Every other startup loves to talk about how their product will change the world, but how many actually deliver? The new possibilities that open up to humanity with each technological advance are staggering, as we solve old problems and discover fresh solutions. There are some companies, though, which don’t relegate “social investment” to a side project. For these businesses, social investment is the project. These companies aim to combat poverty, protect the environment, improve health and education, and address inequality of all kinds. We wanted to shine a spotlight on some of the most amazing social enterprise tech startups out there.
In the poorest parts of the world, people may travel days to the nearest emergency medical clinic, only to find that the medicine they so desperately need is not available. ReliefWatch is a cloud-based platform which helps clinics manage their supply chains through basic voice calls over mobile phones. The innovative system requires no training for aid workers and no software or hardware. The service simply calls the clinic and asks workers how much they have of each supply. The worker inputs the number using the phone’s dialing pad, which digitizes the information and sends it to the cloud. The built-in analytics track data for clinics throughout the region, and manages resupply drops before critical medical supplies run out.
According to USDA estimates, between 30 and 50 percent of all food produced is wasted: discarded before being eaten. In the meantime 1 in 6 Americans are struggling to find enough to eat each day. ZeroPercent is a cloud-based donation platform which matches excess food from grocery stores, restaurants, and other food companies with nonprofits who feed the hungry, and takes care of all of the logistics, including daily pickup and delivery. What’s more, the platform tracks donations, allowing businesses to save thousands in tax write-offs. So far they’ve facilitated over 460,000 meals for hungry people.
3. M-KOPA Solar
“Kopa” means “borrowed” in Swahili, and this innovative company offers pay-as-you-go solar power to people across Africa who would otherwise be without electricity. The M-Kopa system was created as a clean alternative to the more common kerosene fuel. Kerosene has negative impacts on health, safety, and the environment, but is popular because people can buy a little at a time, as they can afford it. For a deposit of around $35, M-Kopa installs a solar power system in the customer’s home. The homeowner can then top up the service for about 45 cents a day. The company’s cloud platform, M-KOPAnet, processes 10,000 daily payments. After a year of payments, customers own their system outright. The company now provides solar power to over 150,000 households in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
Organ donation is a hugely complex process. The intricacy of the necessary logistics can be boggling, and it is also a massively emotive issue. At the same time, the demand for organ donation continues to far outpace the supply. Anything that can streamline the process is a huge boon. The iTransplant Platform Electronic Donor Record (EDR) provides a web-based single data repository, which can be updated in real time. It allows thousands of doctors and healthcare providers across the world to collaborate on life-or-death decisions with all of the information they need to deal with and support donor management and referral and organ offer and retrieval processes.
5. Jail Education Solutions
Studies show that offenders who receive educational services while incarcerated but finding funding to educate inmates is a hard sell in an economic climate where even public kindergartens are consistently have to make do with less. Jail Education Solutions has come up with a brilliant solution. Using specially modified, secure tablets, the company supplies comprehensive educational and vocational courses through their online learning platform, Evodo. The materials are on-demand cover subjects from K through 12, college-level, and non-academic information such as behavioral therapy, parenting classes or legal seminars. Inmates work at their own pace, and are rewarded with games, movies, or other media at the end of each lesson. The tablets are rented to inmates at a nominal daily fee, which means that there is no cost to the system and the taxpayer.
Public schools often have a hard time creating personalized, ideal learning experiences for the students in their care. They are dealing with thousands of students, each with their own unique needs, and working with extremely limited resources. Kickboard, a data analysis app for educators, offers an all-in-one solution, tracking class and student progress with a friendly, easy-to-use app. The basic version is free to download, so that teachers don’t have to go through a lengthy approval process to start putting kickboard to work. The institutional versions for schools and districts, are extremely reasonably priced. The app collects, rationalizes, and reports of student behavioral and educational data in real time, and the data points are measured on a level that is immediately relevant to both teachers and students, focusing on individual, actionable, quantifiable skills.
This cloud banking platform was built from the ground up to digitize banking services for everyone, from retail financial institutions to tiny microfinance companies in the developing world. Their core mission is to lift up populations who have traditionally been underserved by banks. It’s a true democratization of money, enabling people to process loans, deposits, and more with simple, affordable technology.
Counterfeit medication is a massive, deadly problem in much of the world. The market for fake drugs may be as big as $200B. The death toll attributed to counterfeit anti-malarial and tuberculosis drugs alone is estimated at 700,000 lost lives annually, and patients in developing countries are most at risk. According to the World Health Organization, more than 10% of the drugs in India are fake. PharmaSecure’s medication verification system uses a combination of proprietary technology and collaborative data gathering to protect patients. People can enter the PharmaSecure code printed on their medication pack into their mobile phone and receive an SMS confirming that the medication is safe. The company has protected the distribution of over a billion medicine packs, and also provides important intelligence and analytics on the distribution and outcomes of patients.
9. Shotspotter Flex
Responding to shots fired is a dangerous but vital task for law enforcement and military personnel. Relying on the sometimes unreliable information provided by members of the public can put everyone at risk. Shotspotter Flex is a high-tech but low-cost cloud based solution which detects and reports gunfire via a network of sensors, data centers, cellular provider partners, and dedicated acoustic experts. The system evaluates the noises in real time, triangulating the location of each shot. It provides accurate pinpointing of exactly when and where gunshots have gone off, allowing agencies to respond quickly and appropriately. The collected data also aids in predictive policing, by identifying trends of violence in terms of locality and even time of day.
Access to clean drinking water should be one of the most fundamental human rights, but for millions of people around the world it remains a major problem. Sarvajal literally means “water for all” in Sanscrit, and with their innovative micro-franchising solution, the company aims to offer exactly that. With a combination of small, local water filtration plants and solar-powered water dispensing machines, Sarjaval is building a network of pay-as-you-go “water ATMs”. Using a cloud-based monitoring system and ERP, Sarvajal can provide a steady and reliable supply of fresh, safe water at an affordable price to some of the most deprived neighborhoods in India.
Everyone here at GetVoIP would like to extend our congratulations and gratitude to every company on this list for everything they do. It’s hugely inspiring to see the way these innovative companies are harnessing the power of the cloud, mobile tech, and the internet to actually change the lives of people all over the world.
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