How Broadband Drives Economic Growth

Mark Horoszowski

Mark is the Co-founder of MovingWorlds.org, a global platform connecting people who want to volunteer their expertise with social impact organizations.

(and what social entrepreneurs can learn from it)

In low- and middle-income countries every 10 percentage point increase in broadband [internet] penetration accelerates economic growth by 1.38 percentage points, boosts GDP up to 1.4%, and increases labor productivity up to 1.5%. -WorldBank Report on Building Broadband

Access to information is categorized as one of the best drivers of growth. According to The Carter Center, “Access to information is the cornerstone to good governance, meaningful participation, and increasing transparency, and is recognized as a fundamental human right.” It goes without saying that providing people the ability to access information is a necessity when tackling any social, health, and/or environmental problems.

A growing number of social enterprises, NGOs, and government entities are putting more resources behind providing access to information by connecting more people to the internet. According to the OECD

Broadband is a general purpose technology that significantly affects how people live and work. It is a key driver of economic growth and national competitiveness, and it can contribute to social and cultural development.”

As it turns out, there is a lot that social entrepreneurs can learn from the international movement to connect people to the Internet. For instance, take the strategies being implemented at policy levels to increase access:

  1. Promotion
  2. Oversight
  3. Universilization

These are strategies that most any business would follow to accelerate its growth. However, most new enterprises fall short after the promotion stage. Promoting a new service is easy and exciting, but true growth and sustainability is achieved only after you closely monitor your business, and improve it in order to become universally accepted.

According to the OECD, the key to universilization lies in the 3 A’s

  1. Accessibility
  2. Affordability
  3. Attractiveness

Of course there are many challenges to equipping all the citizens of the world with internet access, and so there are with starting a socially responsible business. But they key is focusing on priority areas and developing simple, powerful strategies to make an impact.

And is it turns out, the same building blocks used to increase access to the internet  can also help develop your business:

Building block 1: Be visionary yet flexible

Building block 2: Use competition to promote market growth

Building block 3: Facilitate demand

Take a step back and think, if the World Bank was writing a report on your Social Enterprise, what would they write about? What strategies of yours would they highlight? And what building blocks would they attribute to be a part of your success?

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