For the past 10 years, Viamo has made digital inclusion easy. Take a look back with us over the past decade…
The history of Viamo
The inception of VOTO Mobile
The first mobile survey was sent by then-VOTO Mobile in August 2012 in Ghana. It was effectively a failure and a fast lesson learned that then became the company’s strategic pillar. The only ones to respond to the survey in written English directed to people whose voices were unheard and hard to reach were urban men in Ghana. The Digital Survey service has since been offered in the local, native languages by voice across global communities.
The first telecommunications partnership
VOTO Mobile integrated with its first telecommunications company, Airtel Ghana. This would become the first of more than 20 major telecommunications company partnerships for Viamo.
Two organizations combine talent and assets
VOTO Mobile (co-founded by Mark Boots, Viamo CTO, and Louis Dorval, Viamo COO) and Human Network International (founded by David McAfee, Viamo CEO) combined to form Viamo. HNI brought Digital Marketing and Digital Campaigns provided on a proprietary platform tool. VOTO brought its tech expertise and two services: Digital Surveys and Digital Campaigns, provided off-platform. When the organizations combined their talents and assets, they expanded their reach to 16 markets in Africa and Asia.
Released new Digital Training service
Viamo recognized the market’s growing need for more innovative approaches to training – particularly in international development with donors such as USAID. Traditional training or capacity building methods were being conducted in often remote, difficult-to-reach or maintain classroom settings. As a result, Viamo introduced a digital solution to even these seemingly digitally disconnected communities. From co-creation of digital, mobile-optimized curricula through implementation and retention measurements, Viamo released its mobile Digital Training tool. Demand for this product exploded in the pandemic and has yet to relent.
Regional and partnership expansion
With the drastic interpersonal cutbacks and global lockdowns under the COVID-19 pandemic, Viamo stood poised to provide USAID partners with digital training, surveys, campaigns and marketing already operational and successful. Under this international constraint, Viamo expanded beyond Africa to Asia, the Middle East and Europe, and to partnerships with the European Union, the UK, the United Nations, World Bank and others. Viamo quickly expanded to offices across 35 countries to serve the growing needs and COVID-19 induced gaps.
50+ million digitally disconnected reached
Viamo has expanded to hold a record of 30 active projects with USAID. In the past two years, we have reached 50 million people previously thought to be unreachable, uncounted, and underrepresented. The number of people we’ve reached through the Platform over just the past two years has now reached more than 50 million people.
Hear from our founders
”“It's Viamo's mission to bring the benefits of the digital economy to the unconnected (or under-connected) via the voice channel on simple mobile phones. Our transformation began when we adopted a platform based business model. Platforms bring people together - a lot of people. Today, a Rwanda-based NGO puts their key public health messaging on Viamo’s platform so that mothers can access it at a time and place of their choosing, discreetly, by dialing a toll free number using their own mobile phone.
Our reach is especially important in conflict areas such as Afghanistan. We maintained access to our platform throughout the takeover in Afghanistan right up to today. In the face of a global pandemic, where travel and in-person engagement is dangerous, the whole world needs new solutions. Our audiences are disproportionately affected by the reality of climate change. In response, we feature a large amount of environmental content on our platform. Fishermen consult Viamo’s weather forecast, farmers listen to climate-smart content that updates according to the agricultural calendar, they sell their crops in our agricultural marketplace, and they sign up for our early warning alerts during extreme weather events.
Regardless of sector, Viamo helps implementers learn how to engage with a previously unconnected and unreachable target audience. Development work is hard. Our partners are looking for ways to optimize for their success. They’ve heard about the promise of mobile and digital solutions, but they lack the expertise to incorporate them into their programming. At Viamo, we make it easy for our partners to make the digital leap.”
David McAfeeCEO, Viamo
”“Our mission was to reach the people who needed this information the most. We were not reaching them with a written, English survey. We had to go with people’s own languages. That became a huge strategic pillar. At first, we wanted to do a relatively streamlined SaaS [software as a service] offering. Imagine a Mailchimp or Survey Monkey where people swipe a credit card, and they can reach their audience, our existing audience. We saw very quickly that it didn’t work, so the next pivot that we made was to integrate vertically. That meant integrating directly with telecommunications companies in each area. And second, we began to offer a service layer on top of our software. Our partners were not interested in learning how to run a mobile survey. They wanted our full scale expertise, lessons learned, co-creation capacity, creativity and service to run their mobile campaigns. That’s where ‘Digital Made Easy’ comes from. We do the heavy lifting and deliver the results directly to our partners.”