By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – I walked into the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Center for the 1st Global Innovators Series on April 18 with my usual attitude of enthusiasm and curiosity. The digital world and how to innovate one’s leadership on this platform is bewildering, because I have little knowledge and yes, little knowledge is dangerous. I only have lots of questions to ask to the speakers who thrived in the digital world.
Analisa Balares, Ayesha Vera Yu, Earl Martin Valencia, and David Teten were not only innovative, they were inspiring too. They’re spearheading a re-education of 21st century Filipinos on digital technology.
As a concerned media practitioner, I had asked Balares, founder and CEO of Womensphere, about a common problem faced by online community magazines, and that includes the New York Times, in terms of survival at this age of free access to communication that has brought down the rates of advertising.
Womensphere is a global platform for women and girls founded in 2007 that harness their leadership qualities and community projects through training and networking in the field of science, culture, arts, and politics.
Balares, in an interview, suggested that instead of advertising, it may be worthwhile to look at sponsorship instead. “With specific content like, for example an online magazine for bearded guys, which is very distinct, instead of getting advertisers that pay per impression, one can get actual sponsors who want to reach that unique audience,” she opined.
She added that online magazines can also crowdfund or get the community to fund content as a source of revenue. “The Guardian does this, they invite donations to protect their quality journalism, and they actually generated more dollars than when they had subscriptions.”
Balares’s ideas were definitely my greatest take-away from the event.
For non-profit organizations, there is no doubt about how digital technology has facilitated in a swift manner messages or information about a product or a business, or social campaign. On the ground, the Advancement for Rural Kids, for example, has been responding to the education needs of young children and empowering the mothers to create vegetable gardens and healthy kitchens for a community to thrive in the Philippines.
Ayesha Vera Yu, its founder and CEO, have tapped into the rich digital resources of the US to be able to improve the lives of the rural folk in some towns in Western Visayas.
Immediately, one can see that the digital world connects innovative ideas to be shared and donation of funds to be allocated to projects. But technology has to be merely an instrument that is responsive to its own market and users, and educate them, level them up to be able to use technology to increase their economic and cultural values. At the local level, therefore, the villagers’ access to computers and the internet will make us more aware of the reality on the ground. Otherwise, the dumb gets dumber. And the world won’t get any better.
Expert on online investment and research David Teten, in his speech, encouraged millennials to think at least three times before embarking on a start-up company innovative company. Caution and persistence are important, he noted.