Addressing poverty where it exists with Salesforce and TaroWorks

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November 12, 2013 by Steve Andersen

TaroWorks / Honey Care Africa

Grameen Foundation is a lot like the other 20,000 nonprofits that use Salesforce.com—it helps us be more efficient and effective in delivering on our mission. But Grameen Foundation is pretty unique. Not only do we use Salesforce.com for fundraising we’ve built a number of apps to support our programs. But I think most interestingly, we built four mobile apps, culminating in TaroWorks, our mobile field force management product based on 10 years of experience working with the very poor.

TaroWorks is a powerful set of tools currently used by 26 inclusive businesses and NGOs in 11 countries. Awesome groups like Honey Care, VisionSpring and Trocaire rely on TaroWorks to deliver on their missions. These orgs all have field workers out in very remote and rugged places gathering data, doing tasks, servicing equipment, all with the goal of making people’s lives better. They each carry an Android phone with TaroWorks installed, and it helps them do their work in a high quality, repeatable way, that also informs headquarters with critical operational data.

It’s this combination of great field force tools along with data flowing in real- or near-real-time into Salesforce that can transform the operations of these organizations. Most orgs struggle with knowing what’s actually happening in the day-to-day. Imagine how much harder that problem is when you’ve got a field force servicing remote wells in rural Kenya—we’ve talked to groups that don’t see their field work data till many months after it’s collected. TaroWorks and Salesforce flips that problem on it’s head and can give these orgs more high-quality operational data than most much better funded organizations can pull together. We built TaroWorks because we believe that creating a world without poverty requires good ideas and a whole lot of operational rigor. It’s exciting to see our awesome customers take on that challenge.

On the product side we appreciate a lot of the features of the Salesforce platform: development and packaging tools, the killer API, the rapid nature of development, enterprise scale and security, and the steady drumbeat of new features. Our customers love the product we’ve built, and they’re also finding Salesforce to be a very rapid and extensible platform for mission delivery. It’s an incredibly useful combination to have our rock-solid tools directly on the Salesforce instance where our customers run their business and deliver on their mission. Once the field force data is on the Salesforce platform all sorts of interesting things can happen, and those features can be quickly developed and deployed.

At Grameen Foundation we use a lot of platforms, and build a number of products. We are at our core a very practical organization. We’re focused on how to empower the poor to create a world without poverty. We’re don’t think like your typical think tank or a charity, even though we are a nonprofit. We’re an innovation shop with ruthless energy and expertise to throw at the problems the very poor face every day. We aren’t swayed by glitzy projects, or things that make a good story. We care about making people less poor, and in everything we do we seek solutions that lead to that outcome. So when it comes to technology, we are always looking for what’s appropriate, and many times we’ve leaned on Salesforce. It has proven to be a great platform with which to change the way poverty is addressed in some of the poorest parts of the world. We’re looking forward, with the help of all our supporters, to continuing to push the Salesforce platform in service of the poor, and in working with many great NGOs and businesses and helping them with their work.

Steve Anderson is Grameen Foundation’s Chief Technology Officer. Cross-posted from his blog at gokubi.com

Comments

Hi Steve, this appears to be a powerful and robust tool that I can see many NGOs/non-for-profits operating in low-connectivity areas looking to leverage. It doesn't appear that this product is available on the AppExchange. How can we obtain more information on the licensing/product costs? Thanks!

Nabeela, please visit our TaroWorks website: http://taroworks.org/contact/

We are currently working with Salesforce.com to get on the Appexchange.

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