Serving the Poorest in Indonesia


Jason Hahn is the Business Development Manager for ICT Innovation at the Grameen Foundation in Seattle.

UPDATE: 04/06/2011 We just released a case study on using Grameen Foundation’s Progress out of Poverty Index™ (PPI™) with PT Ruma to help them ensure they reach their goal of working with the poor and poorest.

In addition to Grameen Foundation’s activities in Ghana and Uganda that – with the support of our donors – fight poverty through the power of the mobile phone, we are also very proud of the innovative work we do in Indonesia, in conjunction with our local partner, the social business PT Ruma. Working with Ruma, our AppLab Indonesia initiative has built a network of 6,400 predominately poor village-based entrepreneurs who sell mobile airtime and other telecommunications products to their neighbors (and boy, do they sell – as of February they had reached more than 560,000 customers) and increase their income while doing so.

Of the entrepreneurs who remain in the program more than four months, about half double their income.  Increasing income is a significant goal as AppLab Indonesia and Ruma have worked together to use Grameen Foundation’s Progress out of Poverty Index to recruit the poor and poorest as entrepreneurs. More than 60% of the entrepreneurs working with Ruma are poor (living on less than $2.50/day), while 10% are the poorest of the poor (living on less than $1.25/day).

In a prior post, my colleague Heather Thorne emphasized the importance of partnerships to success in ICT4D projects.  We’re very grateful for the generous financial and technical support provided by Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach™ initiative, without which it would have been very difficult to accomplish this work.

In early April we will be breaking new ground with a series of mobile applications that will provide the poor, who may own a very simple mobile phone, with access to information they didn’t have before.  Sorry to be purposefully vague but we need to keep some surprises for the unveiling!  Watch this space for more information.

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