SMS Based Marketplace for Remote Bangladesh Farmers

This is an inspiring story from Bangladesh, which proves that the mobile technology can be a force for change in developing countries.

CellBazaar.com is a service from Grameenphone of Bangladesh that allows farmers to buy or sell over the mobile phone. CellBazaar.com offers a virtual marketplace platform for the 20 million farmers in Bangladesh with almost no access to computer terminals and assists buyers and sellers to find each other.

CellBazaar leverages the power of SMS to bring the market to cell phone. By sending simple text messages to 3838, Bangladeshi farmers can post items for sale, look for items to buy, and obtain current market prices of products or services.

CellBazaar also offers WAP access for the WAP-enabled phones. As a supplement to the core mobile-based technology, CellBazaar also has a Internet version of the market.

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Users post items for sale via mobile phones, but anyone with Internet access can also browse the market and find items for sale. They can then complete the final stages of the transaction using a mobile phone. This platform also makes the local mobile-based market available to an international audience.

75% of Bangladesh’s population has no access to electricity, Internet penetration is only 0.03% and literacy is 43%. To overcome illiteracy, CellBazaar has a voice-message option whereby posts are read out in Bangla, the national language of Bangladesh.

CellBazaar has more than one million users and a quarter of them use the service on a regular basis, with about 550 new items posted each day. [via wsj]

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