FIELD Brief 20: Applying Mobile Technology to Improve Business Models in Tanzania and Zambia

  • Date Posted: May 24, 2013
  • Authors: Chrissy Martin, Sashi Selvendran
  • Organizations: FHI 360
  • Document Types: Primer or Brief
  • Donor Type: Non-US Government Agency

Technology, specifically mobile technology, offers a new delivery channel that can improve the management of supply chains to distribute a variety of services, including health, finance, water, and education. There is an important distinction in this statement: technology is a delivery channel, not a solution in and of itself. While the use of technology can help to improve the delivery of services, it can only be effective if the entire business model for service delivery is sound. In other words, technology is only about 10% of a solution; the other 90% includes all of the design and operational management that is required of any commercial business model.

This FIELD Brief illustrates the lessons learned through the application of technology to improve business models in two MEDA supported initiatives: mobile vouchers for agriculture in Zambia, and mobile vouchers for bed-net distribution in Tanzania. Both efforts demonstrated how supporting private sector partners to leverage mobile technology can create sustainable business models and products that reach the poor.

This “FIELD Brief” is the twentieth in a series produced by the FIELD-Support LWA Program. This brief discusses how mobile technology can be used to improve business processes and supply chain management to reach more people and increase development outcomes. This FIELD Brief was written by Chrissy Martin and Sashi Selvendran from Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA).