WeFarm, a marketplace and networking site for small-holder farmers has raised $13 million in a Series A round of funding. They plan to use the funds to reach more and also add more services so as to meet the needs of the farmers.
The round brings the total raised by the company to a modest $20 million, is being led by True Ventures, with AgFunder, June Fund, previous investors LocalGlobe, ADV and Norrsken Foundation and others also participating.
Wefarm’s network allows small-scale farmers to ask each other questions on anything related to agriculture and then receive bespoke content and ideas in response. Farmers can ask questions in any language and messaging is free of charge. So far, they have over 1.1 million users across Kenya and Uganda.
In cases where the farmers don’t have internet access (as many do not), they can access Wefarm via SMS on their mobile phones. Wefarm’s machine learning algorithms then match each question to the best suited responder. The average time it takes for a farmer to receive an answer to their question is under six minutes – even for farmers without internet. Knowledge shared on the platform can help farmers produce higher quality product, increase yields, gain insight into pricing, tackle the effects of climate change, diversify agricultural interests, and source the best seeds, fertilisers, and loans.
According to WeFarm, the long term aim is to to provide a place where small-holding farmers might be able to exchange goods with each other, or sell on what they are producing.
Kenny Ewan, the company’s founder and CEO , had this to say, “We are building an ecosystem for global small-scale agriculture, on behalf of farmers, noting that there are roughly 500 million small-scale farms globally, with some 1 billion people working those holdings, which typically extend 1.5-2 hectares and often are focused around staple commercial crops like rice, coffee, cattle or vegetables. This is probably the biggest industry on Earth, accounting for some 75-80% of the global supply chain, and yet no one has built anything for them. This is significant on many levels.”