Poverty-Fighting Mobile Transaction Systems (Part 3): Information Exchange

This is the third installment in our series on mobile transaction systems and their contribution to the fight against poverty. First, we introduced this series with an overview of mobile penetration rates and the mobile phone’s power for impact. Then, last week, we highlighted the first transaction system– mobile money – and the benefits such transactions offer to users. This week, we will look at the different ways mobile phones facilitate exchanges of information and how they benefit the users.

Information Exchange

Mobile phones can provide information to the otherwise isolated citizens at the base of the pyramid. When mobile phones facilitate the exchange of information, this has perhaps the most wide-ranging impact on its users.
For Farmers
Source: http://www.grameenfoundation.org/
The ability to access information about weather and prices leads to make or break decisions for farmers. To facilitate quality access, organizations like the Grameen Foundation have developed schemes that allow poor farmers in Uganda to gain access to valuable market data. This empowers the farmers by granting them access to information about market prices, weather reports, and planting advice. Without the data and information, farmers can suffer costly losses that would be preventable with timely knowledge. A designated “community knowledge worker” (CKW) identified by Grameen collects information from farmers and uploads it to the database for other CKWs. This sort of data collection and information sharing is hugely empowering, but it’s impossible without access to a mobile phone. Other examples of organizations seeking to fill this gap are mFarm, iCow, and Esoko.
For Job Seekers
Source: http://www.assuredlabor.com/
There are transaction systems that have revolutionized the job and talent searches in the developing world. As more corporations are moving into emerging markets, they need to source and hire talent. Mobile transaction platforms like Assured Labor (branded as Empleo Listo, think of Monster on SMS), allow companies to access potential employees on existing channels – mobile phones. On the other side, users can search for job openings on their phones. This enables users to find local jobs and avoid emigration where possible. This platform is especially advantageous for those who do not have access to traditional Internet on a PC, where most jobs are posted.
The mobile phone creates opportunities in markets that are beyond the reach of a traditional laptop.  You’ll find farmers and job seekers in all populations, but continued innovation in mobile technology can further extend the benefits of information exchange on a mobile phone.
Check back next week for examples of networking, participation, and social capital exchanges made possible on mobile phones.