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The Asia Foundation Launches New Initiative to Support Online Platforms and Inclusive Growth

March 19, 2018 — 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?

The Asia Foundation believes that by investing in new technologies, and creating an environment favorable to platform entrepreneurship, the Asia-Pacific can foster the kind of inclusive growth that can be transformational for the region’s economies and societies. In a recent report, titled Six Stories, Six Paths to Development, The Asia Foundation 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. Users rate the safety of a given area based on nine parameters which include street lighting; security; gender diversity; and how safe a person feels in a space. Launched in Bangalore and now covering 12 cities in India, SafetiPin is expanding globally into Nairobi, Bogota, Manila, and Jakarta.

A second example is an education app from Vietnam called Topica. 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. Topica has a bachelor’s degree program, titled “Topica Uni” which collaborates with 16 universities, including top-tier educational institutions in the US and in Asia to provide online degree programs.

To support more of these efforts, The Asia Foundation is initiating the Partnership for Online Platforms & Sustainable Development (POPS). It will be launched on March 30, 2018 in Bangkok during United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific’s (UNESCAP) 5th Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development. Panelists will discuss the need for 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.

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, our work across the region addresses five overarching goals—strengthen governance, empower women, expand economic opportunity, increase environmental resilience, and promote regional cooperation.

To attend the POPS event on March 30 in Bangkok, please register by March 19, 2018 at:

Read more about the Foundation’s work.

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Related locations: Thailand
Related programs: Technology & Development
Related topics: SafetiPin, Social Inclusion

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Media contact

Eelynn Sim, Director, Strategy and Programs
[email protected]

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