Callum Porter-Harris Exchange Student, Business and Economics 2012-2013
Sylvia HanBSocSc Year 4
“When more than one billion people in the world live on less than one US$1 a day, how can the poverty trap be broken?
Poverty is fundamentally driven by the widespread disparity in access to networks of productivity and exchange. Connecting the bottom billion to fundamental goods and services, such as education, health care and banking, in a better way could be one of the solutions.”
Callum, one of the four founders of the social enterprise Mandala Group, believes an offline mobile phone App Store promoting economic inclusion can lift communities out of poverty. Mandala Group, naming after the Marathi word for ‘community’, is building the world’s first offline app store focusing on education, health and finance, the building blocks of an economy. It is specifically targeting the Indian market – the home to one third of the world’s 1.2 billion poorest people.
Mobile phone penetration in India is 95%, although 70% of Indians are not connected to the Internet. Mandala Group seeks to offer solutions that do not require an internet connection or a smart phone. “We utilise Cloud Telephony technology to build our solutions. Cloud telephony is simply a computer that can be accessed via a simple phone call or text message. This computer is where we store code and algorithms that allow us to transfer valuable information when a person signals for the information. An interactive voice call or SMS from the user is a key to open our data points which allows us to know what information to transmit or what action to take,” said Callum.
teleStory, an offline education app developed by Callum’s other social enterprise, is one of the current solutions provided by Mandala Group to help illiterate families read together by giving them access to audio lessons stored on a cloud computer along with a corresponding children’s book. With teleStory, Callum and his teammates made it to the finals of the Hult Prize 2015, the largest such worldwide student competition which is presented at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. This year, he decided to set the challenge of doubling the income of 10 million people residing in crowded urban spaces by 2022.
Resources are now needed to take Mandala Group to the next level. A revolutionary online volunteering platform has been created to help anyone from anywhere to join their app-building journey. Volunteers, defined by their skill sets, are welcome to join different Expertise Groups, such as “Mandala Techies” and “Mandala Communicators”. The online volunteering programme works on a project basis whereby typically two to six Mandala Members come together to form a Project Team to develop its own solutions that can be marketed to non-profit organisations for onward distribution to users. Mandala Group is also offering the “On the Ground in India Summer Volunteering Programme” this summer.
Sylvia, a final-year student of the Faculty of Social Sciences, decided to take a gap year from her studies to be part of Mandala Group in India. Working as a Mandala Communicator, she manages the marketing content for the Group. “From social media to public relations, I build content for sharing and reaching out to schools, NGOs and corporations. As a first-time visitor in India, I come across new things every day, and all the spices I get from Indian food are beyond my imagination.”
Be part of Mandala Group: www.mandalagroup.org/
Poverty is fundamentally driven by the widespread disparity in access to networks of productivity and exchange. Connecting the bottom billion to fundamental goods and services, such as education, health care and banking, in a better way could be one of th