Short Solution Description: 

Etana is a cost-efficient device that enables women in developing countries to create a unique identity without having access to the internet or electricity.

The Problem:

1.2 billion people do not really exist. Alive but invisible, they have no driver's license or national ID card, and without one, they can't own property or vote. They can't receive government services, and perhaps most importantly, collect any money to their name. Of the people without identification, 63% of them live in lower-middle-income economies while 28% live in low-income economies. Additionally, 45% of women lack a foundational ID compared to 30% of men in low-income countries. This reinforces that lack of identification is a critical concern for the global poor and more specifically women in poverty. As the access gaps are continuously growing larger, women in poverty are at the greatest risk of being left behind. Full economic parity was 257 years away before the pandemic, and now this has been pushed four decades behind.

Major global identification services all work to provide identification for the hundreds of millions without, but are leaving out a very important group of people. These technology startups utilize smartphones and the internet to prove and verify identification. They build SDKs and mobile wrappers designed for Android and iOS devices, failing to realize that the biggest barrier between those with identification and without, is SES (socioeconomic status), gender, and accessibility. To reach the vulnerable women in remote areas that are at the greatest risk of being left behind, startups should keep the majority in mind, and work to create gender-responsive devices, softwares, and solutions.

What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year? 

Removing legal barriers to obtaining identification is of course only one important step towards increasing women’s ID coverage. Policy action should follow to encourage women’s registration. For example, opening women-only registration counters has been shown effective in boosting application numbers and could be replicated in other economies. Likewise, mobile registration services that bring enrollment closer to women’s homes can help reduce the transport and opportunity cost of registration. Creating tailored messaging on the benefits of identification and providing special incentives, such as conditional cash transfers given to female heads of households can also support women’s registration.

Organization Website: 

Social Media Links:

Solution Stage:

Prototype: A venture or organization building and testing its product, service, or business model

Solution Team:

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