Announcing the start of B Corp Month
We’re really proud to be one of the UK’s founding B Corps, and every March, purposeful businesses come together to celebrate B Corp month. It’s a time for B Corps to raise awareness of just how important it is to move away from the outdated “business as usual” approach, and instead demonstrate how business, if done right, can be a force for good. But what is a B Corp? Certified B Corporations, also known as B Corps, are companies that are said to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. There are now over 6,000 B Corps in 89 countries, across 159 industries. By being part of the B Corp movement, we recognise that the most challenging global problems cannot be solved by governments and NGOs alone. By harnessing the power of business, we know that as B Corps we have the ability to commit positively to impact all stakeholders. How does a company become a B Corp? Qualifying to be a B Corp is a comprehensive and rigorous journey, where aspiring B Corps must have their processes verified by the B Lab, who oversee certification. B Corporation believes that businesses should exist to deliver impact above and beyond just profit. As such, businesses are assessed in five key areas: governance, workers, community, environment and customers. On top of these, if a company has what is known as an Impact Business Model (IBM), they can gain extra points. An IBM refers to the way that a business is designed to create a specific positive outcome for one of its stakeholders. An IBM may be based on a product, a particular process or activity, or the structure of the business. Where do we fit in? Our Governance One area of being a B Corp that we think we excel in is our governance. Yoti is proud to be one of the UK’s founding B Corps, having received its first certification back in August 2015, the same year that B Corp launched in the UK. Before we’d even thought about how to turn a profit, we knew that as a company, we wanted to do business in the right way. We were well aware that in this industry, we would come up against complex ethical questions, simply because of the nature of what we do. So we had to find a way of ensuring that we had a robust framework to work against. In response to this, we came up with our seven founding principles, which have remained unchanged since the day we adopted them. That’s not to say that we won’t change them if we think they could be improved, but we think they’ve stood the test of time, and still hold strong as our foundations. Alongside these, we also have a comprehensive Code of Ethics, which we must abide by in every decision we make. This covers how we treat our employees, customers, business partners, and all remaining stakeholders. To demonstrate our commitment to being a B Corp, we have also made changes to our governing documents. We have made changes to our company’s Articles of Association, meaning that our business is held legally accountable to a broader purpose and is committed to considering the interests of all stakeholders. We also are held to account by our Guardian Council which consists of external, independently appointed experts in relevant fields such as human rights, data privacy and last mile tech. Alongside the Council, we have an Internal Ethics and Trust Committee, which oversees the development and implementation of ethical approaches at Yoti. We have made public pledges by signing up to the Fair Tax Charter, Responsible 100, 5Rights and the Biometrics Institute, all of which guide us in ensuring that we build ethical technology. And that’s only some of what we do. Keep an eye out for our upcoming governance series, where we’ll delve a bit deeper into our governance practices and what they mean on a practical level. But we know we can still do better We’re committed to launching our Digital Identity Toolkit, which we hope will help demystify the world of digital identity. It is aimed at those who want to learn more about digital identity and how they might be relevant to people in their lives or their work. We hope that by making digital identity more accessible, readers will be able to make more informed decisions about whether they want to make a digital identity or integrate the technology into their organisations. If you want to know more… We’re currently in the process of recertifying for B Corp status (since companies must recertify every three years). You can check out our most recently available B Corp score and impact report if you’d like to know more, or you can get in touch. Otherwise, keep an eye out for our upcoming governance series, Digital Identity Toolkit and new B Corp report.
How Curio traders in Malawi could benefit from digital identity
As we go about our social purpose work we regularly get to speak to local, national and international non-profit organisations. Over the years, we’ve found that many struggle to understand the many ways digital identity solutions might help them in their work. As part of our wider efforts to help the sector make sense of the technology, today we’re publishing the last in a series of articles looking at the use of digital identities in six different humanitarian and environmental settings. Please note that, while the technology use case is real, the scenarios are hypothetical in nature, and the projects do not exist as stated. Location Malawi Scenario Security for Curio Traders Background Visitors to Malawi are spoiled for choice when it comes to selecting authentic curios and souvenirs to take home with them. Apart from locally produced paintings, baskets and batiks, there are countless beautiful wooden carvings that are made on site and sold to visitors. Malawi has always been known for its talented wood carvers who create a diversity of sculptures and plaques depicting mostly African scenery, people and animals. Carved pieces by Malawian artists can be found in Buckingham Palace and the Vatican Museum, as well as in several churches in western countries, where they decorate the walls. Wood carving is a traditional Malawian art form and a skill that is passed from fathers to sons. Selling the pieces to tourists is a way for many families to earn a living as the ornate detail and beauty of the indigenous hardwoods from which they are made, are prized by tourists. Curio vendors have been assisted by the Malawian government, building markets in which the vendors may display their wares and conduct business. This has resulted in improved sales as the vendors do not need to pack up their wares and take them away each evening or cease business during times of inclement weather. The government promotes wood carving as a potential earner of foreign exchange through exports and a generator of income for poor Malawians. Challenge Since early 2020, the curio vendors in Malawi have suffered serious financial setbacks. With the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, international borders have been closed and tourism has ground to a halt. Some vendors have given up and moved back to rural areas where they hope to cultivate enough food to stave off starvation. Others remain at the markets where they spend the days polishing dust off their carvings and hoping that someone will come along and purchase something that day. A group of struggling vendors have got together to explore the possibility of sending small consignments of carvings to neighbouring South Africa which has a much larger and more affluent population. They hope that there will be a market for their goods, despite the current travel restrictions. Unfortunately, none of the men have passports and they have reservations about trusting an unknown transporter who may cross the border with their carvings and never be seen again. Solution The curio vendors set up a network of trusted members using certain digital identifiers. Members include wood carvers and potential transporters with driving licences and vehicles. To become a member, an individual must produce two significant pieces of identity documentation. These could be a national ID card, bank card, birth certificate, marriage certificate, driver’s licence or personal testimony from a village head. The documentation is photographed and stored in a database which also includes a photograph of the face of each member. Thereafter, members can identify themselves as authentic, bona fide traders using their photographs. This system would allow a registered and known transporter to collect a consignment of high-quality curios from verified members of the group. The transporter may agree to pay a sum of money as a deposit before leaving for the border with the curios. Once the curios have been sold to retailers in South Africa, the customs fees and transporter’s costs can be deducted and the remainder of the income paid to the Malawian vendors before the next consignment is collected. Read our other scenarios on how digital identity might: be used to monitor food and cash rations be used to help make cross-border trading easier help protect endangered southern ground hornbills in Zimbabwe promote education in Angola improve maternity and childcare in Kenya
How could digital identity improve maternity and childcare in Kenya?
As we go about our social purpose work we regularly get to speak to local, national and international non-profit organisations. Over the years, we’ve found that many struggle to understand the many ways digital identity solutions might help them in their work. As part of our wider efforts to help the sector make sense of the technology, today we’re publishing the fifth of six articles looking at the use of digital identities in six different humanitarian and environmental settings. Please note that, while the technology use-case is real, the scenarios are hypothetical in nature, and the projects do not exist as stated. Location Kenya Scenario Maternity and Childcare Clinic Background According to the World Health Organisation, 60% of mothers in sub-Saharan Africa give birth without ever consulting with a healthcare worker. This leads to an increase in the likelihood of complications that can cause maternal and child death. In Kenya, in particular, the mortality rate of mothers during pregnancy and childbirth is considered to be high and was given as 342 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2019. The reason for this is that many women live in rural areas where there are no health care clinics and they can therefore not access antenatal guidance or the help of trained health professionals. Transport to clinics in larger towns is also costly and this adds to the likelihood that pregnant women in Kenya will be unable to consult a health care worker for assistance. UNICEF states that “The causes of maternal death are mostly preventable”, and links decreased maternal mortality with regular attendance at an antenatal or primary health care clinic. Historically, Kenyan women had to pay a fee to attend a maternity clinic and this added to the inaccessibility of these services to the average mother-to-be. In 2013, the Kenyan government implemented a Free Maternity Service policy which resulted in an increase in the number of women who attended maternity clinics. In addition, Kenya has made great progress in recent years in institutionalising community primary health services. Numerous small maternity clinics have been established in rural areas, usually with the help of NGOs, donors and other stakeholders such as UNICEF and USAID. Trained nurses and midwives at these clinics focus on educating mothers-to-be about nutrition, childbirth and hygiene, and on assisting and supporting during the birth of the baby. Challenge With maternity clinics and antenatal services more accessible to Kenyan women than ever before, there has been a significant increase in the number of women seeking to register at these facilities. However, many of the women have no documentation and are unable to identify themselves officially. In rural communities, children are mostly born at home and their births are not recorded in a hospital. This means that many people in these communities have no birth certificates. In Kenya, a birth certificate is needed in order to apply for a national identity card which is, in turn, required for a biometric identity number – known as a Huduma Namba, or “service number” in Swahili. Rural women may therefore remain undocumented, along with millions of others in the Kenyan population. Solution A maternity clinic could register pregnant women who wish to make use of the antenatal and health care services offered. Registration would involve recording a woman’s name, address details and any other relevant information, along with a scan of her fingerprint or face. This is the same technology currently used by the Kenyan government authorities in their drive to register every citizen with a digital identity and work number. The database could be stored at the clinic of the woman’s choice, with an undertaking that she must return to the same clinic where she registered for all subsequent check-ups and health issues. Each time a patient returns for a check-up, she would use her fingerprint to authenticate her identity. This would enable the clinic to monitor the progress of the woman’s pregnancy and ensure she attended antenatal classes regularly, to educate her on issues of nutrition, hygiene, breastfeeding and baby care. If she failed to attend one of the classes, the clinic staff would be alerted and may decide to visit her home to ascertain if problems had arisen. After childbirth, the baby’s immunisation schedule and growth could also be monitored and the data stored under the mother’s digital identity file. This data could also be accessed when the woman returned to the clinic for subsequent pregnancies. Read our other scenarios on how digital identity could: be used to monitor food and cash rations be used to help make cross-border trading easier help protect endangered southern ground hornbills in Zimbabwe promote education in Angola
How digital identity could help promote education in Angola
As we go about our social purpose work we regularly get to speak to local, national and international non-profit organisations. Over the years, we’ve found that many struggle to understand the many ways digital identity solutions might help them in their work. As part of our wider efforts to help the sector make sense of the technology, today we’re publishing the fourth of six articles looking at the use of digital identities in six different humanitarian and environmental settings. Please note that, while the technology use-case is real, the scenarios are hypothetical in nature, and the projects do not exist as stated. Location Angola Scenario Resources for Trainee Teachers Background When Angola gained independence from Portugal in 1975, the new government estimated the level of illiteracy in the country to be between 85% and 90%. There then followed 27 years of civil war, during which the country’s education system (what there was of it) was left in chaos. Not only did most of the qualified teachers leave the country, but schools were damaged by gunfire and landmines and civilians became displaced. When the civil war ended in 2002, UN figures indicated that about 45% of Angolan children did not go to school. Those who did attend school often experienced a lack of teachers, overcrowding in unsuitable classrooms or a total absence of classrooms or classroom supplies. However, the Angolan government quickly focused attention on improving the education system and introduced four years of free, compulsory primary education (between the ages of 7 and 11). With the help of aid agencies such as UNESCO, the government has rebuilt many schools and opened hundreds of new ones. By 2018, it employed 17,000 teachers but still estimated that a further 200,000 trained teachers would be needed in order to give all Angolan children a primary school education. Challenge Teachers are particularly needed in rural areas and the NGO, known as ADPP (Aid for the Development of the People by the People), which works with the Angolan Ministry of Education, has set up secondary schools in rural areas specifically to train teachers to work in local primary schools. The three-year training promotes teaching skills through a combination of studies, courses and experiences, and students are expected to research topics for themselves, share ideas and ask questions. The students are usually from poor backgrounds and only have a few years of primary school education themselves. They are not able to purchase textbooks or access internet resources in order to fulfil the research aspects of the training course. In addition, many of them are not in possession of the national ID card due to the problems with access to, and issuance in, rural areas. Solution Each of the new training schools, called Training Colleges for the Teachers of the Future (CTFs), has a library that contains relevant references and study material for the courses offered. Students who register for a course have their personal details recorded, along with a fingerprint and face scan. They are also issued with a student card displaying their photograph. Access to the library involves scanning a student’s fingerprint, whereafter he or she is authorised to enter and borrow resource material. In addition, this gives access to the computer terminals available for research. Students who have already graduated as Teachers of the Future but who may still need to use the resources in the library for reference and guidance may also be given access, via fingerprint scan, for a period of time after completing their training. Read our other scenarios on how digital identity could: be used to monitor food and cash rations be used to help make cross-border trading easier help protect endangered southern ground hornbills in Zimbabwe
How digital identity could help protect endangered southern ground hornbills in Zimbabwe
As we go about our social purpose work we regularly get to speak to local, national and international non-profit organisations. Over the years, we’ve found that many struggle to understand the many ways digital identity solutions might help them in their work. As part of our wider efforts to help the sector make sense of the technology, today we’re publishing the third of six articles looking at the use of digital identities in six different humanitarian and environmental settings. Please note that, while the technology use-case is real, the scenarios are hypothetical in nature, and the projects do not exist as stated. Location Zimbabwe Scenario Conservation of southern ground hornbills Background Southern ground hornbills (Bucorvus leadbeateri) are large, black hornbills that move around on the ground. Their huge, black bills and bright red facial pouches, along with their considered, slightly comical gait, make them unmistakable in the African savannas and woodlands. Sadly, population numbers throughout most of their range declined by as much as 50% over the past 30 years. This is attributed largely to loss of habitat as human populations expand into, and cultivate savanna areas. Ground hornbills roost in trees and use hollow trunks to lay eggs and raise their young. As trees are cleared for agricultural purposes or firewood, the hornbills have nowhere suitable to roost or breed. In parts of their range, ground hornbills are also hunted for meat and poisoned accidentally by farmers targeting leopards or jackals. Hornbill feathers are sought-after as tribal decorations, and there is a long history of using them or their parts in traditional medicine. Traders of traditional medicine in a market in Zimbabwe stated that ground hornbill parts were used by people to get revenge on someone, to bring rain, protect against bad spirits and lightning, guide the family, give a person strength, make dreams come true and prevent theft. The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List classifies southern ground hornbills as “Vulnerable” to extinction throughout their sub-equatorial range in Africa. In Zimbabwe, in particular, the government-sponsored ‘Agrarian Land Reform’ policies encourage the development of previously pristine, natural areas, which has put populations of ground hornbills in communal farming areas in jeopardy. Urgent research on population numbers and breeding success is critical in order to inform conservation and management measures. Challenge Conservation organisations, such as BirdLife Zimbabwe, are conducting research on ground hornbills that occupy territory and breed in communal lands or newly settled farming areas. A starting point for this research is to monitor population numbers and breeding success each year. Since it is not practical or financially viable for researchers to follow each family group of hornbills as it moves through its large home territory each day, the participation of local community members is essential to the success of the research. However, the reporting of ground hornbill sightings and nest locations could attract individuals with nefarious intentions, considering that traditional medicine traders are prepared to buy birds or bird parts for resale to the public. Should such individuals be inadvertently included in the research community, the effects on populations of these long-lived, slow breeding hornbills may be devastating. Solution Community participants who wish to be included in the citizen science network to report and observe ground hornbills would need to have a digital identity that verifies them as bona fide, living and trusted individuals. This may involve an interview, in person or via an online platform, as well as the registration of the participant’s name, address and facial biometrics. This would enable a participant to join a messaging group, such as WhatsApp, where the sightings and observations are submitted. Behavioural identifiers could also be included in the digital identity since an individual observer will be submitting records from within a well-defined area (close to their home) each time and this could be used to authenticate the observations. In South Africa, the Kruger National Park, the South African Bird Atlas Project and the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project have used citizen scientists in a similar way, thereby involving the community and expanding the capacity for data capture. Read the other scenarios on how digital identity could be used to monitor food and cash rations and how digital identity could be used to help make cross-border trading easier.
How digital identity could be used to help make cross-border trading easier
As we go about our social purpose work we regularly get to speak to local, national and international non-profit organisations. Over the years, we’ve found that many struggle to understand the many ways digital identity solutions might help them in their work. As part of our wider efforts to help the sector make sense of the technology, today we’re publishing the second of six articles looking at the use of digital identities in six different humanitarian settings. Please note that, while the technology use-case is real, the scenarios are hypothetical in nature, and the projects do not exist as stated. Location Lesotho Scenario Informal Cross-border Traders Background Lesotho is a sovereign state that is completely enclaved within the territory of South Africa. It has an area of around 30,000 km2 (11,583 sq mi) and a population of just under 2 million. It is mountainous and landlocked, and the levels of poverty are high. Given their close geographical proximity, Lesotho and South Africa have a long history of trade relations, commencing more than 150 years ago when migrant labourers from Lesotho were employed in the South African gold mines. Salaries earned by migrant labourers proved to be important to the economy of Lesotho, as indicated in the Lesotho Official Yearbook (1996) that states this income contributed 30% to the country’s Gross National Product.1 Since 1994, however, the South African government has encouraged the employment of South African miners, and Lesotho’s miners have seen massive retrenchment. This has left the population desperately seeking alternative ways of earning an income. Many have turned to informal trade, particularly involving cross-border trips, either to purchase goods for resale in Lesotho or to sell goods produced in Lesotho, to South African markets. The majority of informal cross-border traders are women, and this form of commercial activity is crucial in Lesotho for supporting poor families and putting food on their tables. The government recognises the importance of this economic sector and, in the sense that they allow small consignments of goods to enter the country without import permits, have tried to make border entry a little easier. Challenge Ten years ago, Lesotho had no national identification or registration system. With the 2013 launch of the national ID system, the government has moved to rectify this, but 10% of the population still has not been registered. Combined with this, bureaucracy at border posts is time-consuming and complex and largely of a manual nature. Cross-border traders experience bottlenecks and delays on a daily basis. In addition, the loss of a passport would render a trader unable to earn an income for the three months that it may take to obtain a replacement. Informal cross-border traders at Lesotho’s border posts report that passport issues complicate their commercial activities and make them vulnerable to corrupt officials who may extort a “fee” before allowing them to cross the border. Solution Since informal cross-border traders exit and enter Lesotho through one of only three border posts, it would be possible to register every trader on a database that could be held at each border. Traders’ names, addresses and National Identity Register numbers could be recorded, along with fingerprint, hand or face biometrics. An offline system would suffice as long as the trader only used the border post with which he or she registers. Subsequently, any crossing through a Lesotho border post could be done by automated systems that scan the fingerprint, hand or face. Naturally, a bilateral agreement with the South African border authorities would complete the process so that cross-border traders could move unimpeded through both sets of controls. This would also be particularly useful for those Lesotho residents who have permanent employment just across the border in South Africa and have to make this journey twice a day, every weekday. Read the first scenario on how digital identity could be used to monitor food and cash rations.