While spending the last few weeks in Silicon Valley for further expansion to RLabs and JamiiX, I was amazed to see the opportunities that we have with mobile phones in emerging economies and our great position to provide solutions and new generation of innovations. It was through some time of reflection that I realised that RLabs have now supported more than 500,000 users through their mobile services. A great achievement for a community driven initiative.

This all started three years ago when we started a program that addressed the issue of Substance Abuse support in the Western Cape (Download research report here) providing mobile counselling services to youth at risk using the JamiiX platform. This was followed up with another mobile service (Angel) where we distributed mobile content via Africa’s largest mobile social network MXit where users could access 24 hour information content. Since then we’ve released mutliple services via mobi browser, Mobile Instant Messaging, text-based and applications to reach people in need.

Today the mobile services ranges from substance abuse to HIV/AIDS services and reaches users across Africa and South-East Asia. This experience have been incredible for all involved and with more than a million interactions per month through our mobile services we know that these services can only go from strength to strength.

Some of the lessons we’ve learned if you planning to go Mobile with your support services are:

1) You need to have a strategy in place in how you intend reaching your target audiences and keep in consideration your target audience, costs, accessibility etc.

2) Use the technologies that your user-base are already using. Instead of them having to come to your service or platform why not meet them where they are active and the technologies they feel comfortable using.

3) Why reinvent the wheel? Use technologies that is at your disposal and it will work out much cheaper in the long run. We used technologies such as MXit, SMS, JamiiX etc. and it proved to be effective in reaching our crowds.

4) Quality of content and service is crucial and should not be underestimated. If you have good content and service delivery then your mobile services will viral.

5) Scalability, make sure that your mobile services are scalable because if it virals you need to make sure that you are in a position to keep up with the demand.

6) Partnerships is crucial. We would never have been able to provide these services if not for valuable partnerships. Make sure you partner with organisations that can enhance and support the work you’re doing.

We excited to the next 500,000 users we’ll reach and our goal is to support a million by the end of 2011 as part of our Social Revolution. A special thanks to the RLabs Team globally and all our partners who have supported us in reaching this 500,000 milestone.

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