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Campus weather station shows how forecasts help African farmers

A new weather station on campus at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) that live-feeds to a website is more than just a handy way to find out if you need a coat, or if taking the morning tram to classes is the driest option. It’s part of a wider project in which Kukua, an organisation founded by an RSM alumnus, has developed communications technology to help alleviate poverty among farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa.



Tanzania-based Kukua was co-founded by RSM BSc International Business Administration graduate Ollie Smeenk, and has established a successful network of specialised teams.

Entrepreneurship award

Kukua’s work has already won RSM’s prestigious I WILL award for entrepreneurial activities in March 2016 when the team were given €15,000 when they demonstrated how their big plan related to willpower and RSM’s I WILL initiative, and how it could change society and inspire others.

Over 500 million farmers face the devastating effects of climate change. The use of mobile phones is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, and Kukua uses SMS text messages to provide real-time, high-quality weather data and forecasts to smallholders in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Scaling up business models

With accurate weather data and forecasts sent via SMS to mobile phones, farmers can increase their yields by up to 80 per cent. It’s exactly the same kind of weather data that Kukua provides from RSM’s Woudestein campus weather station in Tinbergen Plaza, opposite Mandeville (T) building.

The next step is to identify business models they can use to scale up their business model – and help more people.

Selling weather data

Kukua seeks models that can be tailored for selling weather data in the African market. “Kukua operates mainly in north-east Tanzania and south-west Nigeria and we’re looking for partners in other areas. We also want to strengthen our management team by adding seniority, either as experienced board members or a head of strategy, fundraising and partnerships,” said Ollie. The current model requires public funding in its initial stage to cover the cost of installing weather stations before it creates revenue when data is sold.

To receive real-time weather updates from RSM’s campus – and to find out more about Kukua’s activities, see www.kukua.cc.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top 10 research-based business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who carry their innovative mindset into a sustainable future thanks to a first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China. www.rsm.nl

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, Media & Public Relations Manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at mschouten@rsm.nl.

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