Jola Naibi

Writer and amateur photog. I seek to inspire and inform with the words I write and share and the photos I take. I have written a book of short stories: Terra Cotta Beauty, and I am working on a lot more. Reading and writing fuel my energy. In reading, I explore this vast and diverse world, in writing, I employ my over-active imagination and address the 'what-if' questions that life often throws at us.

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Text the Job Done!

By on November 16, 2010

According to recent statistics from the International Telecommunications Union, only 18% of people in the developing world have access to the internet. In sharp contrast, however, more than 50% owned a mobile phone at the end of 2009 and that number is set to rise and continue rising. This means that at least three-quarters of the world’s 46 billion mobile phone users are in the developing world. It also means that the mobile phone can be a tool for economic empowerment unlike any other.

txteagle has succeeded in tapping into the expertise of the people in the developing countries through a new and growing innovation called ‘virtual outsourcing’. It is the brainchild of Nathan Eagle, a research scientist from MIT, who was on a teaching assignment in rural Kenya and realized that this small piece of technology which was in the hands of so many people, actually had the potential to make money for them.

It is really quite simple : txteagle distributes jobs via text messages in return for small but handy payments.

Sound too good to be true? Okay, let me explain. You see the concept of crowdsourcing involves breaking down jobs into small tasks and sending them to lots of people and this is exactly what txteagle is doing. One unique factor about these jobs is that they can only be done by local people because they require local knowledge. For example, checking what the street signs say in rural Sudan, in order to provide the information to a satellite navigation system or translating words from English into a local Kenyan dialect to market a company’s goods and services.

Payments are then transfered to the user’s phone by a local money service such as the M-PESA system which is run by Safaricom or alternatively by providing additional call time units or credit.

txteagle is currently working with over 220 mobile phone service providers and therefore has the ability to reach 2 billion people in 80 countries, now that’s what I call awesome!

Source of Information: The Economist October 30 – November 5, 2010 Print Edition

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