TechWomen Mentor Uses Mobile Payments to Empower Rural Farmers

Cell Phone As Farm Tool VideoMenekse Gencer is revolutionizing the way the developing world interacts with money. The 2011 and 2012 TechWomen Mentor is empowering rural farmers by enabling them to process payments through cell phones.

Gencer is the Founder of mPay Connect, a San Francisco-based company which seeks to change the landscape of financial services by helping clients in emerging markets launch mobile money services.

In addition to facilitating payments, Gencer gives farmers access to services such as insurance and credit, which they might otherwise find only in cities. These services mitigate the effects of catastrophic events such as droughts or floods, creating vital safety nets for farmers whose livelihoods depend on the whims of nature.

Why the mobile phone? In a recent video posted by FastCompany, Gencer explains, “More people in the world have access to mobile phones than they have to running water, electricity, or even toilets…[Shareholder farmers] are the ones who live the furthest away from everything. Therefore, the only access they’re going to get to financial services is not going to be with the bank branch, but through the mobile phone.”

While small farmers have generally been skeptical of mobile money in the past, stories of success have inspired increasing confidence in microfinance and technology, spreading mobile payments services globally. Through technology, companies like mPay Connect are creating new opportunities for people in simple, innovative ways. 

Source: Cell Phone As Farm Tool

Meeting the 2012 TechWomen Mentors!

Mentor Workshop

Heather Ramsey, Director of TechWomen at IIESF, presents the TechWomen emerging leaders stats to a crowd of 2012 Professional and Cultural Mentors.

The 2012 TechWomen season has officially begun! We opened with a fantastic Mentor Workshop on Tuesday, August 7th hosted by Walmart Global eCommerce in San Bruno, CA. The workshop aimed to prepare the new TechWomen mentors for the three weeks they will spend mentoring emerging women leaders in technology from the Middle East and North Africa. More than 60 mentors attended the event, representing 50+ leading technology companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. The participants were welcomed by Walmart Global eCommerce CTO, Jeremy King, followed by Trish Tierney, Executive Director of IIE San Francisco. Representatives from the U.S. Department of State—Lee Satterfield, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, and Sheila Casey, Deputy Director of the Office of Citizen Exchanges, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs—also spoke to the mentors via live video conference.

Katy Dickinson, a local mentoring expert and Professional Mentor for TechWomen, presented best and worst mentoring practices and challenged the audience to think about the concept of being a change agent. Among the participants were mentors from the 2011 TechWomen program, who participated in a Q&A panel. Panelist Fabiola Addamo presented her formula for TechWomen success: “Connect, listen, understand. This is all you need to succeed as a TechWomen Mentor.”

TechWomen Mentor Panel

Fabiola Addamo, pictured speaking, shares her experience during Q&A. Also pictured are Larissa Shapiro, Christine Duran, Taghrid Samak, and Trish Tierney (from left to right).

After the general panel, alumni mentors led breakout sessions specifically geared toward Cultural and Professional Mentors. The Twittersphere was abuzz with excitement for the program:

@techwomen: “I think the thing that struck me most was the impact the program had on the American participants” DAS Lee Satterfield #tw2012 @StateDept

@jfinlayson: #Techwomen will make you “want to step into new roles” and help you “reconnect with what matters” @TechWomenMENA alumni on #mentor rewards

@taliareyesortiz: @NetApp is very excited to be a @TechWomen technical #mentor for the 2nd year in a row  #TW2012 #NetAppCTO

@stephanieblock: Super excited to kick off #TechWomen #tw2012 my mentee is from Yemen yay! @IIESF @StateDept

@katy_dickinson: In mentor training for 80 @TechWomen, 12 of whom were with me for 2011 initial program.  Exciting and heart warming to see so many friends.

@ericalockheimer: Looking forward to being a mentor for @TechWomen. Thanks @LinkedIn #in :-) pic.twitter.com/G2QoPYdv

Stay tuned for more TechWomen updates. The Mentees arrive in less than four weeks!

Cultural Mentor Breakout Session

Cultural Mentor Breakout Session