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Melinda Gates on Using Technology to Make Meaningful Connections

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Social entrepreneur Melinda Gates spoke at Mashable's Social Good Summit in New York City yesterday about how "being connected" means more than checking texts during mundane meetings and posting vacation pictures. With innovation moving faster than ever, the mega philanthropist wants people to ask, "Are we connecting on the behalf of changing the world for everyone?"

Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP
Melinda Gates

While Gates doesn't believe we are there yet, she did point out several instances where entrepreneurs were utilizing to make the world a better place. Some of her observations include:

Helping people is one click away.

Before the latest technology boom, people like Gates would have to fly to the problem to help find a solution. Gates recalls when she first visited India and realized the people there shared the same dreams of other people in the world but lacked the resources and infrastructure to achieve them. Trying to help these people was time-consuming, as often the initiatives would take longer to implement than the trip.

Times have changed. While Gates, does continue travel to developing countries under the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, she, along with others, are also using technology to make a difference.

Related: What Surprised Me Most As a Social Entrepreneur

For example, entrepreneurs and people in need can now post their wishes on sites like, a petition platform to evoke change.

Increasing entrepreneurship in developing countries.

Products, applications and services that entrepreneurs are developing are being utilized across locations. One example Gates laid out was a mobile app used by people in Nairobi, which allows experts all over the world to talk to entrepreneurial farmers in developing countries on how to best harvest crops or best practices for planting vegetables.

Social media is more than selfies.

It's obvious the rise of social media has allowed for more conversations, interactions and sharing between people. But it doesn't need to just be centered around Miley Cyrus's 'Twerking-gate' or cute kitten videos. Now social entrepreneurs are able to use social media to instigate change. One example is charity: water's birthday campaign, where people can ask friends to donate to clean water, instead of giving them a gift.

Related: How Charity Water Is Reinventing Giving

How are you using technology to better the world? Let us know in the comments below.

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