Question Box

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Organizations around the world have information that is useful to their target population. Currently, knowledge transfer is usually incomplete, inconsistent, ad hoc, and expensive. Examples cut across the social development sector: education organizations hiring field agents to visit area schools once a month; clinics and hospitals that share medical information only at the medical facility, but lack strong follow up; agricultural extension services, which visit farmers only once or twice a season; microfinance organizations that are dependent on sending loan officers into villages, etc. With the advent of the mobile phone & computer literacy, there is a simple and inexpensive solution that can extend the presence of all these organizations, without significant increase in costs. It is the small-scale telephone hotline. With a small shift in thinking, many organizations could implement a hotline service connecting their population to the organization everyday, reducing dependency on field staff, and increasing population access to services.

What we deliver

Open Mind – Question Box proposes to build a comprehensive set of tools that will enable small and medium developing world organizations to set up and run their own local hotlines. This online toolkit will walk an organization through the sets of questions and worksheets required to develop and deploy a complete, local hotline system connecting the organization and their constituents. By running a hotline, the organization will incur slight cost, and potentially savings via reduction in travel times, while increasing access and utility to their communities.

Whom we deliver

Question Box uses wireless technologies to provide users with exactly the information they want, when they want it, and how they want it – live, in their local language. The caller asks a question, the Operator looks it up & translates back the answer in the local language. Callers get critical information they need while staying close to home. A key part of Open Mind’s mission is a “One Step” design philosophy – any solution must require the person to take no more than one step from what they already know. It makes the solutions more relevant and provides immediate benefit in a person’s life.

Why is the project unique?

To our knowledge, we are the only innovation like this in the world, both in terms of the core concept, and in terms of the fact that our mission is to train other organizations to replicate and advance the Question Box approach. No one else is offering the tools and knowledge to set up do-it-yourself information hotlines. There is nothing like it available Open Source. We are the creators of the Question Box, which is unique in the world. Besides being the only group offering the tools to replicate Question Box, we are the only organization that we have encountered that offers a broad spectrum of information to people in the developing world, live & in their own language.


Mobile phones have exploded across the world. However, the Internet is not spreading in the developing world for various reasons – the low literacy rates in adults and beyond that, language barriers, lack of constant electricity, difficulty in retaining people who are computer literate, dust and weather, lack of Internet connection, etc. To reach people you need to use the phone, both mobile and public. Our vision is a “mash-up”, mixing live voice, Internet, telephone, mobile phone, SMS and offline databases to bring the right information to people, on demand, no matter their level of technological literacy.


Rama Sundaram

Open Mind Company

2A, Sunshree Woods, N I B M Road Kondhwa

Pune, Maharashtra, India


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