A little over a month ago, we opened applications for our first +Acumen Corps cohort. We were blown away by your interest and unfortunately, we had to cap acceptances for our very first challenge. Two weeks ago, 350 people representing 35 different countries from across the +Acumen community met on Slack for the very first +Acumen Corps live action challenge.
Some stayed up late, while others woke up extra early to help SiembraViva, a Colombia-based Acumen investee, figure out how to incentivize smallholder farmers to give them real-time data about their crop inventory. It was fast paced and dynamic. Everyone was divided into teams of five. And after a 20-minute Q&A with Mina Shahid, Acumen Global Fellow and representative from the company, they worked between Slack and an online white-boarding tool to brainstorm possible solutions.
In less than two hours, the teams generated 200 new ideas!
"We, at SiembraViva, are grateful that we had the opportunity to work with the +Acumen Corps on a very real business challenge we're facing. The participants drafted up some very interesting prospective solutions that we're looking forward to diving into further.” – Mina Shahid, Acumen Global Fellow and COO of SiembraViva
“Blown away! What a great idea, and great use of technology to facilitate the session and to crowdsource ideas. I think you're on to something big. I would absolutely participate in this type of challenge session every week. – Erik, Indiana, Participant from U.S.
“I loved how in just 2 hours we teamed up and created something, even if we hadn't ever met before. I had already attended +Acumen courses, so I know this is the "normal" magic that occurs, but it still makes me so happy every time. I wish I can create this type of projects in real life again.” – Alessandra, Vigonovo, Participant from Italy
You can see all their work here
Then, it was up to Mina and the SiembraViva team to take the ideas and turn them into action. Here's what Mina reported back:
We compiled the ideas here that we thought were super interesting, and that inspired some ideas that we could apply in reality.
We really liked team 20's idea of using exchangeable SD cards to take photos of crops each week...this is super easy and the barrier to adoption should be quite low for farmers. Working with offline tools like physical cameras and SD cards makes sense for farmers in rural Colombia where phone networks are weak. Diego plans on testing this idea soon.
The other thing we are actively testing and was alluded to in the ideas from these teams is sensor technology for precision agriculture. In particular we are testing the technology from these guys at Edyn. This sensor monitors things like soil quality, sun, moisture, humidity etc, and connects to a mobile app to advise on how to treat the agriculture next.
In all cases we are trying to reduce the work of the farmer in capturing production data AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. And less human involvement reduces the potential for misreporting so we're really moving toward technology that captures data in real-time without the farmer having to do anything, like the Edyn sensors. The dream is that one day we can control everything remotely.
The last thing we may try to test (if we can find an affordable solution) is drone sensors. The big challenge here is that most agricultural drone technology is built for 10,000 acre commercial farms so there isn't a specific small-scale farm solution yet. But this is the future...and many of the teams in that list saw this potential - so super relevant!
Everyone who completed the challenge was invited to an exclusive +Acumen Corps community where they will are given automatic access to future live challenges and further opportunities to work out their social change “muscles”.
You won’t want to miss our next live action challenge, they happen 4 times per year. Given the level of interest in our first challenge, you can increase your chances of getting selected for the second challenge by completing two free +Acumen courses or one Master Class.