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Cherie Blair Foundation partners with Vodafone Foundation in India and SEWA

Cherie's Foundation has partnered with the Vodafone Foundation in India and the Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA), which oversees the RUDI network, to develop a mobile application tailored to their needs. Although the women already have basic mobile phones, a special mobile service will allow them to engage in real time communication with the RUDI management, check supply levels and text orders instantaneously. Time and travel costs will therefore be reduced and processing efficiency dramatically increased, translating directly to higher income and more time for the women to invest as they choose, such as developing their businesses and caring for their families.

This initiative will reach 2000 women entrepreneurs in India, while providing support over a three year period with broader business development and financial literacy training. The progress of the initiative will also be tracked to make sure that these women obtain the maximum benefit from both the mobile system that has been developed and from the training programme that SEWA will provide to them.

Modern technology has vastly speeded up communication and the transmission of information, helping businesses to become more efficient and productive. Making sure that everyone has access to mobile technology is vitally important in tackling global poverty and spreading prosperity. In today's economy, access to information and communication technologies is hugely transformational, particularly to traditionally marginalized populations, such as rural women or low-income families.

Cherie then spoke at the Vodafone Foundation and London Business School's Mobile for Good Summit in London earlier this week:

We joined forces with the Vodafone Foundation in India and local organisations to determine what was needed for the women in that region to overcome some of these barriers. What we found was they didn't have the technology or market information they needed to take their businesses to the next level.

These women face an uphill battle, often starting with very small, simple businesses such as selling food door to door to friends and neighbours. Women such as Surya, who we heard from in the video, struggle to travel the extensive distances to place orders for her store. Often women like Surya are the sole income contributors in their households. The livelihood of their families heavily relies on the success of their business.

Professor Dean Karlan, Professor of Economics at Yale University was also a speaker at the event. Moderated by CNN's Becky Anderson, it was an interactive event with leaders from business, NGOs, governments, development agencies and academia attempting to share new research, showcase innovative solutions using mobile technology and discuss how they can work together across different sectors to implement high impact solutions at scale for public benefit. The mobile project and partnership with SEWA in India, which is generously supported by the Vodafone Foundation, was also highlighted as an important step in integrating mobile technology with the specific and highly localized needs of RUDI women entrepreneurs.

Vodafone 05-12-12 from Arjun Pandey on Vimeo.

Watch the video on Vimeo