In an announcement released this week, Fast Company magazine announced the winners of its WORLD CHANGING IDEAS award to honor projects with potential for lasting positive social and environmental impact.
To the delight of the B-Change team, our web-app called BE - that helps LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex) people find inclusive providers of health, social support, employment and other services - was named a finalist in the ‘Developing World Technology’ category alongside other international finalists that included the World Food Programme, manufacturers Philips and Ford Motors.
Of the twelve winners in this year’s World Changing Ideas Awards, an educational toolkit called KioKit that helps bring connectivity to remote classrooms in Africa won the category for Developing World Technology. Other winners include a medical 3D printer for tissue and organ replacement, an edible packaging concept to reduce consumer waste and campaigns for mobilizing music lovers against gender-based violence. This is the first year that Fast Company magazine has held the awards.
The honor of being included in Fast Company magazine’s list of World Changing Ideas comes at a crucial time for B-Change. “Our team has been working tirelessly to make our vision for an inclusion app a reality. This news gives us a major morale boost and emboldens us to persevere despite the challenges that lie ahead,” says B-Change founder Laurindo Garcia.
The Southeast Asian social enterprise has spent the last six months making the leap from a web-app to a native app for smartphones.
And the team is on track to deliver a beta-version of the BE app to the public in mid-2017. In February the B-Change team completed tests in Cebu, Manila and Singapore of an early prototype of the BE mobile app. Prototype testers included people with diverse disabilities, women migrant workers, people living with HIV and transgender people.
“Our research over the years has shown us that the problem of exclusion that the LGBTI community faces is shared. Exclusion is a battle that confronts women, people with disabilities, racial, ethnic minorities and other groups,” Garcia says. “Given the increasing polarization of the world these days, my team and I wanted to send a message of support to other groups who also strive to overcome marginalization. In essence, we have re-engineered our BE app to become a platform for solidarity.”
The BE app is the result of six years research across Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Singapore together with the support of Levi Strauss Foundation, United Nations Development Programme, engineering partners Javasparks, international creative consultancy Brand Union, Ashoka Philippines, UNICEF, USAID and crucially a successful grassroots crowdfunding campaign last September.
“Many obstacles lie ahead, but we’re driven forward by our promise to our supporters, our community and our allies,” Garcia explains. “We committed ourselves to deliver an app that makes the world a more inclusive place. The way we intend to do so is by bringing more people together towards a common goal. The BE app is specially engineered to make that vision come true.”