It’s well known that over 90% of microloans go to women because women are more likely to repay the borrowed money and, more importantly, they reach out to help those around them. Time and time again, women have used whatever resources they have to render positive change in their communities. With the spread of mobile services to remote areas devoid of internet capability, new opportunities abound. Several talks at TEDxBayArea TEDWomen related to the incredible potential of the mobile market and how women have used and can use it to improve the lives of themselves and others.
Shaherose Charania, co-founder of Women 2.0, explained how GrameenPhone provided some women in remote Banglaeshi villages with cell phones. The women loaned their phones to members of the village to help them with developing/running their own businesses. For example- instead of traveling for days to meet with a potential buyer, a farmer could now make a call. The women charged for the minutes used. That money enabled those women to build other businesses of their own- buying a cow or a loom. Now- over 70% of people in Bangladesh own cell phones; it’s become a critical part of their lives. And that change was started by women.
Two other presentations were from teams of women that had developed mobile apps over a weekend during a Hackathon co-sponsored by Women 2.0. Men and women came together, meeting for the first time, to develop a new marketable application for cell phones. There were lots of interesting projects but 2 all-women teams created apps explicitly designed to improve the life of women in rural India. One application provided women in rural India a way to sell their wares directly to buyers rather than going through a middle-person (thereby keeping more profit). Now named MarketYoYo.com, the team is taking this product forward. The other team, Team WHAM! developed an app to provide support and counseling for women who were physically abused. If you’d like to hear more about these two, check out the videos: MarketYoYo.com and WHAM!
It’s amazing what teamwork, ingenuity, and caring can do.