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ICT competition success for Solomon Islands start-up

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The Malaita Youth in Business Association (MYIBA), was one of the recipients of three awards during the Pacific Agrihack Lab competition in Tonga last year December 2018. The event sought to scale-up novel and existing ICT innovations to improve economic activities within agricultural value chains.

MYIBA is made up of rural, business-minded youths from Malaita in the Solomon Islands, and has a vision to bring together young entrepreneurs to work around livestock. More specifically, the initiative aims to provide a networking platform for young people to share information and entrepreneurship experiences, and attract more youths into farming through the innovative use of ICTs by utilising the MalAgri app. The app is a collaborative effort among several stakeholders including MYIBA and Youth@Work programme.

MYIBA was represented by Watson Cyrus Anikwai (MYIBA member) and Hika Joseph (MYIBA Member & Advisor), who competed against 15 other finalists across the Pacific. The competition was part of the project, Promoting Nutritious Food Systems in the Pacific Islands, which is coordinated by CTA, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organization. The aim of the project is to “strengthen the capacity of the Pacific Island governments, farmers, private sector organisations, and sub-regional institutions to develop strategies and programmes to have better access to healthy food.”

“The app is at its initial stage and soon to be created, which also be the first. It is aimed to be piloted by MYIBA. With the increase in technology and the anticipated undersea cable on the way, for faster internet access in the Solomon Islands through the government, it will ease for a reliable service and it is good to promptly prepare and take advantage of such,” says Joseph.

“Our members are dispersed, covering an area of 4,225 km2 across Malaita Islands Province and they have limited access to vital information such as markets, farming practices and other opportunities. Having this app will allow them to access those data which are essential.

“Since 2016, we have been assisting young farmers with small scale livestock production by giving them materials needed for start-up. This includes piglets, fences, anything that the young people need in livestock. Currently we have 150 young pig farmer members,” says Anikwai.

As part of its strategic plan, MYIBA aims to develop both an on- and off-line mobile app so members that are not connected can still access the Association’s services and information.

“At the moment we are currently working on our marketing strategies and having the on and off-line app will facilitate the smooth running of activities and programmess. The app will help stakeholders or people along the value chain to improve their sales (forecast and planning),” says Joseph Hika.

For this innovation, MYIBA was rewarded €5,000, which will be used to further develop the app for effective use among its members.

Software development in Solomon Islands has certainly made a positive impression on the regional front and will inspire other young people interested in software development to test out their ideas against peers in the region and internationally.

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