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Mobile World Congress Highlights Vast Opportunity for Wireless to Improve Lives

One of the themes that resonated throughout Mobile World Congress 2012 (MWC) was the power of mobile in creating new opportunities and overcoming barriers in an array of vertical markets, from health care to women and entrepreneurship. Our Wireless Reach initiative supports pilot projects with this in mind and we continue to believe that wireless technology can improve people’s lives.

For instance, we featured the Wireless Heart Health project, which deploys a cardiovascular monitoring system in four resource-scarce community health clinics. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are currently the leading cause of death in China, responsible for about three million deaths annually.¹ The project’s mobile devices are key to reaching patients with CVD where medical care is less adequate than in the cities.

Wireless Reach also announced our Augmented Reality for e-labora project in collaboration with Vodafone, which uses augmented reality applications to support people with intellectual disabilities in the workforce.

The GSMA mWomen Seminar, which was co-sponsored by Wireless Reach and AusAID, showcased the commercial and social opportunity around targeting the women's segment in emerging markets.

From our perspective, we believe that the mWomen efforts are valuable to Qualcomm, the telecom industry and the wireless ecosystem. There are currently 300 million more male than female mobile subscribers worldwide.² In developing regions, like Southeast Asia and Africa, a woman is 37 percent and 23 percent less likely to own a phone, respectively. For the past five years, Wireless Reach has been working with Grameen Foundation on a mobile microfranchise initiative that enables poor entrepreneurs in Indonesia to provide a range of mobile phone-based services to people in their communities. As of March 2012, there were more than 12,000 Ruma Entrepreneurs – 82 percent of them women – serving more than 1.2 million people across the country.

By providing entrepreneurs with wireless access and raising the profile of entrepreneurship among policymakers and other influencers, Wireless Reach is helping to stimulate the economic ecosystem. Together, we share a mission of providing the tools, access and services necessary to enable women’s leadership and empowerment. Our Mobile Microfranchising and Application Laboratory Programs, also featured during our time at MWC, are dedicated to closing this “secondary” digital divide.

We were also fortunate to have the opportunity to announce a new collaboration with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and the Foundation for Women’s Education and Vocational Training to bring the Cherie Blair Foundation’s Mentoring Women in Business Program to Malaysia. The program combines mentoring with technology to offer cross-border support to unlock the potential of female entrepreneurs.

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¹ China CVD Report 2010, published by China National Center for Cardiovascular Diseases under the administration of the Ministry of Health. http://news.xinhuanet.com/society/2011-08/12/c_121852777.htm

² "Women & Mobile: A Global Opportunity A study on the mobile phone gender gap in low and middle-income countries." .GSMA, 2011. Web. 11 Apr 2012.

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