Connecting the unconnected

February 27, 2024

Mea Thompson, COO,

In the dynamic digital inclusion landscape,, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) brings to the fore the profound concept of ‘meaningful connectivity.’ views connectivity as more than just internet access; it’s a transformative force driving equality and offering opportunities to the 3 billion people globally still without this crucial link. In the digital age, internet access has become a cornerstone for financial inclusion, education, healthcare, safety for vulnerable groups, job accessibility, trade efficiency, and support for various life challenges.

Recognising that digital skills are key to breaking the chains of poverty and marginalisation, strives to equip individuals with the tools they need to thrive in today’s interconnected world.

They achieve this through collaborative partnerships with stakeholders spanning diverse sectors, including telecommunications, fintech, commerce, education, healthcare, and more. It’s crucial to recognise that this challenge transcends industry boundaries, necessitating cross-industry cooperation to effectively address it. Importantly, it’s a challenge within our capacity to resolve.

Bridging the digital divide isn’t just about providing internet access; it’s about empowering people with the skills and knowledge to leverage the vast opportunities the digital age offers.

Take Rwandan student Eric Tuyizere for example; as part of’s connectENTREPRENEURS theme, the NGO have supported the 25-year-old to not only gained academic and professional advantages through MIT ReACT’s Emerging Talent program but also experience a cultural exchange that broadened his horizons. Eric’s exposure to different cultures has shaped his entrepreneurial vision, aiming to integrate technology into construction security and contribute to his community. acknowledges the stark reality that huge portions of the globe lack meaningful internet access – perhaps most worryingly, children who will instantly fall behind without the internet not being integrated into their education.

The volunteer-led NGO’s collaborations with sponsors has enabled hardware, digital skills training, and internet access to underprivileged children in 16 community schools for undocumented students in Eastern Malaysia, who otherwise would be unable to get the focused care and attention they deserve from their already overstretched teachers.

The organisation firmly believes that internet access is a catalyst for equal opportunities in life and this is at the root of their connectED theme that seeks to level the playing field for the next generation.

By addressing the disparities in access, aims to not just uplift entire communities but even make a difference in people’s lives on a person-by-person basis.

One poignant example of’s impact lies in its collaboration with Vodafone’s charities.connected scheme, distributing thousands of SIM cards in the UK. Among the beneficiaries was a 30-year-old mother who had endured years of coercive control and violent threats. Through the support of and Jigsaw4U, she received a Vodafone SIM card, granting her vital access to support, facilitating her divorce, and enabling her to reconnect with her daughters.

Reconnection with one’s daughters is certainly not a story that remains exclusive to connectWOMEN, but so too as part of’s connectREFUGEES theme. Ana María, a single mother who fled El Salvador to Mexico in search of safety, faced numerous challenges; perhaps hardest of all was being separated from her daughters. With the support of Ding,, provided Ana María with a SIM card, enabling her to stay in constant communication with her four daughters through video calls on a daily basis. This simple yet powerful solution has made a profound impact on Ana María’s psychological wellbeing and in her efforts to have her children repatriated.

This truly global organisation already does impactful work in 17 countries to actively address the primary barriers to digital inclusion:

  • Affordability
  • Coverage
  • Culture
  • Digital literacy understands that meaningful connectivity encompasses various aspects of life, and though we have highlighted just four of their themes, there are many others in the pipeline from connectAGRICULTURE to connectHEALTHCARE.

Looking ahead, envisions an expanded footprint with increased projects and an even greater impact. The organisation recognizes that the journey to bridge the digital divide requires collaborative efforts and as such relies on the donations and sponsorship of partners that include Vodafone, Internet Society Foundation and City Bridge Foundation.

In 2023 perhaps their greatest achievement would not have been possible without one of their key partners. Thanks to the help of Starlink they were able to provide over 100 schools, namely in Malawi and in Kenya, with meaningful connectivity that reached remote communities that were previously entirely underserved. is constantly seeking further support to address the broader issue of billions who remain unconnected. In its commitment to meaningful connectivity, unconnected. org collaborates with device manufacturers to distribute large volumes of refurbished smartphones and laptops to those in need. continually seeks opportunities to acquire devices, understanding their crucial role in ensuring that individuals have the tools necessary for digital inclusion. In 2024 the team will continue to work tirelessly to try to bridge the digital divide.

The question is – could you help too?

Mea Thompson is a leader within the telecommunication market dedicated to bridging the digital divide and ensuring equitable access to education and opportunity for all. As the Co-Founder of, she has been instrumental in driving meaningful change in the lives of underserved communities around the world. She is also a dynamic leader in the tech industry, with a wealth of experience and expertise in connectivity with a focus on operators and eSIM.