Athalos received a very warm welcome by the ITU and its members on December 10th as its CEO and Founder Martijn van der Ven co presented with Global Director for UN Partnerships Zubair Anwar-Bawany their vision for what is in reality supporting government to strengthen the organisations, large and small, which hold our society together.

As we addressed the ninety seven members that made up the Committee, we conveyed how we’re leading with purpose and how businesses can do well by doing good. We highlighted that it’s not so much about moving fast to transform our company into the digital age, but more about focusing on businesses that will serve society’s needs and we have been openly invited everyone within the room to join us on this journey.

Presenting our thoughts

As we walked the Members through our journey, we shared how we truly believe that telecommunications enables exchange of ideas and access to information. And in understanding that, our response is to the opportunity of the moment, when new technologies and ways of working suggest extraordinary new possibilities for the way we live and work.

And in meeting the opportunities of the future a new approach is needed that gives greater freedom and responsibility to our communities. We believe that civil society is central to this new approach.

Despite all the pressures civil society is under, it does an extraordinary job, and is in fact growing in reach and impact. We shared our unique insights in listening to NGOs and Charities on the societal challenges, including the future of welfare, access to education, community integration, and housing, are being tackled through adhoc solutions that wish bring together public services, businesses, and communities. In that, we recognised that the world we live in does face many challenges.

We also believe that our innovative use of digital communication can help improve people’s lives, close the inequality and accessibility gap and empower societies. And our respect for human lives and continuous improvement are therefore important parts of our approach to addressing the problems of the world.

 

Sharing the opportunity

So, we shared with the Members, how we, now driven by purpose are taking responsibility.

We also expressed our learning on our 3 + year journey in this space and how we learnt we had to listen attentively to our NGO partners. Quite often institutions make common assumptions of the needs and accessibility requirements of the very people and organisations that use their service.

In reshaping our existing business, new models are developing for funding and all of this is happening because of the resourcefulness of team who have listened, engaged and are fully aligned to the vision we have.  And where we are heading is very much around innovative social finance models and in ‘tech for good’ innovations.

As a Business, we rediscovered the original purpose of the ethos: to deliver value to society, not just quarterly returns to shareholders. Across the World, in multiple ways, people are stepping forward to take responsibility for the society they live in. NGOs have a vision of better connected communities, more neighbourliness that strengthen society. It’s not new that we can now see how technology enables strong communities rather than enabling disconnection and isolation. And that’s where we see our role.

In providing our infrastructure, NGOs across the board are now ever more empowered to take responsibility for their neighbourhoods. Power is decentralised so that local NGOs are properly accountable to local people, and trusted to do their job without hindrance or distraction.

All communities, regardless of levels of segregation and deprivation, are able to take advantage of these opportunities. Alongside private finance, public funding is used Civil Society Organistaions/NGOs to building a future that works for everyone. So what we are doing is to also stimulate innovation, and reduce risk for donors. These developments have the ultimate effect of building a sense of shared responsibility and supporting stronger connections between and amongst the people supporting through finance to the people tasked with implementing social value, enriching lives and supporting the development of a fairer society for all.

Challenges

Many of our services for the NGO sector began life outside our main business as our commitment to CSR. These include supporting Charities in disaster relief work to refugee support. And whilst this has helped ensure universal access and created a system which donors can trust, there’s clearly more scope of building an ecosystem that delivers greater value for Donors and NGOs and to broaden the supply or access.  This has led to a greater focus on the what the sector needs and wants regardless  of the difference in services they provide. But this has also resulted in a focus on the relationships and flexibility which people and communities also need.

The past two years have been all about embracing technology and building in innovation around donor engagement whilst maintaining our core strengths as fantastic relationship and partnership builders. Our new platform continues to share the great stories that organisations that are living global values, can access new donors and enhance their own relationships with existing ones, wherever they may be across the world.

So as we continue to build a vision in the modern era, one that is collaborative, this means that in the future local NGO players will be involved in an equal and meaningful way and that will mean also an uplift in how services are created and delivered and also risk mitigation and transparency are managed and a ‘One Number’ provides service across the World.

This would create an environment of far greater user-led, community-led, services.

Feedback & Suggestions

The ITU shared hugely valuable feedback, with Members highlighting,  ‘accessibility’ as a big win through our services and how it would also look into the potential for the use of social value it presents.

The Chair also highlighted that after hearing Athalos’ vision and approach and in order to support the continued growth of’ purposeful businesses’ in this space echoed how digital is the way of using modern technologies to transform your business process and engagement with users – to enable new opportunities and possibilities.

He mentioned that throughout our ‘walk through’ and the engagement exercise, Member’s agreed that a standard number offers unprecedented opportunities for the way in which we approach social challenges.

He expressed how Accessibility was a key driver of our platform and that is something for Members here and of other Committee/Study Groups to consider.