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Grameen Foundation: "Community Knowledge Workers Network" paired with mobile tech sustain farming communities in developing countries

Grameen Foundation's three focus areas in developing countries are agriculture, financial services, and health. They also offer data tracking tools "for anti-poverty orgs." Grameen's agriculture program pairs "Community Knowledge Workers (CKW's)," who are "local change instigators," with mobile technology solutions to sustain farming communities. The CKW's are: 1) native to the community Grameen is assisting, and 2) are farmers. The CKW initiative was launched in Uganda in 2009 and supports more than 176,000 poor farmers via a human and mobile network of more than 1,100 "peer advisors." "More than 70% adopt improved farming techniques as a result." Source:

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Grameen Foundation's "Community Knowledge Worker (CKW)" Network aids isolated, agriculturally sustained communites in developing countries. The program launched in Uganda in 2009. It has expanded to Colombia. And, it now assists more than 176,000 farmers via a human network of 1,100 CKW's. This approach establishes local human connection points with mobile technology networks. Here's how:
  1. The CKW's are elected by their peers in their local communities. The CKW's are also farmers.
  2. The CKW's are taught how to use mobile technology provided by Grameen.
  3. The mobile technology contains, "information on weather and marketing prices and advice on caring for crops and animals and treating pests and diseases."
  4. Grameen collects the data and analyzes it.

  • Farmer notices rash on goat. Farmer takes goat to the community CKW. CKW uses Grameen's mobile tech to diagnose rash and treatment within 15 minutes.
  • Farmer's chickens all die. CKW assists the farmer in creating correct food formula/mix for chickens via Grameen's mobile tech. Now the farmer's chickens thrive.
  • A farmer could not grow pineapples. CKW gives him the knowledge how to farm pineapples from instructions via Grameen's mobile tech. Farmer now makes a good income off his pineapples.

Business model:
Grammen provides free of charge "agricultural extension information via a growing network of CKW's in 15 districts across Uganda" with 400,000 pieces of information delivered to farmers. A type of "contract is established with each village. It requests that the villagers elect the CKW who will provide them with timely info. In return, the villagers give the CKW's their time. 'Time' meaning: allowing CKW's to survey the community. Grameen then helps other organizations with data analysis, reporting, and real-time dashboard design. With that fee-for-service model, Grameen can then do more good out in the field."

Energy challenges:
Communites can't charge phones easily. Fenix International Inc. worked with Grameen to develop the "ReadySet Solar Kit"--a charging solution that powers phones, lights, and radios. This reduces energy costs.

  1. "Over 700 CKW's share vital agricultural information with farmers across Uganda using smartphones."
  2. "More than 70% adopt improved farming techniques as a result."
  3. The CKW's are respected in their communities.


Grameen has quite a few other notable solutions geared toward agricultural financing and healthcare. It's worth checking out their website in full.


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