I love being a staff writer for 3BL Media/Justmeans on topics - Social Innovation, Social Enterprise and Social Entrepreneurs. When I am not writing for 3BL Media/Justmeans, I wear my other hat as owner of Serendipity PR. Over the years I have worked with high-profile, big, powerful brands and organisations within the public, not-for-profit and corporate sectors; and won awards from my industry....
Indonesia Attracting Social Innovation and New Technology
Indonesia is attracting new technology and social innovation. In fact, Blackberry maker Research in Motion counts Indonesia as one of its most lucrative markets, while other device manufacturers are keenly eyeing the upwardly mobile Indonesian consumer. There's even talk of a Silicon Valley-style boom taking place in Jakarta's suburbs, with the likes of U.S. tech giant Yahoo snapping up an Indonesian start-up.
This social innovation change is also having a positive impact on the country's farming community as it is thought that almost half of Indonesia's population of 230 million make their living from the land. Indonesia's farmers need new technology to improve their livelihoods, as they currently have no real way to know what consumers in the cities need, or when the products they want have arrived in the stores in town. Instead, the poor farmer has to keep calling the shopkeepers, and phone networks in rural areas are patchy.
It is this gap between the rural and the urban where technology social innovation start-up 8villages saw an opportunity: using mobile phones. Mathieu Le Bras, founder and CEO says, "8villages is a business social network for farmers...providing them with a link to local buyers, their local sellers - and other farmers who are growing the same crop as them...Social networks are paramount in the countryside. People interact closely here, social status is very important and the influence of a senior farmer plays a very important role in the community."
This is why 8villages has a social innovation service that allows farmers to enter a code on their mobile phones and access product reviews by senior farmers; it's key to the success of 8villages and why the farmers are now far more efficient. It is using social networks like Wikipedia and eBay so that the farmers have access to knowledge. Indonesia is one of the world's biggest users of Twitter. It is also home to the world's third-largest group of Facebook users.
Global handset maker Nokia offers the Life Tools service, costing about five U.S. cents a day; farmers with a Nokia handset get a text message about crop prices and weather patterns, a service the company says had more than 600,000 users in Indonesia in 2011. Big businesses like Nokia and start-ups like 8villages want many of those new consumers to come from the Indonesian countryside, yet this is unlikely to happen quickly. Phone networks in many districts remain unreliable and telecom providers still need to make it a priority to extend them. However, things are changing as companies tap into the social innovation potential that they are beginning to see in Indonesia's farming community.
Photo Credit: Arte & Fotografia Website