Now that the big day is almost upon us it is time for you to meet our speakers! Each of them has a unique story to share with you, so just to give you a little taste of what awaits you at TEDxBinnenhof we have given them all the opportunity to introduce themselves to you. Today our speaker Kenny Ewan from the UK writes about his personal journey and his inspiration for WeFarm.
We are living in an age where we have gained incredible opportunities from technology, and especially the decentralization of knowledge that the internet has brought us, yet sadly not everyone shares this privilege.
We came up with the idea for WeFarm after spending years working with smallholder farmers and indigenous communities in Latin America and Africa. Every day, I would see farmers come up with low-cost, innovative solutions to their problems, but these ideas wouldn’t travel very far.
As the majority of smallholder farmers live in remote areas without internet access it is challenging for people to share and access vital information easily. Simple pieces of advice or information can make a big difference, such as saving animals from disease or improving harvest yields. When you keep only a few animals and earn less than $2 a day this can make a major impact in people’s lives.
We wanted to design an easy way for smallholder farmers to share information, and in the process, challenge the idea that people living in poverty need only top down advice, and aren’t capable of participating in the crowdsourcing models we have come to rely on in the West.
Using WeFarm, the world’s’ 500 million small-scale farmers can access this type of information, even without access to the internet. With WeFarm, small-scale farmers can ask questions about agriculture and receive answers back from fellow farmers around the world, in a matter of minutes. I’ve seen farmers learn about growing new crops, find solutions to their problems and even research how to start a microbusiness.
The guiding principle behind my business is very simple: if farmers can gain access to information that will improve their farming practice, they can lift themselves and their families out of poverty.
2015 was an incredible year for us. WeFarm launched successfully in Kenya, Uganda and Peru and we quickly scaled to reaching more than 50,000 farmers. Even more exciting than that, farmers love using WeFarm! Every month we process more than 100,000 SMS, and in total there have been more than 7 million interactions on our system.
WeFarm utilises the incredible aggregated data that we gather through these conversations to provide unique insight to the corporates that source from these farmers, as well as the governments and NGOs that work with them.
With WeFarm our dream is to revolutionise the way that half of the world’s population accesses information, and by the end of 2016 we aim to connect 1 million farmers to WeFarm. And that is just the beginning..!
I’m very excited to be participating in this year’s TEDxBinnehof and to be recognised as one of the winning Ideas from Europe was a real honour. I’m looking to learn about some of the latest European innovators, as I love to hear about grassroots innovations and big thinking world-changing innovations in equal measures. We are also very excited to be presenting WeFarm on such a global stage.
WeFarm is currently in the process of raising investment in order to scale significantly, with the goal of reaching a million farmers by the end of 2016. We are also developing partnerships with corporate businesses, companies that source from smallholders, and NGOs. If we could find contacts within the investment scene, or people looking to partner with us, that would really help WeFarm in our journey to becoming the world’s largest social network for farmers.