I thought this was very interesting. The Global Mobile World Awards 2008 were given out last week and one of the categories was “Best Use of Mobile for Social & Economic Development“.
Grameenphone CellBazaar is a user-generated virtual marketplace, accessible via mobile phone or PC to nearly 17 million people in Bangladesh. In developing countries, limited communications hinder commerce and uninformed farmers and traders have little bargaining power with exploitative middlemen. Using CellBazaar (www.cellbazaar.com), buyers and sellers trade basic goods from their mobiles, bringing the benefits of information exchange and one-to-many trading to a previously unwired rural population. Users post or search an item, spending less than US$.02, either by SMS or WAP or WEB, depending on their preferences. While common telephony establishes one-to-one communication, CellBazaar links many-to-many using the same basic mobile infrastructures. Judges’ comments: “Great initiative – full marks for self-sustainability. This grass root level initiative is not only for operators to make money but for rural folks to sell and trade their goods and increased price transparency and help for the illiterate is also available. It has clear environmental benefits through reduced travel.“
One wonders out loud if anyone at Business New Brunswick is looking at the use of technology to support economic development here?