Wefarm, the world’s largest farmer-to-farmer digital network, has secured $5 million in additional seed funding, led by Silicon-Valley based True Ventures. Skype and Atomico Founder Niklas Zennström (angel investing in a personal capacity), WordPress Founder Matt Mullenweg, Blue Bottle Coffee CEO Bryan Meehan, and the Norrsken Foundation, have all joined the round, along with significant follow on investment from LocalGlobe and Accelerated Digital Ventures (ADV).
Wefarm is the world’s first crowdsourced peer-to-peer network for offline communities. Over 500 million small-scale farmers produce over 70% of the world’s food and spend over $400 billion on farm inputs and other services, annually. Yet, they are often ignored by the global markets, services and leaders creating solutions to agricultural problems. Wefarm is reversing that reality by placing the voices of these farmers back into the heart of global agriculture.
Wefarm enables the world’s small-scale farmers – many of whom live in remote areas without access to the internet – to connect with one another to solve problems, share ideas, and spread innovation. Wefarm solves a very simple problem for these farmers – where to get help. With the world’s population projected to grow from seven to nine billion by 2050 and climate change showing no signs of abatement, alleviating pressures on the global food supply chain is paramount.
Through Wefarm, farmers can ask questions in their own language on anything related to agriculture, from battling a crop disease or an infestation of army worm, to best practices for growing cash crops such as maize, tomatoes, coffee and tea. Wefarm uses machine learning and the power of the crowd to source the very best content and knowledge from a network of over 660,000 farmers, even via SMS.
Wefarm is currently operating in Kenya and Uganda with plans to expand into other areas of Eastern and Sub-Saharan Africa imminently. It has a user retention rate of 90% and more than 30% of farmers actively contribute their knowledge every month.
“We believe farmers are often the best and most relevant source of information and experience for other farmers,” said Kenny Ewan, Founder and CEO of Wefarm. “We’re proud to have created a network that empowers the close to one million farmers who use our service, and we’re excited to expand our reach and product capabilities this year.”
“Wefarm’s mission is incredible, and we’re ecstatic to support Kenny and his team,” said Jon Callaghan, co-founder of True Ventures. “The company democratizes technology, promotes the fluidity of information across an entire segment of the food supply, and helps farmers become more productive. Wefarm is the kind of movement True was designed for, and we are excited to empower this business and mission for the world.”
Wefarm will use this round of funding to develop commercial product offerings and build a new set of features. One such feature, which aligns with Wefarm’s belief in putting the farmer first, is Wefarm’s Project Farmlog – an interactive, “smart farming assistant” that works even on feature phones. It will use machine learning to intelligently support farmers both throughout the growing season and also with their livestock, based on the questions they have asked.
“We invested in Wefarm because their innovative solution helps to achieve the United Nation’s sustainable development goals,” said Anna Ryott, Deputy CEO of the Norrsken Foundation. “It enables small farmers to become more efficient, thereby directly contributing to the eradication of hunger and poverty.”
Wefarm’s data models will be able to track and predict keys issues, such as disease, ripening periods, shortages, drought, soil conditions, farm characteristics and many other vital supply chain issues. With this data, businesses can improve supply chain management and security, evaluate key trends and challenges, and increase sustainability and transparency.