Calling: Improving the Livelihood of Rural People through ICT
The research-to-innovation journey was prompted by the calling to improve the livelihood and well being of rural people who have for a long time been bedeviled by poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy. Living under these unbearable conditions results in poor health, low self esteem, low self image, feelings of hopelessness and depression. Here we explore how Information and Communication Technology, in particular mobile technology, can help to address such burning issues.
Innovation Ecosystem: Econet-Domboshava-Mureva = Rural-Urban and Local-Global
For researching the integral development and marketing of mobile phone products, Andrew Nyambayo developed an effective eco-system of stewards, catalysts, facilitators, researchers and educators from Econet, Pundutso Centre for Integral Development (Pundutso), Domboshawa and Murewa rural communities. Andrew was a catalyst together with Mr Nehanda, Mr Muchemedzi, Mrs Brown and Musiwenyama of Econet. Mr Julius and Mr Privilege were facilitators in Domboshawa while Mrs Kupara, Mrs Bute and Mr Chimano facilitated in Murewa. Chief Executive officer, Mr Mboweni and the Chief Human Resource officer, Mr Magaya of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe were stewards. The other stewards who opened the doors in the communities were Chief Mangwende in Murewa, the District Administrator, Mr Mabvuro and Chief Chinamhora of Domboshawa. Professor Ronnie Lessem, Professor Alexander Schieffer, Dr Elizabeth Mamukwa, Dr Passmore Matupire, Dr Ezekiah Benjamin and Dr Joshua Chinyuku who as educators and co-researchers guided the research journey.
Integral Innovation: Towards an Integral Marketing Model
The research to innovation journey followed the Integral Worlds Models and the 4C concept from Calling to Contribution via Context and Co-creation. The research trajectory was originated by the Narrative methods (Calling) where “our stories emerged leading to a gripping drama”. The research was founded in hermeneutics (Context), the subject and theory of interpretations where transpersonal, transformational, transdisciplinary and transcultural imbalances that inhibit mobile phone adoption were unearthed with the aim to resolve them. Navigation and emancipation (Co-creation) occurred through critical theory and feminism where mindsets, assumptions, attitudes and experiences that militate against the development and marketing of mobile phone products and services for rural communities were critiqued so that new avenues could be found to emancipate people through higher order utilisation of mobile phone services such as mobile money, mobile insurance, mobile agriculture and mobile education. As Econet, Domboshawa and Murewa cooperative co-inquirers, we touched base with the four modes of knowing (i.e. experiential, presentational, propositional and practical) during political and epistemic, informational and transformational engagements.
Through cooperative inquiry, Andrew surfaced the Integral Marketing Model (IMM) that states that if Econet operates with “Hunhu”/”Ubuntu” values of caring, sharing, togetherness and inclusivity, then the company gets capacitated to invest towards a reliable and efficient mobile network, develop and market products and services that are useful and affordable, evolve customer knowledge on products and services and also provide delightful customer support. This results in many more rural people using mobile phone services leading to economic, social, political, physical and mental emancipation or improvement of livelihoods and wellbeing of people.
Integral Impact: Improved Higher Level Mobile Phone Usage and Knowledge Acquisition
The research-to-innovation journey of Andrew and his team led to an improvement in the research ecosystem in terms of mobile phone usage and knowledge acquisition. There was a remarkable migration from lower level usage (SMS and voice calls) to higher level usage (e.g. mobile money, mobile agriculture and mobile insurance) following “hunhu” inspired network upgrades, price and product feature reviews communicated through simplified channels and vernacular languages. Agriculture yield and productivity was enhanced through dissemination of appropriate agronomic information by Econet mobile agriculture platform, Ecofarmer. The Integral Knowledge Institute of Technology (IKIT) was also established for institutionalising innovation driven research and implementing the concepts and models unearthed during the research to innovation journey.
PRAISE FOR THE INTEGRAL MARKETING MODEL
“I was a doubting Thomas but through participation in this research I started accessing agronomic information from Ecofarmer. My harvest almost doubled.”
Mrs Bute, Murewa villager
“We are happy that Econet took our views seriously because they have improved the network and are offering airtime bonuses as well as reduced international call charges.”
Mrs Kugarahanya, Domboshawa villager
“Econet now has “Hunhu”. When you pay back after borrowing they are now thanking you, before they never cared.”
Mr Abiru, Deacon of Assemblies of God Church Domboshawa
“My mind was sharpened. Now I can confidently apply conservation agriculture, farming with wisdom.”
Mrs Kupara, Murewa villager
“The Integral marketing model is applicable even in Burundi where I am right now”
Mr Nyangari, Chief Marketing Officer, Econet