SMS Based SMEs Virtual Notice Board

SMS Based SMEs Virtual Notice Board

Tanzania
Organization type: 
for profit
Budget: 
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

In order to grow in business and become effective & competitive, SMEs are constantly in search for information or look for someone or somewhere to GET or DISPOSE their goods or services. This unique platform socially interacts SMEs in terms of “I OFFER/SELL vs I LOOK FOR/BUY

Countries this work focuses on: East Africa countries –Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and
Burundi

About You
Organization:
Pink Prime Solutions Ltd
Section 1: About You
First Name

Amani

Last Name

Nakembetwa

Website
Country
Section 2: About Your Organization
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?

Organization Name

Pink Prime Solutions Ltd

Organization Phone

+255 788 000189

Organization Address

P. O. Box 31150, Dar es Salaam

Organization Country
How long has this organization been operating?

1‐5 years

Your idea
Country your work focuses on
Innovation
What makes your innovation unique?

It is common to find physical notice boards in buildings like hotels, market places etc where people selling/offering something and those looking for or would like to buy something interact by posting their information on physical notice boards. The audience of this system is limited to those people who physically visits that place.

With this unique innovation system, one needs no physical building, piece of paper or walking around a physical notice board in order to interact with buyer/searcher or seller/offerers. What it requires is to have a mobile phone with SMS enabled services.

Sellers will post their offers to a system (server) by sending a short message describing his goods/service on one side while on the other side buyers shall post what they want or look for in a similar approach. The operation mechanism of the server shall fulfill the requirements of the two sides according to information posted on the Virtual Notice Board (server)

Based on the fact that many SMEs in poor countries don’t have access or can’t afford internet on one side while on the other side mobile phone penetration in these countries is growing up day after day up to remote areas, this system shall be a kind of social networking among SMEs regardless of where he/she is provided that there is availability of mobile phone network/services

Do you have a patent for this idea?

Impact
Tell us about the social impact of your innovation. Please include both numbers and stories as evidence of this impact

It is now increasingly recognized that the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)
play a crucial role in employment creation and income generation and poverty reduction. However, the trend shows that many SMEs once started, it is hard to grow and become effective and competitive in their roles mentioned above. Among many reasons for their failure is lack of information acquisition or sharing.

Since SMEs tend to be labour-intensive, they create employment at relatively low
levels of investment per job created. At present in Tanzania, unemployment is a significant problem that has to deal with. According to Tanzania’s SME Policy (2003), estimates show that there are about 700,000 new entrants
into the labour force every year. About 500,000 of these are school leavers with few
marketable skills. The public sector employs only about 40,000 of the new entrants into the labour market, leaving about 660,000 to join the unemployed or the underemployed reserve. Most of these persons end up in the SME sector, and especially in the informal sector. Given that situation and the fact that Tanzania is characterized by low rate of capital formation, SMEs are the best option to address this problem.

Internet is one of the most convenient and cheap platform for SMEs to acquire and share information, but due to lack of education or computer skills, limited internet access especially in remote rural areas where majority of SMEs are found, internet hasn’t being that much helpful to many SMEs.

By establishing and promoting this information sharing platform, SMEs are better positioned to prompt receiving information about local and international markets of their products. Instant access of information at the fingertip shall have an added advantage in terms of reducing operation costs, increasing efficiency and effectiveness in doing business and hence leveraging GROWTH to SME/Private sector [IMPACT] which is regarded as an engine in driving the economy to significance by creating employment, poverty reduction and enhancing living standards of the people

Problem: Describe the primary problem(s) that your innovation is addressing

One of the primary problems this innovation faces is the lack of awareness among the community of SMEs that INFORMATION IS POWER. Many believe that failure to growth or collapse of small entrepreneur’s businesses is attributed to lack of finance only. However, even when given finance but in the absence of other growth promoting factors (business skills, information, market & marketing strategies, entrepreneurship culture etc), SMEs businesses are prone to failure. This problem exists even to other SME development stakeholders (government, NGO’s private sector organizations) when they are not willing or reluctant to campaign or promote the fact that SMEs should work on or operate based on Information.

The other problem is lack of capital of finance to put in place a professional platform for running this business. It requires ICT infrastructures like computers, modems, servers and integration costs to mobile phone operators and compliance fees to regulators (Communication Authority)

From the financial point of view, also arises lack of finances to hire professional programmers for some of the services that requires automated interaction between customer and server (platform). On top of that, since many requests are human based in nature, it requires also sort of customer care centre to treat some of the requests on the form of personal touch in sorting for replies to customers.

Actions: Describe the steps that you are taking to make your innovation a success. Include a description of the business model. What might prevent that success?

This business model is based on Electronic Business Development Services Provision (e-BDS) for SMEs in the area of Information Search and Promotion and Marketing of SMEs products (goods & services). The first step in making this innovation a success is that the business is for profit marking in order for the service to be sustainable. We stand to believe that once brought to understanding the importance of instant access to information to the development of their enterprises, the SMEs are ready to pay for it provided that it is readily available (accessed on their mobile phone) and affordable (at a cost of multiple SMS).

The second step is making this innovation success is the choice of technology and platform for its implementation.
• Majority of SMEs living in the areas where there is mobile network coverage, do own or use mobile phone services (for calling and SMS texting).
• Internet penetration in Tanzania < 2% while mobile phone penetration >30%. and increasing at a rate of 10%
• SMS service is well known and friendly to users so there is no need for training on how to use. The service has been tested and implemented for long time by the GSM operator and there is no risk in implementing this technology in new innovative ways.
• Mobile phone has the ability to reach mass audiences in a way that no other technology has had the potential to do before now. Indeed, in many parts of the world mass communication is leaping straight to mobile phones and bypassing both the internet and landlines.

What can hinder the success of this innovation is the lack of support from other stakeholders in promoting private sector growth in the country like government and its institutions, development partners and donors, private sector foundation institutions etc. Failure for their cooperation in promoting this fact to the SME sector will delay of hinder its intended impact.

Results: Describe the expected results of these actions over the next three years. Please address each year separately, if possible

This innovation aims to create Social and Business Networking for SMEs who are characterized by being young, small and often die before maturity, often less structured and less formal, with fewer fixed procedures, because there has not been time to develop them, less opportunity to automate and introduce IT or to have its own IT department with resident expertise due to limited resources, but they have the advantage of flat hierarchies and thus being very flexible esp. in decision making.
In year 1 one the expected result is a number of registered by SMEs by Opt-in with their profile of location, name and type of business being undertaken. Having this profile online is an achievement towards networking, knowing who, where is and what is doing. This kind of information is suitable even for over development partners who would plan for any intervention in development of SMEs sector in the country.

Success in year 2 is in fully taking advantage of networking given that the platform shall be loaded with lot of information useful for daily life and business of entrepreneurs. Exchange of information which when used effectively shall be manifested in increase in efficiency or effectiveness in doing business and hence growth or stabilization of business which promotes to increased in service offered, additional to employment opportunities and growth in income of the people

In year 3 we foresee increasing use of this facility and hence more enterprises grows from survival to stability and hence effectiveness. From my side also I expect increase in income generated from the payments of using the service (pre-payment of SMS service) that means more employment, more contribution to GDP and improved life standard

How many people will your project serve annually?

More than 10,000

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

$100 ‐ 1000

Does your innovation seek to have an impact on public policy?

No

If your innovation seeks to impact public policy, how?

N/A

Sustainability
What stage is your Social Enterprise in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Does your organization have a board of directors or an advisory board?

No

Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with NGOs?

No

Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with businesses?

No

Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with government?

No

Please tell us more about how partnerships could be critical to the success of your Social Enterprise

Approximately 250 words left (1200 characters).

We would like to learn more about how your initiative is financially supported. Please explain your business plan/revenue model

N/A

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

I have a personal hobby using SMS for exchange of information among my colleagues. I use SMS to simplify life in buying airtime, for purchase of prepaid electricity units, payment of water bills etc.

On the other hand, I have been working in the ICT field right from my first appointment when I graduated in electrical engineering field for the past 12 yrs. In my last 3 years of employment I was a System Administrator of a Site Asset Management System used for monitoring and control of remote telecommunication infrastructural assets. The system uses SMS for its operation.

As I was planning to leave employment and engage on my private entrepreneurial activities, I started thinking on how I could get my fellow entrepreneurs in touch using cost effective ICT enabled communication channel/system. I thought of internet but I came to learn that most of the targeted groups of entrepreneurs are computer illiterate and live in remote rural areas. Then I started lobbying and advocacy in letting them use SMS as a means of communication so as to exchange information.

From the fact that many businesses of SMEs once started they stay not so long before they collapse. The reasons behind it are so many ranging from lack of infrastructure, lack of business management skills, limited access to finance, lack of information and marketing of their products, unavailability of Business Development Services etc, etc. Then came an idea to venture my activities in providing Business Development Services (BDS) to SMEs especially in the field of Information Supply and Marketing and Promotion Campaigns. I came to learn that many SMEs are in search of the information like “WHERE CAN I GET ….” , “WHO SUPPLIES…”, “I OFFER/SUPPLY “…. Etc, etc.

There is physical platforms to address those questions above found in big buildings (supper markets, hotels, restaurants etc) where people posts their short notices with their telephone numbers or where they can be contacted so that whoever passes there a

Tell us about the person—the social innovator—behind this idea.

I am personally a person behind this social innovation. The idea itself in not new, it has existed in the form of physical Notice Boards where people posts physical short adverts on the notice board for people to physically be present to read or post them. On the use of ICT platform, there also exists a lot of internet enabled platforms and blogs offering services of this kind. BUT, the uniqueness or innovation behind my idea lies in the fact of transforming the physical notice board to the virtual one which can be used by the people who are thought to be left behind in the world of internet and data networks.

We all know that mobile phone has a dominating presence in all of our lives. Unusually, mobile phone ownership is very evenly spread across the different group categorizations of age, gender and social grade. In combination with the fact that SMS service is well known and friendly to users and that there is no need for training on how to use, the fast growing mobile phones penetration rate in remote area as compared to internet penetration and that mobile phones are cheaper compared to notebooks or tablet PCs, it convinces one to believe that this initiative of SMS Based SMEs Virtual Notice Board tries to address the long wanted mechanism to cover the gap of information exchange among SMEs that the internet platform has not being able to cover

Behind this innovation lies the Omnipresence characteristic of SMS services in the sense that Messages can be sent globally via a single SMS provider. All cell phones can receive SMS, and there is a high uptake of SMS by users as more people have cell phones than have access to email. The number of people with a mobile device in their hand is growing at an exponential rate globally. A mobile phone is always within hand’s reach of the owner, it’s nearly always ON and the number of people, who own a phone, is continuously growing globally at a higher rate.
More in comments

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Newsletter from Changemakers

If through another source, please provide the information
randomness