One week ago at Mobile Monday hosted at MIT, zaca presented its venture and product to the Boston community. With many new contacts made while demonstrating our work, we look forward to building these relationships.
On April 6, 2009, Zaca will be presenting its mobile rural platform system during the Mobile Monday event showcase.
In addition to your chance to see our product and speak to us first hand, there will be a number of other industry leaders at the event, sharing their work in addition. Refreshments will be provided and the event is free and open to the public.
Please come see us! We look forward to meeting you.
Over the weekend, zaca entered its third and fourth business plan competitions: MIT IDEAS and the SEED awards sompetition. To do this, we spent time refining our pitch and agreed on something we feel is both clear and striking. Here’s the summary we submitted to MIT IDEAS:
Every year, in the state of Zacatecas, Mexico, more people are lost to emigration than to TB, AIDS, and hepatitis combined. In the past decade alone, 54% of the state’s mostly rural population has fled to the US in search of a decent living. Despite Zacateca’s fertile land, farming is no longer perceived as a viable profession; its problems are many, ranging from crop failure to exploitation by middlemen “intermedarios.” zaca is a low-cost, highly implementable solution to several of those problems. A cell phone-based platform, zaca connects farmers to one another, to the market, and to large companies. Currently, few farmers make the time and energy-intensive trip to the market to obtain prices or sell goods. Via SMS, they can query for crop price information, input yield, and exchange best-practices. Access to timely information means they can bargain collectively with middlemen, earn fair compensation, and make wiser crop-planting decisions. Companies can use zaca to place orders directly with farming cooperatives, assuring farmers a dependable income.
In April, zaca will launch a pilot project with local partner ITESM-Zacatecas. If we can successfully address the needs of Zacatecan farmers, we will deploy zaca throughout Mexico. Already 2 more states have signed up for future deployment. Zacateca’s troubles unfortunately are neither industry nor region-specific. We hope to spread zaca to distressed farming regions globally (India, particularly, where farmer suicides are a critical concern) and to industries locally (fishing, timber) where accessing and sharing vital information can maintain jobs, restart agricultural economies, and stabilise depleting communities.
We are excited about the release of the newest version of FrontlineSMS. This version supports the long desired FrontlineForms which allows one to collect data accurately and easily from the field. They are also supporting a wide variety of low end phones making it an affordable solution for everyone.
Last semester, we worked closely with the developers in testing their beta version of FrontlineSMS. They had customized their software to support the Nokia N95 phones that we had. Through a few iterations, we
provided meaningful feedback on bugs and usability issues on their form client. We have also tested their beta version in Zacatecas, Mexico in January of 2009. One thing to note is that there are a slight bit of customization required to make FrontlineSMS work abroad. In this version, this also provide support for IntelliSMS, an online
messaging service allowing one to send messages quickly and cheaply through the internet, if available. The new version also have the ability to send messages in foreign languages and foreign scripts (Hindi or Arabic, for example).
The Help files – accessible through the “Help” menu in FrontlineSMS – have been updated to reflect the major changes.
Please post your helpful suggestions to our project here.
Here’s an update on everything we’ve been working on:
This first competition was a great learning experience for zaca. Although we did not make it through to the semi-finals, we’re very grateful for the wonderful feedback we received; it will certainly help us in our continued outreach activities.
Thanks to everyone who voted for us! We’ll find out tomorrow, March 10th, if we made the top 100, so keep your fingers crossed.
Based on all the feedback we’ve received from NextLab, previous competitions and people in the field, we’re working to put together a solid proposal for IDEAS on March 15.
April 15: Paper Submission for this very pertanent workshop in Kampala
If you come across any other competitions, please let us know!
Hello all, welcome to our blog.
We look forward to your insights and expertise!