Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most commonly asked (professional) questions I receive.
Can Bamba Meet Your Needs?
What is Bamba?

Bamba is a data collection technology company that specializes in finding specific, often hard-to-find people for companies looking to collect data and carry out research through surveys. Our clients operate across many industries, including Market Research, Education, Health, Government, Infrastructure, and Retail.
If you need to gather information from a specific group of people dispersed throughout emerging markets, your first step is to find them. Many of them are off-the-grid, living in remote areas or regions with limited internet connectivity and electricity, which makes finding and engaging with them challenging. This is where we specialize.

In what parts of the world can Bamba's technology be used to find survey participants and administer surveys?

We are currently active in all African countries and are looking to expand into other emerging markets.
For regions outside of Africa, please contact us - we would be happy to evaluate on a case-by-case basis whether we can set up our tool to work within your area of interest. We have pre-existing telecom connectivity in most emerging markets in the world, which will allow us to activate our services in these regions on an as-needed basis. Our activation process takes 5-10 business days.
If we do not have telecom connectivity in your region of interest and cannot activate our services in that country, we may still be able to provide guidance on how best to go about getting the information you need.

I'm not sure if your services would work for my target population? Do you do pilot projects or tests?

Yes; in countries in which Bamba is currently active, we can run a small pilot project to demonstrate the effectiveness of our tool for your specific application.
Bamba is currently active in all countries throughout Africa.

How do I get a price quote?

Please fill out the quote form here or email us at Bamba will respond within 24 hours.

Can the Bamba tool be used when the people I want to target are largely unable to read and/or write?

Yes! Bamba can draw on a variety of data collection methods to tailor the approach based on the specific scenario.
These include methods such Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI), and Interactive Voice Response surveys. Both of these methods allow for data collection through the use of audio without sacrificing the efficiencies of automation.

Data Privacy
Is the data that Bamba collects from survey participants kept private?

The data that Bamba collects are kept private and confidential according to our Data Privacy Policy.
All collected data are stored according stringent industry security standards and are never shared with identifying information. Please see our Data Privacy Policy for more information

How are the data secured?

We take great care to store the data we collect. Our servers and databasese are hosted on the Amazon AWS Cloud. Access to them is protected using Amazon's keypair encryption.

In cases where a client provides the contact list of people they would like to survey using the Bamba tool, who owns the contact list data?

By default, the data is co-owned by the client and Bamba. However; we work with our clients to identify circumstances under which the client will own the data fully.

Do you resell that data?

Bamba will not resell any contact information or data collected from survey respondents. Bamba will use the aggregate data from groups of respondents for insights and information which is then used for reports, case studies and other marketing material, but data is never presented at the individual level.

Do you share panels across clients?

Any custom-panels that we create for the specific use of a client project are completely dedicated to that project and will not be used for any other project, as per contractual agreement.
In cases where the client does not require this contractual agreement, the contacts within our custom-panels may be used across multiple projects for multiple clients.

Building Custom Panels
What is a survey panel?

A group of potential survey respondents, comprised of individuals meeting specific criteria, recruited to take part in a number of market research surveys or projects over a period of time.

How do you recruit survey participants, or panelists?

Bamba recruits panelists using a variety of strategies. Some of these include:
  • Word of mouth. People already participating on our surveys invite friends and family to also participate
  • Traditional and digital advertising such as social media networks, billboards, signs and newspaper ads
  • Proprietary search algorithms. Our Bamba tool is able to use these algorithms to find and recruit new participants meeting specific criteria that may not be met by our existing contacts. For example, if you need to survey a group of people that all own a specific product or who have participated in a specific government program in the past year, we can you this group of people.
  • Community events and sponsorship opportunities.
One of our key focuses in recruiting participants is on nurturing our relationship with them on an ongoing basis. Our post-recruitment retainment rate is very high; we work hard to turn our recruits into long-term panelists.

Is it free for people to become panelists and participate in surveys?

Bamba doesn't charge recruits for participating in data collection (in fact, they may even earn incentives for their contributions). For data collection that is done through mobile SMS surveys, survey participation is free in most countries, with the exception of countries that do not offer free-to-contact phone codes on a national level. In these cases, standard SMS fees will apply.
To find out if SMS fees would apply for survey participants in a specific region, please contact us.

What is the response rate of your custom-panels?

Response rates vary depending on the exact panel and target demographics, but Bamba generally maintains a 65% or high response rate for our panelists. Our panelists are highly motivated as a result of our long-lasting and personalized engagement programs.

Do your panels experience panel exhaustion?

Panel exhaustion happens when panelists become tired of answering too many survey questions and stop engaging. It is common threat faced with mobile surveying throughout the market research industry.
To combat this, Bamba carefully schedules the surveys we send to each panelist around the individual's preferences, and never sends more than 1 survey a week. Panelists are also limited to the number of surveys they can complete concurrently and per month, to ensure that they won't over-engage and become exhausted and unresponsive.

What does it mean when you say you can build custom-panels based on advanced demographics, or specific criteria?

When we use the terms 'advanced demographics', or 'specific criteria', we're referring to traits that aren't normally captured under the usual demographic categories. Often, panels for survey and data collection projects are build around basic demographics such as age, gender, and location.
While advanced demographics may include these and other simple characteristics (such as profession), they also include more complex characteristics; very specific criteria that you may need your target survey participants to meet. For example, you may need to target ONLY people who:
  • own a solar panel
  • shop at a specific store
  • participated in a specific government program in the last 2 years
  • strongly dislike a specific brand of soda
  • any combination of the above 4 criteria
The Bamba tool can build you a custom-panel of people who meet the advanced demographics (i.e. specific criteria) you specify so that you don't have to spend time screening databases of contacts to find them.

How do you verify your panelists' identities?

Bamba uses a variety of methods to do this. For example, we can compare mobile phone metadata for each panelist with their self-reported data in real-time as they interact with our system. We also use data consistency checks, where we examine all the data we have for a given panelist and identify inconsistencies - a 16 year old panelist is unlikely to have a postgraduate education level, for instance.

Do you share panels across clients?

Any custom-panels that we create for the specific use of a client project only (through a contractual agreement) are completely dedicated to that project and will not be used for any other project.
In cases where the client does not require this contractual agreement, the contacts within our custom-panels may be used across multiple projects for multiple clients.

The Bamba Tool
How does the Bamba tool actually work?

The Bamba tool leverages Bamba's partnerships with over 400 telecommunications service providers in the African emerging markets to connect with mobile phone users that have opted in to be contacted. We then use our artificially intelligent algorithms to identify which of these mobile phone users are best for your study based on the criteria you have specified.
These users are then collected in aggregate into a custom-panel that you can then target for your survey exercises, which can be carried out either within the Bamba platform, or through external client processes.

What happens when someone doesn't have cell reception and you have sent them an SMS survey?

In these cases, the panelist's survey is will be queued through their telecommunication provider's system, and will be made available to them when their phone reconnects. If they have partially completed a survey when they lose reception, their partial data will be stored in the Bamba system and they can continue their survey from where they left off once reception is restored.

What kinds of cell phones can be targeted through your methods?

Bamba's SMS survey technology can send messages directly to any type of feature or smartphone as long as it is connected to an active telecommunications service provider.

Can you send SMS messages to people without smartphones?

Yes, all basic feature phones (such as flip phones and older Nokia models) can receive SMS surveys through our tool, which is what allows for such breadth of access to hard-to-reach portions of populations in emerging markets.

Do you have a mobile application for smartphone users through which they can fill out surveys instead of through mobile SMS?

Yes. The Bamba mobile app works through an internet connection as well as through standard mobile data. As a result, SMS fees can be avoided through the use the application. Note that if using wifi, surveys completed through the application will be free, but if using mobile data, any fees associated with mobile data usage will apply.
The mobile application also includes a number of additional features, including GPS tracking, more question type options for surveys, and no restriction to160 character limit per message question or answer. The Bamba application also allows participants to gain access to more opportunities to particiapte in Bamba surveys.

Do survey participants have to download the Bamba mobile application to participate in Bamba surveys?

No. Panelists do not need to download the Bamba mobile application to work with Bamba. The built in SMS capabilities all feature phones and smartphones are fully compatible with Bamba's systems.

Can the Bamba smartphone application be used even when participants lose cellular reception?

Yes. Once the participant has received the survey, the application contains the survey itself; the panelist can complete the survey even while offline and disconnected from mobile networks. The responses will be saved offline. Once the phone reconnects to the network, the app will update the information to Bamba's systems automatically.

What tools do you have to facilitate field data collection?

While the Bamba platform allows for surveys to be conducted without the need for field workers, a small percentage of projects may still require data collection in the field. The Bamba mobile application can be used to facilitate field surveys even with no mobile or internet connectivity. Surveys can be filled out through the app offline, and will automatically sync to Bamba's platform once reception is restored.
The mobile application is also idea for surveys that need to be repeated periodically. For example, a survey needing to be taken at frequent intervals by staff in a community health centre.

How do you optimize a survey to be taken through mobile SMS?

There are a number of ways to optimize your survey for mobile SMS. We'll be publishing posts on our blog that detail the best practices we've collected or getting high quality data (and improving response rates) through mobile SMS data collection, so be sure to visit the blog. Two quick ways to optimize a survey for mobile SMS are to limit questions to a maximum of 160 characters, and to build branching logic into the survey to avoid asking irrelevant questions.

Data Collection
Is mobile data collection still relevant?

The one technology that is ubiquitous across emerging markets all over the world is the use of cell phones, both feature phones and smartphones. Cell phones are owned and used by populations ranging from the most isolated and remote areas to the populated urban centres of the emerging markets, making them an ideal way to access all groups of people across these markets for gathering data.
Many of the more underprivileged, underserved and remote consumer groups are difficult to access through other means, especially in areas where electricity and internet connectivity are unreliable or unaffordable for many. This makes mobile data collection a uniquely valuable way to connect to these groups, offering a fast, accessible option that is built on a mobile network system that already exists, which keeps costs low.

What is IVR?

IVR stands for Interactive Voice Response, a technology which allows our automated computer calling systems to interact with panelists through the use of their voice and input via keypad.

What quality assurance and verification steps are taken during the data collection process?

We take a number of precautions to ensure that the data collected is reliable and meets our rigorous quality standards. Some of these measures include:
  • Cross-referencing the metadata from the mobile devices of a survey participant with the information they provide and have provided in the past
  • Using built-in survey timers to ensure that respondents are not speeding through surveys just to collect incentives
  • Putting each Bamba panelist through a rigorous verification process during enrolment, which includes cross-referencing the information they provide with metadata available from their mobile devices, and with information they have provided in the past. We verify
All of this information is consolidated, weighted and rechecked, and then used to generate a Trust Score to represent their level of trustworthiness within the Bamba system. Panelists with trust scores lower than 85% are removed from the Bamba panel pools for manual inspection, and may be allowed to participate in surveys or studies on a case-by-case basis. If they are deemed to be suspect, they are eliminated from all future studies.
For more information, please see our Quality Assurance Playbook.

Participating in Our Surveys
I want to become a participant! What about my questions?