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Using Streaming to Make an Income
For many rural citizens of China, earning a living is an unproductive grind. More than one-third of the country’s working population consists of rural migrant workers. Despite the long and difficult hours of labor, the average income of these jobs is only approximately 45,000 yuan (less than $6,400 USD). That amount is enough to cover the laborers’ expenses and send some money home to their families but is not enough to ensure long-term financial stability.

Not only are the wages low, but the work conditions are poor. Laborers often resort to living in overcrowded dormitories or apartments that cost a large portion of their monthly salaries. There are hardly any welfare benefits in any migrant-based jobs and social insurance is rare. Workers also struggle to acquaint themselves with their new locales. Hardly any have enough free time to truly settle into their new cities and report feeling isolated and out of place.

Such occupations can no doubt feel limiting. That is why some people in bleak working environments make their own careers. With some ingenuity and with technology as simple as a smartphone, impoverished laborers are continually improving their quality of life. Here is the story of a person who used streaming to make an income.

From Working Construction to Streaming Chickens

Liu Jinyin, a Chinese chicken farmer in Luzhou, Sichuan province,  used to struggle with his meager migrant worker’s salary. Making just 48,000 yuan (around $6,750 USD) annually, Liu worked in construction, followed by a facility that manufactured zippers. After that, he worked as a goat breeder. In his former jobs, he was unhappy with both his wages and his quality of life.

In early 2017, he decided to try something new. With his smartphone and a live streaming app, he began sharing everyday life on his family’s rural farm. He wanted to tap into the ever-growing streaming market in China. Liu features his morning chores, various maintenance projects on the farm and descriptions of the flora and fauna that he encounters every day, among other activities. Gradually, he began to amass a following while streaming to make an income. Urban Chinese often commented that they used to live in rural areas and enjoyed the videos because they reminded them of home. People from other areas of the world were simply fascinated with the way of life and liked the casual look into someone else’s routine.

Tapping into his entrepreneurial side, Liu began to develop a regular schedule for his casual streams. His fanbase responded, and he now has nearly 200,000 followers and makes $1,500 USD per month. Best of all, he is able to stay home and work on his family’s farm full-time. While some of the inhabitants of his hometown were apprehensive about his new line of work, Liu paid his critics no mind. “I’m… now able to stay at home to take care of my parents. Everyone’s happy. This has changed me,” he once remarked.

Other Ways Technology Can Share Prosperity

Liu developed a following with nothing more than a good idea and a smartphone. He now makes nearly three times his prior income in a much more comfortable environment. There is no reason why anyone else in his situation could not find the same success if they had the right tools to do so.

Streaming to make an income is not necessarily the only option either. Some people use basic technologies to make and share videos, advertise their handmade goods or seek microloans to own and operate local businesses. With the proper tools, people living in or near poverty can better support themselves, their families and their communities. Remote entrepreneurs do not have to worry about commuting and have the freedom to tend to their homes and young children while working. Often, the global market is better for the sale of specialty items, like jewelry or art pieces. Access to a bigger market generates more profits.

Ways Anyone Can Help

When business people begin their ventures, they primarily need customers to interact with. A person can visit websites that sell fairly-produced handmade goods to offer support. One can also engage with men and women on microloan services, many of whom share interesting and inspirational stories.

From a political perspective, it is also important to support the Digital GAP Act, currently in the U.S. Senate. This bill would allocate funds to give 1.5 billion people first-time internet access by 2020. Not only would this legislation improve educational, political and societal operations, but a huge number of people would have better economic opportunities thanks to its implementation.

Liu Jinyin’s story is a great example of how no career should be off-limits for anyone, no matter their background. It also shows a small glimpse of how the newest generation of impoverished young adults is using modern technologies to improve their lives. Whether it is buying art or watching chickens, one can give these hardworking people support. The story of a Chinese chicken farmer streaming to make an income is truly amazing.

– Molly Power
Photo: Flickr

Digital Gap Act Benefits the U.S.The Digital Gap Act’s (H.R. 600) objective is primarily to foster greater internet access in developing countries in order to:

  1. Reduce poverty
  2. Improve education
  3. Empower women
  4. Advance U.S. interests

What the Digital Gap Act Will Do

Three billion people, that is 60 percent of the world’s population, lack internet access. As a result of that, those same three billion people are outside the radius of the free flow of information, innovations in health, education and commerce and are therefore lacking access to U.S. goods and services.

As the Digital Gap Act establishes internet access for these people, several features of the developing world would improve, while benefiting the U.S. simultaneously.

How the Digital Gap Act Benefits the U.S.

Bringing 500 million women online has the potential to add an additional $18 billion in GDP growth across 144 countries, which expands the global market for U.S. goods and services. The act also promotes democracy and good governance due to the transparency that follows the free flow of information on the Internet, instilling a favorable investment climate.

Furthermore, the Digital Gap Act could generate a possible $2.2 trillion in additional total GDP, which is a 72 percent increase in the GDP growth rate of developing countries. It would also spur job creation, up to 140 million jobs to be more precise, benefitting both the U.S. and developing countries, and would increase personal income gains to $600 per person in developing countries each year.

Lastly, the Digital Gap Act would lift 160 million people out of extreme poverty, all of whom would work their way into a growing market. This also means 2.5 million lives would be saved through improving healthcare.

Previous Advances Due to Greater Digital Access

Improved access to the internet has long been proven to advance the world as a whole. Eight million entrepreneurs in China now use e-commerce to sell goods, one-third of them being women. India reduced corruption and increased access to services by using digital identification. Africans with HIV were better reminded to take their medication through SMS messages.

The Digital Gap Act benefits the U.S. in a plethora of ways. Anywhere from cybersecurity to global political stability, global health to job availability and economic growth to cost-effective development practices, the developing world as well as the U.S. have much to reap from the gains in all these sectors. So today, U.S. taxpayers have a well-defined and remarkable reason to celebrate for the nation’s considerable contribution in the form of the Digital Gap Act.

– Roberto Carlos Ventura
Photo: Flickr

Bringing affordable internet access to developing countries would help it to gain access to the global marketplace as well as manage healthcare crisis. Therefore, The Borgen Project is trying to get the Digital GAP Act passed because having access to the internet is very important for economic development, the act is attempting to ensure that impoverished countries get exactly that.

Fighting Pandemics via the Internet

Affordable internet access would help fight pandemics because it can be used to both: a.) train healthcare workers in better ways to help prevent communicable diseases from spreading; b.) monitor the spread of a disease before it turns into a pandemic.

Another way affordable internet access would help developing nations is by allowing people in remote areas to use telemedicine to get basic medical care. Telemedicine is using technologies such as the internet to allow people who live in remote areas, without enough doctors, to gain access to healthcare. However, it is only feasible in areas that have low-cost internet access.

The internet would greatly benefit people living in third world countries by providing them with the information they need to stay healthy, for instance, learning how to prevent death as a result of diarrhoea by staying hydrated, teaching people the ways to avoid contracting HIV, providing helpful information to diabetic people so that they can manage their condition better, etc.

Affordable Internet Access and Financial Independence

Bringing affordable internet access to developing countries allows people to sell their goods in the open market. For example, easy access to the global marketplace via the internet allows both farmers and artisans to directly sell their goods to international buyers, without going through intermediaries, thereby getting the full value of their commodities.

Many of the technical tools used by people in the third world to trade, such as the blockchain, require affordable internet access. These tools are there to ensure that sellers get a fair price for whatever they are selling in the global marketplace.

Digital GAP Act and Children’s Education

Children in developing countries can use the internet to get access to online educational materials so that they are able to learn independently using resources available on the internet. These educational resources only become viable in areas where affordable internet access is readily available to people.

Seymour Papert, an MIT professor, believed that giving students in impoverished countries access to electronic devices would enable them to become curious and learn more. MIT provided students with inexpensive laptops that are very hard to break and the Digital GAP Act ensures that connecting such devices to the internet is an affordable option so that the children can use their laptops to access online resources and learn independently.

The Borgen Project is trying to bring the Digital GAP Act to the attention of the legislators and has an online tool, that will allow people who care about helping other people in the third world get access to the internet, to send a letter to their representatives. The bill has already passed in the House of Representatives but must be introduced in the Senate.

– Michael Israel

Photo: Flickr

digital gap act
The Digital Global Access Policy (GAP) Act was passed in the House of Representatives on January 24, 2017. This bill is a vital step in reducing global poverty in developing nations, creating more interconnectedness between people and nations and saving millions of lives.

Currently, nearly 60 percent of the world’s 7.6 billion people remain offline. In this increasingly global society, access to the internet is becoming a necessary service alongside electricity and running water. Developing nations and governments need internet access to connect systems, provide services to residents and lift themselves out of poverty to participate in global markets.

The Digital GAP Act, introduced by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), had overwhelming bipartisan support in the House. On its way to the Senate, the bill will bring mobile or broadband internet access to 1.5 billion people for the first time. The passing of the Digital GAP Act will spur economic growth in developing nations, save millions of lives through increasing global health and crisis response and fight to bring more women online in the fight for global equality and human rights.

Economic Benefits of the Digital GAP Act

Closing the digital divide would boost global commerce by billions of dollars. Providing internet access to communities will increase thhe earning potential of individuals and communities, allowing for more prosperous people.

The availability of internet means emerging markets in need of data plans. The new sales of platforms and data plans open up a market opportunity worth $50 to $70 billion. Furthermore, the addition of internet access to disadvantaged communities will allow companies and businesses to invest in the area. The creation and attraction of local and foreign businesses to establish themselves within communities previously without internet access will drum up industry and increase economic growth and opportunity.

The More Women Online, the More Prosperity

On the House floor, prior to the vote which passed the Digital GAP Act, Rep. Chairman Ed Royce highlighted the way women are disproportionately affected by the digital gap and the importance to bringing more women online. “[Women are] …serving as the principal consumers, caregivers, educators, peacemakers and income-earners across the developing world. Bringing women online will not only deepen the benefit of existing investments in governance and global health, it will accelerate economic growth,” Rep. Royce said.

Intel Corporation argues that bringing even just 150 million more women online has immense benefits for the women themselves, their families and their communities. Seeing another 600 million women online would contribute an estimated $13 to $18 billion to the annual GDP across 144 developing countries.

Providing internet access to more women would expand opportunities as 180 million women would see improved abilities to generate income for themselves and their families. Passing the Digital GAP Act would see nearly 500 million women able to improve their education and see greater freedom and connectivity to the public sphere as a result of being online.

Increasing Global Health and Crisis Response Saves Lives

In 2014, the Ebola virus claimed over 11,000 lives, with Liberia suffering the worst. Liberia, without reliable internet access, saw community health centers struggle to coordinate efforts to save lives. With 60 percent of the world left out of the technological revolution, there is a lack of coordination, communication and response to global health crises. The lack of internet access resulted in more deaths from Ebola.

Today, many communities struggle with the Zika virus, which disproportionately affects women and infants. Without internet access, communities are unable to track the virus. This means individuals in communities affected by the virus will remain completely unaware of its presence until it is too late. This allows the virus to spread over borders with more ease.

Not only does the addition of internet access increase crisis response capacity, but it also increases education surrounding global health. With access to information about disease, sanitation and general health and well-being, communities have more tools to prevent health crises. In rural areas where clinics may be expensive or difficult to travel to, access to health advice and knowledge about ailments can allow communities to make better decisions regarding global health.

Passed in the House and on its way to the Senate, the Digital GAP Act can save lives, spur economic growth and opportunity and achieve gender equality. Now more than ever, it is important to support poverty reducing legislation that will make a difference in millions of lives.

– Kelilani Johnson

Photo: Flickr

How the Technology Gap Censors and Silences the World's PoorTechnology often feels like it has inundated our lives, yet about 60 percent of the world’s population does not have Internet access. Technological progress has jumpstarted globalization and fed growing economies, but the International Monetary Fund shows that it has also created a technology gap that is the driving force in inequality. The voices of impoverished people are almost completely lost in today’s technological world.

China made headlines in the U.S. recently for their technological censorship. The Communist Party holds congress October 18 and as the date has been approaching, the Chinese government has interfered with communications they cannot directly monitor. It is easy to criticize such blatant corruption – the story even made New York Times headlines – but there is comparably little concern over the fact that poverty creates a societal censorship more crippling than any government.

The freedom to communicate has been autonomous for most of history, only hindered by disability or geographical and cultural divide. Technology gave the world a solution to these roadblocks and seemed to “shrink” the world. But now it has been marketized so much that a single shift in Apple’s quarterly earnings will shift the entire Dow Jones Industrial Average. Technology is commercialized and treated as a privilege rather than a right, taking the right to communicate along with it.

The U.N.‘s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development names the technology gap as one of the greatest obstacles to eradicating poverty. The Mexico delegate expressed that bridging that gap means “embracing the information society which was plural, transparent, decentralized, democratic and egalitarian.”

China’s censorship is only one symptom and one example of a government working against that vision. The country ranks 79th on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, which is even a relatively liberal position compared to some of the world’s poorest countries. The majority of the most corrupt countries are in Sub-Saharan Africa and northward into the Middle East. Business Insider’s list of the poorest countries, based on International Monetary Fund data, shows the same pattern and attributes the correlation to “authoritarian regimes where corruption is rampant.”

Two of the best examples of this are the Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic. Ranked the two poorest countries in the world, they are also both on the list of the 20 most corrupt countries. Furthermore, in the Central African Republic, just over four percent of the population are Internet users, whereas just under four percent are Internet users in the Congo. About 10 years ago, that number was less than one percent in both countries. The technology gap means that people who need the world’s help the most unfortunately do not have the resources to ask for it.

The U.S. passed a piece of legislation this year called The Digital Gap Act, which was implemented in September and hopes to bring first time Internet access to 1.5 billion people by 2020. This is just one step – though an important one – in the direction toward a global society that is representative of the entire population, and a step toward helping eradicate poverty by ensuring those who need it most have access to helpful technology.

Brooke Clayton
Photo: Flickr

Digital GAP Act
While the developed world sends emails to colleagues, updates friends on Facebook and conducts research using online databases, the 4.2 billion who lack access to the internet linger behind on economic, health and education development.

The 60 percent of the population currently offline is predominantly low-income, rural, female, elderly and illiterate, according to the House Foreign Affairs committee. Seventy-five percent of the 4.2 billion are condensed into only 20 countries.

Rep. Ed Royce, R-CA, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, authored the Digital Global Access Policy Act, better known as the Digital GAP Act, to increase internet access in developing countries using a “build-once” policy. The Digital GAP Act would also require more transparency in the U.S. accomplished through projects to open more possibilities for private firms to invest in internet infrastructure to aid developing economies.

During a $100 million road construction project years ago, Liberian officials decided not to lay cables that would have added $1 million to the project’s cost. The lack of connectivity in Liberia and other developing countries has cost lives and economic growth. The build-once policy would help avoid the need to later add cables for internet connectivity for tens of millions of dollars.

However, history has shown lack of internet connectivity has repercussions reaching far beyond development as the world suffers the impacts of crises longer and more deeply. In 2014, the outbreak of the Ebola virus infected over 28,000 people in West Africa, killing over 8,000. This was due in large part to the lack of reliable internet access that hindered coordination between community health centers.

Those treating Ebola patients did not send patient information to other health facilities at the click of a button, but instead physically transported the information. This was not only less efficient but also exposed those outside of the quarantined red zones to the virus. Increased internet connectivity during the Ebola outbreak could have cut exposures, improved the tracking of the viruses’ spread and opened the possibility of international analysis anywhere with scanned and uploaded patient documents.

The world faces a similar struggle in containing the Zika virus. The current strategy involves notifying travelers where the virus is, but officials in many developing countries have no way of tracking the effect of the virus in their own communities. Containing the virus and notifying vulnerable populations could be as Recode writes, “as easy as the click of a mouse or a swipe of a mobile application.”

In addition to improving crises response, the Digital GAP Act’s purpose is to aid developing countries in expanding economies, creating jobs, improving health and education, reducing poverty and gender inequality and promote good governance of a populace. The U.S. is to “promote first-time internet access to mobile or broadband internet for at least 1.5 billion people in developing countries by 2020 in both urban and rural areas,” the House Foreign Affairs committee wrote in an official press release.

The Digital GAP Act also stresses the importance of U.S. cybersecurity for the U.S. in its provisions. If passed, the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment’s title would change to include “Cyberspace.” The Department of State would be required to designate an Assistant Secretary for Technology, International Communications and Cyberspace to lead diplomatic cyberspace efforts, and the president would include information on internet access, cyber security policy and internet freedom in the next White House Cyberspace Strategy session.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) would integrate efforts under the Digital GAP Act to increase internet access and the protection of private information. The Peace Corps Act would include an amendment that would allow Peace Corps to develop volunteer positions for the purpose of increased internet connectivity. The president would share with Congress plans to promote U.S. partnerships to provide internet infrastructure for increased access in developing countries and direct the House in advocating for these efforts abroad.

The House of Representatives passed the Digital GAP Act and the Senate is expected to vote soon.

Ashley Leon

Photo: Flickr

Digital GAP Act
The Digital Gap Act, a key bill advocated for by The Borgen Project has passed in the House of Representatives. The Digital Global Access Policy (GAP) Act (H.R. 5537) passed on September 7 with bipartisan support, championed by House Republican Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY).

The bill, introduced in June 2016, targets the percentage of world’s population without internet access. If enacted, the Digital GAP Act would promote mobile or broadband internet access to at least 1.5 billion of the 4.2 billion people without internet access by 2020. Nearly 75 percent of those living offline reside in only 20 countries and are predominantly low-income, female, elderly, illiterate and rural populations.

The bill requires the Department of State, USAID and the Peace Corps to make integrated efforts to promote first-time internet access across developing countries. To do so, the Digital GAP Act supports internet deployment, capacity building, and build-once approaches by standardizing the inclusion of broadband conduit pipes as part of sewer, power transmission facilities, rail, pipeline, bridge, tunnel and road projects.

By leveraging support from international agencies, the legislation aims to promote gender-equitable internet access and protect human rights online, including the freedoms of speech, assembly, association, religion and the right to privacy.

The bill would further require the President to report to Congress on not only the progress of his internet access policy but also on the partnerships between federal agencies to provide access and develop infrastructure.

To accomplish these goals, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the implementation of the Digital GAP Act would cost less than $500,000 between the years 2017 and 2021.

Upon the introduction of the bill into Congress, McMorris Rodgers stated, “Access to the same technology which powers the American economy is critical to empowering developing countries. By promoting internet access around the world and modernizing our approach to humanitarian and International development programs, we will be taking an important step towards closing the digital divide holding so many people back, and improving global economic security.”

Earlier this week, McMorris Rodgers expressed her enthusiasm towards the passing of the bill, adding, “Modernizing our international aid prerogatives to reflect the 21st-century world we all live in is crucial as we look to get more of the developing world online.”

Overall, the Digital GAP Act seeks to end the digital divide by providing equitable and affordable internet access which could be the catalyst for a myriad of positive changes in resource-poor communities by spurring economic growth and job creation, reducing poverty and gender inequality as well as improving health education.

The Borgen Project has advocated for the passing of this legislation in recent months and will continue to stress global internet access as an important tool in the fight against poverty as the bill progresses to the Senate.

-Anna O’Toole

Photo: Flickr

Poverty hinders economic growth
Efforts to reduce global poverty have been largely successful over the past few years. However one of the highest costs is that poverty hinders economic growth. It is a preventable burden that has solutions.

Here are five facts from around the world on how poverty hinders economic growth and what you can do to help reduce global poverty:

1. The effects of poverty cost U.K. citizens about 1,200 pounds per person every year.

According to the Guardian, 25 percent of health care spending is associated with treating conditions related to poverty; 20 percent of the U.K.’s education budget is spent on initiatives, like free school meals, to reduce the impact of poverty.

2. Child poverty reduces U.S. productivity and economic output by 1.3 percent of GDP each year, which costs the U.S. about $500 billion per year.

Economic hardship disproportionately affects children more than any other age group. The Center for American Progress believes impoverished children are more likely to have low earnings as adults and are somewhat more likely to engage in crime.

This “reduced productive activity” generates a direct loss of goods and services to the U.S. economy.

3. Children living in poverty have higher dropout rates and absenteeism, which limits their employability.

The Council of State Governments Knowledge Center found that nearly 30 percent of poor children do not complete high school, which limits future economic success.

A more educated individual is more likely to participate in the job market, to have a job, to work more hours, to be paid more and less likely to be unemployed according to an Economic Policy Institute report from August 2013.

Countries may see a rise in economic productivity by ensuring that children from low-income backgrounds have equitable access and are motivated to stay in school.

4. Poverty increases the risk of poor health; it is a $7.6 billion burden on the Canadian health care system.

The link between poor health and poverty is undeniable; the World Health Organization (WHO) declares poverty as the single largest determinant of health.

Poverty increases the likelihood of developing conditions that are expensive to treat such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, reducing poverty not only cultivates a healthy economy but it can also create a physically healthier society.

5. Billions of people — especially women — remain offline.

Developing countries are paying the cost of poverty while missing out on the economic benefits of increased internet access.

Women and the Web, a study sponsored by Intel, reveals that bringing an additional 600 million women online would contribute at least $13-18 billion to annual GDP across the developing world.

Increasing internet access in developing countries would also increase participation in e-commerce and increase access to educational resources and health services.

Want to help in the global fight to end poverty?

Mobilizing your congressional leaders to endorse poverty-reducing legislation has a widespread impact on reducing the high cost of poverty. For example, the Digital GAP Act aims to bring affordable, first-time internet access for at least 1.5 billion people in developing countries by 2020 and would help to bridge the digital divide. This will greatly facilitate change and decrease the way that poverty hinders economic growth.

Please visit The Borgen Project’s action center for more information on how you can contact your congressional leaders and voice your support for innovative, poverty-reducing legislation.

Daniela Sarabia

Photo: Pixabay