Mobile Empowerment

Kerala, fishermen

From the Washington Post via John:

A convenience taken for granted in wealthy nations, the cellphone is putting cash in the pockets of people for whom a dollar is a good day’s wage. And it has made market-savvy entrepreneurs out of sheepherders, rickshaw drivers and even the acrobatic men who shinny up palm trees to harvest coconuts here in Kerala state.

“This has changed the entire dynamics of communications and how they organize their lives,” said C.K. Prahalad, an India-born business professor at the University of Michigan who has written extensively about how commerce — and cellphones — are used to combat poverty.

“One element of poverty is the lack of information,” Prahalad said. “The cellphone gives poor people as much information as the middleman.”

For less than a penny a minute — the world’s cheapest cellphone call rates — farmers in remote areas can check prices for their produce. They call around to local markets to find the best deal. They also track global trends using cellphone-based Internet services that show the price of pumpkins or bananas in London or Chicago.”

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