Welcome to Development Studies Perspectives. The purpose of this blog is to analyze the major themes and paradigms in the field of development studies, as well as discuss how current events and new trends fit into existing conceptual frameworks.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Future of Microfinance: Community Knowledge Programs

This is exactly where the future of microfinance lies: using technologies, which are increasingly diffuse in the developing world, to innovate and create value. And in the twenty-first century value is derived primarily from information, a theme echoed throughout the business community for some time now. The process of aggregating knowledge and allowing for the grassroots distribution of relevant information is a key step forward for the microfinance community. Below is an except from the executive summary of the pilot report, which can be found here.

"Grameen Foundation’s (GF) Community Knowledge Worker Initiative is based on the belief that a distributed network of intermediaries, or Community Knowledge Workers (CKWs), can use mobile devices to collect and disseminate information to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. The CKW Initiative relies on mobile devices as a tool to extend the reach of centralized expertise through “feet in the field.” Such local intermediaries are crucial for contextualizing knowledge and providing a channel to effectively represent the voice of the farmer."

"Through a planning grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, GF implemented a nine-month Test of Concept in Uganda focused on answering key questions to further develop, test, and refine the CKW model and gain strategic insight on how to scale the project. During the pilot, which began in December 2008 and ran through August 2009, Grameen Foundation prototyped mobile information services and conducted mobile surveys using various technologies. In partnership with local agricultural organizations and MTN-Uganda, the CKW team recruited and trained over 40 CKWs and laid the groundwork to extend the CKW network across Uganda. CKWs completed over 6,000 surveys and had over 14,000 interactions with smallholder farmers."

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