Con vos cover

With a Little Help From My Neighbors.

The Con Vos Network, the pilot that connects community markets with digital inclusion.




The Con Vos (With You) Network is a project that scales an innovative grassroots solution that connects community markets with digital inclusion. It is a network of nearby stores, where neighbors can carry out online procedures of different kinds close to their homes with the help of shopkeepers. In addition to being able to do more things online, which promotes inclusive digitalization, the neighbors save the time and money needed to do these administrative procedures in person. To deploy this solution, we invited stores that already had computers and Internet access and trained the shopkeepers or store owners to offer this service and thus become part of the Network. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Argentina, under the leadership of the Co_Lab —the Accelerator Lab—, has successfully implemented the Network on two occasions so far. First, in Concepción del Uruguay, in the province of Entre Ríos (Argentina), in 2021, in partnership with the Municipal Government, and later in Fray Mamerto Esquiú, in the province of Catamarca (Argentina), in 2022, in partnership with the Municipal Government and the Undersecretariat of Administrative Innovation of the Chief of the National Cabinet of Ministers.


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Con Vos (With You) Network




The Con Vos Network was inspired by a grassroots initiative that was adapted by the Co_Lab to reach even higher levels of digital inclusion. This solution was previously mapped first in 2019, and later during the pandemic, in 2020, when it appeared in different versions. 
The people involved are experts in dealing with their problems, and the solutions they come up with can provide us with valuable insights to address them. The Co_Lab works with future scenarios and signals, and the mapping, testing, and scale-up of grassroots solutions in partnership with governments. Our goal is to understand issues hampering the development of individuals and communities and to produce evidence, using a systemic perspective and a portfolio approach. 
Every day, digital environments are increasingly enabling access to products and services, most of them essential, such as public goods and services. Today, being able to have access to these online procedures is key to achieve higher levels of inclusion. However, in poor neighborhoods, many people do not have mobile phones, computers, or Internet access to carry out online procedures or, even if they do, they may not have the necessary knowledge to carry them out on their own. Therefore, they must go personally to the headquarters, generally located in the center of the city and even in other cities. As a result, neighbors must travel (and often walk) long distances. Once in the offices, these are crowded, leading to long waiting times. In addition, many people find it impossible to carry out their procedures in person at the offices since they must fulfill work responsibilities that limit their availability, have physical restrictions to travel, or have children or dependents, whose care is complex or expensive to delegate. 
Nearby stores play a fundamental role in bringing products and services closer to their neighbors and through someone they trust. These stores leverage innovation when they offer new technologies on a small scale that become essential, such as the historic public telephone, the photocopier, the printer, and the mobile credit top-up, among others. Similarly, today, stores can also contribute to the digital inclusion of people in the neighborhood by helping them carry out their online procedures. In addition, the Network also benefits stores since they receive a small payment for their services and, in most cases, experience an increase in their sales thanks to the neighbors who complete procedures.


Between September and December 2022, the Network reached 30 out of the 80 stores in Fray and 1 in the Capital, where 381 people carried out 531 digital procedures in these stores. The results of this experience are related to those of the first edition in 2021 in Concepción del Uruguay, Entre Ríos. The Network was mainly used by economically active people and women. Users approached the Network mainly due to lack of knowledge to carry out the procedures online by themselves, but also for practicality and convenience. To learn more about the second successful experience carried out in 2022, in Fray Mamerto Esquiú, Catamarca, read the full report here.

Mapa de comercios adheridos a la red en Concepción del Uruguay

Con vos: map of Concepción del Uruguay



Before the pandemic, there were already some solutions like the one that inspired the Con Vos Network, but the health emergency situation and mandatory isolation caused these solutions to spread throughout the country in response to the impossibility of carrying out procedures in person. The Co_Lab first learned about this solution in 2019 through Sabrina Montenegro, a young woman who owned “Empoderarte”, a school supplies store in José León Suarez, province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. In addition to selling school supplies, Sabrina provides another kind of service in her store: she assists people who visit her to carry out and complete online tasks (in the Migrations Department to obtain or renew the ID card, in the National Social Security Administration [ANSES, by its Spanish acronym], among others). Sabrina charges an small fee in exchange for her service. For neighbors, this fee represents an amount similar to what they save when  they carry out the online procedure near their homes, thus saving time and avoiding going to the offices that are in the center of San Martín, district of José León Suarez. Sabrina told us she trains herself to help her neighbors. She must often learn how to complete the procedures because she is not familiarized with them. Sometimes, neighbors are halfway through the procedure when they visit the store, and it is necessary to do it all over again to figure out how to proceed. Thus, the keys to the success of this solution are, on the one hand, the patience, communication skills, and proactivity of the shopkeepers who provide the service, and, on the other hand, the neighbors’ trust in them as peers.

In 2020, during the pandemic and in response to the mandatory isolation, similar solutions emerged in different parts of the country. Some of these solutions were implemented informally in nearby stores, grassroots leaders’ spaces, and even in the houses of neighbors who helped each other. The Co_Lab scaled up this solution creating the Con Vos Network. To this end, we recruit stores, provide training to shopkeepers, advertise the service offered by the stores, deliver merchandising and promotional materials to the businesses, and also evaluate the results.


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Con Vos in Fray



With the pilot tests of the Con Vos Network, we seek to add stores in the territory of the city where they do business to:

• Promote digital inclusion, which means that more and more people can do online tasks.

• Reduce the time and costs that neighbors need to carry out their tasks and errands.

• Reduce the in-person demand for services in public offices, including ANSES.

• Raise the relevance of nearby stores by training shopkeepers and encouraging their support to neighbors.

• Promote community markets by increasing purchases from nearby stores. 


Mapa de comercios adheridos a la red en Concepción del Uruguay

Map of shops attached to the network in Fray



The need for digital inclusion is today greater than ever. Inspired by Sabrina's story, we learned the relevance of nearby stores for neighbors’ access to essential services and for promoting the growth and development of neighborhoods. The Con Vos Network helped neighbors do more things online close to their homes, which allows them to save time and distance.

Result summary of the Con Vos Network in Concepción

Thanks to the experience of the Con Vos Network in Concepción del Uruguay, we learned that:

  • Nearly 60% of the neighbors who use the Network did not know how to use digital tools, did not have them, or both.
  • The Network helped the neighbors of Concepción to carry out more online tasks close to their homes and allowed them to save time (over 637 hours) and travel distance (a total of 293.7 kilometers) by avoiding the need to complete their procedures in an in-person fashion downtown. Each user saved an average of 1.7 kilometers and 21.7 minutes.
  • Shopkeepers earned new clients (15.7% out of the Network users were new clients) and made additional sales with 2 out of 3 neighbors who went to complete their tasks and errands.

To learn more about the first successful experience in 2021, in Concepción, Entre Ríos, read the full report here.

Result summary of the Con Vos Network in Fray
  • The Network users with the lowest levels of digital inclusion were women, the elderly, and those people with a lower educational level.
  • The average distance saved by doing procedures online in the Network instead of doing them in person was 6.8 km per person.
  • A remarkable result of this experience was that some users chose the Network regardless of the distance they saved. Excluding these cases, the average distance saved per person using the Network amounts to 11.2 km. 
  • Finally, the Network resulted in the strengthening of community markets since, out of the total users of the Network, 27% were new customers, and more than half of them made an additional purchase along with carrying out the procedure.

Read the Con Vos Fray Network result report here.

This pilot test shows, once again, how an innovative grassroots solution that works has components that can be replicated in other places. This is the main result of the second experience of the Con Vos Network. Both in Concepción and in Fray Mamerto Esquiú, it was adopted by stores and used by neighbors. Innovative grassroots solutions arise from people's creativity in a context of need and are a source of learnings when it comes to addressing them. On the other hand, people take ownership of these solutions and creatively reinvent them, giving them new uses. They are also an effective tool to amplify public policies that seek to address these problems, as in this case, it expanded the scale of several digital procedures from existing government levels. In summary, Con Vos Fray proved to be effective in favoring decentralization, saving on traveling, facilitating digital inclusion, and strengthening community markets.


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Con Vos (With You) Network in Fray


At the Co_Lab, the Accelerator Lab of UNDP Argentina, we work with solutions that work. Contact us: