Digital Innovation for Eco-Inclusive Enterprises
Digital innovation is a great way to accelerate social, environmental and economic transformation, for enterprises to tackle challenges such as climate change, food security, gender equality, and scale-up solutions more quickly through technology. Big data, artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), virtual and augmented reality, 3D-printing, machine learning, apps and social networks are just some of the technologies that have grown massively over the past few years.
Digital innovations are being used to tackle problems in almost all sectors our enterprises work in, including health, education, environment and many others. One of the most recent examples is how 3D-printing is being used to print valves for respirators to keep coronavirus patients alive in Italy. Examples from other sectors include shared mobility platforms (Blablacar), which reduce mobility costs and lower emissions, and food sharing platforms (Too Good To Go), which help reduce food waste.
Mobile apps are being used to encourage people to reduce their carbon footprint, by combining internet, finance and low-carbon lifestyle. Activities such as cycling and using public transportation are converted into virtual “green energy points”, which are then used to grow trees. Similarly, digitally enabled solar energy devices that allow “pay as you go” financing through mobile payments, enable communities in rural areas to access electricity. One of the largest enterprises on the African continent to do this is M-KOPA. Their “pay as you go” platform is providing solar power to over 750,000 homes in East Africa.
Over the next decade, 70% of the new value created across the economy will be based on digitally-enabled platforms. Thus, by taking advantage of the new opportunities provided by digital innovation, enterprises can enable a much faster transition towards sustainability. But how?
A few SEED supported enterprises are already using digital innovations to amplify their impact. There are high tech ones using data to reveal trends related to human behaviour and climate change (Listenfield). And there are also those using low tech but high impact innovations that empower adults and youth with information and skills, promote financial inclusion of rural communities, and allow enterprises to become more efficient and productive (Amazóniko, Farmerline and Mobile Solar Computer Classroom).
Stay tuned for sector-specific digital innovations from our enterprises!
 World Economic Forum. (2020). Unlocking Technology for the Global Goals. Retrieved from http://www3.weforum.org/docs/Unlocking_Technology_for_the_Global_Goals.pdf