Information and communications technologies (ICTs), such as mobile phones, computers and the Internet, are rapidly expanding the volume of information available to previously disconnected communities. These technologies are also expanding access to opportunities, including income through entrepreneurship. The right technology in the hands of a woman entrepreneur yields economic and social benefits for not just her, but her family, community and country. According to a study in India from the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), ICTs can catalyze women’s economic advancement by improving business practices, and breaking traditional gender barriers at home and in the marketplace. But the private sector in India is only just beginning to see women as consumers; it has not yet realized the potential women entrepreneurs hold as a vibrant business market.
To better understand how ICTs can support women, the ICRW research centered on how mobile phones, the Internet and computers can increase the ability to generate income. One of the key findings is that mobile phones, more so than computers or the Internet, allow women to build business success. Also, ICTs are most effective at helping women entrepreneurs save time and access new markets. Mobile phones allow women to eliminate travel, multitask and coordinate business with domestic responsibilities. According to the ICRW, future interventions should make women a core part of business strategies, design policies that incentivize public-private partnerships, and draw on the expertise and experience of local organizations that are already working to provide poor women with income-generating opportunities.
Posted in Ideas, Resources
Tagged business, digital, economy, entrepreneurship, gender, India, innovation, mobile, technology, women
Viet Nam’s Ministry of Information and Communications has launched a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that will improve the state of and access to information technology in the country. The $30 million grant, plus an additional $17 million from the Vietnamese government and other agencies, will be allocated for the installation of computers with broadband Internet access in nearly 2,000 public libraries and community post offices. The funds will also be used to provide training courses to enable staff members help users get acquainted with the new technology.
The project, which aims to reach 760,000 new users in forty provinces across Viet Nam, also will work to reduce poverty by promoting job and vocational training and expand access to Web-based government services at the local level. Microsoft Corporation will donate software to selected libraries as part of its global citizenship commitment to bring the benefits of relevant and accessible technology to communities. The project will include advocacy activities to increase awareness of the benefits of Internet and information technologies.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced partnerships with three businesses: Swiss Re, HP and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. USAID and Swiss Re announced a three-year partnership to help vulnerable communities fight hunger, build resilience to climate change, and reduce the costs of natural disasters in the Americas, Africa and Asia. The partnership will provide better access to customized, market-based insurance products so that poor farmers and their families will be better able to prepare for and cope with the impacts of the droughts, floods and other severe weather events that are predicted to become increasingly common as the climate changes.
USAID and HP announced that they will seek to collaborate on projects that promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics programs, global health, the development of responsible mineral trading systems and other programs that support economic opportunity through entrepreneurship. USAID and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, announced that they will work together to strengthen social, economic and environmental development in coffee growing communities throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
Partnerships between US governments and the private sector have long been a feature of the aid and development landscape, however with increasing pressure to reduce public expenditure and support American business, we expect partnerships like this to become more frequent.
A parliamentary committee in Viet Nam has been discussing a proposal for a new fund to address the impacts of smoking. According to VietNamNet Bridge, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Xuyen told lawmakers that smoking causes enormous social and environmental damage so the fund would be a stable financial source to improve community health. Viet Nam’s state current budget resources do not cover all of the costs of treating disease and repairing damage caused by smoking.
Each year, 40,000 people in Viet Nam die of tobacco-related illness. The World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts the figure to rise to 70,000 by the year 2030. Xuyen said, “In 2010, Viet Nam spent VND2.3 trillion (US$109.5 million) to treat just three of the 25 diseases related to smoking, including lung cancer.” A smoker spends on tobacco about a third of the amount spent on food, and five times more than healthcare, so smoking is seen as a cause of higher rates of hunger and poverty. Xuyen also noted that tobacco use also has a negative impact on the environment.
The fund proposal was included in a draft Law on Tobacco Prevention discussed by the committee. Some lawmakers did not support the fund proposal, suggesting a direct tax instead. National Assembly vice chairwoman Tong Thi Phong said, ”An increase in the special consumption tax would be more efficient, more transparent and easier to control.” With either design, the proposed law has the potential to provide a stronger foundation for Viet Nam’s efforts to address the impact of smoking.
Asia Pulp & Paper has released a new video entitled ‘Reforestation’ as part of its ongoing efforts to win the hearts and minds of the Indonesian and international community. With Indonesia the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, APP is probably the poster child for the conflict around the profound challenges facing the international community in dealing with climate change. This video shows the conflict still has a long way to go.
APP is part of the Sinar Mas Group which employs more than 150,000 people and has a combined pulp, paper, and packaging capacity of over 7 million tons per year which it sells in 65 countries. It does this from around 700,000 hectares of plantations, sprinkled in and around Indonesia’s national parks, degraded forests and major population centres.
Leading the charge against APP is Greenpeace, which has lambasted the video, describing it as “a lesson in how to make a bad company seem downright satanic.” This latest video is indeed a poor effort to communicate the very complex and controversial issues surrounding forestry, carbon and economic growth. It fails to inspire and appears to describe plantations as reforestation of natural forest.
The most interesting development is APP’s partnership with Carbon Conservation, a carbon trade broker. Carbon Conservation is led by entrepreneur, Dorjee Sun, who produced the acclaimed film, The Burning Season, which follows Sun’s mission to save Indonesia’s forests. Sun just might be able to achieve what many have failed to do – help APP move into this era of a decarbonised economy and make Indonesia’s plantation forests beautiful.
Disclosure: Asia Pulp & Paper is a former client of Nicholas Goodwin.
Posted in Clients, Goodwin Collaboration, Ideas
Tagged Asia, business, carbon, community, economy, environment, film, government, Indonesia, pollution