The ITADI Digital Sustainable Farming Initiative will design and pilot the first direct to consumer farm that leverages the power of web monetization to prototype solutions addressing issues of transparency, sustainability, and equitable market access that plague coffee and other cash crop farmers around the world.
We have had an interesting, exciting and adventurous couple of months. We hit the ground running in Togo, West Africa and had many logistic, technical and creative hurdles we had to navigate. That was expected but it’s always a surprise when things happen. Overall we are pretty much on schedule with our timeline. Our farmers are extremely happy to be involved in the project and their faces lit up when we put them in front of the camera to interview them, take their pictures, and film their farming techniques. They have never been interviewed in their entire lives so that brought much joy to see that they felt valued that someone wanted to hear what they had to say outside of the village.
One of the main goals is to connect communities worlds apart and to keep that communication going well into the future. We feel we are on our way to achieving this, we just have to readjust logistics that we thought would work and supplement them with other systems in the meantime.
Our websites are web monetized enabled by ILP and we have begun populating our sites with content from the farms on a consistent basis. We feel as though over time this will garner a beautiful community of people who come to learn, share, buy exclusive products and gain access to another world.
We feel enthused about our objectives that we put in place. Our sites are monetized and we have begun populating them with consistent content. Micropayments are going to our farmers but not in the simple way we had hoped for. Only one of our farmers has a bank account. Due to the extreme remoteness of our farms the rest of our farmers do not think it’s practical to have to go to a bank. We have put a system in place where our farm manager visits our farmers once a week and gives them their stipend/micropayment as well as captures content. Another note is that Uphold does not work with banks in Togo. They do not take the cfa/xof currency which means they do not work in France or any other francophone country. The Uphold team said they are working on adding additional currencies and suggested crypto as a substitute in the meantime.However we think there is an opportunity with mobile money. Instead of going to the bank our farmers and many people throughout Togo use a system/app called Flooz and TMoney. It’s similar to how people in the the US use Venmo and Cashapp, except it is not connected to a bank. They are little cash stands manned by a person where you can send and also receive money via mobile. They are populated throughout the country even in the most remote areas.
We are still developing an onboarding system for our current followers and consumers to convert them over to signing up for a Coil account and engaging more interactively instead of passively. This will really take effect once we have exclusive merchandise they can purchase. We have been encouraging them to sign up through our email blasts and story posts on social media…particularly Instagram and Facebook. We have been driving this through our blog posts on itadibody.com and itadicoffee.com.
We have been in touch with artists and influencers and are in the process of creating exclusive content and products which we feel will be the main driver in creating awareness by connecting cool things in the culture with having a social impact. This will in turn address the digital divide and equitable market access, which will begin disrupting the traditional economic structure granting consumers access to a community of farmers; creating a sustainable, healthy and mutually beneficial ecosystem never before seen in the coffee or beauty industry.
We were fortunate enough to meet with the new US Ambassador Elizabeth Fitzsimmons. We talked with her about Grant for the Web and our current project and mission. She is extremely excited about it and wants to support in any way that she can. We have a follow up meeting scheduled to capitalize on the momentum and turn that excitement into tangible goals, support and action.
We have been acquiring content from the farms but didn’t take into account that some of our farmers would be shy and are uncomfortable with being videotaped or having their pictures taken while others absolutely love it and are thrilled to have this new experience. With that being said we expanded to acquiring content not only on our coffee farm but also our cacao farm to counter that shortfall.
We are working on collaborations and exclusive merch with artists and brands. We will be launching those collabs in 2 months. Our official PR campaign will kick off around the same time which will lead to a culmination of more visitors to our sites, bringing more awareness to our project and funnel new visitors into opting in to a digital wallet.
We are launching our PR campaign in 2 months. Our marketing will be a culmination of hiring a publicist, consistent email blasts, partnering with a brand we are collaborating with who will post on their social media as well as utilize their email list. This will continue for the remainder of our project. What will eventually sustain the project well after the grant period is once audience engagement takes full effect and supporters spread the news through word of mouth.
As we start to get into a good flow of acquiring, uploading and posting content to build a strong foundation for our visitors we will begin incorporating exclusive products/merch as well as this years coffee harvest giving first access to those who have signed up for a Coil account. We will continue to strategize the best onboarding process for our visitors and collect that data through our backend on Shopify, Google analytics and Klaviyo data.
We will launch our PR campaign which should bring major awareness and garner some local news press between LA and DC and some blogs and magazines.
We will also be meeting with the US Ambassador again and working on meeting with the head of the Agricultural department of the Togolese government.
We would like to know if anyone is actively using digital tipping. We think this is a feature that would do well with our project. We are also open to any insight and suggestions the community may have and are down for collaborations.
We are beyond thankful to GftW for this opportunity to explore web monetization with farming and linking communities worlds apart.