We are witnessing a global geo-economic transformation centered on the rise of emerging markets, the growth of a new global middle class, rapid urbanization, and unprecedented physical and technological connectivity. In a world where 85% of the world’s population lives in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, the centers of gravity in these emerging markets are reshaping the global landscape. Headquartered in Dubai, emerge85 collaborates with an array of stakeholders to uncover and accelerate the most promising solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. If you share our passion for a more inclusive digital future, reach out.
Learning Languages and Life Experiences from Refugees
Meara Sharma talks with Aline Sara, founder of a startup called NaTakallam: “we speak” in Arabic. The organization pairs refugees and displaced people, right now mostly Syrian refugees in Lebanon, with people all over the world who want to learn Arabic. It leverages the gig economy to create a remote income stream for refugees, many of whom aren’t allowed to work, and it also helps language learners practice the kind of conversational Arabic not often taught in formal settings. Beyond that, it’s about making connections across worlds of difference and deepening understanding on both sides of the conversation. Meara and Aline discuss the origins of NaTakallam, the benefits and challenges of operating as a for-profit social enterprise, and the organization’s plans to expand to other languages and displaced populations.
How Cryptocurrency Can Reshape Financial Systems in the Emerging World
This week on the podcast, we talk with Tricia Martinez. She’s the founder of Wala, a financial services app, and Dala, a cryptocurrency that goes with it. Based in Cape Town and currently operating in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Uganda, Wala enables people to send digital money -- Dala -- to family across borders, as well as borrow, make transactions, and save. Many of these consumers haven't had a formal bank account before, or they conduct their lives primarily in cash -- both of which pose challenges to financial freedom.
Tricia and producer Meara Sharma discuss why banks have failed consumers in emerging markets, how cryptocurrency and blockchain are helping to reimagine financial systems, and more.
Overcoming Stigma Around Reproductive Health Through E-Commerce
This week we talk with Joanna Bichsel, the CEO and co-founder of Kasha, an e-commerce platform based in Rwanda that delivers reproductive health and personal care products to largely rural, low-income women.
The company is committed to helping women in the emerging world access products that are often stigmatized, like birth control and pregnancy tests, through mobile ordering and discreet delivery systems.
Kasha started in Rwanda in 2016 and has recently expanded into Kenya. Producer Meara Sharma talks with Joanna about her journey to working in tech and health in emerging countries, the importance of women-centric business models, and East Africa's exciting startup culture.
The Rise and Fall of the Makoko Floating School
Stories of social change in the emerging world tend to involve new and exciting ideas, bold visions, and innovation. But sometimes there’s a disconnect between how a project is shown to the outside world — through press, fundraising, accolades — and how it actually functions on the ground. Like in the case of the Makoko Floating school in Lagos, Nigeria.
Makoko is a massive slum built along the Lagos lagoon — many of its houses are on stilts, and canoe taxis are common. When a school there needed an extension, Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi got involved and designed a radical new structure that would float on the water and shift with the fluid environment. The design was internationally lauded and made Adeyemi a star. But the school itself was a disaster. In a recent piece for the Atavist Magazine, Lagos-based journalist Allyn Gaestel (@AllynGaestel) investigates the dramatic rise and fall of the Makoko Floating School. As she writes, it’s a story “about the myths that people want to believe about the world, noble intentions sullied by ego or derailed by the mundane, the intractability of parochial politics, and the ethics of social experimentation.” Producer Meara Sharma talked with Allyn about the fate of the school and the flawed narratives that often shape development projects and reporting on the emerging world.
Allyn Gaestel's piece for The Atavist Magazine is called "Things Fall Apart." Here's a link: https://magazine.atavist.com/things-fall-apart-makoko-floating-school
Tony Seba Says Energy As We Know It Will Be Obsolete By 2030
This week, we bring you a conversation with Tony Seba, a serial entrepreneur, educator, and thought leader on disruption. He’s the author of the book "Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation – How Silicon Valley Will Make Oil, Nuclear, Natural Gas, Coal, Electric Utilities and Conventional Cars Obsolete by 2030." Emerge85's Afshin Molavi recently spoke with Tony Seba at a conference on sustainability at the International Finance Corporation, IFC, in Washington DC. They talked about how the way we get around is set to radically change, and the particular impact that will have on the emerging world.
Ian Bremmer on the Failure of Globalism
This week, host Afshin Molavi (@AfshinMolavi) talks with Ian Bremmer (@ianbremmer) about his new book, "Us Vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism." It's a clear-eyed, often bleak examination of the fallout from a globalized world: how those who have been left behind are expressing outrage and fighting for survival, and what governments are doing about it. Bremmer is president and founder of Eurasia Group, a leading global political risk research and consulting firm, as well as a frequent speaker, columnist, and author of several other books including "Every Nation for Itself" and "The End of the Free Market."
Key listening on intersection of global tech, business & society
Emerge 85 has been doing important work aimed at understanding the intersection of global trends in technology, society, politics, business and culture. Especially good for considering perspectives beyond North America & Europe. Their first podcast episodes are fascinating discussions, and I'm happy to start getting their analysis in podcast form. Plus, Afshin has always been a talented moderator and is on podcast as well.
This is a long overdue look at the economics of emerging markets from a perspective that is understandable for the averge person. Really looking forward to more episodes.