TELEFÓNICA ACCELERATOR STARTUP COMPANY, WEFARM NOMINATED FOR
INNOVATION IN TECHNOLOGY MEFFY 2015 AWARD
· WeFarm is “the internet for people without the internet”: enables small-scale farmers to share knowledge and connect with one another through SMS messages
· Telefónica supporting service delivery through trusted aggregator partners
· Meffys – global benchmark for measuring success and innovation across the mobile ecosystem
London, 15 October 2015 – WeFarm, a unique mobile platform that connects farmers around the world using SMS has been nominated for the MEFFY 2015 Innovation in Technology award.
A current Telefónica Wayra start-up cohort provides a free, peer-to-peer service that facilitates knowledge sharing in the global agricultural community. WeFarm users can ask questions about farming and receive crowdsourced answers from fellow farmers across Africa, Latin America and Asia by sending an SMS from even the most basic mobile phone.
This award recognises technical innovation that is advancing and growing the mobile ecosystem by overcoming existing technical barriers or by producing new technologies to drive consumers to use mobile first.
Despite 6 out of 7 billion of the world’s population having access to mobile phones[i], 75% are still unable to access the internet and it’s more often than not these people who are in most need of better information and support services.
Small-scale farmers are no exception and comprise a sector that faces many challenges as a result. Whether it’s tackling soil erosion or coping with changes to climatic conditions, these are shared struggles regardless of location that without the internet lack access to shared solutions.
Kenny Ewan, CEO of WeFarm says: “We believe we have created something genuinely pioneering and groundbreaking. Our system allows a farmer in Kenya, 20 miles walk from the nearest village or expert advice, to receive vital ideas and knowledge to his or her phone, completely free, in their own language[ii], without having to leave the farm or buy anything new.”
With many of the latest advances in farming technology focused on online tools, WeFarm returned to basic mobile technology and SMS to provide “the internet for people without internet”.
Today WeFarm has more than 23,000 smallholder farmers worldwide using the service since launching in Kenya in February 2015.
James Lasbrey, Head of Wholesale Messaging, Telefónica commented: “We understand the power and popularity of the SMS and how it is making a big difference to people in developing countries who suffer from poor connectivity or no internet access. In this sense, we also recognised WeFarm as a great message initiative and knew it fundamentally understood that in order to do something which will support communities around the world, it had to innovate using the tools that people already have – in this case a basic mobile phone that can use SMS. We are proud to be supporting the initiative globally using our connections to other carriers and relationships with our trusted aggregator partners.”
WeFarm is part of Telefonica’s start-up accelerator, Wayra and will be seeking a round of investment at the end of this year to continue to scale and improve millions of smallholder farmers’ livelihoods.
[ii] Users simply send their question to WeFarm via SMS message, using their local mobile phone provider. WeFarm then uses the internet to share the message through their unique volunteer supported translation system to other WeFarm users, who receive it via SMS.
WeFarm is ‘the internet for people without the internet’ – a pioneering mobile platform that enables more than 23,000 smallholder farmers across Africa and Latin America to ask and answer farming questions via SMS. WeFarm’s use of mobile technology is transforming agriculture in developing countries as users can receive crowdsourced answers to their questions from other farmers around the world, without having to leave their farm. WeFarm was the first business in the world to provide a peer-to-peer information sharing service for small-scale farmers and won the Google Impact Challenge in 2014. Headquartered in London, WeFarm launched as a registered business and social enterprise in January 2015. WeFarm’s service is currently available in Kenya and Peru. More information on WeFarm can be found at www.wefarm.info.
Telefónica is one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world in terms of market capitalisation and number of customers. With its best in class mobile, fixed and broadband networks, and innovative portfolio of digital solutions, Telefónica is transforming itself into a ‘Digital Telco’, a company that will be even better placed to meet the needs of its customers and capture new revenue growth. The company has a significant presence in 21 countries and a customer base of more than 316 million accesses around the world. Telefónica has a strong presence in Spain, Europe and Latin America, where the company focuses an important part of its growth strategy. Telefónica is a 100% listed company, with more than 1.5 million direct shareholders. Its share capital currently comprises 4.551.024.586 ordinary shares traded on the Spanish Stock Market and on those in London, New York, Lima and Buenos Aires.