Today is Blog Action Day. Today, many blogs all over the world will bring news, ideas and opinions to the world regarding one subject: poverty. Being a mobile marketeer, it seems like a weird idea to write about poverty since mobile phones must be the last thing on the minds of people struggling to stay alive, right?
You couldn’t have been more wrong. The most recent Mobile Metrics report by AdMob – AdWords for mobile – shows that AdMob serves about 35% of all their impressions in underdeveloped countries. Not impressed? Fishermen in India use their mobile to check the day rates of different sorts of fish to determine what fish they should aim for. In South Africa, people have completely skipped the era of broadband and use the internet for the first time on their handsets. Although food en fresh water aren’t, mobile is a true global phenomenon. So, how can we use mobile phones to decrease poverty? I have an idea.
Recently I became a Child Sponsor at World Vision, a charity organization that improves children’s lifes all over the world. Looking at the picture of my newly sponsored child, Scola Jalale (in Malawi that’s a real common name), a mobile idea popped up.
A couple of months ago I wrote an article about mobile charity payments. In this article I argue that since the mobile payment system is already in use in Africa, we could use it to send money directly to African people we care about. And now I’m Scola’s sponsor I had to think of it again. Scola is eight years old and currently at school, how fantastic would it be if we could text each other? This project would seemlessly fit in her school program and the money I would send her would benefit her and her community. The system should be pretty easy to set up, since the mobile payment system has already proven to be a success in Kenia. The costs of the text messages could be billed to the sponsor through a reversed billing system, which is also used in tv show votes. By selecting a certain number the sponsor can chose to send a message with either 0.50, 1, 1.50 or 2 dollars/euros/pounds. And given that World Vision probably wants to stay in control of the process, they could facilitate the cash points and take a share of the gift to invest in the whole community. If I were fifty and had a couple of millions in the bank, I’d start developing tomorrow.