Development Labs, Start-Ups, and Tech: Innovative Solutions for Poverty Alleviation

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A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a DCTech Meetup event called “DevTech – Innovative Solutions for Poverty Alleviation” hosted at the Embassy of Sweden. When this meetup was first posted, I knew immediately this was a program I could not miss (even if it meant incorporating it into to my partially unrelated work schedule). Combining both my interest in tech and global development, this event provided me a chance to hear and see a sample of various innovative solutions being deployed to help hundreds of millions of people lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

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The program opened with initial remarks from the Ambassador of Sweden to the US, followed by speeches from a USAID International Policy Adviser, the Swedish International Development Agency’s (SIDA) Chief of Staff, and MIT D-Lab‘s Associate Director. What stood out the most for me, was the chance to hear more on the new USAID US Global Development Lab (The Lab) which was launched at the beginning of April (view catalogue here). The Lab has been established to facilitate collaboration with entrepreneurs, world class experts from corporations, NGOs, universities, and science and research institutions to solve development challenges. The ultimate goal of this new entity is set to increase the application of science, technology, innovation and partnerships to achieve, sustain and extend the Agency’s development impact.

The chance to hear from policy makers, on how governments and institutions are collaborating to scale technologies in name of poverty eradication, provided an optimistic view for the future of global development. The highlight of this event came once the spotlight was turned to groups that are currently working in the field and are deploying innovative solutions to further their efforts. iStrategyLabs CMO DJ Saul moderated the Demo Session (DCTech Meetup style), of organizations who are using technology as a foundation in their mission to help communities and individuals in developing countries build capacity.

Invest2Innovate supports impact-oriented enterprises in developing markets. They’ve been working in Pakistan since 2011, and plan to scale to other countries in 2015. i2i finds, vets and selects young entrepreneurs for the i2i Accelerator, a four month program that provides business support, mentorship and access to i2i Angels, its local angel investor network.

Invest2Innovate’s 2nd Accelerator Program from Invest2innovate on Vimeo.

Cycle Technologies
Cycle Technologies produces simple and innovative tools to help women worldwide plan or prevent pregnancy. Since 2002, Cycle Technologies has manufactured and distributed CycleBeads, a visual tool that is based on patented methodology developed through extensive research at Georgetown University. More than three million women in +50 countries have used CycleBeads. Rectnely, Cycle Technologies created a smartphone app and web services toool to enable women and health programs further access to their innovative method. The company is expected to unveil new technologies and services in the women’s reproductive health arena this summer.

With more than 1.1 billion people lacking access to safe water, Sweden based company SOLVATTEN (Swedish for sun water) looks to do something about that with their innovative solar-powered water jug. Open SOLVATTEN and expose it to sunlight and the water will be safe to drink when the indicator turns green. If kept exposing it, the water will continue to heat up, providing hot water (up to 75 degrees celsius) suitable for a wide range of domestic purposes. Users of SOLVATTEN instantly enjoy significant household savings and improvements in their quality of life.

Immunize India
IAP-Immunizeindia is the world’s largest vaccination reminder service, and is available free of cost to parents anywhere in India. It is a national non-profit initiative, promoted by Indian Academy of Pediatrics. IAP-Immunizeindia aims to prevent half a million child deaths and disabilities by 2018. IAP-Immunizeindia is supported by Vodafone, which is the national telecom sponsor, and IAP-Immunizeindia’s national press campaign, promotional posters in hospitals and clinics, promotional pamphlets are funded by an education grant from a leading global corporation.

Photo Credit: IAP-Immunizeindia
Photo Credit: IAP-Immunizeindia


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About the Author
Mariel Kanene is Founder and Editor of and lead storyteller with a focus on people, place and purpose. His passion for storytelling was born in Kinshasa, Congo, groomed in Dallas, Texas, and cultivated in Washington, DC. Mariel now resides in Los Angeles, CA. By day, Mariel spends his days slowly trying to change the world—one meaningful interaction at a time. When Mariel is not in the office, he spends his free time in athletic pursuits from weightlifting to yoga, swimming, and the ocassional boxing class.  He loves good conversations over good coffee and even better rum. He hates talking about himself in third person. Thanks for stopping by. Always appreciated. Twitter | Instagram | Linkedin .

Purpose Social Innovation

Mariel Kanene View All →

Mariel Kanene is Founder and Editor of and lead storyteller with a focus on music, startups and travel. His passion for culture was born in Kinshasa, Congo and bred in Washington, DC where he resides. By day, Mariel spends his days slowly trying to change the world—one meaningful interaction at a time. He loves reading factual-fiction, good podcasts, traveling, health and fitness, foreign languages and good conversations over good coffee and even better rum. He hates talking about himself in third person.Thanks for stopping by. Always appreciated. Find me on: Twitter | Instagram | Linkedin |

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