Colombian women from traditional fishing communities are leading the effort in the adoption of mobile technologies and a path to a better future in our Qualcomm Wireless Reach Fishing with Mobile Nets program.
Adapting best practices and mobile applications created for a similar Wireless Reach-funded programs in Brazil and India, Fishing with Mobile Nets uses 3G- or 4G LTE-connected tablets and smartphones, digital content and a virtual community platform to promote economic and social development in several vulnerable fishing villages.
This year, Entrepreneur Magazine highlighted Fishing with Mobile Nets in an article titled 5 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Fishermen. The program is featured in an in-depth video and the article identifies tactics learned that can be applied to any entrepreneur.
What I love most about this program is how women from the communities—many of which are teachers and business leaders—are driving the transformation.
Through this program, we are training women how to use mobile devices and customized apps to support mobile education, safe fishing, improved business practices and the development of economic opportunities. In turn, the women are training fishermen, women and students throughout their communities on the use of mobile devices as well as information and communications technology ICT. They’re creating social and economic opportunities that were previously beyond this population’s reach. They’re having a positive impact and, in doing so, they’ve gained the respect, admiration and gratitude of the adults and children in the community.
Here are some thoughts from just a few of the women leading the program:
- Tatiana Villero is the CEO of Fundación Proboquilla, the project partner who makes implementation in the community of La Boquilla possible, in part by hiring the right women to become leaders. “This project has undoubtedly been an instrument of social change and community development,” she says. “It has enabled our population to find new options for improving the quality of their lives. It has sparked intergenerational dialogue and strengthened the cultural ties of our community. It is inspiring us and making us dream of a community where knowledge and innovation are promoted, where age is not a barrier to learning and generations can complement each other nicely.”
- Marelis Carmona Burgos leads ICT adoption training in La Boquilla. “It is very gratifying to know that we can contribute to improving other people’s lives and that they value and apply what they learn,” she says. “I am pleased to contribute to improving the quality of life in my community in the best way that we can, with knowledge, because if you give knowledge you are providing nourishment for the rest of life.”
- Lilia Escaño created, manages and teaches fish farming to adults and youth at the Community Fish Lab in La Boquilla. She is passionate about her work and full of ideas on how to make the lab grow. Through her efforts, classes have expanded from fish farming to growing small crops using the lab’s aquaponics system. “I would love to include more members of the community in this process,” Lilia says. “I keep dreaming of bigger things and want more people to help me realize this fantastic and incredible dream.”
From left to right: Tatiana Villero, CEO of Fundacion Proboquilla; Lilia Escaño, Teacher and Manager of the Community Fish Lab; Isabel Melendez, Teacher; Marelis Carmona Burgos, ICT Teacher and Adoption Leader
Colombia’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology (MINTIC), David Luna Sanchez, continually points to this program as a model of how mobile technology can have a positive impact on social and economic development. The women take great pride in this national recognition.
In the year since Wireless Reach, CINTEL and Fundación Proboquilla launched Fishing with Mobile Nets, it has expanded from one community to three. This year, with help from Telefonica Foundation, USAID, and MINTIC the number will grow to five communities.
I am very excited about the project’s growth and inspired by these women and their roles in advancing their communities!
To learn more about Fishing with Mobile Nets, check out: