Korean startups are not only recognized for their technology innovation but also their contributions toward social upliftment. OHFA tech, a Korean startup developer of self-learning braille devices and software for the blind and partially sighted people, was recently selected as the Republic of Korea representative to pitch their business at the Youth Co: Lab Regional Summit 2022 co-hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Citi Foundation in Singapore from July 4-7.
The Summit provides young social enterprises a platform to network with some 3300 youth leaders and entrepreneurs, UN Agencies, government representatives, industry-leading experts, and investors from over 20 countries.
OHFA tech,– abbreviation for ‘Open Hardware for All’ – tackles the ‘braille literacy crisis’ in Korea and worldwide with digital technologies and envisions a world where disability does not mean limited opportunities in life. Over 90 percent of around 300 million blind and partially sighted persons worldwide cannot read and write braille. OHFA tech tackles the root causes, including the lack of trained teachers and learning tools and the stereotype that braille is difficult and boring to learn.
Founded in 2015, OHFA tech has developed a jumbo-sized innovative and user-friendly device called Taptilo and the accompanying software application, which enables audio-guided self-learning. Taptilo is now distributed in 50 countries, with software available in 13 languages, and plans to expand to the Asian and African markets with lower-cost models of Taptilo. By scaling up its business to developing countries where these tools are most needed, the startup believes that the braille literacy rate in their target countries will increase by 1% per year, contributing to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 4 and 10 for quality education and reduced inequalities.
“Thanks to UNDP and Citi, we gained valuable experience interacting with like-minded social entrepreneurs and impact makers striving to create social impact across the Asia-Pacific. We hope to utilize our tech solution to solve the challenges of social inclusion for the disabled, which is equally a challenge in countries outside Korea,” noted an OHFA Tech representative.
The Youth Co: Lab Regional Summit is the flagship annual event of the Youth Co: Lab program. Co-created by UNDP and Citi Foundation in 2017, Youth Co: Lab is a solution platform for engaging youth to establish a common agenda for Asia-Pacific countries to invest in and empower youth to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs to solve social problems through leadership, social innovation, and entrepreneurship. Korea’s Youth Co: Lab chapter, led by UNDP Seoul Policy Centre, supports young, innovative startups like OHFA tech to expand and contribute to the achievement of global sustainable development.