One example of the kind of intelligence Matere is able to glean from theinternet is reports of cartels deceiving farmers by buying potatoes in over-large 130 kg bags instead of 110 kg bags. Matere takes this information andtranslates it into Swahili and posts it on community notice boards.Matere also has to fend off other people looking to use his community’s watersupply, which he has done by photographing interlopers with his mobilephone and then posting the photographs on Facebook.“When they came before, I took photos of what they were doing, posted themon my Facebook page and was able to get assistance," he said.“I got in touch with Forest Action Network (http://www.fankenya.org/)and theycame back to me quickly saying they would help me protect the catchmentarea.”He has also discovered there are more profitable ways to make money forfarmers."There is a lot of money in tree seedlings or bee hives. So if we can get theseyoung people to use the land in an environmentally (friendly) way, they canget even more money than through farming.”“I have 400 Facebook friends and I think some of them can buy the honey.”Matere is philosophical about the future: “I am now seeing the practicality ofthe internet here in rural Kenya. The problem is I am the only one. That is whythe notice board is important. All we need is a bit of relevant information tohelp us.”"Once it is made simpler and is more in the local language with more localcontent, people are going to access the internet here,” he predicts.
1) A blog with news and tips on how to use the social networking tools forbusiness opportunities.
http://www.socialnetworking-weblog.com/ 2) Four stories on how social networking radically improved businessprospects for some people.
http://www.bnet.com/2403-13070_23-219914.html3) A Business Week article on the good and bad of social networking forbusiness.
http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/aug2008/sb2008086_346094.htm4) Txteagle: A service in Kenya that is paying people to do tasks andtranslations with their mobile phones.