Cote d'Ivoire

FrontlineSMS is shaped by our diverse user community: We want to hear from you!

By Florence Scialom, FrontlineSMS Community Support Coordinator

“Focus on the user and all else will follow,” has been one of our main mottos here at FrontlineSMS ever since the original version of our software was built in 2005. Yet it is undeniable that, as we gear up for a big year in 2012, the face of the FrontlineSMS user is more diverse than it was when we first started out. Ken Banks, the Founder of FrontlineSMS, has often said to the team here that he was excited when one person downloaded FrontlineSMS back when he first made the software available; at the end of 2011 the number of people who had downloaded FrontlineSMS passed the 20,000 mark.

As our user base continues to grow, our user-focused ethos is more important to us than ever. We strongly believe that our direction should continue to be guided by our passionate, innovative, and richly varied user community. That is why we would love to hear your views in our latest FrontlineSMS user survey. We want to hear your feedback on our user resources and our software, so that we can feed your opinions into our planning for 2012. Even if you aren’t using FrontlineSMS actively at the moment, your opinions still matter to us, and we’d love to hear any views and experiences you’d like to share about FrontlineSMS in our survey.

We have seen our software used in so many different ways – election monitoring, maternal health support, citizen engagement, education, coordination of humanitarian response, to name just a few – and in so many placesKenya, Nigeria, the Philippines, Kyrgyzstan, Cote d’Ivoire, Canada, the UK are just some of the locations we’ve documented use of FrontlineSMS in within the last year. This is both very exciting and somewhat challenging for us; we would like to ensure that FrontlineSMS software and user support continues to meet the needs of our users, whatever those users now look like. The fact that our user community is growing makes it even more important for us to hear feedback, so we can serve increasingly varied and changing user needs.

And we’d like to say thank you - fill in the survey, and you’ll be in with a chance of winning a limited-edition FrontlineSMS T-shirt. For the next four weeks we will also be choosing one lucky survey respondent each week to win an unlocked, FrontlineSMS-compatible USB GSM modem. In addition, we will choose another lucky prize winner to get a copy of the well-known book, SMS Uprising, signed by our very own Ken Banks.  (All those who have filled out the survey already will also be in with a chance of winning these prizes). So, as well as the opportunity to feed in to our 2012 strategy you could win some very exciting prizes! All this for just 5 minutes of your time - what have you got to lose?

There are many faces we see regularly in our user community. Those who are part of a small community based group, seeking to keep people informed about valuable yet hard to access information. Those who are part of a large NGO seeking coordinate communication with disparate staff, monitor the effectiveness of their work, and hear feedback from the communities they serve. Those starting a sustainable business in a developing economy, and wanting a way to keep in touch with all key stakeholders in areas where there is little or no internet access available. And even those in economically developed countries, who are working to engage vulnerable communities via the accessibility of SMS.

Do any of these descriptions sound like you? If so it would be great to hear your views and experiences with our software and resources. If you don’t feel you are represented in the above list (which is certainly not exhaustive), then we need to hear from you too! If you’re using or have thought about using FrontlineSMS then please fill out our survey and let us know who you are!

Last year’s survey results helped us to shape the major release of our software due out in 2012 – FrontlineSMS Version 2 – and it also helped us to understand that our users want to connect with each other more, and learn from each others’ use cases. Hence we worked throughout 2011 to document more use cases on our blog and have engaged members of our community to volunteer with us as FrontlineSMS Heroes, too. Recently one of our Heroes, Tom Marentette, has helped start an exciting trend of user meet-ups, certainly something we will seek to continue to build upon in 2012.

Now the team here is wondering, what will this year’s survey tell us? You can shape the answer to this question by filling out our survey, and helping us better understand the diverse face of our FrontlineSMS user community! o/

Small-scale producers in Côte d'Ivoire manage international markets via SMS

The below is content from a FrontlineSMS Community Forum blog post, by FrontlineSMS user Julien Gonnet.

RONGEAD is a non profit organisation in Côte d'Ivoire which helps facilitate small producers in Africa  to gain better access to markets. In Côte d'Ivoire they transmit information on the cashew market via SMS. This is a big job, considering Cote d'Ivoire is the second largest exporter of raw cashews, generating incomes for approximately 250,000 producers. RONGEAD are regularly in contact with producers of cashews in five regions of the country, and they use FrontlineSMS to send 3,000 SMS every week providing up to date information on market prices. In addition they provide valuable training and educational materials.

Julien Gonnet, of RONGEAD, recently shared details on our FrontlineSMS community forum about how they have set up a project to enable more than 8000 producers and 250 peasant leaders to have access to the information, tools, knowledge and skills which can help to enhance and secure revenue sources. The project involves "creation of a proactive network of shared knowledge of the world market for cashew value chain in Cote d'Ivoire."

This project has thus far provided five training modules for the producers and peasant leaders. The training modules address particular descriptions of the industry (covering main actors and relationships), an explanation for the formation and evolution of the price (including information on changes in supply and demand), and guidance on market decision making, such as when to sell and how to store goods effectively. A dozen educational materials - as shown in images here - have been developed during the project, including a role play!

At the level of information dissemination, each week, a market analysis is performed by relevant two specialists in the sector in Côte d'Ivoire and France. These summaries are released in a variety of ways, including as an electronic newsletter, though local radio and through 3000 SMS, differentiated by region, sent each week by FrontlineSMS.

This RONGEAD project has caused a great excitement, by providing accessible to information and training. Plus it has helped create relationships of solidarity between local producers. In the past relationships have been diminished following the stigma affecting certain cooperatives, and the climate of suspicion within a sector perceived as opaque and unstructured. Therefore,  it is good to find positive projects which counteract this.

Julien points out that the objective of RONGEAD's project is not "simply to disseminate collected prices, but add elements of market understanding." As he explains "it is necessary to assist producers receiving the information to promote their own decision making and avoid counter-productive misunderstandings."

To learn more about the work of RONGEAD visit their website:

Please feel free to join the FrontlineSMS Community Forum to connect with other FrontlineSMS users, and share details of how you are using FrontlineSMS too!