Posts Tagged ‘Texting’

The market in Bali County.

SlimTrader has entered the next phase of our Notore pilot program in the Northern Nigerian State of Taraba. We’ve been working with retailers, aka Village Promoters (VPs), for some time in order to upload their complete inventory, including quantity and price, into our database. Now that this stage is complete, we’re focusing on reaching out to the VPs’ customers, i.e., farmers.

This is how the service works: A farmer sends us an SMS requesting a specific amount of Notore fertilizer. Then we reply, via SMS, with a list of local VPs who have what the farmer is looking for and at what prices. From there, the farmer determines which VP has the right amount at the right price, then makes the purchase by sending another SMS message. He/she can either pay via one of our mobile money partners from his/her cell phone right then and there, or when he/she arrives to pick up the fertilizer.

In order to explain the service and to spread word of its availability, our outreach team journeyed to the market in the county of Bali and chatted with farmers directly. This is an important part of the process. It’s how we understand, at a very low-temperature level, the needs of farmers, which allows us to refine our approach to providing the Notore products they need to increase outputs and, thus, better their lives.

Some food for thought (no pun intended) gleaned from our market trip:

- While excited about the program, farmers are also hesitant, as it’s a new way to shop for goods. It’s a common, completely understandable reaction which is quickly overcome once farmers see how simple our system is.

- Most farmers have cell phones, so it won’t be difficult to train them on using our service.

- Notore fertilizer dealers are often difficult to visit in person. Thus, searching the dealers’ inventory via mobile phones prior to traveling is a major plus for farmers.

- The price of a text message is a concern, but we’re working to offer a cheaper plan.

To view more photos from our trip the market in Bali county, please visit our Facebook page.

Read Full Post »

That’s how SlimTrader’s MoBiashara service works for our client, Aero, Nigeria’s largest discount airline. As you see, it’s an efficient, a convenient, and a simple way to book a flight. All you need is a phone and a destination, and we take care of the rest.

But what about other transportation sectors? What about people who can’t afford to fly? Can SlimTrader adjust MoBiashara to fit these needs?

The answer: Yes. The beauty of our service is that it can be tailored to fit any transportation company’s needs, as well as any consumer’s, regardless of his or her economic status. The latter point is an important one, because so many Africans cannot get accurate, current information on their long-haul transportation options. This leads to long searches and wasted money. Why? Because for BOP consumers time is, literally, money.

Herein lies SlimTrader’s reason for being: to bring progress and promise to every African citizen.

Read Full Post »

It’s been a long journey, but the pilot program we launched in Taraba with our partner and client Notore has reached an important milestone. All of our outreach staff have now visited every major county in the Northern Nigerian state, and more than half the village promoters are on the platform. They’re learning how to use our MoBiashara service, and we’re continuing to learn how to deepen local understanding of its benefits.

It’s been a wonderful experience so far, and we’ve been happy to share it with you. But there’s still much work to be done, which we’ll, of course, be sharing with you in the near future.

Here are some photos from our journey thus far:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read Full Post »

Jamie Holmes of The Atlantic Monthly flags a staggering statistic: “Feature mobiles have spread into some of the most remote areas of the globe, with 48 million people now with cell phones but no electricity, and by next year, 1.7 billion with cell phones but no bank account, according to one estimate.”

He further notes the game-changing impact the proliferation of text message-enabled phones is having on the way business is done in the developing world:

Nokia’s “Ovi Life Tools” offer agricultural, educational, and health information via SMS in India, Nigeria, Indonesia, and China. Txteagle, a business began by MIT’s Nathan Eagle, now uses SMS surveys to perform research into emerging markets, paying for completed surveys in mobile airtime. In time, the impact of such services on local economies could be tremendous.

With mobile money, the possibilities multiply. Are there services that help list and sell products via SMS? You bet. Pay taxes by SMS? Yup. Buy clean water at mobile-payment vending machines? Sure. How about having a crop insurance payout sent directly to mobiles based on automated rainfall measurements? That’s been done, too.

Last year, 4.16 billion users made SMS the most popular data channel in the world. An estimated 6.1 trillion texts were sent, up from 1.8 trillion in 2007. And while the proportion of customers using SMS for more than simple messaging is still small, in poor nations these services are already changing the nature of commerce, crime, reporting news, political participation, and governing.

Read Full Post »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.