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“Mobile phones and wireless internet end isolation, and will therefore prove to be the most transformative technology of economic development of our time.”

– Jeffrey Sachs –

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M4A closes the digital divide by connecting people throughout Africa to mobile phones that are accessible, affordable and sustainable.

As a result, we can better understand and serve people living in poverty using smarter phone technology

B&MM4A is thrilled to be the recipient of a Grand Challenge Exploration Award from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Through this grant, M4A is partnering with Vodafone Mozambique and the Harvard School of Public Health to pilot innovative solutions to increase mobile phone and mobile money usage in rural Mozambique.

Read more here 

Melinda Gates explains the transformational promise of mobile phones in Africa.

In Africa, a phone is not simply a phone. It’s access to a better life.

Throughout Africa, millions of people—especially women—still live without electricity, telephones, internet, and basic financial services. In this context, the phone is 4-inches and 100 grams of modernity. It’s a bank to save for school fees, light to study by, a mentor for better farming practices, and a hotline to quality medical advice.

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We are changing lives by connecting people throughout Africa to smarter phones, solar power, free data, and life-changing apps.

Good medicine and medical care is essential for every family, but it’s hard to access in rural communities. A mobile phone can help people locate essential drugs, notify NGOs and local governments of drug stock-outs, connect people to reliable medical advice, and even be programmed to send timely reminders about important appointments for prenatal care or immunization visits for their children. With mobile connections, farmers who are looking for affordable seeds and farming supplies can easily call local suppliers to get the best price. When it comes to harvest time, they can find out the best prices at the market, and agriculture apps allow farmers to get real time farming tips and and weather alerts.

Internet use throughout Africa is largely mobile, and it’s exploding throughout the continent. With cheaper connection rates and better access, 1.5 billion people are expected to join the world of mobile internet by 2020. But first, people need phones. Mobile banking is growing fast– over 10 million transactions take place each day. Mobile banking will allow millions of people to take advantage of all that financial access has to offer: savings, loans, payment transfers, access to credit, and most importantly, the opportunity for economic development for families.

Why Phones Matter: The Numbers

M4A transforms lives by getting smarter phones, data, minutes and solar solutions to disconnected people – especially women – throughout Africa at prices they can afford.

In the next 5 years, mobile Internet use is predicted to explode in the developing world reaching 1.5 billion new users, or half the planet. M4A leverages this historic moment by:

  • Making the next 1.5 billion phones tools of transformation for the people who need them most
  • Capturing analyzing the rich stories, needs and insights of the next 1.5 billion

M4A does this by making phones:

Accessible

M4A aggregates demand for phones in hard to reach rural areas and works with MNOs to be sure phones are sold where rural people can access them. We also train sales agents, with a focus on female agents who are more trusted by women, to teach new users on how to use their phones.

Affordable

M4A partners with MNOs to get phones at cost and crowdsources donations to offer people living in poverty phones they can afford.

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Sustainable

Owning a phone is not enough. People need to have the data, minutes and electricity necessary to keep their phones charged and useful. M4A creates a marketplace for data by offering new phone users our unique Insights4Rewards (I4R) program. Through I4R, phone users share insights in return for rewards in airtime or data. This increases phone use and provides rich insights that can be used to provide better and more relevant services and products to people living in poverty.

Meet our Current partners

How to Partner with M4A

Phone access leads to an explosion in available knowledge about people’s lives, desires, and needs. M4A can help you transform this information into better services, projects and products.

Individual donors

Make a difference in people’s lives by being part of our crowdsource movement. Your donation is used to subsdize the cost of phones, solar chargers and minutes


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Donor Agencies and Foundations

With M4A, Aid agencies and NGOs can better focus their programs and get critical content to hard to reach target populations. Once people have phones, M4A uses phone based surveys and sampling to manage small to massive surveys, needs assessments, and data collection efforts at a fraction of standard costs.

Researchers

Epidemiologists can track diseases, and health ministries can map stock outs of vital medicines; Academics and researchers can conduct radically lower-cost and more accurate research

Consumer good companies

We help marketing and product development respond to to people’s real needs and  preferences. Companies benefit from our real-time mobile feedback loop to meet their social commerce and shared value goals.

Mindy Hernandez

Founder, Executive Director

Mindy is passionate about increasing social and economic opportunities for people living in poverty. Mindy has particular expertise and interest in blending mobile technology and behavioral science to make development programs more effective. Mindy is the founder of the behavioral design consulting company, Design for Humans. In 2013, she was asked to be the the liaison to the White House’s Social and Behavioral Science Team for the US Agency for International Development, a role she still holds. Prior to launching Designs for Humans, Mindy was a Senior Researcher with ideas42, a behavioral design firm based at Harvard University. Mindy has lived in Mozambique and Uganda with her family since 2010.

Williee Chonguica

Field Manager, Gates Pilot

Williee works with ICC Mozambique, a pioneer consulting firm focusing on Financial Inclusion in the region. Williee has managed a national financial education campaign focused on media production and capacity development, managed a qualitative research project to understand gender differences in financial inclusion, and managed donor coordination for the Financial Sector Working Group. In addition, she supported the analysis of the FinScope MSME Survey – Mozambique 2012. She holds a Bachelors of Commerce from the University of British Columbia, where she was also involved in Pan-African Student and Young professional networks.

Brigit Helms

Founder, Board Member

Dr. Helms has spent 30 years finding innovative solutions to development problems across more than 30 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Brigit was Senior Expert at McKinsey & Company, where she worked with banks and telecommunications companies to build new business models to reach low income clients. Prior to that, she spent four years in Asia with the IFC working on agriculture development, sustainable forestry, infrastructure, business environment and financial services. Brigit was a founding member of CGAP, a global center of excellence for financial services. Brigit holds a PhD in Agriculture and Development Economics from Stanford University and a Masters in International Studies from Johns Hopkins SAIS.

Margaret O’Connor

Board Member

Margaret is an entrepreneur with 25 years experience in Africa, Asia, the US and the UK. She works as Chief Strategist at Impact Brands Africa, a Johannesburg-based international marketing advisory firm. The formerFinancial Times journalist has worked on projects across Africa since 2002. Prior to that, she co-founded a New York-based, Silicon Valley venture funded video content management business that Reuters used to disrupt its business. O’Connor built trust in the MasterCard brand in frontier markets as the founding head of New Technology Communications and as Vice President of Communications and Government Relations for MasterCard in the Asia-Pacific region. She left the Woodrow Wilson School’s International Relations program to work for the Korean Minister of Finance.

Hillary Miller-Wise

Board Member

Hillary is CEO of Esoko, a technology company that links businesses to smallholder farmers, and is passionate about the use of technology to improve the lives of the poor. She came to Esoko from Grameen Foundation, where she led the organization’s programs in Africa using mobile to link the poor to health, financial and commodity markets. Previously, she served as Country Director then Deputy Regional Director at TechnoServe in Africa, where she designed and launched mobile agriculture partnerships with Vodafone and Tigo. She has spent her career in social enterprise and economic development in both non-profit and for-profit firms. She holds a Master’s in International Economics from Johns Hopkins University and an MBA from INSEAD, where she received the Social Entrepreneurship Scholarship.

 
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