e-Trading Project to Benefit Urban Poor

MANILA — Residents of Tondo may soon enjoy the benefits of buying and selling goods over the internet through a joint e-trading project of Veritas Social Empowerment, Inc. (Veritas) and leading wireless services provider, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart).

Veritas, an NGO that is helping in the rehabilitation of Smokey Mountain and Tondo, will use Smart’s communication and e-commerce solutions to support the area’s livelihood activities. As an initial engagement, Smart will power the Veritas infoboard system, a two-way web-based information system that will allow members of the Tondo community to send and receive real-time announcements via SMS broadcasts.

The Talk ‘N Text-powered Infoboard system will provide Tondo residents with a quick and affordable tool to share their feedback and concerns. It will also allow Veritas to pool information, such as important income and consumption statistics of Tondo households, and data on the supply chain of food and basic commodities, to help forecast and manage economic activities in the community.

Another aspect of the partnership will involve the use of Smart Money for the trading activities of Veritas. Smart Money, which is the world’s first reloadable card linked to a mobile phone, will enable Tondo residents to perform fast and secure cashless payment transactions with accredited merchants of the e-trading project. Smart and Veritas have also agreed to develop additional products and services, including an e-PLDT-powered Point-of-Sale (POS) system, that will address the diverse communication needs of Tondo residents.

“As the country’s leading wireless services provider, we are continuously looking for touch points for nation building,” said PLDT and Smart Chairman, Manuel V. Pangilinan. “We are proud to be part of this pioneering initiative that will help improve the lives and livelihood of the residents of Tondo.”

Orlando B. Vea, Smart’s Chief Wireless Advisor said that Smart’s participation in the e-trading project supports its longstanding strategy of democratizing access to its tried and tested communication services. “We are hopeful that by making our wireless services accessible to those from the low-income segment, we will help spur livelihood opportunities and economic growth for this emerging market,” Vea added.

“The e-trading project is part of a bigger picture to achieve the UN’s Millennium Development Goals for the residents of Tondo,” said Fr. Benigno P. Beltran, SVD. “We are happy that Smart has helped us take the first step to reduce poverty and hunger in urban areas.”

According to 2006 report of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) 3% of the Philippine population are classified as poor or survive on a daily of income of less than US$1. Tondo, which has a population of close to one million, is predominantly poor.

In 2000, to address the poverty problem in many countries, world leaders agreed to adopt common development goals to be achieved by 2015. Dubbed as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), they have been set to guide the entire international community to work together towards a common end—to eradicate extreme poverty in its many dimensions. These eight time-bound goals include targets on income poverty, hunger, maternal and child mortality, disease, inadequate shelter, gender inequality, environmental degradation and the Global Partnership for Development.

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