On 25 September 2015 the 193 member United Nations General assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, along with a bold set of new Global Goals, which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed as a universal, integrated and transformative vision for a better world.
Unsurprisingly, goal number 1 of the 17 sustainable development goals was the total eradication of world poverty by 2030.
‘We recognise that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. All countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, will implement this plan. We are resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet.’
Although this may first seem like a pipe dream, world poverty was halved in the 15 years between 2000 and 2015. I believe that although technology is only an enabler of change we have a huge opportunity to leverage it’s power to make significant change to the lives of hundreds of millions of people living in poverty.
The big question is how can technology contribute to achieving this goal?
Connecting individuals and communities
The internet and connected smart phones are enabling wealth generation in much the same way as previous technologies such as the printing press, railways and telecommunications. However, the reach of the new technologies is far greater. For the first time in history communities such as those in sub-saharan Africa are being connected with the rest of the world. This brings many of the associated benefits described below.
Spreading democracy and reducing corruption
Social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have played a significant role in spreading democracy and giving a voice to individuals in countries where freedom of speech is restricted by Governments. This trend will only increase as technologies such as the blockchain and crypto-currencies provide the power to deliver wealth and aid directly to the rightful recipients.
The spread of micro-education and online university courses is bringing education within reach of anyone with a smartphone. Already the best universities in the US are providing course materials free of charge online. This brings with it the possibility of anyone, anywhere being able access the same education as available in the most developed economies. It also enables female students who might otherwise be denied an education to study at home.
There are many ways in which access to technology will promote commerce. Startups such as M-Pesa have brought banking to people in Africa who would otherwise have no access to a bank account. Today, this company has more than 17 mn customers across Africa who use its mobile transfer service. The internet also allows anyone with access to the internet to set up a business. E-commerce sites can be run from home with fulfilment carried out remotely.
We are on the verge of a healthcare revolution. Whether it’s delivering healthcare education to isolated communities or delivering healthcare remotely, we will see unprecedented improvements in this area.
Access to capital and resources
Access to capital has been a major issue for entrepreneurs in many developing countries. It has been impossible for people to set up even micro-businesses without working capital. However, crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter will give founders new sources of funding. Accelerator programmes offer the possibility for startup activity outside the traditional tech clusters.
There is little doubt that internet platforms are changing the world. We see this in developed countries with the likes of Uber and Airbnb. However the next wave of technologies will address truly global issues. I strongly believe that technology is a great leveller. It provides the promise of a global meritocracy where the best can succeed irrespective of locality.
Dreamstake have been selected by Google to deliver a workshop as part of their Solve for X programme. This programme has the objective of addressing truly global challenges through the innovative application of technology. As part of the initiative Dreamstake will be bringing together experts from all walking in life; Scientists, economists, artists and technologists to suggest novel ways to eliminate poverty.
Blog by Paul Dowling – Co-Founder of Dreamstake the world’s first tech startup platform to match founders with the most appropriate investors using a unique startup rating system. This allows entrepreneurs and investors to monitor startup progress and inject capital and support when most needed. Startup founders can create profiles on the platform and get direct introductions to investors. We are constantly looking for great early stage tech startups. Investors please contact [email protected]
We have also recently launched an exclusive tech angel investment club in partnership with The Hoxton. HoxTech Angels will run invitation only angel investment evenings every month.