All long journeys start with a single step. I did not know when I started working on a project at Purdue University to address food insecurity that this, my single step, would result in helping to create a global company.
Today, that company is called Mobile Agricultural Power Solutions or MAPS. Its mission is to empower farmers to be more efficient in producing and transporting goods to market by providing low-cost multi-purpose utility vehicles using local manufacturing. These utility vehicles, now known as AgRovers, have been produced all over sub-Saharan Africa, including Cameroon, Kenya, Guinea, and Nigeria.
How we got started
The AgRover’s story began in 2009, when an NGO in Cameroon came to a professor at Purdue University and asked for help in producing designs for a multipurpose vehicle that could be built in rural areas with local materials. Every year, new designs would be built and tested in Cameroon by senior design teams. The concept for the vehicle slowly developed over a period of 6 years into what is known today as the AgRover.
My story intertwined with the AgRover’s in 2014 when I joined as a graduate student to help with the cause. In 2014, I traveled with fellow graduate student David Wilson to Berkeley in California for TechCon2014, where we placed second in an innovation contest after sharing the designs and story for our original prototype AgRover, the PUP (Purdue Utility Platform). Next, we gained even more momentum after Planet Forward awarded us with the opportunity to share our story at the Committee on World Food Security at the UN-FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy. This event empowered and strengthened our resolve to try and take the vehicle’s design to the next level.
How we took it to the next level
Since sharing our story in Rome, the face of the program has changed significantly. Several new members have joined the team, who have both ties in the United States and in Nigeria, and David has incorporated MAPS into an international company. Several locations and partners were considered while trying to determine where MAPS would begin production of the AgRover after building prototypes in Cameroon, Guinea, and Kenya. Currently, space is being rented in a facility in Lagos, Nigeria, where the first AgRover has been produced by freshly graduated students from a local technical school, the Institute for Industrial Technology. This first vehicle will be used as a marketing vehicle as more vehicles are being produced.
Ways to support
We always are looking for supporters as we push to alleviate food insecurity and help farmers in sub-Saharan Africa by providing them with the tools they need to be more successful. Please, feel free to check out our website and/or our Indiegogo page at the following links to learn more about our story and to support the cause.
Mobile Agricultural Power Solutions (MAPS): https://mobileagpower.wordpress.com/