Grassroots Innovation | Alleviating poverty one SMS at a time…[1]

The following relates to my earlier posts on the role of the cellphone (or ICT, Information and Communication Technologies for the proper industry term) in alleviating poverty for BoP (Bottom of the Pyramid: that’s the other 90% of global reality of disadvantaged societies) population.

Ken Banks of (Swahili for “earth) is doing absolutely amazing things in South Africa and other parts of Africa, in harnessing cellphone technology and putting it in the hands of people in rural communities. For most of us, in developed nations, we’re connected through the web (and yes, increasingly through our smart phones with all the possible apps to do just about anything!), but for the disadvantaged African villager, being connected via SMS is more viable. And Ken’s work proves that not only does SMS have a very broad application, but that is also is a potential game-changer, a tool of empowerment for previously “untouched” communities, for those removed from the ICT arena!

Ken Banks, founder of, devotes himself to the application of mobile technology for positive social and environmental change in the developing world, and has spent the last 17 years working on projects in Africa. Recently, his research resulted in the development of FrontlineSMS, an award-winning text messaging-based field communication system designed to empower grassroots non-profit organisations. Ken graduated from Sussex University with honours in Social Anthropology with Development Studies, and was awarded a Stanford University Reuters Digital Vision Fellowship in 2006, and named a Pop!Tech Social Innovation Fellow in 2008. In 2009 he was named a Laureate of the Tech Awards, an international awards program which honours innovators from around the world who are applying technology to benefit humanity. He was also named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in May 2010. Ken’s work was initially supported by the MacArthur Foundation, and he is the current recipient of grants from the Open Society Institute, Rockefeller Foundation, HIVOS, the Omidyar Network and the Hewlett Foundation.

Since 2003, has been helping empower local, national and international non-profit organisations to make better use of information and communications technology in their work. Specialising in the application of mobile technology, it provides a wide range of ICT-related services drawing on over 25 years experience of its founder, Ken Banks. Non-profits in over fifty countries have so far benefited from a range of kiwanja initiatives, including FrontlineSMS and nGOmobile. believes that all non-profits, whatever their size and wherever they operate, should be given the opportunity to implement the latest mobile technologies in their work, and actively seeks to provide the tools and the environment to enable them to do so.

With a key focus on developing countries, and a particular emphasis on low-cost, grassroots, sustainable solutions, is unique in that it combines a strong business and technology background with a degree in anthropology and over 17 years conservation and development experience in countries including Nigeria, Zambia, South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Mozambique and more recently, India.


About dianhasan

Brand Storyteller, Travel Writer, Speaker, Creative Writer & Thinker - avid observer of randomness in everyday life - Sustainable Business, Eco Matters, Sustainable Urban Issues, Architecture, Heritage Conservation, Innovation & Brand-Strategy, Cross-Cultural Communications, Travel, Tourism & Lifestyle.
This entry was posted in BoP (Bottom of the Pyramid), Grassroots Innovation, ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Grassroots Innovation | Alleviating poverty one SMS at a time…[1]

  1. Pingback: Grassroots Innovation | Alleviating poverty one SMS at a time…[2] « IDEAS INSPIRING INNOVATION

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