Grameen Foundation AppLab in Action
Access to accurate, timely information continues to be a major challenge for the poor, especially those in rural areas. In Uganda, where most people earn a living and feed their families through farming, access to high-quality agricultural information is a particular challenge. Grameen Foundation’s AppLab Uganda was awarded a multi-year Gates Foundation grant to develop high-impact, scalable and sustainable solutions that could efficiently reach the poorest farmers, in the most remote areas, solving the “last mile” challenges faced by so many government agencies and poverty-focused NGOs. Our Community Knowledge Worker (CKW) program supports agricultural extension through a network of locally nominated farmers who use smartphones to collect and disseminate real-time, actionable information. Grameen Foundation has also recently launched a new CKW initiative in Colombia, to help rural farmers there.
In Uganda, four mobile network operators (MNOs) have deployed mobile money solutions. Though each has begun with a suite of payments products, such as domestic remittances and bill payments, there is an opportunity to expand to other, more inclusive financial products. In 2011, Grameen Foundation Uganda partnered with the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) – an independent policy and research center dedicated to advancing financial access for the world's poor that is housed at the World Bank – to set up the CGAP Mobile Financial Services Incubator, in cooperation with MTN Uganda. The group also received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop new financial products that could be offered over existing mobile money platforms.
In Ghana, because information on pregnancy and childcare is not readily available, pregnant women often don’t receive appropriate treatment or care, leaving them unaware of how to protect and take the best possible care of themselves or their unborn child during pregnancy, or of their baby during the first critical year of life. In 2010 Grameen Foundation received a three-year grant from the Gates Foundation to build a mobile health platform to improve the efficiency of community health nurses in Ghana (MOTECH). A related voice-based application, Mobile Midwife, was launched to teach prospective parents and new mothers about healthy pregnancies and newborn care. The goal of both programs is to increase the quality and quantity of pre- and post-natal care.
Indonesia has a vast population of 220 million people, more than half of whom live on less than $2 per day. The population’s growing access to mobile phones, and the country’s rapidly growing 3G network, make this a unique opportunity to create and implement mobile-based applications and services to benefit the lives and livelihoods of the poor – and for Grameen Foundation AppLab to innovate and learn.