Sunday, September 12, 2010

Helping solve few problems in Nepal with Technology

I have been working on a research titled "Innovation Ecosystem for Development of Nepal" for past few months. Since, I started working on this research and after having gone through several literature, I have realized there is much more youths and individuals can do for Nepal than I earlier assumed.

I have been musing a lot over the ideas where technology, particularly ICT, could be used in improving the economic status of the country or living standard of marginalized group. There exists immense possibilities even the ones with great economic returns. However, here I am sharing two ideas from more of social entrepreneur perspective rather than business entrepreneur perspective. The ideas still need refinement where your inputs might help.

Build a portal with reasons and information to help people invest in Nepal. Something like
  • The portal can be used to highlight quality work being done and potential growth sectors
  • Since the govt. support is unlikely to come (at least at the earlier stage), getting an endorsement by successful Nepalese with International branding like Prabal Gurung, Kiran Joshi and the Nepali diaspora will help
  • It would be great if the site could be community owned and developed collaboratively on github or similar platform
  • If ever, government agencies come forward, the ownership should be transferred to them
  • I know many of us who are familiar with Nepal's present situation would be laughing at this idea and find it ludicrous. but believe me if we start to explore positive sides, we will definitely find some. We already have low wages, huge concentration of population in youth age-growth (see I found a few!). We don't necessarily have to eye for an investment from Google here today or a supply-chain business from Wal-mart. Nepal would begin growing even if we, say for example, manage to get car-seat cover factories (that is so trivial, isn't it but Nepal doesn't make them yet), electrical switch making companies, some hydro-power solutions.
Helping pregnant women get customized advice through mobile phone
  • The idea is inspired (or you can say copied) from the following news story:
  • It can easily be implemented by a startup IT company in Kathmandu
  • Would be a great service to do in a country where maternal mortality rate and infant mortality rates are very high
  • The idea need to have major focus for rural areas
  • Since reducing maternal and infant mortality rates are critical MDGs (Millenium Development Goal) for Nepal, getting some INGO to fund the cost shouldn't be difficult
  • Can be easily done in partnership with a hospital
  • This will be very useful as several rural women don't have access to hospital and the cases of teen age pregnancy are high
  • The implementing organization can still make profit through SMS charges (though margin can be a bit low). However, I believe the social capital through such project would produce good returns in long run. And, moreover, it will help develop a market for SMS based services at the bottom of the pyramid (it is virtually non-existent in rural area at present and has great potential. One has to only connect to the kinds of services that would matter to rural population).
Although, I would like to work on these ideas, I am not quite sure if I would be able to work on either of them because of my other engagements. I would be more than happy to extend any help if someone wants to implement them.