Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Spreading Technology to Empower the Impoverished

The Grameen Foundation, a D.C. based organization is doing its part to combat global poverty through the use of microfinance and technology. In 2006, the organization's founder, Muhammad Yunus, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his microlending work with women in Bangladesh.

Since then, the Foundation has expanded to include the Grameen Technology Center, located in Seattle, WA. Here, a team comprised of past employees from some of the world's leading technology companies is working to enable global development in impoverished communities. They are doing this by utilizing the power, accessibility and affordability of cellphones.

Grameen has helped hundreds of expectant mothers in Rwanda by sending them check-up reminders and pregnancy tips in the form of text messages. Last year, Grameen launched a new program in Uganda to provide farmers with useful information about crop trends. Through a partnership with Google and a local telecom service provider, Grameen collects data about weather and crop disease and then sends it to local farmers via text message. "Tech is an enabler, not the end goal," said David Edelstein, vice president of technology for Grameen. "It's about putting information into people's hands and empowering them."

-Devynn Patterson

Source: "Aid groups using cellphones to reach the world's poor"-The Washington Post