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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. Read More »

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Mobile Micro-Insurance within Developing Nations

By Jason Kohn, Contributing Columnist

When we think of cutting-edge technology, we tend to imagine likely applications in the most advanced markets. But today, mobile communication is leveling the playing field for innovation, to the point where we can find some of the most interesting technology innovations happening in the developing world.

The introduction of wireless connectivity into rural and low-income communities with unique needs is creating all sorts of fascinating new applications. Case in point: mobile micro-insurance.

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Rural Businesses Join the Global Economy. One Basket at a Time

By Shirley Bloomfield, Guest Columnist

I wish I could say this is my story, but it’s not. It’s the story of some hard working women looking for a way to be connected in the global economy. And it’s the story of my daughter, Kelsey Patterson, who is dedicating her talent and skills to help these women. My heart glows with pride when I share the work that she is doing in Mozambique.

Kelsey, a global development and international affairs major, is in her third year at the University of Virginia. She received a grant this year to develop a marketing plan to assist women crafters in Mozambique who are selling their homemade crafts by the roadside.

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Developing Commerce in Africa: Phone Company in a Box

I never thought of paint as being an important part of the engine of commerce.

That is, until I met Ueli Frei, who heads FUNDES International, an NGO that fosters economic growth among micro-businesses in Latin America. His team helped a group of independent “mom and pop” drug stores band together and operate, in many ways, as a single retailer.

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Mobile Internet Applications in Rural Africa

By Molly Mattessich, Guest Columnist

In some ways, rural countries, including those in Africa, are ahead of the United States on technology. Without the infrastructure — offices, network lines, etc. — to use the Internet in more traditional ways, they have relied on cell phones to exchange information.

According to Cisco’s recent VNI Service Adoption Forecast (VNI-SA) research, mobile commerce ranks as the second-fastest-growing consumer mobile service, increasing at a 42.7 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) globally from 2011 to 2016. The Middle East and Africa will have the second-highest number of users in 2016, reaching 424 million.

Rural farmers in Africa, for example, now often use their cell phones to check commodity prices before heading to market, helping them improve their bottom line at times when a few cents can make a huge difference. Read More »

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