Vodafone Americas Foundation Blog

Massachusetts Institute Of Technology: Demystifying World Issues One Connection At A Time

Solve at MIT 2022, the flagship event of MIT Solve, recently convened over 300 social impact leaders including 62 Solver teams as well as thousands of virtual supporters. The May 5-7 event featured plenaries where leaders from various sectors discussed the state of global issues and how technology can contribute to making us more resilient. Throughout the three days, Solver teams, members, and supporters joined over a dozen working sessions to discuss the progress and obstacles they were experiencing, and brainstorm how to scale their impact. Below are a few of the many notable takeaways from Solve at MIT 2022.


Pakistan start-up looks to break taboos around menstruation

Many women in the country remain uninformed about periods, but a social media-based project is targeting the problem.

Saba Khalid has set herself the goal of breaking some of Islamic Pakistan’s long-held taboos with the help of the internet, smartphones and WhatsApp. “Technology offers a sense of comfort,” she says of the work of Aurat Raaj, her Pakistani social enterprise. It educates women and adolescent girls about menstruation by means of audio messages sent via the WhatsApp social media platform.

Aurat Raaj, whose donors include the UN Children’s Fund, UN Women, the BMW Foundation and the Vodafone Americas Foundation, is not alone in its push to disseminate information about sexuality in conservative Pakistan.

Empower Women and Girls through Technology: a Holistic Approach

A future of true gender equality is possible. With all the studies and advancements to support women and girls in their education and careers, we have the framework in place to secure a future where women and girls can thrive.  I whole-heartedly believe that by investing in the combination of women and technology, we are investing in the ability to make a lasting global impact.

Although we have made amazing progress the last few decades, there obviously is much more to do. Unfortunately, the uphill battle  just got a bit steeper amid the pandemic of the last 18 months, causing increased stress on women and girls. Nearly 3 million women have left the workplace over the last year due to the pandemic. Difficulties have also compounded online in the digital realm.  A recent study found 75% of girls surveyed said they experienced some form of online harassment or abuse. Over 22% of those who had experienced harassment said they shut down an online account due to that harassment. These numbers only reflect a fraction of other hurdles that women and girls face like internet access or the ownership of computers and mobile.


Take a Stand with me Against Asian Hate Crimes

I recently changed my hairstyle, well actually my hair color, due to Covid. After all, I’ve had grey since my twenties, and since Covid there have been fewer reasons to color it — no access to salons, no in person meetings and the mess of DIY hair color. I decided to go au natural. My hair is no longer black; to everyone’s surprise, including me, it’s now quite silver. I’ve heard silver hair is trendy, so I’ve become accidentally fashionable.

This story, however, is not to relay my new fashion sense. My hair color defies my age. Let’s put it this way, I am not old enough to be first in line for the COVID-19 vaccine. But the color now makes me feel more vulnerable. Silver is easily spotted on the street and implies that I’m older and, therefore, an easy mark. What’s worse, it’s compounding another fear of being targeted — because I’m Asian. More

Vodafone Americas Foundation Awards Three MIT Solver Teams the Innovation for Women Prize

The Vodafone Americas Foundation has been committed to fostering change in global and local communities through connected solutions, and as a result, we’ve seen first-hand the impact of technology in tackling some of the world’s biggest issues. We’ve further leveraged this knowledge over the last year to embark on a journey focused on empowering women and girls through technology. By taking this focused approach and making the crucial investment in both women and technology, we believe we are helping to create real global change. More

As IoT moves us forward, let’s not leave anyone behind

By Ludo Fassati, Head of IoT, Vodafone Americas & June Sugiyama, Director, Vodafone Americas Foundation

Under normal circumstances, it’s hard to imagine what a typical day without internet access would look like.  Connectivity drives the global economy and, now, our societies too. Today, digital connection provides access to essential goods, to family and friends, work and education. It’s vital to our well-being.  Our reliance on IoT was increasing even before the pandemic, but the crisis is creating an exponential need. In a new forecast, Juniper Research predicts we’ll see 83 billion IoT connections over the next five years, with a 20% market growth in 2020 alone.

Yet as technology moves us forward, we must be mindful not to leave anyone behind. Regrettably, however, universal access is not standard in at-risk communities.


Vodafone Americas Foundation partners with OpenIDEO to Award $50,000 to COVID Business Pivot Challenge Winners

In the wake of the our current global crisis, we are all challenged to find answers to overcome our latest obstacles, both old and new, that are affecting millions of people worldwide. In an effort to encourage and support solutions to address issues resulting from the pandemic, we partnered with OpenIDEO last month to conduct the COVID Business Pivot Challenge focused on how businesses of all kinds are rapidly adapting to support the immediate needs of the COVID-19 response, and enable a more just and resilient future. More

Vodafone Americas Foundation to Award $50,000 to COVID-19 Business Pivots through the OpenIDEO COVID-19 Business Pivot Challenge Partnership

The global pandemic has changed everything. And while the full impact remains untold, one thing’s for sure, we need new ways to meet new challenges. That’s the spirit of The COVID-19 Business Pivot Challenge, launched last week by OpenIDEO in partnership with the Vodafone Americas Foundation.

The goal of the initiative is to help businesses discover how they can support the world’s immediate needs during the COVID-19 response. I’m positive that there are creative, imaginative and inspirational solutions that can help shape a more just and resilient future – that is the ultimate vision.

As part of this Challenge, the Vodafone Americas Foundation will award a total of $50,000 in funding to five selected submissions ($10,000 each) related to the use of IoT, AI, and/or mobile technology. More

The Non Profit Using IoT to Create Life-Changing Solutions

I recently caught up with Nithya Ramanathan, Co-Founder and CEO of Nexleaf Analytics, to talk about how IoT, connected networks and sensors are helping to solve global health challenges, through both nonprofit and for-profit businesses.

Though my work at Vodafone is purely nonprofit, I still hear my colleagues from commercial enterprise agree on how IoT is a critical component for the future of business and a powerful catalyst for digital transformation. Because of its ease and scalability, I believe it’s also a powerful tool that can help tackle some of the world’s biggest issues and save lives. That’s why supporting innovative tech, like IoT, for good will always be our mission. With that vision, we wholeheartedly support Nexleaf Analytics, a company that created an IoT vaccine monitoring platform.


The State of Online Harassment: Where Do We Go From Here?

As more people access online technology, issues such as online harassment continue to grow and evolve. In fact, more than 85 million Americans have experienced online harassment, with women often being disproportionately targeted. This leads to 25% of users to completely abandon their online presence. Not only that, but online harassment can actually make its way offline with real-life consequences. These individuals harmed by online harassment often feel isolated and that they do not have the support and community they need to recover. Fortunately, people have begun to recognize the scope and impact of this problem.