商周專欄:不只共同起源,更要分享未來

不只共同起源,更要分享未來

:earth_africa: 這三年來,我每年率團參加「社會企業世界論壇」,今年也不例外。大會由五大洲輪流舉辦,因此,十月時我和 45 位各界夥伴,一同前往非洲衣索比亞分享臺灣經驗。

:microscope: 對許多人來說,非洲大陸似乎很遙遠。但在這次論壇中,我看到非洲朋友面對的挑戰,也都是臺灣曾面臨的問題,對這些朋友來說,我們的經驗非常珍貴。臺灣社會創新公司威捷生醫的「一美元快篩肺結核」,就是其一。

:mask: 目前肺結核的主要檢測方式,是由醫院採集痰液後,檢驗人員再透過顯微鏡判讀檢體。這樣的做法不僅耗時費工,也難以精準確認結果,而全球的感染案例,仍然居高不下。2018 年,有 25 萬孩童、超過 100 萬成人因肺結核而過世。

:hospital: 為此,威捷開發的自動鏡檢系統,結合 AI 影像辨識,除了提高病例偵測的敏感度、解決偏遠地區醫療人力不足的問題外,更能大幅降低檢驗成本。以 WHO 推薦的檢測工具 xPert 為例,每次需要將近 10 美元。透過這套系統,肺結核快篩每次只需 1 美元。威捷目前已逐步擴大營收,未來更打算將這套系統推廣到全世界。

:taiwan: 臺灣政府的推動,同樣引發當地共鳴。先前,國際技能發展協會(Skills for U)執行長黃偉翔在行政院青年諮詢委員會提案,讓技職國手競賽獲獎後可以投入教學現場,不只在國慶遊行接受歡呼,也能自給自足。在「青年參與創新」場次裡,我便以此說明青年如何引導政策。同場的與談人,經濟學家 Eleni Zaude Gabre-Madhin 對此印象深刻。會後,Eleni 隨即邀請我,前往他經營的共同工作空間 blueSpace 參觀。

:tropical_drink: 三年前,Eleni 創立衣索比亞首次結合農企業和青年發展的 blueMoon 新創種子基地,致力培養 15 至 29 歲的傑出青年企業家,投入農業的改良創新,blueSpace 就是基地提供的一項服務。「如何讓非洲食物傳播到全世界?」當我抵達時,許多青年朋友正熱烈討論非洲農業的品牌行銷,我便以臺灣珍珠奶茶成功轉化各種產品、成為全球創意料理的例子,獲得熱烈迴響。

:footprints: 衣索比亞知名人科化石「露西」的出土,讓東非被廣泛視為人類的起源地。我認為,這次在人類共同的故鄉討論社會創新,確實意義非凡。露西的後代走出非洲,開啟了人類文明——就如同社會創新路上的許多先行者,已經成為典範。

Sharing not only a Common Origin, but also a Common Future

:earth_africa: 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.

:microscope: 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.

:mask: 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.

:hospital: 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.

:taiwan: 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.

:tropical_drink: 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.

:footprints: 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.