The folks at Centro de Innovación in Santiago, Chile, aim to change that.
I met Julian Ugarte, an Industrial designer, and his team during a recent trip to South America, and I was blown away by what they are trying to do. On March 22, Ugarte and Centro de Innovación launched a contest with Movistar — a mobile subsidiary of Telefonica — and TechoLab, a non-profit subsidiary of Un Techo para mi País (UTPMP) — a pan-Latin American NGO that dispatches youth volunteers on projects to eradicate the extreme poverty that affects tens of millions in Latin America. A $10,000 prize will be given to each of the creators of the best three apps that address problems facing the millions of people living at thebottom of the pyramid (BoP).
The UTPMP builds houses, provides clean water, and gives the poor tools and technologies to improve their lot in life. UTPMP executive director Javier Zuluetatold me that his team, with the help of more than 400,000 volunteers, had constructed 78,000 transitional houses in Latin America and completed numerous other anti-poverty projects. An important aspect of these projects is that the volunteers seek to include the poor in the development process by encouraging them to contribute to and guide the projects benefiting their communities. In other words, UTPMP seeks not only to give them a fish but also a fish hook and pole, metaphorically speaking, to become more self-sufficient.