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Our Story

Amplio was founded on the idea that those who are most impacted by global poverty are impeded by illiteracy. Our founder envisioned a low-cost audio device to support literacy skills for people in developing countries. But local experts had another idea...

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Addressing local needs 

The first Talking Book prototypes were field-tested with school children in northern Ghana. The idea was for kids to listen and read along with the Talking Book to improve their literacy skills. But local extension agents and community health workers had a different use for the Talking Book. They saw it as an innovative technology for sharing health and agricultural information with rural communities.

With this input from local development workers, Amplio recognized the need to both help improve literacy and also provide access to knowledge for illiterate people.


Development workers said:

  • There were too many villages, too far apart, and poor road conditions. Often they could only visit a community once or twice a year.


  • When an extension agent was able to visit, many people couldn’t attend because they were working in their fields. Those who did attend couldn’t take notes or read printed materials due to illiteracy.

  • Women were far less likely to participate.

Founder Cliff Schmidt shares his Talking Book story in a Microsoft Alumni Network video.

Amplio Milestones



Operating in new countries and regions, including Ethiopia, Haiti, and Bangladesh. Launched a suite of self-service products to help our partners more easily and cost-effectively launch and run Talking Book programs. 

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Selected for the Niger Smart Villages project. Began developing a new Talking Book prototype with a rechargeable battery.



Changed our name to Amplio Network. Partnered with UNICEF Rwanda to deliver health and hygiene messages to 50,000 refugees at Mahama Camp. 

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Received WISE Award for innovation in education. Partnered with AGRA to deliver Talking Book programs for smallholder farmers in 73 communities in northern Ghana.

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Partnered with UNICEF Ghana to reach 49 communities in the Upper West Region with maternal and child health education.

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First Talking Book prototypes field-tested with rural communities in northern Ghana. 

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Achieved the milestone of reaching over one million Talking Book listeners! Partnered with UNICEF and Ghana Health Service on a COVID-19 awareness campaign in Ghana. Partnered with Landesa in Liberia and VSO in Zambia.



In Kenya, USAID's Afya Timiza project used Talking Books to deliver quality health education to semi-nomadic pastoralists. At intervention sites, health facilities saw a 110% increase in the number of pregnant women attending ANC visits.

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Partnered with Centre for Behaviour Change and Communication to pilot Talking Books with pastoralist communities in Kenya. Developed affiliate program model.

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Partnered with MEDA to provide Talking Books for over 600 women farmers groups, as part of the Greater Rural Opportunities for Women project funded by Global Affairs Canada. 

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First impact study completed, showing that Talking Books made a significant impact on agriculture knowledge and healthy behaviors for people with low literacy levels. Signed first partnership with World Cocoa Foundation.

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Amplio was founded (as Literacy Bridge) by Cliff Schmidt, with the idea that those who are most impacted by global poverty are impeded by illiteracy.

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“We can’t wait for the 800 million illiterate adults to become literate. That’s why we take this two-pronged approach: improve literacy but also provide knowledge."

— Cliff Schmidt, Amplio Founder and Executive Director

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