using tech to help the world's poor
REI shoppers and outdoor lovers are likely familiar with Arc’Teryx. The brand, based in Vancouver, British Colombia, has been selling outdoor survival gear and clothing with top-notch technology for the last few decades. In recent years, the company decided to open some of its profits and expertise to encourage using tech to help the world’s poor.

Solving Problems with Tech

What started as a request for the help of an Arc’Teryx engineer to design insulated shelters for Mongolians has turned into a company-wide passion to apply technological innovations towards helping the poor. Arc’teryx provides significant funding and support to Global Good, a Seattle team of engineers and scientists who travel the world, identify technology gaps that perpetuate poverty and design affordable, situational solutions. The results of their partnership with Global Good has encouraged Arc’teryx to fund similar projects using technology to help the world’s poor; it is currently hosting a Problem Solver tour and campaign to seek out individuals and organizations using technology to help the poor, promising support to these problem-solvers that they deem are really making a maximum difference.

The Borgen Project attended Arc’Teryx’s Problem Solver Tour, where representatives from Arc’Teryx and Global Good discussed projects Arc’Teryx has helped fund in recent years as a way to inspire more activity. Global Good’s goal is to “dedicate energies towards the bottom billion” rather than using technology to develop more “tools and toys for rich people” as Nathan P. Myhrvold, CEO of Intellectual Ventures, explained.

Arc’Teryx Funded Projects

One project is wrapping up the prototype for a one-step, DIY malaria test. Currently, a blood sample is the only means to detect malaria. This innovation by Global Good aims to create something as easy as “a pregnancy test for deadly diseases.” With one drop of blood inserted into the small contraption, the test will alert the user whether the patient has tested positive or negative for malaria. This will save the lives of children whose parents cannot accurately detect whether or not their child is suffering from malaria or a milder infection without having to invest in expensive lab procedures. Researchers in the battle to eliminate malaria will also be able to efficiently and effectively measure malaria’s presence in villages by mass-distributing the tests.

Global Good has been able to make a huge difference in health care in the fight against poverty. Another invention is an insulated thermos, about three feet tall and 1.5 feet in diameter, that is able to keep vaccines for 6,000 people at the required temperature for as long as 40 days in desert climates. The thermos has become essential to inexpensively distributing life-saving vaccines to remote villages. A modification on the thermos has even enabled the provision of Ebola vaccines, which are more difficult to transport due to a lower required temperature.

Arc’Teryx’s Work Continues

The company is always looking for more opportunities to offer its outdoor survival technology to projects working to help people. Alongside that work, it is continuing to fund poverty-fighting organizations and is now conducting a continental search for individuals using tech to help the world’s poor.

– Olivia Heale
Photo: Flickr