Can Technology Help in the Fight Against Poverty?

Have you ever wondered the role technology could play in poverty reduction? If so, read on!

Two women and a girl sit outside on a bench, looking at a cell phone using technology for poverty reduction.

Compassion International is in a war to help children escape from poverty. With more than 2 million children in our programs, we are certainly putting up a fight. But, with 385 million children still in extreme poverty, we need to fight smarter.

Enter Microsoft.

Compassion and Microsoft have been partnering for years in many ways. Microsoft has donated technology such as Microsoft Office for decades. And since the company’s creation of its Tech for Social Impact group, the partnership continues to grow. Microsoft has developed tools that benefit our internal technological processes and personalized support for each of the programs.  Microsoft is also empowering Compassion to develop artificial intelligence technology that will radically change the face of poverty reduction.

But don’t take it from us. Microsoft recently joined us in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, to meet the children and families we serve. They created a video detailing how technology is helping us accomplish our mission.

Microsoft’s digital transformation expertise and its cloud and data science resources are arming us with the best, tailored technology to help us achieve our mission. Put simply, working closely with Accenture, Microsoft is helping Compassion create a platform that will intelligently and securely connect people who have a need to those who can fulfill that need. This platform, along with other creative uses of technology, will enable people to more efficiently get aid.

It will also exponentially multiply the amount of time that Compassion employees and volunteers have to do what they love: empower children to leave poverty behind. Around the world, there are thousands of volunteers and workers who are ministering to children in poverty through Compassion’s ministry. But a big part of that work is paperwork — gathering information vital to run the ministry with integrity and efficiency. This app will save these dedicated child workers 300,000 hours of paperwork! With the time saved, they have even more time to build into children’s lives.

“[They can] focus on building a relationship with the child, building on serving their needs specifically and not getting caught up in paperwork,” says Ray Davis, Senior Director of Technology, Innovation and Data Science for Compassion.

Using Technology in Poverty Reduction Beyond Compassion

The most exciting part of this innovative technology is its potential. Not just for Compassion, but for nonprofits all over the world working toward poverty reduction.

Justin Spelhaug, Global Lead for Microsoft Tech for Social Impact, explains that a main reason why Microsoft is partnering with Compassion is our willingness to open these advances up to other organizations in the future.

“Resources and funding in the nonprofit segment are limited,” Spelhaug says. “Nonprofits – especially those on the front lines of impoverished children and communities – need affordable access to the most modern technology. In Tech for Social Impact, we’re solving this problem by creating purpose-built technology that both lowers the cost and increases the effectiveness of technology. Compassion’s digital transformation is helping the organization better address needs and ensuring fewer children are living in poverty.”

That is what Compassion would love to see – fewer and fewer children living in extreme poverty. We don’t want this to be an innovation that sets Compassion apart from the crowd. We want this to be an innovation that sets this age in poverty reduction apart from the past.

“If ultimately the end result is that children are being released from poverty, then it doesn’t matter if what’s attached to that is Compassion’s name,” says Davis.

Our vision is that one day, a global network will exist that allows people to meet one another’s needs — in both directions. Where everyone — including people in low-income communities — can use the gifts they have to benefit the world.

We’re in a war against poverty. Through technology innovation, corporate partnership and worldwide connection, we hope to see this battle won.

Photo by Ryan Johnson.

5 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Shamus Sim June 30, 2021

    Brilliant read! Exciting to think about the possibilities up ahead with more technology like this. I have been looking for opportunities to use my love for AI to love people and share the gospel. Please could someone from the Compassion Team let me know if there are more projects like this to serve in? Always happy to volunteer my time and use my programming skills for similar projects!

    1. Anna June 30, 2021

      Hello Shamus! We are so encouraged by your heart to share the Gospel and your love for others through your love for AI. We would be happy to discuss this further with you, and learn a bit more about your experience. Would you be able to send us an email at [email protected]? Thank you so much!

  2. Heather Peterson December 4, 2019

    “If ultimately the end result is that children are being released from poverty, then it doesn’t matter if what is attached to that is Compassion’s Name,: Davis said. I don’t agree. Compassion bears the Name of God and children should be released from poverty by Him in a way that glorifies Him. The end does not justify any means. I found this article to be vague and confusing.

    1. Sierra December 5, 2019

      Hi Heather! Thank you for reaching out to us with your concerns about this article. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment! I’m sorry that you found this article to be vague and confusing. If you have any questions about the content of the article or about our partnership with Microsoft, please let us know, and we will certainly do our best to bring some clarity for you! In regards to Davis’ comment, I think his intention with saying that is to indicate that Compassion doesn’t need to receive credit for releasing children from poverty, but we agree that God certainly should receive the credit. There are several other faith-based organizations – including the local churches in the countries in which we work – that Compassion hopes to share this technology with in the future, in order to release children from poverty. God will always receive the glory for the work that we do, and Compassion does not need to share in that glory. We want all the work we do to point back to Him!

  3. Linet December 1, 2019

    Intelligently and securely connect people who have a need to those who can fulfill that need!

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