News

Banking in Rural Tanzanian Villages: Now There’s an App for That

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Two billion people in the world don’t have a bank account. But that doesn’t mean they don’t use money similarly to people who do. Wes Wasson, founder of financial tech startup DreamStart Labs, witnessed firsthand the relative sophistication of informal financial networks while he was working in microfinance in West Africa. With no commercial banks in many rural villages, women create their own, called village savings and loan associations. They pool their savings, appoint treasurers, hold community meetings, and issue small loans to each other. One woman’s successful repayment of that money benefits the entire group.

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IoT Collar Fights Illegal Poaching

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Designers of an electronic collar to prevent poaching of big game in Africa share the story of their still-evolving efforts: Illegal poaching is a major contributor to declining populations of endangered animals around the world. For example, it’s estimated there are now less than 500,000 elephants in Africa, less than half of the population 40 years ago. If the pace persists, wild elephants are at risk of extinction.

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Innovations in Corporate Social Impact

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“Is it too difficult for companies to achieve financial and social impact simultaneously?”  This was the question being posed by One World Founder & CEO Scott Saslow at the Innovations in Corporate Social Impact Summit on Nov, 2 at Cooley LLP in San Francisco.  The answer was a resounding “no,” as attendees discussed the examples of Bay Area companies who are innovation leaders in how they design their strategy, measure results and harness capital and people to create wider social, economic and environmental benefits.

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Fighting Cholera With a Smartphone

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Global health experts don’t worry about if a major infectious disease outbreak will occur; it’s just a matter of when. A daunting barrier in the ongoing fight against infectious diseases is the ability to detect infectious agents in the environment before an outbreak begins. In June, the Vodafone Americas Foundation recognized a technology attempting to tackle exactly that problem in its ninth annual Wireless Innovation Project competition: a Purdue University spin-off called PathVis.

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PathVis: A Smartphone-Based Platform That Fights Cholera

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Cholera is a preventable and easily treatable disease, but it presents a huge threat in developing countries—every year, there are between 1.3 and 4 million cases worldwide, resulting in up to 143,000 deaths. Sadly, nearly 1.8 billion people around the world drink water that can carry the cholera bacterium. Now two female researchers, Jacqueline Linnes and Tamara Kinzer-Ursem have developed a smartphone-based platform to help detect disease pathogens before they spread. PathVis is a mobile tool that puts a lab in the palm of your hand.

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Q&A: Director of Vodafone Americas Foundation on the Role of Passion in Addressing Development Needs

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In her 10 years as director of the Vodafone Americas Foundation, June Sugiyama has inadvertently become an expert in developing challenges.  Since 2009, the foundation has been running the Wireless Innovation Challenge, which seeks innovative ideas using wireless-related technology to address social issues around the world.  Years of leading the challenge have helped Sugiyama to refine ideas of what works in creating disruption to address social and other issues affecting developing countries.

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Benetech and United Ways of California Partner to Strengthen California’s Social Safety Net

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Benetech, the leading software for social good nonprofit, today announced a partnership with United Ways of California and United Way Bay Area to design a data system that allows for more accurate, timely, and cost-effective use of health and human services resource directory data. The partnership paves the way for greater access to health and human services data for Bay Area residents as well as a replicable model for deployment across California, the United States, and other service sectors.

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Wireless Innovation Project Application Period is Closed

Thanks to applicants – we look forward to reading about everyone’s innovations! See our timeline for notifying finalists and winners.

Wireless Innovation Project Application Deadline Extended to March 13th!

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The application deadline for the Wireless Innovation Project has been extended to March 13th. If you have started an application, we encourage completing your application and submission as soon as possible. Should you have any technical difficulties with the application, please contact americaswip@vodafone.com and we will do our best to assist. We look forward to reading about everyone’s innovations!