Mobile phone use is growing at a phenomenal rate, and nowhere is adoption more rapid than in the developing world, where there are more than 4 billion phones, many of them shared by several people. Many of these people live in rural communities, where they have limited opportunities to make a meaningful income and lack access to such basic needs as quality healthcare and banking services. Mobile phones are a powerful tool for delivering services that can help the poor overcome the challenges of living in poverty.
Since 2001, Grameen Foundation has recognized the unique role mobile phones can play in the fight against global poverty. Starting with the business opportunities created by the Village Phone program
, Grameen Foundation continues to develop innovative mobile phone-based solutions that address the critical needs of the most remote, most economically disenfranchised populations.
Empowering families by focusing on basic needs
Few things are as important to a family’s dignity as managing their health, making a decent income, and safely and effectively managing that income to maximize financial opportunities. Grameen Foundation develops and delivers products, tools and services delivered over mobile phones that focus on health, agriculture
, financial services
, and livelihood creation
. From poor, rural farmers helping their peers
access information about their crops, to a “business in a box” for people to sell mobile airtime
in Indonesia, to nurses helping expectant mothers
and their babies with health services
in rural Ghana, our solutions empower the poor to fight “information poverty” with important information and services that improve their lives.
Developing solutions locally
If you want to develop relevant, effective solutions to poverty, you need to understand the poor and their unique needs. To build this understanding, Grameen Foundation operates regional Application Laboratories (AppLabs) in Ghana, Uganda and Indonesia. This local presence gives us a deeper understanding of the communities we and our partners serve, and makes it easier to develop, test and deploy solutions that truly help the poor and that can be replicated in other regions.
Engaging communities for deeper impact
Making information easily accessible over a mobile phone is only part of the solution. To deliver our mobile phone-enabled services, we work with trusted community members to build human networks that promote adoption and ongoing use, and encourage informed decision-making. For example, our Mobile Agriculture program in Uganda
has recruited and trained hundreds of Community Knowledge Workers
who have helped thousands of poor farmers, who now have access to a range of timely and interactive information about a wide range of agricultural topics, including caring for animals, planting crops, treating pests and diseases, and getting fair market prices for produce and livestock. This information helps increase poor farmers’ crop yields while increasing and stabilizing their incomes.
Collaborating to develop and scale solutions
Tackling the hardest problems faced by the poorest requires creative business models and innovative collaborations. Grameen Foundation partners with private-sector businesses, NGOs, government agencies and poverty-focused organizations in the regions where we work. We catalyze efforts by fostering partnerships between organizations to collaborate on building large-scale, sustainable solutions. When programs prove their long-term viability, we spin them off as independent, social enterprises operated by local partners.