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Nigel Scott told me about Frontline after I sent him the following proposal for a project we are hoping to launch here in Mexico.
SMS INFO (English)
SMS Information Services for Small businesses in Alamos/Huatabampo Municipalities.
What we propose is an SMS information service that will enable small businesses to function more efficiently and profitably.
All over the world SMS information systems are providing small and medium enterprise (SME) operators, such as fishermen, cattle ranchers, farmers and shrimp growers, with valuable information for making better decisions, increasing profits and increasing safety.
SMS information systems are also being used to raise awareness about micro-finance opportunities that can make these SME’s more independent and adaptable in a fast changing business environment.
In areas with good cellular telephone coverage but limited internet access SMS information services can provide SME owners with real time prices, weather reports and disaster warnings, as well as updates on regulatory changes, micro-finance, and best practices for achieving robust and sustainable businesses. When the software becomes interactive, the cell phone becomes the market place, as well as an information source.
We propose to start a pilot project working with fishermen to develop systems and software that can then be adapted to meet the needs of the client groups mentioned above, as well as truckers, itinerant farm workers, and even tourists!
A similar pilot project was launched successfully in Senegal, Africa, a few years ago at a cost of $615,000 US dollars, by utilizing existing software and capitalizing on the experiences of others I believe we can run our project at a substantially reduced cost.
Once established we expect this project to become a self sustaining profitable enterprise through the sale of advertising.
Initial requirements and proposed budget:
1. First and foremost we will have to engage with fishing communities interested in working on this project. We will have to assess their needs, listening to what they ask for, and also providing them with useful information and alternatives.
2. Identify information sources.
1. Identify the hardware—computer and cell phone—requirements. Source appropriate hardware.
2. Source appropriate software and adapt to our needs, or design appropriate software.
3. Set up information gathering system.
4. Establish delivery timetable based on clients’ needs.
Monitoring and Evaluation:
1. Survey prices received by fishers before and after, note any shifts in business profitability.
2. Survey safety before and after using
3. Survey client experience, what works and what doesn’t.
4. Note any utilization of micro-finance information received through the SMS system.
5. Produce a report for funders.
6. Create a system for information sharing to aid in expanding SMS information services for other clients.
The staff will consist of the following:
1. Consultant/Manager will oversee project and report to the funding agencies. The person will identify sources of funding, and write and submit grant proposals to appropriate agencies.
2. Software designer
3. Two researchers will assess client needs and gather information required by the clients. They will also sell advertising that will pay for running the system once it is established.
4. Technician, will control the system, monitor input information, and send bulk SMS messages, business info, and community info to clients.
Tell us about you. (Please also add an image to your profile)
Upper Darby High School, Upper Darby, PA. USA
University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI. USA
A.S. in Fisheries and Marine Technology, 1985.
Received the 1984 Co-Fish International $2,000 scholarship for Academic Achievement.
Goddard College, Plainfield, VT. USA
B.A. in Writing, Literature and Cultural History, 1997.
For 33 years I have been primarily self-employed, working in various areas of coastal community development, primarily in seafood production and marketing. I have spent the last ten years as a journalist, researching and writing about issues such as the economic and regulatory policies that affect fisheries and aquaculture, and the communities and cultures that rely on the sea, and working as a development consultant for International NGO’s and other public and private organizations.
As a journalist / photographer I wrote columns for The New York Times from 1998 to 2002, and contributed article’s and editorial direction to the Fishermen’s Voice, a grassroots paper for fishermen in Maine, USA.
In 2003 I won an Alicia Patterson Fellowship for a study of shrimp and salmon farming, and signed a contract for my first book, The Doryman’s Reflection (Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2005). I continued freelancing for Seafood Business Magazine, Yankee, Offshore, Wildlife Conservation Magazine, and other publications, and wrote a second book, Swimming in Circles: Aquaculture and the End of wild Oceans (Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2007).
In 2007 I received a Guggenheim Fellowship to investigate sustainable fisheries and aquaculture systems around the world, and have finished a manuscript based on that research.
In my travels I have also conducted journalism workshops for non-native English speakers writing in English, and have spoken about my work at numerous universities, including the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York, Stanford University in California, and MASCOM Graduate program for journalists, in Kottayam, Kerala.
In large part my success as a writer reflects my lengthy experience in the field. I spent over 20 years as a commercial fisherman, participating in high seas and near shore fisheries in Alaska, California, and New England. I graduated the University of Rhode Island’s Fisheries and Marine Technology program in 1985 having attended my final year on an Academic Scholarship.
In 1986 I was a consultant for the Passamaquoddy Tribe in Pleasant Point, Maine, running a community scale fish processing plant, training workers, overseeing quality control, as well as sourcing product, and developing markets. We bought fish from artisanal fishers in Canada and the US, and niche marketed top quality product to wholesalers, retailers, and restaurants— local and regional.
In 1987 I served as a consultant for the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association, setting up a cod processing plant in Toksook Bay, Alaska. I taught local workers how to produce salt cod, and develop markets.
From the late 80’s to the mid-90’s I worked almost exclusively as a fisherman/ farmer, running my own small boats, and occasionally going offshore on large trawlers in winter. In summers I grew organic blueberries, running a crew of 10-20 workers at harvest time. I processed much of my own product and sold directly to consumers and mainstream markets.
In 1996 I entered the fisheries management arena in an effort to implement a limited harvest and enhanced marketing scheme in Maine’s troubled sea urchin fishery. I went on to serve on Maine’s Sea Urchin Zone Council from 1998-2003. In 1998 I produced a report on the French sea urchin market for Jim Wadsworth (contact: email@example.com) a Maine sea urchin dealer. And in 2007, the SUZC commissioned me to write a report on sea urchin management and marketing strategies in Chile, where collective action has improved both the harvest and prices received for a once dwindling sea urchin resource.
I spent 2007 traveling to locations throughout the world as a Guggenheim Fellow, and investigated fisheries and aquaculture success stories, including microfinance among women fish vendors in Kerala, India. During my visits to various countries I consulted with fishery department officers, NGO leaders, Academics, and entrepreneurs. I also talked with fishing community members particularly women working in, and assisting husbands in, the fishing and aquaculture industries.
In 2008, while continuing to write and publish articles on various aspects of the fishing and aquaculture industries, I spent two months in Cambodia as a marketing and feasibility specialist for the FAO’s Tonle Sap Environmental Management Project. I spent more than half this time in the field becoming familiar with a wide range of livelihood diversification programs, including eco-tourism, hygienic fish processing, organic agriculture, and mid-scale aquaculture.
I have made it a practice to glean advice and guidance on social, ecological and economic sustainability issues, from experienced and knowledgeable people wherever I travel: the USA, Canada, Mexico, Chile, UK, Europe, and Asia. Through this ever evolving research I strive to stay in the vanguard of sustainable development and disseminate relevant stories as widely as possible, by means of every available platform.
I spend over half my time at my home in Mexico. I speak Spanish and rudimentary Khmer. But have also written accurate stories about Bedouin fishers, Melanesian Sea Gypsies, Icelanders, and Danes—without benefit of a common language.
2007, Guggenheim Fellowship: $45,000, for a yearlong study of sustainable fisheries.
2003, Alicia Patterson Journalism Fellowship: $35,000 for a yearlong study of shrimp and salmon aquaculture.
Conferences and Appearances:
Highlights from the past three years.
Small-Scale Fisheries Conference. Sponsored by Afrika Kontact, and PUGAD, Copenhagen, Denmark.
8-12 September 2009. I conducted a workshop on the macro and micro economic challenges faced by small-scale seafood producers and vendors.
4SSF (Securing Sustainability in Small-Scale Fisheries) Conference, sponsored by the United Nations, Bangkok, Thailand.
13-17 October 2008. I participated in the formation of a civil society declaration delivered at the conference, and wrote articles for a conference cnewsletter published daily in four languages.
Hopkins Marine Station, Lecture Series, Stanford University, Pacific Grove, California.
23 April 2008, I delivered a lecture on sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.
Covering Globalization Workshop, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, New York, NY.
31 March 2007, I was a panelist at Columbia’s semi-annual workshop for journalists covering global economics.
17 February to 29 March of 2007 I rode my bicycle from my home in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico to New York City— 5,000 kilometers, 40 days. I continue to ride long distances and most recently cycle toured in Denmark.
Born, 1 March 1958, Pennsylvania, USA.
Married to Regina Grabrovac, two children: Daughter (10) and Son (7).
Great to 'meet' you! Welcome to the FrontlineSMS community. Looking at your interests and background, you might want to take a look at the FrontlineSMS Guest Posts in our blog, a number of which deal with the use of the software in agriculture/fisheries: