Using mobile technology to fight poverty

A benefit of my occasional gift to Heifer International is receiving World Ark, the Magazine of Heifer International. The holiday 2010 issue had some very interesting facts and articles about how mobile technology is changing lives in many areas of the world. Some of them are startling.

  • A country’s gross domestic product increases by 0.8% with a 10% increase in the World Ark 2010 Cover Holiday Issuenumber of mobile phones
  • At the end of 2009, there were 4.6 billion mobile phone subscriptions
  • Of the 1.9 billion new connections between 2006 and 2009, 1.6 billion were in poor countries
  • 75% of the world’s rural population is covered by cellular service
  • The mobile phone market in Africa has grown by 800% since 2003.

In Frank Bures’ article in the magazine, Can U Hear Us Now?, he points out what he saw in Africa,

In the last decade, cell phones have become shockingly common. . . . Among the biggest ramifications of this change, perhaps the biggest is economic. Now, not only can people reach out and touch their friends and family, they can also talk to business partners, get market reports and find clients. Mobile technology provides a significant boost to the incomes of those on the bottom rung of the ladder.

The holidays are coming. You’re probably trying to figure out what to give everyone on your list. Especially those difficult people who already have everything, who are already drowning in an avalanche of stuff.

The perfect solution is to donate a Heifer International gift in someone’s name. A heifer is $500, a sheep $120, a llama $150, three rabbits $60, chicks $20, ducks and geese $20, a pig $120, tree seedlings $60, a water buffalo $250, a camel $850. It’s a great gift. And the profits a family can make from the gift of an income producing animal can help with the purchase of a cell phone, which will further improve their economic situation.

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