by researchers at the University of Minnesota, working in collaboration with TechnoServe field teams and TechnoServe Labs.
The dashboard was built by software engineers from Carnegie Mellon University Africa in Rwanda and EpiTech and CERCO in Benin. It enables stakeholders to make smart decisions about targeting training efforts that will improve farm productivity and support sustainable cashew growth in Benin. TechnoServe is now expanding the dashboard to all of West Africa.
- Cajù App The Cajù App is an Android application that allows users to assess cashew nut quality. The app guides the user through a standardized 10-step process that ensures all relevant cashew measurements are taken. The calculations are made automatically to facilitate and accelerate the user’s work and avoid errors. On completion of a quality test, the user receives a concise, clear summary report, including the key quality measurements. The user can efficiently distribute the summary report via WhatsApp, SMS, or email.
- MOOC Massive Open Online Courses
MOOCs are courses delivered online and accessible to all for free. TechnoServe developed online training modules that have been transferred to the University of Parakou for training agricultural extension agents in Benin. These courses are based on good agricultural practices approved by the Benin Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries.
- MonCoach App MonCoach is a mobile application designed to help micro-entrepreneurs with simplified accounting and financial management, allowing them to analyze their stock, sales, and general profitability. The app automatically tracks statistics linked to the quantities sold and sales achieved over a period to help entrepreneurs make effective business decisions. In its planned update, beyond these functionalities, the application will enable any entrepreneur based in Benin or elsewhere to keep the business accounts and to edit standard financial statements such as the simplified balance sheet, the income statement, and the depreciation table.
Who Attended Tech4Dev?
The Tech4Dev workshop featured two panel discussions on how technological innovation can contribute to development. Representatives from the Beninese government also participated, including the Ministry of Numerics and Digitization; the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries; the Ministry of Development and Coordination of Government Action; and the Directorate for the Promotion of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. Other participants included representatives from the Embassy of the Netherlands, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the European Union, Epitech, and OPENSI.
The Role of Technology in Benin
The general objective of this meeting was to underscore the importance of technological innovation in the development sector. Benin has been a leader in multiple areas, including geospatial technologies to efficiently target training efforts, online training platforms for extension workers, and several entrepreneurship solutions. Our aim at the Tech4Dev meeting was to recognize Benin for their leadership in developing these technologies, to emphasize the clear benefits in Benin, and to promote them more broadly in West Africa.”
– Dave Hale, Director, TechnoServe Labs
Today, we have a precise geospatial map of cashew plantations and nurseries, enabling us to determine these players’ exact support needs and the sector’s training requirements. This information belongs to the Government of Benin and is available to the Ministry of Agriculture to serve as a catalyst for the sector. TechnoServe has also innovated with a cashew nut quality measurement application and a financial management application for entrepreneurs. TechnoServe is fighting poverty, and I’m optimistic that technology will change the world in collaboration with the private sector.”
– Will Warshauer, President and CEO, TechnoServe