Over the last three decades, the Internet has revolutionised our lives and worked as an equalising force in economies, giving a voice to historically under-represented groups. Connectivity has created opportunities across all sectors, and even allowed us to stay connected during a global pandemic. However, these extraordinary opportunities that the Internet has brought to the world are limited by our ability to access them. It is hard, if not impossible, to succeed in a world based on a resource you simply don’t have access to, or don’t know how to navigate safely. Even more so when the next generation of the Internet (the metaverse) is being built.

As the second part of our series about the metaverse, this article presents some of the social impact work we have implemented in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

The metaverse is what many consider the next iteration of the Internet, a fully realised digital world in which the experience is enhanced by adding a feeling of presence and the ability to be truly immersed in it. Building this fully realised digital world presents endless opportunities for small and medium businesses and for the economic development of our region. It also represents the certainty that there will be an even wider digital, social and economic divide if the metaverse is not built with accessibility and inclusion by design.

For over 2 years, we have worked with our clients in the region to design and implement social impact strategies to bridge this gap and create a fair, safe, and inclusive ecosystem.

It is estimated that the metaverse has the potential to contribute 5% to Latin America’s GDP by 2031. In a region where the use of the metaverse is expected to increase by 400% in the next 10 years, it represents an unmatched opportunity for growth towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to decent work and economic growth, overcoming poverty and achieving gender equality.

The goal of our work in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is to help corporate, non-profit and government partners in the region to maximise this opportunity while mitigating its risks.  

Although we are still years away from the metaverse becoming as indispensable as the current version of the Internet, we are already planting the seeds to make sure more people, in particular those from underserved communities, have the skills to be part of this new digital era.

Our work is centred around preparing the ground to build for an inclusive and responsible metaverse where everyone has a place to thrive. 

In 2020, Pearl Consulting started supporting the partnership between the Organization of American States (OAS) and Meta to bring the metaverse to the region. The alliance has the goal to train youth, women, rural and indigenous communities through free online courses in Augmented Reality (AR) via the Youth Academy on Transformative Technologies of the Americas. The OAS and Meta quickly understood how the metaverse could become a solution to the urgent need for economic recovery and job generation across LAC, particularly in a post-pandemic world.

For this, we worked to localise and deploy the Meta Spark Curriculum in the region, an online training that allows the creation of complex interactive effects, using the Meta Spark software, without the need to have previous coding experience. One of Pearl Consulting’s goals in the project was to guarantee that the content was relevant for local communities which is why we partnered with local organisations and creators to bring examples from the region and adapted the tone and terms to the specific market challenges. This tailored approach ensures learners get the most out of the lessons.

Currently, over 55% of Meta Spark creators worldwide are women, making this programme a successful tool to foster a more equitable economy in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The team was successful in implementing the programme in Portuguese and Spanish in a scalable manner, removing entry barriers and opening the door to millions of Spanish and Portuguese speakers to learn AR skills and become part of the digital economy.

OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro, said: “Cooperative efforts like this allow us to have a greater impact, and reach more people with more knowledge, more skills, and more opportunities to build their future”. 

We believe this work to be the embodiment of SDG 17 “Partnering for the Sustainable Development Goals”. Furthermore, with this work, the OAS and Meta are working hand in hand to break down barriers and create accessible and inclusive pathways into the future of work (SDG 8), supporting efforts to tackle poverty (SDG 1) and to reduce inequalities (SDG 10), and reducing the gender gap (SDG 5). We are already supporting Meta to replicate this model across Africa and the Middle East for French and Arabic speakers, broadening the reach of the Meta Spark curriculum.

This is an excellent exercise in future proofing these economies so that they will be prepared to engage with the rapidly evolving metaverse and other opportunities to come. Knowing that momentum is already growing behind the metaverse effort in this region, I would encourage other organisations to step forward and embrace this growing movement, building on what’s already been achieved and taking advantage of the existing infrastructure.

We are working to lay the foundations for the region to be well positioned to take advantage of the opportunity the metaverse represents and the force for good it can be. At Pearl Consulting we see this opportunity as a right. 

Undeniably, Latin America and the Caribbean are packed full of talented creators and developers. These brilliant group has been producing outstanding work, while overcoming multiple barriers such as access to equipment and limited Internet connectivity. And it is key that we help many more to obtain the skills to participate in the foundational work. The more voices that are heard now, the better and more diverse version of the metaverse we can build together.

At Pearl Consulting, we are at the start of our metaverse journey and we know that there is much more to learn. We will continue working with organisations that are keen to leverage the metaverse opportunity for social impact and who, like us, believe that this opportunity should be a right and not a privilege, and that no one should be left behind.

Infinite thanks to our brilliant clients PedroLeticiaHectorFrancisco (Paco), ArantxaMohammadCarolinaRicardoJuan and many more for the opportunity to create value together.

Stay tuned for the final article from Pearl Consulting and how our work on the metaverse has been implemented in Indonesia.

To learn more about driving social impact programmes, visit www.pearlconsult.com.