A new technology is emerging in Zimbabwe, one that uses cell phone messages to exchange currency for goods. Mukuru.com is a company that has set up a system by which you can order fuel for friends and family in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Today, as people immigrate in search for opportunities, and are often force to leave behind children and relatives, this new service allows those abroad to continue helping back home, while reducing the amount of red tape involved. The site allows you to buy gasoline (prices are British pounds), and the relative back home will receive a text message with a coupon to pick up it up.
Similar sites are also starting to emerge for other basic goods. Zimland.com allows you to buy groceries, while Zimbuyer.com goes even further, by offering groceries, as well as furniture and even generators for family members back home.
These sites seem to be catching on rather quickly in Zimbabwe, not only for their convenience, but also because they provide an alternative to costly money wires; an important issues, since the Zimbabwean government has been cracking down on the back market and unregulated foreign currency exchanges.
I think this is a very ingenious alternative, and I can see if catching on in other developing countries that have large communities abroad.
Read more about this in a BBC article.
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