Finding Solutions Part II: Purpose-driven Covid-19 projects from the Bridge Community

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As the Covid-19 pandemic struck, we looked to our purpose and resilience in a search for entrepreneurs with the projects and drive to solve the challenges presented by the pandemic and to shape the systemic change society needs. We started with our own program 'The Leap- Solutions for Humanity' but also teamed up with partners across the globe to find the most innovative projects. Today we share 8 of these purpose-driven solutions with you.

The Starting Point: ‘The Leap – Solutions for Humanity’

We launched the first edition of ‘The Leap- Solutions for Humanity’ in March with the aim to support entrepreneurs to develop their Covid-19 related projects free of charge. Some of the projects that participated also got the opportunity to attend the Changemakerxchange summit supported by partners such as Ashoka, Ship2B and Yunus&Youth. Below three of the Solutions for Humanity entrepreneurs share their projects and experiences.

 A Purpose-driven platform for education

Avasarshala is an education platform that helps children discover their interests and talents and utilize them to build self-confidence, get recognized and grow into well nurtured personalities of tomorrow. During the COVID-19 Lockdown, Avasarshala launched WhizKids Club, a community for parents where daily challenges are given to children to keep them entertained and engaged and learn something new through tasks presented in a story telling model. Co-founder Sandeep explais more: 

‘The concept of IKIGAI- reason for being is often explored by adults. What if this concept is practiced from childhood? Wouldn’t it mean that Children would be trained to learn with a purpose from the early stages of their life? This requires a shift in how we teach children. In a sense, children should be taught to Learn- to practice Experiential Learning so that they retain knowledge for a longer time, so that they learn and grasp the knowledge enough to
create a resiliency of change. We can only achieve this by introducing lessons of entrepreneurship, real life problem solving, innovation, self-awareness, exploring mind and body connections, acquiring life skills, importance of mental wellness and so on. 
 
During this COVID-19 lockdown, parents are being stretched thin with the work, home, safety, sanitation and additional task of making the idle time productive for kids at home. During April 2020 Avasarshala launched pilot program of “WhizKids Challenge” that aims at engaging the kids with daily lessons and challenges on creative, talent-based activities- Story Writing, Origami, Maths, Drawing or even Juggling! It is a free program, that aims at engaging kids with fun activities, make them stay away from TV or Mobile until the task is over and share their work with each other to create a virtual network of friends encouraging each other.’
 
Sandeep also shared his experience from the Covid-19 summit with us:

‘At the summit I connected with young people who were creating impact even at the face of adversities. Some of them were re-inventing their business model, some were helping others find new ways of doing business, and I met a few who began building solutions especially when the rest of the world was battling with the “new normal” in the business world. More than ever I felt a connection. I felt that we are all in a way united by a global problem, and local solutions can be adapted to fit each of the environments we interact with. There are fellow changemakers from whom I can seek help, and most importantly, I can extend my help too. How amazing it would be, if I can extend my support through the globally placed changemakers and create happiness in the lives of people I would never have otherwise known of.’

Solutions

Access to Healthcare for sustainable development  

Blink is a social entreprise that seeks to create integrated innovative health solutions for sustainable development with the purpose of capitalizing on public- interest technology to generate data/evidence, inspire community-led organizing and increase availability to the much needed preventive healthcare services by vulnerable and historically marginalised groups. Founder Tanya Maringo shares the idea behind the project: 
 
‘In Kenya, inability to afford health insurance is cited as the main reason approximately 14,180.9 million informal workers do not have medical insurance and work only to meet their necessities. Many citizens conduct out-of-pocket payments (OPPs) or incur debt due to large hospital bills which many are unable to pay-off and which often delays hospital discharge. Blink supports the creation of a community-led health fund through the formation of partnerships that leverage community assets and strengths.
 
The Blink program has created a public-interest model to address challenges related to accessing quality health care services by traditionally marginalized groups such as those in informal employment thereby dismantling the social biases regarding healthcare. We hope that there will be increased use of evidence, information and digital technologies by marginalised groups to hold duty bearers and service providers accountable for the implementation of universal healthcare and the effective and equitable delivery of health services.’
 
Tanya shared key learnings from the Changemakerxchange summit:
 
‘The value in network building to expand reach, create global partnerships which will be beneficial for my business.The world is getting smaller and in future, many aspiring (and established) entrepreneurs will be more accessible and collaborate in more meaningful ways. So despite the devastation, the pandemic has brought it has also provided an opportunity for people to meet on a common mission for a greater good.’
Solutions

Creating a Marketplace for Digital Healthcare

Afya Bora is an electronic medical booking/consultation and healthcare marketplace that enables patients to directly connect with doctors, nurses, clinics and pharmacy instantly. The purpose of Afya Bora is to empower patients and healthcare providers through data, and the ability to better access online healthcare services in the region. It is a medical booking platform that is  revolutionizing the way patients and doctors schedule their appointments. Patients can find, compare and book doctor’s, hospitals and pharmacy appointment from the nearest healthcare providers through a consumer-facing mobile application USSD platform. Founder Reginald Victor Runyoro explains: 
 
In Tanzania patients travel long distance to hospitals, pharmacy and doctor rooms to acquire healthcare services, while about 9 million patients yearly find themselves congested and crowded in healthcare facilities waiting to receive healthcare services. It is so unfortunate that when patients gather in healthcare facilities – they sit very close to each other leaving old people and children vulnerable to emerging pandemic diseases like Covid 19 and Hepatitis.

This society challenge affects over 12 million patients in Tanzania yearly leaving behind almost 2 million patients dying every year because of lack of faster, effective and transparent digital healthcare services as well as there is less doctors compared to the number of patient with the ratio of 1:5,000.’

Reginald also participated in the Changemakerxchange summit: 

‘The Changemakerxchange summit i learnt that during and post Covid situation – people should be ready to take their time and energy to be very empathetic to others by connecting and engaging virtually through sharing the current struggles and opportunities with other to deliver a win-win situation. We looked at innovative solutions that will help to channeling creativity during Covid 19 and the most amazing part of this discussion was based on creating telemedicine services, student volunteering mobile applications and creating content for children that will enable them to learn while playing in order to ensure children are sharpening their brains and skills.’

 

More Solutions inspiring us!

As well as launching The Leap – Solutions for Humanity’, we partnered with a range of initiatives also searching for entrepreneurs as well as launching our ‘Together for Innovation’ campaign in which we teamed up with over 20 incubators and accelerators, open sourcing our platform so that their innovative entrepreneurship programs could continue despite lockdown restrictions resulting in the development of over 270 startups. Below are just a few of the solutions formed as a result of those initiatives.
 

Supporting students through mentoring

MeMentoring is a project from Kany fall which participated in the EuvsVirus Hackathon, a partner of Bridge for Billions.
It is  a one-to-one mentoring solution to help students in their orientation during these uncertain times. Kany explains:
 
‘Mentoring services are highly concentrated on professional networks. My ambition is to give students access to a digital mentoring platform, starting from high school. During recent lockdowns, students have felt isolated without access to higher education fairs, events, or school orientation and career services to help them in the transition phase they were living. They were left on their own, lacking support to make important decisions. So, we participated to the EUvsVirus Hackathon and have been selected among the winning teams.’

Upholding health and Human Rights of children

Crosswalk is the flagship program at the startup HumanQind, where children get an agency to define their needs and co-create safe and democratized access to schools, build momentum in communities and influence the government to implement change in India. The project engages with children through 9 design thinking modules so as to enable & empower them to express their emotions, reimagine their spaces, learn about their rights and co-design a safe and compassionate access to their schools. Founder Ruchi Varma tells us more:

‘In India, children located in urban areas account for 34% of the total population. Children between 5-14 years are at a heightened risk of road injuries (30 die everyday) and have a high exposure to toxic air and noise pollution, especially when they go to school and play. Crosswalk is a movement to create compassionate neighborhoods one school at a time. Throughout the process, Crosswalk supports young emerging leadership and change agents that trigger urban innovation and create long term change in communities.

The foundation of our work upholds the health and human rights of children in their everyday life. It has been long since they have been considered small, forgotten and invisible and our systems have failed to recognize road injuries as a public health issue. As we shape a new normal, giving children a voice, visibility and agency as equals will not only empower and save lives but also create physical spaces of compassion as a tool to bridge inequities and create lasting happiness.’

Building the future of work

Jeff Regino participated in the Leap program in December 2019 and will be launching his project PlatformX a revolutionary solution aimed at the new normal of the job market in the near future. It will be the world’s first worker led, focused, and owned online job platform legally structured as a cooperative social enterprise. It’s an online marketplace where we match businesses and clients with online workers worldwide. Jeff explains more:

‘As an online worker for 8 years, I’ve directly experienced the stress, exploitation, scams, and frustration that thousands or millions of online workers go through regularly. And so I’m creating PlatformX, an online job platform I wish we had when I started. My initial ambitious goal is to create at least 100,000 to 500,000 better-paying jobs in 10 years or so. My ultimate goal is to create a Mondragon Corporation-like federation of social enterprises, cooperatives, and other job-generating enterprises.

The main challenge has been getting funding, and more specifically, ethical funding. I’m looking for grants, repayable grants, no-/low-interest loans, or revenue-based financing. Taking such funding would allow me to share more profits or surplus to PlatformX’s community and less to investors.’

Improving Standard of Living for the elderly population

We came across RecallPill whilst paternering with Espacio_RES as part of our ‘Together for Innovation’ campaign mentioned above. RecallPill is a smart device whose main function is to recall and notify the user of the exact moment for the pill intake, as well as which pill to take and the amount. The product is focused on elderly people needs. It’s composed of a smart pillbox that works along with an electronic wristband. The pillbox has an informative display and many compartments as different pills the user takes. Both the smart pillbox and the electronic wristband light up and vibrate, notifying the user for the intake or the lack of pills. 

Thanks to RecallPill, users will have a perfect daily pill intake routine, with the only need of remembering the meaning of the pillbox and wristband notifications. Its main purpose is to improve users’ health and therefore their standard of living. Some of the most important RecallPill’s advantages are: improvement in the treatment adhesion, reduction of errors in the process of preparing and supplying medication and the opportunity to take the pillbox wherever the user goes.

Besides, this control of the intake will help the relatives to live peacefully. How is it related to Covid-19 solutions or shaping a new normal? The product allows the users to be more independent on their daily pill intake routine, avoiding unnecessary contact with other people. As the pillbox is divided into compartments for each pill, there is no need for the user’s SPDs to be refill in the pharmacies, as they can buy the medicines and refill the pillbox themselves, avoiding insecure handling of the pills.

Encouraging ‘buy rural’ decisions

Miguel Martínez Tomey participated in the ‘Hackaton Rural’ initiative by El Hueco which partnered with Bridge for Billions to find solutions to support rural communities during the pandemic. He created The Rural Economic Network (REN -RER in Spanish-) made up of providers of goods and services based in rural areas. All of them would be registered in an online platform through which purchasing decisions of companies, professionals and even NGOs and local authorities can be channelled to other rural suppliers…

‘The project aims at boosting the turnover of rural businesses by encouraging “buy rural” decisions by rural businesses, improving the attractiveness of their products and services in relation to urban-based competitors. Over time, the network can develop its potential by facilitating the establishment of links and even stable commercial alliances between companies in the rural environment, expanding to new rural partners and markets, stimulating collaborative economy formulas, organizing collective purchases to offer goods and services under more advantageous conditions, building customer loyalty and attracting new ones in both rural and urban areas.

By establishing a system of preferential rural buying and selling, a rural-rural flow of production and demand is generated which helps to sustain the volume of business within the economy of rural areas, in many ways more vulnerable and potentially less competitive (especially in more remote areas) than the economic fabric of urban areas. It would help “shore up” rural businesses that are now suffering from the COVID-19 crisis but, in the context of the new normal, it could serve as a tool to boost their competitiveness and set up new and sound collaborative economy links.’

If you’d like to know more about developing your own businesses with Bridge for Billions, click here

Phoebe Smith

Phoebe Smith

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