Apna Chaupal is a voice-based service through which rural consumers can get locally tailored information by calling a toll-free line.
As the number of cellphone users continues to rise we’ve seen a number of innovations that have empowered consumers in rural areas over the past few years, and recently we came across another intriguing example. Launched by telecommunications provider Bharti Airtel in India, Apna Chaupal – or “Rural Portal” – is a voice-based service through which rural consumers can get a wide array of locally tailored information simply by calling a toll-free line. Rural Indian consumers need only dial 58080 from their mobile phone to be connected with Apna Chaupal. From there they can browse various subscription packs focusing on categories including agriculture, health, education, employment, entertainment and religion. The service is available in all local languages, with highlights including Mandi crop rates, love advice, astrology, English lessons, visa information, music and more. Subscription pricing begins at INR 10 for 10 days. It is also possible to request expert advice for solutions to specific problems. Roughly three-quarters of the world’s population now have access to a mobile phone, according to a recent World Bank report. Tech-minded entrepreneurs: How could you use that fact to serve this overwhelming majority better? Spotted by: Murtaza Patel