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Kickstart Ventures Shares Insights at 51st ADB Annual Meeting
A positive societal impact is what startup investments in technology in Southeast Asia should drive towards, to make sustainable massive adoption.
This is the message of Minette B. Navarrete, President of Kickstart Ventures, Inc., the wholly-owned venture capital firm of Globe Telecom, during the 51st Asian Development Bank (ADB) Annual Meeting in Mandaluyong City.
Navarrete was a panelist at the CNBC Debate "Technology for Change," which tackled the influence of technology for public good and the investment opportunities being created alongside it. Other panelists included ADB president Takehiko Nakao, Sri Lanka finance minister Mangala Samaraweera, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development managing director Nandita Parshad.
The discussion also highlighted the impact of technology in emerging markets, where Navarrete said many startups wanted to apply the use of technology and need clearer metrics and deeper, system-wide analysis of dependencies, externalities, and impacts.
"A frequent question you hear amongst the academe, the government, and the private sector is ‘what are the metrics for societal good?’ For Kickstart, it must redound to benefits for everybody, at scale, and that can be greatly facilitated by technology, whether it's accessibility and affordability of renewable energy or access to the internet and digital content. There can be very different metrics for different industries, but clearly everyone agrees that a more inclusive or a more equal world is beneficial to emerging markets in Southeast Asia,” she said.
ADB president Takehiko Nakao agrees that new technologies can be better used in areas of investment, including, but not limited to, transportation, energy, education, or poverty reduction with the inclusion of people. Citing an example, a remote satellite-kind irrigation system using internet technology can be applied to the farming sector.
"We should think about how we can use technology but at the same time be careful of it causing instability in the financial market due to cyberattacks and fraud for example," he said.
Navarrete also added that investment in people is essential; and that investment in technology is necessary but not sufficient. A case in point was a donation of computers to a provincial public school made by her previous company, where they found out the equipment remained unboxed after a year due to lack of investment in the enabling factors: computer content in the curriculum, trained maintenance technicians, software subscriptions, internet access, and similar elements that can easily be taken for granted.
"Bringing a computer to a school meant the need for electrification, technicians, maintenance, connection to the Internet, and teachers needing to learn to use (the equipment) in teaching students. Yes, make the investment in equipment and devices, but also make investments in people to allow them to come into the world of technology with ease, and remove the friction of it to make the change more sustainable,” Navarrete emphasized.
In addition, she sees emerging markets leapfrogging into the fourth industrial revolution with the use of technology and skipping the ills, difficulties, and the challenges posed by the traditional industrial processes.