Lessons learned: how mobile is advancing young women in Africa

In sub-Saharan Africa, poverty is the biggest barrier to education. Camfed are on a mission to tackle poverty through the education of young women, supporting them to become leaders of change.

Because of Camfed, over 19,000 young women and 2.4 million children have been educated and supported in over 2,000 communities in Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

As a charity, Camfed needs to maintain high levels of financial accountability and transparency. They saw an opportunity to improve the way they capture and report per-pupil expenditures and academic data: to move from paper and post, to mobile.

Camfed decided to use the Magpi mobile data collection system (formerly EpiSurveyor), and the Salesforce platform for reporting. ThoughtWorks did the integration.

To keep costs low and make the system easy to manage, ThoughtWorks took a highly automated cloud-based open source approach.

Working via Skype, IM and email across Calgary and London, just 3.5 weeks after initial discussions the system was ready for end-user trials.

"The virtually live feed of data on resources used along with the girls’ performance and attendance allows us to lower overhead costs and increase accountability to donors. Camfed can now focus more of its efforts to improve the lives of girls in Africa".

- Dan Luton, Camfed Program Manager

The results? ThoughtWorks developed a cloud and mobile-based solution, helping Camfed go from paperless to mobile - rapidly. The new mobile system means field volunteers can capture information quickly and accurately – increasing donor confidence, as well as donations. Most importantly, freeing up time for Camfed to continue educating young women in Africa.