Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mobile and Women, a Global Opportunity

The Cherie Blair Foundation and GSMA Development Fund published a groundbreaking report featuring Tostan's Jokko Initiative earlier this year, quantifying the gender gap in mobile technology across developing countries - Women & Mobile: A Global Opportunity.  The report shows that, by extending the benefits of mobile phone ownership to more women, a host of social and economic goals can be advanced, but  300 million women are missing out on the mobile revolution.   
Using the findings of the report, GSMA is now leading in efforts to close the gender gap with an innovative new programme, "mWomen".

Key findings of the report:

  • There are 300 million fewer female subscribers than male subscribers worldwide
  • A woman is 21% less likely to own a phone than a man in low and middle-income countries
  • Regionally, the incremental annual revenue opportunity for operators ranges from US$740M in Latin America to US$4B in East Asia
  • Women in rural areas and lower income brackets stand to benefit the most from closing the gender gap
  • 93% of  women report feeling safer because of their mobile phone
  • 85% of women report feeling more independent because of their mobile phone
  • 41% of women report having increased income and professional opportunities once they own a phone

About the GSMA Development Fund

Founded in October 2005, the GSMA Development Fund has rapidly established itself as a leader in identifying and implementing new uses for mobile communications to help people at the bottom of the social and economic pyramid. Find out more at:


Lettre au staff de Molly Melching, Directrice Exécutive de Tostan (rencontre mWoman)

Chère Famille Tostan,

Vous êtes sans doute au courant que j'ai été invitée hier par Hillary Clinton,  la Ministre des Affaires Etrangères (Secrétaire d’Etat) du Gouvernement des Etats Unis, à participer au lancement de mWoman, une initiative destinée à promouvoir l'utilisation des téléphones portables, en particulier en direction des femmes.  La cérémonie a eu lieu dans la salle Benjamin Franklin du Département d'Etat à Washington DC.

J'ai rencontré Hillary dans une salle à part avant la cérémonie.  Elle m'a demandé des nouvelles de tous les membres du staff de Tostan et elle m'a dit qu'elle a entendu de bonnes choses par rapport au travail que nous avons accompli dans plusieurs pays de l'Afrique.  Elle m'a demandé de bien saluer tous les membres de l’équipe, ainsi que les participants qui continuent à œuvrer pour le bien-être de leur communauté.  Nous avons pris des photos que je vous enverrai bientôt. 

Dans son discours pendant la cérémonie, elle a cité le travail important réalisé par Tostan devant des membres du Gouvernement des Etats Unis, des Directeurs de sociétés de téléphones portables (Nokia, Eriksson, etc.) et d'autres invités de marque. 

Son Directeur de Cabinet m'a informé que la Secrétaire d'Etat parle très souvent de Tostan dans ses discours.  Elle répète inlassablement que Tostan est un modèle d'ONG dynamique et à fort impact qui continue à innover et s'occuper continuellement du bien des populations. 

J'ai participé ensuite à un panel de grandes personnalités dont Cherie Blair, la femme de Tony Blair (qui cite souvent Tostan également), pour parler de notre Initiative Jokko - l'utilisation du téléphone portable pour l'alphabétisation et le développement.  Les gens étaient très impressionnés par le travail accompli et les résultats de notre récente évaluation.  Plusieurs sont venus après demander une collaboration - Nokia, GSMA et d'autres.

Je tenais à partager avec vous cette journée importante pour Tostan et par la même occasion vous féliciter pour tout le travail que vous avez accompli. Aujourd’hui, je suis très fière et j'espère que vous l'êtes aussi : vous êtes des modèles observés, écoutés et respectés partout dans le monde.

Wow !


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Jokko Telecenters

The solar-powered charging station, a critical part of the Jokko Telecenter
During the course of the CEP, Tostan establishes community-based organizations – called Community Management Committees (CMCs) – composed of 17 democratically-elected community members whose role is to manage and coordinate CEP activities and ensure collaboration between CEP participants and other community members. After having received project management training, the CMCs are provided with sums ranging from $400 to $1,000 and support from Tostan to implement income-generating activities in order to generate funds for local development and initiatives. 

Once the CEP has ended, CMC members continue to serve as social entrepreneurs and activists in their communities. With the necessary development tools and leadership skills in hand, CMCs develop and implement specific action plans through subcommittees focused on topics of importance to the community: from environmental issues, to community health topics, from education and social mobilization, to income generating activities and child protection. Over time, many CMCs register as official community-based organizations in their respective countries, which reinforces community capacity while ensuring that funds, projects, and campaigns are managed in a transparent and professional manner.

In 2006, Tostan created the Empowered Communities Network (ECN) to support the more than 1,500 existent CMCs in their grass-roots development processes by facilitating linkages with other development partners, microfinance institutions, businesses, and government authorities. The ECN is the tool developed by Tostan that guarantees the sustainability of the CEP’s local impacts.
In October 2010, Tostan will be expanding activities to additional villages and identifying new mobile technology-based income-generating and social mobilization activities to serve the needs of rural communities. In June 2010, Tostan will support the implementation of community tele-centers in the Vélingara department in southern Senegal. 

With the implementation of community tele-centers, the Jokko Initiative seeks to address key challenges faced by rural communities in accessing mobile technology - as identified in the continuous monitoring of the pilot phase – at the community-level, while providing the means for people to improve their lives and those of their children in a sustainable manner.

85% of rural Senegal is not covered by the national electrical grid. All the villages targeted for this project are off-grid. Observations in the field and preliminary feedback from CEGA show that the lack of electricity in these villages makes charging mobile phones (and by extension, all electronic devices) extremely problematic, requiring people to (1) Improvise with local power sources that prove hazardous to the village’s health (fuel lamps, etc.) and damaging to phone batteries (use of lead-acid car batteries to charge multiple electronic devices at once) or (2) Travel long distances to urban centers in order to have their mobile phones charged by small entrepreneurs. The latter often entails heavy expenditures on transport; a considerable loss of income due to time spent traveling; and increased risk of theft of and/or damage to phones (i.e. the replacement of good phone batteries with those of inferior quality when given to be charged in urban centers).  

Also identified by community members and Tostan’s field workers as prohibiting the use of mobile phones is the unavailability - or otherwise high cost of - phone credit.  People in rural Senegal often must travel to urban centers in order to purchase credit.  When credit is available in rural villages, denominations are often more expensive by as much as 25% (i.e. credit sold at 1000 CFA in an urban center is sold for 1250 CFA in a village). As a result, many rural people cannot afford to use the mobile phones that they own or share with others.

A vast body of scholarly research reveals the disproportionate access of women and girls in the developing world to mobile technology (reference: Women and Mobile, GSMA and Cherie Blair report). Tostan’s experience and CEGA’s evaluation of the pilot phase confirms these findings.
In the baseline study of the pilot phase, CEGA identified a strong disparity between men and women relative to the use of mobile phones. The men interviewed were found to have both greater access to and better competency at using mobile phones than the women interviewed.
(1)                      Compared to 31% of men, only 12% of women had access to a mobile phone.
(2)                      Compared to 33% of men, 45% of women had never used a mobile phone.
(3)                      Men knew how to use the mobile phone’s calculator function 3 times better than women.

Solar energy household solutions, such as solar lanterns and solar home systems, are highly attractive to off-grid households. Households can considerably reduce their energy costs (kerosene, batteries) in the medium to long run, while access to electricity improves their living standard. People can become more productive, children can study after sunset. Moreover, these solutions do not require expensive and maintenance-sensitive electricity grids. 

Rural Energy Foundation (REF) is a Dutch NGO which facilitates access to renewable energy to hundreds of thousands of rural people in sub-Saharan Africa. It does so by establishing effective and efficient supply chains (through the establishment and training of entrepreneurs and technicians in solar energy solutions), by stimulating demand (through large awareness campaigns), and by facilitating access to loans to entrepreneurs and end users. The approach works: during the past 3 years REF has facilitated access to electricity to more than 332,000 people at a cost of less than EUR 4 per connected person.

REF identifies, trains, and supports commercial retailers and distributors, so that these entrepreneurs start and expand a business in renewable energy household solutions. REF also provides solutions to their financial constraints, for example by guaranteeing the outstanding part of a loan with a guarantee fund. In addition, REF initiates large-scale marketing campaigns to stimulate demand for renewable energy products. Finally, we facilitate solutions where end users obtain credit to make the upfront investments.

REF is active in several countries in both East and West Africa, and has already developed a network of importers, distributors and retailers that covers a vast portion of Senegal. REF works with this network to develop the supply chain, ensuring the quality of the products and service, while working with MFIs to extend credit to micro-entrepreneurs.

In collaboration with REF, Tostan seeks to implement 2 income generating activities for CMCs in the department of Velingara, Senegal: 

Small Business Applications (SBA)

The SBA consists of solar income-generating activities such as mobile phone and small electronic device charging, and solar-powered small businesses such as tailors and hair salons. When up and running, the system needed to run the SBA could be earned back in less than half a year. 

There are several advantages to placing an SBA in the heart of the rural areas, such as lower expenditure of money on travel for charging purposes. Moreover, by involving the community leaders, there is a significantly reduced chance of theft or damage due to increased social control. Part of the revenue from the charging business can be reinvested in the community, making the customer the ultimate beneficiary.

Furthermore, other advantages include: the use of the portable solar system to power other micro-enterprises (tailor, salon, bush-cinema); the portability reduces risk of theft, and allows the entrepreneur running the business to even frequent weekly markets or other places where people from neighboring villages often gather, to create awareness and earn an income by e.g. charging phones.

Sales Agents
The sales agents program entails that local entrepreneurs start acting as representatives for retailers endorsed by REF, and help sell solar products and provide maintenance for solar installations in their villages. For large installations, the sales agent will refer the potential customer to the retailer’s shop, but smaller products (such as solar lanterns) could be sold on the spot. The sales agent is often paid a commission per system sold in that specific community.

The sales agent is therefore directly linked to a specific retailer (holder of the “Solaire Ici” quality label develpped by REF), and receives the needed training and material from the retailer (with guidance from REF). The sales agent’s responsibilities then include: convincing the potential customers, sensitizing the general public to increase awareness and help disseminate information regarding renewable energy solutions, and do promotional activities in collaboration with the retailer. From the part of the retailer, responsibilities include: delivery of promotional materials, providing the actual selling point for renewable energy solutions, and perform the installation and maintenance.

Microfranchising is a development tool that seeks to apply the proven marketing and operational concepts of traditional franchising to small businesses. The primary feature of a microfranchise is its ability to be streamlined and replicated in the most remote areas.

Seddo and Izi are two services developed by respectively Orange Sonatel and Tigo Sénégal (the two major telecommunication companies in Senegal). They allow small entrepreneurs and street vendors to use Orange’s and Tigo’s franchises to retail phone credit and SIM cards.There are two ways to retail phone credit in Senegal.
  •  Sell credit cards, ranging from 1000 FCFA (approx. 2 USD) to 10000 (approx. 20 USD)
  • Sell small amount of phone credit (100 FCFA and more) via a phone-to-phone transfer system.
Through their Community telecenter activities, CMCs will engage in micro franchise: retail of credit, via transfer and selling Seddo and Izi cards and provide calling and texting services. For each transaction, they will earn a small commission. Tostan will support them into contracting with Sedd and Orange, and will provide an adapted training on marketing methods and management of this new income generating tool. 

A portion of the funds yielded by the income-generating activities of the community tele-center will be dedicated to providing SMS texting free-of-charge for women of girls. Under this initiative, SMS texts must be development-related and sent to a specific list of contacts, using the RapidSMS Forum (cf. annex). A paper phone book as well as mobile directories with listings for local development actors (including Tostan regional staff, RapidSMS, CMCs in the region, and SAV distributors) will be provided.

This social mobilization activity will facilitate increased access of women and girls to mobile phones, serving to help close the gendered mobile gap while enhancing opportunities for women and girls to practice their literacy skills and expand their communicative network.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Relecture et Correction du Module TPAD à Kolda

Le nouveau module TPAD (Téléphone portable pour l’alphabétisation et le développement) est constitué de 23 séances exécutées durant l’Aawde 1 et 2. Il permet aux participants d’apprendre à :

•    Reconnaitre les éléments de base du téléphone portable
•    Ecrire avec le téléphone portable
•    Calculer avec le téléphone portable
•    Ecrire, envoyer et recevoir un message SMS
•    Utiliser le téléphone portable à des fins de développement communautaire (santé, AGR, mobilisation sociale etc..)

En faisant du téléphone portable à la fois un support pédagogique fiable pour renforcer l’Aawde et un outil de développement efficace par et pour les communautés, les bénéficiaires du PRCC pourront :

-    Pratiquer la lecture et l’écriture régulièrement en particulier en envoyant et recevant des messages SMS
-    Pratiquer leurs connaissances en calcul et en gestion de projet, au travers de leur maitrise des autres applications du téléphone portable (calculatrice, convertisseur, agenda etc)
-    Avoir un meilleur accès à l’information de base et prendre des décisions importantes en fonction des ces informations ( par ex  : les prix au marché, médicaments, feux de brousse etc)
-    Communiquer davantage avec les membres de la diaspora et inclure ces derniers dans le processus de réflexion autour du développement de leur communauté
-    Favoriser la rétention des connaissances en lecture, écrire, calcul et gestion etc..

Après les observations de terrain, suggestions, recommandations et suite à l’atelier de capitalisation Jokko, un nouveau module TPAD a été retravaillé en intégrant autant que possible les remarques soulevées.

Le nouveau module TPAD a été retraduit en langues nationales par des consultants. A la réception des documents, un atelier de relecture, correction s’est tenu à Kolda du (15 au 17 sept 2010) pour partager avec les collègues agents de terrain des coordinations régionales de Kolda et Ziguinchor. Le choix de cette zone est judicieux en raison de la présence des langues de travail sur place.

La mission s’est bien déroulée avec le remarquable travail de relecture détaillée et la correction des modules TPAD en langues nationales.

L’implication et le partage avec les agents exécutants et utilisateurs (assistants coordonnateurs, superviseurs et facilitateurs) ont abouti à la finalisation d’un produit opérationnel et performant. Avec les boites à images TPAD qui accompagnent le module les bénéficiaires sont outillés pour une utilisation optimale avec cette importante innovation « Initiative Jokko » très appréciée par les communautés.

Malick Niang
Assistant Département des Programmes 
Blog adapted by Salim Drame