The Johannesburg, south africa-based Praekelt Foundation, which since 2007 has been putting mobile phones to new uses in the fields of health, education, and governance, is now asking What if an NGO could prove to a government or donor that X amount of money will change Y amount of lives?

Sinan Aral, an expert on social networks and social media and an assistant professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, has been working with Praekelt for two years to design a randomized,...

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