mPowering has created an app that awards goods and services to individuals facing extreme poverty when they make beneficial choices, such as attending school or seeking prenatal care.
In rural villages in some of the most disadvantaged regions of the world, children have to choose between two options:
- Go to school and try to improve their long-term prospects through education
- Leave school and focus on earning money to continue leading a hand-to-mouth existence
This new mobile application is giving children a third option: go to school in order to earn “credits” that can be cashed in to redeem food, medicine and more. This concept, based on an incentive model, is designed to improve the lives of the ultra poor by allowing them to meet their short-term needs, while focusing on their long-term goals to get out of the poverty cycle.
The developer of this application visited a variety of high-poverty regions such as Orissa in India, where they had extreme needs for education, infrastructure and medical care, but who also have excellent cell phone coverage. And this is what sparked the idea of mPowering.
Through partnerships with a variety of organizations, mPowering distributes smartphones with mobile apps that can track the behaviours necessary to earn these credits. In this process, the program has create new jobs for local adults to serve as project liaisons. The people to fill these positions are often young adults who want to create positive change in the community, and can use a mobile device.
Through another mPowering app, donors can see photos and real-time updates to stay engaged to the impact they are creating, thus completing an interesting collaboration of concepts.
Anti-poverty initiatives meet mobile technology meet social media to form a unique method of addressing poverty. By encouraging children to go to school, and giving them a reason to do so through considering their immediate needs, could we fight poverty?
Just another example of social entrepreneurship creating innovative positive changes.