There are an estimated 500 million smallholder farmers in the world today, most of them living on less than $1 a day. For rural farmers in the developing world, the challenges are amplified by a lack of access to information on farming practices that could improve their yields and profitability. Enter WeFarm, which connects rural farmers in Africa—currently, Kenya and Uganda—and Latin America (Peru) through a simple mobile-phone platform that allows them to ask and answer questions about agriculture, tapping into generations’ worth of grassroots knowledge. Relying mostly on print and radio advertising, WeFarm has acquired 141,000 users who have collectively asked some 210,000 questions and contributed more than 292,000 answers on topics ranging from controlling blossom end rot in tomatoes and the importance of pruning coffee plants, to the best ways to prepare farmland during dry season and the economics of raising rabbits.
Originally developed as a nonprofit project, WeFarm launched as a for-profit social enterprise in 2015 with seed funding from winning a 2014 Google Impact Challenge. In 2016, the company secured an additional $1.6 million in a round led by LocalGlobe, a U.K.-based seed VC, and expanded into South America. Over the next five years, WeFarm aims to grow its user base to 1 million farmers and to keep the SMS service free, bringing in revenue by selling data gleaned from agricultural trends to corporate customers, governments, and NGOs.