Digital Dollars for Online Tea

The Bahamas, Sri Lanka, and Uganda fight the pandemic’s disruption with innovation

Never let a serious crisis go to waste.” Innovators around the world are taking the saying seriously, responding to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic with creative digital solutions.

The initiatives we highlight here are markedly diverse: the overnight transformation of Sri Lanka’s 125-year-old live tea auction; the world’s first central bank digital currency in The Bahamas; and the rapid pivot from a taxi-hailing app in Kampala, Uganda, to a thriving e-commerce platform.

All three share a common characteristic: an innovative, entrepreneurial spirit born of an urgent need. The Bahamas initiative responded to a need to extend financial services to residents of remote islands whose lack of access was exacerbated by extreme weather. In Sri Lanka, the tea industry—fundamental to the economy and employing millions—came to a sudden halt when COVID-19 prohibited the weekly tea auction from convening. And in Uganda, people’s ability to get food and medicine and earn an income was severely hampered by the pandemic lockdown.

While the ingredients for success vary in each country, there is one constant: there was an enabling environment for these initiatives to germinate and quickly become reality. The end result? Innovative, homegrown initiatives that help millions of underserved people be financially included and have a better shot at prosperity.

Read the full article (and watch three stunning video stories) here, download the PDF

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