Continuing our spotlight series on our partners in the 100 Million Women initiative, we spoke with Angela Hariche, Chief Program Officer, at Tone.

Tone is a mobile communications company with the mission to help people around the world access affordable mobile broadband service. They do this by offering targeted sponsored content and marketing data plans with local mobile operators. Tone’s current pilot programs are focused on ocean protection and women’s empowerment.

 

Tone and Sustainable Development

Next 3B: What inspired Tone to enter this market?

Angela Hariche: First and foremost, we are really passionate about sustainable development. What we’ve realized is that many development initiatives fail because of a lack of knowledge of the context where the technology is being introduced. In addition, the high price of data and lack of sustainable funding for initiatives can hinder success. Tone has addressed all of these with our model.

N3B: How does using a Public Private Partnership model help Tone deliver services to developing nations?

AH: Everyone in our partnerships work together to deliver on the program.Broadly speaking, the NGOs are the implementing partner and they are the key to helping us understand the context of the and best distribution model. The government partnership helps us to scale the program. The carriers provide the connectivity and the the co-data plan. And, Tone provides the framework and technology.

Bringing together all the stakeholders early on – governments, NGOs, carriers, recipients and Tone – ensures that roles and responsibilities are clear and each partner does their part to make the program a success when the time comes.

 

Innovation with mFish

Tone-mFishN3B: Tell us more about Tone’s mFish program.

AH: mFish is our service in Indonesia that is aimed at Fishermen. We provide phones and deliver a bundle of content such as weather, phytoplankton maps, photos and secure chat in addition to a data collection module called the fishlog. We have piloted mFish in 4 areas in Indonesia and are beginning our rollout nationwide. Currently there are about 200 fishermen connected to mFish.

N3B: How does Tone make mobile broadband affordable in the developing world and what is the role that content plays?

AH: Through our strategic partnership with GSMA [linkto: http://www.gsma.com/] (the association of the world’s mobile carriers) we work directly with service providers to deploy services at a lower cost. For instance, our mFish service is designed to connect underserved communities to the content they want via sponsored data.

Sponsored data is a way to subsidize the cost of a data plan by having corporate partners support specific content that we then deliver through our Tone app. We provide the recipients with training in digital literacy, as well as the phones themselves with the Tone app pre-installed. If after a few months, the recipients find value in the content that they access through Tone, they can continue the the service at a subsidized rate.

Soon, we will offer a premium content model that will help fund more digital literacy training in our focus areas of women’s economic empowerment and ocean protection.

N3B: What have you learned about the role that literacy and language plays in the adoption of technology?

AH: For our mFish program, our applications are in English and the local language and literacy hasn’t been a real challenge in Indonesia. We are working mainly in the regions of Lombok and Madura and the uptake of the technology has been relatively successful. On average, over half of the fishermen in the programs are active. It really seems to be a community affair in that the children in the family or others in the village help. We have also found that the digital literacy training by the NGO is essential to the program’s success.

100 Million Women and Tone

N3B: What is your company’s vision for the future of connected women in the developing world?

AH: That each of these 100 million women (to start!!) are connected to high quality and useful content and tools to help them build their businesses in a sustainable way. Bringing women from developing countries into the formal economy via mobile technology will be giant step toward massive economic and social progress in all countries.
 
Visit Tone to learn more about their programs.

Sign up for Next 3B email updates so you’ll never miss a post.