Viamo’s ServicesOver the last two decades, cellphone ownership has steadily increased, with 73% of the world having mobile broadband connections in 2020. In response to this trend, a group of Canadian and Ghanaian engineers founded Viamo in 2012. Viamo is a social enterprise that uses mobile technology to distribute educational materials and compile data. Operating in more than 20 African and Asian countries, Viamo reaches millions of people a year. Over its eight-year existence, Viamo’s services have diversified thanks to partnerships with more than 500 organizations.

The 3-2-1 Service

This toll-free service offers educational content and interactive training through interactive voice response (IVR). IVR is an automated system that communicates with the listener through prerecorded or synthetic speech, thus removing the need for literacy. Furthermore, Viamo translates all content into local languages so it can reach the largest number of people.

Many of the partner projects that Viamo undertakes end up on the 3-2-1 Service once completed. For example, Viamo’s partnership with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) to create Link It, a mobile service meant to connect farmers to markets in Nepal, saw the finished product integrated into the 3-2-1 Service platform.

Another example comes from Mozambique, where Viamo partnered with a coalition of groups including Chemonics and USAID to create a storm warning system. This system has been a part of Mozambique’s 3-2-1 Service since its creation in 2016.

Besides these, Viamo’s services through 3-2-1 include audio dramas, news and children’s educational programs.

The diversity of the 3-2-1 Service has garnered it more users than Facebook in some countries, with thousands of people utilizing it at any point in the day.

Wanji Games

With the help of Viamo, Peripheral Vision International established Wanji Games. These edutainment games feature branching path narratives, where listeners role play scenarios ranging from navigating gender-based violence (GBV) to managing money. By exploring a scenario’s different endings, the player can gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter to apply it to their lives. Since these are accessible via the 3-2-1 Service, these games are free to play.

Engagement Campaigns

Viamo helps its partner organizations transmit information to the general population through its comprehensive mass messaging system combining IVR, chatbots, SMS, mobile apps and social media. For example, in the past, Viamo had remotely trained Rwandan healthcare workers on mental health using IVR.

Surveys, Polls and Call Centers

Viamo’s relationship with network operators grants it the benefit of having access to customers’ demographic information. As such, Viamo can distribute surveys and polls to achieve a sample representative of the general population. Furthermore, since network operators disclose a customer’s geographical location to Viamo, it can map the results.

Due to the conflict in South Sudan, the government has prohibited journalists from reporting in the country. To bypass this issue, Viamo and Forced Out created a phone survey to measure the displaced population in South Sudan. The survey found that the war had displaced more than 40% of the nation’s population. This provided the international community with statistics to properly gauge the scope of the refugee crisis.

Viamo also has a variety of call centers integrated into the 3-2-1 Service. One instance of this is Legal Aid Forum Rwanda. Victims can call the call center to get legal advice and possibly get connected to a lawyer who could represent them for free.

Viamo’s Reach and Future Impact

Viamo’s services have reached more than 10 million people. With plans to expand into new areas, such as Latin America, Viamo will continue to have an impact in the foreseeable future.

– Riley Behlke
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare Apps in Sub-Saharan Africa
Although sub-Saharan Africa accounts for nearly 11% of the world’s population, it carries approximately 24% of the global disease burden. The region spends less than 1% on global health expenditure and lacks a strong infrastructure to address its citizens’ healthcare necessities.

Advancements in technology may be the solution to this crisis. The mobile industry in sub-Saharan Africa is growing rapidly. In 2012, only 32% of the population had access to a mobile subscription. By 2018, the mobile industry saw a 12% increase in mobile penetration rates. As a result, innovative healthcare apps are being released on the market, allowing individuals to access medical services remotely. This article will focus on three innovative healthcare apps in sub-Saharan Africa that can be accessed through a mobile device.

Hello Doctor: Providing Remote Medical Assistance

Hello Doctor is a mobile healthcare app that was developed in South Africa. It is currently one of the most popular mobile healthcare apps on the market and is available in 10 different countries. The app allows patients to have healthcare that is accessible, affordable and personalized.

The app requires a subscription of $3 per month. It allows a subscriber to “carry a doctor in their pocket.” After filing a request, subscribers are connected with a doctor via text message or phone call. All requests are responded to within an hour. All doctors accessed through the application are registered medical professionals.

The app also has a symptom checker in which patients can note their concerns and are provided with a list of potential diagnoses. It is also updated daily with new content to provide fundamental healthcare advice to patients. This app is most beneficial to citizens who may not be able to easily travel to their nearest healthcare clinic.

Pelebox: Delivering Essential Medication

Communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDs remain a growing problem in sub-Saharan Africa. These chronic diseases must be treated with medication that is picked up from the clinic. However, the limited number of clinics, a shortage of healthcare professionals and a high patient volume create excessive wait times for patients.

Pelebox, a South African app, manages smart lockers that dispense refills of prescriptions to patients. Instead of waiting hours to be seen in the clinic, patients can retrieve their prescriptions within a matter of seconds. Pelebox’s goal is to reduce the burden on hospital staff so that they can focus their attention on patients in critical care.

Here is how the app works. The patient is enrolled in the clinic’s collection program, the prescription is issued and the medication is placed into the locker. Clients will receive a one-time-pin via text message from the system. Patients enter their phone number and PIN at the self-service interface and retrieve their prescriptions from the cubicle. The cubicle is accessible at any time. Through its innovative approach in delivering essential medication, Pelebox has reached approximately 3,000 patients. The company is also planning to set up an additional 30 units in the next five years to continue to expand its reach.

MedAfrica: An All-in-One Healthcare App

MedAfrica, a product of Shimba Mobile, is one of the most popular healthcare apps in sub-Saharan Africa. It was first launched in Kenya in November 2011. By March 2012, it had approximately 70,000 users and was released into several other countries.

The app was created to make healthcare more accessible, affordable and safer. The app is free to use and works on any operating system. It is an all-in-one healthcare app that has various features. It provides users with a directory of qualified doctors and hospitals that are nearby. It also has a symptom checker available to its users so they can decide whether they’d like to pursue further medical advice or treatment. After the diagnosis, they can easily connect with the proper specialist. Users also receive first-aid advice and health updates from local hospitals.

Advancements in Healthcare Through Apps

An underfunded infrastructure, shortage of medical professionals and high patient volumes make for a fragile healthcare system. The surge of healthcare apps in sub-Saharan Africa is a great start to combating these issues. The innovative technologies that are being released for consumer use may be the key to granting much-needed healthcare access to individuals who need it the most.

Jasmine Daniel
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare Apps
The relationship between phones and medical care evolved rapidly with the rise of smartphones. Not only do people now have an effective means of communication at their fingertips, but they also have information and, lately, an increasing number of medical tools as well. Here are ten health care apps making a significant impact in developing countries.

10 Health Care Apps in Developing Countries

  1. Peek: Peek has its sights set on helping people with vision impairment issues and blindness, a problem exacerbated in developing countries by a lack of resources. Peek can identify people with vision problems and work with health care providers to pinpoint an economically feasible way to supply the treatment they need. Currently, the International Centre for Eye Health uses Peek at the London School of Hygiene. Tropical Medicine is also administering a population-based survey of blindness and visual impairments in Cambodia.
  2. SASAdoctor: SASAdoctor is making health care consultations more accessible in Kenya, where only 12% of the population is insured. The app is available to all Kenyans with an Android smartphone or tablet (65% of the population). For the uninsured, using SASAdoctor is cheaper than an in-person consultation, bringing costs down to the equivalent of $4.66. Patients have their medical history, list of medications and other medical notes in the app. This ensures that the consulting professionals will have the information they need to create an informed medical opinion. A projected 80% of Kenyans will have smartphones in the next few years, making the app increasingly beneficial.
  3. iWander: The purpose of iWander is to help keep track of dementia patients. Set with tracking technology that can be discretely worn by the patient, the app gives users more control over the care of loved ones, which can be vital in countries where health care may be less accessible. By helping families be proactive to crises, iWander can help cut costs, as home care for dementia patients is often expensive.
  4. Kenek O2: Kenek O2 allows the user to monitor their oxygen levels and heart rate while they sleep. Built for iPhones, the app also requires a pulse oximeter which connects to the phone. Together, the cost for these two items is around $100. In contrast, a regular hospital oximeter and similar products could cost upward of $500. Having been used effectively in North America, South America, Asia and Africa, Kenek O2 is currently working on developing a special COVID-19 device to watch for early signs of hypoxia, or the deficiency of oxygen reaching tissues.
  5. First Derm: First Derm also requires a smartphone-connected device called a dermatoscope. This enables patients to take detailed pictures of skin conditions for effective teleconsultations. In places where patients have little access to health care facilities, this makes getting a second medical opinion much easier. So far, First Derm has helped in more than 15,000 users from Sweden, Chile, China, Australia and Ghana. Of these, 70% could be treated without a doctor, most often by over-the-counter treatments available at local pharmacies.
  6. Ada: Functioning as a personal health assistant, Ada provides medical advice to users who input their symptoms. The app is intended to assist those who don’t have the means to seek an in-person consultation right away. Currently, 10 million people around the world are using Ada for symptom evaluation.
  7. Babylon: Another app that’s intended to mitigate the obstacle of going to see a doctor in person, Babylon allows users to input their symptoms. The app specializes in non-emergent medicine, allowing patients to skip a trip to the doctor’s office entirely if their condition allows it. This is beneficial in places where doctors are sparse, or the patient lacks the financial means to get to the hospital. Babylon caters to users across the U.S., U.K., Canada, Rwanda and several countries across Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. The goal is to expand to even more countries in the coming years.
  8. MobiSante: When connected to its ultrasound device, MobiSante provides quality diagnostic imaging. The ultrasound is then sent directly to the patient, enabling them to receive health care outside the confines of a hospital or clinic. The app brings more holistic and informed treatments to people who may have previously struggled in finding a place with the proper resources to diagnose them.
  9. Go.Data: Go.Data is a tool released by the WHO specifically for collecting data during global health emergencies. During the Ebola outbreak in Africa, Go.Data, praised for tracing points of contact, also tracked infection trends and helped in arranging post-contact follow up.
  10. Mobile Midwife: A digital charting app that stores information in the cloud, Mobile Midwife ensures midwives have access to pertinent patient information. Mobile Midwife is designed to function even where an internet connection isn’t reliable. It is beneficial in areas with high mother and infant mortality, helping health providers give high-quality care.

Bridging health care with smartphone apps isn’t a perfect solution, as it often comes with accessibility issues of its own. However, these apps can help people connect virtually with medical professionals, increasing access to health care and often reducing costs. The result is a more equal distribution of power between the health care system and the patient, empowering a healthier (and more health-conscious) population.

Catherine Lin
Photo: Flickr

Apps that aid in healthcare in developing countries It can sometimes be difficult for people in developing countries to access healthcare, specifically those living in poverty. In order to address this problem, healthcare apps are being used to provide greater access. Here are 10 healthcare aid apps that are impacting access in developing countries.

10 Apps That Aid Healthcare in Developing Countries

  1. Peek has its sights set on helping people with vision impairment issues and blindness, a problem exacerbated in developing countries by a lack of resources. Peek can identify people with vision problems. The app then works with healthcare providers to pinpoint an economically feasible way to supply the treatment they need, before allocating the appropriate resources. Currently, Peek is being used by the International Centre for Eye Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which is administering a population-based survey of blindness and visual impairments in Cambodia.
  2. SASAdoctor focuses on making healthcare consultations more accessible in Kenya. In the country, only 12% of people are insured. About 8 million are reliant on the National Hospital Insurance Fund, leaving 35 million Kenyans uninsured. Available to all Kenyans with an Android smartphone or tablet (65% of Kenyans have one), SASAdoctor decreases the cost of an in-person consultation for the uninsured and makes it free for those with insurance. Patients will have their medical history, list of medications and other such medical notes in their ‘file’ on the app, so that whoever tele-consults with them will have the information they need to create an informed medical opinion. SASAdoctor can decrease the cost of uninsured visits with a doctor to Kes 495 (the equivalent of $4.66) for a projected 80% of Kenyans who are predicted to have smartphones in the next few years.
  3. iWander allows people to keep track of Alzheimer’s patients. Set with tracking technology that can be discretely worn by the patient, it offers whoever uses the app several options on how to deal with situations involving the patient. Solutions can range from a group calling session to making an emergency medical call or summoning a caregiver. iWander gives families more control over the care of a loved one, which can have a positive impact in countries where healthcare may be less accessible. In the US, the average cost of care for a single person is $174,000 annually. About 7 out of 10 individuals with dementia remain at home to receive care, where 75% of the costs fall to the family to pay. In helping families be proactive instead of reactive to crises, iWander can help in cutting these costs, especially in poorer countries, where many families are struggling to keep up with the high costs of at-home care.
  4. Kenek O2 allows the user to monitor their oxygen and heart rate while they sleep. Kenek O2, built for the iPhone, also requires a pulse oximeter which connects to the phone and retrieves the data to be stored in the app. Together, the cost for these two items is around $100, compared to the price of a regular hospital oximeter and other similar products, which could easily cost more than $500. Having effectively been used in North America, South America, Asia and Africa, Kenek O2 is currently working on developing a special COVID-19 device to watch for early signs of hypoxia, or the deficiency of oxygen reaching tissues.
  5. First Derm is an app that requires a smartphone-connected device, called a dermatoscope. This allows detailed pictures to be taken of skin conditions and lesions to better allow for remote, teleconsultations. In places where doctors are few and far between, and public transport is less reliable, this can make getting a second medical opinion much easier. So far, First Derm has helped in more than 15,000 cases from Sweden, Chile, China, Australia and Ghana, ranging from ages of just 3 days old to 98 years. Of these cases, 70% could be treated without a doctor, most often by over-the-counter treatments available at local pharmacies.
  6. Ada takes user-input symptoms and provides appropriate measures to take as a result, like a personal health assistant. It’s intended to assist those who don’t have the means to seek an in-person consultation right away. The app has been released in several languages, which makes it more accessible. Currently, 10 million people around the world are using Ada for symptom evaluation.
  7. Babylon is intended to mitigate the obstacle of going to see a doctor in person by allowing users to input symptoms or solve common health problems via teleconsultation with a doctor. Babylon specializes in non-emergent medicine, allowing patients to skip a trip to the doctor’s office entirely if their condition allows it. This is beneficial in places where doctors are sparse, or the patient lacks the financial means or a method of transportation in getting to the hospital. Babylon caters to users across the U.S., U.K., Canada, Rwanda and several countries across Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. The app aims to expand to more countries in the upcoming years.
  8. MobiSante, through its ultrasound device, allows versatility in diagnostic imaging by bringing the ultrasound to the patient. This allows quality, diagnostic imaging to be done outside the confines of a hospital or clinic. As a result, it provides more holistic and informed treatment where people may need it most but have previously struggled in accessing a healthcare center with the necessary technology. While having a computer at home with a desk is much less common in developing countries, the world’s increasing reliance on the internet is shifting the status of internet technology from a luxury to a basic necessity. This means that technology such as smartphones are becoming somewhat of a necessity in impoverished countries, making an app like MobiSante effective in using smartphones to make diagnostic imaging more accessible.
  9. Go.Data is a tool released by the WHO. It is specifically for collecting data during global health emergencies. During the Ebola outbreak in Africa, Go.Data was praised for tracing points of contact. The app also tracked infection trends and helped in arranging post-contact follow up.
  10. Mobile Midwife is a digital charting app that stores information in a cloud so that healthcare workers have access to all pertinent patient information. It works even in cases of power outages, or home births where internet connection may be less reliable. This app can help in areas where mother and infant mortality is higher, ensuring that healthcare providers can efficiently access patient information to ensure the best care. It can also cut the extra time it takes to find records that could otherwise make procedures more dangerous for both mother and child.

Bridging healthcare accessibility with smartphone apps isn’t a perfect solution, as it comes with accessibility issues of its own. However, these healthcare aid apps can help people without insurance, or who are physically unable to visit a physician, access health consultations. As a result, more people are provided access to healthcare, empowering a healthier (and more health-conscious) population.

– Catherine Lin
Photo: Flickr

Buengo Reduces Poverty
There are a few sounds die-hard baseball fans know well: the tune of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” the chorus of crunching sunflower seeds, the crack of a boiled peanut shell and spilling hot, salty water on the stadium floor. Unfortunately, people did not hear these familiar sounds and many others during the spring of 2020 as the global pandemic stretched to all four corners of the world. Concerts, festivals and graduation ceremonies experienced silence, but one thing rang true: spring cleaning. True to course, rusted pots and pans clattered inharmoniously as they found their new home in a garbage bag, tattered sweaters and last seasons boots ricocheted off closet floors and scooters rattled on the way out of the garage. An abundance of black and white trash bags with toys, household items and clothes lined the streets in the early spring days, landfill-bound. However, thanks to new-age technology, there is an alternate path for spring cleaners to take that can help eradicate global poverty: Buengo. Here is some information about how Buengo reduces poverty.

How Buengo Reduces Poverty and Benefits Charities

Buengo is a marketplace application that encourages users to take their second-hand clothes, gadgets and home goods to Buengo rather than the landfill. This application, which debuted on the App Store and Google Play in March 2018, not only reduces environmental waste but also helps the world’s poor. Items that people sell on Buengo go directly from the seller to the buyer’s hands. The money, however, takes a different route. When the seller markets an item, they choose a campaign or charity for the profit to go towards. All of these “good causes” are in the U.K., but they have a global influence.

One organization that benefits from how Buengo reduces poverty is Poverty Child, which helps children in Payatas, the Philippines reach their fullest potential through educational programs, therapeutic endeavors, promotion of general well-being and security provision. Another nonprofit that reaps from Buengo is The Origin Charity. This organization works with indigenous people in Ethiopia to educate, equip and train the next generation of leaders. The Origin Charity also teaches marketable skills to vulnerable women, who are often the sole providers of their families. Any U.K. based charity or nonprofit can register their organization. However, Buengo is working to expand its industry to other countries so that everyone can follow the company’s motto and “sell it for good.”

The Good of Buengo

How much “good” do nonprofits and charities receive? The answer is 95% of all sales. Buengo says that “This covers the cost of what goes on behind the scenes: development of Buengo, continual support for all Buengo users, operational costs and overheads. We’re essentially offering the same service as a charity shop, but online. In physical locations, the amount taken from sales can be as much as 20%, so when you support a cause through Buengo, more of your money actually goes to the charity.”

As one wades through the pool of shirts that they no longer wear and trips over pants one size too small, there is another option instead of throwing unused items away. Instead of tossing unworn clothing in a trash bin, downloading Buengo and giving it to a global cause could be a good option.

– Chatham Kennedy
Photo: Flickr

apps that are changing lives
Technology continues to march onward, bringing with it exciting new opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others. Indeed, in Southeast Asia, innovative minds are utilizing the power of smartphones to enrich lives in ways previously unthinkable. From health to finance, from the dense forests of Cambodia to the food markets of Vietnam, here are five apps changing lives in Southeast Asia.

5 Apps Changing Lives in Southeast Asia

  1. It’s Our Forest Too: Illegal logging is a dire issue in Cambodia’s Prey Lang Forest, where in some cases up to 80% of villagers’ income derives from the extraction of resin from the forest’s many trees. To help combat this problem, Web Essentials has developed an Android app called It’s Our Forest Too. Its goal: to give activists the tools they need to discreetly monitor and report illegal activity within the Prey Lang. Here is how it works. Villagers use the app to take photos and record audio they deem suspicious. Then, after categorizing the recordings with the aid of a user-friendly pictorial decision-tree, users upload the data and its associated GPS coordinates to an encrypted Dropbox database. Since the entire process is quick and anonymous, activist organizations like the Prey Lang Community Network can then make use of the information they receive from the app without putting at risk any of the villagers who recorded the data. Thus, saving both lives and livelihoods.
  2. Halodoc: Recent years have seen a severe doctor shortage in Southeast Asia. This has led to excruciating wait times for patients and difficult travels for those living outside of the region’s urban areas. Enter Halodoc, the Indonesian app that allows patients to consult their doctors from the convenience of their own homes. The way it works is surprisingly simple. Patients select a doctor from a list, then immediately receive an option to schedule a video call. In many cases, the meeting lasts no more than 10 minutes. Patients can also use the app to purchase medicine, which is then delivered directly to the location of their choosing. This combination of convenience and user-friendly design has made the app a favorite of Southeast Asia’s medical community. As a result, Halodoc is now home to more than 2 million users and a database of 20,000 doctors.
  3. Foody: With a stated goal of being the Yelp! of Vietnam, Foody has more than surpassed expectations. Indeed, aside from serving as a community where users can review, discuss and order from Vietnam’s restaurants, Foody also plays an important role in the country’s struggles with food safety. The World Bank currently estimates that food safety issues cost Vietnam $740 million in productivity losses. The topic also frequently tops the list of the Vietnamese public’s biggest concerns, surpassing even corruption and cost of living. As a result, many have turned to Foody as a vital source of knowing where it is safe to eat. Foody’s user reviewers are careful to detail the food practices of the restaurant they cover, and by reporting incidents of food poisoning, their readers gain the ability to make smart decisions about where they eat.
  4. Spean Luy: Only 27% of the Southeast Asian population currently possesses a bank account, with the number as low as 5% in nations like Cambodia. With so many lacking access to financial services, start-ups like DIGICRO’s Spean Luy are looking to fill the gap by offering smart, technological solutions for Southeast Asia’s disadvantaged. Specifically, Spean Luy tackles two major problems that depress financial service: a lack of bank availability in the region’s remote, rural regions, and a lack of official documentation or collateral to provide for loans. How does it accomplish this? For one, although physical bank branches are hard to come by, more than 60% of Cambodians have internet access, which makes a mobile banking option attractive. Secondly, thanks to the clever application of machine learning techniques, Spean Luy is able to offer microloans to those who would otherwise be turned away by more stringent documentation requirements. So far, the results have been promising. Since its launch in early 2019, Spean Luy has disbursed more than $400,000 to users, with a repayment rate of 97%.
  5. Mind Palace: The growth of Virtual Reality (VR) technology has become a major talking point in recent years. More than just a tool for gaming, however, people are using VR apps like Eugene Soh’s Mind Palace to bring promising new benefits to those not typically thought of as VR consumers. For dementia patients, Mind Palace offers an immersive virtual environment in which they can revisit the familiar sights and sounds of their youths. This helps relieve the social isolation that burdens many with dementia, while also expanding their physical boundaries. Thus far, Mind Palace has seen extensive testing among Singaporean hospitals and nursing homes with very promising results. While not yet available on smartphones, Soh sees a mobile future for the app in the years to come.

These five apps offer a glimpse into the many ways that tech experts are using technology for social good in Southeast Asia. As the world’s brightest minds continue to innovate, the region will likely benefit from even more apps that are changing lives.

– James Roark
Photo: PxHere

Apps Improving Agriculture in Africa
As Africa moves towards a knowledge-based economy, the development of new smartphone apps is paving the way for agricultural improvements. Apps have the potential to create lower prices for consumers. They also help farmers utilize production to maximize the amount they produce. Conventional models often lead farmers down the wrong path due to false information. As a result, fake and unrecommended seeds increase in growth. Luckily, there are several smartphone apps improving agriculture in Africa.

Benefits of Apps over Conventional Models

Apps have the ability to improve data and provide feedback from each harvest. This data improves democratization and informs policies to improve the livelihood of small farmers. Mobile apps also have the ability to allow children of farmers to take over the business from elderly parents. An emerging trend shows young people beginning to view agriculture as uninteresting and inefficient. They often also hold the view that a career in agriculture has no chance of upward social mobility. As a result, the average age of African farmers is 60. In contrast, the median age on the continent is 19. The digitization of agriculture is securing the future of Africa as a whole, making sure that the growing young population is not only willing to take over the business, but also has security in doing so. Apps also help improve the value chain. Farmers often have no connection to buyers. Furthermore, they are frequently unaware of pricing and conditions that exist on the market outside their own crop. This results in price insufficiency and insecurity. Utilizing apps geared towards improving agriculture, however, creates a more organized and interconnected value chain. This, in turn, moves Africa away from a fragmented supply and demand system.


One such app revolutionizing farming is GeoFarmer. Using internet communication technology (ICT), farmers can manage their farm and crop by communicating their overall experiences with other farmers and experts. This free-flowing communication allows farmers to learn from the positive and negative experiences of others, better improve their yield and reduce risk. Many ICT programs are still out of reach to a large portion of farmers due to usability issues and cost. GeoFarmer, however, is a cost-effective alternative to this. Farmers can use the app offline or in rural areas with poor service. By using near real-time, two-way data services, farmers are able to co-innovate and improve their performance.

Pix Fruit

Pix Fruit is an app that CIRAD and the Senegalese Institute for Agricultural Research developed jointly. The app cuts down the length of the supply chain, resulting in the ability to lower the cost for consumers. When farming fruit such as mangoes, farmers estimate their crop by guessing the amount of fruit on a plantation by counting a single tree and applying it to the entire farm. Pix Fruit’s research team noted that the margin for error for this method could be as much as a factor of 10. This means that farmers lose out on a large portion of their profit by not having an efficient counting method. Pix Fruit’s solution is simple. Farmers first take a photo of the fruit on a selection of trees using their smartphone. The app then uses fruit-recognition technology–in collaboration with data from drones that have information on climate, sale constraints and soil–to calculate the probable overall harvest. This technology helps farmers know the true value of their crop. This results in an increase in farmers’ ability to bargain for a fair price.


TruTrade is another of the apps improving agriculture in Africa. This app seeks to help provide fair prices to farmers. With focuses on Uganda and Kenya, TruTrade is a resource for farmers to learn about the true value of their crops and market pricing points. The app also provides information on new consumer markets. Furthermore, it works as a payment transaction system. Because of the mobile payment system, women have said that the app helps them feel more empowered because they are no longer afraid of someone robbing them while carrying cash to the market. TruTrade’s mission is to create viable village agent sourcing networks that can broker deals on behalf of small-scale farmers. Farmers bring their crop to a collection point, where someone weighs the crop and checks it for quality. TruTrade then pays the farmer directly to their mobile device. After the farmer receives payment, TruTrade delivers the final product to the buyer.

The Road Ahead

GeoFarmer, Pix Fruit and TruTrade are just a few of the many apps improving agriculture in Africa. While developers are still figuring out ways to make ICT products available to all farmers across Africa, many have taken great strides to create a more interconnected system, which in the end benefits both the buyer and the seller.

– Laurel Sonneby
Photo: Flickr

Technovation Empowers Kids to Fight Global Poverty
Technovation is a global tech education nonprofit dedicated to empowering underrepresented groups by giving them the opportunity to create, lead and problem solve. The organization does this through its programs called Technovation Girls and Technovation Families that allow children and families to solve problems within their own communities through technology and innovation. Through these programs, Technovation empowers kids to fight global poverty.

Technovation Families

The organization’s family program collaborates with schools, mentors and families to work on creative artificial intelligence projects. These projects address real-world issues in their communities. The program is open to everyone and is completely free to children and families. Since 2006, more than 80,000 families around the world have participated in the program’s design challenges.

Technovation Families includes 10 lessons that teach families how to solve a problem in their community using artificial intelligence (AI). At the end of the lessons, families have the opportunity to submit their idea to the AI World Championship. The program encourages the collaboration of children and their families to change the world through technology.

Technovation Girls

Along with its family program, Technovation empowers kids to fight global poverty through Technovation Girls. The program works with girls ages 10-18, influencing them to become leaders and entrepreneurs within the tech industry. Through volunteer mentorships, girls in the program form teams and create mobile apps that address issues in their communities. These apps have helped tackle issues such as domestic violence and climate change.

Technovation Girls has empowered over 130,000 girls, children and parents to improve their communities through coding and artificial intelligence. Since the organization’s start, 7,000 mobile apps and AI prototypes have emerged and over 14,000 mentors have supported underrepresented populations. Apps such as FD-Detector, Eedo and Handsout have significantly impacted local communities.


In 2018, Team Save-A-Soul, a group of five teenage girls from Nigeria, won the Technovation Challenge with their app, FD-Detector, which can detect counterfeit medicine. Before working with Technovation, the teens had a limited amount of knowledge on technology. However, through mentorship and education, they were able to make their innovative app come to life. The app helps customers and health care workers verify a drug’s authenticity and expiration date, which could mean life or death for a patient. In Nigeria, the sale of counterfeit drugs is a widespread issue. Team Save-A-Soul is raising awareness for counterfeit drugs and protecting people from harm.


Another 2018 winner in the senior division was Team Cantavits, with its app Eedo. Eedo is an app that reduces electronic waste in India by connecting e-waste producers to authorized recyclers. Electronic waste can have damaging effects on the environment. By providing a resource for waste management and highlighting the harmful effects it can have on the environment, Team Cantavits has positively impacted its community.


Brain Squad, another team from Nigeria, created an app called Handsout that helps more children go to school. The app, winning the 2019 People’s Choice award at the Technovation competition, gives people from all over the world the opportunity to donate to Nigerian children and their families. The donations cover school fees, supplies and medication.

Technovation empowers kids to fight global poverty through innovation and creativity. Its programs not only combat global poverty through the apps and technology it has created but through the cultivation of learning and collaboration to create a better future for impoverished populations.

Megan McKeough
Photo: Flickr

5 Human Trafficking Awareness AppsThere are more slaves now than ever before in human history. Because of this, human trafficking can often feel too big to tackle, but thanks to technology, there are practical ways to join the fight against trafficking in persons. Here are five human trafficking awareness apps that everyone should know.

5 Human Trafficking Awareness Apps

  1. Sweat & Toil – The Sweat & Toil app was created by the U.S. Department of Labor to inform consumers of items created through child labor or forced labor, allowing them to make more informed buying decisions. The app also provides global child labor data, research on countries’ efforts to eliminate child labor and a review of laws related to child and forced labor.
  2. The STOP APP – This app, created by STOP THE TRAFFIK, gives people the ability to anonymously report suspected human trafficking activity. The platform makes it easy to fill out a report and even add pictures if a witness is able to take them. The STOP APP is available in seven languages and can be used worldwide. The reports made on the app go directly to the STOP THE TRAFFIK database which can assist law enforcement in investigation efforts. STOP THE TRAFFIK is a campaign coalition founded in 2006 that seeks to educate, mobilize and equip communities with the resources they need to end human trafficking.
  3. Good On YouGood On You is another app that can increase human trafficking awareness. This app is an effective way to hold fashion brands accountable. Good On You researches clothing companies and compiles the information into an easy-to-understand score. The scores are based on companies’ commitments to doing better by people, animals and the earth. This includes sustainability efforts, animal testing and the treatment of employees. This app enables consumers to make informed decisions on where they are purchasing clothes and increases brand transparency. If a brand does not appear on the app, Good On You encourages users to reach out to them.
  4. TraffickCam – Specifically created for travelers, this app allows users to photograph their hotel rooms and add them to TraffickCam’s database. Law enforcement can then analyze submitted photos to find human trafficking locations. Traffickers regularly post pictures of sex trafficking victims in hotel rooms for online advertisements. The more pictures added to the database, the more likely law enforcement can track down the hotel. Prosecutors can also use these photos as evidence to convict traffickers. This app was created by Exchange Initiative (EI) in 2015. EI provides resources and educational programs to help fight sex trafficking. The mission of EI is to promote global awareness of sex trafficking and spark action at the local level.
  5. ACT! – ACT! is a game designed to help increase sex-trafficking awareness among junior high and high school students. This is an interactive, story-structured game. In the game, players pick a character and learn about manipulation into sex-trafficking through a friend who is dealing with it. The app asks players to identify red flags in different scenarios and quizzes players on the potential red flags. If stumped, players can use resources such as law enforcement and reference books to help them out. ACT! is a great way to make students aware of manipulation and coercion into sex-trafficking. It can also increase students’ awareness of their peers and potential red flags to look out for.

While they are not the only ones out there, these are apps can increase human trafficking awareness in small, practical ways. They are all free, easy to use and can make all the difference.

– Megan McKeough
Photo: Pxhere