US-based AppBridge has partnered with leading telecommunications company Globe Telecom and its wholly-owned subsidiary, startup incubator Kickstart Ventures, Inc. on the pilot launch of The Ideas & Apps Philippines Challenge, a global initiative to bring free or low-cost mobile applications to address a number of social problems that governments are facing.
Margo Drakos, founder of AppBridge said that the Philippines is the perfect place for the first Ideas & Apps Challenge due to its very high mobile penetration rate of 91 percent, familiarity with the English language, and the opportunity to have an impact on those living in poverty. Currently, about a third of the 90 million total Philippine population lives on less than US$2 a day, one of the highest in Southeast Asia.
AppBridge and The Ideas & Apps Challenge is an initiative of Clinton Global Initiative, The Forum of Young Global Leaders, and World Economic Forum. Other major sponsors are MorphLabs, Exist, and PhilDev while partners are Babson College in Boston, Hapinoy, and MercyCorps.
The Challenge adopts a two-pronged approach. The first, which runs from May to June 5, is to gather ideas from ordinary people focusing on innovative solutions to Filipino social concerns through the use of mobile communications. The second part, which will run for three months from June 10-September 1, is intended to engage mobile application developers, designers, business people and other interested parties to actually create and launch mobile solutions using SMS (short messaging service), voice, and Smartphone apps, to improve the lives of people who are in need or at risk.
Ideas for apps could range from an SMS alert system during typhoons, to an app teaching expectant moms about the benefits of breastfeeding their babies, educating people on the symptoms of dengue, teaching children a new word each day, or helping stay-at-home moms become entrepreneurs.
“We are honored and thrilled to have the opportunity to launch the Ideas & Apps Challenge pilot program in the Philippines,” said Margo Drakos, Founder of AppBridge. “Local citizens know the challenges their community faces first hand. We hope the Competition would encourage people to share their innovative ideas or apps that address local problems through mobile phones. We are eager to watch the ideas and apps submitted through the online AppBridge Forum, and to follow the distribution and effectiveness of the mobile apps distributed to the citizens of the Philippines.”
“The beauty of this challenge is that it puts people at the center of the picture, recognizing real world problems particularly in an emerging market like the Philippines. It encourages and empowers them to act and create solutions, communicating that we seize opportunities to help each other and help ourselves make this a better world,” said Minette Navarrete, President of Kickstart.
Navarrete said they have identified five key themes for the entries, namely: education; health, wellness, and humanitarian relief; job skills enhancement and employability; entrepreneurship; and active citizenship and good governance.
According to Navarrete, simple mobile applications make it easy to reach the majority of the population. However, Drakos noted that most mobile applications are not designed for those in poverty who have most to gain from tools that can help elevate themselves; thus, the Challenge wants to change the situation by including SMS and Voice aside from the Smartphone apps.
Once the mobile solutions are developed, that is where Globe will come in. “We are working in tandem with Globe to be able to distribute these tools. Because if you build the tools but there’s nowhere for them to go, then nothing is really realized,” Drakos said.
Online submission of ideas (via www.appbridge.org/Philippines) is until midnight of June 5, with the announcement of winners on June 10. Applicants are also encouraged to submit a two-minute video about their idea. The apps challenge application online site, on the other hand, will go live from June 11 to August 31. Winners will be known on September 10 in time for the World Economic Forum Summit in China and the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York.
Cash and other prizes will be given to winners of both the Ideas Challenge and the Apps Challenge; and winners will be selected by a panel of judges, as well as a people’s vote.
Judges for the two challenges are Drakos, Navarrete, Globe President and CEO Ernest Cu, Morphlabs CEO and co-founder Winston Damarillo, PhilDev Chairman of the Board of Trustees Dado Banatao, Broadcast Journalist Karen Davila, and President of Microventures Paolo “Bam” Aquino.