Question 4 (opens 20 Nov.)

Question 4 (opens 20 Nov.)

 Question 4:  Does ICT empower or marginalize women or smallholders in producer organizations? Support examples with specific reference to an organization, the technology tool(s), and content delivered.

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adrian aguilar
adrian aguilarBicol UniversityPhilippines

 I would like to share this article from the Microfinance Women of Albay, Philippines

 To address the problem  of inadequate income common to many households in Albay, Social Action Center Legazpi started its Socio-economic Development Program (SEDP) more than a decade ago by granting  loans for income generating projects. With women as its main beneficiaries, SEDP adopted a lending scheme similar to the Grameen Banking System of Bangladesh.

The savings and loans projects of the Business Improvement in Bugtong Association BIBA in Bugtong, Legazpi City caters to women from the low-income gropu. The women are engaged in small businesses like vending cooked food,selling balut( duck's egg) and peanuts, tending sari-sari stores, making tombstones and hollow blocks ,raising pigs and rattan- basket weaving . BIBA is composed of 42 members, aged 18-60 years old. Groups with five members each are allowed to take out a maximum loan of Php 25,000 at two percent interest monthly, a big difference from the bank's rate of five percent. Their criteria; members should have the capacity to pay; their spouses have regular jobs; they should be ingenous; and they have to be permanent residents of the place, so they would not leave if they are not able to pay their loans.

The women  come from households with school children, said the project  eases  their lives a bit because it gives them capital to set up small businesses. Fellow group members are usually  forced to pay for the amortization of one member who is unable to pay , or else the whole group could not get another loan. The rest of the members suffer if one member is not able to pay. Maritess Granadino,41, usually comes to the aid of ailing members. Her husband works with Land Transportation Offfice ( LTO). She augments her income  by engaging in all sorts of businesses like selling plastic jackets for LTO licenses and beauty products. her income  goes mainly to the children's basic needs. She said  they live simply  and  do not indulge  in luxuries  in order to  avoid defaulting on her loan.

 The members of the organization were also taught the basic  fiscal management, leadership training, socio-economic profiling ,enterprise development and promote transparency 

 The article above  would tell us the plight of women in helping their families  improve their social conditions.  I believe the trainings given to these women,empowered them to become socially active , participative in capability building  and poverty reduction.

Raquel Laquiores
Raquel LaquioresPhilippines

Thanks for this article Adrian. Truly that women could be empowered with this kind of program as they have passion and I know capable of manning projects. They just need support and proper training.


Arnel Genzola
Arnel GenzolaJilin University-Lambton College, People's Republic of ChinaPhilippines

True, apart from access that can offer women opportunities for increased participation in productions/productivity/microenterprises, there is a need to educate and train women in science and technology. The lack of training due to cost or expense, distance from home, time and cultural inhibitions is one of the impediments to women's use of technologies. Through the organizations we have identified here, I hope more support initiatives and ICT activities will be made available and more innovative methods of reaching especially grassroots women producers.

Rita Bustamante
Rita BustamantePhilippines

Grameen Foundation helps the world's poorest – especially women – improve their lives and escape poverty by providing them with access to appropriate financial services, life-changing information and unique income-generating opportunities. Working directly with the poor, as well as the organizations that support them, we make a real difference in the lives of those who have been left behind.

For more information about our work, please see our answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

We create economic opportunities for the world’s poorest.

Grameen Foundation provides microfinance institutions (MFIs) in poor communities with access to the capital they need to make microloans and to offer other financial services to those working to develop or expand a small business. In many of the poorest regions in the world, micro-business creation is the only way for families to escape poverty and build a better future for their children.

We build large-scale, easy-to-replicate solutions to end the cycle of poverty in developing countries around the world.

We do this by helping local microfinance institutions and other poverty-focused organizations become more effective and efficient, enabling them to reach more poor people with appropriate financial services, such as microsavings and loans. In addition to helping these organizations find financing, we provide products and services that enable them to measure their results and better understand their customers.  Our mobile phone-based technology projects also fight "information poverty" and provide business opportunities for poor entrepreneurs.

Working with local and global allies, and the poor themselves, we also create mobile phone-based solutions that address the devastating effects of “information poverty.” We help the poor to better manage their health, crops, livestock and finances, and even to find new income-generating opportunities – enabling them to improve their lives and break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families. For more information on our work, please feel free to explore our 2010-2011 Annual Report.

We leverage the knowledge and expertise of local partners to create the most effective programs possible.

Grameen Foundation enhances the effectiveness of our funding and impact on communities by strengthening and supporting local organizations. We respect local ways of life by building poverty-ending programs in partnership with local organizations and leaders, as well as the poor themselves, rather than imposing external ideas on developing communities.

We lead the industry in measuring impact and delivering results.

Our Progress Out of Poverty IndexTM is a country-specific tool that simply but accurately measures poverty levels, currently covering roughly 70% of countries where the world’s poor live, and 90% of active microfinance clients. It enables MFIs and other poverty-focused organizations to better determine their clients’ needs, the effectiveness and efficiency of their programs, and how quickly they are able to help people move from poverty to financial self-sufficiency.  Of course, we also measure our own efficiency -- Grameen Foundation’s high standards and efficiency have earned us Charity Navigator’s highest rating for three years in a row (which fewer than 9% of non-profits achieve), as well as certification by the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance..


Raquel Laquiores
Raquel LaquioresPhilippines

I definitely agree, Arnel! We cannot expect women to be experts in ICT without proper training and the support that they need. Women have many roles to play, though it would be one new to them, as long as they are motivated with the benefits ICT could give them, they would welcome this new challenge for them.


Pierre Rondot
Pierre RondotCentre International de Recherche Agronomique pour le Developpement (CIRAD)France

Dear All

When working with local communities and local producer organization there is always the risk of elite capture: the local elite taking advantage of the organization for their own benefit.

As we said at the beginning of the forum, ICT can help accountability and transparency in decision making through facilitating the sharing of information. Are you aware of example where ICT help local poor or traditionally excluded people to have their voice heard? I know that a lot of rural women are now using cell phones (all over the world) to have information on commodity prices prior going to the market. Any concrete exemples?? 

Raquel Laquiores
Raquel LaquioresPhilippines

Hello Pierre, My readings led me to Tanzania where mobile phones prove to be the best answer to the problems of the small scale farmers. In their marketing, they use cellular phones instead of radio and print advertisements because their brochures, for example, are in English language to where not all of them can understand. Not only that, internet is also a problem as some of them do have difficulties in connecting and some villages don’t have electricity. Through phones, they can go straight to the buyers and hire vehicle to transport their goods directly. Though there are middlemen who take advantage of the farmers by breaking the system and under valuing the goods. But farmers are assisted by local government units so they can sustain the system and run the business on their own.





Arnel Genzola
Arnel GenzolaJilin University-Lambton College, People's Republic of ChinaPhilippines

Another example is the Siyakhula Living Lab (SLL) which is a multistakeholder operation, consists of academia, industry, government and marginalized communities to facilitate user-driven innovation in the ICTD domain. This not only empowers the rural communities but also integrates the innovative potential in the rural marginalized areas within the general national system of innovation. SLL exists as collaboration between public-private-civic partnerships to co-create innovative solutions for development; an understanding of the targeted rural community was essential to set a foundation for building on existing living lab activities, and a new Village Connection project aimed at offering affordable mobile phone services in rural contexts

Project Overview

Rhodes and Fort Hare Universities have been active in ICT for Development for many years, through the two Telkom Centres of Excellence in Telecommunication hosted in their Computer Science departments (www.coe.ru.ac.za; www.coe.ufh.ac.za). In 2006, this activity has given rise to a field test site, in the Mbashe municipality in the vicinity of the Dwesa-Cwebe Nature Reserve, in the rural Eastern Cape Province. This initiative, now called the Siyakhula Living Lab (SLL) is organised along the lines of the emerging RDI living lab methodology whose main underlying principle is co-creation of solutions with empowered users. SLL shows in a practical fashion how marginalised rural communities that are difficult to reach, may in future be joined with the greater South African and African communities to the economic, social and cultural benefit of all.

Sources: DOI: 10.1177/0266666910385374


Joyce Wendam
Joyce WendamDepartment of AgriculturePhilippines

In our agency, a website was created known as the Agriculture and Fisheries Monitoring Information System (AFMIS) a few years ago.  This website shares information on prices of basic agricultural commodities which will give the producer organizations, individual farmers, and the public, information on the prevailing prices in the markets of the agricultural commodities.  So the farmers may decide whether to sell their produce or not, where to sell their products, where to obtain marketing assistance and other marketing information.   On the other hand, the consumers may also be well informed of the prevailing prices. This promotes transparency. And with this information, they will be able to make sound decisions, resulting to their empowerment (producer organizations, members, and the local poor). 

For their voices to be heard, those producers organizations with success stories are being featured in another DA website which is the "Matuwid na DAAN" (Department of Agriculture Accountability Network).  The major purpose of this website is to promote transparency, accountability and participatory processes.  With the success stories being featured, this may be emulated by other producer organizations and members for the improvement of their productivityprofitability.  - Joyce Wendam


Fatima Cascon
Fatima CasconPhilippines


An important element in ICT that directly enhances women empowerment is information literacy.  The ability to find and use information is crucial because it involves increased confidence at a personal level.   Hence, ICT provides women to gain options, control and choice through the ability to make informed decisions and affect outcomes in producer organizations.   Empowerment of women in the context of knowledge societies is understood as building the ability and skills of women to gain insight into actions and issues in the external environment, which influence them.

Empowerment through employment of women ICT makes the role of time and distance less significant in organizing business and production related activities. As a result of the technology, women can participate and raise that extra income to become more financially independent and empowered.

The advantages offered by ICT gave women greater control over the activities they perform, laying the foundation for entrepreneurship development. 

Mobile phones for rural women in Senegal.  The Senegalese telephone company Sonatel and Manobi, a French company, provided cellphones with Web Access Protocol (WAB) to rural women agricultural producers in Senegal, thereby extending their access to the internet.  This technology helped women obtain information about market prices of the input of their food processing activities for the sale of their produce.  Women in the project appreciated the economic benefits of the technology, and other women were interested in becoming part of the project.