SkyFox Ltd., a small capital markets initiative, sells Ghanaian farmers shares in fish production cooperatives to aid in increasing farm yields through nutrient irrigation and in feeding the population.
Now the company is stepping up its game with plans in the next few months to hold an initial public offering on the Ghana stock exchange in hopes of raising $25 million.
Oliver Ujah, deputy CEO of the West African company, discussed SkyFox’s ambition plans recently at a Global Entrepreneurship Summit in The Hague. He was confident of its success.
“The Ghana alternative exchange is for small- to medium-scale companies,” said Ujah, who has a doctorate in agriculture. “The requirements are not as strict, and it gives us time and knowledge to move forward.”
SkyFox has come a long way in a relatively short time of two-plus years of implementing its integrated aquaculture and crop production project. In Ghana alone, nearly 70,000 people are benefitting directly and indirectly from this project.
Specifically, the SkyFox method focuses on the efficient utilization and reuse of water with the holding tanks being used for aquaculture production. The water is then bio-filtered and reused before being channeled through an irrigation system for crop production.
Between the program’s launch in 2017 and fall 2020, SkyFox estimates 3,400 fish ponds will be constructed and more than 2,000 hectares of land under irrigation for leasing to farmer groups in West Africa.
SkyFox was one of 22 worldwide innovators at the GES conference sponsored in part by the Securing Water for Food (SWFF) project, which is funded by USAID and the governments of Sweden, South Africa, and the Netherlands.
“The conference gave us an opportunity to speak directly to investors who might have an interest in supporting us in our public offering,” said Ujah. “We’re looking for international money.”
Ujah said the aqua pond project would, directly and indirectly, benefit more than a half-million people through leasing, trading or direct employment.
The program is virtually turnkey and any portion financed is done at a low-interest rate of two percent. It also serves Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Burkina Faso with eyes even on Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire.
“We take the burden off communities for people who want to be involved in agriculture production,” said Ujah. “If communities were attempting this on their own, it would be a huge task.”
“Individual farmers don’t have to worry about the upfront cost, and we work closely with financial institutions to support our beneficiaries. That’s why the interest rates are so low,” he added.
As a final incentive, SkyFox handles the marketing and selling of the fish after providing a base market price to farmers. However, the company also encourages beneficiaries in the program to market fish themselves in an effort to get a better price.
Ujah, who originally is from Nigeria, believes SkyFox is a good bet for investment in larger markets because it has already achieved scale.
“It’s a profitable enterprise for the beneficiaries—and their numbers are growing each day—and for the business itself,” he said.
“It also provides opportunities for income, food, and nutrition as well as employment for women, youth and vulnerable members of the community,” he added.
USAID, Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and the Governments of The Netherlands and South Africa invested $34 million in Securing Water for Food (SWFF) to promote science and technology solutions that enable the production of more food with less water and/or make more water available for food production, processing, and distribution.