Young, Gifted and Green: Meet Mathias Yabe

Global food waste poses a significant challenge for farming communities across the world, especially in regions like Africa and the global south. This issue is at the forefront of Mathias Yabe’s efforts to enact positive change in his community and beyond. Mathias’s journey as a Ghanaian entrepreneur began with his deep-rooted passion for farming, cultivated during his childhood in a farming community. Seeing firsthand the difficulties faced by small farmers during pre- and post-harvest stages, Mathias was motivated to create AkoFresh, aiming to address these challenges head-on. 

The importance of young people being in the green space  

Starting a business as a young entrepreneur presents quite a few challenges, and Mathias’s experience navigating the green space exemplifies this reality. At just 18 years old, he encountered scepticism and biases from potential clients and mentors alike. Many doubted his confidence and expertise, believing he lacked the necessary experience to execute a successful venture. When seeking assistance or guidance, Mathias often faced discouragement, with some advising him to wait until he completed university or gained more exposure. 

Despite the initial lack of faith in his abilities, Mathias persevered with resilience. His determination to prove himself and pursue his entrepreneurial dreams remained steadfast, propelling him forward in his business, in the face of scepticism. Mathias continued to work towards decreasing post-harvest food waste for small farmers in his community – and he succeeded.  

Starting in the green space at a young age allowed Mathias to gain unique insights and experiences that he carried forward in his business. One valuable insight that he quickly gained was the importance of having a team to work with. As Mathias puts it, with help and a willingness to learn, along with passion for your goals, success should be possible. This is one of the key advantages of being a young entrepreneur. You get the opportunity to learn, to grow, and implement effective business practices from an early stage.  

with help and a willingness to learn, along with passion for your goals, success should be possible

Mathias Yabe

A sustainable future 

The growing emphasis on sustainability has created opportunities for young entrepreneurs like Mathias to contribute meaningfully to addressing global challenges. Mathias’s realisation that entrepreneurship extends beyond mere profit-making allowed him to leverage social innovation to tackle critical issues such as food waste and climate change. Through AkoFresh, he demonstrates how young entrepreneurs in the green space can drive positive change and create a more sustainable future for generations to come. 

Post harvest waste of fruits and vegetables can be attributed to cold chain inefficiencies, creating a sustainability problem. The ethical, environmental, and social consequences of food waste affect everyone involved in the supply chain, including farmers. Innovations like AkoFresh’s off-grid cold storage technology exemplify the potential for sustainable solutions to mitigate food waste. By extending the shelf life of perishable crops, these innovations not only address food loss but also contribute to climate action goals by reducing carbon emissions. Despite facing challenges in implementing such technologies, Mathias’s unwavering determination and belief in their potential has ultimately led to success. 

Mathias’s journey in putting together the technology needed to reduce post-service food loss exemplifies the essence of sustainability. Mathias had a challenge of limited local resources. He sought help from institutions worldwide and when the equipment finally arrived, the business ran into a roadblock. The unit did not function and it took weeks of troubleshooting and an unwavering belief in the technology’s potential. The team revisited their engineering processes, made adjustments, and finally, the unit was up and running. 

Mathias says that going forward, he would like to make this type of sustainable technology available to other communities in Ghana, and in the near future, to the rest of the African continent as well. We asked Mathias for some words of wisdom, which he shared with us: “As a young person looking to start your business, I encourage you to start now. You need to start now with the little resources you have.” The idea behind Mathias’s wise words is that starting young has its advantages, despite the challenges. 

Mathias’s journey underscores the importance of young people’s involvement in the green space for fostering sustainability. With innovative solutions and a commitment to making a difference, young entrepreneurs like Mathias offer hope for a more sustainable future, where food waste is minimised, and environmental impacts are mitigated. Through their efforts, they pave the way for a world where ethical, environmental, and social considerations are integral to the global food supply chain.