Originally posted on Blackboard by Suzannah Schneider

This is an older article from July about simple technologies that are being used in the developing world to combat everyday issues. It covers some exciting tools from TEDGlobal in 2011. One such technology uses texting to link retailers with customers in developing countries. Femi Akinde, CEO of SlimTrader, found that there are plentiful goods and services in Africa, but no reliable way to access them. With over 300 million cell phone subscribers in Africa, he realized that the best way to boost business and ameliorate all transactions was to make them more accessible and instantaneous through the use of cell phones for trade. The idea is based off online shopping in the Western world, which is something we take for granted. It’s nearly impossible to purchase anything online in Africa, especially in more rural regions. Thus, mobile phones are the way to go.

For instance, a farmer trying to source fertilizer can send a text message and get a response from SlimTrader outlining all the distributors near to where he lives. The distributor will be credited by SlimTrader, so the farmer knows he won’t be sold a fake good. Additionally, he doesn’t have to leave his house or his fields. Physical travel, postal service, long waits, and other hardships associated with completing life’s necessary tasks, from filling prescription to buying bus tickets, are all eliminated. From what I understand, customers have the option of paying with M-PESA, Airtel, MTN, mobile money, Interswitch, and text and pay.

For more information check out SlimTrader’s website.


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