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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 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
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
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
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
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.