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Mobile phone apps -- as a source of employment.

The penetration and adoption of smartphones and applications are creating new kinds of ways to make money -- and not by being a coder or designer -- but sharing information, time, extra resources and talents, with the world.

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As Luisa mentioned in a previous post, one the Rockefeller Foundation's key focus areas is to advance "digital job" opportunities. This organization recognizes that the growth in the technology, digital and mobile sectors has not only created new channels to educate, train and connect the unemployed, but also has created new types of ways to generate income.

A friend of mine runs a company in Boston, called Mobee, that provides real-time in-store intelligene to brands, through crowdsourced data collected on mobile phones. This means that anyone with a smartphone, can download the application, and begin completing "challenges" for cash and incentives. For example, if I go to a Starbucks, the application will let me know if a challenge exists there, and after I order my coffee, I can answer a few questions outlining my experience, and get instantly rewarded. This type of real-time, first person data is invaluable to companies managing in-store customer experience. And, from a customer perpsective, challenges align and integrate into existing behaviors. 

I believe this concept has powerful applications in emerging markets where unemployment is rampant, mobile penetration is growing, governance is poor, data banks are scanty.The mobile phone offers the opportunity to establish a decentralized work-force to collect localized information and data, and instantly deploy renumeration and rewards. Imagine you had youth all over India entering local data on water, electricity, medical drugs availability for governments and non-profits to utilize for more effective planning and resource allocation?  

Further, in the case of Etsy, Poshvine and Amazon, digital marketplaces are increasing access to global markets to sell goods - whether it be crafts, writing, used clothes. Each community has something to offer the world, and the more we are digitally connected to each other, the more we can harness the benefits our communities have to offer to sustain employment. 


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