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A man holds up his mobile phone showing an M-Pesa mobile money transaction page at an open-air market in Kibera in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, Dec. 31, 2014. VOA

NAIROBI, KENYA, December 09, 2016: Almost 200,000 Kenyan households, many headed by poor, rural women, have lifted themselves out of poverty using mobile money services, experts said Thursday, calling for the technology to be introduced in other developing countries.

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The impact was most dramatic among single mothers who used M-Pesa, a text message-based mobile payment system, after switching from farming to business and retail sales, the journal Science found.

“What we saw over six years was impressive,” Tavneet Suri, associate professor of applied economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a statement. “When M-Pesa came to an area, women shifted their occupations and their savings went up.”

The expansion of M-Pesa, which is used in virtually every Kenyan home, lifted 194,000 households — or 2 percent of households nationwide — above the poverty line in six years, the study found.

It provides further evidence that mobile phone technology can help to bring financial services to the 80 percent of African women who do not have bank accounts and bolster growth of the world’s poorest continent.

M-Pesa is a cheap way of sending, receiving and saving money via more than 110,000 local agents, often operating out of tiny kiosks in remote parts of Kenya.

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Pedestrians walk past an M-Pesa shop in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, May 12, 2009 VOA

It gives people who would otherwise be unable to access traditional financial services a simple, reliable and fast way of moving and saving money.

Mobile money’s impact on the lives of poor women was one of the most exciting aspects of the study, experts said, as policymakers have struggled to understand what kinds of projects are most effective at reducing poverty.

Researchers found that the number of female-headed households living in extreme poverty fell by 22 percent within a 1-kilometer radius of an area where six new M-Pesa agents opened between 2008 and 2010.

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There was no impact on male-headed households.

“Sometimes the poor, and poor women in particular, just need access to the right set of simple tools to help themselves,” said Annie Duflo, executive director of Innovations for Poverty Action, a research-and-policy group that took part in the study. “Hopefully, these results will inform and encourage the targeted scaling of mobile money services in other countries.” (VOA)



When you're pregnant, the immune system is seeing the placenta for the first time in decades.

The US researchers have discovered a class of immune cells that plays a role in miscarriage, which affects about a quarter of pregnancies.

Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco found that the recently discovered subset of cells known as extrathymic Aire-expressing cells in the immune system may prevent the mother's immune system from attacking the placenta and fetus.

The researchers showed that pregnant mice who did not have this subset of cells were twice as likely to miscarry, and in many of these pregnancies fetal growth was severely restricted.

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"Our research suggests that this subset of immune cells is carrying out a sort of 'secondary education' -- sometimes many years after the better-known population of the educator cells have carried out the primary education in the thymus -- teaching T cells not to attack the fetus, the placenta and other tissues involved in pregnancy," she added. The findings are published in the journal Science Immunology.

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Adobe's global emoji study found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.

"We were surprised and delighted by the discoveries made in the survey, most notably how enthusiastic respondents were for emoji as a means to express themselves," the company said in a statement.

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Emojis sometimes get criticized for being overly saccharine, but this sweetness is key when it comes to diffusing some of the heaviness of online communication.

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Jeff Bezos at the ENCORE awards.

Following the grand Richard Branson show where he carried Andhra Pradesh-born Sirisha Bandla and fellow space travelers on his shoulders after successfully flying to the edge of space, it is time for Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos to applaud Sanjal Gavande, one of the key engineers who designed the New Shephard rocket set to take Bezos and the crew to space on July 20.

Billionaire Bezos is set to fly to the edge of space aboard what is touted as the world's first unpiloted suborbital flight. Born in Kalyan, Maharashtra, Gavande is a systems engineer at Blue Origin who always dreamt of designing aerospace rockets.

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After completing Bachelor's in mechanical engineering from the University of Mumbai, she flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University. She also applied for an engineering job at the US space agency NASA but finally landed her dream job at Blue Origin

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