Week 11: Africa & Mobile-Based Solutions

The Grameen Foundation has worked in Sub-Saharan Africa for more than a decade by building relevant mobile-based solutions and increasing access to financial services.  The current work focuses on delivering financial solutions and information services via mobile technology that target the rural poor, with a specific focus on agriculture, health, and livelihoods.

In Kenya, the Grameen Foundation is using mobile technology to improve access to financial services and information on agriculture.  The model is to provide an e-warehouse initiative, in which the foundation is:

  • Providing information to help smallholder maize farmers properly store their crops post-harvest
  • Connect them to financial services and markets for final sale

The foundation is also working with Musoni Kenya, a microfinance institution that provides fully automated, mobile phone-based banking services.  Musoni is the microfinance institution that provides a fully automated, mobile phone-based banking service that allows the bank’s clients to receive  financing and make repayments over mobile phone.

In Uganda, the Grameen Foundation launched mobile technology work in Uganda in 2002 with Village Phone.  In 2009, the foundation launched the Community Knowledge Worker initiative.  Here is a breakdown:

  • Serves farmers in remote communities through a network of peer advisers
  • Combines mobile technology and human networks to help smallholder farmers get accurate, timely information to improve their businesses and livelihoods

The role of mobile technology is the cornerstone to the foundation’s work in Sub-Saharan Africa.  All the programs run through the ability to use mobile technology, which in my opinion is a very good thing.

KIVA is a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.  The group works with field partners to provide an extensive network of microfinance organizations.  Some countries where KIVA operates includes, but not limited to:

  • Cameroon
  • Rwanda
  • Kenya
  • Uganda
  • Togo
  • Mali
  • Zimbabwe
  • Tanzania
  • Sierra Leone

Dambisa Moyo in Dead Aid, discusses three interlinked stages to make development happen.  The three are:

  1. An economic plan which reduces a country’s reliance an aid year to year
  2. Cut back on expenditures and enforce rules of prudence and not live beyond its mean
  3. Strengthening of institutions

Moyo’s plan is very different from Sachs plan in The End of Poverty.  Sachs plan includes globalization of everything from democracies to economic systems.

Poverty abroad can hurt the United States in many ways.  Unrest in lesser developed countries can lead to violence within a country, sometimes resulting in civil war, and bringing the U.S. into the conflict.  Terrorism is one major concern for the U.S. and world.

The following videos are TED talks discussing aid in Africa:

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