Innovation, Technology, and Digital Development
Innovation and technology are core to IESC’s work in catalyzing private sector growth and employment. We apply innovative solutions to enable the program participants that we serve to achieve their goals, such as launching a viral digital campaign that encourages youth to take charge of their education and career choices. We also facilitate access to and application of new and appropriate digital technologies, such as tools to facilitate access to finance for MSMEs; and helping governments to digitalize procedures to provide services more efficiently for the private sector.
Enabling Growth through Investment and Enterprise (ENGINE)
Program Overview: ENGINE encouraged domestic and foreign investment in Tanzania’s rapidly growing economy. Focused in key agricultural regions, program activities delivered by program staff, local consultants, and volunteer experts implemented policies for growth, equipped small and medium businesses for growth, and increased access to finance for growth.
Relation to IESC Expertise: To leverage Tanzania’s high rate of mobile phone usage, we developed BizFundi, an innovative online digital platform, mobile application, and market facilitation tool that links small and medium enterprises (SMEs), business development service providers, and financial institutions creating market linkages and connections to anchor firms. BizFundi facilitates networking and enables SMEs to access the information, support, and financing they need for growth. The platform connected SMEs with business advisors and trainers with the expertise needed to help business owners improve their performance and enabled a diffuse population of users to easily pursue small business support and financing.
Trade–Facilitating Agricultural Systems and Technology (T-FAST)
Funder: USDA Food for Progress
Program Overview: T-FAST is simplifying, modernizing, and harmonizing processes for the export, import, and transit of agricultural goods in Paraguay through implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). The program is also strengthening Paraguay’s National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) to foster sustainable improvements in trade facilitation.
Relation to IESC Expertise: In Paraguay, IESC is substantially lowering trade process times and costs at government institutions through the development and implementation of ICT software and collaborative process optimizations. For example, we co-designed the National Plant and Seed Quality and Health Service (SENAVE) Modernization Plan to put in place the scalable Nutanix HCI hyper-converged infrastructure platform. The platform allows real-time access and digitalized coordination of import and export trade documentation from the remote border points to the central office database. IESC is digitalizing the commercial entity registration process to reduce processing time by at least 50% from its current paper-based form, which took 41 days prior to project support.
Youth Employment and Business Start-up (YouLead)
Program Overview: YouLead is enhancing employment opportunities for youth in Sri Lanka by working with both the public and private sectors to: improve the quality and relevance of vocational and technical training; link youth to demand-driven employment opportunities; and increase sustainable self-employment through entrepreneurial and business development services.
Relation to IESC Expertise: IESC applies digital and technological innovations throughout YouLead to expand youth access to training, mentorship, employment, and information. For instance, we developed the Future Careers BRIDGE Platform, a gamified, virtual skills-building platform with the capacity to connect high performers to job and internship offers, where 30,000 youth have registered and over 12,000 are completing self-learning challenges to build ICT skills. We also led the development of Startup 2021, a 13-part TV show featuring 30 young entrepreneurs to showcase youth entrepreneurship possibilities and inspire potential youth entrepreneurs. The show attracted over 1,000,000 viewers, with 450,000 individuals casting SMS votes for Top Entrepreneur.