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Corporate Social Responsibility

The following blog was originally posted on the Grameen Foundation Insights Blog

Today, Cisco asked us all to share our vision of how the Internet of Everything can improve our world, by “connecting the unconnected.”

Like Cisco, we believe that human networks and technology can play a significant role in transforming people’s lives. At Grameen Foundation, our mission is to connect the world’s poor to their potential. Poor people are already resourceful, clever, and hard working. They have to be in order to survive. So imagine if we could connect their ingenuity to tools and information designed specifically with their needs in mind. In fact, we do that every day.

Here are four examples of the amazing things that happen when you connect the unconnected.

Connecting Poor People to Savings Accounts

Most banks don’t reach the rural poor to offer them a safe, convenient way to manage their savings. Grameen Foundation works with microfinance banks in India and the Philippines to offer mobile phone accessible microsavings products for the poor, reaching more than 800,000 households since 2010.

Savings accounts are a powerful way to help poor people build for themselves a better future, and can often help them avert disaster in unexpected emergencies. Read how a savings account helped Rajkumari in India pay for emergency healthcare when she fell ill with pneumonia.

Connecting Poor Farmers to Actionable Information

Smallholder farmers often lack access to actionable information about weather, market prices, diseases and pests. This information can mean the difference between barely scraping by and making a dependable livelihood. Grameen Foundation’s Community Knowledge Workers form a ‘human network’ that helps farmers access this information through our mobile phone software.

Read how Gonzaga Kawuma in Uganda used the Community Knowledge Worker network to diagnose and treat his cow when it fell ill.

Connecting Poor Mothers to Life-Saving Maternal Care

Expecting mothers in poor countries lack access to information and treatment that can help them deliver a healthy baby, or even help the mother survive childbirth. Grameen Foundation developed MoTECH, the Mobile Technology for Community Health initiative in collaboration with Ghana Health Service.

The system enables pregnant women, new mothers and their families to receive SMS and/or voice messages that provide time-specific information about their pregnancies and childcare each week. Community nurses use the Nurses Application to collect patient data and upload records to a centralized database, enabling them to track the care of their patients and identify those who are due for care.

Read how Yvonne in Ghana delivered a healthy baby after previously suffering a tragic stillbirth.

Connecting Pro-Poor Organizations to Real-Time Data and Insights

Organizations and social enterprises that serve the poor often lack accurate data to measure and grow their social impact. That’s why Grameen Foundation provides the Progress out of Poverty Index, a simple tool to measure poverty levels and track progress over time, and integrates it into TaroWorks, our mobile-phone based data management solution. These tools provide a powerful way to gain insights, evaluate programs, and improve impact.

Read how VisionSpring used these tools to improve their product offering: affordable eyeglasses for the poor.

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Cisco and the Cisco Foundation have provided more than US$2.1 million to help Grameen Foundation develop technology tools that help people escape poverty. Learn more about Cisco’s partnership with Grameen Foundation on csr.cisco.com.

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