Mobile Information Services: The Esoko Initiative


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Presentation by Mark Davies (Esoko) CTA ICT Observatory 'Mobile devices in wireless environments' - Wageningen, 2-4 November 2009

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Mobile Information Services: The Esoko Initiative

  1. 1. CTA Nov, 2009
  2. 2. ‘ MIS 1.0’ <ul><li>Setup 2005 as an R&D project ‘tradenet’ </li></ul><ul><li>Built 100% in ghana </li></ul><ul><li>SMS/web price collection & discovery tool </li></ul><ul><li>Consumer/retail service </li></ul>
  3. 4. 2010
  4. 5. Local partners key to credible deployment...
  5. 6. Plenty of anecdotes <ul><li>Before Esoko, Susogn Poatab , a small holder farmer from Chamba district , was unable to get any information about prices in other markets than the local one. Since he started using Esoko he is able to get better prices for his deals. For example last year, he has to sell 100 tubers of yams. Someone offered him GHC110 in the local market for those yams but information given by Esoko showed him that prices in Ejura market was better. So he decided to go there and he finally got GHC290 for this harvest. With the profit made during this deal he was able to pay his 5 labors who were working on his farm. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Kpabayar Poatab is farming 5 acres in Jangbajado community in the Chamba district. He grows groundnuts among others. This is one of the examples that he related to us about usage of Esoko : He had information that prices of groundnuts were better in Damango market than the prices in the local market. So he transported his groundnuts there and made a profit of GHC60 . With this, he was able to pay the hospital bills for his brother when the prices in the local market were not enough to cover this. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Nawagn Bugum who had no mobile phone often ask his brother to request prices on Esoko for him. One time he had 5 bags of Maize to sell. With a request made by his brother, he knew that the prices in Ejura was 1.5 times higher than the local market prices. With the revenue of this deal made in Ejura, he was able to pay for himself and his family the national health insurance that has just expired. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Eric Poatob is often using Esoko to negotiate better prices with the dealer who comes at his village. He confirms that Esoko has been very useful for him to increase his income. With the additional income he makes since he started to use SMS prices, he has been able to increase the size of his farm by renting a tractor periodically as well as paid for the tuition of his building construction course in Tamale Polytechnic. Besides, he is saving money in a microfinance institution. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
  6. 7. 3 ways to improve revenue <ul><ul><ul><li>Transporting product to other markets where better prices were being offered </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Timing their sale when market prices were optimum </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Negotiating better prices at time of sale </li></ul></ul></ul>
  7. 8. <ul><li>Farmers who’ve never had a phone before were comfortable learning/using them </li></ul><ul><li>(These) Farmers preferred text messages than a voice message/service as they like to compare historical and do trending </li></ul><ul><li>These 200 farmers with phones served approximately another 1,800 farmers by  voice </li></ul><ul><li>Literacy among these ‘first adopters’ was not a problem </li></ul><ul><li>Farmers didn’t expect the prices to be accurate, but they assumed our margin of error would be constant </li></ul><ul><li>Farmers want price data even in the off-season </li></ul><ul><li>Farmers want weather info </li></ul><ul><li>Farmers want to be able to ‘advertise their goods and attract large buyers’ </li></ul><ul><li>Farmers were able to convert KG into local measures </li></ul>
  8. 9. These farmers anticipate an average 68% improvement on their revenues...
  9. 10. Voacanga (exported at $7/kilo) $1.50 now $3 of $7/kg export price 100% increase SMS advertising/procurement reduces middle men & time 61 > 31 days 5 > 3 people exporter producer
  10. 12. Challenges significant <ul><li>Farmers hard to reach: few ‘touchpoints’ </li></ul><ul><li>No program funds for ‘MIS’ </li></ul><ul><li>No expertise or methodology </li></ul><ul><li>No credible research/data </li></ul><ul><li>Government hard to engage </li></ul><ul><li>Development partners... Unpredictable... </li></ul>
  11. 13. ‘ MIS 2.0’ <ul><li>But the market was talking... </li></ul>
  12. 14. It wasn’t just prices... <ul><li>Offers to buy and sell </li></ul><ul><li>Stock inventories </li></ul><ul><li>Weather </li></ul><ul><li>Profiles & reputations </li></ul><ul><li>Disease </li></ul><ul><li>Crop activities </li></ul><ul><li>Extension advisories </li></ul><ul><li>Vouchers </li></ul><ul><li>Health tracking... </li></ul>
  13. 15. It wasn’t only mobile...
  14. 16. It wasn’t about ‘push’... <ul><li>Cost effective way to pull data from the field... </li></ul><ul><li>Growing the market is about reducing the risk for buyers </li></ul><ul><li>Value proposition = ‘reduce your fuel costs’ </li></ul>
  15. 17. It wasn’t ‘public’...
  16. 18. Sales survey Yes & likely = 68% 8% needed to be profitable
  17. 19. It wasn’t about technology <ul><li>5% technology </li></ul><ul><li>95% deployment </li></ul>
  18. 20. It wasn’t about ‘product’ <ul><li>It’s about networks between people, and how mobile technologies can enhance and facilitate those relationships, both public and private </li></ul>
  19. 21. What we need... <ul><li>Local software capacity enhanced </li></ul><ul><li>Grants for innovation & R&D </li></ul><ul><li>Inventory of projects & tools </li></ul><ul><li>Credible impact evaluation studies </li></ul><ul><li>Spreading the risk/cost </li></ul><ul><li>Time </li></ul>