Cell phone as the lever that lifts the world?

How a small handheld device is bringing five billion people into the global marketplace, one micro-task at a time.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Global poverty is one of those massive issues that seems beyond the reach of any solution.

Until now. Thanks to a small handheld device that is putting people in even the most remote stretches of the world in touch with the global marketplace.

That's the buzz coming out of the recent Clinton Global Initiative conference, which explored solutions to the world's most pressing problems. FT's Shannon Bond reports that mobile technology was cited by a range of speakers who praised its potential for everything from improving health to creating jobs to, of course, enabling mobile banking:

Google’s Eric Schmidt: "The starting point is always mobile devices. They are the lifeline for information for many of the people in the world.” Once people get online, he said, they can start businesses, advertise and connect with each other - driving economic growth."

Former T-Mobile USA chief John Stanton: Mobile phones can “create commerce for people who in many cases haven’t had an opportunity to have a job before."

Cheap, ubiquitous cellphone service gives rise to a range of new opportunities in every corner of the globe, from text messaging to financial transactions. The number of cell phones across the globe is estimated to be about five billion, or close to one for every being on the planet.

Examples of cell phone services across the globe include job-hunting services, such as that offered by Babajob, in Bangalore, India, and Souktel, in the Palestinian  territories, offer job-hunting services via simple text messages; or contract work, such as that offered by TXTeagle, which distributes work to mobile cell-phone users across the globe to handle image, audio and text-based tasks. TXTeagle is now one of Kenya’s largest employers, employing a 10,000-strong workforce is a network of freelancers.

TXTeagle is building an activate a global workforce through technology that enable any mobile phone subscriber to earn money by completing simple micro-tasks on his or her mobile device. Typically outsourced jobs, such as translation services or image tagging, can now be distributed to remote populations looking for work.  TXTeagle's stated goal is to provide more than 250 million micro-tasks to one million mobile subscribers over the course of this year, and subsequently reimburse these workers with mobile airtime or cash.

(Photo credit: CBS interactive)

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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