Last August 24, 2019, Developh launched Collab — a by-students, for-students accelerator creating technology with mission-based organizations — with Pitch Day. This one-day event brought students and advocates together to explore the intersection of technology and social good. One of the ways this was done was talks by various experts who used their professional skills for their advocacies.
Excluding the workshops and keynote, there were a total of 7 talks, each being around 20 minutes long. Below is a summary of what happened in each talk, along with its takeaways. Woven in these are tons of insights, like the inner workings of a social good startup, the relationship of language, technology, and society, building an impact-driven product, and more. Let’s start with the first talk:
Liza Garcia on Information Communication Technology for Advocacy
Liza Garcia is the founder of the Foundation for Media Alternatives, a non-profit organization that aims to assist marginalized communities in the appropriate and strategic utilization of information and communications technologies, otherwise abbreviated as ICTs. This purpose was the basis of her talk.
- Overall, Liza was advocating the use of ICT for promoting equality and sustainability among societies. She discussed how they could be used for gender equity, sustainable development, and defending privacy rights and data protection. Currently, the Foundation for Media Alternatives is working on these causes with various partners, such as Privacy International, Philwomen on ASEAN, and Association for Progressive Communications.
- Liza also gave us inspiring examples of how this advocacy took form: Take Back the Tech (map tool), Aksyon Violence Against Women (app), RightsCon (summit), Digital Rights Camp, and Imagine a Feminist Internet (workshop).
Cherrie Atilano on Grassroots-Driven Sustainability and Agricultural Innovation
Cherrie De Elit Atilano is the Founder and CEO of AGREA Agricultural Systems International, Inc., an agro-social enterprise that aims to create the first living model of a replicable one-island economy that is zero hunger, zero waste, and zero insufficiency in the island of Marinduque. In her talk, she gave us an in-depth look at her social good startup.
- Fall in love with the problem, not the solution. AGREA follows this by coming up with multiple solutions for the farmers: literacy programs, farm schools that allow farmers to get minimum wage jobs, a Magna Carta for female partners, and the creation of a one-island economy.
- AGREA is also effective because it intentionally measures its impact through these programs. These are categorized into eight pillars: responsible tourism, sustainable agriculture, environment, education, health and nutrition, intercultural collaboration, development communication, and livelihood through entrepreneurship.
Eunice Braga on Purposeful Tech
Eunice Braga is the Donor Engagement Manager for IdeaSpace Philippines, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting innovation, technology development, and entrepreneurship as a path to nation-building. In her talk, she stressed the importance of purpose for makers in technology, giving a new way of thinking about it in the process.
- Eunice said that technology shouldn’t be developed solely for tech’s sake. It’s a double-edged sword; for instance, it can help us make intelligent choices, but at the same time, it can become radicalized into hate speech. If a creator wants to make an impact, they must start with developing its intention.
- For Eunice, purpose is the direction that clears the path for the creator. To figure out their purpose, the creator must ask themselves: (1) What can you give to the world that has not been given? And (2) Why do you need to do it now?. If they can’t answer those questions, someone else will, and they probably won’t like the answer.
- Purpose was divided into four components: compassion (facing the challenges before us), culture (sustaining the people in a team), creation (solving existing problems), and community (uplifting groups of people through the good deals provided).
- To cap off, she then gave examples of purposeful tech organizations the audience could look into, such as InvestEd (advocates financial literacy; customer can not only repay, but also makes sure that students are thriving), and Cropital (they not only provide financial support, but also are connected to farmer support systems).
Jem Segcal on The Media is the Influencer
Jem Segcal is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of OffCrowd, an online publication that puts the spotlight on unique individuals who tirelessly work to provide for the community, environment, and social welfare. In her talk, she discussed the influence of media, and why people should leverage it for the better.
- The media may be a powerful tool for disseminating factual information, but its impact shouldn’t stop there. At its full potential, it’s able to enact change, advocacy, and action towards everybody through meaningful collaborations across disciplines.
- Because of the pessimistic world we live in (saturated with fake news, fearmongering, etc.), we have become naturally apathetic to social issues (a phenomenon known as psychic numbing). Jem asked us to fight against this; we should want to be part of the solution, not the problem. She implored us to aim for action over dissociation, even if it’s the harder choice.
- Since people can be louder together, she encouraged the audience to strive to be the voice that sparks plenty on their platforms of use. Even a lone voice can spark change for the unheard.
Gorby Dimalanta on BukidFresh: Using Technology to Link Farmers to Market
Gorby Dimalanta is CEO and Co-Founder of BukidFresh, a farm to household initiative where we allow customers to pre-order their fresh fruits and vegetables online and have it delivered right to their doorstep. Like Cherrie, his talk served as a study of his social good startup.
- What’s inspiring about BukidFresh is how encompassing it is as a social good solution; it tackles numerous problems like food security, food waste, and the farmers’ livelihood all at once.
- BukidFresh’s effectiveness is due to the deep involvement of the stakeholders (farmers) in the order process, where customers/users order straight from them. Because of this, the goods’ quality and freshness are ensured (due to being pre-ordered before harvest).
- If a startup wants to grow, it needs to connect with more people. For example, BukidFresh plans to add a subscription-based business model focused on partnerships with organizations like condominiums, villages, and offices. It also plans to involve farmers even more by developing an application that allows them to quickly input data of their planted produce and expected yield.
Paolo Espiritu on Ang Wika, Teknolohiya, at ang Lipunan
Paolo Espiritu is one of the aerospace engineers who designed and developed the Philippines’ first microsatellite DIWATA-1, and the current Founder & Chief Hacker of Haraya Learning Innovations, a tech startup focused on understanding how learners learn, and leveraging technology to “hack learning”. In his talk, he explains how the Filipino language plays a huge part in how Filipinos value technology in their society.
- The relationship of word and concept is cyclical. Paolo illustrates this with the word “selfie”; one knows how to describe what a selfie is not just because they know its dictionary definition, but also because they’ve seen it in real life. This cycle shows how we use words in our society.
- According to Paolo, the most important step in the process of inventing technology is naming it. The words we invent are what become important to our society (e.g. Kanin has many words: bigas, palay, lugaw, bahaw). Without a name, it won’t be used; therefore, it’ll have no impact. Therefore, Filipinos are lagging in technology because they are lagging in language. The need for the Filipino language to borrow words from other countries to describe technology shows how the Philippines needs to import substantial technologies, like subway systems.
- Going back to the word-concept relationship, Paolo showed that a concept can be described in numerous ways. He explored this through numbers, which can be described not just with languages, but with systems as well (e.g. binary and braille). In line with this, Filipinos can create words for their technology by being creative with their own language. For instance, in Haraya, robotics is taught to young Filipino students by making them program in Filipino since it’s more natural for them.
Alenna Dawn on Building an Impact Driven Society
Alenna Dawn is the Chief Marketing Officer at Runbnb, a tool that simplifies Airbnb hosting, and Communications Lead of Project Liyab, a youth-immersive project that addresses waste management and lack of energy resources in the indigenous communities of Northern Luzon. In her talk, she discusses using technology to align purpose and profit, which focuses on initiating innovative products/projects that combine economic sustainability with social and environmental impact.
- Alenna described the product lifecycle with 4 levels: (1) Anecdotes (the story/challenge behind the product), (2) Usage & Engagement (the product’s value), (3) Enterprise Value, and (4) Customer/User Value.
- She also defined impact in three components: (1) product (innovation), (2) process (development), and (3) people (collaboration).
- She explained the process of designing an impactful product/project. First, there must be an inspiration, which comes from the problem to solve. For instance, Project Liyab has user stories that detail how the deprivation of electricity affects Clark residents. After this, proceed to designing a prototype, making sure to work with the users and stakeholders. Finally, when you launch, don’t forget to measure its impact.
Want to learn more about Collab? Check out developh.org/collab. We are currently accepting applications for the Collab Fellowship on a rolling basis until the midpoint of the Collab incubator. You can apply at develo.ph/collab2019studentfellows.
Developh invests in youth-led innovation for social impact across the developing world. Visit us at developh.org