Inventions Saving Infant LivesEven with the rapidly developing technology around today, giving birth and nursing are still some of the toughest experiences a mother can go through. Those experiences are, unfortunately, even tougher for mothers giving birth in developing countries. With fewer resources and more exposure to disease right out of the womb, developing countries have some of the highest mortality rates. Here is a list of five inventions saving infant lives worldwide.

5 Inventions Saving Infant Lives

  1. Neopenda: Neopenda is one of the inventions saving infant lives. It is a hat made for babies which helps monitor their vitals such as heart rate and breathing capacity. The company was founded in 2015 and was marketed for newborns in Uganda. The design was tested in Uganda since 2017 and was finally funded in 2019. Neopenda has since won multiple awards for its revolutionary concept and application.
  2. Khushi Baby: Khushi Baby is a digital necklace for newborns that can store all of their medical information at an inexpensive cost. Khushi Baby was designed as part of UNICEF’s Wearables for Good contest and won. The necklace, along with the mobile app, allows nurses to keep track of patient data that can get easily lost in their busy and often underfunded healthcare systems. The necklace has been lauded as an ingenious idea that helps to digitalize immunization records for babies. This helps ensure more accurate and faster readings. Khushi Baby is working with NGO Seva Mandir to run vaccination clinics in rural villages in India. The company has expressed interest in expanding to Africa and the Middle East as well.
  3. Solar Suitcase: Another one of the inventions saving infant lives is the Solar Suitcase. It is an invention designed by Dr. Laura Stachel. The suitcase is a miniature kit powered by solar energy from two panels which produces a light strong enough for child delivery for nearly 20 hours. The kit was inspired by a visit Dr. Satchel made to Nigeria in 2009. She witnessed multiple times power outages that could harm babies and mothers during birth. The kit was tested in Nigeria by Dr. Stachel herself and proven to be a huge success. Since then, her charity We Care Solar has been helping to decrease mortality rates in Africa, Central America and Asia.
  4. The Odon Device: The Odon Device is a plastic bag that inflates to help pull a newborn’s head during delivery. The Odon Device was developed by Jorge Odon, a car mechanic from Argentina and made into a prototype in 2013. Funded by the World Health Organization, the Odon Device is meant to save newborns and their mother’s lives by limiting complications during birth. The product was tested in Argentina and South Africa and achieved a success rate of over 70%.
  5. TermoTell: TermoTell is a bracelet designed to recognize malaria early on in newborn babies. Another design created for UNICEF’S Wearables for Good contest, TermoTell reads babies’ temperatures to safely detect malaria and alert the doctor. If a newborn has malaria, the bracelet will glow and send an alert to a doctor’s phone. The invention was targeted towards sub-Saharan Africa where malaria can cause the deaths of nearly a million children. TermoTell is still just a prototype. The invention is still in the process of improving the design for more accurate readings in the future.

These five designs are just a few of the inventions saving infant lives all around the world. Most inventions are aimed at larger developing countries to help decrease mortality rates. Sub-Saharan Africa still has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world with more than 50 deaths per 1,000 births while India has close to 30 deaths per 1,000 births. Inventions such as the five listed above have the potential to save thousands of lives and improve the mortality rate for many less developed countries whose mothers and infants have suffered for far too long.

Hena Pejdah
Photo: Pixabay

5 Development Projects in Azerbaijan

Over the past two decades, Azerbaijan has transitioned from a struggling young democracy to a major powerhouse in the South Caucasus region. This transition was precipitated largely by capitalizing on increased revenues from oil and natural gas. That being said, poverty is still an issue in Azerbaijan.

Fortunately, there are a number of development projects in Azerbaijan that are currently underway and promise to improve circumstances for many Azerbaijanis. Here is a look at five of them, some completed and some still underway.

  1. Highway Three
    Many development projects in Azerbaijan have focused on infrastructure. However, not all of this new infrastructure has been accessible to all Azerbaijanis. Highway Three and projects like it, which are being financed in part by the World Bank, aim to rectify this gap by creating a fledgling interstate system that better connects all parts of the country.
    Highway Three is notable because, in addition to connecting two of Azerbaijan’s largest cities, the highway and its offshoots will also serve rural areas. The project is being done in conjunction with efforts to modernize Azerbaijan’s existing highways and bring them up to international standards.
  2. A new medical clinic in Kamalli
    Working together with the Azerbaijani government, USAID has just finished helping to replace an aging one-room clinic with a more spacious and better-equipped facility in the rural community of Kamalli. The clinic opened in October 2017, and is expected to serve over 2,000 people from Kamalli and other neighboring communities in the rural province of Saatli. Similar development projects in Azerbaijan in recent years have made a significant dent in morbidity and mortality rates.
  3. Water supply improvements in Shahsevan-Tazakend
    Also in October, residents of Shahsevan-Tazakend, with the assistance of the Azerbaijani government and USAID, installed almost a kilometer of new pipes and two new water storage tanks. These new installations are meant to alleviate the repeated chronic water shortages that this area has been experiencing in recent years, in addition to eliminating the need to walk long distances to collect water each day for the 800 members of this community. This project is typical of the numerous other development projects in Azerbaijan that have helped to improve living conditions for over 150,000 people.
  4. A new agrobiodiversity preservation project
    In February 2017, Azerbaijan and the UNDP launched a new initiative focused on preserving Azerbaijan’s agrobiodiversity as a part of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. The project will run for five years and will target the regions of Shaki, Goranboy and Goychay.
    The Azerbaijani government spearheaded the design of the project, which will receive support from the U.N. and focuses on protecting native crops and encouraging their use in commercial farming. The project also aims to promote research and development on native crops and increase market access for small farmers who grow native crops.
    Like many other development projects in Azerbaijan, this was designed with an eye on the future and hopes to promote resilience and productivity in agriculture in the face of climate change, as Azerbaijan also works to reduce its dependence on oil and natural gas as a revenue source.
  5. The National Innovation Contest
    The U.N. sponsored a contest for young scientists and entrepreneurs to put forth their best ideas for helping Azerbaijan accelerate its progress toward meeting the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. The ideas may potentially be used to inspire future development projects in Azerbaijan.
    This is the latest in a series of efforts to support research and development for similar concepts. The awards for the contest were presented in a ceremony on December 21, 2017. The winners included projects focusing on improving credit access and access to the legal system, as well as projects focused on alternative fuel sources.

In addition to major improvements in quality of life and major reductions in poverty, these development projects in Azerbaijan all promise to help the country transition to a greener economy and reduce its dependence on fossil fuels as a revenue source. In doing so, these projects will also improve the health outcomes for all Azerbaijani people and help more citizens make a living in sustainable ways. These projects make Azerbaijan an excellent example of how supporting sustainability efforts can also improve health and help to diversify a growing economy.

– Michaela Downey

Photo: Flickr

Technological Innovations in Healthcare
In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in the new big technology or startup that’s coming out of Silicon Valley. But these innovations happening close to home can often obscure the work that’s happening abroad: work that is very often life-saving. Here are 6 technological innovations in healthcare that are helping the world’s poor:

1. TotoHealth

An innovative way to use technology for healthcare, TotoHealth is a way of providing maternal education via text message. The texts remind parents about vaccinations, give advice on family planning and detect warning signs in the pregnancy to alert the parents.

Currently, they have nearly 38,000 enrollees in 6 counties across Kenya. This is an essential technological innovations in healthcare, given that currently in Kenya, 510 mothers out of every 100,000 die in childbirth. TotoHealth is committed to bringing that number down.

2. Gozee

Founded by International, a digital health company, Gozee is a sleek, friendly website that connects people in Uganda and Kenya with doctors near them. The website also collects a trove of data, that allows doctors to make quicker, easier, and more accurate diagnoses.

This service is vital in developing countries, where healthcare infrastructure is often severely lacking. Gozee puts the power in the hands of the patient and allows them to take ownership of their care.

3. Vula

In 2014, Dr. Mapham got tired of driving up to eight hours to diagnose patients in rural Swaziland. So he created Vula, a mobile app that streamlines the diagnostic process by connecting primary health care workers, who live in more rural areas, with specialists, who can easily diagnose problems like cataracts.

All the primary healthcare worker needs is a phone with a camera—by snapping a couple of pictures of the patient, the specialist can diagnose the problem and give advice on treatment options. Since 2014, Vula has expanded its diagnostic capabilities to cardiology, orthopedics, burns, HIV, and dermatology. Like many other technological innovations in healthcare, Vula takes commonplace tech most people have and harnesses its power for life-changing results.

4. Project Khuluma

It’s hard navigating life when you’re a teenager. It’s even harder if you’re HIV positive. Project Khuluma, a South African based service set up by the SHM Foundation, is a text-messaging based support group that gives South African HIV-positive teens a safe space to anonymously share concerns, listen to advice, and make lasting friendships.

The project has tangible results, showing decreased levels of anxiety, depression, and internalized stigma in the participants. It also increased knowledge about HIV and the resources available to them.

5. Ambulance Taxi

The maternal mortality rates in Tanzania are among the highest in the world. Vodafone, partnering with Pathfinder International, Touch Foundation and USAID, is working to change that. By setting up a toll-free emergency line similar to 911, Vodafone gives pregnant women suffering medical complications access to quick and potentially lifesaving medical care.

The taxi service is projected to save at least 2,700 lives per year in Tanzania alone. Technological innovations in healthcare such as this one are desperately needed, as they broadly expand access to healthcare for the rural poor.

6. Khushi Baby

India has one of the lowest child vaccination rates in the world, in large part because there is no viable infrastructure to track when babies have been immunized. Richit Nagar and Leen van Besien, two students at Yale, noticed this and discovered an innovative solution. They crafted a necklace similar to the pendant babies are given to protect them from the evil eye, but this necklace records and stores immunization data for the baby.

Health care workers can scan the necklace to view and update the baby’s medical records. Khushi Baby hopes to expand to serve over 300 villages in India, and their necklaces are a prime example of the good that comes when technological innovation in healthcare works within a culture.

It is these kinds of technological innovations in healthcare that empower the global poor and lift them out of poverty. Access to healthcare is a fundamental human right and a foundation for living a safe and secure life. These pioneering technological innovations might not be as flashy as the latest iPhone, but they are drastically more important, and they’re doing vital work.

Adesuwa Agbonile

Photo: Flickr

On May 26, 2017, Beijing was host to the 2017 China Poverty Reduction International Forum. Politicians, scholars, business leaders and NGO workers from seven countries participated in this international poverty forum. The goal of the forum was to discuss China’s recent successes in poverty alleviation and to understand how other countries can implement similar solutions.

The program was co-hosted by global organizations including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N., China Internet Information Center and World Bank. These organizations are looking to China, as a world leader in fighting poverty, to discuss strategy.

In past years, China has been able to substantially alleviate urban poverty through government subsidies. Since 1978 alone, 800 million Chinese citizens have been raised above the poverty line, making them the world leader in poverty alleviation. At last year’s forum, many Chinese organizations worked with the World Bank to create the Global Poverty Reduction and Inclusive Growth Portal (GPIG) in order to organize information and communications from all over the world.

After one year, the GPIG program is now being used to classify case studies of poverty alleviation from China and beyond. This year’s forum looked both at the development of GPIG and previously successful techniques, along with recent technological developments.

A highlight of the international poverty forum was a video titled “Think Innovatively for Poverty Reduction.” The video primarily discussed how the internet age can be beneficial in alleviating global poverty. The video suggested that online forums, storytelling sessions and other online communications can help spread innovation among communities.

Previously, China had focused its efforts on relieving urban poverty. At this year’s forum, speakers and presenters focused more on developing the rural economy, particularly the agricultural sector.

As of 2015, many rural households were earning under $347 USD per year. In response, President Xi Jinping has begun to address this through efforts such as promoting rural tourism and giving small loans to impoverished households.

Combining these already-existing efforts with the new technological innovations seen at the international poverty forum could potentially bring new ideas and solutions to China’s rural poor.

Julia Morrison

Photo: Flickr

Vaccination has long been recognized as one of the most effective and cost-efficient methods available in preventing disease, yet a number of barriers exist that prevent its worldwide implementation. To meet these challenges, multiple organizations and individuals are brainstorming cutting-edge technologies to provide innovation in vaccine delivery.

Worldwide Collaboration

At the end of February, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, more commonly known as Gavi, announced the continuation of its INFUSE initiative from 2016. The program, the name of which is an acronym for Innovation for Uptake, Scale and Equity in immunization, serves as an invitational challenge to ambitious entrepreneurs, inventors and businesses worldwide to envision and develop brand new ways to provide life-saving vaccines to people living in poverty across the globe.

“This platform brings together global problem solvers who can find new ways to accelerate immunization coverage and reduce inequities in access to vaccination for the world’s poorest children,” said Marie-Ange Saraka-Yao, Gavi’s Managing Director of resource mobilization and private sector partnerships.

Currently, global immunization rates hover at around 80 percent, and approximately 19 million children do not have access to a full course of vaccines to prevent death from preventable afflictions such as pneumonia and diarrhea.

INFUSE has already made a difference in its first year of existence by generating a partnership between Nexleaf Analytics and Google, now actively working toward solving the problem of safely packaging and storing vaccines at cool temperatures in order to keep them functional. The CEO and Co-Founder of Nexleaf Dr. Martin Lukac stated in Gavi’s press release: “Becoming an INFUSE pacesetter helped us improve vaccine cold chains in low-income countries, and to significantly increase our impact.”

Rethinking Traditional Delivery Methods

One Seattle organization, PATH (Plan for Appropriate Technology in Health), has proposed a multitude of new concepts and products to improve on vaccine delivery worldwide. Its innovations include chemical formulas that can be mixed with existing vaccines to keep them stable, even in extreme temperatures, as well as alternative methods of administering vaccines without the need for needles and syringes.

As a group leader for vaccine technologies at PATH, Debra Kristensen outlines on the group’s website, “Called a sublingual gel, [the vaccine dose] begins as a liquid solution, but when it’s dropped under the tongue, it turns into a gel. The vaccine is easily absorbed by the thin tissue under the tongue. Another important area of research is intradermal delivery…technologies we’re investigating range from jet injectors to microneedles, which could potentially allow for self-administration of a vaccine.”

These exceptional ideas and many more, likely to come from initiatives like INFUSE, are ongoing examples of how innovation in vaccine delivery saves lives worldwide.

Dan Krajewski

Photo: Flickr

Technological Innovations for Developing CountriesNew technological innovations for developing countries make it possible for individuals to survive and thrive in a world that is constantly advancing. Technological innovations for developing countries can provide low-cost methods to keep people safe, connected and informed, all of which are important steps in the path out of poverty. Ahead are 10 technological innovations for developing countries.

  1. Kenya’s M-PESA app allows cellphone owners to easily and securely transfer money using their phones, and is mostly used for staff salaries and child support. Launched in 2007 by Safaricom, the country’s largest mobile-network operator, the app is now used by more than two-thirds of Kenya’s adult population.
  2. The LifeStraw is a technological innovation that could solve one of the biggest challenges that impoverished countries face – access to clean water. Originally introduced in 2005, LifeStraw is a series of water purification systems capable of killing up to 99.9% of bacteria. LifeStraw’s Follow the Liters program delivers water purification systems to schools in developing countries.
  3. The world’s cheapest tablet, Aakash, is priced at $35 for students with government subsidies, or $60 in stores. The device was launched with the idea that “[t]he rich have access to the digital world; the poor and ordinary have been excluded. Aakash will end that digital divide,” according to Kapil Sibal, India’s minister of communications and information technology. Affordable and effective, the device operated perfectly under a two-hour video test in 118-degree heat that replicated the harsh summer weather in northern India.
  4. One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) seeks to empower the world’s disadvantaged children with education, distributing rugged, low-cost and low-power laptops to kids across the developing world. The little blue device costs between $400 and $500 each to distribute and enables teachers to communicate with their students through web-based applications.
  5. The world’s cheapest cellphone, developed by British carrier Vodafone, sells for just under $15. While the phone is not feature-rich, it offers the basic operations necessary — voice calling, text messaging and mobile payments. The phone launched in 2010 in India, Turkey and eight African nations.
  6. Eden Full, a mechanical engineering undergraduate at Princeton University, developed solar panels that optimize energy collection by rotating to face the sun for as much time as possible each day. The technology, known as SunSaluter, is cheap and efficient. It costs just $10 for the system, which uses 40% fewer panels than typical solar energy. Its aim is to bring solar panels to places in the developing world that have never had access to electricity.
  7. India released the Tata Swach, a $21 water filter that uses nanotechnology, requires no electricity and meets sanitation standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Made of rice husk ash and silver nanoparticles, the device prevents the growth of bacteria and protects against waterborne illness and viruses.
  8. Text to Change (TTC) engaged thousands of young people in Africa in politics, economics and social issues through the Voice Africa’s Future project. The project’s goal was to mobilize 150,000 young people in Africa to text their thoughts and input on the future state and actions of their nations.
  9. Dell’s computer hardware and literacy program, Youth Learning, initially launched in India but now operates in 15 countries across the world to provide grant funding and the latest technology to address the lack of basic needs that may hinder a child’s ability to learn, such as food or security.
  10. Researchers have found that providing a safe, energy-efficient wood-burning cookstove to those in the developing world can directly improve health by reducing smoke inhalation, and alleviate poverty by reducing the amount of time needed to gather wood every day. The Berkeley-Darfur Stove accomplishes this with an enhanced design featuring a tapered wind collar, small fire box opening and nonaligned air vents and ridges. Potential Energy, a nonprofit organization that specializes in adapting technology for developing countries, has distributed more than 25,000 Berkeley-Darfur Stoves in Darfur and Ethiopia.

The use of technology in developing countries is becoming more widespread and has the potential to improve basic conditions of daily life in struggling regions. Technological innovations for developing countries can also promote intellectual growth by providing unique educational services.

Mikaela Frigillana

Photo: Flickr

India_WomenOn April 19, a small fleet of buses made their way through Srinagar, capital of the disputed territory of Kashmir, emblazoned with the words “Ladies Special Services.” The idea was proposed by the first woman Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in response to reports from women being harassed on public transportation. These women-only buses allow women to travel stress-free throughout India.

Harassment in India

Unfortunately, women are hassled on buses all over the globe. However, it is particularly difficult for women in India: a Reuters poll states that 80 percent report being publicly harassed, which ranges from cat-calling, groping or even rape. Women in Kashmir say the harassment is especially bad on the frequently crowded buses. Most have been leered at, groped or even followed.

Stigma often prevents them from reporting. A university student said that she did not tell her parents when a man was targeting her every day, in order to avoid excessive restrictions. Instead, she quietly started walking to school. Other women claim that if they do speak up or make a scene, people either ignore it or even blame them for provoking the molestation. A month before the Ladies buses premiered, Kashmir Observer calls out men who ignore the situation and encourages them to speak up, saying, “you would only be making the world a better place for your mother, daughter, wife or sister.”

Safety with Ladies Special Services

Currently, the Ladies Special Services fleet consists of five buses that make two round trips per day in Sringar. While some male politicians objected to the service, Chief Minister Mufti argued that they do not understand because have never shared these experiences. Because the bus is currently running at a fiscal loss, their service needs government support to continue funding. If not, the bus service will be forced to close.

Ideally, the service will continue. So far it has been a huge success. The bus is full of smiling, relaxed women. Transportation official Mushtaq Chanda reports that he receives a daily deluge of emails asking for expanded service.

Hope to Expand the Service

Ms. Hassan, a woman interviewed by BBC, says that this service is “an answered prayer” because traveling on regular buses is “like going to war.” Many hope that the service will be expanded to run more routes, more often in more cities. The Ladies Special Services have made huge strides toward gender equality by giving some women in India more freedom to safely travel and raising the issue of women’s treatment to the forefront.

Jeanette I. Burke
Photo: Flickr

Car loans in Africa

Uber, a popular ride-hailing phone app, is helping people in poverty obtain what is usually out of reach: a car. Drivers, like Michael Muturi in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, have a chance to buy a new car through a bank loan program that uses data from Uber to assess risk. Muturi is one of many drivers who will be able to obtain car loans in Africa, changing the way people affected by poverty finance their cars around the globe.

“I felt like I won a jackpot,” exclaimed Muturi, after receiving an Uber message in June telling him his profile was good enough to apply for a car loan. “With my own car I will be able to afford a good house, take my kids to a good school, and save for the future.”

Kenya’s Sidian Bank has approved over 10 car loans for experienced Uber drivers using a model Uber hopes to expand across Africa, where poor customer data limits lending.

Uber’s mission is very different than that of car companies: the app wants more Ubers on the road by any means necessary, and the newer the car, the better.

Getting car loans in Africa is a major challenge for people and small business owners. Few people have bank accounts or a credit score to go with them so lenders can assess risk.The first credit rating bureau opened in Kenya in 2010. A lack of credit history is one of the reasons why just 4.4 percent of the 45 million population have a personal bank loan.

“Sidian’s financing is focused more on the applicant’s proven Uber experience than on his or her credit history,” says the bank CEO.

Uber’s app is a way for Uber drivers to obtain this data. The app registers customer satisfaction and provides the bank with information it needs to decide whether to offer Uber drivers relatively cheap loans to buy their own cars. To obtain a car loan from Sidian Bank, a driver must accumulate at least 500 trips with Uber and have an average passenger rating score of at least 4.6 points out of five.

Uber created Xchange Leasing last year as wholly-owned Uber subsidiary. For a $250 deposit, drivers in the United States can lease a new midsize or economy car. The car can be returned at any time with two weeks’ notice, and the customer just loses the deposit with no further obligations.

Similar to the ride-sharing business, auto financing also requires country-specific solutions. Uber started Lion City Rentals in Singapore, a subsidiary rental company, while in countries such as Kenya, India, and China it is mostly working with third parties like Sidian Bank.

By the end of 2016, Uber expects that the vehicle solutions programs will have provided 100,000 cars globally.

Uber is just one of many apps that are helping people improve their lives in poverty by making it easier for people to obtain car loans in Africa.

Alexis Pierce

Photo: Uber

Social Entrepreneurship
Oftentimes, business and altruism seem to be at odds. Social entrepreneurship aims to dismantle that notion. This effort takes a number of shapes, but specifically, entrepreneurial initiatives addressing global health are on the rise. These types of businesses intend to implement solutions to health care problems faced by marginalized groups in ways that bureaucratic governments and health organizations cannot.

To backtrack, a social entrepreneur is someone who seeks to establish sustainable social change on a large-scale. They intend to promote social values while keeping fiscal responsibility in mind.

A key characteristic is innovation. A social entrepreneur should be able to adapt new or improved methods to fit the targeted populations in order to help the world. A social business is one that does not sacrifice responsibility for profit, but rather shoots for responsibility while turning a profit.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the rise in social entrepreneurship is an unmistakable trend in full force. At least 27 universities worldwide are currently offering courses or programs in that particular field of study. There are at least 25 annual competitions for social entrepreneurship, which reflects the rising popularity of this sect of the business world.

Unlike other businesses, social ventures do not rely on patented technologies or methods, but rather search to inject something new, namely perspective, into an already existing system. With healthcare, this means companies can circumvent the norm and introduce a unique lens through which healthcare is delivered.

Outside of the private sector, social entrepreneurship is changing the way the public sphere operates as well. Governments and NGO’s are learning from these ventures. From organizations in Bangladesh and Thailand to the U.K.’s own Oxfam, NGO’s are adopting entrepreneurial methods to maximize the effectiveness of their operations.

Governments are beginning to endorse social entrepreneurship as a valuable ally to local economies and social change.

Connor Borden

Photo: The Startup Couch

The process of collecting contributions in the form of ideas and services is not a new phenomenon. In fact, crowdsourcing has historically been used to solve challenging innovation problems.

Companies have for a long time used consumer wisdom to tackle tough scientific and technological challenges, design new products, generate marketing ideas and increase customer satisfaction. Platforms like the Heineken Ideas Brewery, BMW customer innovation lab and My Starbucks Ideas show how major organizations are successfully tapping into the power of the crowd to co-create innovative concepts.

Beyond simply a new approach to research and development, some companies have taken crowdsourcing a step further. Organizations are now using the powerful platform to tackle social challenges in the areas of sustainability and poverty reduction.

Unilever Foundry Ideas is a crowdsourcing platform that was launched by a corporate giant, Unilever in 2015. Through the platform, Unilever seeks to make sustainable living mainstream by sourcing ideas from customers and entrepreneurs. An article in CSR Asia talks about the success of Unilever Foundry ideas highlighting how it has generated over 300 ideas to encourage recycling of bathroom products, reduction of water dependency while doing laundry and invention of concepts for more luxurious and sustainable showers for the future.

“Big social, environment and economic issues are so huge that no one organization or company or group can solve them alone,” says a Unilever Foundry Ideas representative. “Aspects of sustainability affect all of us and so all of us have ideas.”

General Electric has the open innovation branch of its Ecomagination program. This is a collaborative problem-solving environment.

Open innovation posts a variety of challenges and creates an open call to the global brain, a growing community of over 400 million, to submit creative ideas to tackle these challenges. Contributors of winning ideas normally receive cash prizes, internships and future collaboration opportunities.

Open innovation has so far fielded challenges in the areas of solving water scarcity through Water Reuse and managing chronic disease by developing wearable monitoring technologies to mention a few.

BASF, one of the world’s leading chemical companies, has the co-creation platform the Creator Space. In 2015, Creator Space conducted a tour in six cities around the globe, Mumbai, Shanghai, New York, Sao Paulo, Barcelona and Ludwigshafen. Creator space aimed to develop solutions for problems that citizens in the different cities were facing. It did this through enlisting inputs from government officials, NGOs, the society as well as artists.

In Mumbai, for example, BASF Creator Space was tackling the challenge of water accessibility. According to a white paper on the Mumbai visit, a holistic approach has been developed to augment Mumbai city’s plans to revamp the on-grid water infrastructure.

Coca-Cola takes part in the crowdsourcing space by hosting an annual grant challenge known as “Shaping a Better Future”. For the grant, Coca-Cola has partnered with the Global Shapers Community of the World Economic Forum to scale proven solutions to the world’s biggest problems.

There are over 500 Global Shaper hubs around the world that comprise of young people with an exceptional drive to make a contribution to their communities. They have a focus on matters such as bettering the environment, kick-starting civic engagement and eradicating poverty to name a few.

Coca-Cola offers five 10,000 dollar grants through the program to accelerate the most impactful and promising Global Shaper hub projects.

François Pétavy, eYeka CEO notes that crowdsourcing often has its beginnings in the creation of better products and experiences, but often results in a more collaborative and sustainable world.

June Samo

Sources: BASF 1, BASF 2, Coca-Cola,, CSR Asia, Entrepreneur, GE 1, GE 2, Open Innovation, Unilever