Let’s start the new year by profiling one of the most innovative, exciting and successful social impact business models of the last few years. Sproxil, a Massachusetts-based company started in 2009 with operations in five countries; Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, India and the US is revolutionizing the pharmaceuticals market and fighting back dangerous counterfeit drugs which kill approximately 700K people in developing countries a year. Sproxil is doing this through the empowerment of consumers to know what they are buying using their mobile phones. It is a novel idea, and it is working. Sproxil is growing quickly and gaining lots of recognition along the way including being named a White House Champion of Change and Fast Company most innovative healthcare company in 2013.
In memory of those who lost their lives in the terrible and unnecessary violent attacks at the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi, today I thought it would be appropriate to share some good news from Kenya about a business working to transform the sanitation business model in Nairobi slums. Sanergy a company founded by a group of MIT MBA alums has created a sustainable business model to turn “poop into profit” literally turning human waste into biogas and fertilizer and selling it for a profit. The company has earned its share of accolades and press coverage including being profiled in the FT special edition on urban ingenuity and in the most reputable science magazine in the US; the Scientific American. Read on to learn more. Continue reading
Have you ever wondered who does those annoyingly repetitive tasks of data validation, number checking and content moderation? I may have found the answer. This week I’d like to profile a technology company which has come up with an innovative “win-win” solution to connect some of the world’s biggest and most sophisticated tech companies with the jobless poor in developing countries. The company Samasource which means “equal” in Sanskrit does this through a concept called microwork or the division of big tasks into smaller ones which can be performed by unskilled labor online. It is a brilliant idea that proves people from villages and urban slums can be reliable parts of the global knowledge economy supply chain. It is so good that it has as the Financial Times described really taken off and thrust the company and its creator into the limelight being labeled Wired magazine as one of the 50 people who can change the world and by the Wall Street Journal as one of businesses rising stars.
This week I would like to profile a non-profit model that deserves notice not only because it was started by a former classmate and friend of mine but also because it is an inspiring new model for development aid that may well be a new benchmark by which all poverty-alleviation interventions and philanthropy will be measured. GiveDirectly a recent winner of a Google Global Impact Award is a non-profit devoted to providing unconditional cash transfers (i.e. cash with no strings attached) directly to the impoverished in Kenya. You may be asking what is the difference between this and just giving money away? Not much, except that with technology from M-Pesa and rigorous randomized impact evaluations they can guarantee that money is being received by intended beneficiaries and is having an impact on those who need it most. It is a simple tech-enabled and data-driven model that has caught the world’s attention and has recently been featured by the likes of Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic Magazine and NPR. Read on to find out more.