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Approximately 500 million underserved smallholder farmers (small single family farms) around the world lack access to critical information, financial services, and markets needed to support their livelihood. With mobile phone penetration in the developing world exceeding 70%, the mobile channel presents a compelling market opportunity to deliver life-changing services to these marginalized farmers.
That’s why GSMA and frog are partnering for the next two years to bring Human-Centered Design (HCD) to mobile agricultural products and services around the world. We will focus on the role mobile technology can play for development in six key countries – Ghana, Malawi, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. We do this with the understanding that any technology is only a component of a larger service design. In other words, we’re going to be looking holistically at the problems and opportunities.
As a member of the mAgri Programme, frog will work with mobile operators, the development community, and agricultural organizations to enhance the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in emerging markets by designing solutions which enhance their access to information, increase financial services and supply chain solutions that will be delivered via mobile channels through sustainable business models.
We’ll start by focusing on people – individuals, families, friends, groups, networks, and communities. We work with the belief that products and services, thoughtfully designed to respond to the needs of users, will ultimately increase sustained uptake, drive engagement, and achieve real business goals.
Those familiar with Human-Centered Design know that it’s an iterative problem-solving process, taking in all of the context surrounding users into account and design products and services that support users’ needs over time. As a practice, HCD provides interesting and valuable tools for teams to look at these problems more holistically. Our approach will use this lens to also look at the systems that exist today, and how they might be improved. Learn more about why GSMA believes in HCD.
Our teams will use frog’s research and design methods to uncover where existing services have succeeded or failed, understand why, and most importantly, make actionable changes to improve the services. It is with this in mind that we will be working not only with GSMA, but also with grantees and other partners across the aforementioned six countries to introduce and improve HCD practices across a range of mAgri products and services.
Whether we’re looking at smallholder farmers, seed suppliers, market whole sellers, or Agri-Business operators, our intent is the same: we aim to examine their attitudes and behaviors, their life and livelihood, the triggers that empower and educate, and other ways to influence positive change. We’re not just looking at one person or group of people, but strive to look for opportunities across the entire agricultural value chain that could have the most impact on improving the lives of farmers.
Stay tuned for more on the problems and opportunities we’re seeing across this space.