100 World Class South Africans: Marlon Parker

2013-05-22 12:00

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Connecting the world

Marlon Parker wants to reach two billion people – a quarter of the world’s population – in his lifetime, through technology that has a positive impact on people’s lives.

His social media revolution started five years ago with the nonprofit RLabs, which provided mobile support services for drug addicts in the Western Cape.

Today RLabs is a global franchise, active in 18 countries from Africa to Asia, providing community research, free technology training and solutions to complex problems (or something as simple as sending out SMS reminders to HIV patients to take their ARVs).

The World Health Organisation uses Parker’s JamiiX tool to provide emergency preparedness information for Southeast Asian communities, where natural disasters kill more than 500 000 people annually.

Parker had a job pushing trolleys at the airport when he decided to go and study – what, he didn’t know yet.

A friend said he’d heard about something called IT… Parker revealed in Daily Maverick that when he first saw the computer monitors at college, he thought they were portable TVs.

Fast-forward to now, and RLabs has started an Innovation Incubator and the Kakua Fund to invest in people with good social ideas.

Parker has been hired to head up Mxit Reach, too, which will add another 50 million to his network for good.

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