The start-up company, part of Wayra UK, won big at the annual MEFFY awards.
London, 20 October 2015 – WeFarm, a unique mobile platform that connects farmers around the world using SMS, has won the MEFFY 2015 Innovation in Technology award. The award was announced at the annual Mobile Ecosystem Forum awards last night in London.
The Wayra UK 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.
The MEFFY 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, 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: “It’s a great honour to have won this award. 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, 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.
“It’s a huge achievement for WeFarm to be recognised as a leader in technological innovation”, said Gary Stewart, Director of Wayra UK. “At Wayra we’re passionate about housing and supporting the best, most forward thinking and disruptive start-ups. We’re elated to have a MEFFY winner as part of the family.”
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 Wayra start-up accelerator 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.