AppLab in Indonesia: New Beginnings

Village Phone Operators recording transactions manually

Village Phone Operators

As we get underway with our application development in Indonesia, we are looking at those Applications that will assist people in the informal job sector, the source of livelihoods for most poor Indonesians.  The informal sector encompasses the lower end of the labor market, for those those working as maids, gardeners, drivers, and other day laborers. It also includes millions of small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) who engage in such businesses as selling snack food and sundries from roadside kiosks, cooked food from push carts, and pre-paid airtime for wireless communications.

This latter product, airtime, sold by electronic vouchers, is very popular among new micro-entrepreneurs because it can be sold in small denominations, is purchased frequently offering regular cash flow, requires holding no physical inventory, and continues to grow along with overall demand for wireless communication services in Indonesia. We have learned this in part due to our ongoing Village Phone program in Indonesia, which has assisted hundreds of poor people to launch micro-enterprises that resell airtime in their communities. By studying these entrepreneur’s needs, and the markets they operate in, we have been able to refine our thinking around what sorts of applications would be most useful and relevant for their day-to-day sales activities.

With these needs in mind, we are currently designing two applications that will help automate and simplify the airtime sales process, and provide additional basic small business tools for Village Phone operators, as well as other micro-entrepreneurs who are selling physical products.

Posted by:  Ross Jaax, AppLab Indonesia Program Manager

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