Paper Planes by M.I.A.M.I.A. Paper Planes
Many Indian NGOs are abuzz online, using social media—particularly Web 2.0 (or mobile) technology—for social change. In India, Web 2.0; and mobile technology seems fated to catapult funding for India-based cause initiatives and among one group in particular—the Buntys and Bablis—the fastest growing market in India, and potentially the most influential consumer market in the world.
The real Indian market does not lie in the metros or the villages, according to Ashok Rajgopal of Earnst & Young, who believes that the Indian urban growth story until now has been driven largely by metros. And contrary to popular belief, it is not the urban Indian who drives trends, but the long-ignored Buntys and Bablis who collectively comprise the future market, not just of India, but arguably of the world. “Bunty and Babli” are popular names for boys and girls in small-town India, drawing their inspiration from a 2005 Bollywood film titled Bunty Aur Babli, which follows the wild road trip of its two ambitious title characters, whose origins lie in small Indian towns.
Fifty-one districts in India have at least one town with a population of more than 500,000. Together, they have twice the market potential of the four metros (Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata) combined. And this year, the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) says the ratio of spending to earning is higher in Tier II towns such as Nagpur, Jaipur, Surat and Coimbatore than it is in the metros. Here, over 23 million Indians – more than the population of Australia – will number among the country’s wealthiest citizens.TrendsNiff reports that India’s population is 1 billion people with more than 200M mobile phone users. This figure is growing at nearly 100% year-on-year, and rural subscriber growth is taking the lion’s share of it. Additionally, roughly 73% of mobile Indian consumers are spending online which means there is no cultural or widespread aversion to engaging in online transactions.
The article, “Emerging Rural Mobile Market in India,” provides extensive research on the growing marketplace for mobile industry in rural India, which is expected to surpass 500 Million users by 2010 with an addition of about 5M to 6M subscribers every month.
Reliance Mobile — which has an active subscriber base of over 35M and 20M Reliance World application enabled hand-sets — executed a pan-India ad campaign from mid August to mid September, 2007, on Reliance Mobile’s phone network for Fari and Lovely Scholarships, which generated around 50,000 leads—60% were from tier II and III cities.
Nokia has recently launched a range of services called Nokia Life Tools currently for India only, and designed specially for the consumers in small towns and rural areas of India. Nokia, too, recognizes India as one of top emerging mobile markets.
The WATblog believes mobiles become more powerful and networks become faster, it opens up the vast world of the Internet to mobile advertising, but could mobile giving be next?
Using mobile technology, people can give $5 from any country in a matter of seconds using their handset. According Jim Manis, President and CEO, Mobile Giving Foundation, “Half a million dollars were given via mobile last year, so mobile giving is showing great promise,” he said. “It’s a great way for non-profits to raise money, communicate with donors and engage them wherever they are.”
In a recent article by SocialEdge, three mobile trends empowering social entrepreneurs in emerging markets included: reporting and response to human rights violations; access to opportunities and knowledge; and giving communities new ways of addressing issues and contributing to the health of the community.
The Indian spirit of giving can be linked to religion, and even Indians living abroad have been influenced by Western philanthropic ideals. And according to the Charities Aid Foundation, the Oxford-educated second and third generations of the wealthy Indians abroad, as well as the rural Buntys and Bablis in India, want to be innovative in their philanthropy. Mobile technology has the potential to facilitate this desire by changing the sources and forms of traditional giving via mobile technology.
Historically speaking, many Indians do share a widespread distrust for NGO’s due to a lack of accountability for the way donations have been managed in the past. Therefore, Indian NGOs need to build public credibility with greater transparency in their operations; and technology-based solutions for rural areas will allow prospective donors to channel philanthropic contributions, and will have a significant effect on helping to increase the volume of donations received by Indian causes.
Perhaps organizations like our next client should consider implementing a text-to-give option which allows mobile users in India and abroad to engage in the typically small mobile donations that can add up to major revenue.
Any mobile giving Plan for this market; however, should account for the need for NGOs to build relationships with donors to make them more comfortable donating, which Web 2.0 is uniquely positioned to excel at.
Additionally, there are still infrastructure considerations particular to rural India, especially with regard to expanding the availability of 3-G speeds. Therefore, India needs to really work to create the regulatory environment to facilitate the creation of the next-generation wireless infrastructure and service.