Monday, July 18, 2016

Adama Diakite, the founder and CEO of Adakol Farms, is on a mission to revolutionize farming in his home country, Guinea. Diakite comes from a family with a farming legacy. His grandfather and his father are both farmers, which is a popular occupation in Guinea. Diakite’s father wanted him to go to school, which led him to become a banker. However, Diakite realized that an office job was not going to help his community. As an entrepreneur, he looked to answer the question, “What does my community need?”

“I felt that I could help my community more from the fields than I could in an office. I had a vision to feed the whole country. I plan to produce eggs to sell at local supermarkets in order to reduce farm imports from other countries. Guinea has many farmers, and if we can increase production of agriculture, we will have enough food to feed our families and to sell to nearby countries.”

Diakite explains that subsistence farming is the most common type of farming in Guinea, which means that farmers only grow enough to feed their families. Oftentimes, this means that farmers do not produce enough food to feed the people of Guinea. Adakol Farms will strive to feed more than a family. It is Diakite’s goal to provide jobs and nutritious food to his community through modern farming methods.

“Being a young professional in an office isn’t enough to truly make a difference in my community. Entrepreneurship is the way to be more impactful,” Diakite says.

When he realized he wanted to enter the agricultural industry as an entrepreneur, he started to look for opportunities to learn about the world of business in the United States and the entrepreneurial mindset. He says, “I want to connect and network, find mentors and support in my entrepreneurial venture. I am grateful to have American support, through the US Embassy in Conakry and other American institutions.”

Diakite wants to go farther than being a businessman, though. “I want to start an entrepreneurship center for young people in my community and be a mentor to them, finding capital for their companies and teaching them business. And not just in Conakry. I want to support entrepreneurship in rural Guinea as well. I want to do business to solve a problem. I want to give back.”

The desire to give back has pushed Diakite to take all that he can from the Mandela Washington Fellowship program. “Venture School has really helped me clarify my goals. I know my value proposition, my customer segments, my partners, and how to explain my business,” he says. “I know I need to be more innovative and work hard. One of the companies we visited, Stanley Consultants, talked a lot about ethics. I don’t want to do business only because I’ll make money, which is a common mindset. I want to solve problems and help people.”

One of the things Diakite enjoys about Iowa is how willing people have been to help him. He explains, “I needed to print a paper late one evening and a student helped me, this guy that I had never met before. I didn’t know my HawkID, but he did everything for me so I’d be able to print something. It was my first time meeting him, but he helped me like he was an old friend.”

He says that many people in Guinea believe that people from the U.S. are always in a rush. However, the hospitality he has experienced in Iowa has really surprised him and does not fit his preconceived image of the US. Diakite says, “I want to share these experiences with my community, too. I can’t just share my business knowledge with my people, I’ve also got to explain what Americans were like.”