Emerging Trends | ICT4SDG | SMEs/Entrepreneurship
November 3, 2017

‘Accelerate 2030’: How entrepreneurs are boosting sustainable development

By ITU News

Recently, cross-border scaling program for social and environmental good Accelerate 2030 gathered its finalists at the SDG Factory in Geneva, Switzerland.
The programme is partnered with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Swiss Re, Pfizer, and Impact Hub to help scale ventures that are making a difference in driving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Finalists were selected for their:

  • readiness to scale to new markets
  • proven solutions in achieving sustainable impact
  • focus on activities in developing and transitioning countries
  • and innovation in addressing local needs.

ITU News talked to some of the finalists to learn about how their ventures are making a difference in driving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Hablando Con Julis

Frustrated by the challenges and barriers experienced by her own sister, who was born with a disability that rendered her unable to speak, CEO of Hablando Con Julis Daniela Galindo created software that helps people who can’t talk, read, or write, to communicate.

“With this technology we are changing all those ‘nos’ into a big ‘yes’.” – Daniela Galindo, CEO of Hablando Con Julis

The proprietary pedagogical method and image-based software helps people with disabilities to communicate according to each person’s unique capabilities. Currently at over 8,000 users and based in Colombia, Hablando Con Julis is expanding within Latin America and will launch the English version next month.

HearX Group

Medical technology company HearX Group specializes in the development of clinically valid, time-efficient and low-cost aural screening was also in attendance. CEO Nic Klopper sat down with ITU News to explain more about its 8 products, and in particular its flagship product, Hearscreen.

A cost-effective, 60-second test which allows minimally trained individuals to conduct clinically valid hearing tests using mobile smartphone technology, Hearscreen enables community workers and nurses to conduct clinically valid hearing tests with only 20 minutes of training and an Android smartphone. The data is then transmitted via its referral system to the nearest specialist.

“In a majority of the third world and developing world, there’s less than one hearing healthcare specialist per million people, so you can imagine how a product like this can revolutionize access to hearing health care services.” – Nic Klopper, CEO of HearX Group

Based in South Africa, HearX has conducted screenings in 27 countries globally, primarily in underserved or low-to-middle-income countries, and hopes to further expand its vision of healthy hearing for everyone, everywhere.


Co-Founder of SafeMotos Barrett Nash spoke to ITU news about how SafeMotos uses mobile technology to make motorcycle taxis safer for people in Kigali, Rwanda. In many cities across Africa, motorcycle taxi is the most popular method of getting from place to place.

Motorcycle taxis are low in cost and allow the rider to bypass traffic jams. However, they are extraordinarily dangerous – road traffic crashes are the leading cause of fatality in the region and 80% of accidents in Kigali involve motorcycle taxis.

“We realized pretty early on that, while people like the concept of safety, safety isn’t strong enough value proposition to change towards our product and that people prioritize convenience and price.” – Barrett Nash, Co-Founder of SafeMotos

SafeMotos aims to make transportation safer by connecting customers with safe drivers. By utilizing sensor and GPS data pulled from the drivers’ smartphones, SafeMotos is able to utilize data such as brake speed, acceleration, and speed limit in algorithms defined by insurance agencies to connect customers with safe and reliable drivers.


Syafunda, which translates to “we are learning”, is an educational platform that provides access to digital content through mobile technology. Inspired by personal experiences growing up in townships where there was a shortage of textbooks and math and science teachers, Zakheni Ngubo and his team at Syafunda have decided to solve these challenges by capitalizing on South Africa’s high mobile penetration rate at 68% as of 2017.

In partnering with local content developers and publishers, Syafunda sets up digital libraries in places such as township and rural schools, where connectivity is limited or nonexistent. The digital libraries have 5 Terabytes of pre-loaded content that emits wifi hotspots of 2 km so anyone in the vicinity with a mobile device can access and download the material without having to pay for internet.

By incorporating open-source textbooks and direct negotiations with publishers, Syafunda provides access to digital content for high school and post-high school students, with a focus on STEM subjects and entrepreneurship, digital skills, and financial literacy to bring education to all.

By Pamela Dahlia Lian (@DahliaLian), ITU News

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'Accelerate 2030': How entrepreneurs are boosting sustainable development

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