Getting To Know You: André Laperrière, CEO of GODAN


André Laperrière, the Executive Director of the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition, tells us who he admires in business.

What do you currently do?

I am the Executive Director of the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN). The organisation is supported by the United Nations and focusses on building high-level support among governments, policymakers, international organisations and businesses in both the public and private sectors across the globe.

Our overarching goal is to promote the collaboration and cooperation among stakeholders in the agriculture sector to harness the growing volume of data generated by new technologies to solve long-standing problems, such as food insecurity, and to benefit farmers and the health of consumers by enabling access to transparent information.

Through the use of open data to integrate different sources and improve the quality of information available to those in the agricultural sector, we can actually revolutionise the agriculture and farming sector to increase efficiency, reduce wastage, and ensure food security.  This can only be achieved though open data policies – for far too long, critical information has been held up by big food companies or by governments, lost in ad-hoc record keeping. Imagine the potential for a farmer if he has access to historic weather patterns, soil nutrition information or the project market demand for his crops! He / She can better plan their farming strategy and create a far more efficient process.

With access to more data, consumers can also be further empowered to make better decisions when it comes to choosing their products. This information would be easily accessed through the click of an app on their mobile phones.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

Having held previous positions within the United Nations, focussing on the design and implementation of reforms across a number of developing countries in the Americas, the Caribbean, Africa, Europe and the Middle East, I was exposed to the detriment caused to many societies by the lack of food, ongoing food security issues, water shortages and land degradation experienced amongst these continents.

It was through my experience working in these countries, that I began to realise how food security has become a world security issue, and one to be tackled through international collaboration. It was no longer just a matter of national security and commercial competition.

The initiative was launched to pioneer the proactive sharing of Open Data to make information about agriculture and nutrition available, accessible and usable to the public to address with these urgent challenges.

What defines your way of doing business?

Innovation, communication and collaboration are key to GODAN’s work.

From both public and private businesses – to government organisations, transparency, honesty and passion are essential when rallying high level support for a global initiative. Multiple stakeholders need to be safe in the knowledge that we are a dependable presence in the industry.

All too often, water shortages and food security are associated with developing countries, highlighting a significant economic disparity between those in more vulnerable countries and those who are more developed. There is a failure to acknowledge responsibility in relation to these issues and there is certainly not enough interest being used to address them.

We seek to work with all these organisations in a country and aim to bring together a common consensus for better sharing of information and communication.

Our efforts are to raise awareness and advocate the improvement of government transparency, citizen participation and accountability through speaking at events, meeting with government officials and working with our partners on the ground to demonstrate how harnesses the growing volume of data generated by new technologies is key to solving long-standing food problems.

What do you admire?

Hard work, dedication, commitment and passion for your work. Great leaders work incredibly hard to breed success. They are innovative, ambitious and they believe in themselves and what they do.  Without ambition, you cannot expect to make a difference in the world. You must have the skill to inspire others to be driven in the same way and achieve the same goals. Innovation and tenacity fuels business, social enterprise and initiative, inspiring others to work together to achieve both mutual goals and success. I admire those who become the change that they wish to see, taking it upon themselves to pave the way towards a sustainable and responsible future.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

I don’t believe in having regrets. I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason and that every milestone I have reached and the position I am in now is a result of the choices I have made, and I can honestly say there is nothing I would have done drastically different.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

My only advice is to follow your dreams – and if you see an opportunity for creating a difference, or find ways to make things efficient, go for it. Far too long we haven’t been questioning the simple things in life; its important to ideate and innovate.