Top Takeaways from Mobile for Development Summit (Capetown)

emerging-market-startups-mobile sumitLast week, senior executives and stakeholders from the mobile industry and development community joined us at the debut thought leadership event, Mobile for Development Summit, in Cape Town.

Over the two days, attendees participated in morning plenary sessions focused on our four key themes, and afternoon breakout sessions focused on a variety of topics, such as African mobile entrepreneurship, the mAgri industry and mobile identity.

We’ve compiled a list of key takeaways, lessons and outcomes from our afternoon breakout sessions below and we’ll also be sharing videos and additional highlights from the event soon.

Eight Takeaways from M4D13

1. Funding is just one dimension in developing a solid entrepreneurial ecosystem: mobile operators, corporates, investors, government and others in the community need to work as partners. In Africa, hands-on mentorship and incubation needs to be the focus, as well as building trust and understanding within the community.

—From: The Future for African Mobile Entrepreneurship

2. First impressions matter when an NGO approaches a mobile operator for a partnership.  Do your homework on the operator to choose the right place in the organisation to make the pitch, articulate clearly the value you bring to an operator, and quantify the benefits you need to receive to make the relationship work over the long term.

—From: Creating Commercial and Social Value By Serving Women with Mobile

3. There are plenty of organisations already working in or interested in the integration of mobile money and mAgri. Although digitising payments (or moving from cash to mobile money payments) is seen as the low hanging fruit, it’s important to remember that there are also opportunities for mobile to benefit non- financial transactions along agriculture value chains.

—From: The mAgri Industry: Current Status and Future Trends

4. mHealth business modelling requires constant facilitation between the different stakeholders, and mHealth stakeholders are interested in cross-sectoral and multi-disciplinary Mobile for Development business integration. As well, in the interests of healthcare payers, more formal mHealth economic evaluations are required.

—From: Defining the Business Model for Maternal and Child mHealth services: Lessons from South Africa

5. Both mobile operators and humanitarian organisations need to be upfront and open about what they want – lack of transparency is a barrier to partnership formation. Interventions don’t need to be confined to CSR on the part of MNOs and there needs to be further work on how services are commercialised.

—From: Enabling Disaster Affected Communities through Diverse Mobile Services

6. There is an increasingly urgent need for electronic identities in developing countries to protect human rights such as land rights, access healthcare and education, and enter the world of banking and commerce.  There was a call for proven, sustainable solutions which work for citizens, government and business.

—From: Mobile Identity – Where is the Potential in Africa?

7. With more than 1.2 billion people living off grid and 700 million without access to clean water globally, there is a long way to go before providing affordable clean energy and water solutions to all. Innovative solutions – such as home solar systems coupled to mobile payments from M-KOPA and Econet Solar, and Green SeeSaw’s mobile-based monitoring system – show that new ways of providing affordable and sustainable services are emerging and could impact millions soon.

—From: From Smart Cities to Connected Communities

8. There is a need to focus on investing in infrastructure and an enabling environment, as opposed to purely on individual companies or entrepreneurs. While this has already started happening to some extent, there needs to be more, given the top barriers to investing in early stage firms (including start-ups) are lack of scalability and the lack of business skills from the entrepreneur.

—From: Bridging the Funding Divide: Resolving the Asymmetry between Business Models and Investment Criteria



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