Last week Lauren and I met with Sam and Tesh, two Silicon Valley tech experts of Ethiopian descent who are starting up an exciting business called 4afri. Basically, 4Afri aims to use the cell phone as a mechanism to deliver empowering information to Africans living in rural and/or low-income settings. According to Sam and Tesh, “the cell phone is the computer of the poor…we want to use it to democratize access to information.” On our travels around Uganda, Lauren and I have certainly found this to be true. One is hard pressed to find a village, even in the most remote areas, where cell service isn’t available and a cell phone isn’t ringing.

So, if Sam and Tesh have their way, people here will soon be able to use their cell phone to receive text messages with information that they would otherwise have to pay for, go online to find, or by chance get through word-of-mouth. Imagine, rural farmers could get real-time weather reports, commodity pricing indexes, and advice on organic farming methods. Expecting mothers could get important information on how to stay healthy before, during, and after a pregnancy. For that matter, nurses could get basic information on how to diagnose and treat diseases.

Their just getting started, but I can already tell this idea’s got legs…