How can a digital footprint grow opportunities for my business (Ewe)
Myriam Good morning Josephine! How was the market today for you? Did you sell all your produce?
Josephine Hi Myriam, yes I did, I am actually selling less produce on market day as my husband and I have found a good buyer who purchases from us directly.
Myriam Oh that is interesting, how did you find the buyer?
Josephine I signed up for a market that happens on the phone and internet. It connects buyers to sellers even when we don't know or see each other in the same place. It helps farmers like me fetch better prices for our produce.
Myriam That is wonderful Josephine. How did you sign up for the service?
Josephine It was not that difficult. The representative from the online market service came to a gathering of farmers. I let the service know I was interested, they helped me download the app on my smartphone and I sent them some information through the app - like the types of crops I grow, types of seed and fertilizer I use, how much we usually grow, and the location of our farm.
Myriam Oh my, that is a lot of information that you gave them.
Josephine Yes. But it seems they are going to use that information to help me access better buyers and they even mentioned they will offer me other services such as insurance and credit.
Myriam Very interesting. Are your buyers paying you in cash or mobile money?
Josephine Mobile money, it has been very easy. I have been pushing money that comes onto my mobile money wallet into my MFI account.
Myriam That's great, and those mobile money transactions contribute to your digital records as an entrepeneur. It's important to understand all the different types of information that are being collected, so you can think about ways to use it to your advantage. For example, I started allowing people to pay me using mobile money at my store, and have been able to set up a line of credit at my bank for my store to purchase more inventory, and the bank used all the mobile money transactions to determine my loan limit and terms.
Josephine Wow that is great, yes, the digital farming services said they would be speaking to me soon to discuss insurance options. They say they can use the information I gave them about my crops, seeds, fertlizer, and location to help me get an insurance that monitors rainfall around my plot location. If there is not enough rain in my location, the insurance will remburse me to protect me against drought. But I still need to find out about the cost.
Myriam That is really interesting, all with just those little pieces of information. But Josephine, you know we have to be careful about our information. Like I said, its important to know who is collecting what type of information on us for our benefit, but it is also important to know how they are protecting our privacy and that they won't share it with anyone else unless we say it's okay.
Josephine Yes that is true. The representative actually told me that they will not use my information without my permission for any of these other services. Also, if I stop using the service, I can ask them to delete my information.
Myriam That is important, but not all companies tell you straight away, so it is important to check the privacy settings or ask. For mobile money and other financial services, I have called into their customer service lines and also read online what the company's privacy policies are for my information. Your smartphone settings can even allow you to limit the type of information the app can collect on you, such as location.
Josephine That is good to know. Thanks for teaching me more about the different types of information that is collected on me, and how I can use it to my advantage.
Myriam Anytime, Josephine. As we use things like smartphones and other digital services, we will be offering up more and more of our information so it is good to keep in mind how it's being used.