The idea of always being connected through technology makes some people bristle. In developed countries, connectivity faces a stigma caused by reports of security breaches and the negative health impacts of constant smartphone use. It has been said that as a result of this connectivity, human relationships suffer from fewer face-to-face interactions, as well.
But for emerging countries, mobile technology is a beacon of hope, especially in areas that have faced natural disaster. Télécoms Sans Frontieres1 is one company that sees the good in mobile technology, working to “reconnect people that have been affected by natural disasters, by conflict or any emergencies that cause disruption,” says Alexander James Thomas, head of international relations and communication.
After the earthquake in Nepal, TSF sent an emergency response team to provide calls, as well as satellite and Internet connectivity.
“Often there is no way for NGO’s to communicate where help is most needed – we work to connect them so that they are able to share all that information,” he says.
The non-government organization TSF was created in 1998 when the founders saw that during the first Gulf War, “beyond the need for medical and food aid, there was a critical need to communicate,” says Thomas. Since its inception, TSF has helped more than 1.5 million people in emergency situations and natural disasters.
In March 2015, TSF provided their services in Vanuatu after the country was hit in succession with an earthquake, volcanic eruption and a cyclone – all within weeks of one another. “The particular thing about these islands is that tribes still exist. They walk around unclothed, but still have mobile phones,” Thomas says. “To the world, here are people who don’t have much food to eat, but have a mobile phone. It highlights the importance of our work and the need to communicate in disaster situations.”
This kind of forward-thinking approach has allowed TSF to see opportunities with mobile in other areas, recently applying new communication technologies to help Médecins du Monde, or Doctors of the World, a medical outreach non-profit organization, collect medical field data.
“They gather all this information they’ve collected on the ground and identify potential epidemic outbreaks that have a tendency to spread quickly during the rainy season,” Thomas says. They are then able to transmit that information to others outside the region to get medical supplies where they are needed.
Learn more about our International Growth Fund.
Follow @OppFunds for more news and commentary.
11. Télécoms Sans Frontieres has a global partnership with the Vodafone Instant Network Programme. As of 10/31/15, 1.4% of the assets in the Oppenheimer International Growth Fund were invested in Vodafone Group plc.
The mention of specific companies does not constitute a recommendation by any particular fund or by OppenheimerFunds, Inc.