15 Photo: CIFOR, via Flickr. BENJAMIN LOKSHIN Supporting the ‘Safe Journey’: How Mobile Tech is Making Migration More Secure and Less Costly For millions of Nepali workers who have gone overseas for work in recent years, smartphones have become a crucial tool for navigating the highly complex and risky process of international migration. Despite widespread smartphone usage, however, there remain serious information gaps between those seeking to migrate and the providers of important services that can help migrants undertake the process more safely and productively. The Asia Foundation’s Shuvayatra (“Safe Journey”) project is the first to attempt to address this gap by using a mobile-first “platform” approach to connect migrants with services and information in an effective, accessible and sustainable way. For young men and women from Nepal’s remote, rural and underdeveloped areas, foreign employment in wealthy economies like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, and South Korea can be a huge economic opportunity. Even workers in low-skill jobs like domestic work or construction can earn far higher wages abroad than they could at home—in fact, the sum of the remittances sent home by overseas Nepalis is the equivalent of more than 30 percent of the country’s GDP. But in their pursuit of economic opportunity, migrants journeying to these faraway destinations are placed into a system where exploitation is rife and information is highly asymmetric. Employment brokers take advantage of the complexity of the migration process to illegally charge highfeesforjobplacements;topaythesefees,prospective migrants take out loans from informal lenders who charge interest rates of at least 30 percent (and reportedly as high as 200 percent in some cases).