Smart Phones: More than Meets the Eye

Well it finally happened for me last week: I gave in and bought my very first smart phone. I feel so modern! Email, World Cup updates, directions for when I get lost on a weekly basis; all in the palm of my hand. As I was sitting outside enjoying my new level of communication, all of a sudden I get an update email from one of my previous students and Dare to Innovate winners, Ansoumane Condé, about his business sent from HIS smart phone. So what do I do? I respond with ease. This sparks a conversation between us as easy as when we would text back and forth when I lived in Guinea. Only this time, we are thousands of miles away. Just imagine the opportunity this presents for entrepreneurs in developing countries!

We can easily see on a daily basis how smart phones have changed how business is conducted in the United States and Europe. Smart phones have moved us past needing to access our laptops. Our laptops and Wi-Fi moved us past needing to get to an actual computer. However, in developing countries like Guinea, the ease of accessing internet through their phones is, for the vast majority, their first real opportunity for access. They have skipped hard lines and laptops and gone straight to the much-more-accessible and affordable smart phones. From the beginning of my stay in Guinea to the end, I saw an incredible increase in smart phone owners in just two years.

For entrepreneurs in Guinea, like Ansoumane, this is an incredible tool they can now utilize. The lack of knowledge, information, and communication in developing countries which is vital to entrepreneurs is all of a sudden accessible. Doing what was perhaps impossible five years ago is now possible. Where I now enjoy having the power to look for nearby restaurants in my pocket, Ansoumane now has the power to do what was once thought too difficult to even consider, right in the palm of his hand.

This is also an opportunity for “Westerners” to get involved. It is no longer necessary to go to developing countries to make a difference. The power of the internet and the increased accessibility for the people living in developing countries has made the world a much smaller place. Even making yourself available to answer simple questions or give advice is more helpful than you can imagine.

I think I will chat with Ansoumane now. It is now so easy that not only can I have an update on his business, we also have a lot of World Cup action to discuss.

Kenny Lawrence
RPCV Guinea 2011-2014