Social Enterprise Symposium: Transforming Business for
the Global Good
5 – 9 p.m. Thursday, March 25
Frank Auditorium, 1524 Van Munching Hall
Mobile Technology: Connecting People, Transforming
The world is evermore connected these days through technology, but what if
this global network could be extended to developing countries? These countries
create an incredible opportunity for market expansion that will help empower
people and transform communities.
panel was moderated by Joseph Bailey, Research Associate Professor and QUEST
Program Director at the Smith School of Business, who started off with a poll of
financial transaction methods. Unlike in the U.S. where credit is widely
available and accepted, cash is the most widely used method of payment in
developing countries. However, even this method poses potential problems such as
high transaction costs and low levels of security. The two panelists further
discussed how mobile technology can specifically tackle this problem.
Sherri Haas, a Program Specialist at the IRIS Center at the University of
Maryland, College Park, had recently returned from three months of field
research in Kenya. After describing her work with M-PESA, a mobile money
transfer system, Haas discussed the many benefits of mobile technology for
developing countries and their inhabitants. From her research she has found that
M-PESA not only significantly increased the economic wellbeing of its users but
also had a significant impact on the community through increased capital
investment and consumer consumption. Haas concluded that mobile technology
allows for efficient linking of vendors, consumers, as well as other
organizations, most importantly microfinance institutions.
Riley, Professor of Information Systems, and Chair of the Internet Educational
Equal Access Foundation at the Smith School of Business, has worked on a project
to link universities around the world for better cooperation. Most importantly,
Riley discussed the fact that without a fiber system or another reliable mobile
technology, it is very hard to encourage economic drive and development.
Although Riley sees a prominent future in the mobile technology market in
developing nations, he warned possible shortfalls in developing countries’
electrical infrastructure as well as security issues.
An engaging question and discussion concluded the event with a focus on how
current college students can get involved. (Jake Bies, Class of 2012)