After months of coding away during the Sanitation Hack@Home challenge, 10 teams of innovators were selected as Finalists.
In geometry, three points define a plane. In journalism, three events establish a trend. In public policy, three strategy forums might not conclusively confirm a consensus – but a recent think-tank trifecta suggests that a dramatic change is taking shape in the policy community’s thinking about economic competitiveness.
Thrice in recent weeks, activist strategies to inspire innovation and growth have been the front-and-center topic in major policy conferences – suggesting that an energetic new Competitiveness Consensus, applicable to developing and developed countries alike, is emerging among economic thought-leaders.
Judging by the three forums, not just academic scholars, but policymakers and lawmakers, now seem eager to apply the lessons from a slew of analyses advocating industry-focused and productivity-driven growth strategies, taking pragmatic steps to invest in stronger competitiveness. In a global economy starved for growth and desperate for job creation, the focus on activist policies – including targeted interventions at the industry level – is relevant to countries large and small, developed and developing.
While it’s International Women’s Day tomorrow, many of us at infoDev are trying every day to make women, specifically women innovators, central to our strategy of supporting high-growth entrepreneurs in developing countries. But this is easier said than done as women are notoriously under-represented in tech-related industries and even more so in the area that I work in – clean technology – which is largely manufacturing and therefore male, dominated.
I recently attended one of the largest renewable energy forums in the Caribbean attracting investors, experts and entrepreneurs from around the region. As I looked around the room, I spotted only a handful of women. And this is not an isolated case. I see this scenario play out whenever I meet climate and clean energy entrepreneurs at events like this around the world.
I recently attended the American Economic Association annual conference in San Diego—the world’s largest gathering for economists. There were more than 50 parallel sessions on a wide array of topics and several previews and presentations of papers –so there was a surplus of interesting ideas and insights. As an Economist who works in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship, I was particularly focused on papers that were relevant to my areas of interest. Highlights are under the cut.
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
“While sharing its financial results for the fourth quarter, Facebook on Wednesday announced a number of new milestones. The social network has now passed 1.06 billion monthly active users. Of those, daily active users passed 618 million on average during December 2012 and the number monthly active mobile users hit 680 million.
Here’s the breakdown from the release:
- Monthly active users (MAUs) were 1.06 billion as of December 31, 2012, an increase of 25% year-over-year.
- Daily active users (DAUs) were 618 million on average for December 2012, an increase of 28% year-over-year.
- Mobile MAUs were 680 million as of December 31, 2012, an increase of 57% year-over-year.
- Mobile DAUs exceeded web DAUs for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2012.” READ MORE
Note: This blog post is adapted from a much longer discussion by the author under the same title that was published at Tekedia on January 7, 2013. You can read that blog post here. Small sections of this article are identical to segments of the original article.
The problem in brief
Africa is experiencing a boom in entrepreneurship due to proliferating Internet and mobile computing technologies. Simultaneously African startups face the often life-threatening impediment of inadequate access to seed and early stage venture capital. Fortunately, a number of developments in other parts of the world point to the contours of an approach to solving that problem in a manner that necessarily starts out small, but that can eventually be scaled in a meaningful way.
Last week, on my way home from work, I met a young man raising funds for a charity. He stood outside of a subway station and as part of his pitch, he asked, "if you could have any superpower, what would it be?" I offered the same answer I have been giving my children for years. "I have a superpower. It's reading." I suspect this both annoys and inspires my children. Given that annoying and inspiring are among my favorite parental duties, I rather like this answer.
Since then, a few things have happened that are making me want to revise my response to that young man.
Today, 43% of the world’s population is 25 years old or younger. This young group is impatient and ready to change the world. Change for this generation “has everything to do with people and very little to do with political ideology,” according to a new global survey, Millennials: The Challenger Generation, by Havas Worldwide, a future-focused global ideas agency. Some 70% of young people believe that social media is a force for change, says the survey.
These five examples from around the world show how youth used technology, social media and the Internet to make a difference recently.
Last week, I was fortunate enough to have a discussion with Stéphane Buthaud, the founder of HumanoGames, which is a video game company whose mission is to “change lives.” Mission accomplished.
Thanks to the game HappyLife, launched just one year ago, Facebook users can provide financial backing for the projects of small entrepreneurs all over the world.
This is how it works: Each player creates his or her own micro-business in the virtual world of HappyLife and re-invests the profits to help an entrepreneur get started in business in real life.
“A Project for Solidarity on a Global Scale”
Nothing in Stéphane’s background pre-ordained him to become a creator of games for the Web. After engineering studies and a Masters degree in International Business, he gained solid experience working for a number of NGOs on micro-finance projects; first in Bosnia, then Rwanda, China, Argentina, etc. Until the day he decided to found his own social enterprise.
What made him decide to create a game on Facebook? “It was the best possible way to foster solidarity and rally a community without borders around a common objective. I wanted to develop a solidarity project with a global reach, to help people who come up with projects, but who lack the means to get started,” Stéphane explains.
Really? A game on Facebook that could help in the fight against poverty…?