Knight News Challenge

The Knight News Challenge accelerates media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information. Winners receive a share of $5 million in funding and support from Knight’s network of influential peers and advisors to help advance their ideas. The first round of 2013, which opens in February, will invite innovators from all disciplines to focus on tools for open government. In 2012, three challenge rounds, each focused on an emerging trend, drew more than 2,500 entries.

Challenge 1 - on NETWORKS: Winners were announced June 18.

Challenge 2 - on DATA: Winners were announced Sept. 20.

Challenge 3 – on MOBILE: Winners were announced Jan. 17.

Anyone, anywhere can apply for the challenge - whether for-profit start-ups or non-profit ventures. For more information on a variety of topics - from guidelines for for-profits, on intellectual property licensing, open source software and more - visit our FAQ.

WeFarm – reaching the 75%

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1. What is your project? [1 sentence]

WeFarm is the internet for people with no internet (75% of the world) – a tool which enables the most isolated rural communities worldwide to connect, share ideas and crowdsource solutions across continents and languages using just a basic mobile phone. 

2. How will your project use mobile tools and approaches? [2 sentences]

WeFarm can be accessed and used entirely by SMS, making it truly accessible for small-scale farmers in Africa and Latin America, where mobile ownership is widespread but web connections scarce. By sending an SMS to a local-rate number in their own language, farmers can pose a question, share an innovation or project and connect with a global community of peers – all without leaving the few hectares of land they farm.

3. Who will use it and why? [1 sentence]

Small-scale farmers and rural community members who have ideas and knowledge which could help other farmers, or are in need of support to tackle a challenge they are facing (eg a crop disease or pest affecting their harvest).

4. Please list three ways they would learn about your project.

Through us, the Cafédirect Producers’ Foundation: we are a foundation which represents and is led by smallholders, with established relationships with and a track record of working in partnership with 39 farming organisations in Africa and Latin America.

Invite a friend: users are given a code which they can pass on to a friend, enabling them to join the WeFarm community and building word-of-mouth recognition.

Through strategic partnerships with NGOs, social enterprises and service providers who serve rural communities, by pooling our networks of users.  

5. What connections have you made, or will you make, with others [communities, organizations or networks] about your project? [2 sentences]

We represent a network of 39 smallholder producer groups across Africa and Latin America (co-operatives and member owned organisations) who together represent 250,000 small-scale farmers. The inspiration for WeFarm came from working with farmers and witnessing first-hand the wealth of knowledge, expertise and innovation which is driven out of necessity in underserved rural communities.

6. What part of the project have you already built? [1-2 sentences, feel free to include links]

A functioning beta system which integrates a Wordpress website through a custom built PHP interface with FrontlineSMS and Telerivet software – creating a platform which enables mass SMS to be sent and received through web-to-text web technology – via a peer to peer translation app which works on UK smartphones, engaging Western users through micro-volunteering.

WeFarm has been successfully piloted with smallholders in Kenya, Tanzania and Peru (sharing information between all three in English, Spanish and Swahili) and enabling us to achieve proof of concept – this video explains more http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPzfxuqB6ok

7. What does success for your project look like? [1-2 sentences]

We want WeFarm to be the first port of call for any farmer, anywhere with a problem to solve or a solution to share - meaning that, for example, a small-scale farmer growing coffee in Costa Rica will be able to receive advice and support from fellow farmers growing the same crop in Nicaragua, Peru or Uganda, each interacting with WeFarm via local-rate SMS and in their own language.

Over time, a database of easily accessible, crowd-sourced and vetted farming practices, tips, and answers from smallholders all over the world will be built up, empowering farmers as innovators and entrepreneurs with valuable expertise.

8. What resources do you need to succeed? [1-2 sentences]

We need to invest in making the system more durable and robust, so that we can scale it up from the test system which is currently running in 3 countries, to a platform which has the capacity to be accessed by large numbers of smallholders throughout Africa and Latin America, in multiple local languages.

Linked with this, we need to build trust and brand awareness in our target communities to enable roll out, including establishing revenue generation streams which will sustain the system financially in the long term. 


Additional details: 

More information is available at www.wefarm.info 

Please list who is on your team: CPF staff (Claire Rhodes, Kenny Ewan, Sylvia Ng’eno, Kady Murphy), programmer/designer/coder Jim Rhodes, design adviser Nat Hunter, sustainable business advisers Stephen Rockman and Sian Prime.

Expected number of months to complete project: 24
Estimated Project Cost:
$300,000
Name:
Kady Murphy
Twitter:
@we_farm, @TheCPFoundation
Email address:
kmurphy@cafedirect.co.uk
Organization [if applicable]: 
The Cafédirect Producers’ Foundation 
City:
London and Nairobi
Country:
UK and Kenya 
How did you learn about the contest?
Through Twitter

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