Most newsletters are the type you immediately mark for your spam box, but news from an organization like techfortrade is seen as a welcome update in the world of technology and non-profits. That is, if you’re the sort of person, like me, who gets excited about new ways that technology is being used to alleviate poverty. Checking out the NGO’s first newsletter, I’m excited with the direction that techfortrade is heading.
If the name “techfortrade” sounds familiar, it’s because they’re the ones responsible for the 3D4D contest that Eetu covered this time last year. The contest, devoted to awarding prizes to 3D printer tech for the developing world, represents the UK charity’s belief that 3D printing can give the world’s poor the ability to cheaply manufacture goods, for sale or home use, that would allow them to escape poverty.
To make headway in that direction, techfortrade has made a pretty important announcement. Dr. Phil Reeves, Managing Director at Econolyst Ltd, has become a board member for the non-profit. For those who don’t know, Reeves carries with him 20+ years of experience in 3D printing, providing consultations on the technology to a number of governments and financial institutions across the globe. With his input, the charity will gain some pretty keen insight into exactly how additive manufacturing can be used in the developing world.
techfortrade also provides, in its first newsletter, some links to recent blog posts that are definitely worth reading, one of which is an article by Dr. Joshua Pearce, founder of the Printers for Peace project and author of various important papers on 3D printing. In it, Pearce gives an overview of his work at Michigan Tech, including some of the projects his research group is trying to tackle. I don’t want to give away too much, but I will say that he mentions a solar-powered RepRap. Hopefully, he’ll go into more detail on this project in his interview with me; that should be published at 3DPI in the next week or two.
The organization’s blog also has a brief interview with Filabot’s Tyler McNaney that you’ll want to check out, discussing the story of how the recycled filament extruder came to be. And the blog covers a trip by techfortrade’s CEO, William Hoyle, to the 3D Printing Lab at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Italy, where he was able to participate in a number of 3D printing workshops, many of which are available online. If you checked out the site for the 3D PrintShow Awards, you may have noticed that Hoyle is up for the Inspiring Individual Award for the development of the aforementioned 3D4D challenge.
Aside from the work that techfortrade is doing with 3DP, they’ve successfully partnered with a great program in Kenya called MFarm that uses text messaging to inform local farmers about the market prices for various goods. Here’s a brief description from techfortrade on how the program works: “By simply sending an SMS to a short code, Kenyan farmers can get information about market prices, buy their farm inputs directly from manufacturers at favourable prices and find buyers for their produce.”
SMS and 3D printing are just the first emerging technologies that techfortrade has harnessed to increase economic development in disadvantaged communities. From its blog, you can tell that the team is already eyeing Bitcoins as one financial technology with potential to improve the lives of those in developing nations. Now that the organization has a website and its first newsletter, you can keep up with the ways that 3D printing and other technological advances might be used to help alleviate poverty the world over. The success of techfortrade’s already existing programs might even inspire an altruistic project of your own!