facebook-hacker-mark-zuckerbergMark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook has today launched a US$1 million fund for apps in numerous Indian languages for farmers and various social services.

Internet.org will conduct a contest to pick the apps to back.

The Internet.org contest – called the Innovation Challenge – will have four prizes of a quarter of a million dollars each for apps or websites that serve farmers, women, students, and migrant workers.

These are the categories of people in India found to be facing the biggest barriers to internet access. In addition to the four big prizes, there will be two US$25,000 ‘Impact Awards’ in each of the categories. The winners will be announced at the Mobile World Congress in March 2015.

Acoording to a recent study done by Facebook in collaboration with McKinsey, internet adoption is showing steady growth in India, the current penetration is only 15 percent. Globally, 4.4 billion people have no access to the internet, and 3.4 billion of those people live in 20 countries.

A big proportion of the offline population is rural. Research shows that between 1.1 billion and 2.8 billion people are out of range of an existing mobile network.

Farmers in India have been among the biggest beneficiaries from the boom in low-cost smartphones, which give them vital weather and market data, as well as access to ecommerce.

Credit: Tech in Asia