The co-founder of a tech startup with a social impact has warned the government against overregulating technology in the country.
“A lot of us worry about over-regulation,” said Gina Romero, CEO of Connected Women, in an interview with Business and Politics, a weekly show hosted by The Manila Times Chairman Dante “Klink” Ang 2nd, and aired on SMNI. Saturday. evening.
“Because this is a booming opportunity for the country, over-regulation is likely to shrink it. We don’t want to lose our potential there.”
Romero, winner of the 2022 TOWNS (Outstanding Women in Service to the Nation) Award for Empowering Women through ICTs, emphasized that “technology allows us to influence more people and create more scope.”
When it comes to technology, Romero stressed that the challenge is to build trust and relevance at all levels.
“People are concerned about technology, especially new technology like artificial intelligence (AI),” she said. “There are a lot of different conversations, so it’s really important that the people who really make the decisions talk to the experts a lot.”
Romero, who has been an advocate for women’s empowerment for 17 years, noted that the Philippines “really has some of the world’s top data scientists” who have looked at technological challenges around the world and have a substantive understanding of their potential and potential. dangers.
“We have a lot of innovative minds in the Philippines. We really need to consult with them and make sure they are included,” she said. “There’s a lot of conversation that has to happen to build that trust and relevance, or else we run the risk of making decisions that have a negative impact on huge groups of people.”
Romero said the government could start talking with organizations like Connected Women.
She said her group focuses on people who are not left behind.
Romero said that although people are now looking at the Philippines as a potential tech hub, that can only happen if both the government and the private sector continue to improve skills and support social impact organizations like Connected Women.
“we [social-impact organizations and entrepreneurs] They should be taken as seriously as start-up organizations because the potential for both commercial returns and impacts is enormous.”
Romero lamented that it was very difficult for them to find funding to expand and develop the skills.
She said the social impact project is a relatively new concept, particularly in Asia.
“The social enterprise model is that you can make money but you can also include philanthropy in your work,” Romero said.
She said there are a lot of social impact entrepreneurs in the country, but many of them tend to shy away from technology.
“This is really a shame,” Romero said. “We need to encourage more entrepreneurs to take advantage of technology because they can expand the impact and help more people.”
This is why education is also important, she said, especially in developing technology skills as early as possible.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to make any quick reactions about it because we now have a chance to really look at what we’re teaching kids,” Romero said.
“Let’s remember the jobs of the future, we don’t know that yet. We can’t count on our education now providing all the talent and skills we need for the future,” she said.
“There is a great opportunity to look at how technology can support education and how it can support the future of work,” she said. “We need a lot of different people to participate in the conversation, because if we only have teachers working in education, we will not yet be able to build for the future.”
Romero also considers it important to “continue to push the digital infrastructure” in the country.
Amid “so many layers of complexity even in countries outside the Philippines that are very large and dispersed,” Romero noted, “it’s amazing that we’re making the progress that we’re making.”
Romero, who has been residing in the UK since she was six months old and only recently returned to the Philippines to found Connected Women.
Launched in 2010, the group offers online skills training, development and remote work opportunities to women in the Philippines.
Its flagship programme, Elevate AIDA (Artificial Intelligence Data Explanation), aims to provide women from grassroots communities with market-compatible data annotation skills for the AI industry.
Skills include tagging, classification, and word and image processing for AI applications.
Connected Women’s clients and partners include Meta, PLDT, Union Bank, ScaleHub, Aboitiz, and Smart.
“Many women come to us without any educational background or experience in technology or artificial intelligence. After they graduate from our training, we give them access to remote and flexible work, we make sure they are paid decently and have opportunities to improve skills,” said Romero, who was His mother was one of the pioneering domestic workers who went to the UK in the 1970s.
She said she wanted to erase the misconception that social institutions are poor, small and charitable.
“The social enterprise does a good job because that good is built into the business model, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be profitable… There has to be a shift in thinking,” Romero said.
She said that in terms of developing future skills, Connected Women is a showcase project not only for the Philippines but globally.