India’s Aadhar Bhalinge is the winner of m2Work, a World Bank-sponsored online challenge seeking the best ideas for spurring the job-creation potential of mobile phones.
The competition organized by Nokia and infoDev, a World Bank innovation and technology entrepreneurship program, drew a total of 939 ideas, 96% of which came from developing and emerging economies.
m2Work, which stands for mobile microwork, aims to expand microwork to the 5 billion mobile phones in the developing world. Currently, millions of people supplement their income through microwork—small digital tasks they can perform online.
Bhalinge convinced the high-level jury of World Bank, Nokia, UKaid, and other private sector representatives of the development impact, novelty, and feasibility of his “Smart Rickshaw Network” to take home the US$ 20,000 grand prize. His tool would crowdsource maps at a very low cost in developing nations by employing fleets of rickshaw drivers to feed live traffic updates into a subscription service.
Bhalinge and the five other finalists all received business coaching during the finals. The other finalists’ ideas touched on environmental conservation, access to health care and education, and social publishing.
Second place went to Armenia’s Alexander Shakaryan, whose “MicroForester” app would aid reforestation projects. Nadia Millington and Luis Rosenthal got an honorable mention for “3MD: Mobile Diagnostics” which would allow paraskilled technicians to perform disease diagnosis tasks on patients’ digitized scans.
Research by infoDev has highlighted the potential of microwork. Studies by the ICT industry project that mobile data traffic in developing countries will grow by 80% per year, based on improved devices and networks.