Melesse Temescan is one example of the new breed of entrepreneurs emerging with promising water technologies out of the places that have been contending with water scarcity for decades. Temescan’s company, Aybar LLC was among the first awarded the US/Swedish/Dutch Securing Water for Food (SWFF) grant to rapidly build his business for wide scale impact.
Aybar has designed a innovative plow to help Ethiopian farmers reduce water logging during the rainy seasons and conserve water in the dry season. In Ethiopia, water logging, or flooding, prevents cultivation of over 5 million hectares of land during the rainy season. The Aybar BBM allows the livestock used for farming to build deeper, more effective ridges to drain excess water. This plow costs $16.48 as compared with $2000 for Chinese manufactured tractors.
A career researcher for the Government of Ethiopia, Temescan was frustrated to see that his innovation was not getting onto the farms to that needed it. The story of Aybar is a story of entrepreneurship as much as it is a story of innovation. In three years, Temescan has sold 45,000, and has been struggling to manufacture units to keep up with demand. Only an entrepreneur from Ethiopia like Temescan could produce this kind of innovation based on existing practices and build a distribution channel so quickly. With SWFF funding, Temescan expects to sell 60,000 in the next year.
The SWFF program is a pioneering effort focusing upon individual businesses and technologies, rather than large-scale programs. Temescan, and the other 16 SWFF awardees provide a glimpse of how entrepreneurs might drive the velocity of change in the face of water scarcity.