IIC Finalists Named in Latin America, Asia, Europe and Africa

July 31, 2018




A value-creation opportunity–and also a complex challenge — for global entrepreneurs is to use digital technologies to empower underserved populations and engage them more actively in the economy. This dichotomy between opportunity and challenge is taken in stride, however, by the organizations “reinventing the future of work,” and moving on to the next stage of the 2018 MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC) in Asia, Latin America, Africa, North America, and Europe.

The finalists are addressing common issues of technology access, financial inclusion, and job creation for digital-age workers around the world. A total of 60 finalists, selected from among more than 1,500 registrants in five regions, will be announced by mid-August.

“While geographically diverse and culturally unique, the organizations from each region share common goals of using digital technology tools to reach more people and empower them economically,” said Devin Cook, Executive Producer of the IIC.

“We are very gratified and impressed by the broad scope of creative ideas that finalists have put forward. Each one is approaching inclusion from a different, yet critical perspective.”

IIC is the flagship program of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE). Earlier this month, 12 finalists from Latin America were announced [read more about them here], followed by 12 from Asia, and 12 more from Europe. African finalists were announced Aug. 9, followed by North American regional finalists to be on announced August 16. [Read more about the African finalists here and here.]

Erik Brynjolfsson, Director of the IDE, said that inclusive innovation can ultimately lead to “more wealth, better health, and widely held prosperity.”

During this first round of the challenge, the 12 regional finalists in four categories will attend celebration events in their home continents, where four regional winners will be named. The categories are: Skills Development and Opportunity Matching; Financial Inclusion; Income Growth and Job Creation; and Technology Access. The competitors are judged on vision, impact, participation, and scalability.

Latin American finalists–chosen from 720 registrants in 16 countries — are traveling to São Paulo, Brazil where they will pitch their ideas to judges on August 6. The celebration was live-streamed on the IIC’s Facebook page at beginning at 6 p.m. EDT.

Asian finalists will go to Bangkok, Thailand, on August 24. In Europe, finalists representing 31 countries will attend the IIC Europe Celebration in Darmstadt, Germany on September 10. The IIC North America celebration will be held in Detroit, Michigan, on September 27.

The IIC Africa Regional Finalists will gather in Nairobi, Kenya, August 29, in conjunction with the MIT Legatum Center’s Open Mic Africa Summit, where Zambezi Prize Winners and MIT IIC Regional Winners will be celebrated.

All of the regional winners will convene on November 8 for the Global Grand Prize Gala at MIT. The gala includes four $250,000 prizes, one for each category.

The 12 Finalists from Asia are:

Financial Inclusion

CreditEase: In 2009, CreditEase in Beijing, launched the YiNongDai Public Welfare platform, to make loans to needy rural borrowers and provide them with opportunities for development. The intelligent matching method helps both parties complete the lending and borrowing process quickly and conveniently.

Ftcash is one of India’s fastest growing financial-inclusion ventures. It empowers micro-merchants and small-businesses through digital payment loans. In addition, ftcash uses its proprietary algorithm to determine credit-worthiness.

Kinara Capital provides unsecured business loans to micro and small businesses in India, so that entrepreneurs can build sustainable businesses, create new jobs, and improve incomes.

Skills Development & Opportunity Matching

Connected Women Jobs is a technology-driven, social impact start-up that matches global female entrepreneurs with Filipino women looking for remote work as virtual assistants.

Gnowbe offers a Smartphone-based, micro-learning and engagement solution to help the modern workforce learn faster and better.

iMerit hires and trains people in data and content work for Machine Learning and Computer Vision applications.

Technology Access

InterviewAir is a multi-linguistic, video interviewing platform that matches urban job seekers and college students in India with job opportunities, cutting the time and cost of multiple interview rounds.

SOLshare provides peer-to-peer solar energy trading platforms and pay-as-you-go solutions to low-income households seeking rural electrification in Bangladesh. The trading platform is based on distributed ledger technology.

Simple Motion Sdn Bhd has developed a tele-health platform for migrant workers and their native doctors in Malaysia to improve quality of care and productivity.

Income Growth & Job Creation

Plastics For Change has developed an ethical sourcing platform to create sustainable livelihoods for the urban poor, while transitioning industry toward a more sustainable economy.

STORM allows over 100,000 employees in the Philippines to choose relevant work benefits through a comprehensive online marketplace.

Ricult uses advanced technology to reinvent the agriculture sector and bridge the credit, information, and access gaps that plague farmers in Pakistan and in Saraburi, Thailand.

The European finalists are:

Skills Development & Opportunity Matching

micro:bit inspires children, with a focus on girls and those from disadvantaged groups, to participate in the digital world. It uses a tiny, programmable computer designed to make learning and teaching easy and fun.

Data4You harnesses a highly accessible coding education model that brings beginners of all ages into the tech industry.

Jobiri is an AI-based digital career advisor to help jobseekers land a job faster, providing personalized career support.

Technology Access

BLITAB is the first tactile tablet for blind users, empowering them with digital access to information in real time, to improve literacy and employment rates.

Teqmine Analytics offers instant access to an Artificial Intelligence resource that embodies the collective creative mind of humanity.

Pangea Electronics’ modular laptop, “Pangea Sun,” is driving a sustainable IT business in Africa that empowers local citizens to reach greater prosperity and independence.

Pangea Electronics

Financial Inclusion

hiveonline helps small/micro businesses thrive with paperless administration, easy access to finance and payments, and fact-based reputation over mobile phones.

Sherpa: Access to regulated advice and tailored insurance has traditionally been restricted to the affluent. Sherpa creates an entirely new insurance solution for digital-economy workers.

Trezeo provides financial stability for self-employed workers in the gig economy who struggle to access suitable financial products.

Income Growth & Job Creation

Abury’s establishes a fair, transparent, and blockchain-based handicraft collaboration platform.

MeCasa: Via its online platform, MeCasa individually matches Eastern European caretakers with Central European families that need daily, in-home senior caretaking services.

ProGlove develops smart gloves that enable manufacturing and logistics staff to work faster, safer, and easier. The goal is to connect human worker to the Industrial IoT.