Robert Okine knows inequality firsthand, growing up in Ghana with separated parents - a wealthy father and an impoverished mother - and wanting to do something about it.
“My life mission has been centered on bridging inequality,” says Okine, the founder and chief executive of Bewsys, which stands for Better World Systems.
The consulting company creates and delivers custom software solutions, data collection and information management systems to advance sustainable development in humanitarian projects, government agencies and private organizations.
“At Better World Systems, our big idea is to have a world free from inequality,” Okine says.
Okine is one of 10 business leaders selected by the United Nations Global Compact as one of its 2021 SDG Pioneers. As SDG Pioneer for Digital Innovation & Inclusion, Okine will champion sustainability in the private sector and mobilize companies to be a force for good.
As CEO of Bewsys, Okine decided that all of the company’s projects would be focused upon advancing the Sustainable Development Goals.
Bewsys has developed unique solutions incorporating social protection, good governance, monitoring and compliance, agriculture and education in 61 developing countries with limited data infrastructure in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Oceania.
“Our projects focus on developing countries where information and data management systems need significant innovation to enhance the SDGs’ progress,” he says. “We are committed to using technology as a transformative tool to support inspired people who share our mission of leaving no one behind.”
The projects have included social protection digital solutions that expanded social, humanitarian and economic relief for more than two million women and children in the African countries of Lesotho, Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“We consciously pursue gender inclusion and equality to eliminate gender stereotypes,” he says, by promoting gender-sensitive career development programs and policies for equal opportunities and working conditions.
In Somalia, Bewsys solutions have supported building safe communities by helping in the process of tracing, detecting and destroying landmines in post-conflict recovery areas.
Bewsys also served as a consultant to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) to develop blueprints for a medical regulatory information management system harmonization in African countries.
“Our business model is centred on using technology as a digital transformation tool,” Okine says.
Within Bewsys, Okine has prioritized awareness and operational alignment to the SDGs through mandatory and targeted education across functions and seniority levels. He created a team to engage with the UN Global Compact’s SDG Ambition Accelerator program to enhance initiatives and processes of measuring the company’s SDG targets, and he leads its impact assessment adoption to develop actionable targets for developing its business strategy.
Inclusion, economic development and labour and human rights are critical in evaluating all business decisions, he says.
“In an industry that is considered predominantly male, I lead our organization to pursue gender inclusion.”
Company-wide, the workforce is 60 per cent female, with 40 per cent in software engineering, and women represent 50 per cent of its management team, which was a company target. To get there, Bewsys partnered with educational technology centres focused on developing and recruiting women in technology.
“Better World Systems is a reminder that no matter who we are, what we do or where we are, we can leverage what we have to transform the world,” Okine says. “I am proud that Bewsys can make a sustainable difference in the lives of millions of people globally.”