The Viva Technology conference in Paris was a weekend dedicated to new technologies. The floor was covered with different labs, each representing a different sector of the economy or theme. For Be-Bound, the theme that best fit our company’s vision was Technology for Good, and we were lucky to be one of 20 startups chosen to take part in Amplifier’s #Tech4Good lab, meant to “celebrate innovation in technology that makes the world a better place.”
Tech for Good is a movement to ensure that people have the tools necessary to change their lives for the better. Melinda Gates has said, “Most people aren’t really moved by statistics. Even for me personally it wasn’t until I took my first trip to meet the families behind those statistics that I realized their hopes and aspirations and dreams aren’t that different from ours … [I]t’s just they often don’t have the right tools to realize those dreams.” Thankfully many recognized the power of technology and are using it to provide people with the tools they need.
We were impressed by the #Tech4Good initiatives we saw at Viva Technology, and thought you should know about them too! Here are a few startups that have developed technology around a social mission.
Creating Change That Lasts
Today, 32 million children suffer from auditory problems. This handicap leads to educational delays and excludes children from a variety of activities – sports for example. Olive Devices decided to do something about this issue and developed smart glasses that can actually capture a speaker’s words, and write them out as subtitles that hover in front of the users eyes, so that the person who is hard of hearing can have the message immediately in front of them. Olive Devices has also created an app that links the glasses to the cloud, so that users can go directly to their app to recuperate the text they need. The notes can then be used for studying and can even be converted into a game to test progress. And the glasses aren’t exclusive to students; they are also useful for people suffering from early onset Alzheimer as well.
Running Water in Every Home
Running water is taken for granted in most developed countries, but remains a serious problem in developing countries, particularly in Africa and Asia where many are obliged to turn to public places or impractical services to get potable water. The most affected? Women and young children, who are sent by their families to go looking for a water source, and in the meantime miss out on school or work opportunities. To battle this problem, City Taps developed an internet-connected pre-paid water meter solution that uses mobile money for payments. The smart water counter motivates water distributors to make the necessary investments to bring water to poor populations, because they know they will be able to monitor the consumption via the number of micropayments made by mobile phone, and they will eliminate the additional issues of billing and delinquencies. City Taps is already present in Niger, where the startup is presently proving the benefits of its technology.
Drones & Good by CALSO
Training veterans for the jobs of tomorrow in the civilian drone industry
Today, 22 million men and women serve in the American army, and once their work is finished, many have trouble reintegrating into society. Long periods of unemployment are not uncommon after time in the military. Drones & Good has set out to help these veterans improve their post-military options by offering them training in aeronautics, a growing field with many jobs to fill on the horizon. “Drones & Good helps veterans transition to the civilian workforce by providing them with training and employment opportunities in the commercial drone industry.” This is a win-win solution that moves technology forward, while giving back to the community.
Little Streams Make Mighty Rivers
Charities often have a hard time getting visibility, and therefore financing. MicroDon offers several solutions to ensure that charities have increased options for financing: while shopping, microfinancing can be done at check-out: rounding a purchase up to the highest euro, and giving the difference in change to an organization (for example, you buy a product for 12.60, and 40 cents is given to an a business). Employers can also offer this service to their employees: for companies that opt in, employees can automatically take the additional change rounded up from their paycheck, plus any additional amount of their choosing, to pay to a given organization. Even better? The employer can double the amount.
The advantage of microfinancing is that, for the donator, the amount is negligible, and for the receiver, the total sum collected can be
Trust is the essential first step
According to the UN, “up to 50% of crop value disappears between the harvest and point of sale.”
Agriledger sees agricultural co-ops as the answer to this problem. But today, co-ops rely too much on verbal promises, paper documents, and complicated agreements, all of which can cause problems of their own – such as lack of transparency, corruption, or access to reliable price data. Unreliable or incorrect data can negatively influence the value of the harvest, farmers’ incomes, and relationships overall.
In response, Agriledger has come up with a mobile app to facilitate life for famers and guarantee optimized sales. It is a mobile app that provides guaranteed truth through blockchain technology. Blockchain is the same premise that Bitcoin was built upon, and is a permission-less system where anyone can enter transactions and everyone has access to the same information. Agriledger calls its app “a cryptographic ‘Book of Truth’ that is utterly incorruptible.” The Agriledger app is a complete farmers framework, that saves transactions and opens access to reliable information, which allows farmers to build trusting relationships with other farmers or suppliers, and know that they are doing business in a accurate environment.
1.3 Billion. That’s the number of people that are still without access to electricity in the world, meaning no light, no washing machine, no television…no electric appliances whatsoever. This shortfall seriously contributes to economic delays in the affected countries. The French startup Power:On is attacking this problem head-on by bringing electricity to remote towns in Benin. Power:On installs electric infrastructure for free and the inhabitants access electricity at any time thanks to prepaid mobile contracts which can be activated via SMS.
Connected to the Last Mile
As for Be-Bound, we are a mission-driven business. We believe that constant and affordable connectivity are the key to unlocking the economic potential to hundreds of millions around the world. Be-Bound is a technology with a purpose: we have developed a mobile technology that allows smartphones and IoT devices to stay connected regardless of the network (WiFi/4G/3G down to 2G-SMS) and regardless of its quality. This is a technology that will bridge the digital divide and connect the billions that are still without mobile Internet.
Believe in the #Tech4Good movement? Share these stories!
This article was written by our superstar intern Antoine Jochyms who leaves Be-Bound’s Paris office this month to continue his Business studies in Singapore. Good luck in Singapore, Antoine!