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Ghana’s Voto Mobile Raises $100,000 to Help Organizations Reach their Audience Via SMS

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3774.voto-header-imgGhana’s VOTO Mobile,  a web-based platform for mass communication by phone has received $100,000 in seed funding from Engineers Without Borders Canada tto end the barriers to insightful mobile communication between organizations and their stakeholders worldwide via voice and SMS.
The web-based platform that helps users connect and engage their target audience through their mobile phones via interactive voice calls (including IVR) in local languages, instantly reaching across distance, language, and literacy barriers now serves over 250 organizations to reach over 250,000 people across all continents in just 14 months since its public launch.
With clients such as the World Bank, UNICEF, McKinsey& Co, the Government of Ghana and Farm Radio International, the firm was founded in 2012 in Kumasi, Ghana, by George Arthur Sarpong, Louis Dorval,  Kevin Schuster  and  Rasheeda Yehuza to  gather real-time feedback, promote healthy behavior, design policy, and empower their stakeholders to report events.
Voto has been used used to offer health education to 2500 pregnant women in Northern Ghana, to provide access to agricultural information to farmers in Tanzania, to increase voter turn-out by 30% in Brazil, to help 4 district governments in Ghana make better decisions by consulting their constituencies directly, and to gather market research data from over 6000 citizens in India, Nigeria and Uganda to design more efficient refrigerators for storing vaccines.

Rasheeda and George both Ghanaians and Mark and Louis both Canadians say they were inspired by the many many barriers between the billions of people on this planet who are cut-off from the web, and the many organisations trying to offer products and services to these populations and realized it was time to connect them.

“We noticed barriers to communication while working with district governments and NGOs in northern Ghana. These barriers included distance, language differences and literacy abilities. With the rapid adoption of mobile devices, a web-based platform enabling two-way voice and SMS communication would be an effective way for breaking down these barriers. Now these same district governments and NGOs can provide engaging content and receive real-time feedback from the citizens they serve,” Sarpong told TechMoran.

The biggest challenges have been building relationships directly with mobile operators, and getting rid of the stigma people have built around the many shortcomings of SMS-only engagement, which is much less efficient than voice-based engagement. Most of their competitors only offer SMS services and some of the organizations in their space use the VOTO API for their voice capabilities, including Esoko and TextToChange who also do the same things.

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“We differentiate on our voice-first focus, human design support, and “Africa-proof” functionalities (voicemail detection, call retry patterns, “flash” in-bound functionality). With our platform, we achieve upwards of 80% engagement on multi-month engagements, with equal representation of male, female, rural and urban,” according to the team.

Voto Mobile is super excited to be a part of DEMO Africa as it’s a great validation of what they are working on.

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“This is great validation that we are working on an opportunity with a large market and a real pain point. DEMO will give us a very valuable platform to showcase the momentum of our company and find valuable partners, employees and investors.We have established ourselves strongly in the West African market. We now want to expand throughout Africa and beyond,” said Sarpong.

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Sam Wakoba
Sam Wakobahttp://techmoran.com
Taking you on tour through Africa's tech and business ecosystem, one story at a time since 2010! Based out of Nairobi, Kenya, Sam is the founder and managing director of Moran Media, which runs  TechMoran.com, various other digital platforms and a startup incubation hub for Kenya's youthful entrepreneurs. Drop me a mail at [email protected]

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