This App Makes Basic Necessities Accessible to Low Income Homes in India

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A new data company, m.Paani, is building a mobile loyalty program that will help members get access to basic necessities in India.

The company, founded by social entrepreneur Akanksha Hazari, was built around a bewildering paradox: nearly 80 percent of impoverished Indian homes have cellphones, but some 77 million people don’t have access to safe drinking water, according to Water.org.

At first the contradiction was confounding to Hazari, a native of the country who studied at Princeton University; then, she realized these phones might offer a valuable form of aid.

“Why can we put a mobile phone in everybody’s hand, but we are not delivering electricity or water or education or health care, or any of these things that are far more important?” Hazari said in an interview with TakePart.

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Humanitarian work had always been Hazari’s calling. She founded m.Paani after spending a few years working for the Aspen Institute trying to help resolve the Israeli-Palestine conflict through business and social programs.

Growing up in India, Hazari learned that hard work doesn’t always lead to a prosperous life. And to her this felt wrong. “In many countries, particularly in India, hard work does not equal results, and there’s something fundamentally wrong with that system,” she told TakePart.

Which is what brought her to humanitarian work. “Anyone who works hard, the system should be set up in a way that they can be successful and see the rewards of that hard work,” she said.

With m.Paani, Hazari’s goal is to use the technology she noticed readily available to help make basic necessities more accessible. In part m.Paani will do this through a loyalty program. And the program will function like any other, with the key difference being that rewards and perks can be used towards essentials like food, water filters, household goods, and tuition fees.

The other key aspect of Hazari’s business is data, a commodity yet to be fully tapped in India. “Because there’s no information about you, you don’t get access to fundamental services like insurance or loans,” she explained. “They live in what we call a ‘data dark world.’”

By collecting data and consumer spending habits, m.Paani can help the companies it works with — which includes many small local and family owned businesses — to better reach their customers.

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And while m.Paani is still getting off the ground, it has caught the attention of awards committees and investors. In addition to winning the Hult Prize and a million dollars in seed money, Hazari was nominated for the Vital Voices Global Leadership Award.

“For me, it’s very important that I contribute to the world that creates equal access to opportunity,” she said.

For her intrepid entrepreneurship, for her innovation, and for her undying desire to make the world a better place, we are happy to name Akanksha Hazari and everyone at m.Paani our Luminaries of the Week.

For more information about m.Paani, go here.

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About the author: Gary Joshua Garrison

 

Gary Joshua Garrison is the Prose Editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review. His fiction has appeared in various locations around the World Wide Web, as well as in bound reams of paper. His nonfictional musing can be found at Luminary Daily and Way Too Indie. He writes, teaches, and goes to the movies in the desert of Arizona with his well-postured cat, Widget.

Website: http://garyjgarrison.com/

 

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