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Power of mobile learning: How to digitally reach your target audience in Nigeria

By Andrew Thiongo

Arifu’s mission to impact the lives of people from low income communities is set to expand into Nigeria following the launch of our WhatsApp channel on the 9th of September 2020. The launch took place during a Nigeria focussed webinar that centred on the power of mobile learning and how organizations could leverage Arifu’s chatbot to reach their target audience in Nigeria. The webinar also featured a presentation and case study from one of our partners – IITA’s Akilimo App.

During the webinar, attendants had the opportunity to learn about Arifu’s different information dissemination platforms. Arifu’s solution is available through SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Telegram. The panellists were able to share insights about the benefits and limitations of using the different chat platforms to enable partners to reach their specific target audiences. Here are some of the factors for potential partners to consider when using Arifu’s different chat platforms:

SMS Platform

Arifu’s SMS platform has a wider reach compared to other chat platforms since it caters to feature phone users as well as smartphone users. The SMS platform is especially beneficial to learners from low income communities because they can access insightful information without owning a smartphone or being able to access the internet free of charge. The onboarding process on SMS can be done through an invitation message or also through typing in a code word such as “Arifu”, this prompts the Arifu chatbot to share the content menu with the learner. The learner is then able to engage with Arifu’s different content modules on financial literacy, business management, good agricultural practices as well as health and safety content. Some of the drawbacks of using the SMS platform are that the message delivery timeline is a bit slower compared to chat applications, there is no rich media to enhance customer experience and the partner may incur monthly shortcode costs as well as cost per SMS charges. All in all, the Arifu SMS platform is greatly beneficial to partner companies seeking to target people from underserved communities especially in rural areas.

Facebook Messenger

Arifu’s Facebook Messenger platform provides a low-cost delivery option for partner organizations and the Facebook Messenger chatbot response is much faster compared to SMS. Facebook ads can also be utilized by the partners to increase lead generation and to also zero in on their target audience through demographics made available on Facebook. The platform is also available on the web-based messenger as well as the Facebook Messenger app. It also comes with rich media enhancements, is easy to navigate and the integration process only requires a simple API integration. 

WhatsApp

As a chat platform, WhatsApp has a wide reach and it also has rich media features that also enable users to share images, videos and audio files. The Arifu WhatsApp channel enables learners to form WhatsApp groups and share their location as well. The rich media capabilities enable learners to interact with picture illustrations and videos which help make the learning process fun and more engaging. Partners will however incur costs such as monthly active user costs, cost of sending out push messages and the integration process is done by a 3rd party business API partner.

IITA’s Akilimo App

IITA’s Akilimo App is a service tailored toward provision of agronomic advice to cassava farmers. The content on the app focuses on different use cases such as intercropping, fertilizer recommendations, good planting practices as well as business management and financial literacy content provided by Arifu. The app provides farmers with a single brand user experience that links them to Akilimo’s products as well as offering advisory services to learners based on their GPS location. Arifu’s partnership with Akilimo has enabled the organization to leverage the benefits of the different platforms mentioned previously. Through SMS, the Arifu chatbot has recreated some of the app’s features and made Akilimo available to farmers who use feature phones. The content is available in different languages such as English, Pydgin and Yoruba, this makes the learning process easier for the farmers who can interact with the content in their preferred language.

By partnering with Arifu, our partners can assess which of the above-mentioned chat platforms best helps them advance their products and services to their target audience. Whichever of the solutions they opt to use, Arifu’s guarantee is that the partner will benefit from having a highly scalable and cost-effective tool that will increase outreach. Arifu will also increase awareness about their products and services as well as providing insightful data analytics that will help inform product development and innovation geared towards meeting the needs of the learners. A partnership with Arifu will enable our partners in Nigeria to witness the power of mobile learning as has been the case with all our partners across the African continent.

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Categories
Articles Impact

MAINTAINING AGRI-EXTENSION IN TIMES OF COVID-19 AND BEYOND

By Stephanie Pownall

Evidently, Covid-19 has had a crippling effect on the overall global economy impacting several sectors in both developed and developing economies. In developing economies,the pandemic has contributed to a large scale cash crunch in the region’s agriculture sector leading to overstressing food supply chains with bottlenecks in farm labour, processing, transport and logistics, as well as momentous shifts in demand. The OECD supports the argument of Covid-19 posing a threat on food security to the poorest countries whose agricultural systems are more labor intensive. While the impacts of Covid-19 still unfold,  there is a need for a more resilient information system to support farmers to ensure farm productivity, incomes and food security. 

Factually, and as supported by IFPRI, the agricultural extension (agri-extension) services play a crucial role in boosting agricultural productivity, increasing food security, improving rural livelihoods and promoting agriculture as an engine of pro-poor economic growth. In Sub saharan Africa, as alluded to by Mercy Corps AFA, the agri-extension services are largely  underfunded and limited in scope with one extension officer per two thousand farmers, challenging the conventional extension models to its very core. In normal scenarios as well, agri- extension faces challenges in navigating large distances, poor infrastructure and low rural population density implying high costs and low per unit returns and Covid-19 has only aggravated this issue.  

Now more than ever, farmers are in need of support and relevant information on good agricultural practices, inputs and markets to enable them to sustain and develop resilient agricultural practices to ensure food security. This situation is challenging the agricultural community to explore alternatives that not only provide a quick fix to issues amplified by Covid-19 but also provide a long term supplement or alternative to the conventional in-person  agriculture extension models. This is where digital models like Arifu can come in and provide a last mile personalised low cost and highly scalable interactive tool.

Mobile technology advancements are creating opportunities for agri-stakeholders to continue agri extension remotely during Covid-19 while also providing insights on feasibility of exploring digital extension as a way forward. Some of the reasons why businesses are gravitating towards digital transformation include; 1) digital extension as low cost and highly scalable tool with a potential to reach thousands of smallholder farmers with as low as 3$ per farmer as an annual cost, 2) it enables continuation and follow through learning where farmers can go back to the significant and relevant points of learning for action and, 3) facilitates businesses critical data analytics that is imperative for developing strategies of service delivery. 

Arifu’s innovative platform enables small holder farmers to learn about good agricultural practices, agriculture inputs offered by Arifu’s partners, access to finance and other relevant information while also providing agri businesses a platform to capture insights directly from the smallholder farmers via rich data analytics,  surveys and other tools  for customizing service delivery. Arifu’s platform is compatible with both, the smart phones and feature phones overcoming the digital divide in the region. Using channels like SMS and smartphone applications like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Telegram, Arifu is able to provide cutting edge opportunities to both learners and partners. Arifu’s success lies largely in the way it develops and packages digital content. Arifu uses design thinking principles to generate and disseminate information. The design process focuses on the partners’ business needs and provides a solution that resonates best with its learners creating the desired behavior change and impact. The content is contextualized using text and rich media for application which goes through a series of in-person testing and quality control. Arifu also provides partners the ability to digitise content themselves through using Arifu’s expertise. To reinforce the impact, 60 decibels and Arifu ran a study on farmers undergoing training using Arifu’s platform earlier in 2020. This study was conducted on KCB’s Mobigrow platform farmers to understand whether the farmers felt the content available on the Arifu platform was useful to them and how it impacted their livelihoods and some of the main findings of the study enumerate the following:

  • 57% farmers saw an improvement in income
  • 47% farmers saw an improvement in production
  • 35% farmers perceived improved quality of life
  • 26% farmers perceived an increase in the money earned due to an increase in the volume sold

In Kenya, agriculture contributes to 57% of employment; very similar to other developing countries, and supporting farmers and businesses to interact directly during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond is one of Arifu’s major priorities. Arifu and similar solutions enable companies to sustain and improve farm livelihoods by making relevant information on good agricultural practices and entrepreneurial skills to help farmers increase their incomes for better financial security. If you’d like to get in touch with us and learn more about Arifu’s value proposition, please email us at pownall@arifu.com or sood@arifu.com.

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Articles Press

Business Daily Article: When essential farming skills are just an SMS away

Arifu CEO Craig Heintzman discusses Arifu’s impact on farmers in article published by Kenya’s Nation Media Group – Business Daily

To read this article click here

 

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