Week 11: A Focus on Poverty Aid through Mobile Technologies

Out of the forty three countries that have adopted the Yunus’ Grameen Bank model, I have chosen to take a closer look at Ghana and Kenya.

They Grameen Foundation has been working with Ghana Health Service since 2008. Some improvements they have contributed is to the maternal and neonatal care in rural communities through mobile use. The program they are specifically using is called the Mobile Technology for Community Health initiative (MOTECH). MOTECH reaches out to the users by providing information on sexual reproductive health to youth and information on farming techniques and weather reports to smallholder famers.


MOTECH was developed in 2009 with the help of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Funding for the program was provided from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Two applications were developed:

  • The Mobile Midwife Application
  • Nurses Application

The Mobile Midwife Application enables pregnant women, new mothers and their families to receive SMS or voice messages that provide time-specific information about their pregnancies and child care each week.

The Community nurses utilize the Nurses Application to collect patient data and upload records to a centralized database, which helps track the care of their patients and identify those who are due for care.

These applications are available in five languages in four regions of Ghana. Expansion planned for this program is supported by the Saving Lives at Birth Partners: United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Government of Norway, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, and the World Bank. I would consider the donations from these organizations as an example of microlending.

In Kenya, the mobile technology they have taken advantage the e-warehouse initiative that is used to improve access to financial services and information on agriculture. A mobile based system is also being developed to help smallholder maize farmers properly store their crops post-harvest, and connect them to financial services and markets for final sale. The e-warehouse initiative is in collaboration with the Grameen Foundation and Farmers Concern Internation with support from USAID.

Musoni Kenya is an example of a microfinancing institution that provides fully automated, mobile phone-based banking services. Musoni Kenya is currently being expanded into the rural areas of the country.

The M-PESA system is helping Kenya lead the world in mobile money. It was a program launched in 2007 by Safaricom, the country’s largest mobile-network operator. Twenty five percent of the country’s gross national product flows through this.


M-PESA allows people to:

  • Transfer cash by using their phone
  • Offer loans and savings products
  • To disburse salaries or pay bills

KIVA is active in the Sub Saharan Africa in Kenya through the SMEP Microfinance bank for the past 68 months. Their focus in Kenya is anti-poverty, family and community empowerment, client voice, facilitation of savings and innovation through technology. Uganda also utilizes KIVA through the UGAFODE Microfinance Limited for the past 35 months. The focus in Uganda is anti-poverty, client voice, facilitation of savings and innovation through technology.


Three interlinked staged Moyo talks about in Chapter 10:

  • Economic plan which reduces a country’s reliance on aid
  • Choose a finance alternative
  • Strengthening of institutions
    • Accountability and transparency

Sachs’ proposal is different from Moyo’s because it includes the idea of Enlightened Globalization through these nine steps:

  • A commitment to ending poverty-halving poverty by 2015 and ending extreme poverty by 2025
  • Adopt a plan of action
  • Raise the voice of the poor
  • Redeem the role of the US in the world
  • Rescue the IMF and the World Bank
  • Strengthen the United Nations
  • Harness a global service
  • Promote sustainable development
  • Make a personal commitment

Poverty abroad can hurt Western economies through the impact of war, disease and corruption. Just this past year there was an Ebola scare in the United States. If there was more help with these suffering countries, the spread of disease would be less likely. The impact of HIV/AIDS also affects the Western nations. Even though the disease is a much greater problem in the SSA, the prevention of spreading the disease in any area should be a top priority for any nation. Corruption also affects the Western areas because of the responsibility the United States, in particular, feels to involve themselves and stop the wrong doings that are occurring in nations like Libya and the Middle East.

Esther Duflo talks about social experiments used to fight poverty.

This video talks about the mobile technology currently being used all over Africa called Health eVillages


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