Finnish Sibesonke Creates Mobile News Source For Tanzanian Farmers

    After writing about the Nth social whatever, I believe any thinking man has to start questioning the real world impact of some startup companies. Naturally I suppress these thoughts before I get in too deep, but I was happy to find a press release from Sibesonke, an Espoo-based company that has partnered with the Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, and the Tanzinian Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development.

    Together they’re taking the Finn’s mobile prowess to build a cross-platform news source for basic mobile phones to help Tanzanian farmers. The aim is to provide farmers with real-time weather forecasts and livestock management tips to help small-scale farmers increase their yields, helping provide food security for eastern Africa.

    The platform is based on USSD, a text-based browsing technology implemented by standard requirements in every GSM phone. Sibesonke was established in 2009 as a spin-off of Nokia Siemens Networks, and has a patented USSD-platform that allows the implementation of social networks. The way it works is that you dial *xxx# on your cell phone and a data call is established to give you a text screen on your cell phone.

    The company says that mobile penetration has dramatically increased in recent years, and now is as high as 60%. “This represents a historical opportunity to reach the 33 million Tanzanian farmers with relevant up-to-date farming content and thus contribute to food security in the region,” they say in their press release.

    Finland is sitting on plenty of technologies and patents that went practically obsolete years ago, but still obviously can be used for taking on old challenges in emerging markets. What old patents are you sitting on that could be applied for real world value?