With the continuous effort to develop the current mobile technologies (mTech) that we have today, we are presented with various devices that have the ability to enhance our lives, especially for those living in developing countries such as in Africa and some areas of the Asian continent. In fact, in November 2012, we’ve featured the fast paced rise of mobile micro-entrepreneurship wherein cell phones paved the way in providing more income and work for low-income individuals in rural areas of developing countries particularly in Indonesia. Today, mTech continues to develop our lives and assists social entrepreneurship in building a better world. Let’s have a look at the latest innovations that can improve the society, the future developments to expect, and lessons we can take with us.
Common usage of mTech
The improvements in mobile phone has led the modern handsets to not only perform as a communication medium for calling and texting, but also as a way to access the internet that offers us convenient ways to do our daily tasks such as paying our bills that can be done via mobile payment and more. PBS News Hour reported earlier this year that developing countries across the world are now maximizing mTech in solving serious problems, responding to inefficiencies, tracking finances, and assisting workforce in landing a more suitable job.
Apart from the devices, applications across all platforms are also becoming as assistive tools in social entrepreneurship. One of these is the MOBIcure app we’ve featured last September, which is the first in the world that has completed all the requirements of the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Childhood Survival Strategies. The app assists in reducing death in children and promotes a healthier maternal phase to mothers.
Currently, we have three types of mobile devices that can be maximized on this endeavor – smartphone, tablet, and wearables. Most of the social entrepreneurship projects through mobile are done via handsets, while the rest are using tablets. A study by Africa Telecoms Outlook projected that we should expect 334 million smartphone owners in Africa alone by 2017, which is 30% of the whole continent’s population. Tablets are now also becoming a common medium for social change. Some big-screen portable screens are now able to make and receive calls similar to smartphones and some tablets are able to connect to data connection (3G and 4G) apart from Wi-Fi.
Wearables in the form of smartwatches and headpieces like the Google Glass haven’t completely made a buzz on most developing countries since the majority of these devices does not function as a standalone device, but more of an accessory to their handset.
Although smartwatches may not be a big thing yet in the developing countries, but it will soon find a way in the hearts of tech lovers worldwide, especially with the continuous efforts to develop the device and come up with more applications you can use with it. So far, it was a big step for electronic payment giant Paypal to expand their app services to the Pebble Store. This particular move of the company will revolutionize the way we look at wearables in the future by being able to transact right at your wrist.
Lessons to take for future philanthropist
There are various lessons you can take with you as your aid in social entrepreneurship in developing countries. CEO of Smallknot Jay Lee imparts what he and his team have learned while making an impact on social enterprise on Lee’s article on Huffington Post last year.
1. Don’t over-think about it: It can be a bit overwhelming joining various groups and attending events that discuss about the effects of venture philanthropy and impact investing in our community. Often, you will even be stunned by the big brands with their own projects for nonprofit microfinancing, causing you to feel small of what you can offer. It’s best not to overthink about what others have done so far and start from small things that you can offer and expand from that. No need to compare yourself from big companies who have fully established themselves, when you can get there someday. Tip: Instead of envying them, make them your inspiration.
2. Focus on your mission to help and not selling them goods: This is a common problem today, and often, instead of getting good returns, they receive wild criticisms online. “There is tension between validating customer feedback on your product and the social outcome you want to see,” Lee said. Instead, it’s best to keep your mission and goal on social entrepreneurship as clean as possible — focus more on providing assistance than selling more products. Let your passion and drive to bring a social change take you to success.
3. Perseverance will be your friend: Along this journey of social entrepreneurship, persistence will be your companion as the market becomes more saturated and filled with various foundations and startups who also have the same goals as you. It’s best not to be discouraged. Rather, maximize this time to prove your worth that you’re “something new in the world.” There will be a lot of changes as market demands shift but never stop and just keep going.
Overall, despite the assistance of mobile technologies, social entrepreneurship programs will never be a success without the assistance of good hearted individuals who have devoted their lives for the betterment of our society. No matter how small you are on this planet, your devotion and help will still create a big impact in this world we live in.