Till Mobile Helps Transform a Kenyan Farming Community
Transformation is not just for billion-dollar, multi-national companies. Technology can do amazing things in the most unsuspecting places.
When I co-founded Till Mobile three years ago, we knew our idea could be a game-changer for smallholder farmers everywhere. As it turns out, our technology has had a very profound, life-changing impact. Funded by StrataFusion Group (SFG), we rolled out a joint project between Till Mobile, a messaging platform provider, and Global Roots, a grassroots charity funded mostly by small donations from hundreds of individual donors. Global Roots began their mission in Kenya with a goal of feeding HIV-positive children before they ingested their medication. They did so much more, and technology is at the core of their story.
I’m also Chairman of Till Mobile, an app startup that uses two-way SMS technology to solve complex problems. Today, it is being applied to lift up small-scale farmers in this Kenyan community, who many times struggle to keep their business going and ensure they can afford educational opportunities for their children. We are helping them succeed by providing technology tools to better manage their farming business -- from negotiating prices, scheduling deliveries, and even purchasing through SMS. All they need is a mobile phone.
With Silicon Valley tech veterans Nick Crafford, Till Mobile CTO, and Ted Michon, head of Product at Till Mobile and a key member of the StrataFusion team, we knew SMS technology could be harnessed to help these farmers collectively maximize their profits on even the smallest amount of produce. Once signed up, farmers are able to send SMS messages on their flip phones to have their crops picked up, amalgamated with crops from other small-scale farmers, and transported directly to the nearest major city. The farmers then receive their corresponding commissions by SMS.
It’s working! After several months of product development by Till Mobile and Global Roots, a new program called "Small Scale Farms Ltd" was born. In fact, the first pick-up of produce took place in early July. Next, Global Roots plans to launch the program in Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Cambodia in 2020.
It’s very exciting to see our technology applied in unexpected ways, but the outcome has grown so much more than simply helping farmers be successful. School registrations are also growing. With just a few extra dollars, farmers are now able to keep their children in school and protect their vibrant farms. It’s been incredibly gratifying to watch our technology make a difference on such a personal level. And it’s been inspiring to witness such an amazing transformation in a community that really needed our help — and was open to working together in new ways.
Ken Crafford, SFG Founding Partner and Till Mobile Founding Chairman