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Crowdsourcing Bridges Generation Gap in Rural Africa

By Molly Mattessich, Guest Columnist

We all know about crowdsourcing where ideas are solicited to launch new products, or suggest solutions to problems. In a recent interview with Molly Mattessich of National Peace Corp Association, she told me about a contest called Young Farmers Idea.  Molly is part of our guest blogging program focused on identifying creative uses of various telecom services as referenced in our VNI Service Adoption research.

Molly had previously written a blog about the use of mobile applications in rural Africa, so I knew she would have an atypical experience to share with us. The VNI Service Adoption research shows that for Middle East & Africa, the use of consumer mobile devices will grow from 906 million to 1.3 billion by 2016. Africa is now the second largest mobile phone market in the world.

Solving Local Problems with Local Ideas

Crowdsourcing ideas from members of local communities is not limited by economic and geographic boundaries. The objective of the Young Farmers Idea program is to provide local solutions to local problems. Using technology connected better with Generation Y who tended to migrate to the cities and not as interested in farming. It’s this younger generation who will lead the way to a more sustainable future.

The goals focused on crop yield, optimal irrigation methods, and pest control. It started about three years ago with a blog from the National Peace Corp Association. A system was put in place to listen to local farmers by providing a process to get their questions answered. The program has resulted in significantly larger crop yields. With more reliable food production, farmers can focus on longer term goals and contribute more to the larger community.

Listen to Molly talk about this program in her own words.

Molly Mattessich is manager of online initiatives and oversees Africa Rural Connect for the National Peace Corps Association, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization supporting Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and the Peace Corps community. To learn more, visit www.peacecorpsconnect.org.

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Do you have an interesting story of how technology has changed your community, your work, or your business? Is technology providing opportunities that impact the socio-economics of the world around you? Contact us at vnisa-stories@external.cisco.com if you’d like to contribute to this blog series.

What is VNI-SA? This is the Service Adoption forecast portion of our popular VNI research. It focuses on the worldwide end user adoption rates for a wide variety of services (e.g., SMS, mobile banking, online gaming, social media, location-based services). Read more at http://www.cisco.com/go/vnisa

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