The Asia Foundation announces the launch of a brand-new initiative, The Partnership for Online Platforms & Sustainable Development (POPS), designed to explore the intersection of technology and inclusive growth in developing Asia. The launch event and panel discussion on digital-driven solutions for economic empowerment, digital citizenship, education, and inclusive growth across the region is slated for March 30 in Bangkok during United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific’s (UNESCAP) 5th Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development.
What can be done to help entrepreneurs with great ideas for positive social change to make their dream a reality? How can small and medium sized enterprises grow and access new trade opportunities? How can technology be used to improve lives across the Asia-Pacific region?
Examining these questions at the launch event will be Sahib Anandsongvit, Member, POPS Advisory Council and CEO, Seekster, Mari Pangestu, Member, POPS Advisory Council and Former Minister of Trade and Creative Economy in Indonesia; Katinka Weinberger, Chief, Environment and Development Policy Section, Environment and Development Division, ESCAP; and John Karr, Senior Director for Technology Programs from The Asia Foundation. The senior leaders will bring their expertise in the fields of trade, development, and technology to explore timely topics such as increased internet access, digital literacy, and the importance of creating a positive, open regulatory environment for platforms and users, among other issues. The event will be open to the public.
By 2020, over a billion people in the Asia-Pacific will be served by platforms. Online platforms have now reached such a level of adoption and influence that they are serving as powerful new tools in the fight against poverty and the promotion of social inclusion in the region. The Asia Foundation’s recent report, Six Stories, Six Paths to Development, highlights examples of how online platforms are helping communities across the region to reach the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by enabling financial inclusion, supporting small farms, building human capital, improving the status of women, and promoting green growth.
One example of platform entrepreneurship is Safetipin, a platform that crowdsources information to help women travel safely in various cities around the world. Launched in Bangalore and now covering 12 cities in India, Safetipin is expanding globally into Nairobi, Bogota, Manila, and Jakarta. A second example is the Topica education app from Vietnam. In response to mismatches in the supply of training opportunities and the requirements of the labor market, Topica partners with universities and vocational schools to offer educational courses.
Spanning the public, private, and NGO sectors, POPS aims to establish an Asia-wide network led by regional experts and entrepreneurs and who are dedicated to highlighting the importance of platform entrepreneurship and startup culture to achieving sustainable development goals in Asia. Participating organizations include UNESCAP, Google, the World Bank, Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre Foundation, Pulse Lab Jakarta, a data innovation lab under United Nations Global Pulse, and Bangkok-based online platforms, Ascend Commerce and Seekster.
Through the network, POPS will promote information sharing and collaboration among the region’s development professionals, platform entrepreneurs, and policy makers. More information on the project is available at popsdev.org and/or on Twitter @popsASIA.
To attend the POPS event on March 30 in Bangkok, please register by March 19, 2018 at: https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/4239236/APFSD-2018-Side-Events-Registration.
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