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PIVOT EAST 2019 WINNERS ANNOUNCED

Agriculture, Education, Entertainment, Finalist, Health, PIVOT East, Uncategorized, Winners

July 1, 2019

PIVOT East was held on 27th June 2019 at iHub in Nairobi.  The event was held for its 6th time. It saw startups from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda pitching both virtually and physically to a panel of judges and other attendees. The event was live streamed to the public as this year’s conference was an exclusive and smaller event to enrich networking and interaction by the attendees. Invitees included seasoned startups founders, startup enablers, investors, industry players, government representatives and development partners.

The winners of PIVOT East were are follows:

Entertainment –

Winner-  Cloud9xp 

Runner up – UGticket

Cloud9xp (Kenya)

Cloud9xp is an online marketplace, booking service and distributor for leisure experiences. We offer a simple way to discover and book leisure experiences to do across Africa. 

UG Tickets (Uganda)

UG Tickets is a secure, online platform designed to facilitate the selling, marketing, and distribution of tickets for the convenience of event organizers/vendors and the consumers making it  possible for people to browse through a variety of events in music, football, festivals, conferences and talk-shows online; from any place, make the payments using mobile money and receive the tickets directly on their mobiles via Email and SMS. 

Enterprise

Winner – Enfinite Solution

Runner up – Vipimo

Enfinite Solutions Limited (Kenya)

Through our portfolio of premium products – WakiliCMS and EliteSuite, we strive to make sure that law firms and legal departments are run efficiently to minimize costs, increase profits and improve decision making criteria.

Vipimo (Kenya)

Vipimo is a ‘sensor as a service’ subscription service currently serving several large customers in the B2B space (large farms, freight forwarders).

Utilities – 

Winner – Coinbox

Runner up – Sheria Kiganjani

COINBOX KENYA (Kenya)

Coinbox allows its users to own Coinboxes in different and diverse listed brands and save for their due holidays by sending whatever amount they are comfortably able to their Coinbox until they reach the required amount.

SHERIA KIGANJANI(Tanzania)

Sheria Kiganjani is the first online legal digital platform in Tanzania which enable users to access various legal services remotely from  their devices i.e. Mobile Phones, Tablets, Computers etc.

Social Impact  Category- 

Winner – AfyaKit

Runner up – Ecomakaa

AfyaKit (Kenya)

We are a social venture start-up, focused on improving health outcomes by providing actionable in-facility data to health sector players across Sub Saharan Africa. They have  analytics tool that enables decision making for health managers.

ECO MAKAA  (Kenya)

‘Eco Makaa’ is an e-commerce company that connects local fuel briquette producers to a client base. These fuel briquettes are smokeless eco-friendly alternatives to wood charcoal

Finance Category – 

Winner – Mobishule

Runner up – Work Pay

MOBISHULE(Kenya)

Mobishule is a Value Added Service proposition to parents of  partners’ schools that enables them to access small amounts of school fee cash advances using mobile.

Work Pay (Kenya)

Work Pay is a workforce management and payment system with mobile biometric Time Tracking, Payroll Management and automated salary payouts/payments to banks and mobile wallets. Work Pay plus also provides B2B salary financing to help enterprises pay their employees on time always.

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE WINNERS!!!

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The Role of mAgric Solutions in Improving Agricultural Productivity (Wireless Wednesday Recap)

Agriculture, Wireless Wednesday

October 21, 2014

Agriculture is the major contributor of the Kenyan economy. It is the leading economic sector, accounting for  approximately 51 percent of Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP) both directly and indirectly. The sector also employs more than 75 percent of the workforce. Growth of the national economy is therefore highly correlated to growth and development in agriculture.
Now that agriculture is a major contributor of the Kenyan economy, it’s important to understand some of the factors that cause agricultural productivity to decrease and how innovation can help increase agricultural productivity.

A participant sharing his views during Wireless Wednesday on Agriculture

Participants during Wireless Wednesday on Agriculture

Factors that cause agricultural productivity to decrease
Weather:The changing and unpredictable rainy seasons in the country has greatly affected their ability of farmers to plan their farming activities. Unusual weather patterns, such as drought, a prolonged rainy season and other factors, can ruin crops and bring productivity down.
Disease and pests: Pests and diseases have continued to cause a lot of losses to farmers. This is caused by lack of information by the farmers on how to control these diseases. Post-harvest losses are caused by poor handling and storage facilities.
Poor soil quality: The continuous cultivation and reduction of fallow periods has led to rapid depletion of soil nutrients, declining yields and environmental degradation. Farmers need information on the right farming practices aimed at restoring the soil nutrient.
Limited access to extension service: There is limited access to extension services in most parts of the country with the National extension staff: farmer ratio standing at 1:1,500. This situation has hindered most farmers from keeping pace with changing technological advances
Poor seeds quality:  Poor seed quality can decrease productivity. Farmers with access to specialized seeds such as crop hybrids specifically developed to produce more can improve their productivity.
The capacity of a given farm: This is another important factor. Soil cannot be forced to produce beyond capacity, although there are methods that can be used to improve production capacity, such as fertilizing to add nutrients to the soil so that it can support more crops
Use of inputs– Most farmers lack information on the right type of farm inputs to use and the appropriate time of application of the same. The cost of key inputs such as seed, pesticides, fertilizer, drugs and vaccines is high for poor farmers. Most farmers therefore do not use them and this greatly reduces the yield that the farmers get.
Lack of agribusiness mindset– Innovation is a key factor for agricultural productivity. Farmers who can develop creative ways to farm smarter, as it were, will experience productivity increases. If there are enough entrepreneurs to make agribusiness work, farming can actually work.
A participant sharing his views during Wireless Wednesday on Agriculture

A participant sharing his views during Wireless Wednesday on Agriculture

Importance of extension service in the sector
The agricultural sector extension service plays a key role in; disseminating knowledge, technologies and agricultural information, and in linking farmers with other actors in the economy. The extension service is one of the critical change agents required in transforming  farming to modern and commercial agriculture to promote household food security, improve income and reduce poverty.
However there is limited access to extension services in most parts of the country with the National extension staff: farmer ratio standing at 1:1,500. This situation has hindered most farmers from keeping pace with changing technological advances. There is therefore need for recruitment of more extension staff and the involvement of NGO’s in the grassroot to increase access of extension services to farmers.
How innovation improves agricultural productivity
Improving agricultural productivity is one of the most pressing issues in Kenya. Technological innovation, especially in mobile, is critical in  improving  productivity. Mobile technology can radically transform smallholder farmers’ access to critical and timely information. Critical and timely information is very important when it comes to agriculture. mAgric applications are being developed that allow farmers to call a helpline and get advice from an agriculture extension service provider or receive personalized daily agriculture alerts through SMS or voicemail. Farmers get up-to-date information on pests and diseases, seed and input varieties, fertilizer outlets, weather, market prices, and so on. Farmers are able to track inventories and crop activities and monitor and report on crop cycles and yields. Mobile technology has also enabled farmers to access mobile payment systems that provide them with the ability to exchange money easily
In many African countries, agricultural extension agents are stretched to service up to 4,000 farmers each, which results in long delays between visits. Mobile phones technology provides a complementary way to reach farmers with timely and personalized information.

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Can mAgric Solutions Improve Productivity of the Agricultural Workforce – Wireless Wednesday

Agriculture

October 6, 2014

The agricultural industry is seeing benefits from the growing incorporation of technology into farming. More and more farmers are using mobile technology to improve productivity. Mobile technology is already demonstrating its potential to provide farmers with the services and information they need to grow both their production and standard of living

Previous Wireless Wednesday meetup on Agriculture

Previous Wireless Wednesday meetup on Agriculture

m:lab East Africa will host one of its frequent meetup dubbed “Wireless Wednesday” on agriculture on 15th October 2014. The meetup is themed “Can mAgric Solutions Improve Productivity of the Agricultural Workforce”.The event will attract mobile application developers, farmers, government representatives, NGOs, exporters, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in the agriculture sector. Wireless Wednesday meetups are in essence focus group discussions sessions between mobile developers and practitioners or experts in various industry domains. Details of the event Date: 15th October 2014 Venue: m:lab East Africa Balcony Time: 12.00 – 2.00 pm wireless-Wednesday-500x317 To participate

in the event, RSVP HERE. There will be a live twitter stream during the event, you can virtually join the discussion using the hashtag #WirelessWednesday. Several suggestions and feedbacks have been given to developers and mobile entrepreneurs targeting agricultural solutions in previous Wireless Wednesday meetups. A recap of these suggestions may be found in previous articles HERE

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How to Use Mobile Phones to encourage information sharing within the agricultural value chains

Agriculture, Wireless Wednesday

August 15, 2014

Smallholder farmers form majority of the farming capital in Africa, yet more often than not they are left out of the value chain’s growth. Mobile is a powerful tool in Africa. In fact, according to a report by GSMA, Mobile penetration across the region was 54% in 2012 and contributed over six per cent of the region’s GDP. Most farmers have access to a mobile phone, can they leverage mobile technology in strengthening agricultural value chains and in enabling them to become agriprenuers and more actively engaged in market-led agriculture? Can mobile innovations help in impacting the agricultural value chains?

A farmers speaking during the event

A farmers speaking during the event

On the 30th of July 2014, mobile application developers, farmers, government representatives, NGOs, exporters, Investors, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in the agriculture sector met at m:lab east Africa to discuss this during Wireless Wednesday event sponsored by USAID. The meetup was meant to help the attendees have an understanding of what factors are necessary for value chains to thrive, development of the value chain and how mobile technology can encourage information sharing within the value chain to the benefit of the smallholder farmer. Some of the Highlights from the event: Extension Officer’s Ratio: According to an extension officer from Kakuzi, Mr Mwaniki,their ratio is 1 officer for 15,000 farmers. He reckons that mobile tech can help them in information sharing more efficiently, fast and to masses. Farmers suffer because of information lag and lack of proper advice from extension workers on disease outbreak, weather updates, good practises, just to mention a few. Mobile technology can bridge this gap. Government Involvement: According to Grace Agili, government would like to support mobile innovations in agriculture but they have inadequate resources. In fact they have so much information in the govt websites that are available for all stakeholders for free, but very few know this. She encouraged developers to leverage on that, to share useful information to farmers

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in simpler,more effective ways. Govt currently disseminates information to smallholder farmers using radio for free, but farmers have to buy directories, documentaries and manuals. When asked about government working with developers, Grace Agili Said, “We do not have to reinvent the wheel or compete with developers but support you to reach more farmers and create more awareness about available solutions in Agriculture.” Government is a key player in the value chain and their participation, in terms of policy and infrastructure can impact the value chain immensely.

A farmers speaking during the event

Attendees the event

Engagement: Farmers were urged to share information and adopt the family approach to integrate youths in agriculture. And in order to grow the value chain they were encouraged to take the wheel and team up with developers, give them guidance and together build solutions that not only connect with farmers but solve pain points in the agricultural value chains. Awareness: Farmers need to give or receive some information to / from other farmers, buyers, government, extension workers, agro-vet etc from time to time.But they normally experience hardship accessing or sharing information required during farming activities or at post-harvest level because they don’t know available technology solutions to help them. Farmer present at the meetup agreed that mobile phone could help speed up, and open up flow of information within agricultural value chains. Actors in the agricultural value chains – (including farmers, agro-vets, buyers, extension workers, government, financiers etc) stand a realistic chance to benefit from improved information flow if there can be mobile phone solutions working a large scale (the scale at which M-PESA operates or even on a global scale). Public Awareness is missing. Farmers need to be sensitized and informed especially on these factors:

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  • Market and pricing information
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  • Type of Crop to plant
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  • Crop Management and Ecology .
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  • Potential Buyers
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  • Profitability of the crop

These information can help a farmer make sound decision even before he/she starts planting the said crop. Improved information sharing within the agricultural value chains will benefit all the stakeholders in the chain.

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Wireless Wednesday – How can mobile technology encourage information sharing within agricultural value chains.

Agriculture, Wireless Wednesday

July 24, 2014

Agriculture is critical to global stability and development. It accounts for a third of the gross domestic products and three-quarters of employment in sub-Saharan Africa. (World Bank 2008). But most farmers still remain poor and out of touch with best practices that can yield to high production, prevention of post harvest losses and market information.  According to a report by GSMA, Mobile penetration across the region was 54% in 2012 and mobile contributes over six per cent of the region’s GDP.
Mobile technology has the tools and the capability of reaching farmers, providing them with the needed information and potentially link them up with the markets, locally and internationally. But do farmers know this?Or is it that technology is too far from them? What is missing? Information sharing along the agricultural value chain has been broken for a while now. Can technology be used to improve or encourage information sharing and communication within the agricultural value chain?

Attendees at a previous mobile for Agriculture event

Attendees at a previous mobile for Agriculture event Attendees at a previous mobile for Agriculture event

Join other discussants and stakeholders in the agricultural value chain as they discuss this on Wednesday, 30th July 2014, at the m: lab premises in one of their frequent meetup dubbed Wireless Wednesday. The event themed “How can mobile technology encourage information sharing within agricultural value chains.” The event will attract mobile application developers, farmers, government representatives, NGOs, exporters, Investors, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in the agriculture sector. The event is sponsored by USAID.
Details
Date: 30th July 2014
Venue: m:lab East Africa Balcony
Time: 12.00 – 2.00 pm
Key discussants and invitees include:

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  • Grace Agili – ‎Director, Agricultural Information Resource centre at Agricultural Information Resource Centre
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  • Phineas M’Ndaka, Extension Officer, Ministry Of Agriculture – Ngoliba
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  • Milton Lore, Chief of Party, Kenya Feed the Future Innovation Engine at Land O Lakes
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  • Pauline Wairimu Githinji, Impact Data Officer, Root Capital
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  • Farmers from Kisii, Kisumu, Ngoliba, Magadi, Lugari, Thika,
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  • Other invitees include representatives from Safaricom, Orange, Airtel, Technoserve, Amiran,GSMA, Kilimo Salama, Exporters among others

To participate in the event, RSVP HERE. There will be a live twitter stream during the event, you can virtually join the discussion using the hashtag #WirelessWednesday.
wireless-Wednesday-500x317
Seven Wireless Wednesday meetups on agriculture have been held since 2012. Recap articles on the meetups can be found below as follows :-
30th October 2013: Understanding the challenges of uptake and increase the awareness of mAgric innovations
27th February 2013: Improving the quality and uptake of Agricultural mobile innovations
29th August 2012: Mobile Apps Targeting post harvest challenges in Agriculture
27th June 2012 : Reviewing Mobile Applications Targeting Agricultural Productivity
25th April 2012: Using mobile tech to overcome post harvest challenges in horticulture
29th Feb 2012: Nine considerations for implementing apps for Agriculture
29th Feb 2012:Using technology to enhance productivity in agricultural value chains

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The m:lab Awarded Impact Economy Innovations Grant

Agriculture, Health, Incubation

February 16, 2014

Mlab East Africa (m:lab) is among the seven organizations that won the Rockefeller Foundation and the Tony Elumelu Foundation‘s Africa Impact Economy Innovations Fund (IEIF).As a fund administered by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), the IEIF provides capital for entrepreneurs with projects that create jobs in underserved sectors.

IEIF grant administered by the GIIN

The IEIF also supports proposals geared toward enabling capital solutions, fostering entrepreneurial ecosystems and promoting impact investing industry infrastructure.Other six organizations awarded the grant alongside the m:lab are Investisseurs & Partenaires (Senegal) Renew LLC (Ethiopia), the Policy and Economic Research Council (Tanzania) Doreo Partners (Nigeria), GIMPA Centre for Impact Investing (Ghana) and SliceBiz (Ghana).

IEIF Grantees

IEIF Grantees

New Program for Social Ventures

Social enterprises apply commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being, besides maximising profits for external shareholders. Likewise, impact enterprises are those that intentionally seek to grow in sustaining financial viability, realizing increasing social impact, and influencing the broader system in which they operate. The m:lab defines mobile impact entreprise as social or impact entreprises using mobile technology to amplify their impact.

With the grant, the m:lab will host a new program in 2014 that will identify, nurture and support mobile focused social and impact enterprise teams. The IEIF grant will assist to augment the m:lab’s portfolio of services with improved interventions for social ventures thereby increasing the potential for success among start-ups in the program.

m:lab East Africa

Startup teams committed to solving social and economic problems of people at the base of the pyramid are invited to apply for the new program. The program is aimed at helping to build and scale mobile impact entreprises. To begin with, the focus impact areas under

the program will be agriculture, health and water, and education.

Startup teams of two or three individuals are eligible. One of the team members must be a Tech Co-founder with an orientation to mobile software development. A second team member with working experience in education, agriculture, health or water will be an added advantage. An entrepreneurial instinct or experience running a business venture among the founders will also be an added advantage Interested social ventures are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the design thinking process used at Stanford Design School – eg. http://dschool.stanford.edu/dgift/..

The first cohort of the program will be admitted in march 2014. A call for applications and more information about the first cohort may be found here.  

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CALL FOR APPLICATIONS: M:LAB MOBILE IMPACT VENTURES PROGRAM

Agriculture, Health, Incubation

February 13, 2014

Social enterprises apply commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being, besides maximizing profits for external shareholders. Likewise, impact enterprises are those that intentionally seek to grow in sustaining financial viability, realizing increasing social impact, and influencing the broader system in which they operate. At the m:lab, we define mobile impact enterprises as social or impact enterprises using mobile technology to amplify their impact.

Startup teams committed to solving social and economic problems of people in developing nations are invited to apply for a new program at the m:lab. The program is aimed at helping to build and scale mobile impact enterprises. To begin with, the focus impact areas under the program will be :-
[list type=”tick”][li]Agriculture[/li][li]Education[/li][li]Health and Water[/li][/list] Farmers-Demo

The first cohort will be admitted in march 2014. Startup teams of two or three mobile impact entrepreneurs are eligible. One of the team members must be a Tech Co-founder with an orientation to mobile software development. A second team member with working experience in education, agriculture, health or water will be an added advantage. An entrepreneurial instinct or experience running a business venture among the founders will also be an added advantage. Applicants are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the design thinking process used at Stanford Design School -eg. http://dschool.stanford.edu/dgift/

The program entails 3 months of contact with customers, coaches, mentors, trainers and domain experts. The m:lab will be requiring Tech entrepreneurs in the program to “Get out of the building” and interact with real people as potential users, customers or partners for insights. As such, participants will be required to spend much time gathering customer insights in the field and undertaking experiments to validate their business models.
teacher in class
Participating teams will also undergo trainings on mobile solutions development and building successful enterprises with social missions. The trainings will be complemented by a coaching and mentorship program customized for advancement of business goals of the startups.
To improve chances of startups in the program growing and scaling up, participants will be trained and coached on accessing growth capital. Pitching events will be organized to involve a combination of impact and angel investors. The m:lab will provide an initial seed investment of $5,000 each to the most progressive startups for traction proof. Beyond the three month contact period , the program will together with the startups pursue growth capital among impact funds and angel investors.
Eligibility criteria for this program will include one person having a business background, a product that caters for the market and solves a problem, experience one had when pursuing a start up or a business venture and life or work experience on any of the sectors the program will be concentrating on.
Each of the admitted social ventures will be required to to dedicate time to complete program milestones associated with their business progress. A commitment fee of Kshs 7,000 will be required from the social ventures that get admitted to the program. Kshs 5,000 of the commitment fee will be refundable upon the venture’s completion of program milestones. The deadline for applications is 11:59pm  9th March 2014. Interested teams can apply for the program HERE
More information about the program may be found on the m:lab website

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What are the challenges of uptake of mAgric solutions?

Agriculture, Wireless Wednesday

October 30, 2013

m:lab East Africa held one of the most interactive mobiles for agriculture meetup in partnership with USAID today. The meetup attracted key stakeholders in the agriculture sectors who met with the farmers and developers to discuss the theme of the day. The Key discussants were; Anuj Tanna VAS Product Manager, Orange, Qureish Noordin, Program Officer, Extension Support Function, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Spencer Morley, Farmforce Implementing Manager Syngenta Foundation for sustainable Agriculture. We also had an Extension officer from Tala and farmers from Nyanza, Western and Eastern Provinces The uptake of mAgric innovations is still slowly picking up especially in the rural areas where most of the farming is taking place. In the previous Wireless Wednesday meetups that we’ve held,most farmers do not know about the existing innovations and for the few who know about the existing innovations not all of them are using them. In today’s Wireless Wednesday, we visited some of the challenges of uptake of mAgric innovations and suggested ways to increase awareness of the innovations. 1421022_608830812509732_1960025827_o Some of the challenges mentioned include; Cost – Are farmers willing to spend money on available solution? that is one questions that has been asked several times during the meetups. Developers come up with solutions that are expensive for the farmers hence farmers do not use the innovations available. Some of the farmers said they are willing to spend money on a solution that adds value to their production. Targeting the wrong customers – Farming is widely diverse and thus some might require different solutions. Most developers target “all customer” in agriculture without having to factor in the needs of the different customer segments, this leads to unsatisfied customers for example the needs of a dairy farmer might not necessarily be the same as of those of a maize farmer. Blanket information: Most developers put information about everything in the app/solution. The information is not localized or customized for a particular region/type of farming/ specific crop or a specified farmer. Simplicity – The type of message and language used in your solution can contribute to slow uptake of your application. The message should be simple, in a language that is familiar and understandable to your target customers. Do not assume that everyone knows how it works, explain clearly each and

every step of your solution. Ensure that your solution is easy and simple to use Need-driven – The solutions should be more need driven than demand driven. More often developers are more demand driven rather than need driven hence developing a product because it is on demand rather than focusing on the real need of the customers. Linkages and partnerships – Finding the right and trusted organizations to partner with is a big challenge especially for developers. When it comes to marketing your product partnerships is very important. Partnership with trusted organizations/Government gives your product credibility hence creates trust with your users.

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Participants interacting after the discussion

With an aim of increasing awareness of the mAgric solutions, the following key points were suggested; Partnerships – Partnerships with the right organizations is very important, Developers can leverage on existing networks on the ground like NGOs, farmer groups and Extension officers who can link them to the farmers directly. Such partnerships can help developers reach a good number of farmers at once saving them on cost. Partnerships with also telcos is important as developers can leverage on their mass market reach. Leverage on existing research – Before jumping into your primary market research head first, it’s important that you first seek out existing, relevant research. This not only saves your startup time, but also prevents wasted funding on a product that would have duplicated existing results. In conclusion, developers should strive to make their innovations accessible, affordable and appealing to the right customer target.

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Understanding the challenges of uptake and increasing awareness of mAgric innovations – Wireless Wednesday

Agriculture, Wireless Wednesday

September 12, 2013

Developers have come up with a number of apps and mobile service to help farmers especially small-scale farmers to increase their agricultural skills and yields. In the previous wireless Wednesday meetups on agriculture, it was

noted that most farmers do not make use of the available mobile innovations because of lack of awareness of the existing innovations, complexity of the innovations, most of the apps are developed on platforms that are supported on smartphones whereas a good number of farmers own feature phones and the fact that most of the applications available are on App Stores yet farmers don’t know about these stores or how to access them.

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Previous Wireless Wednesday meetup

On 30th October 2013, the m: lab will host one of the frequent meetup dubbed Wireless Wednesday. The event themed Understanding the challenges of uptake and increasing awareness of mAgric innovations, will attract mobile application developers, farmers, government representatives, NGOs, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in the agricultural sector. The event is sponsored by USAID.

Specific meetup details are;

Date: 30th October 2013

Venue: m:lab East Africa Balcony

Time: 12.00 – 2.00 pm

wireless-Wednesday-500x317

To participate in the event, RSVP HERE. There will be a live twitter stream during the event, you can join the discussion using the hashtag #WirelessWednesday.

Six Wireless Wednesday meetups on agriculture have been held since last year. Recap articles on the meetups can be found below as follows :-

27th February 2013: Improving the quality and uptake of Agricultural mobile innovations

29th August 2012: Mobile Apps Targeting post harvest challenges in Agriculture

27th June 2012 : Reviewing Mobile Applications Targeting Agricultural Productivity

25th April 2012: Using mobile tech to overcome post harvest challenges in horticulture

29th Feb 2012: Nine considerations for implementing apps for Agriculture

29th Feb 2012:Using technology to enhance productivity in agricultural value chains

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Improving quality and uptake of agricultural mobile innovations- Wireless Wednesday Recap.

Agriculture, Wireless Wednesday

March 6, 2013

Most small scale farming systems in Kenya are much less productive and profitable than they could be. The reasons include lack of access to inputs and credit, and the inability to bear risks. Another major contribution is the information and skills gap that constrains the adoption of available mobile innovations. There are many mobile innovations in agriculture but farmers don’t use them for one reason or another.
The sixth Wireless Wednesday on agriculture took place on 27th February 2013. The event sponsored by USAID and organized by m:lab East Africa attracted farmers from Eastern, Coast, Nyanza,Central and Western provinces,mobile apps developers, entrepreneurs, NGOs, financial advisors, government representative and other stakeholders. The main focus of discussion was on how developers can improve the quality of mobile applications they launch into the market to enhance and encourage the uptake of these innovations.
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It was noted that there is a big disconnect between farmers and developers hence some of the applications are not relevant and applicable to farmers. Developers should not only focus on how much the application is going to generate but how the application is going to benefit the end user who is the farmer. This means going to the ground and getting all the information about the particular field that is what farmers are doing and the information they need so that when coming up with the application it is relevant and useful to the farmers.
Reasons why farmers do not use the existing mobile applications

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  • Farmers do not know about the existing mobile innovation in agriculture.
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  • Some of the mobile application are hard/complicated for some of the farmers to use.
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  • Most of the applications are developed on platforms that are supported on smartphones whereas a good number of farmers own feature phones.
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  • The applications available are on App Stores, this poses as a challenge to most farmers because they don’t know about these stores or how to access them.

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Factor to consider when enhancing the uptake of agricultural mobile innovation
Simplicity – Developers were urged to make their application very simple in a way that it can be understood by farmers and at the same time make the application affordable.
Information – most of the developer come up with applications without having sufficient information about the particular field. Research is important before coming up with an application, get to know some of the areas where the farmers need help and how your application will provide the needed service to the farmers so that the application becomes relevant to the farmer.
Platforms – Developers were challenged to develop apps that can be accommodated on feature phones so that the farmers owning feature phones are not left out, or make the app available across most if not all platforms.
Repository for MAgric innovation – A farmer challenged the developers to come up with a portal with all the applications and information about agriculture, something like a one stop shop where farmers can get all the application and information necessary about the market, weather, pesticides, outbreak of disease among others. Have the applications in an apps store is good but how many farmers can access these stores? Very few. A repository of these apps ensures that the farmer gets access to agricultural app easily.
Partnerships – Developers were highly recommended to work with the government and other key stakeholders in the agricultural sector. Partnerships ensure that the applications channeled out have correction information, they are correctly packaged and they easily reach large number of farmers.

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