Interview of the Week 31: Su Kahumbu, Mobile Phone Entrepreneur in Nairobi

Kenya is an interesting place for people with ideas for mobile phone applications. TED Global Fellow Su Kahumbu is one of them. With her company, Green Dreams Ltd., she is in touch wit Biovision for several years already. We met her for this interview because she just launched iCow: A simple voice based mobile application that will help farmers track the estrus stages of their cows helping them to manage their breeding as well as cow nutrition leading up to the calving day.

Why did you see a need for iCow?

I stumbled upon developing iCow whilst developing my bigger mobile platform: mKulima Farmer Information Service and Helpline. I was asked to enter mKulima into the Apps4Africa competition which I decided against as I felt it was still far from completion. I thus decided to enter a smaller module from the platform, the cow gestation calendar which I named iCow. iCow went on to win first place in the event.

What did it take in order to execute your idea?

It took a lot of patience, money, creativity, time, perseverance and like minded competent partners.

Did you already get feedback from the field?

Yes. Because of the nature of iCow, our customer care center interacts real time with farmers and others using the platform. Within only 6 weeks from launch the iCow platform was being used in 27 counties across Kenya.

Do you have ideas for further development?

Yes. Since launch we have already added a series of new features to the platform based on farmer demand. One of these is iCow Soko, a virtual mobile livestock market place which is very popular. We shall continue to innovate in this area for as long as we feel able to provide solutions to the farmers’ queries. And we are now developing mKulima.

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