Doing good by getting tech to do better
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