Sharing not only a Common Origin, but also a Common Future
Over the past three years, I have led a delegation to participate in the “Social Enterprise World Forum” every year. This year was no exception. The conference was held in turn on each of the five continents. In October, myself and 45 partners from all over the world went to Ethiopia in Africa to share Taiwan’s experience.
For many people, the African continent seems far away. But in this forum, I have seen that the challenges faced by our friends in Africa are the same problems that Taiwan has faced. For our African friends, our experience is precious. The “$1 Fast Screening for Tuberculosis” treatment from WellGen Medical in Taiwan is one of them.
At present, the main detection method for tuberculosis is the analysis of sputum, collected by the hospital, through a microscope by an laboratory technician. This practice is not only time- and labor-consuming, but also makes it difficult to accurately confirm the results. The global infection cases are still high. In 2018, more than 250,000 children and 1 million adults died of tuberculosis.
To this end, the automatic microscopy system developed by WellGen Medical, combined with AI image recognition, can greatly reduce the cost of tests, in addition to improving case detection sensitivity and solving the issue of insufficient medical staff in remote areas. Take the example of the WHO-recommended xPert detection tool, where each use costs almost US$10. Through this new system, the quick tuberculosis screening costs US$1 each time. At present, WellGen Medical’s revenue is gradually expanding, and they are already planning on deploying the system worldwide.
The practice of the Taiwanese government has also struck a chord locally. Before, the CEO of Skills for U, Huang Weixiang, proposed in the Executive Yuan’s Youth Advisory Committee that after the team received the award from the national vocational skills competition, they can also participate in on the spot education. Not only will they be cheered in the National Day parade, but they will also be self-sufficient. At the “Youth Participation in Innovation” session, I explained how the youth lead our policies. Eleni Zaude Gabre-Madhin, an economist on the panel, was impressed. After the meeting, Eleni invited me to visit blueSpace, her co-working space.
Three years ago, Eleni founded blueMoon, Ethiopia’s first innovation incubator that combines agricultural enterprises and youth development while striving to train outstanding young entrepreneurs aged 15 to 29, as an investment in agricultural improvement and innovation. BlueSpace is a service provided by blueMoon. “How can we spread African food to the whole world?” When I arrived, many young innovators were discussing the brand marketing of African agriculture. I received a warm response when I brought up the case of successfully converting Taiwanese bubble tea into various products and how it became an example of a creative global cuisine.
The unearthing of the famous hominid fossil “Lucy” in Ethiopia has made East Africa widely regarded as the origin of mankind. I believe that discussing social innovation in our ancestral continent is indeed of great significance. The descendants of Lucy stepped out of Africa and opened up human civilization. Just like many pioneers on the road to social innovation — they have become an example for others to follow.