Mobile phones and devices have helped reduce gaps in the market in recent years. We can do more on-screen, in the comfort of our homes, in palms of our hands. But where mobile devices are possibly having the most impressive impact is in the developing countries and communities where government infrastructure can be poor and societies often disturbed. A recent article in The Atlantic pointed out, “When states fail to deliver governance goods, communities increasingly will step up, digitally.”

Here are a couple of revolutionary mobile initiatives in developing countries that are stepping up where governments aren’t able to:

  • M-Pesa is a small value money transferring system in Kenya that relies on ordinary cellphones to transfer money, pay bills, even buy groceries without banks. The service is so widely used, with $25 million a day being transferred, that M-Pesa agents are popping up everywhere including a Nairobi slum. The system is popular because banks are either too corrupt or not interested in serving the poor.
  • iCow is another Kenyan mobile services that provides agricultural information to farmers so they can better look after their herds.
  • Famously, the Libyan government-in-exile formed online, and much of the Arab Spring has its roots in social media.
  • Finally, ‘Cyber-Grannies’, a group of British grandmothers who take time in their days to teach children in India online via Skype!

The Internet provides people with unlimited possibilities for how to overcome government and community shortfalls, showing the power that the digital age has to completely transform the way we communicate, lead and run our lives.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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