News / Africa

New App Aims to Fight Poverty

A farmer in the Philippines will soon receive advice on how to increase his rice field's productivity on his mobile phone. AppBridge hopes to expand the concept to help the poor receive education or skills training.
A farmer in the Philippines will soon receive advice on how to increase his rice field's productivity on his mobile phone. AppBridge hopes to expand the concept to help the poor receive education or skills training.
Joe DeCapua

A pilot project gets underway soon to test whether mobile phones can be used to help educate the poor. It’s estimated three quarters of the world’s poor have access to mobile phones.


More and more people are downloading application software – better known as apps – to their mobile phones. They can be used to play games, navigate, surf the web, shop and much, much more. Now, a project announced at the recent World Economic Forum will use an app to help alleviate poverty and improve education.

It’s called AppBridge. The idea is to link software developers with communities and non-governmental organizations, or NGOs. The pilot project is led by a World Economic Forum community called Young Global Leaders. It’s made up of about 700 people under age 40 from business, civil society, government and academia.

AppBridge Founder and Young Global Leader Margo Drakos
AppBridge Founder and Young Global Leader Margo Drakos

“There’s an incredible opportunity to be able to deliver simple educational or job skill training tools to those who already have phones and are most in need. There’s an incredible opportunity to help educate and reach them with something they already have in their hands,” said Margo Drakos, founder of AppBridge.

Phones don’t have to be smart

AppBridge will be initially aimed at those who own feature phones. These not smartphones like the Apple iPhone. Nevertheless, they still have features that put them a level above a standard mobile phone that only can make and receive calls.

“This is really about providing simple tools to those individuals who have feature phones through SMS and to be able to accelerate penetration to smartphones or 3G access,” she said.

SMS, or Short Message Service, is for text messaging. 3G, or 3rd generation mobile telecommunications, allows the user to access the access the Internet, text message, make video calls and much more.

“So we started this concept of creating an online platform that would really allow local organizations and local partners on the ground to identify specific community needs and/or submit local content that they need to get out to individuals. And then to pair the local organizations on the ground with a global community of mobile app developers in tandem with universities,” she said.

How to apps

The early apps are expected to provide skills training.

“In some cases,” Drakos said, “these are going to be very much technically oriented skills, like learning simple automotive or simple electrical or simple plumbing. To get the app through their phone and to know that it’s not spam and it’s not going to be costing them additional funds or so forth. So, there’ll be a distribution way for them to access this in tandem with local partners on the ground.

Apps could also be used to link entrepreneurs with micro-credit lenders or with markets.

“In some cases, women are not able to go and sell their goods from their home unless they know that the store is open and the stores don’t open at a consistent time. So, something as simple and basic as having an alert when the store is open for them to be able to leave their home and go sell their goods,” she said.

Drakos wasn’t always a technology entrepreneur. She used to make her living as a cellist, performing at concerts around the world.

AppBridge is working with telecommunication companies, educational institutions and non-profit organizations. Early versions of some of its apps could be available in March.

You May Like

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More