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  • Writer's pictureMike Hanna

5 Ways that Software is Changing the Developing World

It’s no secret that software has transformed the way we live. Banking, education, and entertainment are all just a swipe away on our phones, while SaaS applications have automated processes in every industry.

But in much of the world outside the US, technology is still a developing presence. Rural communities in Africa, South America, and parts of Asia still face greater rates of poverty, disease, and resource mismanagement than their first world neighbors.

But tech and software is changing that. Companies like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Nokia, Siemens, and a host of other big name tech players are beginning to invest in the developing world. As these markets emerge to join the ranks of the first world community, there will be new opportunities for software sales professionals to evangelize about truly meaningful software that changes lives.

Here are just a few ways that software is changing the world we live in, for the better.

How farming software improves agriculture in rural communities

Mobile phones, the internet, and big data are transforming agricultural practices in third world regions of Latin America and Africa. Software and connectivity can facilitate optimized irrigation in order to avoid wasting water, while hardware like GPS and drones have created new possibilities for more efficient land management and pesticide application. Software solutions have also transformed quality control and supply chain management, which in turn has increased productivity and yielded higher returns for farmers in struggling regions. A study by Accenture highlighted the benefits of Nairobi-based Esoko, a web-based technology platform that delivers real time market data to African farmers, connecting them with larger markets and leading to an increase in their profits.

How mobile banking software is taking on poverty

The software driving mobile banking platforms has helped rural communities access banking services, even if they are miles away from a branch. One of the greatest examples in the last decade is the innovative phone-based money transfer and financial services platform, M-Pesa. The Kenyan based banking software application has helped users pay for and/or receive money for goods and services, take out loans, and send funds to family members. Studies on the effects of mobile banking have shown that it helps lift families out of poverty, and helps lift minority groups such as women out of low-income occupations and into more lucrative mercantile professions; mobile money services help generate business creation by providing business owners with a means of money transfer. Mobile money platforms have since expanded into developing countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and the Philippines.

How software is transforming healthcare in the developing world

Americans often take the ability to dial 911 for granted, but in some regions of the world, quick access to emergency services is not available. At least it wasn’t until the advent of software like Beacon, developed by Cardinal Health Systems and Trek Medics. Residents of isolated areas such as the rural backcountry of the Dominican Republic can contact the closest firehouse directly, which will in turn use Beacon to send out a mass text message to volunteer motorcycle medics. When a medic arrives at the scene they can confirm ownership of handling the emergency and provide the necessary care and/or transportation to a hospital. Mobile phones are also providing rural residents with access to healthcare services and knowledge, which can limit the spread of diseases like HIV. A study by the CDC Foundation found that software provides back-end support for healthcare workers in the field, while facilitating rapid testing and treatment of patients.

How software is eliminating inequality

EdTech is familiar to Americans who have gotten to know educational online platforms like Udemy, often used for indulging in a particular interest or facilitating professional development. But for countries with a thin and underdeveloped educational workforce, educational hardware and software is opening up new opportunities for students of all ages like never before. Cloud based e-learning products have given educational access to impoverished and rural communities, helping students learn vital skills. Big names like Nokia are facilitating a revolution in business education that can improve the employability of African mobile phone users by giving them access to university business classes. Social media networks like Facebook and Weibo also provide informal opportunities for learning, and EdTech like video conferencing software has become a billion dollar industry in places like India over the last decade. Software and hardware makes knowledge and professional development more available the world over, which is closing gaps in literacy in places plagued by historical inequality such as South Africa.

How software is transforming resource management

The World Health Organization has estimated that almost 2 billion people do not have dependable access to clean drinking water, and that an equal number of people do not have proper sanitation facilities. Resource management software is changing that equation, and tech startups and established companies are facilitating public infrastructure projects such as roads, running water, and wireless phone networks. International companies like Siemens are tapping into this underdeveloped market, using big data, the internet of things (IoT), and automated processes to develop water management systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. Resource management has indeed become a driving force in entrepreneurship and startups around the world. One enterprising engineer came up with the idea of artificially created glacial-like ice mounds to provide clean drinking water to residents of the Himalayan desert. In terms of human capital, project management software in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East has the potential to eliminate inefficiencies and prevent corruption, even through something as simple as a cloud based payroll software.

Are you a software evangelical for positive change?

Our world is rapidly changing, and software is leading the transformation. As mentioned, both large US-based companies and startups have seen the value in expanding into new markets, and they need teams of software sales professionals to drive that growth.

If your approach to software sales is fueled by engagement with software that transforms lives, now might be the time to explore some of the companies at the forefront of this trend. Speaking with a software sales recruiter can help you pinpoint the best place to look for a job that provides excellent compensation and an evangelical purpose to drive positive global change.

Of course, even if you’re not saving the planet, it’s still important to be selling a software product you feel strongly about standing behind. Send me an email at and let’s discuss how I can connect you with work that provides the compensation you deserve—and a greater sense of purpose.

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