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Proudly South African, Proudly Mobenzi
September 15, 2010  |  by Mark  |  Features, Pilot Project  |  ,

Travelling to KwaNyuswa, through the Valley of A Thousand Hills was a journey that taught me a vital life lesson: There is a solution to almost every problem, and finding that solution can make you proud.

The reason for my expedition into this rural community was to meet local Mobenzi agents who participated in the application’s pilot launch, and to find out more about the impact this application has made in their lives.

I expected to hear how happy these 20 agents were to have found employment, how delighted they are to work from home, not having to struggle for transport and how excited they were to be surrounded by media. But what they shared surprised me.

All 20 agents were filled with resounding pride.

They were proud to be involved with such pioneering technology like Mobenzi, that they not only had jobs but they are their own bosses and that they were learning about things they never dreamed of having the opportunity to.

Data analysis, being critical thinkers, working with internet applications like Twitter, learning new business terms and phrases and being the brain behind tasks are just a few of the ‘business life skills’ these trailblazers boasted.

Going back to the lesson I learnt about how finding solutions makes you proud – Mobenzi’s entire creation was born out of finding a solution to address unemployment. Mark Fowles, a director and partner of Clyral, explained how.

‘We started by looking at our country’s horrific unemployment rate as an opportunity, not only to make a difference socially, but also to create a valuable business. The driving idea was that there must be certain types of business problems that normal South African people could solve using their cell phones as tools. To prove the concept, we started building the software and the result was Mobenzi. Agents can do the tasks in their spare time, using their own phones, without the need for transport. And on the other side of the coin, Mobenzi is providing exciting opportunities for businesses in need of real human input,’ said Fowles.

In explaining this, Mark’s smile was just as broad as those of the Mobenzi agents.

And then, the second solution came in the form of the agents themselves. Their problem was unemployment and being part of the devastating 65 per cent of South Africans under the age of 35 who are unemployed. They took on something so new and so foreign to them, and grabbed the opportunity to learn. They found their solution to fighting poverty.

All involved have every reason to be proud. Kudos to the entire Mobenzi team.

Janay Manning
Proud Mobenzi Supporter

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