SEATTLE, Washington — As the global population surpasses 7.4 billion, providing access to education, healthcare and food for people in the developing world has become an even greater cause for concern. And, with the largest youth population ever – 1.8 billion between ages 10-24 – opportunities for businesses to make a positive impact are becoming more abundant. MasterCard Foundation, Uber and Quanta Computer Inc. are three companies dedicated to investing in the developing world. Here is a look at what they are doing to help foster change through their investments.
The MasterCard Foundation provides students in Africa with education scholarships. This is necessary to move themselves, their families and, in time, their communities out of the poverty cycle. Beyond this scholarship program, the foundation also helps to provide education, skills and access to financial services for more than nine million people across 60 countries. The MasterCard Foundation understands the long-term economic benefits from a scholarship program for African students and has partnered with major universities throughout the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East to accomplish its goals.
Looking ahead, The MasterCard Foundation remains dedicated to further investment in the developing world and has committed a further $500 million to deserving students through to the end of 2018. While the majority of scholarship recipients do study abroad, select MasterCard Foundation scholarships are available for students who wish to attend a university closer to home, such as those in South Africa.
Uber’s rapid international growth has proved that it is just as committed to investing in the developing world as it is anywhere else. Uber improves access to transportation, but it is also committed to economic expansion by empowering new drivers to be self-employed. Since making its 2012 African debut in Johannesburg, South Africa, Uber now operates in more than 10 cities throughout the continent including parts of Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and Kenya.
Since Uber operates by using independent drivers with vehicles, safe roadways and a GPS connection, working with the company is an opportunity available for many people living in the developing world. A spokesperson for Uber recently commented on its presence in Africa, stating, “Our mission is to provide a safe and reliable transportation option to passengers and greater economic opportunities to drivers. In Africa, we have partnered with a significant number of drivers and provided them with the tools to build their own small businesses.” The multi-billion-dollar company is seeking to expand further into Africa and plans to offer services in Accra, Ghana in the near future.
Quanta Computer is one of the world’s largest notebook computer companies and is investing in the developing world with the XO Laptop. The small white and green laptops have a special screen designed to function in direct sunlight, so children learning in outdoor environments can still use them effectively. More than 2.4 million children in Peru, Kenya, Nepal and Afghanistan are currently using donated XO Laptop Computers, part of the One Laptop Per Child project that launched in 2005.
Among the world’s most influential companies and organizations, it is becoming more and more apparent that investing in the developing world is a more effective way to bring people out of poverty than simply offering handouts. In spreading technologies, opportunities and business models into new economies, companies are not only benefitting themselves but are providing new avenues to millions of people who can pursue their own goals in their lives and communities.
– Ashley Henyan