Our tagline:A free, digital, peer-to-peer knowledge sharing network available to the world's 500 million small-scale farmers who lack internet.
Our pitch:Wefarm is a pioneering service for the world's 500 million small-scale farmers who are almost entirely cut off from the digital economy, but who grow 70% of all food consumed on earth.
These farmers live in isolated rural places and 90% do not have access to the internet. This means when they urgently need to overcome a problem which is jeopardizing their livelihood or want to learn something new, they are on their own. Nearly half the food they produce is lost at ground level and many struggle to feed their families, let alone pay for healthcare or invest in their family's future.
With the world's population projected to grow from 7 to 9 billion by 2050 and climate change wreaking havoc on arable land worldwide, increased pressure on the global food supply will only persist. So this a problem not just for farmers, but for every single person on earth. But there is some good news. 90% of small-scale farmers DO have access to a mobile phone and there is a huge body of knowledge contained within the global farming community.
With Wefarm, using just a basic mobile phone, farmers can share and access vital information on anything from how to increase their income by improving crop yields to battling a disease which is decimating their livestock. This is all without leaving their farm, spending any money... or having any access to the internet.
To show just how much our service is needed, 830,000 farmers have joined since 2015.
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:Nairobi, Kenya
The dimensions of the Challenge our solution addresses:
Our solution's stage of development:
What makes our solution innovative:Our peer-to-peer model is unique and fundamentally different to our competitors. Information farmers receive from Wefarm is from other farmers, so it is easily actionable and tailored to their individual circumstances. Our existing service and all new products are also entirely farmer led so they WORK for farmers. Wefarm is the only international platform, with the potential to connect millions of farmers across the world. Wefarm is for everyone. We serve all small-scale farmers, regardless of their crop(s), livestock, location, language or place in the value chain.
How technology is integral to our solution:A farmer sends Wefarm an SMS which is then broken down and analysed by a series of custom built algorithms. Each message is categorized with tags that define key characteristics (topic, intent etc) so the system can then select the best responders. Information is sourced directly from our users, so our model is easily scalable, because each new user is also a new source of knowledge.
Wefarm has created new models to identify regional African languages in addition to English, which enables users to communicate in their local language, and make our service scalable as we can easily add languages.
Our solution goals over the next 12 months:In the next year our top three company goals are:
1) Continue to our scale up our user base;
2) Continue to improve our KPIs [active user and retention rates plus answers answered in 24 hours];
3) Prove the Life Time Value (LTV) of a Wefarm user.
We are working to demonstrate the financial viability of Wefarm from three revenue generating services - Welink, Wefarm Marketplace, and Data Insights.
Concurrently we will demonstrate our ability to scale by launching Wefarm in Tanzania and reaching 2 million users.
Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our solution to affect the lives of more people:Our vision is to empower farmers to crowdsource the information they need to increase their own prosperity regardless of whether they are online. We are also building a digital ecosystem for global agriculture that will connect farmers with products (like seeds) and services (like loans). Interactions on Wefarm generate g insight into smallholder needs and challenges that will transform the way that NGOs, governments and companies understand and engage with smallholder farmers. Ex. track a pest outbreak in real time so that immediate remedial action can be taken or give smallholders a voice in decision making of multi-million dollar companies.
The regions where we will be operating in the next 12 months:
How we will reach and retain our customers or beneficiaries:The internet provides significant economic opportunities when it comes to accessing information and other vital products and services. Sadly just 10% of farmers are currently online, which is why Wefarm exists to put small-scale farmers 'on the grid' using technology they have in their hands- basic mobile phones. As farmers start to gain access to smart phones, Wefarm will remain 'channel agnostic' - connecting farmers who have smartphones with farmers who still have basic feature phones. Our ability to recognise local regional languages will be fundamental to enabling these farmers to connect and share both knowledge and commerce.
How many people we are currently serving with our solution:Farmers use Wefarm a LOT to access vital information by SMS and improve their prosperity! 30-40% of users actively contribute content every month and they KEEP using it with 90% retention after 30 days. And farmers tell us it really WORKS. 70% of farmers surveyed reported improved prosperity since using Wefarm. They told us that Wefarm has helped them to produce higher quality product, increase yields, gain insight into market pricing, tackle the effects of climate change, diversify agricultural interests and much more.
Explaining our organization:
Originally piloted by Producers Direct, a UK registered charity, Wefarm went on to win the 2014 Google Impact Challenge Award. This funding launched Wefarm's independent status as a limited company in January 2015 and Wefarm is now a social enterprise backed by venture capital and grant funding.
The skills our solution team has that will enable us to attract the different resources needed to succeed and make an impact:CEO & Founder, Kenny Ewan has over a decade of international development experience, including the completion of 100+ development projects and experience of working with farming communities entirely cut off from the digital economy. CTO Adam Neilson has extensive experience in building large social networks, designing robust, scalable systems and working on mobile technologies platforms for smart and feature phones. Head of Business, Amy Barthorpe worked at the French Trade Commission in London and is a thought leader in the agri-technology space. Head of Brand & Communications, Radha Ahlstrom-Vij has held positions at various communications agencies.
Our revenue model:Wefarm's existing, fast growing and highly trusted service provides a unique opportunity to serve both sides of this equation. Our ecosystem will provide farmers with access to ALL they need to prosper. We will generate substantial revenue from providing companies, NGOs and governments with insight about smallholders and connecting companies to this multi-million dollar market they currently struggle to reach.
Why we are applying to Solve:With the support of Solve we would launch our game-changing service in Tanzania - the country with the highest number of farmers in East Africa. By mid 2019 this funding would connect one million extra farmers to the digital economy so they can improve their own prosperity.
We have spent the last three years building a 'playbook' of how to reach, register, and engage our users. We would invest the support from Solve in the staff required to execute this playbook in Tanzania (40%) and the necessary supporting infrastructure (20%), marketing (30%) and technology (10%).
The key barriers for our solution:A key risk is associated with creating the technology required for our new revenue generating products AND continuing to improve our core service for farmers. In particular, an external risk is loosing user trust due to consistent or even inconsistent changes to the service. Finally another key risk is associated with the countries we work in where issues such as political unrest, natural disaster, widespread economic downturn could affect our service and our users.
The types of connections and partnerships we would be most interested in if we became Solvers: