Imagine where would be if we had never switched to cell phones and laptops in the late 1990s. Could you imagine working at a Google or LinkedIn where everyone had to use desktop communications and landlines? We take it for granted but each new explosion in business is sparked by a technological revolution of sorts.
Technology has often been viewed as the ultimate tool for business and lifestyle. It creates efficiency, eases our workload, and often provides us entertainment. Yet until recently, technology's impact on social justice or development was incidental.
Technology Becomes Benevolent
From a world that focused on innovation to invigorate the bottom line, today, we are beginning to explore technology as a way to change social norms and empower millions around the world.
A great example of this is M-Pesa a mobile money solution that allowed millions of Africans to execute secure transactions in real time. M-Pesa provided them with greater access to resources, more free time, and security in their own earnings. M-Pesa’s success sparked the birth of numerous social enterprises in the fintech and mobile banking sectors. Now organizations like KIVA have become household names as a result of the success of micro lending and mobile money in Africa. Given their success, technology used in microfinance is becoming considered an important tool for social change in the developing world and has led to a number of new companies in the space.
One of the newer organizations leveraging technology and enterprise to drive social change is Clean Water for Everyone (CFWE). CFWE was started by entrepreneur Wemimo Abbey, who builds community based water sanitation and hygiene units. Now operating in 6 countries, they have found that by getting the community to invest in the project and pay for its costs, the station is able to improve the standard of living at a lower cost and achieve community buy-in for the improvement.
CFWE is just one of example of the social business taking ahold of Africa as it accelerates its growth. It might seem as though these institutions only make a difference in the developing world but CDFI’s and innovative ways to give back have start creating a social shift in developed nations as well. For instance organizations like Opportunity Finance Network and the onset of resources including free online education have sparked new opportunities for all demographics across a number of issues.
Can technology solve a problem as widespread and enveloping as global hunger? Some organizations are already giving it a shot. One such company is Transfernation. A registered non-profit, Transfernation operates like “Uber for Food Rescue." Seeing the fact that society wastes more than enough food to end hunger today, the company has doubled down on logistics rather than food production. Transfernation connects corporations with food surplus to volunteers capable of distributing the goods, with real-time logistics assistance.
This solution, much like MPesa or CFWE, depends less on the technology, and more on the people around it. However, truly solving a problem comes down to the behaviors of supporters and the transparent progress of the companies channeling these resources. With the goal of a holiday season in which everyone has enough food, Transfernation is running a campaign to reach even greater numbers and those in greatest need. Support the Transfernation initiative here!
It’s a question for everyone to consider individually but if you combine a desire to create social change with the power of technology, the possibilities are certainly there.