Social impact startup from PH shines at ITU event in Budapest

Connected Women, a social impact tech startup from the Philippines, has been selected as one of the Equals Fellowship Winners at the ITU Telecom World in Budapest.

Photo shows Ria San Gabriel of Connected Women (left) with ITU director Doreen Bogdan-Martin

Providing skills development and remote work opportunities, Connected Women matches Filipina virtual assistants to entrepreneurs using a unique algorithm, focusing on complementary skills, values, and cultural fit.

This women-led enterprise has created meaningful progress towards achieving sustainable development goals, particularly SDG 5: Gender Equality, and SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Ria San Gabriel, business development head of Connected Women, along with Anna Marie Benzon, founder of Stock Knowledge, represented the Philippines and the whole Asia Pacific region.

The other winning delegates came from countries like Argentina, Bangladesh, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Palestine, Sri Lanka, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Facilitated by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and International Trade Centre (ITC) SheTrades, the Equals winners were granted with a fully-funded trip and an all access pass at the ITU Telecom World 2019.

Held last September 9-12, this global tech event at the HungExpo convened over 4000 of the most influential ICT industry stakeholders, including governments, regulators, private companies and smaller technology pioneers from 125 countries, working together to accelerate ICT innovation for social and economic development.

“What a pleasure to have hosted the first ever equals delegation at ITU World. 24 incredible women entrepreneurs from around the globe that are making their mark. We’ve learned so much from them this week,” said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, director of Telecommunication Development Bureau at ITU.

The ITU Telecom World combined almost 300 exhibitors for digital solutions, 55 panel discussions and workshops, an awards program rewarding innovative ICT solutions for social good, and a networking hub to connect, exchange ideas, and explore partnership and investment opportunities.

At the opening ceremony, ITU secretary-general Houlin Zhao spoke on the importance of ICTs as enablers, noting that “Within the ICT industry, it is the innovative small and medium enterprises – tech SMEs – that are key to industry disruption, to job creation, and to the technological innovations that are taking the industry forward.”

Over 70 SMEs were shortlisted for the ITU Telecom World Awards and were given the platform to pitch their innovations to an expert jury of social entrepreneurs and tech visionaries. Talented entrepreneurs from across the globe, including the Equals fellows, took to the podium to highlight their creative ideas.

Though men mostly dominated the pitching competition, two women founders from the Equals delegation have received awards.

“ITU stands for connectivity everywhere. Being recognized by ITU for our solution for rural connectivity, gives us confidence to realize our vision of making a fully connected world using satellites,” shared Neha Satak, CEO of Astrome Technologies, a millimetre wave communication technology provider from India.

According to Mercy Njue, CEO of Botlab from Kenya, “The award validates our purpose and it is also a result of the commitment we have to our partners, clients and community. We will change the world, one data point at a time.”

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