Do­ing good by get­ting tech to do bet­ter

Sunday Times - - Gaming -

As a gen­eral rule most peo­ple feel the way about so­cial en­trepreneurs that grand­par­ents feel about chil­dren: they’re bet­ter seen than heard. Not that we have an aver­sion to the con­cept it­self, rather we tend not to like the mes­sage loudly trum­peted by long-winded righ­teous peo­ple, which tends to make us feel bad about the de­ci­sion to spend money on wine and Net­flix in­stead of us­ing it to build ro­bots that cure so­cial ills.

See­ing so­cial en­trepreneur­ship in ac­tion is an en­tirely dif­fer­ent and more ex­cit­ing prospect as we dis­cov­ered at this year’s Red Bull Amaphiko In­no­va­tion Fes­ti­val in Um­lazi, Kwa-Zulu Natal.

What you may think of when the sub­ject of so­cial en­trepreneur­ship ini­tia­tives is sug­gested is com­mu­nity mem­bers mak­ing beaded jew­ellery or blan­kets to be sold at a pre­mium. Prof­its from these type of ven­tures are rein­vested into the com­mu­nity and, hey presto, the day is saved. While there’s noth­ing wrong with that, the scope of so­cially ben­e­fi­cial in­ge­nu­ity on dis­play at the Red Bull Amaphiko In­no­va­tion Fes­ti­val was im­pres­sive.

Many of the alumni of pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tions of the fes­ti­val have gone on to pro­duce world-chang­ing prod­ucts, in­clud­ing wa­ter-fil­tra­tion sys­tems, lap­top bags that charge your phone us­ing Wi-Fi, and wear­able de­vices that can de­tect asthma at­tacks. This year’s crop looks to fol­low in their foot­steps with a strong fo­cus on us­ing play and tech­nol­ogy like 3-D printing to em­power youth from im­pov­er­ished com­mu­ni­ties to de­sign tai­lor-made so­lu­tions for the prob­lems they face on a daily ba­sis. LS Yolisa Mkele

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