Posted: October 25, 2012 in technology

While one of technological companies’ greatest offerings to society is innovation, and the development of high-tech solutions for everyday life, another is giving back to the community through a variety of socially responsible programs. Three specific projects provide excellent examples of how technology, innovative ideas, and entrepreneurship can come together to form tools for social and economic change.

The first of these is Research in Motion (RIM) that recently launched Action Starts Here, a contest based and targeted solely at residents of India. The competition invites participants to put forward  ideas for change, and then take action towards them via a simple process. By setting a goal on the contest’s Facebook page, and making a pledge to achieve it, participants take a BlackBerry action, which they can then publicise through Facebook to gain as much support as possible for their ideas. The more friends invited and support gained, the more points are earned, and consequently, the greater the likelihood of becoming a winner. Participants are encouraged to use social media to forge links with various networks, while considering, and taking action towards what they want to change in their society. Winners will receive one of three high tech tools for action: a Blackberry Bold 9900 mobile phone, a BlackBerry Torch 9810 mobile phone, or a BlackBerry Curve 9320 mobile phone. RIM’s reward is to have helped boost, among other things, grassroots entrepreneurship in India.

The second example is Dell, which  aims to address a variety of societal issues in the areas of education, environment and entrepreneurship. The Dell Social Innovation Challenge is particularly interesting as a competition that tasks college students around the world to come up with innovative ideas in these areas.. The prize pot is set at US$50,000 and comes with the offer of training from Dell Mentors, who will help winners develop crucial business knowledge and skills. This project, just like RIM’s, helps actualize groundbreaking ideas by encouraging youthful entrepreneurship.

The third and final example is that of Cisco, which has also given back to the community, but by focusing mostly on educational endeavors. With a core competence in networking technology, the company’s social projects seek to enhance the quality, as well as the delivery of technology-lead educational programs. The Cisco Networking Academy helps about four million students’ worldwide gain Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills. The aim is to prepare students for a constantly developing, technological world, and in doing so, increase their future job prospects.

Efforts like these, made by some of the world’s major technological companies, can go a long way towards transforming the lives and aspirations of underprivileged communities. They allow innovation to take place where, previously, it might have perished, and continue support individuals to develop their own tools for social change.


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