Personal journey

35172_688391176770_3906521_nI am a very compassionate person. And a reasoning one. As it happened, during my studies as an undergraduate I discovered the intellectual discipline of Economics. During my year abroad at the University of Oxford I became much more aware of the deprivation present in many parts of the world, and particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Subsequently, in 2001 I proposed three topics for my final year dissertation. One was about estimating the economic costs of compliance to the Kyoto agreement (yes, there used to be an agreement). The second one was about the economic impacts of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa. And the third one proposed modeling the processes occurring at Internet auctions.

For my senior thesis the Economics department at Reed College approved the topic concerning the HIV/AIDS epidemic. But they took an interest in my proposal on Internet auctions and helped me to continue my studies as a PhD candidate at the Judge Business School in the University of Cambridge. Consequently, I spent the next three and a half years thinking about, modeling and researching Internet auctions. I became fascinated by the role of technology in electronic markets, and the discrepancies between in-person bidding behaviour and online bidding behaviour. Also I grew interested in the theoretical fields concerning auction and market design, and the extension of those fields towards technology-based marketplaces.

While at Cambridge, I also became more aware of and involved in efforts aimed at the use of information and communication technologies to the benefit of people in developing countries. These ideas combined with observations collected while traveling, have inspired my vision of a “mobile market”. It has an optimal mechanism. It is allocatively efficient. It secures maximum revenues. The information transmitted via mobile phones is complete and perfect. It provides the right incentives for everyone. It promotes trade and increases the volume of transactions. It increases social welfare. It is fair.

After having the opportunity to engage with the reality of agribusiness value chains in Liberia and in Ghana, my focus has shifted slightly. Currently, I am interested in understanding and empathizing with user experiences in Africa from the delivery of various public (e.g. agricultural extension, basic education) and private (e.g. security) services. I am focused on the opportunities mobile technologies offer for improving user experiences in a sustainable manner.

One thought on “Personal journey”

  1. I want to introduce myself…..My name is Ben Fairfield and I am one of the founders of The Urban Garden Project™. The Urban Garden Project™ is the initiative to encourage Americans to learn from history, become more self-reliant, save a significant amount of money, and eat healthier, all as a result of planting their own urban garden! The goal of The Urban Garden Project™ is to encourage and catalogue the creation of 100,000 urban gardens by 2020. We know that this is a sizeable goal, but we will accomplish it 1 garden at a time!

    As a result of your successful blog and your obvious passion for gardening I was hoping that you would visit our website at to learn more about the project. It costs nothing to support the project; we simply need help getting the word out to the world so that we can begin to catalog existing or new urban gardens. It would also be great to be able to add you to our garden catalog and link to your site through our blogroll! The official kick off for the project is April 1st 2009 and we are busy creating videos, tutorials, product reviews and more to make visiting worth everyone’s time!

    I am hoping that as a result of our shared passion for gardening you can help us in spreading the word about The Urban Garden Project™. Again, your support costs nothing. Our mission is pure and we hope that you can come along side us in this project to grow the gardening community and the number of urban gardens!

    Thank you so much for your time and we are looking forward to you visiting our site and letting us add your garden to our growing catalog of gardens from across the world!

    Have a great day!

    Ben Fairfield

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