By: Maria E. Luna Issue: Innovation, Growth, Job Creation Section: Government
The World Bank
While most banks have retracted lending amounts, the World Bank has increased theirs, by committing themselves to, stabilizing, preserving, and enhancing foundations to build long-term economic growth. With the underlying mission of developing the world and the experience of the past five years, the Bank has stated that, “about 85 percent of the world’s economies have made it easier for local entrepreneurs to operate, through 1,511 improvements to business regulation.” And, each completed project brings developing countries closer to prosperity. The Bank supports economic conditions, project by project, which provide tools to develop and implement sound debt management strategies. In fact, their mission is to, “eradicate poverty with passion and professionalism bringing lasting results and providing people with resources, knowledge to help themselves and the environment through public and private partnerships," World Bank.
Collaborative partnerships were formed to help accomplish the Millennium Development Goals and to supplement innovative entrepreneurs as a solution to the lack of funding and development in their respective countries. The eight Millennium Development Goals which are due for completion by 2015 include: eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, achievement of universal primary education, promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women, reduction in child mortality, improvement in maternal health, combatting HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability, and building of a global partnership for development.
Drawing from the innovations in the software industry, the Bank began to look at application (apps) development tools as an effective way to increase global collaboration and productivity, as well as reduce costs. As such, these apps are becoming an economical measurement and tracking tool in the development of impoverished countries. In April 2011, StatPlanet was awarded first place in a World Bank-sponsored competition for its development of a time-lapse application that registers 3000+ “usable, measurable” indicators — dimensions of economic, social, and human development — of success toward the Millennium Goals.
According to World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick, “One of the reasons we threw open the doors to our data was that we recognized we don’t have a monopoly on innovation. These apps clearly demonstrate how the software development community can harness technology to analyze and tackle some of the world's long-standing problems. It’s fantastic to see the creative approaches each of the finalists took, and it’s also great to see that the submissions came from six continents.” In fact, the World Bank reviewed 107 entries from 36 countries, on six continents during the competition. Prizes totaling $55,000 were awarded to several winners selected by Kannan Pashupathy of Google, Ory Okolloh co-founder of Ushahidi, and Craig Newmark of Craigslist.
The Development Timelines, created by Patrick_and_Stuart, was also a winner. Their cutting-edge app tracks the context of global development data in relation to historical events and changes in public policy. The app also accounts for the understanding of war, education reforms, economic booms and busts, and elements that foster or hinder the progress of the Millennium Development Goals.
Yourtopia - Development beyond GDP, by European-based gxu, was also a winner. Their application summarizes human development data against specific criteria. Its functionality, as described by gxu allows users to, “choose how important different dimensions of development are to you. The application then calculates how countries do overall, according to your priorities. Your personal measure of social progress makes tracking developments easy by combining large data sets into a single index. With your anonymised quiz data, you participate in constructing the world's first multiple-dimension index of human development that overcomes the problem of arbitrary indicator-weighting and proxy choices through open public voting.”
Joined by 12 others honorees, the winning software applications provide definition to the Bank’s already extraordinary databases. By reviewing the data processed by the “winning apps,” global innovators can develop solutions that are both profitable to society and those financially invested.
Partnership opportunities can be established at infoDev (www.infoDev.org) by interested individuals or companies wishing to participate in innovation programs with the World Bank. Effective implementation of Bank grants, through partnerships with infoDev and other agencies, develop the proper relationship between governments, businesses, and public/private-sector organizations. The infoDev Secretariat is housed in the Global Information Communication Technology Department (GICT) of the World Bank Group and is one of the organization’s key donors and founders. Agencies are able to access infoDev as a non-biased assembly for dialogue and announcements. They also serve as a coordinator of joint action among bilateral and multilateral donors to support global sharing of information on ICT for development (ICT4D), and the reduction of duplication efforts and investments. infoDev offers toolkits and handbooks, develops workshops, training seminars, and briefs to support policymakers, donors, and those charged with turning knowledge into action.
The infoDev organization is motivated by innovation, connection and transformation, which encompasses both entrepreneurship and growth by helping, “developing countries and their international partners maximize the contribution and impact of the private sector through direct support for ICT-enabled innovation, new businesses and partnership models and toolkits, and networking among entrepreneurs, private sector investors and the donor community," World Bank. The iDISC network consists of more than 300 incubators around the world, giving unique insights into the challenges facing ICT innovators and entrepreneurs and enabling access for all. infoDev explains that their services are integral in, “help(ing) developing countries and their international partners make smart choices and develop effective partnerships for enabling access to information infrastructure, applications and services in ways that are sustainable and maximize private investment and leverage public resources where necessary. This includes sponsoring research, toolkits and capacity building on regulation issues, expanding access to broadband, and promoting municipal networks.” Finally, the transformation element focuses on mainstreaming ICT as tools of development and poverty reduction. infoDev describes its transformation efforts as, “A rigorous program of field-based experimentation, research, and analysis. infoDev helps developing countries and their international partners make smart choices about when and how to deploy ICT as tools for development goals in health, education, livelihoods, public sector reform and other areas.”
Your innovation, your contribution to society, and something you are passionate about can come to fruition through partnerships with the World Bank and infoDev. To find more information about government grants visit www.infodev.org. And to find out more about the World Bank visit www.worldbank.org.
Maria Luna is a staff writer and copy editor at ICOSA. She has a B.A. in Communication and a B.F.A. in Multimedia from the University of Colorado at Denver. She is currently seeking her M.A. at the University of Denver in Liberal Studies, Arts and Culture. She is a committee member of the AIGA Colorado Sustainability team.