Below are problem statements independently created by subject matter experts. The concepts have not been reviewed by Facebook so we encourage you to reach out to the subject matters with questions or additional ideas!

Access to quality basic education and higher education among marginalized and vulnerable populations.


In line with United Nations’ SDG 4 (quality education) action points 4.1, ‘ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education’ and 4.3 ‘access for all men and women to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university’ and 4.5 ‘access for children in vulnerable situations’.

Lack of access to quality basic education for marginalized peoples and those in vulnerable situations hampers access to vocational and tertiary education. According to UNHCR report, “in 2016, there were 6.4 million school-aged refugee children under UNHCR’s mandate, all of whom required approximately 200 days a year of school. Some 3.5 million didn’t get a single day.”

Another category of persons of concern is the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), who are people forced to flee their habitual homes in order to avoid effects of armed conflict, situation of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters. Worldwide, there are 30.5 million IDPs, and as of December 2017, Kenya had 194,000 IDPs across the country as a result of violence and disasters. Uganda had an estimate of 119,000 IDPs with 24,000 of them displaced by armed conflicts and 95,000 displaced by disasters. Other examples of IDP situations include floods in Mozambique, earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal, and typhoons in Philippines.

Undocumented migrants are another category of persons of concern. According to estimates produced by the IOM, approximately 10-15% of the world’s 244 million international migrants are undocumented. In South Africa for example, there were an estimated 1.5 million undocumented migrants at the end of 2016, around 175,000 of those counted were aged 19 or under. Many children are born in South Africa to parents without papers, often these births are not registered because of legislative restrictions on migrant children receiving birth certificates. Without a birth certificate these children have no means of obtaining papers to work or go to school in South Africa and they are likely to remain undocumented for the rest of their lives, with few options but to take informal work and remain second-class citizens for the rest of their lives.

The picture painted by these statistics, evidence a clear and urgent need to address the challenge of access to a safe, quality, responsive, inclusive and tailored basic education for internally and externally displaced children across the world as a precursor to access and participation in higher education. Today, only 1 per cent of eligible refugees have access to higher education, compared to 36 per cent of global youth.

Existing solutions:

  • Vodafone Instant Network Schools provides access to digital educational content and the internet improving the quality of basic education for refugees in eastern Africa.
  • Those developing online resources for teacher education (TESSA; OERAfrica; ACEmaths; Facebook literacy project, African story book project; OER4schools; African Virtual University)
  • Those working in improving digital content development (iEARN, Computers 4 Kids, Magic classrooms, Room to Read, M-Shule, ekitabu, kytabu, digischool, e-shule, eLimu, Coursera, European Schoolnet, iMlango)

Pain points: what are the key barriers to consider?

A study on common barriers to access for persons of concerns at all school levels in developing countries summarized them as:

  • Overcrowding with class sizes e.g. up to 200 pupils in Kakuma, Kenya 
  • Language barriers (learning a new medium of instruction is a major barrier)
  • Curriculum differences between countries
  • Lack of school fees
  • Child labour
  • Security concerns and particular challenges for girls, including teenage pregnancy and/or marriage, and lack of access to sanitation facilities
  • Lack of documentation (e.g. birth certificates, school-leaving certificates),
  • Insufficient number of teachers, including low number of female teachers, limited training opportunities and low remuneration and motivation, which affects education quality. A teachers training programme which specific needs of People of Concern remains insufficient.
  • Shortage of teaching and learning materials (both digital and print) such as textbooks, teacher guides & preparatory materials, supplementary learning materials, and teaching aids.

Opportunity: Working to overcome these barriers to make continuation of education accessible for displaced pupils and to support teachers in providing a responsive, tailored, quality education is essential for attaining universal basic education and access to vocational and higher education. In addressing this challenge, it must be understood that coupled with the effects of trauma, anxiety, absent-mindedness, aggression, it can take several years for some pupils to resume school.

  • The children experience disconnection with previously learned material. When displaced pupils resume school they need counselling, acceptance, peer-support and catch up and bridging lessons, which may not be provided for by the existing syllabus and rigid school regimes.
  • Studies have linked factors such as curriculum, language and pedagogy to the low quality of education provided to persons of concern. The curriculum of the country of origin is the one that is most relevant to the recently displaced, since qualifications gained can be recognised on their return, however, integration into the host education system and its curriculum is the preferred norm of the UNHCR.
  • Having to learn the language of the host country and adapt to education in a new medium of instruction is a major barrier. The strategies used to address language barriers include the provision of English language classes for refugees and undocumented migrants, and the use of a bilingual curriculum in refugee schools to support transition into local schools.
  • On the pedagogy, teachers recruited to teach in refugee schools are often unqualified. Teacher training courses are often short and do not lead to formal qualifications. In some contexts these teachers lack confidence, and do not see themselves as real teachers.
  • Overcrowded classrooms and lack of learning materials have a negative impact on the quality of teaching and learning.
To ensure inclusion of learners with special needs by integration into the general education system by provision of differentiated instruction.


The current provisions for access to the same curriculum as peers without disabilities as a fundamental component of inclusive education is too often denied to learners with intellectual, or developmental disabilities. Studies have looked into ways of equipping teachers and structuring support at schools in such a way that learners with intellectual disability can have access to the national curriculum alongside their peers. To ensure that disabled pupils achieve their full academic potential and master the necessary knowledge and skills that will equip them for a meaningful and economically productive life as adults, the differentiated curriculum is advocated for as the desirable approach to inclusion. According to the USAID Toolkit on Literacy, a differentiated curriculum is a key strategy for responding to the needs of learners with diverse learning styles and needs. It involves processes of modifying, changing, adapting, extending, and varying teaching methodologies, teaching strategies, assessment strategies and the content of the curriculum. It is an approach that can be followed in all ordinary classes in mainstream schools and can be done at the level of content, teaching methodologies, assessment and learning environments to ensure that it is made accessible for all learners across the spectrum of abilities, including learners who are gifted and intellectually disabled.

Existing Solutions:

  • Those researching into differentiated curriculum solutions (Leonard Cheshire in Asia and Africa)
  • Those providing technologies for supporting disabled learners (eduVOD Africa)
  • Those providing teacher training for special needs learners (iEARN Kenya, Kenya Institute of Special Education, Universities)

Pain points: what are the key barriers to consider?

The challenge to ensure that children with intellectual disability are included in mainstream schools and receive appropriate support to access the curriculum and achieve meaningful learning outcomes hampered by:

  • Lack of appropriate assistive resources in schools
  • Lack of differentiated instructional materials
  • Large class sizes
  • Lack of teacher training in appropriate inclusive methodologies.

Opportunity: Curriculum support materials (both soft and hard copy formats) to guide the implementation of a differentiated instruction in classrooms

  • Teacher training to address the needs of learners and trainees with intellectual disabilities
  • Differentiated modes of assessment and possible use of Artificial Intelligence in assessment, detection and accurate recommendation solutions.
  • Instruction on talents and foundational skills to adequately equip disabled children for the world of work and a meaningful adult life.
To provide a school re-entry option for young adults and youth who dropped out of school at the basic education level, a chance to complete their education for access to tertiary education and employment.

Background: The burden of undereducated youth continues to grow because of children dropping out of school due to factors such as early pregnancy, poverty, child labour, truancy, migration and forced displacement among others. The burden of school dropouts is a cost to society; as such individuals are unable to gain employment for sustainable livelihoods. School dropouts suffer low self-esteem and are characteristically mal adjusted and deficient in skills needed for survival in today’s technological society. Studies have shown that given a chance, youth who dropped out of school for one reason or another have positive attitudes towards re-joining school to complete their basic education for better prospects in life. Available re-entry options such as re-joining regular school and attending school in adult centres to complete basic education are undesirable due to the stigma associated with attending such schools and the need to look into responsibilities such as childcare, domestic chores and income generating activities for their livelihoods. Studies have shown that the use of technology to provide school re-entry programmes holds promise due to the privacy and flexibility technology offers in providing dropout youth a chance to complete school alongside their day-to-day responsibilities.

Existing Solutions:

  • Those providing digital content (m-shule, e-shule, ekitabu, kytabu, eLimu, computers 4 kids, iEARN, Coursera, European Schoolnet, iMlango)
  • Vodafone Instant Network Schools provides access to digital educational content and the internet improving the quality of basic education for refugees in eastern Africa. 
  • Those developing online resources for teacher education (TESSA; OERAfrica; ACEmaths; Facebook literacy project, African story book project; OER4schools; African Virtual University)
  • Those providing solutions for self-organizing learning (A hole in the wall project, school in the cloud)

Pain points: 

  • The cost of implementing the electronic school re-entry platform
  • The user cost of purchasing and maintaining equipment and data bundles for internet access
  • Access to teachers for support and laboratories for practical subjects
  • Payment of levies to access examinations and certification


  • Positive attitudes towards using technology for school re-entry programmes
  • Availability of cheap mobile devices
  • Availability of internet on mobile devices for accessing information
  • Availability of digital content for primary and secondary school curricula
  • Availability of certification for end of primary school and secondary school
  • Policies supporting universal education  


Small Medium Businesses (SMEs) have greater access to finance and trade finance, particularly in developing countries.

Background: Small Medium Businesses (SMEs) are responsible for the majority of the formal workforce. However, they face significant challenges accessing financing to grow their operations. When we compare them to larger firms, SMEs are more likely to be credit constrained. They face more costs to accessing credit, and are more likely to face credit rationing and higher interest rates. Trade financing is also particularly constrained for SMEs. It is estimated that half of SMEs requests for trade financing are rejected, compared to only 7% for multinational corporations.

Pain Points: This lack of financing is due, in part, to lack of collateral or immovable collateral, more specifically. While movable assets account for most of SME assets, banking institutions are reluctant to accept them as collateral, particularly in developing countries as they are prone to ownership disputes. Research supports that fostering the use of movable assets as collateral tends to expand financing to SMEs.

Opportunity: Innovative tech solutions could help lower barriers to SMEs financing by helping to verify ownership of assets, increasing SMEs financial literacy, and providing alternative ways to assess credit worthiness.


Small Medium Businesses (SMEs) have better understanding of foreign markets regulatory framework

Background: Small Medium Businesses (SMEs) are underrepresented in international trade relative to their share of activity and employment. While accounting for the majority of formal non-agricultural employment in most countries, SMEs participation in global trade is relatively weak. SMEs disproportionately face regulatory uncertainty and costly tariffs and non-tariff barriers. Stronger participation of SMEs in global trade could yield significant benefits including enhanced productivity, business scale, and employment growth.

Pain Points: Among external factors impeding SMEs participation in global trade are access to market research, regulatory information about target foreign markets and commercial presence requirements, and cross border Intellectual Property (IP) rights.

Opportunity: Technology could help bridge this knowledge gap by providing relevant translation, market research, and insights relating to adaptation of products to local regulation.

Small Medium Businesses (SME) have greater integration in the Global Value Chain

Background: The Global Value Chain (GVC) could provide Small Medium Businesses (SMEs) with new opportunities to integrate the global market contributing to gains in business scale and productivity. Improving access to transport infrastructure can foster broader GVC participation for SMEs. Transport logistics which include pick-up, clearance, warehousing, distribution and delivery cost more to SMEs compared to larger firms as a share of the unit cost. Logistical issues are particularly severe in developing countries where transport and communication infrastructure is less developed.

Pain Points: Existing evidence suggests that reducing transport and logistics costs can improve SMEs’ trade opportunities. SMEs face higher costs due to the complexity of customs processes, the quality and uncertainty of transport infrastructure, and limited export partners and delivery systems.

Opportunity: digital technologies have the potential to reduce trade costs and facilitate SME integration into the Global Value Chain to access both inputs and sell their output production. This could be through improving information access about customs procedures, automating border and other logistical processes, and harnessing existing transport infrastructure.


Men and women have equal access to public services (like water, electricity, buses, polling stations), especially in lower income countries.

Background: Gender gaps persist in countries around the world—often to devastating effects, and regardless of sector. In some places, girls are forbidden from receiving an education when they're pregnant, even when they are pregnant as a result of sexual abuse. One in three girls have experienced some form of female genital mutilation, leading to HIV infection and death. Girls and women are also less likely to hold positions of leadership or office, mainly due to systemic factors ranging from policies to prejudice. Many aid organizations are hard at work to address these gender gaps, but measuring the impact of their work is hard—particularly when they are trying to learn whether their work has changed the behaviors or attitudes of men, women, boys, girls, businessmen, politicians, and so on.

Pain points: Most aid organizations try to assess the impact of their efforts to reduce the gender gap using a variety of tools, ranging from surveys to randomized control trials. But a common pain point persists across the industry: In many cases, they don't have an accurate, disaggregated picture of exactly who lives in the area that they are working. Without that information, they are missing opportunities to target their investments where they're needed most, and—more importantly—they don't know whom to survey! For example, if they spend five years helping young women to build the skills and confidence they need to start their own businesses in a low-income country containing mostly male-owned businesses. Ideally, they would want to survey women of different education levels, or with different work experiences, or from different parts of the country, to understand if the investments have led to change for those different groups. They might also want to survey young men, established male business leaders, and other demographics individually, to understand where they might still have more work to do changing perceptions or attitudes. But in most cases, they are operating in an information vacuum. Available statistics are rarely timely, reliable, or disaggregated enough to give aid organizations an accurate picture of whom they are serving and whom to ask about the impact of the efforts. Women and girls, specifically, are often undercounted or ignored in these statistics, making it even harder to know whether they are doing enough specifically for those groups.

Opportunity: Using Facebook—a tool that many citizens in low income countries have access to even when they lack reliable electricity or clean water—create tools that help aid organizations understand more about the demographics and preferences of the people they serve, in order to tailor their projects and measure their impact in ways that are tailored to—and therefore representative of—men and women. This will help them reduce gender gaps in different sectors through improved projects that are tailored to the needs of different demographics.


People can discern fact from fiction online.

Background: Disinformation ("fake news," as it's more commonly known) has been around for thousands of years. But only recently have internet technologies enabled such disinformation to be magnified and amplified to an unprecedented degree, impacting people's perceptions, lives, politics, and more. In this environment, it's more important than ever that citizens are armed with the skills and tools they need to discern fact from fiction and make informed decisions. At IREX, they've developed a training program that is proven to help people discern fact from fiction to identify "fake news." Other aid organizations are also working on similar approaches.

Pain points: Our curriculum (called "Learn to Discern", or L2D) works, but it doesn't reach enough people. It was originally an in-person training (like a series of workshops or part of a classroom experience), but they are now finding ways to put key pieces of it—like lectures and activities—online to reach a wider audience at the scale that this "fake news" problem warrants.

Opportunity: How could Facebook's tools be used to advance the education of its users about discerning fact from fiction? What pieces of the L2D curriculum can be made more accessible using Facebook's tools, ranging from chatbots to apps that engage middle- or high- school students, like Duolingo that provide a fun, engaging learning experience?


Women who are new to the internet access and use it safely and responsibly.

Background: Surrounded by tweets and notifications, it's easy to forget that nearly half of the world's population—over three billion people—don't have any internet access. Fortunately, that's changing, thanks in part to efforts by Facebook to provide free internet access to their Free Basics platform in lower income countries. And as Facebook and others move to create "internet satellites" to “efficiently provide broadband access to underserved areas throughout the world", more people in more traditionally disconnected areas will be coming online.

Pain points: As exciting as this trend might be, users must also be cautious. Safe online behaviors intuitive to many in higher income countries—indeed, even the very concept of a "password"—are not known to internet newcomers, especially those who might have low literacy, low education levels, etc. There are already many known cases of people being taken advantage of or being exposed to cyber abuse. In some cultures where women's access to information is controlled by male family members or leaders, women and girls risk physical, sexual, or emotional violence just by accessing the internet on a phone or at a cyber cafe.

Opportunity: There are many established resources and methods to help people—especially women and girls—to get online for the first time safely and responsibly. These include educational materials and training programs, often delivered in public areas that women feel safe in, like community libraries. As these women get online for the first time—likely through a Facebook account—there is an opportunity to introduce them to fundamentals of online safety from the very beginning of their internet/Facebook experience. How could a Messenger chatbot help convey this information to new internet users? How could Facebook help connect newcomers with digital safety trainers remotely?


Education technologies helping to close the worldwide gap in learning.

Background: 263 million children are still out of school due to several challenges preventing them to integrate the education system: poverty, displacement, disabilities, gender, distance from schools, security. For many of those children, enrolling in schools is not possible. They are in need of alternative education solutions adapted to their situation, practical, free and easy to scale, hence technological.

Pain Point: Technology has a vital role to play in tackling educational challenges. But technology unevenly applied only worsens disparities in access and opportunity. Indeed, while in prosperous communities, children enjoy online videos, digital tutors and virtual labs, less fortunate students all around the globe are falling behind due to out-of-date methodologies and material that are culturally irrelevant.


  • Develop more engaging resources, interactive, and effective, with a special focus on life skills.
  • Flexible tools that allow to customize, adapt, import and create content.
  • Solve the access challenge by providing offline solutions.


New generation of teachers

Background: The emergence of new jobs is impacting traditional careers. Young people today are less interested in teaching professions, due to the common perception that the sector is still very conventional, resulting in a palpable shortage of teachers, worldwide. The problem is more sensed in remote areas where less qualified teachers cater for the most vulnerable students. Those teachers are burdened with large class sizes, infrequent capacity buildings, traditional methodologies and old curricula that are not adapted to the 21st century’s wired world.

Pain Point: Education hasn’t modernized itself over the past decades; even though technology is changing in a an ever-evolving world, teachers and education systems are moving at snail’s pace. Education nowadays is about empowering the learners with life, entrepreneurship, problem solving, and critical thinking skills. This is why enhancing the teaching profession is urgent. A new generation of 21st century teachers has to emerge, rendering the profession more appealing.


  • Develop digital tools that offer teachers capacity and confidence-building.
  • Flexible tools that encourage creativity in the classroom.
  • Management tools that allow them to facilitate and adopt new methodologies.


Emergency Education Response initiatives need cooperation in order to achieve a better impact.

Background: Emergency Education Response initiatives often fail to attain an impact due to competition, compromise and the lack of actively involving the target communities. Indeed, there is constant competition between NGOs for limited pots of resources granted by major donors, who in order to please the donors, they often compromise in their actions and in the quality of their programs. 

Pain Point: Addressing worldwide education gaps, response initiatives should ensure that international NGOs team up with core NGOs to avoid parachuting of alien programs that could fail. On the other hand, NGOs must work in harmony to learn from one another’s successes and failures and achieve better impacts. By avoiding competition and compromise and co-operating together they may create synergies that will definitely lead to better results. 

Opportunity: Develop collaborative spaces and tools for information sharing, lessons learned and white papers.


Enhancing e-participation for more inclusive smart cities.

Background: Citizen engagement has been one of the key pillars in the democratic process as the transformation of older forms of governance has led to a widening of political space for public engagement with their government. Further adoption of digital technologies has opened up virtual spaces for government-citizen engagement, allowing faster information exchange in the decision-making process.

Pain points: As the needs of the citizens grow, the system needs to be designed to cater for greater participation. Previously, having smartphone apps or web portals that allow citizens to report problems in the environment, from potholes to graffiti, from litter to streetlight outages might be sufficient. But nowadays, citizens do not want to be just passive sources of information for the city, which may or may not use this information. They want to participate by collecting data, performing analysis and challenging the city’s decisions. A further step is co-production, involving citizens in planning, implementing, and managing public services. In this way, the city government benefits from the local knowledge of participants and can better react to their needs, the individual gains by having more influence in the design of services which they will eventually be the primary beneficiaries.

Opportunities: The design of online platforms that support increased participation (i.e. monitoring and co-production) of citizens. Some of the existing platforms are equipped with features such as a forum, instant polling, and geographic information systems (GIS). The future design might consider integration of new emerging digital technologies and advanced data science techniques. Such a solution could also be tailored to the need of disadvantaged groups (e.g. people with disabilities, elderly, women and children) in the community. Moreover, it should also be available in open source for easy deployment in the resource-constrained areas.


Open Data for government transparency and economic opportunity in public procurement.

Background: Governments spend an estimated USD 9.5 trillion annually through contracts. In most countries, public procurement use up to around 30% of the national budget. Yet, there is minimal public information as to how, when and where this money is spent. The governments around the world have implemented electronic procurement (e-procurement), which has significantly improved spending efficiency and ensured fair competition in the tendering process.

Pain point: However, information sharing regarding government contracts is still limited. Data is stored in different platforms creating a barrier to access. An initiative such as Open Contracting was launched to tackle the issue by providing contracting data in an open and standardized electronic format via open data portals. Open contracting allows the citizens to access contracting data available in standardized machine-readable format via Application Programming Interface (API).

Access to data and information on government budgets and spending compels governments and public officials to be accountable and transparent, but also opens up economic opportunity.

Opportunities: Information sharing applications built on the available open procurement data API that makes it easier for the public, including small-business enterprises (SMEs) to access contract opportunities. Additional features such the Geographical Information Systems (GIS) can be made useful to allow contractors to search for the projects based on their geographical location. Further development could also include a feature to monitor the implementation of the existing projects. For example, citizens can report and monitor if there is an issue with the quality of the school being built or a delay in the construction of the bridge in their community.


Improving measurement of SDG targets.

Background: Besides its critical role in improving access to information as well as delivering specific services and solutions to the citizens, another important role of ICT in achieving SDGs is in improving measurement of SDG targets.

Pain points: There are two ways ICT can be used as an effective tool for monitoring public policies fostering sustainable development. First, it can be an alternative source of data. Countries around the world generally use traditional data gathering such as survey and annual census to monitor the progress of SDGs. However, such traditional approaches often faced the problem of resources that can affect data accuracy, validity and timeliness. Big data combined with machine learning technologies have the potential to generate an alternative source of data to measure the SDG target. Secondly, ICT can be used as a means for collecting, processing, and making SDG data available more widely. It can even be designed to allow citizens to collect their own data and monitor the progress of SDG in their community. Hence, reducing reliance on government institutions.

Opportunities: Development of alternative big data sources or tools for data gathering and analysis for monitoring the progress of implementing 17 goals, 169 targets, and 232 indicators of SDGs.


To improve the conscious access to credit of small entrepreneurs.

Background: One of the main difficulties faced in day to day small business is their access to cheaper credit. Due to the difficulties of demonstrating the conditions of the business and meeting the credit assessment requirements of financial institutions, access is impaired, as interest rates are often much higher than those applied to larger companies. By reducing the asymmetry of information by giving small businesses access to the information used for their credit assessment, they can better prepare for credit negotiation with various financial institutions, but also access it in better conditions.

Pain Points: Assist in the organization of the small business information necessary for a credit assessment.

Opportunities: "Gamification" of the organization of information (such as credit history and supplier relationships, company financial situation, margin for contracting new debts, future cash generation perspective and guarantees) of small businesses according to available information on the internet, aimed at improving the credit score and obtaining credit in better conditions. By getting this information in an organized manner the small business owner can use it to improve their case for cheap credit with lenders.


To generate income and employment through access to cheaper credit for small businesses.

Background: Access to credit at reasonable prices is a fundamental requirement for the creation and maintenance of small businesses. In research in 2017, 51% of small businesses have aversion to bank loans, mainly because of interest rates. For the bank, the main reason for not granting cheap loans is small amounts, high transaction costs, lack of confidence in the information or statements provided (information asymmetry), lack of history and relationship with the bank, and lack of collateral. The banking concentration in Brazil and in the world (5 banks concentrate 80% of the credit) and lack of competition also explains the high spreads and bank interest rates.

Pain Points: Although there is data available on the website of financial institutions and in the database of some central banks around the world, they are not organized and housed in digital environments that allow the comparability of information.

Opportunities: The defense of the small business is to simply and reliably obtain information on where there is cheaper credit. The organization and comparability between rates and conditions practiced between credit providers (financial institutions) in a digital environment can increase transparency and increase competition to reduce interest rates and simplify access to credit. A solution with mapping of the interest rates practiced in the market could be a solution to this problem.


Economic growth and job creation through the formalization of small companies.

Background: Small businesses account for 50% of formal jobs and 27% of Brazilian GDP, but many businesses still operate in informal or semi-informal conditions (for example, the company is constituted but has regularization pending operations of the business or marketing of its products). Informality has negative impacts, since it limits the company's activity in the market, creates a situation of legal insecurity for businessmen and workers and hinders access to credit. It is believed that the sharing of reliable and up-to-date information, through easy-to-use technological solutions by entrepreneurs, on formalization rules can stimulate the formalization of companies and, as a consequence, economic growth and job creation.

Pain Points: Although there are public and normative government policies that determine the simplification and transparency of rules for formalization of companies, the entrepreneur still has difficulty obtaining the complete information to open his company, because the information is dispersed in websites of different institutions, sometimes outdated and in technical language difficult to understand for the general public.

Opportunities: A solution that collects and apposes in an organized way the information, requirements and cost to formalize the type of business desired by the entrepreneur.


Hawker Centres (Singapore local food centre) are a part of Singaporeans' culture and way of life and will continue to thrive as a community space.

Background: Several Hawker centres face challenges operating as the younger generation are not keen to be a hawker (the shop owner) or visit the food centre for food.

Pain Points:

  • Hawker centres are always crowded at peak hour. It's hard to find a seat, and people need to spend 15-30 mins queuing for food.
  • Hawker centres at the non-peak hours are on the opposite side!
  • There's an increasing number of vacancy at the food centre as the shop owners are having a hard time maintaining profitability
  • People 'chope' for seat or reserving the seat with tissue paper or name card.


  • A creative solution that helps the hawker centre manage the fluctuation of the demand
  • A creative solution that makes a trip to hawker centre a pleasant experience for food lovers


Air Pollution - Many countries in Southeast Asia are facing challenges with air pollution (PM2.5).

Background: Many people in Thailand, especially in Bangkok and Ching Mai, are breathing polluted air containing a high level of PM2.5. There's an existing application - AirVisual - that helps people track air quality. People who have access to this information will avoid the area or wear a mask to protect themselves.

Pain Points: Even though there is an existing solution to let people track the air quality. Many people are still unaware of the situation. These people are kids, the elderly, and people in the rural area who have no access to news and the internet.


  • A creative method that raises awareness of PM2.5, and how it can impact their health
  • A solution that reminds people to wear a mask or avoid the area


Stray cats and dogs are everywhere in Thailand, creating miserable conditions for animals and unsafe environments for humans.


As of 2017, there are 820,000 stray cats and dogs in Thailand. Many non-profit organizations try to save these animals. Many individuals and group of volunteers also set up their Facebook pages to save these animals.

Announcements from these Facebook pages include:

  • Fundraising to save the injured cat and dog
  • Finding a home for the newborn
  • Announcing lost & found dogs/cat

Pain Points: Though many organizations and volunteers are doing their best, information is scattered and is not yet reaching people in the right location and at the right time. For instance, lost & found posts often go through friends does not take user location into account which is crucial for the issue.

Opportunities: A creative solution to keep people effectively informed about dogs and cats in their community / nearby location.



Accessible (mobile) online learning designed for the African continent giving unprecedented education and skills development opportunities for disadvantaged young people

Background: Quality Education in many African countries is mostly accessible in a classroom/lecture hall environment and this does not serve the unemployed and unskilled youth in townships and rural areas who lack funds to pay for quality education, resources (Internet, tablets, laptops, computers) to access free quality education. This contributes to high levels of youth unemployment in countries like South Africa. At the same time, the fourth industrial revolution is creating new work opportunities driven by digital skills. Young people are the most likely demographic to benefit from these opportunities, even if they have limited education. So how can the world make use of technology to make education accessible through a mobile device in an area with the slowest internet speed and the lowest levels of digital literacy to ensure this new wave of skills is easily accessible in a sustainable way?

Pain Points: Young people lack money and resources, especially in rural locations. Often they have only basic levels of education. Rural or peri-urban communities get left behind because of their geographical distance, meaning that opportunities fall to those who are already connected. Many programmes exist but are often only available in big cities.

Opportunities: Leverage tools like Whatsapp and Facebook which are free and easy to use for millions of young people (even those with low or no income), to create new models of learning that connect subject matter experts (facilitators) with learners to deliver learning materials or programmes, activate peer-to-peer learning communities, distribute learning material, assess and reward learning. A traditional e-learning model would not work. We would need to match cutting edge social learning design with the appropriate platforms, Whatsapp being the most widely used.


By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training

Background: Globally, 700 million workers lived in extreme or moderate poverty in 2018, with less than US$3.20 per day (UNDP). In Africa, this problem is especially relevant for the younger population. 65% of the African continent is less than 29 years old (Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Mckinsey) and by 2050, ±40% of the worlds under 18 will be in Africa (UNICEF).

As a result, ensuring, knowing and continuing to learn about opportunity pathways for the increasing young workforce will be key in achieving SDG 8. However, there are 45m Africans graduating high school each year and less than 10% will enroll in tertiary education (UNESCO Institute of Statistics).

An increasing number of youth with non-traditional education are being left behind disproportionately. This is not a demand-supply mismatch, but rather a systemic problem, rooted in the lack of programs and focus into the work potential of these youth.

Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator operating in South Africa and Rwanda is working on creating job opportunities for youth. Harambee has an active network of +500,000 young work seekers (between 18-35, limited formal work experience, and socially and financially excluded from the economy), and has understood :

  • It’s not about skills or education: They need to orient around other dimensions of employability that reveal a truer picture of potential (e.g. voluntary agency, realism).
  • Employability is not linear: They need to build a way for young people to navigate non-linear routes to opportunities and income generation.
  • System change requires communities of partnership: We need to identify partnerships that can pilot small programs and then scale in the future.

Pain Points: Harambee’s business model relies on the ability to contact candidates to connect them with potential jobs. However, there are several systemic issues associated with these young work seekers:

  • They often have little to no money for data
  • Users have more than one sim card (they swap sim cards based on changes in cost for data)
  • Smartphone penetration is lower than expected in many areas
  • Reduced arrival rates of work-seekers because of transport challenges or information barriers (they don’t know where to actually apply for jobs)

These challenges are further compounded by current technology constraints including Harambee’s messaging to young people being 1-way (synchronous) not 2-way (asynchronous). Candidates cannot asynchronously share with Harambee what they are doing, especially in the informal sector. This means they are limited in their ability to point them to the next opportunity or find the resources close to them that can help them build the skills for the jobs that are available.



  • Create a proof of concept at a community level, that can be scalable, using affordable messaging technology to enable excluded people to share their employment journey so that they can help them grow their skills and find their next job. As an example, nearly half the network does not have access to a smartphone, about 45% access Facebook and 75% use Whatsapp.
  • There may be several different software solutions that can help scale the opportunities to connect these young people to jobs, one being: Solving the network problem: What is a solution to create an omni-channel platform that allows young people to access their CV (that is updated by them and what they report) across different channels?


“By 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing State” (UNESCO, 2017, p. 403)

Background: There is a lack of “universally accepted definition of good teaching.” While there have been various accountability frameworks of teacher effectiveness, introduction of machine learning applications to predict teacher performance may be problematic for adding a layer of algorithmic bias. Value add models, which are used to evaluate teacher performance, may consider a mixture of following factors to assess a teacher: student test scores, commitment to the school community, the school’s overall impact on student learning, teacher’s classroom performance and/or professionalism (Headden, 2011).

Pain Points: Given the contested nature of debates on value add models for teacher assessment, it is not clear how technologies can be incorporated to address demand for accountability on teacher performance. While teachers’ workload increases with the growing reporting requirements for accountability, it would be helpful to explore how emerging technologies can be leveraged to assess teacher performance (UNESCO, 2017, p. 252).

Opportunity: Create technical solutions that consider effective ways of enhancing teacher accountability while minimizing algorithmic bias

Sources: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (2017). Accountability in education: Meeting our commitments. Global Education Monitoring Report. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from | Headden, S. (2011). Inside IMPACT: DC’s model teacher evaluation system. Education Sector, 11.


“All people, ‘irrespective of sex, age, race, ethnicity, and persons with disabilities, migrants, indigenous peoples’, should have access to lifelong learning opportunities.” (UNESCO, 2017)

Background: While emerging technologies have opened up possibilities for accommodating diverse educational needs, there are still obstacles faced by students with disability to access educational opportunities. For example, research in intelligent tutoring systems suggests possibilities of providing an adaptive learning environment based on a student’s learning preferences and personality. Research in affective-sensitive learning systems to estimate a learner’s emotional and attentional states may be helpful to inform intervention measures for learners who are “disabled, taciturn or impassive learners” (Heraz et al., 2007)

Pain Points: There is a lack of consensus on appropriate pedagogical frameworks for intelligent tutoring systems. It would be helpful to explore how a learning system may incorporate pedagogical considerations, such as zone of proximal development and scaffolding, to enable customized learning environment for students with disability.

Opportunity: Generate technical solutions that augment means of delivering inclusive education to disadvantaged and marginalized groups. Sources: Heraz, A., Razaki, R., & Frasson, C. (2007, July). Using machine learning to predict learner emotional state from brainwaves. In Advanced Learning Technologies, 2007. ICALT 2007. Seventh IEEE International Conference on (pp. 853-857). IEEE.

Fewer people and property are impacted by natural disasters.

Background: SDG Target 11.5 looks to significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations

Pain Points: Disasters often impact communications infrastructure – Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico destroyed 96% of the cell phone towers on the island making communications difficult. Many residents will tell you a significant pain point was simply not knowing.

Opportunity: Creative technical solutions and methods of information sharing could improve water access and economic opportunities for many in the developing world.


Urban environments have clean air and are rid of litter and other waste.

Background: SDG Target 11.6 acts to reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including impacts on air quality, municipal and other waste management.

Pain Points: Growing urban environments, especially in developing countries struggle with poor air quality and inability to manage solid waste. Cities from San Francisco to Accra are currently wrestling with litter on city streets which degrades quality of life and can add to other resilience stresses like flooding by clogging important infrastructure. Societal behaviors and lack of infrastructure can contribute to the inability to manage waste and air quality.

Opportunity: Technical solutions could increase awareness, change behaviors and improve operations to improve air quality and solid waste management.

Important cultural and heritage sites withstand pressures from urbanization and climate change.

Background: SDG Target 11.4 aims to “strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage”. Specifically, Indicator 11.4.1 will measure: “Total expenditure (public and private) per capita spent on the preservation, protection and conservation of all cultural and natural heritage, by type of heritage (cultural, natural, mixed, World Heritage Centre designation), level of government (national, regional, and local/municipal), type of expenditure (operating expenditure/investment) and type of private funding (donations in kind, private non-profit sector, sponsorship).”

Pain Points: Heritage sites are particularly vulnerable during and after resilience shocks like natural disasters and conflicts which interfere with protections and can increase susceptibility to vandalism, looting and other destructive behaviors which threaten sites.

Opportunity: Can digital tools be used to identify and share potential threats to important heritage sites and help prevent and lessen impacts of those threats?

Developing countries use local materials to build sustainable and resilient urban infrastructure.

Background: SDG Target 11C supports the least developed countries, including through financial and technical assistance, in building sustainable and resilient buildings utilizing local materials.

Pain Points: Urbanization and the development of megacities - especially in developing countries require huge quantities of materials to build sustainable and resilient infrastructure. Access to these materials can be hard and too expensive to access. Access to local materials may not exist.

Opportunity: Urbanization will require sustainable materials to build infrastructure to support housing and other buildings. Can digital tools be leveraged to establish and improve markets, facilitate financing, share knowledge on the development and use of local materials?


Quality of life in slums is improved through better planning and or service delivery.

Background: SDG 11 Target Indicator 11.1 - by 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgradable slums. It is estimated that 2 billion people will live in slums by 2030. Improved planning, coordination and digital service delivery could reduce the number of people who live in slums, improve planning and deployment of infrastructure and quality of life.

Pain Points: Informal settlement areas have many challenges because of their informality. Roads, addresses, infrastructure, governance models – all the things that help formal areas function can be different in slums, because of the way slums form, grow and operate.

Opportunity: Tools that help city officials, community leaders, NGO’s and slum dwellers improve their lives could have a significant impact on SDG 11.


Micro-enterprises and small merchants are no longer credit-constrained due to lack of data.

Background: Micro, small and medium enterprises play a critical role in sustaining economic development and providing employment in developing countries. They “make up over 90% of all firms and account on average for 60-70% of total employment and 50% of GDP” (ICSB). They employ individuals from poorer households and are the predominant providers of work in rural areas. SDG 8.3 recognizes their central role in income generation and distribution activities thus: "Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services."

Pain points: Despite their key role in sustaining and fueling economies in low-income countries, they face sustained challenges, one of which is inadequate access to credit. The estimated unmet demand is over $5 trillion (UNCDF). This is often driven by a lack of credit history or collateral, and a lack of consistent or any record keeping – all preventing financial institutions from determining an enterprise’s credit worthiness. Micro-enterprises and small merchants suffer the most from not having a digital- or data-footprint.

Opportunity: Smartphones with decent cameras can help change this by enabling collection of data that generate information necessary to make credit decisions. Computer vision and object classification techniques can identify products and catalog inventory, which can then be used to track inventory movement and sales. Micro-enterprises and small merchants can offer this information as proof-of-revenue to providers of working capital credit. They can also use the same information to forecast demand and order inventory optimally based on product movement.


Youth with entrepreneurial propensities are identified and nurtured for success.

Background: Nearly half of the world’s population and about 40% of the world’s unemployed are under 25 years of age, and more than 350 million of them are neither in some form of employment or in school (RTI). The incoming wave of youth entering working-age is largest in Sub-Saharan Africa – the current median age is 18 years, and will increase to 24 years in 2050, compared to 35 years old for the rest of the world (WB). It is imperative to set them up for success in their own careers, and as economically productive members of their community, and is reflected in SDG 8.6: "By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth (aged 15-24 years) not in employment, education or training."

Any intervention to enhance employment opportunities would do well to be cognizant of the fact that youth today belong to the “mobile generation” – many own a smartphone, surf the internet for information and entertainment, are prodigious users of social media, and more comfortable with digital money compared to earlier generations.

Pain Points: Challenges to youth entering employment differ by the type of employment, whether it be agriculture, formal wage-based work, or entrepreneurship. Potential entrepreneurs face a particularly steep curve, lacking both relevant knowledge and adequate resources, including working capital, to get started.

Opportunity: Entrepreneurial psychology can identify youth with a higher propensity to succeed in business activities by observing language used in everyday exchanges, even if they are not business-related. Mining conversational content from SMS, social media and other channels can assist vocational education and employment programs in providing appropriate training and connect the entrepreneurs of tomorrow with sources of funding and support.


Low-income countries undergoing economic transition embrace automation as a key driver of meaningful work.

Background: Drivers of economic growth include an expanding workforce, increased productivity and higher skilled work. Such growth is not always inclusive in low- and middle-income countries. Underemployment, rather than unemployment, remains a challenge – 40% of employed workers work for fewer than 35 hours a week (WB). At the other end of the spectrum, because productivity is low, people work long hours every week to earn enough to survive. Historically, economic transformation has coincided with urbanization, sectoral change and an increase in waged jobs. SDG 9.2 emphasizes that such transformation must also be inclusive: "Promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and, by 2030, significantly raise industry’s share of employment and gross domestic product, in line with national circumstances, and double its share in least developed countries."

Pain Points: Automation in the workplace has significant potential to disrupt employment patterns in the future. Some estimates suggest that up to 800 million jobs could be lost worldwide to robotic automation by 2030, with up to 375 million needing to re-skill and take up a new occupation (McKinsey). While the more advanced economies will bear the brunt of this shift, developing economies will not be immune to the effects of stagnating wages and obsolescence of skills, not least because many are relying on their relatively young population to drive economic growth.

Opportunity: Throughout history, paradigm shifts in the nature of work have resulted in loss of some types of jobs, but has also been more than made up for through increased productivity and higher-skilled work. Human beings will continue to excel in work that requires empathy, flexible decision making, and complex interactions, while automation tends to repetitive work with precision and speed. Proactive execution on a vision that embraces automation can accelerate attainment of SDGs through appropriate skills development and retraining, investment in R&D and infrastructure, and support for those adversely affected. What does this inclusive future of work look like to you?


Measure long term results and impact in students lives, with a focus on those that have completed capacity building programs online

Background: We have trained (and digitally empowered) over 1.7 million people over the last 2 decades. We have an evaluation process in place where we collect feedback before and after each program, but it is very hard to keep track of the students after they graduate and therefore have a broader picture of the impact we´ve had in their lives over the years. This would be extremely useful to revise and adapt our content and also to identify former students we want to keep a close connection.

Opportunity: Technical solutions could help monitor and identify in an efficient way, career paths, university degrees, and help us truly measure the impact of our work in terms of income generation and life transformation.


Facilitate access to edutech activity plans that fit the specifics and demands of an educator

Background: Today, educators have difficulties in developing creative activities that link different technologies to school content. In a scenario like Brazil, with educators undergoing an excessive workload and low incomes, we have not yet experienced an education that has been able to absorb even the fruits of the third industrial revolution, much less the fourth. With little training and study time, educators cannot plan and innovate within edutech, being restricted to lesson plans that do not effectively leverage the internet and social networks. We live in a time when the use of mobile and social networks are not seen as critical tools for knowledge within the vast majority of schools. Use cases are not easily accessible and educators find it difficult to research them.

Pain Points: Provide lesson plans that dialogue with the content that teachers are required to apply, which involves having a research tool that aligns the demands of the teacher, the resources he has and his powers. Moreover, Brazilian schools are also often not equipped with computers and the Internet, which places the local context as a major barrier to previous planning. So it is necessary to think about a customization service that, besides searching in a list of experiences the most appropriate, also obtain information and experiences and feedback.

Opportunity: The opportunity is around SDG 4 - Quality Education. Quality Education in 2019 involves an appropriation of the computer and the Internet. Offering lesson plans that dialogue with the content that teachers are required to apply and do it in a personalized and responsive way via Messenger is to ally the democratization of access to education and customization.


End racial and economic segregation.

Background: Chicago neighborhoods and many other American cities are segregated based on race and income. This segregation has been reinforced through housing discrimination and police brutality. Neighborhoods with high unemployment rates and low-incomes are seeing less private and public development and experience more crime, homicides, social isolation, and fear. Meanwhile, areas with high incomes and lower crime benefit from additional investments, allowing residents to walk and shop care-free in their neighborhoods.

Pain points: Fear. People need help exposing and opening their mind to opposing ideas and cultures.

Opportunity: We develop a tool that can reduce racial, economic, and social isolation and empower residents to bridge divides.


End poverty, hopelessness, and violent crime.

Background: Chicago neighborhoods and many other American cities are segregated based on race and income. This segregation has been reinforced through housing discrimination and police brutality. Neighborhoods with high unemployment rates and low-incomes are seeing less private and public development and experience more crime, homicides, social isolation, and fear. Meanwhile, areas with high incomes and lower crime benefit from additional investments, allowing residents to walk and shop care-free in their neighborhoods.

Pain points: Fear. Whether that's of changing your lifestyle, voicing your needs, or extending a hand to a stranger.

Opportunity: We develop a tool that can build support within and amongst struggling communities and connect those outside willing to support.