Microfinance

Mobile phone based business network for Entrepreneurs launched by Grameen Foundation and Qualcomm

Grameen Foundation, together with Qualcomm Incorporated (Nasdaq: QCOM), through its Wireless Reach™ initiative, and Bakrie Telecom, today announced the launch of the Application Laboratory in Indonesia (AppLab Indonesia).  Building on Grameen Foundation’s pioneering AppLab initiative in Uganda, AppLab Indonesia delivers new and innovative products, information services and business opportunities tailored to the needs of the poor and specifically designed to increase their incomes.

AppLab Indonesia builds on work started in 2009 to create a network of micro-entrepreneurs to adopt mobile phone-based business opportunities.  AppLab Indonesia will develop avenues for business learning and provide other essential information to help increase their bargaining power and income.  To ensure long-term support for this growing network, Grameen Foundation, Qualcomm and Bakrie Telecom, incubated PT RUMA, an Indonesian social enterprise which translates to mean “your micro-business partner.”  PT RUMA operates as an implementing partner to help poor micro-entrepreneurs to first become electronic airtime resellers, and then to expand their businesses with new AppLab products and services that will further increase their income.grameen foundation entrepreneurs

“Entrepreneurship is essential towards strengthening economies and social development. Through AppLab Indonesia, we are creating specialized wireless products and services that allow micro-entrepreneurs in Indonesia to start new businesses and have access to real-time data, helping them to build a more efficient and profitable business,” said John Stefanac, vice president of Qualcomm and president of Qualcomm Southeast Asia and Pacific.  “We are proud to be part of AppLab Indonesia as it is yet another example of how wireless technology can stimulate economic growth and enhance the livelihoods of people in underserved communities in Indonesia.”

An estimated 63 percent of Indonesia’s economy is driven by the informal sector, so efficiency gains in this sector can have a meaningful effect on the macro-economy in Indonesia.  At the micro-economic level, connecting hardworking people to better jobs, along with paying micro-entrepreneurs to maintain an active portfolio of these job seekers, can have a transformative effect on their lives and livelihoods.

“As we work with Qualcomm and Bakrie Telecom to empower the poorest people in Indonesia to transform their own lives, an essential tool we can put in their hands is a mobile phone loaded with services that enable access to new business and job opportunities,” said Jennifer Meehan, chief executive officer, Asia Region, Grameen Foundation.   “As such, these services can substantially increase the amount and predictability of their income streams, leading to improved health, nutrition and educational opportunities in the household, which are the core elements that can break the generational cycle of poverty.”

“We believe access to telecommunications services is the birthright of every Indonesian,” said Erik Meijer, deputy president director of Bakrie Telecom. “As a leader in providing affordable wireless services to Indonesia, we are proud to be a part of AppLab Indonesia, which will offer our customers embedded value-added services that they can use to earn additional income and work themselves out of poverty.”

To date, more than 300,000 unique customers have been served through PT RUMA’s rapidly growing network of more than 4,500 micro-entrepreneurs.  An estimated 47 percent of the micro-entrepreneurs who stay in the portfolio for more than four months have moved above the poverty line, and more than 90 percent of the businesses are owned by women.  One example of these services is “Kerjalokal,” or “Day Job Search,” which connects the poor in Indonesia to informal sector job opportunities, increasing the chances of stable income for the household. Through subscription services offered by PT RUMA micro-entrepreneurs in their community, job seekers pay less than thirty cents per week and in return receive a daily SMS with a job listing that meets three criteria: their location, their specified job category and their preferred salary range.

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