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Rare Amphibian

Understanding digitally-powered grassroots innovation

Advancements in digital and mobile technologies have paved the way for significant changes in the way social problems can be tackled. When coupled with social innovations developed on the ground from organizations like Opportunity International, these can combine in powerful ways to create and accelerate social impact.

In Strong Connections: Stories of Resilience from the Far Reaches of the Mobile Phone Revolution, I explore insights gathered from experienced frontline staff at Opportunity. The excerpt below from Kerala, India, shows how astute observations of field workers, combined with a high-tech biometric solution (iris scans), addressed the challenge of worn hands and absence of fingerprints that farm and day laborers often experience. With biometric access to financial accounts, persons of low literacy were able to benefit from services without needing to navigate a complex menu, a challenge disproportionately faced by women.

Using powerful stories to convey the realities and challenges of persons living in poverty, Strong Connections chronicles the effort to expand financial, information, and education services by combining bottom-up ideas generated by Opportunity and local partner organizations through a range of widely available technologies. Beyond Kerala, the book explores the work elsewhere in rural India, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi. The book also explores the digital gender divide, the disproportionate number of women without access to mobile and digital services, and grassroots techniques that improve outreach to women.—Rosa Wang

Please select this link to read the complete article from SSIR.

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