An Update from iCow

If you’re familiar with Indigo, you may know we have been supporting iCow in Kenya for quite a while now. In a nutshell, iCow produce easy-to-use mobile tools to help dairy farmers look after their cows and increase milk yields. It’s simple stuff, but can be remarkably effective. Recently, they announced a partnership with leading mobile operator, Safaricom. Here’s how they’ve been getting on in the words of iCow founder, Su Kahumbu:

Since our launch with Safaricom we have been experimenting with different marketing channels including radio, print, roadshows, field days and billboards. There is a lot of trial and error as we try to find the right marketing channels, as well as honing the message and the language we use. But we are getting there!Safaricom Meru

We have grown our database from 45,000 farmers to 153,251 (in just seven weeks!). As a result, we probably have the largest focused database of dairy farmers in the country at the moment. Our most successful feature during this time is Mashauri, which provides farmers with three timely SMS updates and tips each week. We have over 8,400 registered farmers using this feature and the number is growing by the day. 

Mashauri is one of three features we have rolled out so far, the other two being Kalenda (the cow gestation tracking calendar) and Vetenari (which links farmers to vets and artificial insemination providers). We plan to release further features such as Soko, Sauti and Advert over the coming weeks and months.

We have been doing a series of surveys to monitor and document iCow’s effectiveness and to identify areas where we can improve. We’re delighted that due to our radio outreach we are reaching a younger demographic with approximately 55% of our farmers being in the youth bracket of 18-35 years. Women farmers are also using the platform in increasing numbers, with almost 30 % of users now being female (up from 15-18% in the past).

Safaricom NyahururuFarmers who have been on the platform for 5-7 months are now reporting a consistent increase in milk yields, with an average increase of three litres per animal (though we have heard of four and even five litres per animal). This is really exciting, especially for farmers with more than one animal. One farmer told us he had doubled his milk output from 9-18 litres from his three cows! And a lady farmer told us she was so happy with the performance of her first cow that she bought a second one. Another great story is the man who said his cows no longer looked hungry 🙂

Assuming (according to our survey) that we have 8,000 subscribers with one cow each and an increase in milk yields of 3 liters a day, the additional amount of milk is:

24,000 liters a day
168,000 liters a week
714,000 liters a month
7,140,000 liters a year (calculated with 10 months)

It’s clear that Su and her team are going through a very exciting period in iCow’s development and we always look forward to updates like these. To play us out, here’s their latest radio jingle:

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