Friday, October 16, 2009

AppLab > Transforming Lives through Innovation in Information Access

AppLab > About the Application Laboratory
The Application Laboratory (AppLab) is an initiative of the Grameen Foundation. We work to promote innovation in the provision of services and information using mobile phones and other ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) to alleviate poverty in the developing world.


The Issue

Poor and rural populations often lack access to important information and knowledge that would enable them to improve their lives and livelihoods.

The AppLab Solution

By leveraging the power of information and communications technologies, AppLab seeks to overcome the barriers to accessing information that contribute to the poverty cycle.

How AppLab Works

AppLab uses mobile technologies to both disseminate and gather relevant and actionable information. We develop mobile phone applications and services that allow people to access information on important topics like health and agriculture, among others. For example, through a simple text message a farmer can receive tips on treating crop diseases, learn local market prices, or get advice on preventing malaria.

Our applications can also be used for collecting information. For example, surveys conducted by mobile phones can be used to collect information on access to health services or the types of crops being grown in a specific region. This information can provide a detailed understanding of the challenges poor communities face and equip service providers with the knowledge they need to better serve the poor.




The Application Laboratory seeks to:

Deeply understand the needs of poor people in the developing world and guide the development of innovative applications delivered over mobile devices tailored to their needs

Develop opportunities for micro-entrepreneurs to enhance their existing shared phone businesses and build new businesses collecting and disseminating information, serving as “information hubs” for their communities

Design applications and associated business models which improve the lives and livelihoods of the poor and are financially sustainable, scalable, and show potential to be replicated globally

Demonstrate the potential for our partners to meet the needs of people at the base of the pyramid


Mission, Vision and Approach


To guide the development of appropriate mobile applications and test and scale mobile applications and services that contribute to poverty alleviation.


The widespread use of mobile devices used broadly to access knowledge and information to decrease poverty and improve lives and livelihoods.


We begin with innovative and well honed strategies to quickly assess how best to meet needs with different applications and services. Our focus is on creating self-sustaining business models and processes that ensure the long-term viability of applications designed to improve the lives of the poor. To achieve this we collaborate with existing ecosystems, working with application developers, service providers, and content experts to deliver mobile services that have the potential to achieve lasting impact on poverty reduction.

In our two-pronged approach we develop applications and services which can be delivered to anyone with access to a mobile phone and also work with “trusted intermediaries” to improve “discoverability” and address literacy and multiple language issues.

To reach the broadest possible audience we collaborate with private sector companies, such as Google, MTN and Qualcomm, to develop applications and services which can be widely scaled.

We also establish networks that allow us to reach the "last kilometer"-- the population that is traditionally the most difficult to reach, and therefore in greatest need of access to information. In this model, local entrepreneurs serve as "Information Hubs" who have the ability to provide a range of information services to people in their communities.






AppLab Atlas (Newsletter)


AppLab’s Worldwide Team


Resource Center



GF, Google and MTN Uganda Launch New Mobile Services for Uganda's Poor


AppLab Uganda Launch [YouTube]


See Also

Cell Phone Information Services > Grameen Foundation Expands Technology Program for Poor Farmers ...


Using Cellphones To Change The World


Africa > Mobile Phone > Powerful Instrument Of Learning


Question Box > CellPhone Reference / Extension Service For The Developing World


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