As the world grows more and more dependent on technology, having access to it has become a necessity. In third world countries there are an estimated 300 million fewer women than men without cell phones and 200 million fewer women with no internet access. This translates to a lack of access to key health, economic, and educational resources and contributes to the cycle of poverty that these women find themselves in. As an answer to this problem, a number of initiatives are taking root to level the technological playing field.
Tatacommunications and Mastercard have partnered up to tackle this issue. They have established grassroot programs in India, Nigeria, Guatemala, and Indonesia with the goal of donating 100 million cell phones to women who otherwise have no access to technology. These programs are a response to what Tatacommunications CEO Rangu Salgame calls “our generation’s greatest opportunity to unshackle women from endless cycles of poverty and dependency.” Their grassroot programs will target the first 25,000 women as a trial, with the goal of reaching 100 million women by 2020.
Jana is another company striving to close this technological gap. Recognizing that access to internet is costly, Jana has launched mCent an android app that partners up with hundreds of large companies to provide free data to its users. Every time a user agrees to view a 5-10 minute advertisement of a partner company, they receive 20-50 free megabytes of data. This innovative idea has allowed for hundreds of thousands of people to connect to the internet and its utility will continue to grow as more people discover the resources available to them through this app.
SF based company Kiva also uses technology to bridge women in the developing countries to the rest of the world. They do this by providing a platform for microloans, where you can find a person you would like to support and keep connected with their progress. Kiva has made microloans personable by allowing the loaner to feel invested in the success of those their helping, and easy to do so by accepting loans as small as $25.
All of these companies work to alleviate social issues through technology and in doing so make the world a little smaller. We often complain that technology has been detrimental to our relationships with each other and our communities. But each of these companies showcase just a few ways in which technology strengthens the connections we have all over the world, allowing us to understand the lives of others and feel responsibility for supporting those who need a helping hand. These companies and many more are using technology to create a global community and are proving how something as simple as access to the internet can change someone’s life.