Last update: Sun, 11 Dec 2016 06pm
Home » BR Research »

Bigger than the iPad - Saving the World

Picture this: you drive up to your neighbourhood tire-repair shop, and you see a Rikshaw fitting in the latest Lexus tires. Strange isn it? According to the World Health Organisation, approximately 75 percent of goods donated to developing nations go unused for similar reasons - either they
e broken, or they are too costly to maintain, or they don fit the new environment, or nobody knows how to use them.

The interesting bit is that the laughable image of a BMW 7-Series pulling in to the CNG line at every other PSO is actually the kind of indigenous, tailor-suited innovation that is effectively solving the problems of the underdeveloped world.

Special attention needs to be paid to the social, cultural, and ethical aspects of the communities the donations are intended for. Under status quo, the juxtaposition of good will and bad judgment from donor countries renders massive amounts of efforts fruitless - aid workers in Africa are swarmed with hearing aids ill-suited for the type of hearing loss found on the continent. It isn so funny when you put a BMW hearing aid on a Rikshaw ear.

But aid and development work is not all as deplorable as the picture painted by the 75 percent statistic. The contemporary drive towards relevant solutions is just as amazing as anything Steve Jobs would come up with. They capitalise on existing infrastructure and readily available materials, are labour-intensive, and require fewer resources and investments.

Here is one instance where the distribution prowess of Coca-Cola was leveraged. In Africa, no matter how far-flung an area might be, or how much of a dearth the area may face of access to basic amenities, Coke will be available. Profitability for the locals in participating in Cokes distribution has led to the development of an entire cottage industry of motorbikes, pack animals, and even handcarts which carry Coke beyond the major cities and small towns accessible to Cokes trucks.

Simon Berry knew that the profit maximiser would not be amenable to having its distribution efficiency compromised for philanthropic purposes. So he designed the ColaLife AidPod - a waterproof plastic wedge that squeezes between bottles in Coca Cola shipping crates. No cost to Coke, brand promotion for Coke, and medicines, soap and baby lotion for all.

The utility of social media to address the plague of corruption is fairly well known to us now through websites such as ipaidabribe.com. In Afghanistan, telecommunications companies introduced salary disbursement schemes through cellphones. When the police force suddenly started getting the full amount of their salaries on time (compared with previous delays in which seniors would keep their cut), corruption rates in the Kabul force dropped dramatically, according to Transparency International.

Taking the internet phenomenon one step forward is freerice.com - where kids, too young to work, and constantly under pressure from their parents to study hard, can generate advertising revenue by taking online quizzes on the site, and therefore contribute rice to the World Food Programme. Players earn the rice via sponsor banners that appear every time a correct answer is made. Theres another magical formula here - kids learn, advertisers earn, and the hunger pangs no longer yearn.

One-size-fits-all donations don work. Theres a 75 percent statistic from a credible organisation to prove it. Simple solutions exist even where MasterCard doesn .