Mobile Microfranchising and Application Laboratory Initiatives Give Entrepreneurs New Tools for Success

In Jakarta, the capital city of one of the world’s most populous nations, underserved residents have been introduced to mobile technology to access unique business opportunities and gain the skills needed to lift themselves out of poverty. Qualcomm Wireless Reach collaborated with Grameen Foundation and Ruma, a local social enterprise, to develop a suite of mobile solutions in Indonesia. The core concept of the Mobile Microfranchising program was simple, effective and sustainable: a local small-business entrepreneur used a microfinance loan to purchase a pre-packaged kit that included a mobile phone and then re-sold the “airtime minutes” to neighbors. The Application Laboratory (AppLab) initiative established a multi-tier suite of data services designed to increase the incomes of entrepreneurs, mostly women. Following the success of the AppLab initiative, Grameen Foundation launched its Inclusive Business Tools initiative to build mobile technology tools for social enterprises, enabling them to work more effectively with underserved individuals.


  • Ruma assumed full day-to-day operations in 2011 and works independently of Grameen Foundation and Wireless Reach. It recruits and trains owners of small shops to accept payments for utilities, conduct market research for consumer goods companies and sell financial services using custom applications. The shop owners earn an incremental income, while providing necessary services in their communities. Grameen Foundation became an equity investor in Ruma in 2014.
  • Results from 2012 were:
    • More than 15,000 entrepreneurs serving more than 1.5 million unique customers in Indonesia.
    • Of the entrepreneurs involved in the project, 82 percent were women and 100 percent of them were profitable.
    • In addition, approximately half of the entrepreneurs who stayed in the program for at least four months lifted themselves out of poverty and doubled their income.
  • Using insights from the Mobile Microfranchising and AppLab initiatives and Ruma’s early work, Grameen Foundation created TaroWorks™, a mobile technology tool that helps social enterprises with field agents in remote locations work more effectively with the poor. The suite of data management solutions enables two-way information flows between field agents and their home office and can be tailored to the specific needs of each organization.

INDONESIA: Mobile Microfranchise Project

Jun 20, 2013 | 2:19