On the Effects of Mobile Phones on Poverty in Africa

It may come as a surprise that mobile phones are increasingly becoming a commonplace investment in households throughout the developing world. India and Africa have been particularly targeted. Phone manufacturers worldwide are competing to flood African markets with their products, banking on the prediction that the African market for smartphones will double in the next four years. Africa is second only to Asia in number of subscribers, and its mobile penetration rate is the highest in the world.
Rural System visiting UgandaPhoto taken by Risa Pesapane, project director of Rural System, during the Rural System visit to Uganda in 2013. [Read more…]

The Human Health Costs of Environmental Degradation

We’ve talked about how land management practices can affect long-term profits off the land, but profits aren’t the only thing at stake. Land management directly affects how ecological functions help or harm human health. Effects on human health can be as obvious as how pollution affects the lungs or as convoluted as how forest cover affects malaria. This is best illustrated with examples.Photo by Risa Pesapane in Uganda: deforestation and erosion.Children in Uganda pose before deforested hills with erosion problems. Photo courtesy of Risa Pesapane. [Read more…]

Five Microfinance Options for Americans

In Reaching for Economies of Scale we discussed how small businesses might band together and share resources to cut costs and maximize profits. But  in order for a system of small businesses to thrive each one must first begin. It’s old news that about 80 percent of small businesses fail. Less often do we hear about the microfinance options that may have helped them stay afloat. Microfinance Options for Americans

Developing countries have been helped tremendously by systems of microfinance. Communities of men, and more often women, can lend each other money and resources in order to get their various small enterprises going. As they pay each other back and make profit, they can take their profits to the bank. Savings allows a measure of financial security and stability previously unknown to such impoverished comnunities. Virginia’s own Virginia Tech created a game in 2013 that teaches illiterate or semiliterate women how to cooperate in a microfinance community. [Read more…]