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Past Issue • Jan-Mar 2014

Sustaining Social Impact with Social Entrepreneurship: Swara and Mojolabs

In this article, Arjun Venkatraman of the Mojolab Foundation describes the new avenues for social and economic impact emerging from the innovative CGNet Swara audio portal service in the tribal areas of central India. The Swara Network has helped highlight new business models for delivery of services ranging from health to notary authorisation. Moreover, the cost challenges associated with mobile telephony have encouraged low cost innovation in audio portal technology by the Mojolabs Foundation, which was set up for the purpose. Together, Swara Network and Mojolabs offer interesting directions for exploring the challenge and promise of scale in social entrepreneurship.

Background: CGNet Swara Started as an experiment in community newsgathering by veteran journalist Shubhranshu Choudhary, CGNet Swara is a groundbreaking audio portal service. The audio portal consists essentially of a phone number linked to a website, allowing users to access the portal by phone or on the web. Callers to the phone line have the option of listening to messages left by other people or recording their own messages. The target audience for the phone system are poor and marginalised communities in central India, who have been left disenfranchised by the lack of a voice in the mainstream media. The service reaches areas off the railway maps of states such as Bihar, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

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