Empowering Women in the Developing World

Published May-22-11

The GSMA mWomen BOP (Base of the Pyramid) Apps contest helped to empower women in the developing world with groundbreaking technological solutions.

mWomen Connect, United States

The Story:

Empowering Women in the Developing World The Spring 2011 Mobile App Challenge organised by the GSMA (Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association) was a series of open innovation contests aimed at the app developer community and anybody else with ideas for original mobile apps for different sets of end-users.

The mWomen (Base of the Pyramid) Mobile App Challenge was one of those contests and it looked for designs and apps solutions specifically targeted to the needs of women in the developing world - mWomen Connect is an online community for those interested in increasing mobile access for women in the developing world.

The mWomen global open innovation challenge was split into two tiers. The first tier sought an app for low-end devices and the second tier required an app for smart phones.

Competition Winners

The first tier winner was NextDrop, an application for spreading information about the location of water. In many parts of the developing world piped water is only available for a few hours at a time. The NextDrop app collates information about local piped water deliveries from the consumers. Women with mobile phones are offered incentives in the form of micro-payments to send text messages to the system when water is flowing locally. The information is verified by comparing messages from multiple users in the same region and then the app sends announcements to subscribers in the area.

The creation of this app should mean that many more people will have access to accurate information about water delivery in their locale.

Second Tier Winner

TiendaTek, an app to improve the accuracy and efficiency of shopkeepers’ accounts picked up the smart phone prize. It uses an Android smart phone and a barcode reader which enables business women to keep track of all their transactions and identify areas of improvement.

For some businesswomen in the developing world their efficiency is hampered by lack of access to education. TiendaTek is specifically aimed at corner shop owners in Latin America - most of whom are women - and it not only provides education material but it can also connect them to suppliers and help them sell virtual goods.

The empowering net results should be that businesswomen will be able to maximize their time and generate more income from their shops.

“We were extremely pleased by both the number and high quality of the entries we received,” said Sarah Crampsie, mWomen Programme Manager. “NextDrop and TiendaTek are worthy winners, and we hope that this challenge has sparked developers on to produce apps tailored to the wants and needs of women at the base of the pyramid.”

The winners of both tiers each collected USD $10,000 in prize money provided by Vodaphone and the opportunity to showcase their work at the mobile industry’s premier event, the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

The money will be used to help Vodaphone create, test and commercialize the applications.

Benefits of New Apps

The fruits of this open innovation contest will help to close the gender gap in the developing world by empowering women. Improving mobile phone usage and connection to useful and innovative services enhances the economic opportunities for women and improves their sense of security and independence. They will play greater decision-making roles in their homes and communities which will improve not only their quality of life but the quality of lives of their children.


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