Addressing usage barriers for women in the developing world through design innovation

Resource-poor women in the developing world often, because of lack of opportunity, struggle with technical literacy. There is already a mobile phone gender gap in the developing world, where feature phones with basic voice and SMS capabilities are currently the norm. Smartphones are forecast to proliferate in these markets over the next few years.

The GSMA mWomen Design Challenge, sponsored by Qtel Group, in partnership with USAID and AusAID, aims to redefine the smartphone user experience for resource-poor women in the developing world. The objective of this challenge is to address some of the usage barriers for women now, to prevent them falling further behind in the future.

There has been an outstanding standard of entries to the competition, which closed on 14 December 2012, and the results of selection panellists’ first round of review has been eagerly anticipated. Today, the GSMA Mobile for Development team are thrilled to announce the ten finalists that will proceed to the final stage of selection. Congratulations to:

  1. Android Koeksisters by IT University of Copenhagen
  2. Aziza by Fraunhofer AICOS
  3. Drops In The Life by Tang Consulting
  4. mpower by York Sheridan Design Program
  5. Nhlanhla Designs by Midrand Graduates Institute
  6. Roger’s Submission by Roger Wong Design
  7. Sahel Shake by Sarah Fathallah
  8. Simple interface ideas with learning curve by LogToMobile
  9. Simplified Grayscale Power Efficient Interface by
  10. S.O.S. NOW by CPqD Foundation

The selection panellists now face the tough task of choosing three prize winners from these fantastic submissions. The Grand Prize winner will receive US$20,000 and a meeting with potential investors to discuss options for commercialising the concept. The second place winner will receive US$10,000. The Emerging Talent award is reserved for an entry from an individual entrepreneur, team or academic institution in a low- or middle-income country. The winner of this award will receive US$10,000. The winners will be announced on 26 February 2013, at the GSMA mWomen Seminar, Meeting Women’s Wants and Needs Through Mobile, which is open to all pass-holders at Mobile World Congress 2013, in Barcelona, Spain.