Skip to main content
Student Experiences

Ghanaian Fish Farms Take Global Category at 2011 BPC

A team of MBA students are putting the age-old maxim of teaching a man to fish to the real-world test. Social venture Tilapiana won first place for its fish-farming franchise model in the global category of the 2011 Brigham Young University Business Plan Competition.

From left: Justin King, Andrew Steward and Janice Kirk of Tilapiana received $5,000 for their innovative fish-farming franchise at the 2011 Business Plan Competition.
From left: Justin King, Andrew Steward and Janice Kirk of Tilapiana received $5,000 for their innovative fish-farming franchise at the 2011 Business Plan Competition.

Tilapiana, whose name comes from the tilapia fish, received $5,000 from the Kay and Yvonne Whitmore Global Management Center to operate sustainable fish farms in Ghana in an effort to decrease poverty and malnourishment.

According to Justin King, co-founder of Tilapiana, Ghana currently produces less than half of the country's demand for fish. Tilapiana's solution leverages local production and distribution so Ghanaians can grow and sell their own fish and feed their families in a sustainable way. The organization provides the hatchlings, feed and training to help the fish farmers successfully manage multiple ponds.

"Although fish farming is done around the world, there's not much done in Africa," says King, a second-year MBA student from Kaysville, Utah. "It's a fairly new industry, and Ghana has passed recent laws and initiatives because it wants this to be its next big economic stimulant."

The genesis of the idea came when King and fellow co-founder Andrew Steward, a second-year MBA student from South Jordan, Utah, lived in Ghanaian villages last summer working on small business projects. "We came back knowing we wanted to do business in Ghana, particularly in social endeavors," King says.

Together with teammate Janice Kirk, a first-year MBA student from Blanding, Utah, the team has partnered with aquaculture experts and government officials both in the United States and abroad. They also plan to expand their model to five countries in Africa within five years.

"Our hope is to prove the methods in Ghana and take them throughout the continent," King says. "And we don't want to stop with fish farming. We'll expand to other sustainable agricultural models because there is a great need in Africa and around the world."

The Whitmore Global Management Center/CIBER sponsors the global category of the BPC to encourage businesses that reach beyond the borders of the United States. Plans are judged by a panel of Marriott School professors and an international business professional. Although judged separately, plans submitted for the global category also compete in the general BPC.

"The global competition rewards good business plans that result in the penetration of foreign markets and helps students negotiate the cultural, administrative and economic challenges of doing business abroad," says Lee Radebaugh, director of the Whitmore Global Management Center/CIBER.

The Marriott School is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, public management, information systems and entrepreneurship. The school's mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,000 students are enrolled in the Marriott School's graduate and undergraduate programs.


Writer: Carrie Akinaka