Mobile Microfranchising Answers the Call to Power Economic Opportunity in Indonesia

Mobile Microfranchising Answers the Call to Power Economic Opportunity in Indonesia

John Converse Townsend's picture
Ashoka Changemakers, eBay Foundation, and The Opportunity Project recently announced the five winners of the Powering Economic Opportunity: Create a World That Works competition, each of which will receive US $50,000. The winners included the Grameen Foundation’s initiative: Mobile Microfranchising in Indonesia.
What does mobile microfranchising mean? And what does it offer to disadvantaged populations in Indonesia?

Mobile Microfranchising is the Grameen Foundation’s social impact project that is powered by mobile phones. Aspiring entrepreneurs — most often women — purchase pre-packaged kits, which include a mobile phone and a microfinance loan. 
The entrepreneur (now the head of a mini mobile-phone franchise) then sells airtime minutes to neighbors, developing fundamental business skills and often doubling her income in just four months. Entrepreneurs with less experience also have access to additional support via a wireless field officer network.
Grameen’s Village Phone Initiative and Application Laboratory (AppLab) program offers meaningful business opportunities to Indonesians in underserved communities by providing them with access to a mobile marketplace, job search services, health and agriculture information, and small business mentoring. The AppLab, in particular, develops and delivers applications that come preloaded on low-end feature phones, enabling just about anyone with a mobile phone to be a microfranchise entrepreneur. 
Indonesia is among the most densely populated places on the planet; its 240 million residents make it the fourth-most populated country. And Indonesians love their mobile phones, which is why Mobile Microfranchising is such an exciting initiative: Though the vast majority of residents live on less than US $2.50 per day, Indonesia’s mobile phone penetration is 80 percent. Indonesia is the global leader in mobile Facebook users, and ranks second in total SMS messages sent and received. By tapping into phones, Grameen’s projects have the potential to reach every corner of the country in a heartbeat, and the capacity to lift hundreds of millions people out of poverty.
To help Mobile Microfranchising accomplish its goals, Qualcomm Incorporated, through its Wireless Wireless Reach initiative™, has committed to matching the US $50,000 in funding the program received from Ashoka Changemakers and eBay Foundation, and will help expand Grameen Foundation’s current network of more than 8,500 entrepreneurs to 60,000 over the next three years. 
"We believe poor people can improve their own lives if they are given the appropriate tools and opportunities," said Alex Counts, president and CEO of the Grameen Foundation. "We are extremely pleased to have been selected from such a wide pool of global entrants, and want thank our supporters for voting. Qualcomm has been a great ally in our work, and we appreciate its steadfast support for our efforts to bring new opportunities to Indonesia's poor."
Mobile Microfranchising in Indonesia was selected as a winner of the Powering Economic Opportunity competition through a combination of public voting and evaluation by an international panel of experts.

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