Technology towards Social Transformational Change


By

Mr. T.Saravanan
Assistant Professor
AR School of Business
Dindigul
 


In the growing world, new invention and technologies are being introduced which has also brought great transformational change in the life style of the people. The new inventions and technologies also has eased many people's life and brought them to the main stream of economy through entrepreneurial venture. Although technology has improved the life of many people still there is great multitude of people living below poverty line for which accessing technology is being a dream.

Technology has affected society and its surroundings in a number of ways. In many societies, technologies have helped and develop more advanced economies (including today's global economy). Many technological processes produce unwanted by-products, known as pollution, and deplete natural resources, to the detriment of the Earth and its environment. Various implementations of technology influence the values of a society and new technology often raises new ethical questions. Examples include the rise of the notion of efficiency in terms of human productivity, a term originally applied only to machines, and the challenge of traditional norms. Recent technological developments, including the printing press, the telephone, and the Internet, have lessened physical barriers to communication and allowed humans to interact freely on a global scale. However, not all technology has been used for peaceful purposes; the development of weapons of ever-increasing destructive power has progressed throughout history, from clubs to nuclear.

There is one group of entrepreneurs called social entrepreneurs, using the existing technology with creativity and innovative strategy or inventing new technology with low cost and quality materials to make their dream true. Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society's most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change. Rather than leaving societal needs to the government or business sectors, social entrepreneurs find what is not working and solve the problem by changing the system, spreading the solution, and persuading Social entrepreneurs often seem to be possessed by their ideas, committing their lives to changing the direction of their field.

Social entrepreneurs are both visionaries and ultimate realists, concerned with the practical implementation of their vision above all else entire societies to take new leaps. Each social entrepreneur presents ideas that are user-friendly, understandable, ethical, and engage widespread support in order to maximize the number of local people that will stand up, seize their idea, and implement with it. In other words, every leading social entrepreneur is a mass recruiter of local change makers—a role model proving that citizens who channel their passion into action can do almost anything. The social entrepreneurs in our country and in other countries have used the technology to improve the life of farmers, fishing community, scavengers' community, rural community and so on.

This article aims to highlight how the social entrepreneurs use technology to improve the life and bring the poor and the marginalized people of our country to the main stream of economy. This article is written, based from the existing literatures.
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Introduction:

The Internet, World Wide Web, mobile cell phones, digital television, and numerous other new electronic information and communication technologies (ICTs) are opening fresh pathways for transforming the way we live, work, learn, and communicate. A strategic opening, redirecting, or closing of opportunities is central to the bringing of diverse and substantial social and economic benefits to people across the world At the same time, decisions that affect the design, accessibility, and use (or non-use) of these technologies could open or close the wrong gates and shut out individuals, communities, countries, and regions from the fruits that can be reached by those who can better control access to themselves, and from themselves to the world. The degree to which the use of ICTs brings positive or negative transformations to your life or makes no difference at all depends not only on the choices made by many individuals, communities, organizations, and governments around the world, but also by you. Systemic effects enabled by information and communication technologies (ICTs) could dramatically impact economic and social parameters such as the attitudes, expectations and behaviour of individuals as consumers, citizens and members of communities; the demand and supply of goods and services; organizational structures; production, distribution and service processes; and governance in the private and public sectors.

A social entrepreneur is an individual with business sharpness who is on a social mission who can provide the new approaches needed to accelerate the process of reducing poverty and hunger. Where entrepreneurship has been and continues to be a major force driving development. Unfortunately, social entrepreneurs are in short supply in the field of policymaking. Expanding their number and improving the environments within which they operate effectively would greatly enhance the capacity at local, national, and international levels to address developing-country poverty and hunger problems through planning, policymaking, program design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of interventionsIt is high time for the public sector in particular the social sector to remove the barriers to creative action and provide incentives for social entrepreneurs.

This articles reviews existing paradigms for strengthening the capacity for social entrepreneurship and innovation to reduce poverty and hunger. It identifies various approaches for increasing the number of social entrepreneurs at various levels.

Technology and the society:

Human beings are able to master all problems and possibly even control the future using technology. Now very one have personal computer (PC) in their household, and choose to connect to the Internet, they are making a strategic personal decision to open a door to their home and redraw the boundaries of their 'local' neighborhoods. From a chair in their home they are able to access a rich array of texts, data, pictures, video images, online 'virtual' shops and banks, and many other sources of information and services on the millions of interconnected computer sites that form the World Wide Web on the Internet. They are also be able to enter 'chat rooms' and discussion groups on the Internet where they can meet and engage with people around the world they would never have met otherwise, some of whom may become long-term friends. They are also be able to use electronic-mail (e-mail) and in start messaging to keep in regular touch via through Internet with family, friends, and business colleagues near and far, in ways that greatly extend and enhance the communication possible from a telephone.

It also include the portable 'laptop' PC, cell phone, or a multifunctional handheld 'palmtop' computer-based device, such as a personal digital assistant (PDA) or 'third-generation' (3G) cell phone that could integrate all or some of the capabilities of an Internet-accessible multimedia computer, telephone, diary, address book, notepad (perhaps with handwritten input using an electronic pen), calculator, digital camera, and game station. These can be of great benefit to keep in touch with social and work life, anywhere and at all times. Such digital mobility can also help to protect their safety and that their family, for example by enabling cell phone calls at times of distress or the tracking of devices that have been stolen or used in crimes. But they can also add to their stress if they never have time to their self or to relax away from work.

Technology has affected society and its surroundings in a number of ways. In many societies, technology has helped develop more advanced economies (including today's global economy) and has allowed the rise of a leisure class. Many technological processes produce unwanted by-products, known as pollution, and eat up natural resources, to the detriment of the Earth and its environment. Various implementations of technology influence the values of a society and new technology often raises new ethical questions. Examples include the rise of the notion of efficiency in terms of human productivity, a term originally applied only to machines, and the challenge of traditional norms.

Roles of Social Entrepreneurs:

Social entrepreneurs can contribute to reducing poverty and hunger in many ways and at different levels within a country. At the macro level, social entrepreneurs could help formulate and implement policy; at the business level, they could use their business skills to address social issues; and at the community level, they could help solve specific local problems. Three kinds of social entrepreneurs are needed, based on their roles and working environments: policy, program, and business entrepreneurs. The abilities required by each type of entrepreneur vary, although several traits are common to all.

* Policy Entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurs well versed in policy processes are needed to expand successful local programs into large-scale national programs with a wider poverty impact.  Bringing about significant changes in policy at the national or global level, however, requires change agents at the highest levels of decision making. At the global level, policy entrepreneurs could influence policymaking by multilateral aid agencies.  At the national level, they could guide national systems toward specific strategies, through either innovation or adoption of ideas that have succeeded in other places and contexts. At the local level, although their influence is limited, they could help create a policy environment that enables other types of social entrepreneurs to be effective. Developing an adequate number of policy entrepreneurs in developing countries with the knowledge and expertise needed is essential for solving hunger and poverty problems.

* Program Entrepreneurship

Program entrepreneurs are instrumental in designing and implementing innovative programs to reduce poverty and hunger funded by development partners, national governments, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). It is essential that program managers and implementers have the entrepreneurial skills needed to address local problems with global ideas. With improved capacity for identifying innovative solutions, local authorities, elected officials, and leaders could become effective initiators of grassroots change. Their active participation in solving development problems could have a profound impact on reducing poverty and hunger.

On the one hand, many youth are engaged in community affairs, have a high level of commitment, and are well connected through information and communications technologies. On the other hand, the growing number of educated but unemployed youth in many countries increases the risk of social instability and armed conflict. Given appropriate skills, mentoring, recognition, and support, these individuals could become effective social entrepreneurs, and their engagement and collective action could be transformed from negative to positive action.

* Business Entrepreneurship

Applying the principles of business development to social problems could be another way of solving the challenges of poverty and hunger in developing countries. Social business entrepreneurs use business principles to implement social innovations. At least three types of such entrepreneurs can be identified.

The first category encompasses business leaders who are successful in their own field and bring their business acumen to bear in solving social problems—for example, a commercially successful physician who organizes fellow doctors to provide health services to the rural poor at no cost or minimal cost.

The second group views poor people as a business opportunity. Instead of seeing poor people as victims or a burden to society, these entrepreneurs recognize them as potential consumers of their products and services. Recent attempts by corporations to devise strategies that combine business objectives with social concerns are good examples of social innovation within the business sector.

The third group of social business entrepreneurs is a subset of poor people, who, although they all fall below the poverty line; still have different levels of income, resource ownership, social capital and entrepreneurship. Some have become business-oriented social entrepreneurs with little financial help or training. Microfinance programs enable poor and otherwise vulnerable people to organize themselves and develop businesses, thus addressing their own social challenges in innovative ways.

For example, the private schools that have emerged in the slums of India, Kenya, and Nigeria in response to poorly run government schools indicate that poor people can address their own social needs. Moreover, futures markets for goods and services are to be found among the poor. Building the capacity for social entrepreneurship among poor people themselves and connecting them with financial markets could transform poor societies.

Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation:

Social entrepreneurs are needed in adequate numbers in different spheres of development, that is at global, national, and community levels—to enable the effective design and implementation of poverty and hunger reduction programs. Expanding the benefits of social innovation to reduce widespread poverty and hunger, however, will require an excess of social entrepreneurs who function as change agents by innovating, inspiring, and implementing new ideas at various levels.

At the global level, it is highly unlikely that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to poverty and hunger will be achieved with "business-as usual" approaches. The current approaches to reducing poverty are based on several assumptions: that programs designed to address poverty should operate effectively, markets should function and deliver, poor people should have the same opportunities as others in society, and they should have equal access to public and financial services. Social entrepreneurship and innovation are particularly useful when these assumptions break down, as they often do in developing countries. Many are concerned that the MDGs may not be reached through poverty reduction programs led by the public sector alone. Social entrepreneurship and innovation do not replace public-sector interventions, but they can make them more effective and enhance their impact on the ground.

At the national and local levels, several success stories document how social entrepreneurs in different countries have responded to social challenges with innovative solutions. For example, the seemingly simple social innovation of helping poor rural women in Bangladesh to access small-scale, group-based loans through micro financing continues to be a major poverty reduction strategy in rural Bangladesh.

It was the removal of regulatory barriers in the banking sector that allowed individuals to form microfinance group. An innovative idea about identifying village volunteers and training them to monitor child growth, as part of an integrated nutrition program helped to reduce infant mortality and child malnutrition substantially. Although successful, many of these advances are largely isolated, typically developed as local interventions that target a limited geographic area.

While such interventions make a difference in people's lives, their impact may not be sufficiently great to lift millions of poor people out of poverty and hunger. Such endeavors are simply not supported by the necessary capacity to scale up and scale out. Furthermore, most successful social entrepreneurs operate outside the public sector, partly because they need the freedom to innovate and to implement their ideas rapidly. Yet the publicly funded intervention programs also require innovation, change agents, and entrepreneurial approaches to enable them to have a greater impact with fewer resources. The current challenge is to identify cost effective methods of developing a large number of social innovators and entrepreneurs who can contribute to the process of reducing poverty and hunger.

Mounting local leaders:

The success of poverty reduction programs depends on the skills and capacity for innovation of the program managers and local leaders who deliver them. As a trend toward decentralization emerges in many developing countries, the need to strengthen the capacity of local leaders becomes paramount. Approaches for developing the skills needed to address local problems for a new generation of leaders should be expanded. One example of a program that focuses on a specific sector is the Leadership for Environment and Development Program, which has developed a global network of more than 1,600 individuals from various sectors and professional backgrounds with a strong commitment to sustainable development causes.

NGOs also need a cadre of social entrepreneurs to bring innovation to bear on local problems. Multiplying the success of one NGO or local leader requires an organized way of transferring contextual skills and knowledge to others who are implementing similar programs. For example, the Panchayat Academy in India, which offers a capacity development program for village leaders, has been successful in improving the social entrepreneurial skills of a large number of local leaders. Similarly, the Songhai Center in Benin is training African youth to become social entrepreneurs and change agents for African agriculture.

New approaches to developing social entrepreneurs include young people as development partners. Recognizing the ability of young people to see old problems in new ways, these approaches target youth as potential social innovators. Their energy and idealism, propelled by their connectedness through information technologies, can be effective in addressing the poverty and hunger challenges of their communities. The recent launching of Youth Institutes by the International Youth Foundation in several developing countries aims to develop youth as social entrepreneurs through leadership training and mentorship

Conclusion

In total, achieving the poverty and hunger reduction goals of the social entrepreneurs and beyond requires new approaches and skills that social innovation and entrepreneurs may well are able to provide. Social entrepreneurs and their innovations for reducing poverty should not replace large-scale public-sector poverty intervention programs but rather enhance them with improved effectiveness. The emerging models of capacity development for social innovation and entrepreneurship need to be scaled up and mainstreamed.

Social entrepreneurs should not be limited to the leaders and highly educated who have the influence and resources to implement their ideas. Rural volunteers and youth leaders could be trained as social entrepreneurs. Although the criteria for successful entrepreneurship vary contextually, individuals with qualities such as creativity, self-motivation, social values, and willingness to share credit with others are likely to succeed as social entrepreneurs

Publicly funded development interventions could benefit from implementers and managers who have learned social skills. Professionals with such skills can improve the social impact of business enterprises. Considering the crucial need for social entrepreneurs at policy, program, and business levels, skills related to social innovation and entrepreneurship should be mainstreamed into education programs. Without new approaches and skills in regions where poverty and hunger are chronic, strategies and programs will continue to fall short of their intended goals

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Youth Action Net. Website. www.youthactionnet.org.
2. Skill centre for social entrepreneurship. www.sbs.ox.ac.uk
3. Technology of social transformation. www.reflectionsblog.emc.com
4. Technology and human network. www.relationship-economy.com
 


Mr. T.Saravanan
Assistant Professor
AR School of Business
Dindigul
 

Source: E-mail December 26, 2012

          

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