Indonesian Sea SaltSea salt farming almost always occurs in warm climates with little precipitation, such as in Indonesia. Sea salt is harvested from shallow ponds called salterns through natural solar evaporation. As water evaporates from the shallow ponds, the salt in the water becomes more concentrated. When the water reaches about 25 percent salinity, the salt starts to crystallize and it can be harvested.

Indonesian Sea Salt Farmers

Wealthier sea salt farmers have access to technology that reduces the need for manual labor but most Indonesian sea salt farmers have to do everything themselves. Just getting seawater to the salterns requires Indonesian farmers to spend days carrying the water by hand from the sea.

Farmers with access to technology use trucks with rake attachments to break up the salt beds but many Indonesian farmers have to rake the salt beds manually. Indonesian farmers then have to scoop up the salt and carry it to washing facilities. After the sea salt is washed, farmers have to boil it to produce pure salt. To boil the sea salt, Indonesian farmers have to carry large containers of salt on their heads to open, smoky stoves.

Sea salt farming has a long history in Indonesia but other agricultural economies such as cashews, cacao and coconut palms took precedence and stalled the sea salt economy. Indonesian sea salt saw a revival in 2005 as demand for gourmet salt rose.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation

With the rise in demand for sea salt but little improvement in the technology available for Indonesian sea salt farmers, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) made an Indonesia Compact. The MCC is an independent U.S. foreign aid agency that partners with countries worldwide to promote economic growth and lift people out of poverty. With strong bipartisan support, the U.S. Congress created the MCC in 2004 and the MCC signed the five-year Indonesia Compact in 2011.

The MCC’s Indonesia Compact went into force in 2013 and ended in April 2018. The Compact’s three initiatives were:

  1. The Community-Based Health and Nutrition to Reduce Stunting Project
  2. The Green Prosperity Project
  3. The Procurement Modernization Project

Aid for Indonesian sea salt farmers fell under the Green Prosperity Project which sought to increase agricultural productivity and to improve land use practices and management of natural resources.

The MCC worked closely with the Indonesia-based NGO Panca Karsa to communicate with sea salt farmers on the ground. By introducing piping to get seawater to salterns, improving filtering techniques and even just providing farmers with wheelbarrows, the MCC and Panca Karsa have helped sea salt farmers increase the quantity and quality of their salt production, boosting the farmers’ incomes and making their businesses more sustainable.

Panca Karsa reports that salt yields have tripled in the last couple of years and prices have doubled due to improved quality. In the past, most of the farmers were only able to sell their salt in bulk at local markets or trade their salt for rice. The MCC and Panca Karsa also helped farmers improve packaging, labeling and marketing and now farmers’ salt is competitive in artisanal and niche markets globally.

Sea Salt Farming and Female Empowerment

Most of the labor-intensive work of sea salt farming in Indonesia is done by poor women. These women do not generally own the land they work on and many only take home about $2 per day. Before the MCC and Panca Karsa intervened, these women only retained about 50 percent of their hard-earned production. Now, these farmers report that they retain about 60 percent.

Besides training programs for salt-making, financial management, business planning, quality control and marketing, the MCC and Panca Karsa also offered monthly community meetings to raise awareness for maternal and child health and nutrition. The organizations helped get families access to health and other services and worked to improve gender relations by engaging households in task-sharing between men and women.

In just a few years, the MCC and Panca Karsa have helped train over 400 female sea salt farmers and entrepreneurs in Indonesia, making it possible for these women to expand their businesses and support their families.

– Kathryn Quelle
Photo: Flickr

South Africa's Growing Business Landscape
South Africa‘s business landscape can be challenging. Many businesses have become successful nationally as well as internationally in some cases, but it can be difficult for new businesses to get off the ground. These are a few of the difficulties faced by businesses in South Africa as well as some opportunities to overcome.

The Brain Drain

The large number of skilled workers leaving South Africa for other countries has led to the term “brain drain.” The Global Innovation Index estimates that South Africa has lost 5 percent of its researchers and entrepreneurs to other countries, which has taken away up to 20 percent of innovative production. By September 2015, 47,000 skilled South Africans had left the country, with 70 percent happy with their choice. This brain drain has led researchers to wonder why so many citizens are leaving and how to increase enthusiasm for staying in South Africa.

The Challenges of Owning a Business

Part of the challenge for entrepreneurs is simply the time required to open a business in South Africa, which hurts small businesses that cannot afford to wait. The main positive of opening a business is that the rules seem to be followed and there is a clear path to take. However, the time involved is lengthy. Construction permits can take up to 127 days to complete, but getting electricity for a building can take up to 226 days. It is estimated that it takes an average business owner 200 hours a year to complete their taxes. If someone breaks a contract, it may not be worth the time to try to recover the costs, because it takes an average of 500 days for cases like these to go through the court system.

Many Changes in the Last 25 Years

Other difficulties for many South Africans may be systemic ones. South Africa has seen a lot of change in the last 25 years in overcoming the aftermath of South Africa’s apartheid system. Like most major system changes, there are improvements and also growing pains. Many neighborhoods in South Africa still reflect separations in races and ethnic groups, which dates back to when this was required by apartheid law. In addition, there is still a significant wage gap between black and white citizens, with white citizens earning more.

However, improvements such as the murder rate being halved, access to better housing and the growing availability of electricity (50.9 percent in 1994 to 85.3 percent in 2012) show the country is invested in a better future. While these changes and challenges do not directly relate to businesses in South Africa, they illustrate the environment businesses are operating in. More than ever, it is clear that businesses are needed to help with some of these issues, particularly with the unemployment rate, which is at 26.7 percent, higher than it was in 1994, but lower than when it hit its peak of 31.2 percent in 2004.

Successful Businesses in South Africa

There are still challenges facing businesses in South Africa and a large number of citizens are finding opportunities elsewhere, but there are those that have stayed and been successful. When South African entrepreneurs were asked what lessons they learned, they cited the importance of building a loyal consumer base, a willingness to be gutsy and a readiness to try new things.

Some successful entrepreneurs that have changed the face of South Africa are Pam Golding, who founded Pam Golding Properties in 1976 as an estate agency, but has since moved into the luxury residential space. Or Richard Maponya, who started successful businesses involving retail and property despite apartheid laws and recently helped open Maponya Mall. Or Adrian Gore, who founded Discovery Health, which has had such a huge impact on health insurance that many other companies are duplicating his model.

While not all of South Africa’s challenges will be cured through business, developing a healthy business base will create more opportunities for citizens, increase employment opportunities and help fill in other voids, such as infrastructure or bridging gaps between groups of people. All of this together will help to create a healthy work and business environment, consequently reducing the brain drain in South Africa.

-Natasha Komen

Photo: Flickr

Best Careers for Fighting Poverty
Many people are looking to make a difference these days through volunteer work, making donations and voting, but there are also many careers that can make a huge impact. The best careers for fighting poverty may be surprising to some, but each makes a difference in the lives of others.

Working in these fields makes the world a better place and improves the lives of the poor:

  1. Teachers
    Kids spend approximately 1,200 hours annually in the classroom. A teacher’s influence is vast and encompasses the education, mental health and safety of the children they teach. Education is vital in the fight against poverty and provides students with the tools necessary to make a living and gain the schooling needed to avoid poverty.
    It is important more than ever that female teachers gain employment in developing areas. This allows girls in culturally strict regions to be able to attend school, feel safe and receive gender equality in the classroom.
  2. Social Workers
    Those in vulnerable situations are able to receive support through their social workers, such as family counselors. Social workers work to improve the mental health of those seeking counsel, and help diagnose emotional issues, so that they can receive treatment and progress professionally.
  3. Doctors and Nurses
    Working in one of the best careers for fighting poverty, those in the medical field have the power to affect the health of people in poorer communities. They can even opt to go abroad with volunteer groups or Doctors Without Borders during seasons they choose.
    Doctors and nurses can also help vaccinate those in developing countries, provide health counsel and improve the health conditions of the community they work in. Citizens in good health are less likely to remain or fall into poverty in the first place. With good health, they are able to work full time, participate in the economy and attend school.
  4. Entrepreneurs
    People who start their own businesses are able to address issues that may not have already been addressed by their communities or nations yet. Entrepreneurs have the power to not only create jobs and positively impact their local economies, but are also able to create influential movements and businesses.
  5. Lawyers
    Lawyers are able to participate in pro-bono work, providing legal assistance to those who would not otherwise be able to afford the help. They are also able to prevent those wrongly accused from going to prison, which stimulates the economy and keeps people in the work force and out of crime.

There are many influential jobs that can reduce poverty in communities, but these are the best careers for fighting poverty that have the widest reach. The average person spends 90,000 hours at work in their lifetime and to be able to make those hours count is an impactful feat, accomplished by those who care enough to make a career out of making a difference.

– Emily Degn

Photo: Flickr

Why Is Trinidad and Tobago PoorThe island nation of Trinidad and Tobago lies in the Caribbean Ocean off the coast of Venezuela. Built primarily around the oil and gas industries, Trinidad and Tobago‘s economy is one of the strongest in the Caribbean. Despite this, several factors have led to economic stagnation as well as relatively prevalent poverty. So, why is Trinidad and Tobago poor?

A lack of economic diversification and overdependence on petroleum and natural gas are some of the most important factors holding back Trinidad and Tobago‘s economy. With oil and gas constituting 80 percent of exports and about 40 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), the island nation has clearly devoted much of its economy to the sale and manufacturing of these natural resources. This leads to several problems.

Oil and gas prices have been in an overall decline over the past several years, so Trinidad and Tobago’s economy has suffered from job loss, reduced tax revenue and reduced development in human capital. These natural resources are also nonrenewable, meaning that they will eventually run out. Trinidad and Tobago’s government has done little to ensure that the country is ready to expand its economy beyond oil and gas once the underground reserves run dry. The overall lack of a business environment to stimulate entrepreneurs is one of the main answers to the question of why Trinidad and Tobago is poor.

Furthermore, the non-energy areas of the economy remain severely underdeveloped and continue to heavily depend on government subsidies. This lack of economic success in non-energy areas discourages potential foreign investors from investing in Trinidad and Tobago, despite the oil and gas sector’s success. Direct foreign investment is undeniably crucial for a country seeking economic diversification, as the inflow of money can help build a strong foundation for new sectors in the economy.

According to a review conducted by the Commonwealth Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank focused on public policy, over 20 percent of Trinidad and Tobago’s citizens currently live below the poverty line. The report also states that 11 percent of the population is undernourished. These unexpectedly high rates of poverty and malnutrition may be partly due to the considerable gender-wage gap present in Trinidad and Tobago.

A study conducted by the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago shows that women, on average, earn a staggering 35.3 percent less than men. While this may be partially due to a large portion of women taking low-income jobs, there is certainly a serious amount of gender-based discrimination in wages. It is easy to fall into complacency after the increase in the average woman’s wage – from $9,000 in 2012 to $12,000 in 2014. Despite this rise in pay, however, the wage gap has only been increasing. The average male wage was $18,000 in 2012, but has disproportionately increased to $30,000 in 2014.

Another issue presented by the gender-wage gap affects families with single parents. In Trinidad and Tobago, the children of single parents are six times more likely to live under the poverty line. With about 75 percent of single families headed by the mother, the issue of the gender-wage gap becomes truly alarming. It is illogical to expect single mothers to not only care for her children but also provide for them if she is working for significantly reduced wages and has no supplemental income.

This economic disparity between men and women has led to efforts in increasing the resources dedicated to educating and training women. With the number of women in the workforce steadily increasing over the past few years, women in Trinidad and Tobago have definitely seen improvements in their social and economic standing. Nevertheless, there is still much progress to be made. Passing legislation to eliminate the wage gap would be a substantial step toward promoting economic success in Trinidad and Tobago, in addition to the inherent benefits of working toward gender equality.

Answering the question “Why is Trinidad and Tobago poor?” requires a more convoluted response than expected. The nation of Trinidad and Tobago is undoubtedly one of the wealthiest countries in the Caribbean despite its deeply embedded economic flaws. While the country has made impressive progress by developing social programs to help the vulnerable, nurturing new businesses to encourage private sector growth and eradicating the gender-wage gap must be near the top of Trinidad and Tobago’s priorities for there to be long-term economic improvement.

Akhil Reddy

Photo: Flickr

Code for Good
By harnessing the power of technology, three young men in Rwanda have set out to empower other Rwandan youths. Ildephonse Mungwarakarama, Theogene Niyonsenga and Jerome Habimana launched the Code for Good program to teach Rwandan students, the skills they need for app development for free.

The three entrepreneurs began their partnership in 2014 when they launched House of Technology, a company that provides its clients with web-based solutions ranging from website design to internet portal management. Code for Good is their most recent initiative.

The Code for Good program is aimed at educating youth throughout Rwanda about app development, reaching college students and those that have already graduated from universities, as well as those still in high school and under the age of 18.

For those that may be unemployed after college, Mungwarakarama, Niyonsenga and Habimana hope to provide the opportunity to learn valuable skills and gain work experience. Regardless of age or schooling, the program prepares students to meet industry standards and to enter the workforce, all the while improving academic performance.

Training is completed within the community by volunteers who meet with students after they have registered to complete the program. Once students have completed their training, they are equipped with the skills needed to teach these same skills to others as well as to apply what they have learned to future projects.

This program could be especially impactful in a country where poverty is such a prevalent issue. Of Rwanda’s nearly 13 million people, 62 percent live in poverty. In recent years, there has been an indication of a positive trend away from poverty, as the Rwandan economy has grown rapidly and the poverty rate has dropped. Programs like Code for Good will help to continue this trend.

With organizations like Code for Good that are actively engaged in building Rwanda’s future, it seems as if much can be done to alleviate poverty in Rwanda. By capitalizing on the high-tech world, young Rwandans can enact powerful change within their country.

Jennifer Faulkner

Photo: Flickr

OPIC Makes $5 million Commitmen

With the help of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation’s (OPIC) recent $5 million commitment to support the UCF (Unreasonable Capital Fund), the young venture capital firm will be able to invest in and support what it calls the “greatest entrepreneurs of our time.” These entrepreneurs address the foundations of poverty in emerging countries by creating profitable businesses.

Unreasonable Capital will use the OPIC funds for early-stage investments in businesses in developing countries that will ultimately enable large segments of their populations to rise into the middle class. The focus of the UCF will be on start-up companies in these sectors: energy access, financial technology and mobile phone applications in agriculture and artisan-driven fashion.

The intent of the UCF investments is to develop self-sustaining, profitable businesses that improve the lives of people in Latin America, India, Asia and Africa. Unreasonable Capital works exclusively in emerging markets. It focuses on clean energy, financial technologies, innovations in agriculture and artisan-driven fashion because it believes these business sectors can best make inroads into long-term poverty in those markets.

The firm measures the success of its investments on both financial returns and social impact. It wants to work with entrepreneurs in emerging markets who are intent on solving significant social or environmental problems in a way that their social impact is “baked into their profit model.”

Unreasonable Capital offers start-ups not only financial assistance but also access to best practices and mentors through the firm’s global network of more than 200 partners and 250 mentors. The partners include The World Bank, Google and Nike. Mentors include the founder of WordPress and the chief marketing officer of Unilever.

Unreasonable Capital received its $5 million commitment from OPIC through the institutions’ Innovative Financial Intermediaries Program (IFIP). The program is intended to help small financial vehicles invest with the aim of developing businesses that are innovative and have a social impact.

OPIC, established in 1971, is the development finance institution of the US Government. It marshals private capital to address critical development challenges, especially in emerging markets. By doing that, OPIC advances US foreign policy and national security interests.

OPIC is self-sustaining. Its projects produce no net cost to U.S. taxpayers. In fact, it normally generates income and helps reduce the federal deficit. It does so through supporting projects such as power plants in Sub-Saharan Africa, low-income housing in Latin America and food processing plants in Eastern Europe. OPIC’s $5 million commitment to support the UCF is just one more example of the institution fulfilling its mission.

Robert Cornet

Photo: Flickr

USAID Helps Small Time Farmers Achieve Their Dreams
Although giving aid to countries is a great way to lend support, giving small businesses the chance to grow is the best way to make a lasting impact. When small business owners are able to achieve their aspirations, it only motivates others to follow in their footsteps. Although it is possible for an individual to achieve the dream of sustaining their own company, many require financial assistance in order to make that happen.

In the country of Mozambique, small time farmers and entrepreneurs regularly struggle to expand their businesses because the banks view them as a high risk investments. The local banks do not have copious amounts of money to lend out and that forces them to charge outrageously high interest on their loans.

Carlos João Tovela Sigue, a small time farmer in Maputo, Mozambique, has been able to support his family by growing a variety of different crops. Although he has been able to sustain a healthy lifestyle for his family, Sigue had aspirations of owning and operating a much larger enterprise. The giant hurdle standing between him and his dream was financial support. Sigue stressed the difficulty of expanding production without a bank loan, which is a problem many farmers and small business owners in Mozambique face.

One of the main factors hindering the banks from loaning money to Mozambican entrepreneurs is the country’s struggle with inflation. Statistics reported by the National Statistics Institute (INE) showed that Maputo, Nampula and Beira — the three largest cities in Mozambique — had inflation rates of 11.25 percent from Feb. 1, 2015 to Jan. 31, 2016. Additionally, the Mozambican Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee reported “an increase of 100 base points in the Standing Lending Facility (the interest rate paid by the commercial banks to the central bank for money borrowed on the Interbank Money Market).”

This caused the interest rate to increase from 9.75 to 10.75 and marked the highest interest charged in Mozambique since September 2012. Even though the interest rate decreased slightly for a whole year, it only took three months for the interest rate to revert back to the 9.75 mark once again.

Thanks to a collaborative effort from United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), several Mozambican banks obtained the Agency’s Development Credit Authority (DCA). The DCA provided the banks with a partial guarantee on loans and pushed for them to loan money to entrepreneurs and small time farmers such as Sigue. The loan allowed Sigue to add another 12 hectares on to his farm, mechanize his framing methods and make improvements to his irrigation system.

Sigue not only paid back his loan in full, but was able to employ seasonal workers on his farm. Sigue’s prosperity over the first two years enabled him to take out a larger loan to sustain his dream for the long term. Sigue “plans to farm 350 hectares of family land, accumulate 700 cows, and buy a larger truck for taking crops for sale to the market.” The Mozambique government has recognized Sigue’s miraculous success and adorned him with many awards.

Sigue is the epitome of what can happen when small businesses are given enough financial support to better the lives of their families and evidently their communities. Mozambican entrepreneurs have been able to acquire 795 loans through the DCA program and the statistics show promising results as well.

Additional statistics show that over 160 thousand borrowers in 74 countries around the world have been provided with financing through the DCA program. When businesses are able to sustain themselves and better the future of their communities, even small time farmers can make monumental impacts.

Terry J. Halloran

Photo: Flickr

FINCA International helps small business owners in more than 23 countries worldwide by providing the finances and resources they need to keep their businesses up and running.

The innovative nonprofit focuses on four core areas: financial assistance, social intermediation, enterprise development and social service impact.

FINCA International serves as a financial intermediary by providing developing business owners with loans, teaching them how to open savings accounts and helping them find insurance tailored to the products and services they offer. This helps new businesses blossom into full-running operations that help women and men provide for their families.

Their second facet, social intermediation, is also an important part of their business model. Because they are serving entrepreneurs in countries that may be lacking in gender equality, they have to serve as people who can help bring change to these communities. FINCA International provides this intermediation through education in financial literacy and Village Banking loan programs.

In addition to enterprise development, they also help developing communities through educational programs, nutrition services, and health training. These programs contribute to the success and growth of the villages and towns they serve.

FINCA International was launched in 1984 by former Peace Corps member Dr. John Hatch. Hatch started the organization as Village Banking, which operated in Bolivia and served as a financial intermediary for farmers struggling through tough economic times. The following year, Hatch started the organization.

In its early days, FINCA International operated primarily in Latin America, including Honduras, Mexico, and El Salvador, but by the early 1990s, its services had spread to Africa and Eurasia as well. Since its inauguration, FINCA International has lived up to its name and has provided services in countries all over the world.

Subsidiaries exist in countries in Africa, Western Europe, Latin America and Asia.

Julia Hettiger

Sources: FINCA, Give, Philanthropedia, MicroCapital
Photo: Flickr

female tech entrepreneurs
African women have historically been some of the most disadvantaged people because of social and political norms, but recent developments in the corporate and startup worlds in Africa have allowed women to conceive of unique ideas to combat gender inequality and promote employment for all in the technology industry. Here are six female tech entrepreneurs who are making a difference with their business ideas.

Judith Owigar

Owigar is the co-founder of JuaKali, an online platform similar to LinkedIn that connects blue collar workers in the informal sector to employment opportunities. JuaKali allows users to create online profiles to showcase their expertise and recommendations to find formal employment in Kenya through web and mobile platforms.

Owigar is also the founder of Akirachix, an association that provides professional development services to women interested in technology. The association offers networking, training and mentoring to women with the goal of reducing the gender gap in technology for women in Africa and the world.

Coudy Binta De

This 24-year-old Senegalese entrepreneur is one the rising stars of the Information Technology sector in West Africa. Coudy Binta De and three other women established the first technology hub run by and for women in Sacre Coeur. The hub, named Jijiguene Tech Hub (Jijiguene means women in Woluf), offers elementary training for computer literacy to advanced training like coding in HTML and CSS.

Jijiguene Tech Hub also offers professional development services, and both men and women are welcome to come in with entrepreneurial ideas. Men overwhelmingly dominate the IT sector in Africa, and women like De are working to increase employment opportunities and create favorable social norms for female entrepreneurs.

Jamila Abass, Linda Kwamboka and Susan Oguya

These three Kenyan women created MFarm, a mobile platform that connects farmers with consumers in urban and rural areas. MFarm uses software that provides producers and buyers with the latest retail information, and consumers can purchase produce directly from the farmers and vice versa.

Farmers can find local consumers while buyers can find the lowest price for food amongst farmers; every user connects via SMS. The company began in 2010 after winning the IPO48 competition and is now supported by partners Samsung and Tech for Trade, a U.K.-based charity.

Akaliza Keza Gara

A Kigali native of Rwanda, Akaliza Keza Gara is a 27-year-old entrepreneur in the Information Communication Technology (ICT) industry of Rwanda’s technology sector. She is the founder of Shaking Sun, a multimedia company that offers website development, graphic design and computer animation services.

Gara believes women should be producers of technology, not just consumers. As such, she actively works to advance the position of women in the Rwandan ICT industry. In 2012, Gara was one of four female Rwandan entrepreneurs honored by the International Telecommunication Union for contributions to the ICT sector.

– Joseph McAdams

Sources: All Africa, BBC, Forbes, M Farm, Juakali
Photo: Africa Style Daily

Although Africa has long been seen as the forgotten continent, it is more important now to the United States and the rest of the world than ever before. Home to 6 of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world, the continent is increasingly in the eye of foreign investors from London, New York, Shanghai and Dubai. Here are some of the innovations that are changing the face of Africa in this rapid transformation from an allegedly “lost” continent to a new growth engine.

1. Start-ups and incubators

Innovation hubs like iHub in Nairobi, Co-Creation Hub in Lagos and the Silicon Cape Initiative in South Africa are now competing with the already well-established initiatives in the start-up capitals of San Francisco, London and Berlin. These communities are giving African start-ups access to capital and the advice they need to take new products to the market.

2. Afro-entrepreneurs

Omidyar Network has highlighted the growing number of “afro-entrepreneurs” that are emerging all across the continent with innovations that are uniquely African. One such example is Bridge International Academies, with over 46,000 students enrolled in their schools across Kenya. This is an initiative that commoditizes schools; pupils pay just $5 dollars a month to study at one of their “Academies-in-a-Box.”

3. Local technology producers

Several African technology firms have begun to design and produce mobile and computing hardware tailored to local needs. In the Republic of Congo, for example, there is VMK’s Way-C, an affordable Android tablet, and in Kenya, the Nairobi-based company Ushahidi developed BRCK, a black box designed to address unreliable power and data connections that has been dubbed the “backup generator for the Internet.”

4. Smartphones built for Africa

Major firms are starting to produce smartphones made specifically for African consumers. The Chinese company Huawei, for example, recently introduced its new product, 4Afrika, an affordable smartphone which will let users benefit from the growing data connectivity across the continent.

5. The maker movement

This trend from the developed world, which has seen millions of people creating and selling self-made products, has officially made it to Africa. The movement’s trademark event, the Maker Faire, took place last year in Lagos. The most notable locally produced product that resulted from this event was a generator designed and built by four teenage girls that uses 1 liter of urine to produce 6 hours of electricity.

6. Greater connectivity

Africa is leading the way when it comes to developing innovative solutions for limited connectivity. By taking advantage of unused radio and TV frequencies, providers are able to widen data coverage to include countless rural areas through white space technology. Microsoft has already partnered with Kenyan regulators and Google with South Africa’s ICASA to show that broadband can be offered over white spaces.

7. Mobile money

Africa is frequently seen as leading the world in mobile money solutions. In December 2012, Visa launched mVisa in Rwanda to serve the unbanked, improve ATM services across Rwanda and promote electronic payments which will contribute to formalizing the economy.

8.  mHealth

Health organizations have started to use mobile technology to address critical medical needs. SMS, in particular, is being used for countless needs, such as sharing vital information with expectant mothers or sending reminders to HIV/AIDS patients about taking their anitretrovirals. In Malawi, Baobab Health is developing solutions to replace traditional paper-based systems.

9. eLearning

Initiatives like One Laptop Per Child, Samsung’s e-learning technology platform, and solar-powered schools are innovative ways to ensure that students across the continent have access to up-to-date information and online resources, and are able to interact with teachers even when geographical obstacles stand in the way. Other organizations such as Wikipedia have teamed up with Orange to provide free access to the online encyclopedia to anyone with a mobile phone in Africa.

10. Social media

The use of social media is rising at astronomical rates in Africa. Besides Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, Africans are also creating and using local social media platforms, such as MXit, which has over 50 million users who can use the platform to chat and play games at low data costs.

– Nayomi Chibana
Feature Writer 

Sources: Portland, Center for Global Development
Photo: Education Innovations