Categories: Articles, Resource managementPublished On: 12th August 2022

The Awareness Company: Innovation in agriculture and the tech industry

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The team at The Awareness Company teaching smallholders how to use sensors. The team believes that the real solutions to the world’s problems happen in field, not in the office.

Technology has continuously proved to be an asset that a farmer cannot go without. It helps solve real-world problems in innovative ways. The founders of The Awareness Company witnessed this and created a business that offers flexible, agile data solutions for any industry and situation, but es­pecially for farmers.

The Awareness Company is a tech company that uses data to tell stories that are useful to people. “We help farmers and agri businesses navigate the risks within the agriculture value chain and access real-time agricultural data,” says Estelle Lubbe, Co-founder and Chief Experience Officer. “Our HYDRA software collects data from equipment, tools, and people, and transforms it into intelligence that enables farmers to make informed decisions, predict outcomes based on patterns, operate more efficiently, and increase sustainability.

“The HYDRA brain is a complex structure of ontologies, stories, context and awareness that will allow us to one day reach our ultimate goal of Auto­mated Insights and AI-storytelling.”

Over the past four years, The Awareness Company has delivered data and insights to farmers, agri busi­nesses, security companies, hospitals and game reserves. Before founding the company, the founders worked together for over ten years in research, development, and innovation, includ­ing projects ranging from military and defence to security in the fight against rhino poaching.

“We want to make data affordable, accessible, and usable for everyone, not only data analysts. We focus on serving the agricultural sector because it is historically underserved,” explains Shazia Vawda, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer.

Ladies that conquer male dominated tech and agri industries

Estelle Lubbe, Co-founder and Chief Experience Officer.

“As female founders and entrepreneurs in a traditionally male dominated tech space, it is also important for us to take the time to pause and reflect on how we can do our part to become inspiring women-in-tech leaders that young girls can look up to,” says Shazia.

“We honestly believe that to really solve customer problems you need to get your hands dirty. We walk in the dirt of game parks and farms, or hospitals and businesses where we are needed. We believe that solutions to the world’s problems are created in the field, not in an office.”

“We have been fortunate to have always been surrounded with inspiring women who have never been afraid to lead or sit at the table with men,” Estelle adds. “The technology space is known for being primarily male domi­nated, so we celebrate that we are now seeing a huge shift across the globe. There is still a long way to go, but that diversity is so important.”

As a leader in their industry, their company is being invited more and more to events like NAMPO to share their thoughts.

Shazia Vawda, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer.

The road ahead

“In 2021 we partnered with Micro­soft to bring our AgriTech solutions to smallholder farmers. This project al­lowed us to expand the team, currently consisting of thirteen employees. It is heartening for us to see so many up-and-coming young female farmers in the programme. We also work with many established female leaders who are doing inspiring work in the agricul­ture space,” says Shazia.

“In the next few months, we shall focus on expanding globally while fine-tuning our software-as-a-service operations. We aim to place HYDRA into the hands of more customers and accelerate the product innovation.

“But with this comes a big respon­sibility on our side to drive the educa­tional aspects that are needed when you introduce new technology within a market. The burden is on us to be the drivers of that technology adoption so that we can start seeing institutional changes and success.”

Helping women in agriculture through technology

According to the team at The Awareness Company, technologies such as AI, IoT and data analytics allow women in agriculture to digitise their farming operations and use precision farming to grow their operations. It helps them be more efficient, increase their com­mercialisation operations and improves access to markets.

“Particularly in South Africa, where we have such a huge divide in socio-economic inequality, agriculture is one of the most critical and cornerstone industries. We hear so many stories of farmers who started off with just subsistence farming before growing to commercial operations,” Estelle elabo­rates. “These lower barriers to entry mean that it is imperative that we start getting more and more women into farming and agriculture, even at differ­ent levels in the value chain — this is one part of the multi-pronged approach to address these issues.”

Food security and agricultural sus­tainability in South Africa, as well as globally, is an issue of real concern. “By leveraging technology, we are try­ing to level the playing field and paving the way for farmers to contribute to results that can have a real impact,” Shazia believes.

“Our message to women in agri­culture and technology is simple: Be brave, lean into your full potential and don’t be afraid to be the leaders that the world needs,” the ladies conclude.

For more information, visit their website at www.awarenesscompany.co.za or contact (+27) 82-343-0292.

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