Latin America is a region that loves technology. Among its adults, the market penetration of mobile phones has reached a saturation point, and studies project the active social media user pool to expand to 254 million in 2015, or more than one-third of the region’s population. This increasingly widespread use of technology in LAC is significant for many reasons:
First, ICT are a key vehicle for developing nations to foster economic development. A 10% increase in broadband service penetration alone is associated with an average 3.2% rise in GDP and a 2.6% rise in productivity. More specifically, ICT infrastructure is widely regarded as vital to entrepreneurship and small business development, particularly in emerging economies where access to capital and market information is a persisting obstacle. Addressing these obstacles through technology has the potential to unleash a flurry of growth.
Second, technology is a vehicle to increased opportunities for individuals. In studying the correlation between access to technology and improved livelihoods, the UNDP found that among women globally, 55 percent earned additional income due to owning a mobile phone, while 41 percent increased their income and professional opportunities for the same reason. Technology is a big enabler that allows, per example, small stores owners not to leave the business place to educate themselves, realize public transactions (tax payments, application forms, etc.), restock inventory or access to banking services, among many others. What is more importantly, because of the high market penetration, most of tenderos feel comfortable and at ease around technologies such as cell phones. But let's not forget that technology is not "the silver bullet", it must be a component of a comprehensive solution.
Jane Nelson said:
Next question: while there is in theory a strong business case, we know that the execution is complex and can be costly depending on the locations of the retailers and the depth of support they require.
How can technology be employed to increase scale and impact at a reduced cost per participant?
Love to hear examples from our audience as well!