Information and stories on development news.

Health Care in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is a country in South Asia that borders Myanmar, India, Nepal and Bhutan. In 2019, the country’s estimated population was about 163 million people. Additionally, the country’s economy has shown an increase in exports and remittances in 2019. According to the World Bank, the country’s extreme poverty rate has reduced by half but people still consider it a developing nation. The country’s under-five mortality rate has declined in recent years as well as its maternal mortality rate. There has been an increase in malnourished children and lung diseases, however. There has also been an increase in health and safety in workplaces. Organizations both in the country and worldwide are helping to increase health care in Bangladesh.

5 Organizations Improving Health Care in Bangladesh

  1. World Health Organization (WHO): Based in Switzerland, WHO is a United Nations agency that focuses on international public health. In Bangladesh, the company provides medical aid such as vaccinations, medical research and alerts on medical outbreaks and emergencies. It also helps develop health policies, as well as monitor illness and disease trends in an attempt to prevent outbreaks. By offering these resources, the World Health Organization is improving Bangladesh’s health faster than before, which the organization’s research shows. The organization’s research shows that in 2018, 94 percent of new or relapse Tuberculosis cases received treatment, compared to around 60 percent in 2008. By introducing advanced medical techniques to the country, vaccinations and monitoring, WHO has been able to decrease the number of individuals who die from the illness.

  2. Bangladesh Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE): Bangladesh’s Ministry of Labor and Employment runs this organization and is responsible for the safety of factories, workplaces and their employees. Its job is to ensure the welfare, safety and health of all workers in Bangladesh. It ensures this by enforcing the country’s labor laws, as well as constantly updating policies to ensure employee safety. The organization has three departments including the Labor Department, the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments and the Department of Trade Union Registration. By breaking the organization into smaller departments, workplace health and safety has improved, as well as the number of businesses in the country. This increases jobs as well as job security because there is less fear of injury or illness from the workplace.

  1. Public Health Foundation of Bangladesh: The World Health Organization has established the Public Health Foundation of Bangladesh, which is a volunteer-based organization. HR experts, researchers, scientists, clinicians, nurses, sociologists and other health science experts lead this group. The goal of the group is to conduct research and provide education that will develop the Bangladesh health in both society and health care systems. The organization aims to improve health care access to Bangladesh citizens by making health care more affordable and easily accessible for individuals below the poverty line.

  1. World Lung Foundation: Established in 2004, the World Lung Foundation aims to increase global response to lung disease, an illness that kills around 10 million individuals annually. In 2017, lung disease made up 8.69 percent of the country’s deaths, which equals up to 68,462 people. The organization is decreasing the number by providing programs in Bangladesh, as well as emphasizing tobacco control, the negative effects of air pollution and how lung disease leads to illnesses such as Tuberculosis and acute respiratory infections. By educating Bangladesh citizens, Tuberculosis, maternal and infant mortality rates have dropped.

  1. USAID: A U.S. based agency, USAID has set up programs to help improve health and nutrition in Bangladesh. Because of this, the organization has helped decrease the under-five mortality rates, as well as maternal mortality rates. USAID has also expanded the use of family planning, improved and integrated health systems into Bangladesh, as well as strengthen the health care system and government. This leads to overall better access to health care, healthcare policies and better health practices.

Bangladesh’s extreme poverty rate has reduced by half, but the country’s population has been rising. With an undesirable health care system, organizations such as WHO and USAID have helped the country’s overall health improve, and has also decreased mortality rates. The DIFE and Public Health Foundation of Bangladesh have ensured the safety and health of individuals in the workplace and in society. Also, organizations such as The World Lung Foundation bring awareness to some of the leading mortality rates.

– Destinee Smethers
Photo: Flickr

Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act
Malala Yousafzai is a Noble Peace Prize laureate. After surviving a Taliban encounter, she wrote the memoir, “I Am Malala.” She advocates for education and against discrimination.

On September 26, 2019, Hakeem Jeffries introduced the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act. Communities of Pakistan and the United States have aligned with Malala’s text, principles and initiatives while many support her opinions on terrorism and poverty. The Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act intends to ensure that young adults and Pakistani students live without fear of discrimination, and can successfully garner an education.

The Malala Yousafzai Act

There are government programs that guide access to education throughout the diaspora communities of Pakistan. The Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act is pushing for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to support education initiatives for all in Pakistan, but in particular, for women and children. In Pakistan, approximately 22.8 million children under 16 are not enrolled in school. There is a significant gender disparity too as boys tend to outnumber girls.

This is the main reason for the Malala Yousafzai Act and Congress intends to uphold the very nature of equality. The purpose of the bill is to enhance opportunities for women to obtain a scholarship. If the bill passes, USAID will leverage the number of scholarships available to women in Pakistan.

Rurally, Pakistani women face many obstacles. The development of health, nutrition and the overall labor force is a determinant in the education of women. Issues such as early marriage, transportation and societal pressures as housewives prevent women from enrolling in higher education. The World Bank states, “The benefits of education go beyond higher productivity for 50 percent of the population. More educated women also tend to be healthier, participate more in the formal labor market, earn more income, have fewer children, and provide better health care and education to their children, all of which eventually improve the well-being of all individuals and lift households out of poverty.”

The Malala Yousafzai Act continues to mitigate discrimination and gender inequality. Malala Yousafzai frequently discusses the war on terrorism and how violence is a harsh reality for the vast majority of Pakistani women. These women continue to face seclusion and exclusion on the basis of patriarchy. Terrorists actively threaten girls and women to remove them from advancement opportunities in higher education and the public sphere.

Conclusion

For her 16th birthday, at the United General Assembly, Malala said, “So let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty, and terrorism. Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution.”

Currently, Malala is a student at the University of Oxford. She is studying politics, economics and philosophy. She continues to engage with women from across the globe, inspiring emerging adults to voice opinions. Anyone can make a direct impact by sending an email to Congress via The Borgen Project. For more information on how to advocate for the bill, visit here.

– Zach Erlanger
Photo: Flickr

Women in Africa
In recent years, people have made many efforts to help women in Africa complete their daily tasks faster and more efficiently by providing tools and technology. However, there is still a long way to go until these extraordinary women will have tools on par with what is available to women in western countries.

Water Collection

In 24 sub-Saharan African countries, adult females are usually responsible for water collection. About 14 million African women trek over 30 minutes, either barefoot or in rubber sandals, across rough terrain daily. Many of these women carry a bucket or Jerry Can, which is a container to carry fuel or water. These can hold around 40 pounds of water that they balance on top of their heads.

Recently, a project in Mozambique helped nearly 4,000 people by allocating an innovative technology called the Hippo Roller. The Hippo Roller is a South-African-made drum that helps users roll up to 20 liters of water on the ground instead of carrying it on their heads. This allows women in Africa to carry or roll up to five times more water than they usually would. This technology empowers women in Africa by allowing them more time to focus on other necessary tasks, like education, social development and local entrepreneurship. Hippo rollers go to the neediest in the communities first, but with a cost of $125 each, there are rarely enough to go around.

The Search for Firewood

African women walk for hours each day to collect branches and roots for firewood. Over 80 percent of Africa’s energy supply comes from wood and African women spend more than 20 hours per week collecting it. This wood is necessary for women in Africa to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for their families. African women may spend several hours searching for wood which prevents them from accomplishing other tasks that would benefit and empower them.

Green Energy BioFuels is a company that produces the KIKE Green Cookstove and an ethanol cooking gel that is safe for women in Africa to cook meals for their families without creating the health hazards that current traditional methods do. So far, Green Energy has sold over 200,000 cookstoves in West Africa. Cookstoves that do not rely on wood fuel can help save over 4 million lives annually. In addition to this, African women can worry less about their health and have a more positive outlook on the future.

Investing in African Women

In sub-Saharan Africa, female entrepreneurs hold the highest rates of entrepreneurship globally at 25.9 percent. Many of these women have small businesses that can help them accrue enough income for survival. African women account for nearly 40 percent of the SSA workforce.

The Economic Commission for Africa and its partners started the African Women Leadership Fund which aims to aid the growth of African women-owned and operated businesses and provide services that will help these women be successful. Over the next 10 years, the fund will invest in over $500 million into African Women-led companies.

African women have extraordinary abilities that help them complete difficult daily tasks. However, they cannot achieve these tasks without great risks to their health and well-being. The support that many are implementing to innovatively assist African women will empower them and enrich their lives.

– Lisa Di Nuzzo
Photo: Flickr

VisionSpring Supports Women While Spreading SightFor every $5 donated to VisionSpring, a low-income adult gets their eye prescription, a pair of glasses expected to last two years, and an estimated 120 percent increase from their initial income directly due to the glasses. This organization’s strategy zeroes in on the local: optometrists; female vision entrepreneurs as saleswomen; wholesale partnerships with government agencies, local hospitals and NGOs; and corporate social responsibility projects with large businesses. VisionSpring supports women, local business and helps create sustainable supply chains in the countries it works in.

Jordan Kassalow is the founder and visionary behind this organization that has already generated over $1.2 billion of economic impact. In 2019, he published his book “Dare to Matter,” in which he describes his journey. Starting as a mediocre student due to a rare eye disease, he had a post-graduation epiphany that people’s lives have meaning through their work to make the world better. While on a volunteer medical mission in the Yucatán Peninsula, Jordan gave an extremely nearsighted child a pair of glasses – and his sight.

Seven years later, Dr. Kassalow founded what would become VisionSpring today, to return productivity and livelihoods to the 2.5 billion sight-impaired people in the world who lack glasses. From the beginning, the organization has sought to empower women in the communities where it works. The Borgen Project interviewed Dr. Kassalow about how VisionSpring supports women in its sight-focused mission.

When you first had people on the ground, how did you reach people – and specifically women – to let them know about the vision entrepreneur opportunity?

There are a few reasons why we select women. One was because there was a higher rate of unemployment or underemployment with women. So, they are a natural, existing workforce that was underutilized. That was the whole root of the idea, to create livelihoods for the women and sustain livelihoods for their customers. (Microcredit research) showed pretty clearly that when you gave women access to resources that a lot of virtuous things started happening in society: their fertility rates would go down, the health of their children would go up, their housing conditions would go up and so forth.

We partnered with microcredit organizations and eye hospitals (for more advanced cases and to) give some credibility to the women who worked for us. The microcredit organizations were already in the communities where we worked (and) had a whole list of good customers who had exhibited their capacity to pay back their loans. So, it was largely through local credit organizations that we started identifying women and continued to source people.

I read in your book about one vision entrepreneur, Rama Devi, who has her husband driving her on a motorcycle so she can reach more people. It seems to upset traditional gender roles and has vision entrepreneurs stepping out of their traditional jobs at home (and) making more money than their husbands. Did you ever see any conflict of interest or anything like that?

Particularly in that area of India where we were working which had a Muslim culture primarily. It was somewhat antithetical to the historical-cultural norms for women to take on these more entrepreneurial roles, so we lost some of our best salespeople. We found that women would come, educated, supported somewhat by their husbands and fathers-in-law. But there seemed to be almost an expectation that they wouldn’t succeed. So, they would let them (work) while the stakes were low. But for those who would start to succeed, and the money would start to flow in, we saw many cases where they had to withdraw from the program, not because of a lack of their interest, but because of pressure from their husbands or fathers or so forth. So, we definitely did experience that.

I wanted to ask how (the See to Learn) strategy of providing glasses to schoolkids differs from adults. What initially drew you to this sector of the population?

I’ve always looked at vision as an input to global development and human development. The two areas most impacted by poor vision are productivity in work and learning in school. When you start an organization that has basically no human and financial resources, it’s good to try to take the really big problem and break it down to its component parts and strategically start with the place (that) execution-wise is the simplest. So, we started with See to Earn because it only required four different prescriptions.

Now, in kids, there is no similar corollary to simple, ready-made non-prescription reading glasses. Each kid has their own unique kids’ glasses (and) unique prescription, so it gets more complicated and you need higher trained people.

What we do is training teachers to do the work of the vision entrepreneur. (They do) the vision acuity test and figure who can pass and fail. And kids who fail, which in India is usually about 10 percent, get seen by a team of (local) optometrists who come once all those kids are identified. We can make about 70 percent of those glasses on the spot and (the rest) we custom make in the lab.

You mention in a 2017 interview with Mary Magistad from PRI that you encountered the issue of girls thinking they are less marriageable if they wear glasses. How have you amended your practice to account for cultural differences in the different countries you’ve worked in?

The cultural context is very important in our local operations. Particularly with girls, we find that almost the parents look for an excuse to take them out of school. If they are nearsighted and not thriving in school, they’ll be pulled out of school more quickly than the boys will. That’s a huge injustice.

Studies have shown that girls in India believe that, if you wear glasses, you are less marriable. We recently did a film that tracks a girl through identifying that she can’t see all the way to getting glasses and using them in school. We are trying to normalize, if you will, glasses through this film. It’s meant to be used as part of the curriculum before the team of optometrists comes to the school.

Dr. Kassalow’s newest breakthrough was the founding of EYElliance, a multinational coalition working towards integrating innovations into public and private sectors of countries around the world. Currently, with more than 40 member organizations (including USAID), EYElliance is Dr. Kassalow’s next big step towards achieving his original goal: getting eyeglasses to everyone who needs them. Hopefully, Kassalow’s ongoing priority that VisionSpring supports women will demonstrate to other international aid organizations that women are the building blocks to international development.

Daria Locher
Photo: Wikimedia

Health care system in ZambiaZambia’s healthcare system is decentralized, therefore it is broken up into three different levels: hospitals, health centers and health posts. Hospitals are separated into primary (district), secondary (provincial) and tertiary (central). It offers universal healthcare for its citizens, yet the health care system in Zambia remains one of the most inadequate in the world.

Universal Health Care

Zambia is working on implementing universal health care coverage for its citizens to diminish the burden of accessing life-saving treatments. At the moment, Zambia’s government-run health facilities offer basic healthcare packages at the primary (district)level free-of-charge. Their services are under the National Health Care Package (NHCP). With this being said, due to “capacity constraints” and limited funding, the services sometimes do not reach those who need it most. Luckily, the Ministry of Health (MoH) of Zambia and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have come together in order to help restore the health care system in Zambia. They are investigating ways to effectively set priorities so that processes in health facilities can run faster and smoother.

Private vs Public Healthcare

Even though there are a good number of public and private health facilities, a lot of the public hospitals are chronically underfunded. Another major problem in the public healthcare sector is that there is inequality in the order that doctors meet with patients. As mentioned above, the public sector is divided into three divisions, level one hospitals are in charge of provision of services and level two and three hospitals are referral or specialized hospitals.

District Health Offices (DHOs) are staffed by community health assistants (CHAs). Over the course of their one-year training, they are prepared to improve the management of malaria, child and maternal health and common preventable health conditions. DHOs spend 80 percent of their time on disease prevention and health promotion and another 20 percent “at the health post.”

There are good private hospitals in Zambia’s big cities, for example, Lusaka. They offer their services to everyone with the majority of people that participate in the private sector being foreigners or affluent Zambians. Over 50 percent of formal health services in rural Zambia are private clinics or hospitals. They also account for 30 percent of all health care in the nation. Even though they offer higher quality services at a faster rate, when a serious medical emergency presents itself, the majority of the time people will be evacuated to South Africa since they are able to provide better medical services.

Pharmacies

Pharmacies are not always stocked with the medications or drugs that most people need when they are sick. Even though they are available in most major cities and towns in Zambia, they do not operate on a 24/7 schedule. Their typical work week is Monday to Saturday. When people are in need of a pharmacy, it is recommended to go to one that is attached to a hospital or a clinic for immediate assistance.

Diseases

Zambia’s top five killer diseases are HIV/AIDS, neonatal disorders, lower respiratory infections, tuberculosis and diarrheal diseases. Zambia also sits in the malaria belt, so it is recommended to have a mosquito net to prevent mosquito bites. Other diseases like cholera and dysentery are common during rainy seasons. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been helping Zambia since 2000 after establishing an office in the nation. The CDC “funds and assists international and local organizations” like the Ministry of Health to “provide health services at the national and community level.” In addition, the CDC has performed more than 173,000 medical male circumcisions and has prevented 98 percent of HIV exposed infants from getting HIV in 2018.

– Isabella Gonzalez
Photo: Flickr

Mental Health in Puerto Rico
Mental health is at the forefront with many other illnesses and disabilities. It can in many ways be just as dangerous if not more dangerous than physical disabilities or illnesses if it does not receive treatment. Mental health issues do not only affect the individual suffering from the illness but also the family and loved ones around. Many countries experience high levels of mental illness in all of its extremities. Mental health in Puerto Rico has become a serious conversation among the island’s people.

Mental Health in Puerto Rico

A study published in April 2019, determined the ongoing mental health impact that Hurricane Maria had on the island’s children. Much of the talk about mental health on the island is closely related to the storm. Researchers from the Puerto Rico Department of Education and the Medical University of South Carolina collaborated to study and examine the storm’s effects on the people’s well-being. A significant amount of public school students ranging from third grade to twelfth grade and lived through the storm participated in the study. About 7.2 percent of them showed clinical symptoms of PTSD.

Many regard the mental state of a country’s youth as crucial. For this reason, a group of volunteers from Fundacion Pro Ayuda de Puerto Rico or the Puerto Rico Help Foundation allied with Departamento de la Familia (Family Department) and started a project in 1997. The project’s name was Hogar Santa Maria de Los Angeles or Santa Maria de Los Angeles House.

Fundacion Santa Maria de Los Angeles (FSMA)

The Foundation’s original purpose was to give housing to young pregnant girls who lacked family support and socioeconomic resources. The name of the organization later changed to Fundacion Santa Maria de Los Angeles (FSMA). It reflects that the organization intends to provide help and care as a nonprofit organization and not just by providing housing.

FSMA benefits from donations that private organizations and the government of Puerto Rico make. It also receives individual or personal donations. Throughout the years, FSMA has adjusted to the times and necessities of youth. It offers new services to new communities with at-risk kids. It is one of the most trusted centers with the most complete help, prevention, training and therapy programs on the island.

FSMA’s Success

One of the greatest achievements that the Foundation has had is the decrease of teenage pregnancies at three schools in San Juan. Executive Director, Jose A Benitez-Gorbea states that “these three schools had an average of six pregnancies per year.” The organization made a module for every school semester centered on safe sex.

FSMA taught about protection, the risks and consequences of actions. The three schools began to have positive results and attained the goal of complete eradication of teenage pregnancies. The seminars also encouraged pregnant adolescents and motivated many away from depression. Today, none of the schools that participated in the Foundation’s program have a single occurrence of teenage pregnancy.

In the year 2018, FSMA helped 9,800 people that hurricanes Irma and Maria affected. It also provided aid to 500 people a month through its seminars. Its goal is to create a better standard of life for all and awareness of mental health throughout Puerto Rico.

FSMA’s Services

There is a necessity to create awareness regarding mental health in Puerto Rico. Some communities are vulnerable to mental illnesses because they do not have the resources to pay for medical services and psychological therapy. FSMA’s mission is to help and offer a safe place with room and board. It provides “food, objects of primary necessity, medical and psychological assistance and love,” said Jose A Benitez Gorbea.

Schools, public housing and other communities hold seminars on prevention and education on subjects that affect today’s youth. The subject matters that the seminars cover include bullying, suicide, depression, anxiety, self-esteem, self-care, responsible sex, management of emotions and how to maintain a healthy social life among others.

FSMA’s Team

The team includes a group of professionals dedicated to mental health. Two psychologists are responsible for clinical supervision and the coordination of the other positions. There is also one social worker in charge of the records who also helps with crisis intervention. FSMA collaborates with the Universidades Interamericana and Carlos Albizu of San Juan. There is a training clinic center where 15 students from these universities do their clinical practice to obtain their doctorates. Theses students offer seminars and work every day with patients in therapy.

In the administrative sector, there is an executive director, an assistant administrator and a service helper. “There is also a huge help which also comes from fifteen volunteers. Eleven belong to the union of directors and four are individual volunteers. These volunteers are in charge of making fundraising activities possible,” said Jose A Benitez-Gorbea.

The Future

FSMA is one of many organizations that is aware of the importance of mental health in Puerto Rico. It began assisting the physical, emotional and psychological needs of pregnant adolescents over 20 years ago. Today, it continues to provide support and care. FSMA eradicates teenage pregnancies in lower-income public schools in San Juan. It also facilitates the improvement of the emotional and psychological conditions of many kids. FSMA puts a stop to suicide, mutilation and risky behavior. The Foundation supports encourages and influences the island’s youth. FSMA believes that the youth of the country relies on the future.

Francisco Benitez
Photo: Flickr

Develop telecommunication technology
The Solomon Islands has reached a deal with Australia to help develop telecommunication technology in the country. Only about one-sixth of the country’s 660,000 people are currently connected to the Internet, with most of that population concentrated in the Solomon Islands’ urban areas and relying on satellite connections to use it. The Solomon Islands tech deal with Australia will allow the country to connect to outside servers and develop telecommunication connections within. Australia had also previously helped the Solomon Islands quell civil unrest between various indigenous militias between 2003 to 2017.

The Giant Undersea Cable Project

The Australian communications company Vocus is in charge of the construction of a major underwater cable known as the Coral Sea Cable System. Australia granted it in 2017 with a grant of $137 million, and Australia, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea agreed to the deal to build the cable in 2018. The Coral Sea Cable System is a 4,700 km (2920 mi) underwater cable that will link Sydney to Port Moresby and Honiara, with the latter also connecting to Solomon Islands Domestic Network linking the archipelago. The cable will transfer over 40 TB of data to all three ports in the network, which would allow for 300,000 new jobs and growth of $5 billion in GDP for Pacific countries such as the Solomon Islands by 2040. As noted previously, only a small percentage of the population that uses the Internet use satellite to connect to it. As such, the underwater cable should grant the island nation more reliable and stable connections in part for the Solomon Islands tech deal which has helped to develop telecommunication technology significantly.

Since making the deal official, the project has made much progress in building its undersea cable network. The project installed landing sites at Port Moresby and Honiara in July 2019, symbolized by a golden buoy marking the occasion. In August 2019, it installed the landing site in Sydney and the final splice in September 2019. The Solomon Islands Domestic Network planned to finish in time for the December 2019 activation. Once complete, the Solomon Islands, alongside neighboring Papua New Guinea, can connect to a more reliable broadband connection and reliable Internet access.

Other Developments

Before the Solomon Islands tech deal with Australia, the Solomon Islands’ fisheries brokered a deal with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) for training tech. Beginning in May 2018, the WWF provided funds for new tech such as tablets that allow for training of observers to monitor and observe fishing levels in the Solomon Islands and currently has 85 percent of electronic reporting by satellite commutation with the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR). This efficient approach also lets observers electronically report between fishing boats out at sea and stations back on land. While the deal occurred before the Coral Sea Cable system deal, the e-reporting will benefit greatly from the system implementation upon its completion in 2019.

The Solomon Islands tech deal with Australia will build the internal infrastructure and bolster the Internet connection in the country by connecting the Solomon Islands with not only neighboring Papua New Guinea and Australia but the archipelago as well. The project also will bolster existing tech programs with improved infrastructure once completed. The project should complete by the end of 2019. Continuing to develop telecommunication technology is important for the global population.

–  Henry Elliott
Photo: Pixabay

CodersTrustThe only things a person needs to survive is food, water and shelter, but they won’t thrive. To provide them with an opportunity to thrive starts by giving them access to education. While this seems relatively easy for some, others are not as lucky to have this opportunity. For those who are not as fortunate or not able to access education, putting forth legislation and supporting non-profits and other NGOs that give people this opportunity allow citizens who once had nothing to thrive and become productive members of society able to give back to the community. Organizations such as CodersTrust give people the opportunity for an education they most likely would not receive.

CodersTrust

CodersTrust was founded in 2014 in Denmark with the hope of providing access and marketable skills to children and young people around the world who are considered “underprivileged, disadvantaged and marginalized,” people who do not have access to education or opportunities to thrive in a professional setting. They welcome children and young people from all walks of life including women, those who are disabled or refugees, teaching them both digital skills and soft skills which give them the best chance at finding a job or internship opportunity; for one of the goals of the organization is to train as many people as well as possible. These are the people who have very few options in life, CodersTrust gives them an opportunity they might not have to get an education and be independent. 

Mads Galsgaard, the current CEO of CodersTrust, spoke more candidly about the reason behind the formation of CodersTrust saying, “CodersTrust was founded on the vision to create affordable education and job access to people in developing countries. The founders deeply believe in outsourcing work to talented people abroad and through their past projects, they came across several talented people in Bangladesh, helping them with accounting, etc.”

As of now the organization itself is rather small but is looking to expand. According to Galsgaard, there are three people stationed in Denmark, three people in Kosovo and two people in Kenya. The largest headquarters in Bangladesh with over 50 staffers there. Regarding the future plans for the company, Galsgaard states, “We are scaling up the business and will onboard new staff members in the coming months, to ensure that our online and franchise partners are given the full human interaction that is key for a successful education and job creation.”

CodersTrust was founded with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in mind. The Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, were created in 2016 with the idea that they were created to ensure that all countries will fight to end poverty, fight inequality and address climate change, all while ensuring all people are apart of the conversation and that people globally will benefit from these goals. The SDGs are based on the success of the Millennium Development Goals and address all countries to do their part, not just the wealthier countries. The goals combine the importance of ending poverty and social justice while trying to protect the plant and stop the adverse effects of climate change. There were seventeen rules implemented when the UN created this plan. CodersTrust works to follow rules 1, 4, 5, 8 and 10. These rules are no poverty (1), quality education (4), gender equality (5), decent work and economic growth (8) and reduced inequalities (10). CodersTrust’s dedication to these rules is something Galsgaard is extremely proud of with the organization. 

Opportunities for Women and Young Girls

Coderstrust has also done many projects to assist women and girls in obtaining an education and having a fair shot as well, for one of their main focus groups is women and young girls. They have partnered with other organizations, that too help with offering those in areas where education is not possible, an opportunity for education. When speaking of the impact CodersTrust has had on the battle for gender equity, Galsgaard says, “We have done several projects to focus on young women, in Kosovo with Women in Online Work (WoW) and recently in Bangladesh, where are training 1000 women to become digital freelancers.”

The interesting part of CodersTrust does that differs them from other organizations is that it works to combine education with job experience and job hunting, so people working with CodersTrust are doing both at the same time. They also encourage globalization through the internet by allowing their students and clients to branch out to businesses worldwide. The example they use on their website is “Companies in Bratislava can have their website built in Kenya and students in the Philippines can bid on managing the Social Media Portfolio for the Mountain Bike Shop in White Horse, Canada.” Since the foundation of CodersTrust, 11,525 people have received an education and graduated, 11 countries have been introduced to CodersTrust and 18 different courses have been offered to students. CodersTrust has mainly reached students in the Global South, as well as post-war zones, for education and job opportunities are the worst there. 

With the development of this organization, their goal and plans for the future involve globalization for their education plans, and job searching in order to improve themselves and help more people. With this vision, students will be able to take everything they have learned from their time at this organization and apply it to the job market. When asked if CodersTrust intended on expanding outside of technology and freelancing, Galsgaard said, “Our primary focus is training people in digital skills, but our marketplace could over time also provide a job market for tradespeople, such as carpenters, plumbers, etc. We focus on providing a transparent platform where companies can easily find workers and have a secure payment flow, where both parties can review validated reviews, certificates and other elements to build trust and easy operation.”

Plans For The Future

With the success and the growth of CodersTrust in mind, Galsgaard talks about plans for the organization five years from now and ten years from now and what he would like the see the organization accomplish from there. Galsgaard says, “We wish to have 1 million users by the end of 2020 and 5 million by 2025. If our scale-up goes as we hope and expect, our touchpoints will be both online and offline, to ensure that people all over the world can access our offerings, as long as the student has a laptop/mobile device and a stable internet connection. We also wish to provide certain entry-level education programs for free, to ensure that we also attract people with no or little IT skills and lift them out of poverty.”

Regarding the expansion of the organization and CodersTrust’s vision for the future, Galsgaard states, “Our expansion strategy is based on providing a global footprint reaching even more people, whilst still maintaining the human interaction so each student has direct access to support anytime and anywhere.”

– Sydney Toy
Photo: Flickr

digital inclusion for African farmersThe spread of mobile technology has granted developing nations access to the digital revolution. This is called digital inclusion. From the digital revolution, we have experienced one of the most innovative new business models, networking. Companies like Facebook and Instagram are involved in social networking. Uber and Lyft specialize in transportation networking. Go-puff, Grubhub, and Door Dash all focus on food delivery networking.

What makes these business models unique to networking is that their products are simply information. Food, cars and people’s personal information, provided by the users themselves, is the secret. Networking companies need only to provide intuitive transfer of this information over the internet.

New companies across Africa are taking advantage of the networking business model. With increased digital inclusion for African farmers, there are new ways for transactions to be streamlined.

Hello Tractor!

The mechanization of agriculture is an important innovation to spread into developing countries. Unfortunately, many farmers in these countries cannot afford to outright buy a tractor and maintain it. Hello Tractor! creates a network between tractor dealers, contractors and farmers that makes mechanization a reliable and affordable investment for all.

Based in Nigeria, Hello Tractor! targets the 36 percent of the Nigerian population that is employed in agriculture. The physical product of Hello Tractor! is a device that attaches to tractors and monitors them, sending GPS and maintenance data to the Hello Tractor! software.

Farmers use the software by downloading a mobile application, to book the dates in which they need tractors. Once contractors send out their tractors, they can use the app to see if the tractors are being used properly. Tractor dealers also have access to the information so that they may perform maintenance when required.

John Deere supplied 10,000 tractors to Nigeria’s Ministry of Agriculture in 2018 and they are all managed by the Hello Tractor! systems. Ultimately, digital inclusion for African farmers can build trust between stakeholders.

Agri-wallet

Selling produce is a more arduous task than many may think. As the market expands, this risky and tedious process only puts more pressure on farmers. Digital inclusion for African farmers can settle this issue.

Between the farmer and the consumer, there exists a distributor. However, unlike how we think of big business deals in America, these distributors can not put down payments on produce. They must take weeks to sell the products to consumers and bring back the returns to the farmers after.

A solution to this problem is in high demand as 70 percent of workers in Kenya are employed in agriculture.

Agri-wallet fits nicely into a niche area between the Kenyan farmers and the market distributers. When farmers sell to their distributors, Agri-wallet pays up-front into the farmers’ banking app. Now, farmers can restock during this intermittent period of sales.

Convenient transactions and loans such as these would not be possible without the growing interconnectivity of mobile technology spreading into Africa.

Now, 4,000 farmers in Africa are benefitting from the services of Agri-wallet.

Farmer’s Pride

According to the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, 3 quarters of Kenyan farmers have planted fake seeds at least once. Farmer’s Pride is a Kenyan company that will provide infrastructure and safe avenues for e-commerce among farmers and distributors.

A primary focus of Farmer’s Pride is “putting the area on the map” so that village-level farmers are more attached to society as a whole. Extra care for farmers, from digital access to insurance to local access to veterinary care for livestock, is what makes Farmer’s Pride such a promising franchise.

10,000 farmers have been connected through Farmer’s Pride, making an extra $2m income through their intervention.

These secure smartphone apps are promoting e-commerce, intelligent planning and proper resource management. When African farmers are given the opportunity to be included in the digital world, the entrepreneurial and economic prosperity we have enjoyed in America will become open to them.

– Nicholas Pihralla
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Kyrgyzstan In 2013, child poverty in Kyrgyzstan was and remains around 32 percent. Although the number is high, the Central Asian country reduced the child poverty rate from 65 percent in 2002. Kyrgyzstan focused its efforts on reducing the overall poverty rate through social programs as the country developed economically after independence in the early 1990s. Despite the overall poverty rate dropping from 40 percent in 2006 to 25 percent in 2017, child poverty remains high. The negative effects of poverty, such as lack of education, clean drinking water and balanced nutrition, leads to a harsh life for children and the families that care for them.

Reasons for Child Poverty

Unemployment of parents is one of the main reasons for child poverty in Kyrgyzstan. The lack of sufficient income affects children in many ways. Healthcare and education might have to be cut if the parent or parents are in dire circumstances. Having one working parent reduces the risk of child poverty from 53.5 to 40 percent. Household size also increases the risk of child poverty. About 42 percent of children in poverty live in houses that contain four or more children. Similar to adult poverty, child poverty is mainly in rural areas. About 78 percent of poor children live in rural regions. Poverty among rural regions varies widely as well. Child poverty is 6.8 percent in Bishkek, 56 percent in Osh Province and 57.1 percent in Jalalabad Province. In these two regions, large families contribute to high poverty. The average household in these two regions has 2.9 children.

What’s Being Done

A social passport system, in use since the early 2000s, is one direct way that Kyrgyzstan is fighting child poverty.  The Unified Monthly Benefits includes discounts on heating, gas and hot water charges. In 2002, 92 percent of poor families had social passports.

As part of the Family and Children Support project, Every Child assists the most vulnerable families seeking help. The project included cultivating access and information to health and education services and recalculating social benefits. In 2018, Kyrgyzstan’s National Healthcare Reform Programme was completed. The results were on par with the Sustainable Development Goals relating to the key indicators for health. Children’s under-five mortality rate reduced from 33 percent in 2000 to 21 percent in 2015.

Ending Child Poverty

Child poverty reduced from 65 percent in 2002 to 32 percent in 2013, yet further assistance by NGOs and the government is needed to bring long-term changes to reduce it in Kyrgyzstan. Rural regions such as Osh Province and Jalalabad Province still have high rates that need addressing. Without sufficient income, families, especially large families, have difficulty providing proper healthcare and education to their children. Unified Monthly Benefits have helped grant families assistance to an array of benefits. Thanks to social programs, child poverty in Kyrgyzstan is being addressed, yet more work needs to be done to completely eliminate child poverty. With further progress, and based on the massive reduction in child poverty from 2002 to 2013, the country could end child poverty within the next 10 years.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr