|For some Zimbabweans, a text message means money has arrived. For others, it means a delivery of sugar, or maize.|
The texts are coming in from Zimbabweans who have left the impoverished country and are working abroad. Now they have a way to help the struggling family members and friends they left behind. The exiles open an account on a special Web site, where they can purchase a voucher for gas, food, or even medical care. The vouchers are a lifeline, because Zimbabwe's economy has spiraled out of control. The most basic supplies are now almost impossible to find.
A text message lets the recipient in Zimbabwe know the voucher has been purchased and is available for use right away. It's a bit like doing your shopping online. But in this case, it's less about convenience, and more about survival.