85. WeFarm

The social enterprise using SMS to create a Google alternative for small farmers in developing countries

Founders: Kenny Ewan and Claire Rhodes      
Founded: January 2014 (launched November 2014)
Website: wefarm.info

As technology increasingly takes over every aspect of our lives it’s hard to imagine a world without a digital presence. However 75% of the world’s population still has no internet access – and the majority of this number is made up of small-scale farmers living in remote and developing areas in Asia, Latin America and Africa who both struggle with and solve agricultural challenges daily but have no way to access or share information.

WeFarm’s founders, who both have extensive experience working with NGOs in developing countries, spotted a potential solution using SMS (there has been rapid growth of mobiles phones amongst the demographic). The start-up works by connecting farmers to a huge crowdsourcing platform via SMS; meaning a farmer with a question can simply text WeFarm, which then connects them to another farmer with an answer; and the platform then stores this data in order to create a sort of Google for agriculture in developing countries.

The business generates revenues by charging governments, suppliers and research groups to access this data. Since launching, WeFarm – which was named a Nominet Trust 100 company last year and won Google’s Impact Challenge – has raised over one million in grant funding. In the next 12 months, the start-up hopes to continue to grow its network globally, expand its revenue streams by allowing third parties to advertise to the platform’s farming network and eventually create a successful social business model for other start-ups to follow.

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