ZMQ builds social games for change on Gandhigiri to Micro-Finance Institutions

11th Aug 2012
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This story is part of the mSocial Venture series on mobile innovations by social enterprises for the bottom of the pyramid

ZMQ has developed a mobile based platform for Micro-Finance Institutions (MFIs). What specifically impresses me about ZMQ Technologies/ZMQ Development is their idea to introduce games on this platform for MFIs leveraging their social gaming expertise.

ZMQ has a portfolio of over 130 social games on different social issues as a development sector tool. ZMQ has created social games for several countries world over including their current game on sexual abuse/domestic violence in association with Metrac, Canada that is being designed for almost all global communication devices. Hailing from a family of educationists, Subhi and Hilmi, the Qurashi brothers decided to startup in social sector right out of college in 2000 while their peers where busy migrating abroad.

Interestingly, their first two games were designed around Mahatma Gandhi set in today’s context with Reliance taking up the game, Mobile Mahatma, and pushing it forward setting the stage for Big Film’s Munna Bhai and his Gandhigiri.

Developing an icon based messaging system

ZMQ’s prenatal SMS service in 2006 targeted at women in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, a minority district with less or lack of access to mobile with restrictions on women that delivered English language messages. Out of the 1700 women that were registered, less than 100 were able to understand the message. Switching to Hindi text messages, the activate users increased to around 270 women. However, the increase wasn’t reflecting impact which opened grounds for ZMQ to develop an icon based messaging system. The first icon message brought forth 50% increase in the number of active users.

Universal MFI Management Services

PCI & ZMQ with support from Qualcomm through their wireless reach program initiated the Universal MFI Management service. ZMQ usually identifies non-profit MFIs and understands their needs to provide a customized platform that will enable them to design their own rules, methodologies, products, admin hierarchy, geographical hierarchy, interest rates, cycles of payments etc.

Subhi Qurashi, Co-Founder, ZMQ is of the opinion that the micro-finance industry has taken an ugly shape in the name of doing good. “In order to achieve good result with micro-finance institutions, they have to be a holistically integrated approach providing information about both financial and non-financial solutions like maternity care, women’s health, education etc,” says Subhi.

While profit oriented MFIs may be focused only on the monetary benefits, keeping the members tied to the institution, the non-profit institutions also go beyond the realm of finance aiming for a greater good. ZMQ provides non-financial services to the MFI group members on their mobile handsets based on what the MFIs sign up for. The users are required to do a one-time login with a password through their phones and then this service is available to them through their handsets. They can also access the non-financial services. The messages are icon based with very little text in them to make it accessible to more people. The phase I of this system integrates informational services followed by non-financial services provisioning in the future enabling the users to eventually get out of the MFI.

For the people by the people – Rural Game Labs

ZMQ is working on establishing a Rural Game Labs that will build export quality games developed from the villages from scratch along with the game logic essentially to meet their needs and for millions like them around the globe. This idea has stemmed from the organizations' belief in the execution of an inclusive model at the grass root levels of the society enabling a better understanding of the problem and real impact due to participation.

“As long as we are living, we don’t want to go corrupt. As long as we are here we want to develop system changing technology and techniques even if it is making games out of just paper. Our idea is to take it as many levels of networks as possible. Gaps are so immense that we need to constantly be at it,” says Subhi sharing their vision. QAFF is another social gaming venture coming that they have in the pipeline with pure focus on game life technologies.

For more information, take a look at ZMQ

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