Over the last few months I’ve had the privilege to work with the greatest minds in technology in South Africa at Mxit. Seeing how Mxit, Africa’s largest mobile social network, are being used for social change has always fascinated me hence for the work I’ve been doing at RLabs.
It is seeing millions of people accessing social good services via Mxit that got me thinking of Three lessons that I’ve learned in developing a social good Application:
1) Context of your market and Relevancy of the technology you intend using. If you are developing any application in making a difference in someone’s life then you should know how and where they live, the challenges and circumstances as well as what technologies they use to communicate and access information (if any). Due to the popularity of Mxit in South Africa when we launched applications where we intend reaching large audiences, Mxit has always been one of the first platforms we would develop for as it also offers FREE developer tools.
2) Do not underestimate your target audience. I’ve realized early on my journey that most people would find a way of accessing information or applications if they know it will add value to their lives.
3) Launch early and measure. We’ve always used the Minimum Viable Product concepts for getting the applications out as quickly as possible but the most important aspect of having your application out there is the ability to measure your impact.
Currently in India at the India School of Business and had the opportunity meeting an amazing group of Young Global Leaders from 20 countries where the discussions were about Innovations for Emerging Markets. Reason for being at the event was to speak on a panel about Rethinking Technology for Emerging Markets.
The ubiquity of technology brings an important shift for most businesses and governments, especially in emerging economies – simply because the stakes as well as the opportunities are so high. Some of the key lessons that I’ve learnt through my work with RLabs and Mxit Reach are:
– It has to be community driven and co-creation is important
– It needs to be contagious allowing for quick adoption
– Cost is a factor but not at the price of quality
– You find unlikely innovators. The communities you want to serve will disrupt your product and you should be agile to adapt appropriately.
– Sustainable and Scalable is key in emerging markets because the numbers an need are much higher than developed markets.
– An environment for re-invention
– External factors to consider such as lack of infrastructure
– One size does NOT fit all
– Difference between ownership and access
– Different and disruptive business models are required