In a recent interview with Fortune Magazine, Muhammad Yunus beautifully articulated his dream of a “Digital Aladdin’s Lamp”, which would provide poor women around the world with access to global markets and trends for local benefit:
“A genie comes out of it and asks, ‘What can I do for you, ma’am?’ And she says ‘I make these baskets but nobody buys them.’ And the lamp says ‘I will find somebody to buy it.’ And the lamp comes back with buyers. She doesn’t know about a keyboard or a computer. She just asks questions of the genie.”
Sound like a fantasy? Well, it seems we aren’t so far from realizing Yunus’ dream. How?
Previously, we wrote about the “Question Box,” which aims to “bring some of the benefits of the information on the Internet to places that are too remote or poor to sustain a live Internet link.” Now, there is another access point for the BoP – audible internet accessible over the phone (developed by InternetSpeech). Let me say that again – internet access over the phone, no literacy, keyboards, or screens necessary.
It seems that new trends in mobile phone technology are ushering in a new era of connectivity, access, knowledge, and power for the rural and urban poor. Can you imagine what the future holds?
Imagine a farmer in a remote village using her voice and her $20 People’s Phone (which only works as a phone and doesn’t even have a screen to send or receive text messages) to check market information via Reuters, and then log onto an eBay-like market to offer her crafts.
A few hours later, she could log listen to the bids received and settle a transaction through e-mail.
Sound too good to be true? Click here to listen to a demo.