In 2001, an outbreak of foot and mouth disease devastated Uruguay’s economy. This epidemic not only affected the rural sector, but the whole country, causing huge economic losses, poverty and unemployment. The most affected communities also happened to be the poorest.
It was during this period that Victoria Alonsopérez had the realisation that by detecting disease early in livestock, she could prevent events that would threaten those already living in poverty. And so the Chipsafer platform was created.
Chipsafer has the potential to transform the way farmers care for their livestock. Not only can they learn where their animals are and receive warnings if an anomaly is detected, but they can obtain stats about the animals’ performance, helping them to improve herd production and in turn their profits. All this information is sent directly to the farmer in real time, which is of vital importance in poorer communities, where livestock are a key source of income.
Victoria Alonsopérez, the brains behind the Chipsafer technology, will be joining Chivas at The Venture final. But, before that, she took some time to answer a few questions.
What risks did you take to start your business?
I don’t think I took many risks. I dedicated all my time and money to it, but I’ve learned from everything I’ve done these past two years. Even when I knew it could fail, I knew it would be an exciting journey from which I would learn a lot. All the money and time I spent on Chipsafer were an investment that I knew would have a positive return, even if it failed.
Is being a social entrepreneur important to you?
For me there is no other kind of entrepreneurship, I could never do anything that doesn’t have a positive impact on society. With the advances in science and technology we can solve pressing issues in society, as well as increase productivity in every sector. I want to make a better world and I know that with my passion and determination I can do it.
Where would you like to see Chipsafer in five years’ time?
I would like to see it in every country of Latin America, as well as other regions around the world. By then, I would like to have many algorithms that can tell exactly what it is that’s causing the anomaly in the animal and recommend appropriate actions to take. In five years, I want Chipsafer to have positively impacted at least 500 million people.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge you face in the future?
Our biggest challenge is setting up the logistics for our service. We have to place a hardware device on an animal and we are figuring out what’s the best way to get this device to the farmers. We also need to consider that something may happen to the device and the farmer would need to send it back to us. We’re considering making a deal with national mail services or having a distributor take care of that.
How is your Chipsafer a force for good?
There are over one billion poor farmers in the world who depend on livestock. These poor farmers not only depend on livestock to generate income through milk or meat, but they also depend upon their stock to feed their families. Livestock diseases such as foot and mouth reduce the supply of milk and therefore impacts on food security, particularly when outbreaks occur during the times of year when other food sources are limited and dependency upon milk is at its greatest. According to the World Organization for Animal Health, due to the importance of livestock to the world’s poor, livestock disease control can cause significant poverty reduction. Therefore, I am sure that with Chipsafer we’ll improve the lives of many people around the globe. The plans for the future are also to help the end consumer. Through the monitoring of farming, consumers will be able to know exactly what they’re eating and where it came from.
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