Archive for May, 2011
Monday, May 23rd, 2011
Zach is currently working in Kenya on the Wish Vast program with Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship. Zach is a rising Senior majoring in Supply Chain and Information Systems at the Smeal College of Business. Zach received one of the Target Community Development and Engagement grants for his experience and work in Kenya this summer.
Here is Zach’s summary on Wish Vast:
Wishvast was started in 2009 by Penn State students in the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship Program (HESE). The idea was built upon the ubiquitous nature of cellphones in Kenya revealed by recent statistics that 97% of people in Kenya have access to acellphone. In the developing world you are more likely to have a cellphone than a toothbrush.
Kenya like many other developing countries is riddled with fundamental economic and societal problems such as the lack of jobs, access to the Internet via a computer, and inefficient transportation methods. The result of this is highly inefficient use of resources. Previous teams researching these issues in Kenya witnessed inefficient and over-priced employment bureaus, mismanagement of resources, and no cheap way for willing workers to find work.
WishVast aims to solve these problems by leveraging the ubiquity of cellphones, the increasing availability of Internet via Internet enabled phones, and SMS messages via a SMS gateway. In it’s initial stages WishVast was a cellphone attached to a computer running the WishVast software. Through the initial pilot only texting was used to facilitate connections and create value with a rating system. During the initial pilot over the summer of 2009 the WishVast team was able to interview over 500 people, get over 250 people using the system and facilitate 160 successful business connections in under three weeks.
Since that initial pilot the WishVast venture has had several published papers which included students as authors, received several grants to continue the research and most recently has been invited to present at the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance at the Smithsonian.
Follow WishVast’s progress on: https://sites.google.com/site/thewishvastproject/project-blog-summer-2011