Thursday, January 31, 2008

Simple, powerful mobile tools for developing economies

Tapan Parikh, 33, University of Washington, has been named 2007
Humanitarian of the year by Technology Review magazine.

An excerpt from TR magazine --

"When fishermen from the Indian state of Kerala are done fishing each
day, they have to decide which of an array of ports they should sail
for in order to sell their catch. Traditionally, the fishermen have
made the decision at random--or, to put it more charitably, by
instinct. Then they got mobile phones. That allowed them to call each
port and discover where different fishes were poorly stocked, and
therefore where they would be likely to get the best price for their
goods. That helped the fishermen reap a profit, but it also meant that
instead of one port's being stuck with more fish than could be sold
while other ports ran short, there was a better chance that supply
would be closer to demand at all the ports. The fishermen became more
productive, markets became more efficient, and the Keralan economy as
a whole got stronger.

This story demonstrates an easily forgotten idea: relatively simple
improvements in information and communication technologies can have a
dramatic effect on the way businesses and markets work. That idea is
central to the work of Tapan Parikh, a doctoral student in computer s
cience and the founder of a company called Ekgaon Technologies. Parikh
has created information systems tailored for small-business people in
the developing world--systems with the mobile phone, rather than the
PC, at their core. His goal is to make it easier for these business
owners to manage their own operations in an efficient and transparent
way, and to build connections both with established financial
institutions and with consumers in the developed world. This will help
them--they'll be able to get money to expand their operations and,
ideally, find better prices for what they sell--and it should be a
boon to development as well."

Read the full article at -

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