Technology is revolutionizing manufacturing and logistics in the global supply chain, but workers in the field and on the factory floor still suffer threats to their livelihoods, safety, and wellbeing. They lack information about their rights and the law, about health exposures, and about how to express concerns or access remedies to the conditions they face.
The Working Capital Investment Fund (WCIF) is committed to investing in innovative technological solutions to address worker needs. Three pioneering companies, Ulula, Quizrr, and Kenzen, use emerging technologies to help workers protect themselves.
In September, we sat down with Vera Belazelkoska, Director of Programs at Ulula, Heidi Lehmann, Chief Commercial Officer at Kenzen, and Erika Wennerstrom, CEO of Quizrr to discuss the importance of technology in improving worker rights and engagement, and how technology is being used to support supplier responsibility and better worker conditions during the pandemic. Watch the full replay here.
“Why is tech important? It offers the promise of scale,” notes Dan Viederman, Managing Director of the Working Capital Investment Fund. “Technology has the potential to catalyze scalability and cost-effectiveness, and offer real time information for workers and their employers.” With that framing, the entrepreneurs shared how they’re tackling key issues related to the health and wellbeing of workers.
“We help investors monitor and mitigate human rights impacts in their global supply chains,” says Vera Belazelkoska, Director of Programs at Ulula. Ulula creates digital platforms, easily accessible through a mobile device, that allow workers to report abuses and report other information anonymously. In addition to Ulula’s reporting feature, their digital platform provides vital health and safety information tailored to the worker’s region and legal status.
Ulula is committed to using technology to increase transparency to support dignified work for all.
Quizzr also supports worker engagement as a key to worker wellbeing. “We use a bottom-up approach to help companies unleash human capital,” says Erika Wennerstrom, CEO of Quizzr. Quizrr primarily produces short films and comprehension quizzes to educate workers about their rights, health and safety, and other topics like financial management and communication. Employers access aggregated data on a dashboard that allows them to identify strengths and potential growth in the way in which workers experience the workplace. Quizrr has conducted nearly 300,000 sessions for 78,000 workers in China, Bangladesh and Thailand. Like Ulula, Quizzr tailors their materials to meet the workers’ needs based on their field and geography.
Focusing more on workers’ immediate physical wellbeing is Kenzen. Kenzen Chief Commercial Officer Heidi Lehmann shared, “fundamentally we are safety technology; our number one priority is keeping workers safe. As we keep workforces safe, we’re also increasing productivity, there are fewer hospitalizations and workers’ comp claims, ultimately resulting in cost savings for the company.”
Kenzen has created a wearable, physiological monitoring platform that keeps workers safe from heat, fatigue, and exhaustion on the job. Hundreds of millions of workers are at risk across the globe and heat-related incidents are 100% preventable. Their current customers and proof of concepts include the mining, renewable energy, oil and gas, and construction industries.
When asked about a pressing threat to worker wellbeing — the Covid-19 pandemic –, these entrepreneurs provide an array of rapid responses. Quizzr is adapting their deployment channels to ensure key information reaches workers beyond the factory walls, while Ulula is adapting their surveys and informational materials to capture risks related to Covid-19. Kenzen reimagines how their technology may be used to identify an ill worker before an outbreak in their workplace.
Change at scale is possible when key decision-makers can access real-time, worker-generated, broad-based data, and more democratized information from workers. Innovation from companies like Kenzen show promising impact in global supply chain improvement in the areas of worker safety. For more information on how the Working Capital Investment Fund is helping facilitate these improvements, visit https://workingcapitalfund.com/.