By Imani LaTortue, ONE Digital Intern
While the world can sometimes feel like a gloomy place, there are some amazing people and causes that balance out the bad with some really incredible GOOD. We believe it’s important to utilize our talents and passions to help the world around us. That’s why we wanted to spotlight just a few of the many, many organizations dedicated to doing just that:
Solar Sister is an organization that helps support women and girls in rural Africa by providing them with access to clean and dependable solar energy. Through a women-centered direct sales network, the organization empowers women with economic opportunities to support their families and provide clean energy technology to their communities.
The women of Solar Sister are passionate not only about their cause, but also about one another. Their bond goes beyond that of colleagues and soars to sisterhood as they successfully make a difference in fighting energy poverty in their communities.
Learning Equality believes in the power of using digital platforms to provide access to education. This organization creates tools and open-licensed educational content for use by anyone around the world, with a focus on reaching those who are unable to access the internet.
In summer 2012, co-founder Jamie Alexandre was an intern at the popular online educational resource, Khan Academy, when he and a fellow intern had the idea to bring Khan Academy offline using a separate low-cost program. Eventually, Jamie and a group of his peers brought the platform to life, with KA Lite launching in December 2012.
With KA Lite, students can connect to the server from a classroom (or any other space) on a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer. KA Lite is in nearly 200 countries and territories, reaching an estimated 4.5 million learners in settings including schools in rural towns, orphanages, community centers, refugee camps, prisons, and homes.
In 2008, Anushka Ratnayake relocated to Kenya for a job in which she was tasked to develop a repayment process for smallholder farmers on their microloans. She spent her time getting to know farmers who repaid their loans, as well as those who had trouble with repayment. She realized that farmers wanted the option of pre-paying their loan a few months or even a year in advance.
Inspired by the concept of a savings-led program, Anushka researched ways to credit for smallholder farmers and developed myAgro.
Farmers with myAgro can save towards inputs throughout the year. Inputs —which are resources permitted for use in organic farming — include equipment, seeds, fuel, fertilizer, and more. Farmers can buy “planting cards” at their local village store when they have money. This is similar to purchasing mobile phone airtime cards. The vendor sends an SMS to myAgro, which puts the money in their account to redeem for seeds and fertilizer at the beginning of the planting season.
At harvest time, myAgro offers specialized training and small loan options to help farmers improve labor productivity and connect farmers to urban markets. As a result, the organization will help farmers sell their surplus harvests and incentivize farmers to use part of their profits to start saving immediately for the next season. Farmers who utilize myAgro have seen a 50% to 100% increase in harvest yield per hectare, as well as $150 to $300 in additional farming income per year.
Long term, myAgro plans to make strides in how governments fund agricultural sectors and how services to smallholder farmers can become a part of the economic framework within their respective communities.
Founded in 1999, Ubuntu Pathways provides health and educational support to the town of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The Ubuntu Campus is located in the heart of the city, and provides access to services like healthcare, housing, mentorship, school supplies, food, vocational training, and fun activities.
People of all ages benefit from the assistance that Ubuntu Pathways provides. Children receive support through every stage of their formative years with preschool, primary school, immunizations, and career guidance. Older individuals can receive career guidance by building interview and resume skills, as well as preparation for their post-secondary plans. With an organization-wide emphasis on “cradle to career,” Ubuntu Pathways makes every effort to ensure that each child in Port Elizabeth has a fighting chance for a successful future.