All Posts

  • Mobile Financial Services for the Poor – What We Must Know

    Fredrick Ndiwalana is Relationship Manager, Applab Money Accelerator, and Ali Ndiwalana is Research Lead, AppLab Money Incubator, at Grameen Foundation Uganda.

    There is consensus that the poor (those living on less than $2.50 per day) need the same kind of financial services as their more affluent counterparts, albeit in smaller affordable units. What is not clear – especially in markets where formal financial exclusion is high and innovation is low – is whether financial institutions can design pro-poor financial products. After all, this is an area where...

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  • Are you considering investing in Mobile Money?

    Nanfuka Harriet is Research Assistant, AppLab Money Incubator, and Joseph Bbirikadde is Programme Officer, AppLab Money Accelerator at Grameen Foundation Uganda.

    At Grameen Foundation we always strive to learn more about the “why” in our work fields and all those linked to the work we do. To that effect, we recently had a trip to the Eastern part of Uganda to get knowledge and insight from Mobile money agents about their key reasons for investing in Mobile Money and the key determinants on how much float they hold compared to investment in other sources of...

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  • The Many Faces of the Poor: Mass Market Segmentation

    Lisa Kienzle is Operations & Strategy Manager, AppLab Money Incubator , at Grameen Foundation Uganda. 

    Last year we shared the outcomes of a base-of-the-pyramid segmentation in Mexico and its implications for product development.  We now turn to Uganda, where Grameen Foundation’s AppLab Money Incubator team has studied and segmented the behaviors of rural low-income consumers to better understand the opportunities for financial services product development.

    Often I hear organizations say that they intend to serve the poor.  But when 80% of a market is...

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  • Redefining Agriculture Extension

    Sean Paavo Krepp is Uganda Country Director and CKW Program Manager.

    Poverty reduction and agriculture are deeply linked in Africa. Most of the rural poor are engaged in some form of agriculture or agriculture related business, so transformation of the sector could be tantamount to transformation of society.

    One of the keys to changing the sector is access to and diffusion of knowledge on agriculture production and marketing. This is understood by governments but agriculture extension systems have been under resourced and under equipped to fulfill their...

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  • Cloudy, clear and a chance of thunderstorms

    Chris Smith and Gillian Evans are a husband and wife team volunteering in Uganda with Grameen Foundation through Bankers without Borders.  Chris is Strategy Manager, responsible for strategy, business planning and GF’s relationship with MTN.  Gillian is an Education Specialist responsible for developing and applying training best practices in the field and helping build the training center of excellence in Uganda.  Chris and Gillian live in Kampala with their two children and will complete a one year volunteer term on July 31, 2012.  You can read about their...

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  • Building Our Strength One CKW at a Time

    Fiona Byarugaba is Programme Management and Communications Officer, CKW at Grameen Foundation Uganda.

    Samson Sabiiti Olet’s goat was suffering from a disease unknown to him. In a state of panic, Samson met his village Community Knowledge Worker, or CKW, telling him that the goat’s body was covered in “white dots.” After the CKW looked at the goat, he opened his phone, and within seven minutes had discovered that Samson’s goat was affected by ticks. Once Samson – a farmer from Oyam district, Adagayella village – started following the CKW’s advice about how to...

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  • Attitude Change Is a Slow Process but Vital for Rural Communities to Adopt New Technologies

    Hosea S. Katende is Training Coordinator, CKW program,  at Grameen Foundation’Uganda 

    Resources, both human and financial, are   being committed to reaching the bottom-of-the-pyramid communities. To contribute to this cause, Grameen Foundation’s AppLab Uganda came up with the Community Knowledge Worker initiative. An information and communications technology-driven model to accelerate knowledge and information uptake by rural farmers as part of its mission to reach out to the poor, especially the poorest, the CKW project builds a network of peer-nominated...

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  • From Subsistence Farmer to Commercial Farmer

    Benson Okech is Accountant, at Grameen Foundation Uganda.

    When one is traveling to the Rwenzori area, what rings in the mind of the  individual are the cascading waterfalls from the peak of Mt. Rwenzori and the presence of several species of wild animals in the national parks in western Uganda. There also are other breaking stories about this area, including a group of poor farmers who are helping others like themselves improve their livelihoods by expanding access to accurate, timely information.

    Zangura Ibrahim has been a subsistence farmer for several...

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  • Are You Thinking Wider than Technology when Thinking about Mobile Money?

    Lee-Anne Pitcaithly is Program Director, Mobile Financial Services Accelerator, Grameen Foundation Uganda.

    Over the last few months, I have spent a lot of hours meeting with different financial services organisations discussing their planned mobile money integrations. In every instance, the financial institution was primarily addressing the integration only as a technology project. Thinking this way can set you up to fail as a business – and, more importantly, to fail your customers. Here are some other areas that you need to address when thinking about...

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  • Building Up a Credit History Outside of Financial Institutions

    Ali Ndiwalana is Research Lead, AppLab Money Incubator, at Grameen Foundation Uganda.

    Access to capital is cited as a major challenge facing small businesses in rural areas in developing countries. Financial-service providers overlook this segment partly because they lack appropriate information to help gauge risk or investment opportunities available in rural areas. But this information does exist, albeit outside of financial service providers. In this post, we discuss how triangulation of data from different sources may facilitate better risk analysis, and...

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  • Can Trust and Reciprocity Within Social Networks Play a Role in Rural Financial Systems?

    Julius Matovu is Research and Program Coordinator, AppLab Money Incubator, at Grameen Foundation Uganda.

    Let me introduce two interesting petty traders based in Owino market – the busiest market in downtown Kampala. They are Akim, a secondhand-shoes trader, and Patrick, a secondhand-clothes dealer.

    Last weekend I visited this market for a variety of reasons – including buying some “new” secondhand clothes to revamp my wardrobe. As I wandered through the market I came across these two different petty traders; because each of these individuals had something...

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  • Mobile Money Last-Mile Agents

    Ali Ndiwalana is Research Lead,AppLab Money Incubator, Grameen Foundation Uganda 

    Agents are critical for the success of a mobile money (MM) ecosystem; they provide an avenue for cash-in (converting cash into “e-value”) and cash-out transactions. Grameen Foundation’s AppLab Money team has been to many rural villages in our quest to better understand the needs of users, and have often encountered mobile money users, but no agents in the vicinity. When users told us they made regular transactions, we asked how they managed to do this. In many cases, it was via...

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  • What do Values, Dreams and Sacrifices Mean for Mobile Money Providers and their Product Innovations?

    Julius Matovu is Research and Program Coordinator, AppLab Money Incubator, at Grameen Foundation Uganda.

    Let me share a story about a family I visited early this month in Budwale Sub County, Mbale district, on the slopes of Mt.  Elgon in Eastern Uganda. The family is headed by Asad Waniale, who lives with his wife, Nandudu, and their son, Faizal. The family depends on small-scale farming for its living, along with a Friesian cow, which is a source of pride for them because it supplements their nutrition and income through the milk it provides.

    At the time of...

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  • Power for CKWs in Uganda

    Chris Smith and Gillian Evans are a husband and wife team volunteering in Uganda with Grameen Foundation through our Bankers without Borders® volunteer initiative.

    As part of its Mobile Agriculture initiative, which leverages the power of the mobile phone to help fight “information poverty” among poor, rural farmers, Grameen Foundation has deployed more than 850 Community Knowledge Workers (CKWs) across Uganda in 20 districts, serving almost 62,000 farmers. Our CKWs use simple Huawei IDEOS smart phones that cost about $80 and run the Android software...

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  • Defining the design problem for financial inclusion

    Dr. Olga Morawczynski is Project Manager, AppLab Money Incubator, Grameen Foundation Uganda.

    Most pieces on design state a vitally important fact – if you want a good design outcome, you must clearly define the problem behind the search for a solution. However, this is not as easy as it sounds. A well-defined and broadly framed problem allows for the emergence of ideas that push the boundaries of what is possible and opens up the creative spaces from which breakthrough products can emerge. In short, the more widely you cast your net, the more ideas that you...

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  • Going “Down Market” with Financial Products

    Ali Ndiwalana is Research Lead, AppLab Money Incubator, at Grameen Foundation Uganda.

    As we strive to ensure that everyone has access to financial services – known as “financial inclusion” – by creating products that reach the poor, we can learn a trick or two from the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) folks that operate in developing countries. FMCGs are cheap, non-durable, staple goods that sell in large quantities, creating enormous cumulative profit. Examples in Uganda include cooking oil, soap, etc. Though the rhetoric from central banks indicates...

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  • Many Minds, Shared Vision

    Today, Grameen Foundation’s AppLab website gets a new look and takes on a new approach .  The programs are the same – you’ll still see discussions about our Community Knowledge Workers using smartphones to provide vital information to farmers, about mobile technology helping pregnant mothers learn about nutrition and prenatal care, and about services that help poor entrepreneurs earn income by selling airtime through their phones.  However, in addition to this new look, we also want to introduce a new approach we’re taking to tackling poverty – open...

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  • The Cloud for Africa

    Luke Kyohere is Senior Technology Manager, at Grameen Foundation Uganda

    Over the past year and a half, Sean Krepp, Grameen Foundation’s Uganda Country Director, and I have been thinking a lot about what we’ve termed “The cloud for Africa”. This has been a central tenet during all our architectural planning over this period: how do we create services that are cloud based and easy to scale horizontally, but also work in Africa where connectivity & coverage are intermittent and energy & money are scarce.

    We’ve taken strategic steps to move our services to the...

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  • Mobile Data at the BOP

    Luke Kyohere is Senior Technology Manager, at Grameen Foundation

    There was a time when all that handsets could do was make calls and send SMS.

    Then mobile data arrived, the first versions of which simulated an analog modem/landline setup. These gave way to GPRS, 2G and finally 3G. In Uganda today, mobile data is available almost everywhere that GSM connectivity is.

    This fast proliferation of 2G and 3G has been influenced, in part, by recent MNO competition and price wars, as well as last year’s drastic drop in internet prices upon go-live of the Seacom and...

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  • Stories from the Field: What do our Community Knowledge Workers do?

    Edward Chelangat is CKW Field officer in Kapchorwa Uganda,at Grameen Foundation Uganda

    John Mamosogo is a farmer from Tangwen parish, Kabeywa subcounty,  Rumasaki village, who farms coffee as a business. His CKW is Tabitha Solimo whom he refers to as madam in the story. When I visited him, on August 8, 2011 he told me the following about CKW work and coffee farming:

    “I had a friend called Ben who knows madam [CKW Tabitha Solimo], when we were walking together, he told me he was going to check something in the internet. I asked him where is the internet? He...

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  • Can We Text Our Way to Behavior Change?

    Jason Hahn is Business Development Manager ICT Innovation, at Grameen Foundation Seattle.

    Randomized Control Trials (RCTs) that show the evidence of mobile phone based development interventions do not come out every day.  At Grameen Foundation we look forward to them as they can help us shape our interventions with fact-based evidence of other interventions that worked – especially when they show an almost 25% change in behavior.

    It was with great interest to read about one that did just that in a recent Lancent article on "the effect of mobile phone...

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  • Saving On The Mobile: Developing Innovative Financial Services to Suit Poor Users

    Sean Paavo Krepp is Uganda Country Director and CKW Program Manager, and Dr. Olga Morawczynski is Project Manager, AppLab Money Incubator, Grameen Foundation Uganda. Dr. Olga recently published on Saving on the Mobile in the World Economic Forum’s Mobile Financial Services Development Report 2011.

    Savings on mobile money

    A recent survey of over 2,000 Kenyan households found that 89% of respondents used M-PESA, a Kenyan mobile money (MM) application, “to save” (Suri and Jack, 2010). Dr. Morawczynski confirmed this finding after spending over 18...

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  • Our Work in Mobile Financial Services

    Elizabeth Berthe is the Director of Mobile Financial Services at Grameen Foundation

    Grameen Foundation’s Mobile Financial Services team is working in several regions around the world to help make mobile financial services simple, affordable and accessible to the poor.  We are working to innovate on three fronts:

    • Overcome technology barriers to facilitate integration of mobile solutions for microfinance institutions
    • Research to inform and influence the development of financially inclusive products as well dissemination of best practices
    • Implementation...
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  • Think gardening is hard? Try farming.

    Heather Thorne Matthews is the Director of Information and Communications Technology Innovation at the Grameen Foundation’s Technology Center.

    When I was in Uganda about a month ago, I spent 2 days living in a village with one of our CKWs, Simon, and saw first-hand how the farmers we are serving through the CKW program live.  Simon is featured in the video below where he explains the Community Knowledge Worker program to one of his fellow farmers.

    I understood that life was hard for our CKWs and their neighboring farmers, but it really hit me after doing...

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  • AppLab Indonesia wins Global Telecoms Award for Best Mobile Application Innovation

    Congratulations to the AppLab Indonesia team!

    Together with our partners, Qualcomm Wireless Reach®, Ruma and Bakrie Telecom, the AppLab Indonesia team was awarded the Global Telecoms Award for the Best Mobile Application Innovation on June 7th in London.  This is well deserved recognition for the considerable investment of time, energy and creativity of the AppLab team, led by Farid Maruf in Jakarta and guided by Sean DeWitt in our Washington, D.C. office, who over the past several years has worked tirelessly to create our technology innovation hub in...

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  • A Weekend with Simon Obwoya, Community Knowledge Worker

    Heather Thorne Matthews is the Director of Information and Communications Technology Innovation at the Grameen Foundation’s Technology Center.

    I spent a weekend in early May with Simon Obwoya, one of Grameen Foundation’s Community Knowledge Workers, near Opit, Lalogi Subcounty, about 50km south-east of Gulu in Northern Uganda.  Simon is 43, and is married, with 8 children, ranging from 6 months old to 19 years old.  He and his family have 3 simple thatch-roof, mud brick huts in close proximity to their neighbours. They have no electricity, but have a bicycle,...

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  • First Village Phone Operator graduates from AppLab Indonesia Solutions for the Poorest program

    Grameen Foundation’s AppLab Indonesia, in partnership with Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach initiative, and social business PT Ruma, operate a mobile microfranchising program to provide the poor and poorest with business opportunities based on the mobile phone.  Currently the micro franchisees sell mobile phone airtime credits to their customers.  Most poor people start their micro-franchise with $11 for working capital.  For the poorest of the poor this can present a challenge.  Grameen Foundation designed a program to enable the poorest to participate in the mobile...

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  • Congrats to OpenIDEO challenge winners using MOTECH!

    OpenIDEO along with Nokia and Oxfam recently ran a challenge on maternal health entitled “How might we improve maternal health with mobile technologies for low income countries?”  The challenge brief was:

    OpenIDEO has partnered with Oxfam and Nokia to explore how mobile technologies can be used to improve maternal health (particularly in pregnancy and childbirth). We’re asking you, the OpenIDEO community, to come up with inspirations and concepts around improving the knowledge and access to maternal health services, specifically where mobile technologies can...

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  • Building a Power Company that Serves the Rural Poor

    Sean Paavo Krepp is Uganda Country Director and CKW Program Manager.

    Building a power company that serves the rural Ugandan poor is a tall order.  Rural small holder farmers may live miles from the nearest road or power line.  Access to steady power, something we take for granted, is a fundamental concern for the rural poor as they seek to charge their phones or study at night.  Recently we’ve been fortunate to work with Mike Lin, an American entrepreneur and founder of the renewable energy company Fenix International. Fenix is a different kind of power...

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  • Did a rat eat your cash? You should have used mobile money

    Dr. Olga Morawczynski is Project Manager, AppLab Money Incubator, and Julius Matovu is Research and Program Coordinator, AppLab Money Incubator, at Grameen Foundation Uganda.

    While it is becoming commonly accepted that the poor need better and safer places to save, the story of Muhereza Kabaramagi and her savings struck a particular chord with us.  We met Muhereza while working on Grameen Foundation’s financial literacy pilot project in Uganda..  Muhereza has been a second-hand clothes trader for the past 15 years.  As a small business owner she needs to...

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  • The CKW Project is Going Strong and Reaching for Higher Ground

    Listening to the farmers we serve and the partners we work with, we have over the first 10 months of the CKW program consistently received feedback in the line of; “this is a great program but can we have more?” For instance; the farmers, often echoed by partners in the field ask for more accurate and actionable information, CKWs ask for better presented and digestible information such that they have an easier time explaining it to farmers while partners ask for a variety of options to reach more farmers. We are glad to reveal that in the next few months, we will...

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  • In Their Own Words: How Does MOTECH Ghana Help Ghanaian Mothers?

    Jason Hahn is Business Development Manager ICT Innovation, at Grameen Foundation Seattle

    In Jessica’s last post she discussed how MOTECH Ghana helps nurses manage their work and care for patients.  In this post I’d like to explain a bit more about the services MOTECH Ghana offers, through the Mobile Midwife application, to pregnant and new mothers and their family members and then let some of those mothers explain in their own words how this helps them. 

    What is Mobile Midwife?

    “Mobile Midwife” is a service that enables pregnant women and their families to...

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  • How Does MOTECH Make Nurses’ Lives that Much Easier?

    Jessica Osborn is Business Development Manager MOTECH, at Grameen Foundation Ghana

    MOTECH Ghana is an initiative of Grameen Foundation, Ghana Health Service and Columbia University which aims to use mobile technology to improve the quality of antenatal and postnatal care for Ghanaian women and their families. MOTECH has developed an information service called Mobile Midwife which delivers time-specific voice or text messages to pregnant mothers and their partners and families both before and after birth.  We have also built a simple java-based app that...

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  • Update from AppLab Indonesia – Serving the Poorest

    Jason Hahn is Business Development Manager ICT Innovation, at Grameen Foundation Seattle.

    UPDATE: 04/06/2011 We just released a case study on using Grameen Foundation’s Progress Out of Poverty Index (PPI) with PT Ruma to help them ensure they reach their goal of working with the poor and poorest.  You can read the case study here. 

    In addition to the Grameen Foundation’s AppLab activities in Ghana and Uganda we are also very proud of our AppLab Indonesia and the innovative work we do there in conjunction with our local social enterprise partner, PT Ruma. ...

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  • The Community Knowledge Worker Platform

    For those of you who are frequent readers of the AppLab blog you will have seen quite a few references to the Community Knowledge Worker program.  We think of the CKW program as providing a human, technology and data analytics platform for socially minded organizations seeking to reach small holder farmers.  Heather Thorne, Director of ICT Innovation and Applab, breaks down how CKW provides each platform: 

    • First, it offers a human platform, introducing known, trusted points-of-presence in the village who serve as a two-way distribution channel for...
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  • The Difference a CKW Makes

    Lydia Namubiru is Partnership Analyst, CKW program, at Grameen Foundation Uganda.

    For a long time, Charles Mukonyi of Gamatui parish in Kapchorwa had a problem with his chickens – the hens died off soon after hatching new ones. Three months ago, he was visited by his neighbor Tabitha Salimo who told him that she had a phone that has huge amounts of agricultural knowledge to answer many of the problems farmers face. Naturally, the first thing Charles asked about was the hen problem. Tabitha checked her phone and informed Charles that his hens were likely to be...

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  • Simple mobile tools to combat fake agricultural inputs

    Whitney Gantt is Partnerships Manager, CKW program, at Grameen Foundation Uganda.

    Poor farmers in Uganda routinely struggle with access to agricultural inputs, such as fertilizer and improved seed varieties, that would boost their crop yields.  Access to improved inputs is one of the highest impact scenarios for improving farmer productivity.  In the right context, the application of fertilizer can significantly increase  yields, by up to 300% – which means the potential to triple income.

    Two of the chief constraints for a smallholder farmer to buy these...

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  • GF President visits CKWs in the field

    Grameen Foundation President Alex Counts recently visited Uganda and met with several of our Community Knowledge Workers.  Here Alex (second from right) heard from CKW Albert Somiko (right) of Kamunarukut about the impact of information distributed by CKWs on banana disease control.  Later that day CKWs presented Alex with a gourd for storing milk which is a traditional gift for a warm welcome to Uganda.  We hope to publish more news from Alex’s trip to Uganda, Kenya, and Ghana after he returns.

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  • How much can I get for my coffee?

    Jason Hahn is Business Development Manager ICT Innovation, at Grameen Foundation Seattle.

    As readers of this blog know, Grameen Foundation’s AppLab is building a network of Community Knowledge Workers (CKWs) in Uganda.  These CKW’s,  equipped with mobile phones and customized agricultural apps, bridge the last mile of agricultural extension work.  Below you will find the story of farmer Michael Kipsang’s experience working with his local CKW and we answered his coffee question. Thanks to Edward Chelangat, one of our field officers in Uganda, for passing...

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  • You still need to work in groups – even if you have a mobile phone!

    We have found that our Community Knowledge Workers (CKWs), much like the farmers they work with, often enjoy learning and sharing in a group setting.  While our model of information dissemination depends on mobile phones they don’t replace the help and support a good group can give to its members.

    In the photo at left, taken on March 9th in Kapting parish, Binyiny subcounty, Uganda the discusion revolved around creating a model farmer network, following up and getting feedback from farmers on CKW services, managing CKW challenges while at work and timely...

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  • Partnering with the community is important!

    Whenever AppLab launches a new project or  begins offering services in a new place we do it in full cooperation with the community.  This might mean using our rapid iterative in-community process of software design to build user centered software or in the case of the Community Knowledge Worker (CKW) model mean using meetings with the community and local authorities to build buy-in and knowledge about the CKW program.

    While the positive effects of partnering with the community are many we realized a very practical effect over the past few days.  Gwoktoo...

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  • How did James Amadi benefit from his local Community Knowledge Worker?

    Edward Chelangat is CKW Field Officer Kapchorwa , at Grameen Foundation Uganda. 

    “James Amadi is a farmer who uses CKW services.  He has benefited from coffee tips and price information.  His coffee trees are green in a dry season largely because of following CKW advice on manure application.  James also said the CKW has helped him identify diseases in his coffee plantation, for example leaf rust which he though it was coffee berry disease. He sprayed orious fungicide which cleared it off.”

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  • How can mobile phones be used to reduce poverty?

    Heather Thorne is Director ICT Innovation, at the Grameen Foundation Technology Center. This is the second in a series of three blog posts on the M4D space.

    Grameen Foundation approaches all of its work from a “Theory of Change” perspective, using this as a starting point to ensure activities and outputs are logically linked to the desired outcomes of each program.  AppLab’s Theory of Change is based on research showing that gaps in access to information and services (e.g., health, financial services, agriculture, markets, job opportunities, etc.) contribute...

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  • How can we overcome gaps in Mobile for Development (M4D) projects?

    Heather Thorne is Director ICT Innovation, at the Grameen Foundation Technology Center. This is the first in a series of three blog posts on the M4D space.

    The growth in the use of mobile phones in developing countries presents a powerful channel directly to the poor and poorest, and introduces a productive asset that can be used by rural entrepreneurs to generate income, and reach those who don’t yet have access on their own. 

    “Mobile for Development”, or M4D, has become one of the central areas of investment and focus in the technology and development...

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  • A few tweaks in the CKW intervention can deliver more impact to farmers

    Lydia Namubiru is Partnership Analyst, Community Knowledge Worker program, at Grameen Foundation Uganda.

    Samuel Olara’s chickens were getting weak and sleepy. He feared they had caught something that would kill them and he didn’t know how to save them. Fortunately, he knew someone who might know. He walked 2 kms to the local CKWs’ home to consult on chicken diseases and their treatments. The CKW in turn consulted his phone and advise Olara to treat his chicken with soda ash. They quickly recovered and were doing well three weeks later when a Grameen...

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  • AppLab’s Initial Social-Impact Measurement Efforts Pay Off

    Eric Cantor is  Director, Grameen Foundation Uganda.

    Grameen Foundation takes outcome measurement seriously.  We want to make sure that our programs and services are effective, and that we can demonstrate their benefits before implementing programs or practices on a wider scale or urging others to replicate them.

    With this in mind, we recently completed one of the first randomized control trials designed to assess the impact of a mobile phone-driven health service aimed at improving the lives of the poor.  The service we sought to measure was Health Tips,...

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  • Engendering our Work in Uganda

    After we launched our Community Knowledge Worker (CKW) network in Uganda, I was reviewing a budget report and came across a “babysitting” entry. Thinking this must be an obvious mistake, I contacted our local finance person for an explanation. I discovered that we did pay for babysitting as some of the CKWs we were training were mothers who would not have been able to participate unless we paid for child care. It makes perfect sense now and is a good example of a practical step you can take to ensure that women and men access your programs.

    At Grameen...

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  • Introducing MoTeCH to Communities One Durbar at a Time

    Kirsten Gagnaire is Project Manager MoTeCH, at Grameeen Foundation Uganda. 

    Durbars are community entry ceremonies that must be done in all of the 11 zones where we are working with Mobile Technology for Community Health (MoTeCH) .  They include bringing offerings to the Chief, telling the community members about MoTeCH, dancing and hopefully getting the community members to formally “accept” MoTeCH as a valuable health service.  Durbars last for several hours, usually take place under a tree and we’re holding them for all 11 zones this week so we can...

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  • Community Knowledge Worker Pilot Report and Program Launch

    Lydia Namubiru is Partnership Analyst, CKW program, at Grameen Foundation Uganda.

    In early 2009, Grameen Foundation went to Uganda with the idea of creating a fluid and effective two way communication channel between rural farmers and the world of agricultural experts, development agencies, traders and commercial players. Through this loop, rural small holder farmers would be given livelihood saving agricultural information generated by the experts and the big  players would keep informed on conditions on the farm from adoption of best practices to available...

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  • Village Phone Operators are Trained to be KerjaLokal Agents

    Ross Jaax is Program Manager, Grameen Foundation Indonesia.

    On April 28, AppLab organized a training of 20 VPOs in Tangerang, Western suburb of Jakarta, on becoming Agents for KerjaLokal, a blue collar job search service that can be accessed via the mobile phone.  The 20 new Agents will participate in our initial pilot testing of the KerjaLokal micro-site and the supporting algorithm to match job seekers with jobs they desire.

    We distributed 20 Huawei 6100 QUERTY phones that have a WAP browser.  During the pilot, Agents will sign-up job seekers using the...

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  • Our first MoTeCH Community Health Worker System Workshop

    Aliya Walji is Technical Program Manager, MoTeCH, at Grameen Foundation Ghana.

    In December we had our first workshop to introduce and test our mobile phone technology for MoTeCH to community health workers (CHWs) in the Upper East Region of Ghana. Prior to this workshop, much of our field research and testing has focused on building content for our “Pregnant Parents” application, but today we were focused on how MoTeCH can help practitioners deliver high quality antenatal and neonatal health care.

    Our goals for the workshop were to learn as much about the...

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  • Harvard Business School Students Assist AppLab Indonesia

    Ross Jaax is Program Manager, at Grameen Foundation Indonesia.

    We are being assisted this week by a crew of Harvard Business School (HBS) graduate students who have volunteered to assist Grameen Foundation and its sister social enterprise in Indonesia, PT Ruma, on developing business plans for some new pro-poor products. The HBS students will spend 2 weeks in Indonesia. During that time, they will review and further develop the business model for the AppLab-sponsored jobs market application,  Their recommendations will fit into Grameen...

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  • AppLab in Indonesia: New Beginnings

    Ross Jaax is Program Manager, at Grameen Foundation Indonesia.

    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...

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  • A Day in The Life of a (Female) Community Knowledge Worker

    Whitney Gantt is ICT Innovation Technical Program Officer, at Grameen foundation Uganda.

    Right now we’re in a planning phase—which ultimately means we’re wrestling with the “big” challenges that become even more significant at scale.  We’re building partnerships to begin recruiting Community Knowledge Workers (CKWs) in early 2010 and that has me thinking about one of those challenges: how do we ensure that female farmers have an equal opportunity to participate as CKWs and that they have the same access to services offered through the CKW channel?

    In the...

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  • How do AppLab Programs Get Started?

    Tim Wood is Director, Mobile Health Innovation, at Grameen Foundation Ghana.

    How do AppLab programs get started?  How do you really understand the best way to address the problems that people in poor rural communities face?  The approach we have consistently taken for AppLab projects is to conduct a broad “needs assessment” survey at the very outset of the project.  We work with experts in ethnographic research who spend hours and hours interviewing people in the field.  The end result is qualitative data which helps to guide and inform our project work.

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  • Lessons About Pregnancy and Motherhood Via Songs on a Mobile Phone?

    Jessica Osborne is Program Officer, MoTeCH, at Grameen Foundation Ghana.

    As a part of our MoTeCH initiative, we are holding content workshops to learn more about what types of information local women want and need in relation to their health. In Accra, Ghana, Eve’s Pregnancy School has offered lessons about pregnancy and motherhood to women  for over 10 years, and has seen over 2,000 mothers through safe pregnancy and delivery. The founder, Florence, gives bi-monthly classes to pregnant women and mothers; she attended our first content workshop recently and...

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  • Agriculture and Mobile Phones Come Together With Our Community Knowledge Worker Project in Uganda

    Eric Cantor is Director, Grameen Foundation Uganda.

    Last week in Uganda I was fortunate to attend a meeting in Busano subcounty, Mbale district, with some of the Community Knowledge Workers  (CKWs) – local farmer leaders empowered with mobile applications to improve the livelihoods of their communities by distributing and collecting relevant information about agriculture – and their clients, the smallholder farmers we all seek to benefit.  There was a lively discussion of the pros and cons of a variety of information services we have been testing nearby.  One...

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  • Rapid Prototyping Goes “Up Country” with MoTeCH

    Kirsten Gagnaire is Project Manager, MoTech, Grameen Foundation Ghana.

    Since the beginning, the Mobile Technology for Community Health (MoTech) team has been focusing on using rapid prototyping for figuring out what will – and won’t – work in the rural environment.  A week ago, the team headed to the poorest region in Ghana – the Upper East (UER) – to set up a series of exercises to determine whether pregnant mothers would be interested in asking questions about their pregnancy and newborn care via mobile phones. We were wanted to understand what types of...

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  • Grameen Foundation´s ICT Innovation Program – Approach and Philosophy

    David Edelstein is Director, ICT Innovation, at Grameen Foundation DC

    We officially launched our Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Program two years ago, when we began our Application Laboratory (AppLab) efforts in Uganda.  This initiative, in collaboration with the mobile operator MTN and Google, built on the successful Grameen Foundation/MTN Village Phone Program.  With over 10,000 Village Phone Operators, this served as a unique testing ground for developing applications and information services tailored to the needs of the poor.  Over nearly...

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