By: Bruno Bustos Alegria

Estimated reading time: 1:38 minutes

Kwaku Owusu Twum Headshot

Raised humbly with the idea of giving back, Kwaku Owusu Twum grew passionate about creating a sustainable future for small-scale farmers thanks to his background in rural development, food manufacturing and consulting.  

Twum started with a bachelor’s degree in spatial planning and a master's degree in geographic information systems. From there he worked in food manufacturing companies at a consulting firm before he joined the Faculty of Environment this year to pursue a PhD in sustainability management to deepen his understanding of the connection between the food industry and the environment.  

Thanks to a conversation with Professor Brock Dickinson, Environment’s entrepreneur-in-residence, Twum was encouraged to participate in the Velocity Pitch Competition to showcase a solution to help underprivileged farmers connect with technology to improve sustainability practices. 

With business co-founder, Daniel Buston Yankey, they came up with Mapmate; a software that provides information for food manufacturers and resources for farmers to meet international compliance and monitor yield and supply effectively. 

By bridging the gap, food manufacturers can better source directly from reliable small-scale farmers because of the prevalence of managing costs and climate instability with unsustainable farming practices. Twum receives great satisfaction in positive feedback from farmers who continue to push his passion and drive to tackle the challenge of creating equitable access to information.  

“Imagine the youth in these rural areas. They’re getting access to this information and learning and improving their lives.”  

Together Twum and Yankey successfully pitched their business idea and won $5,000 in funding. With a strengthened vigor thanks to Velocity’s skill-building programming, Twum now believes that our opportunities are limitless and we should extend ourselves beyond the Environment community.  

“I believe that in Environment, it is time for us to leverage what we have to make the world a better place,” says Twum. “We have to take things into our own hands and try to set the pace for others to follow.”   

Want to transform your work into a real-world commercial venture? Whether you are working on a graduate degree or capstone project, Velocity’s and Waterloo Commercialization Office’s Up Start program guides innovators through the process of commercializing ideas into a venture that will disrupt the marketplace and create a positive impact on society.  

Apply for Up Start and get up to $15,000 in funding to help you commercialize your research or project. Deadline to apply is January 12, 2024. 

As 2023 winds down, I would like to take a moment to wish you all a wonderful December break. Sharing food is one of the cornerstones of this time of year, so this season I’d like to share with you one of my own recipes with the hope that it nourishes and brings a little happiness.

We are very excited to announce that applications are open for the new South Africa Field Course: Biodiversity, Climate Change and Social Justice (ENV 474)! This interdisciplinary field course integrates a range of science and policy perspectives and field-based interactions to understand South Africa’s Cape region as a dynamic and linked system of people and nature. Interested Faculty of Environment undergraduate students must apply by January 19, 2024 to be considered for the course.