Kilimo chapaa - farming for money

We dived into Nairobi morning traffic once more, this time to meet Evans and James of FIT Resources. FIT are building a business model around Freedom Fone to complement their work providing capacity building skills to small and medium-sized enterprises (SME's). The idea is to use Freedom Fone to provide audio content in the vernacular and to use it as a feedback channel to evaluate products or services via the Leave-a-Message function (LAM).

James Kimaro and Evans Kinyanjui Njoroge

James Kimaro and Evans Kinyanjui Njoroge

Currently FIT is hosting an agri-business service for QFM, a radio station and subsidiary of Nation Media Group. QFM airs a show each week called "Kilimo chapaa", a 20 minute segment comprising a 5 minute interview with a farmer and a 15 minute feature. FIT receives the audio 2 days before the program is aired and edits the audio, précising the content to an optimal duration of 1.5 to 2 minutes of highlights. The edited audio is available on Freedom Fone for farmers to access 24/7 and they are encouraged to leave comments on the LAM.

The service went live in November 2012, and despite limited publicity to date, receives an average of 20 calls per week. FIT hopes to add more value to the service by offering additional information like market prices and referrals to experts in specific areas. They also look forward to the official launch and to increasing publicity of the service. They plan to develop competitions and incentives to encourage farmers to participate through providing their feedback.

An unexpected bonus (we did not foresee this hidden benefit) to this outsourcing for QFM is that FIT is able to screen all calls before the station re-broadcasts their voices. In a traditional call-in show, lines are open during the broadcast and it can be difficult to eliminate all crank calls, or people not genuinely interested in the content of the show.

In future, FIT plan to host further Freedom Fone deployments simultaneously for a variety of different sectors. This serves to relieve organisations of the need for in-house technical skills and power back-up solutions, and all the strain associated with keeping a service live 24/7. FIT will produce reports at regular intervals for each organisation or enable the organisations to access their own reports over the internet.