A life in the day of... Kenny Ewan, CEO and founder, WeFarm

24 March 2016

Launched about a year ago in 2015, WeFarm describes itself as “the internet for people with no internet”.

The peer-to-peer knowledge platform was designed to enable smallholder farmers to exchange and share agricultural information on their mobile phones through SMS messages. To date, over 43,000 users have shared more than 100,000 answers on the platform that is presently available in Kenya, Tanzania, Peru and the Dominican Republic.

Kenny Ewan WeFarm

Kenny Ewan is the frontman behind the London-based social enterprise. Together with his co-founder, Claire Rhodes, ideas were tossed around and within hours, the concept of WeFarm was born. "Our mandate then was to design projects for huge networks of tea and coffee farmers by harnessing the knowledge of the network – it all just went from there," says Ewan.

Armed with funding from the Nominet Trust and the Knight Foundation, the product was piloted, tested and developed between 2012 and 2014 with farming communities in Kenya, Peru and Tanzania.

In February 2015, WeFarm was officially launched as a product to farmers in Kenya. Over 1,000 farmers signed up to the platform in the first 10 days. 

"We started to see a huge amount of potential beyond what we envisaged," says Ewan, who claims the application is the first peer-to-peer sharing platform with users in different countries and languages – English, French, Spanish and Swahili.

The platform is also said to have a higher retention rate than WhatsApp, according to Ewan, who says: "Our 90-day retention rate is about 85-86%, which is significantly higher than other social networks."

Ewan estimates that more than 20,000 pieces of information are shared every month through the system – WeFarm’s business model is based on data aggregated through millions of conversations. The largest barrier Ewan has faced since the product’s launch is in "getting people to believe you have a really great idea".

However, WeFarm has since built a strong case in terms of user traction. In 2014, WeFarm gained a sizeable £500,000 grant backing from Google’s Impact Challenge in 2014, a competition which supports entrepreneurial technology non-profits. Most recently, in February 2016, it was awarded £10,000 as winner of the UK-leg of The Venture, a global competition by Chivas Regal Whisky.

Ewan’s priority this year is to find an investor to take WeFarm to a global level. The company launched a funding round at the start of the year with the aim to raise £2,300,000 in equity investment that will be used to reach 2.9 million farmers in the next two years. Post investment, he plans to launch the service in India and to develop a WeFarm 2.0 version.

Topics: WeFarm, Google Impact, startup, internet, SMS, Kenya, Tanzania, Peru, Dominican Republic.