Tools have always been developed to simplify everyday tasks.

As for USSD, it has already demonstrated its ability to facilitate access to financial services and thus impact the lives of millions of people around the world. But it doesn't stop there.

Today, across the continent, initiatives and projects are being launched, and applications and services developed, to provide solutions to a wide range of problems.

Overall, USSD can improve our lives in many ways, particularly in developing countries where access to certain products or services may be limited. By providing access to financial services, healthcare, education and emergency services, USSD can help improve the quality of life for all.

Among all the initiatives, projects and companies that exist, we have selected 5 start-ups that have differentiated themselves by integrating USSD technology into their strategy for promoting and publicizing their service.

These strategies have proved to be winning ones, as USSD necessarily involves a wider, more varied target group that until now had not had the opportunity to access such services.

Whether for associations, agricultural businesses or commercial products, discover the 5 USSD services that improve our daily lives: 

  • M-Agri, Botswana

M-Agri is a mobile agricultural information service based in Botswana, providing farmers with information on weather conditions, markets and farming practices via the USSD channel.

To access these services, users can dial the short number *303# on their cell phone and follow the instructions to access various information related to their business, such as weather updates, market prices for crops and advice on farming techniques.

This service is provided by the Botswana Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security, in partnership with the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC), and aims to improve the productivity and profitability of farmers across the country.

The M-Agri service uses USSD technology to deliver information to farmers via their cell phones. Farmers can dial a USSD code on their cell phone to access information on the weather, local market prices, farming practices, water management techniques and agricultural subsidy programs.

In addition, it also provides personalized advice to farmers based on their location and type of farm. Farmers can also ask questions and receive answers from agricultural experts via the service.

The project has begun to show positive results, improving access to information, increasing productivity and farm incomes, and helping to reduce poverty among small-scale farmers in Botswana.

  • Digilearns, Nigeria

Digilearns is a digital learning platform, based in Nigeria, offering online courses and training programs in various fields such as technology, business, digital marketing and finance, among others.

The platform aims to provide flexible and affordable learning opportunities to help acquire new skills.

Digilearns offers both self-paced and instructor-led courses, and learners can access courses from anywhere, at any time, using a computer or mobile device. The platform also provides interactive tools and resources to support their learning, including video tutorials, quizzes, assignments and discussion forums.

Digilearns wanted to integrate, among other tools, a USSD short code to enable its users to access its e-learning courses and programs from any cell phone, even without Internet access.

Once users have entered the code, they can access the list of available courses and select the one that interests them. They can also register and pay for courses via USSD.

By using USSD technology, Digilearns is able to provide e-learning services to a wider audience. This enables the company to reach a more diverse audience and contribute to digital inclusion.

  • GiftedMom, Cameroon

GiftedMom is a Cameroon-based company that provides maternal and child health services through mobile technologies and various digital channels. The company was founded in 2015, and has become a true success story.

GiftedMom uses mobile technologies to provide information on maternal and child health, send vaccination and appointment reminders, and enable patients to contact healthcare professionals in real time for medical advice and consultations.

In addition to the mobile application and SMS, the start-up has decided to integrate USSD technology into its strategy. The aim is to reach all mothers and mothers-to-be, regardless of their geographical location or internet coverage.

GiftedMom has been hailed for its contribution to improving access to quality healthcare for women and children in Cameroon and other African countries. The company has also contributed to reducing maternal and infant mortality rates in the region.

  • Dhobi Women Network, Kenya

To address gender equality concerns, an emergency code has been launched to enable survivors of gender-based violence to get help. The USSD code *483*143# offers a platform to report incidents, get in touch with a hospital for treatment, receive tele-counseling and/or find shelter. Developed by the Dhobi Women Network (a network of the CRAWN Trust), as part of the Women Voice and Leadership-Kenya project, the code promotes the privacy and confidentiality of survivors.

Hotlines for public disputes, labor rights and children's rights, as well as for psychosocial support, are also available on the platform. Others are dedicated to human rights violations, people with disabilities, migrants, widows and orphans.

  • LittleCab, Kenya

LittleCab is an on-demand cab service operating in Kenya, launched in 2016 by Kenyan telecommunications company Safaricom in partnership with transport company Craft Silicon. LittleCab's aim was to provide a convenient and affordable transport alternative for residents of Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, and other cities across the country.

The app enables users to book car journeys at affordable rates. Drivers are screened and registered with the company, guaranteeing passenger safety.

LittleCab has grown rapidly since its launch, with over 1.5 million registered users to date. The company has also extended its services to other Kenyan cities, such as Mombasa, Kisumu and Thika.

The start-up is also investing in initiatives to help local communities: a training program for drivers to help them acquire skills, and a rewards program for users, which allows them to earn points every time they use the service and redeem them for discounts on their next journeys.

To enable users who don't have access to an internet connection or a smartphone to use their service, they've launched a USSD! platform.

To use LittleCab via USSD, users can dial *826# from their cell phone. This opens an interface that allows them to book a ride, view their booking details, confirm their ride and pay for their trip. Users can also track their driver in real time via the USSD platform.

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