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10 October 2007

Technology and poverty

ICT for development as a topic is quite a rage and within that the aspects of mobile technology being deployed and used is being studied with great interest. This article from the NYT covers developments in the microfinance arena in South Africa. It is quite an old article but I just found it among my references and thought even if late, it may be of interest to those who missed it and are active in the microfinance area. There is also a similar version on the IHT blog.

You may get an idea about why there abounds so much interest and demand for mobile telephony licenses in India and also for Indian business houses for doing business in Africa.

All I know is that over the weekend I went to my "nursery/phoolwala" , a chap who is quite a common sight in Mumbai. They park themselves at any open shady space, and set up a few pots and shrubs for sale and soon it morphs into a regular little make-shift nursery business- none of it legal or licenced or anything remotely business like, but they sell earthern pots and saplings for sometimes even as small an amount as Rs.5. Now that I do not have a garden to tend, I love the few minutes walking around the make-shift enterprise- it has no walls, no power , no poster or name plate, no power lines, no nuthin.

A small oasis of greenery, just off the busy dusty road, usually wet and just freshly watered, the plants and flowering shrubs thrive as if defying all elements in a show of hope and stubborn cheerfulness. This time, he showed me branded packets of seeds (the kind I thought I'd have to go to Green Growers or Byculla or Chembur) to buy and when I asked him about a particular sapling I wanted, he whipped out his mobile phone and said," Number dijiye, main aapko phone karke bata dunga jab aaye." Basically telling me to visit only after he confirms that he has got it, taking customer service and technology both to a new level. Just a dhoti clad bhaiya running his small (uh-huh?) enterprise under a tree.

I love plants & flowers.I love my humble enterprising folk. I love technology.

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