Mobile Social Entrepreneurs

January 26, 2010

Where are you?

I am keen to find examples of social entrepreneurs that use mobile technology – they could be called “mobile social entrepreneurs” .. but where are they?

I am not talking about social entrepreneurs who use a mobile phone to make things happen or use a mobile broadband dongle to run a business.  I am talking about social entrepreneurs who create businesses that are socially beneficial and based on mobile technology.

Mobile Social Entreprenuers and BSX

The example that I often hear quoted is the fisherman who accesses fish prices in different local ports via a mobile phone service, in order to set his course back from a fishing trip and maximise his income.  I guess the person who set up and is running this “fish price service” is a mobile social entrepreneur.  This story and others are featured on the EPROM website page – Why Africa?

There are many example where mobile technology is being used for social change – see but it is harder to find examples of where mobile technology is the basis for social entrepreneurship.  Any examples, please let me know.


6 Responses to “Mobile Social Entrepreneurs”

  1. Chaitra Says:

    You might want to check They are running a SMS service for farmers in rural Maharashtra (India). They send tips on cropping and livelihood alternatives, etc.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Rodrigo Inacio, Dennis Short and Freie Mediale S., Medienstiftung FM . Medienstiftung FM said: Mobile Social Entrepreneurs « Steve Wolak – Crowdtalk: There are many example where mobile technology is being used for […]

  3. Zygmunt Lozinski Says:

    There is an interesting example from Tanzania, which may fit your definition. This is the SMS for Life program, run by Roll Back Malaria, with Vodafone, Novartis and IBM. This uses airtime as a reward for medical staff reporting stock levels of antimalarial drugs. Knowing the stock levels avoids the problem of critical drugs running out, by re-ordering when stocks run low.

    The project manager is Pete Ward, he may able to give you insights into the social entrepreneurship aspects.

    There are also lots of good examples in Russell Southwood’s “Less Walk, More Talk: How Celtel and the Mobile Phone Changed Africa. Wiley, 2008. ISBN 978-0-470-74320-1

  4. Andi Says:

    The Venn diagram in your post summarises precisely the elements which we’ve been working on combining with our Mobenzi service (

    There’s a lot more explanation on the site, but in essence, Mobenzi seeks to solve commercial challenges (which businesses are prepared to pay for) by empowering low income people who have access to a mobile phone to become mobile workers.

    There’s an enormous, elastic, largely untapped labour force in the developing world – people who have access to mobile technology but not much else.

    Mobenzi (derived from the Zulu word for work) is based on the premise that there’s huge potential to harness the inherent computational ability present in everyone, through a platform which takes an input (e.g. text that needs to be translated), segments it into micro-tasks, and orchestrates the completion of those tasks through a distributed network of mobile workers. “Mobile business process outsourcing” could involve hundreds of different types of tasks which software algorithms struggle to solve on their own.

    Tremendous value can be provided, at relatively low cost, with revenue shared with mobile workers, creating a sustainable model and mutually beneficial relationship for all stakeholders.

    It’s certainly early days for our project (our second pilot begins in a few weeks) but results so far are very encouraging.

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