Call for Problems

Call for Problems Winners Announcement

We are very pleased to announce the selected projects. We greatly thank all participants!

After receiving more than 120 problems from 22 different countries, a panel of IDB evaluators and an external jury have selected 5 projects to suuport.

The program will support the development of mobile services to improve engagement and care of patients with type 2 diabetes, provide continuum care for pregnant women and newborn, increase immunization coverage in vulnerable populations, detect dengue and Chagas disease early, and facilitate access to job offers.

About the Call for Problems

The Call for Problems was a demand-driven approach seeking to identify severe problems affecting the bottom of the pyramid in the region. Problems that could potentially be addressed through ICT and mobile technology. Public and private institutions, for-profit or non-profit organizations, research and development centers as well as academic institutions were invited to share their problems.

What's next?

From now on, the Mobile Citizen team and partners will work together to support the selected institutions in the development and implementation of mobile phone-based solutions to address their problems.

Videos are available only in Spanish.

Call for Problems Winners Announcement
High costs for accessing job opportunities in more vulnerable groups
PGentexpresa Organización (Gentexpresa Organization), Temuco – Chile

The problem of unemployment in Chile has increased during the last year due to the crisis, significantly affecting young workers and adults of vulnerable and less qualified sectors. The Chilean government is implementing strong public policies of work reintegration carried out through its Municipal Offices of Labor intermediation (OMIL).

As from 2008, these Offices have been publishing job offers on web pages but, even though this approach has extended the channels for the dissemination of opportunities, it still does not represent a widespread solution due to limited Internet access. However, according to SUBTEL data as of September 2009, 91 people out of every 100 inhabitants have a mobile phone.

The IDB and the Mobile Citizen Program partners will work together with the organization Gentexpresa in the development of a mobile based job search platform in the city of Temuco and other regional capitals of Southern Chile in order to complete the efforts for the dissemination of job opportunities among the most excluded sectors.

Information transfer delays regarding the detection and follow-up of individuals infected with Chagas’ disease and Dengue fever in vulnerable populations
Universidad Nacional de Córdoba (National University of Córdoba), Argentina

Current epidemiological surveillance of Chagas’ disease and Dengue fever is carried out with manual recording instruments. This results in a considerable delay in the transfer, processing and analysis of information, preventing health policy decision-makers from having timely and relevant information for taking actions, and, therefore, available resources are not efficiently used. Chagas’ disease involves dispersed rural populations, affected by poverty and with marked difficulties in accessing health systems and, in general, with limited knowledge and denial of the disease.

The IDB, together with the Mobile Citizen Program partners will work together with the Universidad de Córdoba and Sociedad Argentina de Cardiología (Argentine Society of Cardiology) in the development of a mobile based technological solution for the epidemiological surveillance that will be implemented in different regions of Argentina and Bolivia.

Getting connected for a better maternal and child health
Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (Cayetano Heredia Peruvian University), Lima - Peru

The Peruvian Ministry of Health has undertaken to reduce maternal mortality by the year 2015, thus expecting to decrease the current number of 185 cases out of every 100,000 births, to 66 cases. Prenatal care may help prevent complications during pregnancy and delivery by taking simple actions; however, in developing countries this care has extremely low coverage due to certain factors such as extreme poverty, illiteracy, limited access to health services and a lack of effective information systems.

The IDB and the Mobile Citizen Program partners shall work together with the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, the Health Region of Callao, Callao Regional Government and AED-Satellife in the development of a pilot project in the Callao region, with the purpose of allowing pregnant women to have higher levels of accessibility to the health system, and also enabling health centers to improve patient monitoring through mobile technology solutions.

Lack of monitoring systems and medical assistance for individuals with type 2 diabetes
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (Catholic University of Chile), Santiago - Chile

According to data from the Asociación de Diabéticos de Chile (Chilean Association of Diabetics), Diabetes Mellitus type 2 (DM2) is a condition that affects 7.5% of the population. It causes disabilities or mortality, particularly in elderly people; however, under constant and adequate treatment, risks are significantly reduced. Given the DM2 high prevalence and serious consequences, its control and treatment are a priority for health services at a national scale.

The IDB and the Mobile Citizen Program partners will work together with the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in the development and implementation of a mobile follow-up and communication system that will combine automated elements (text messages) with phone personal care. The project will be first be implemented in the area of Puente Alto in Santiago de Chile.

Lack of data on vaccination coverage in the most vulnerable populations of Middle American countries
Instituto Mesoamericano para la Salud (Middle American Institute for Health), Chiapas - Mexico

At present, the great majority of countries use the methodology of keeping vaccination records in paper index cards and the child's parents themselves are responsible for said index card. Time and money invested by institutions in managing paperwork and following up vaccination data are excessive and some times inaccurate, causing national immunization systems to be weak.

The IDB, together with the Mobile Citizen Program partners and the Instituto Mesoamericano para la Salud, shall work on the development of a digital vaccination register based on mobile technology, which will allow for a wider vaccination coverage as well as a more effective epidemiological monitoring, thus enabling an immediate response capacity.

"Do you have a problem that affects thousands of people that could potentially be solved through mobile technology? Then, submit it to Mobile Citizen!"

In respond to our "Call for Problems" open from October 20th to November 19th, we received a total number of 124 problems from 22 countries.

To see the statistics, click here.

Have a look at the map for more details:

The Mobile Citizen Team greatly appreciates your participation.

Download Guidelines and Problem
Submission Form

Call for Problems: Guidelines
Eligibility and Selection Criteria

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Problem Submission Form

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The Call for Problems is now closed! Thanks to everyone who participated!

We are looking for practical and real-world problems. This initiative would ultimately create viable and sustainable mobile technology-based services that address these challenges and spread social and economic benefits in developing communities and countries in the LAC region.

More than anything, we need to hear from you what your needs are through the Call for Problems (CFP). We hope to receive problems from strong institutions that are deeply involved with the community, aware of underlying and/or systemic problems, and capable of being a catalyst for changes.

If you would like to participate, read our guidelines, fill out the problem submission form and send it to

The CFP begins at noon Eastern Time (EST) on Tuesday, October 20, 2009 and ends at 06:00:00 PM EST on Thursday, November 19, 2009.

The Program will provide technical and financial support, ranging from $30,000 to $100,000, for the development of citizen-centric services that benefit the majority of people through innovative use of mobile technology.

Who can participate?

This Call for Problems (CFP) is open to any public or private institution, for-profit or non-profit organization, research and development center, and academic institution in the LAC region.

Participant institutions are encouraged to ally themselves with appropriate partners in order to allow public-private links and to balance between technology and development experience. This will also provide the foundation for implementing the solutions and forming the appropriate grant scheme.


  1. The "Call for Problems (CFP)" is open to public or private institutions, for-profit or non-profit organizations, research and development centers as well as academic institutions, (Collectively, "Participant"). Individuals and multilateral organizations are NOT eligible.

  2. The CFP is open to Participants from all IDB borrowing member countries (for more information:

  3. Participant Organizations must be familiar and directly involved with the problems that they are submitting. The institution must deal daily with the problem they describe.

  4. Those Participant Organizations that currently have or previously have had a project at a pilot level using mobile technology, but want to scale up the solution, are also eligible to apply.

  5. All Participants must be legal entities in their countries, i.e. be legally registered as a business, institution, organization, etc. They must have the legal capacity to enter into an agreement with a multilateral institution like the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

  6. Participants are encouraged to ally themselves with appropriate partners in order to allow public-private links and to balance between technology and development experience. This will also provide the foundation for implementing the solutions and forming the appropriate grant scheme.

  7. Selected Participants should contribute towards counterpart support. The selected participants will also work together with IDB and partners to support the mobile services implementation.

  8. Participants are welcome to seek and use third party financing (resources and technical support). These additional sources of support must be highlighted in the Problem Submission Form.

  9. Participants are strongly encouraged to work closely with universities and other research organizations.

  10. The CFP is looking for citizen-centric, real-world problems and will not support any arrangements for institutional strengthening proposes.

  11. The official rules and the decisions of the IDB and independent judges are final and binding in all respects. All applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations apply.

  12. The Participants acknowledge and agree that the IDB does not have now, nor shall it have in the future, any duty or liability, direct or indirect, vicarious, contributory, or otherwise, with respect to the infringement or protection of any copyright in and to his/her application.

The program will provide funding in the form of grants ranging from $30,000 to $100,000 USD. These grants will be used to develop and implement a maximum of 8 mobile service projects to tackle concrete and severe problems affecting low-income citizens in cities and rural areas of the LAC region.

The selected organizations, which are the institutions with the selected problems, are encouraged to contribute additional funds for the project implementation as counterpart financing. This counterpart funding will provide extra resources for the project and will allow the grantee organization to demonstrate their commitment toward the project.

The selected organizations will work together with local partners in the private sector that will add on to the financial support and that will provide further technical assistance in the implementation and deployment of the mobile services

Health: mHealth (mobile health) is largely defined as health practices supported by mobile devices. It can improve the efficiency and efficacy of existing systems, advance new systems, and ultimately distribute health care benefits across society.

Potential benefits include, but are not limited to, the following: support remote diagnosis and treatment, enhance clinical outcomes and productivity while reducing costs, collect and monitor real-time health data, increase equity, advance health education and research in even the most remote and resource poor environments, reduce the distance between health facilities and people, among others.

Education: mLearning (mobile learning) is a valuable tool for delivering educational services, tools, and materials anytime and anywhere, increasing the access to education for all and taking advantage of the learning opportunities offered by mobile technologies.

Potential benefits include, but are not limited to, the following: overcome physical distance, reduce educational costs, enhance educational quality, enable schools and teachers to more effectively deliver educational materials to students through unconventional channels, increase equality of educational opportunity, among others.

Government: mGovernment (mobile government) represents an evolution in eGovernment, offering additional transformative opportunities for government agencies and citizens. It enables innovative government services and applications to run on mobile phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and other mobile wireless devices.

Potential benefits include, but are not limited to: easy access to the most recent information available, reduction in administrative paperwork time and costs, more efficiency and quality of government services, better accessibility for citizens to public services, more transparency and accountability, and elimination of physical traveling for government officials.

Commerce: mCommerce (mobile commerce) enables the buying and selling of goods and services through mobile wireless devices, as well as the access to marketing information. Today, many more people have access to mobile phones than to desktop computers, which means they can access services wherever they are. mCommerce offers significant opportunities for small and medium enterprises to reach out to consumers and suppliers faster and easier than ever before.

Potential benefits include, but are not limited to: improved access to information such as stock quotes and weather forecast, bringing the demand closer to the available supply of service and products, collection of up-to-date information to deliver effective services, increase in income and decrease of consumer prices, improvement in access to markets, among others.

Employment: A novel approach in facilitating access to employment opportunities through mobile phones. Possible features include: receiving job opportunities via SMS, job search, career advice, matching of job-seekers with recruiters and employers, completion of simple tasks like translations or transcriptions etc.

Potential benefits include, but are not limited to: Increased participation of low-wage workers without access to computers in employment and work-related activities, help for job-seekers and employers to get in contact anywhere and anytime, and dynamic job creation.

Social protection: The topic refers to policies, strategies and programs aimed at assisting the most vulnerable segments of society such as the poor, people with physical, mental and developmental disabilities, people that reside in remote rural areas, immigrants and others. Projects should promote social assistance, help capacity building, attempt to build efficient labor markets, diminish people's exposure to risks, and so on. Government agencies and organizations can leverage the potential of mobile phones to provide such services and information to the vulnerable population, as well as the general public.

Potential benefits include, but are not limited to: communicate human rights violations, communicate vaccination campaigns, practice reading and writing skills using the mobile phone.

Need more inspiration? Check our Ideas Box

The Mobile Citizen Selection Committee is comprised of IDB specialists in the fields of ICT and other areas of interest. The Committee will also include a Technical Advisor from the Italian Trust Fund for ICT for Development (IID), as well as external advisors and mentors.

Aligned with the priorities of the IID, problems from El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador will have higher priority.

All problems will be carefully evaluated and the Committee will decide which ones will receive financing. An estimated 5 to 8 problems will be selected for funding. However, the IDB reserves the right to award fewer grants. The Participant Organization of the selected problem will be notified at the end of the 1st Phase (Problem Selection).

Note: Participant Organizations committed to provide a higher level of co-financing will have higher priority.

The Selection Committee will review and select the problems based upon the following criteria:

  1. Relevance, severity and responsiveness to need: relevance and severity of the problem to be solved in terms of social inclusion and economic development (e.g. impact caused by the problem, number of people affected). The problem must be based on the pre-identification of real needs, actual or potential demand from the poor.

  2. Quality and feasibility of solving the problem: appropriateness of budget, scope and scale, and technical feasibility of solving the problem. The potential to use mobile technology in implementing a reliable and affordable solution to address the problem. Indicators of scale may vary depending on the focus of the solution: sophistication of service, number of users, area to be covered, among others.

  3. Institutional and organizational capacity: the degree of co-financing offered by the Participant or from other sources will be strongly considered. These additional sources of support demonstrate the institution's commitment towards the implementation of the solution. The Committee will also evaluate the institution’s experiences and accomplishments. Such criteria are proof of capability to carry out the work on implementing the solution.

  4. Alliances with other organizations: degree of involvement and partnership(s) with companies, universities, institutions and non-governmental organizations; the program strongly encourages all forms of alliance and allows cash/in-kind contributions from other organizations.

  5. Evaluability: The degree to which the effectiveness of the outcome can be demonstrated. This includes the objectives, indicators of interest and a proper evaluation plan. Preference will be given to projects that are compatible with an experimental evaluation design (i.e. random assignment of the intervention to the beneficiaries).

  6. Replicability: the solution for the problem should have the potential for being replicated or adapted for broader needs inside the country or beyond.

  7. Development impact and focus on the majority: solve the problem should be conducive to positive economic or social development effects for the poor. Participants are encouraged to consider gender and diversity issues.

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