Emergic: Rajesh Jain's Blog

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Technology with Social Skills

August 22nd, 2003 · No Comments

Business Week writes:

One-third of the world’s population — 2.4 billion people — burn wood, agricultural residues, or dung for cooking and heating, according to ITDG. Illnesses caused by the smoke from these fires kill 1.6 million people each year, an average of more than three people per minute. Some 1.6 billion of the world’s people have no access to electricity and, in the absence of new policies, 1.4 billion will still lack it in 2030.

And so, just as corporations now focus on implementation costs and return on investment, development organizations are zeroing in on smart ways to use technology to solve the world’s most pressing social problems.

Perhaps the greatest leap forward has to do with innovative ways to target and distribute technology. Across the globe, so-called social entrepreneurs are finding ways to bring technology to disadvantaged groups that otherwise might be left behind, including the poor, the sick, and the disabled.

No technology, no matter how advanced, can solve world poverty or social justice. But putting the right tools in the right hands at the right price is a start. “I’m not so optimistic to believe that Martus will reduce the number of human-rights violations,” says the Asia Foundation’s Steve Rood. “But with increased sharing of information, we believe we can improve communication and maybe bring people to justice.” And that adds a whole new dimension to the meaning of technology revolution.

This story is a reminder of the fact that technology can play a crucial role in bridging the digital divide. Specifically, my interest is in two segments – SMEs and rural areas, in the emerging markets of the world.

Tags: Emerging Markets

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