Connecting with multiple members via phone

by Shelagh McLoughlin
10 August 2019
10 August 2019

SaveAct is gearing up to launch a pilot of a new service that will enable thousands of savings group members to communicate directly with the organisation via WhatsApp, as well as access information.

SaveAct is working with Praekelt, an NGO that uses mobile technology to solve social problems. Praekelt have developed an app called TURN for use with WhatsApp API (appliance programming interface), which is one of three platforms offered by WhatsApp.

WhatsApp API is designed for medium and large organisations to reach millions of users. It works with an application, in this case TURN, developed for non profits working in several areas including health and financial inclusion.

Praekelt is currently working with 10 organisations, one of which is the national Department of Health, which reaches almost three million mothers via an online information service called MomConnect.

“TURN makes conversation via WhatsApp easier to manage,” says founder Gustav Praekelt in a demonstration of MomConnect. He mentions that eighty percent of mothers in the public health system are now using MomConnect, while showing how a pregnant woman has just messaged the site to ask for advice about her swollen legs.

TURN allows for a human interface with clients, but answers to common questions can be automated and a menu of Frequently Asked Questions will also be available for those seeking information. Clients can choose what language they wish to use for communicating.

Praekelt says TURN has the potential to help SaveAct connect with an audience, engage with it using machine learning, guide users towards behaviour it wishes to see and track and measure impact.

The new service could be used in the future to facilitate group meetings in remote areas where staff are not always available. Staff out in the field will also be able to access information and request assistance during meetings if they have questions about the methodology, thereby improving the quality of service provided.

SaveAct’s pilot will start small with a few savings groups given access to the app, which will allow them to ask questions about the savings programme and financial education. The app allows for additional features to be added, such as a banking system.

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