The World Business Angels Investment Forum (WBAF) has called on governments and municipalities across the globe to consider developing smart policies to convert cities to smart cities, ease access to the internet, develop better bandwidths for faster internet connections and ease access to healthcare and financial services.
The Chairman, WBAF, Baybars Altuntas, made the call recently while stressing that the world is entering a new career environment where digitalisation and workforce should cooperate instead of competing.
He said that governments must invest in the digital infrastructure of their communities in response to COVID-19 as these would lead to better digital transformation of communities, better healthcare systems, more financial inclusion and more equal opportunities in education.
Altuntas, also listed factors that are pushing the world towards ‘Hyper-connected Digital Globe’:
1. Developing smart cities
“We believe that COVID-19 demands that every municipality or government must consider converting their cities to smarter cities.
“City authorities can make the data gathered from their own monitoring systems available on an open-source platform. Municipal and private companies could then analyse the data. Facial scanning for body temperature, but without revealing identity for example, could improve infection control at railway stations, airports and at events where many people come together, such as concerts.’
2. Providing computers
“We invite all governments to provide Personal Computers, laptops, or tablets for families who are unable to afford such items, because online education will be the new post-pandemic educational model. It is important to note that, even in the United States of America, the lack of a laptop or desktop computer on which to complete schoolwork is a barrier to full participation in remote learning.
“Among children aged 3-18, 17% are reported to live in households without a laptop or desktop computer i.e. at least 11 million students have no technology tool at all for online learning, and among those that do, a single device may need to be shared with siblings. Lack of access to a computer increases vulnerability for lower-income students.’
3. Increasing financial inclusion
“There are 2 billion unbanked people in the world today. Access to finance and access to public support are almost impossible for the unbanked. Since a new paradigm for educational systems is on the way, we should accelerate the financial inclusion of these people so they can benefit from the digital transformation.
“Otherwise, they risk missing out on the opportunities that will present themselves in the post-pandemic era, such as online education, access to finance, access to online healthcare services.’
4. Access to healthcare
“Access to comprehensive, quality healthcare services is important for promoting and maintaining health, preventing and managing disease, reducing unnecessary disability and premature death, and achieving health equity for everyone. This healthcare topic comprises 3 components: insurance coverage, health services, and timeliness of care. When considering access to healthcare, it is important to include oral health and access to prescription drugs as well.
“Post-pandemic efforts will need to focus on deploying a primary care workforce that is better distributed geographically and that is trained to provide culturally competent care to diverse populations. Monitoring the increasing use of telehealth as an emerging method of delivering healthcare should be studied carefully, since thousands in the healthcare industry have lost their lives to COVID-19 or have been severely affected by it.’
5. Increasing citizens’ creativity for the social good
“Creative citizenship will be more important than ever in post-pandemic times. Policymakers should consider innovative ways of creating an environment for citizens where they can develop a promising way of thinking about the countless ways in which individuals and groups contribute valuable ideas and services and goods to communities with a common interest.
“Freedom of speech, human rights and gender equality are three important components of creating a healthy environment for citizens, which in turn opens the way for creative thinking. The world of post-pandemic times will need more support from citizens with creative ideas if we are to turn the COVID-19 pandemic into long-term social good.’
6. Internet bandwidth
“The worldwide digital population as of April 2020 was almost 4.57 billion, about 59% of the world’s population. After COVID-19, a world without internet is unimaginable, and the internet will be a pillar of post-pandemic times. Internet bandwidth will be the key driver of the quality of online education, online healthcare services and financial inclusion.
“Policymakers are therefore invited to invest in bolstering bandwidths as without good connectivity, it will not be possible to develop smart cities, provide better education, increase financial inclusion, ease access to healthcare services or increase citizens’ creativity.’
Altuntas also speaking on ‘Impact of COVID-19 for the Startup Economy,’, said:
‘In post-pandemic times, we will increasingly use three important terms when discussing early- and post-early stage equity and capital markets: responsible finance, impact investment, and digital access to finance. With the world now in the throes of a deep recession, one thing is clear: helping countries recover from COVID-19 will require billions of dollars to revive jobs and value chains, tackle systemic inequalities and promote a greener reconstruction. This will present significant opportunities for investors to innovate and finance projects that contribute to sustainable and inclusive long-term growth. Responsible finance and impact investors will be the driving force of this new investment ecosystem. Public and private partnerships (PPP) will be a key path to recovery and reconstruction.’
‘WBAF invites all governments to consider converting public finance to smart finance for the social good so that we can recover from COVID-19 in co-operation with responsible finance from impact investors and develop, together with them, co-investment funds from startup to scaleup to exit.’
‘The World economies will need more responsible finance and more impact investors in post-pandemic times. On the other hand, startups, entrepreneurs, scaleups as well as micro, small and medium enterprises will have to discover innovative ways to reach angel investors and to pitch and close deals digitally. Pitching, closing deals, and monitoring investments digitally all the way to exit will be the new normal of the startup economy. We will see more online demo days, online meetings for due diligence, online signing of deal terms, and online follow-ups after the deal is closed. Every home of a startup after COVID-19 will turn to an incubation centre or a co-working space that is connected digitally to entrepreneurship and investment ecosystems.’
‘An affiliated partner of the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI), the World Business Angels Investment Forum (WBAF) is an international organisation contributing immensely towards easing access to finance for businesses from startup to scaleup, with the ultimate goal of generating more jobs and more social justice worldwide. It is committed to collaborating globally to empower world economic development by creating innovative financial instruments for innovators, startups, and Small & Medium Enterprises. The Forum interacts with global leaders in all areas of society, first and foremost in business and political spheres, to help assess needs and establish goals, bearing in mind that the public interest is of importance. It engages a wide range of institutions, both public and private, local and international, commercial and academic to help shape the global agenda.’ WBAF’s operating structure presently comprises a Board, 30 High Commissioners, 119 Senators, 57 International Partners and 47 Faculty Members from 96 countries.