45 minutes | Jan 23, 2018
TOR180: The Global Knowledge Initiative with Sara Farley
You cannot live in today's world without being witness to the power of networks. Networks are all around us and constantly influence us in ways both conscious and subconscious. Immediate family and close friends, global-reaching social networks, professional networks, passion networks... the list of all the networks you're connected to gos on and on and overlaps and intersects in ways that solve problems, create opportunities and catch us in moments of incredible serendipity. So, as you might guess, networks are a powerful tool for the social sector. My guest for the 180th Terms of Reference Podcast, is exceedingly passionate about networks. Sara Farley is the Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of the Global Knowledge Initiative, an organization that builds purpose-driven networks to deliver innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. You're going to love this conversation about how networks can be leveraged to locate resources, enable collaboration, connect participants and, ultimately, find solutions to problems.
39 minutes | Jan 16, 2018
TOR179: KopaGas with Dr. Sebastian Rodriguez-Sanchez
I take for granted that I can walk away from my microphone right now, head over to my kitchen and turn on my stove to boil water, bake a cake or cook myself a meal. And, I don't even think about the fact that I have hot water available on demand at any time of the day. I just turn on the tap and its there. This is not the case for millions and millions of people throughout the world. In fact, there is a huge portion of the human population that still relies on burning wood, or charcoal, for cooking and cleaning. This dependence is a massive time suck away from other productive tasks and, as we've heard on other episodes, a considerable health risk. My guest for the 179th Terms of Reference Podcast has a better idea that he hopes will end the use of charcoal. Dr. Sebastian Rodriguez-Sanchez is the CEO and Co-Founder of KopaGas, a technology solutions provider of Advanced Metering Infrastructure for energy utilities. KopaGas has developed and deployed the first commercial pay-as-you-cook platform for propane. I'm positive you'll love this episode where Sebastian and I discuss why propane is a powerful replacement for charcoal, how he company sell and manages their smart meter system, what it takes for a family to make the change to gas and much more.
39 minutes | Jan 9, 2018
TOR178 - Ladies Get Paid and Red Bull Amaphiko with Claire Wasserman
Even though we work on hundreds of different issues across a similarly diverse group of settings, I think the argument could be made that the work of the social sector is ultimately focused on creating a world where all humans have equal opportunity to flourish. This is at the base of what we’re doing with programing that seeks to improve financial systems, agricultural practices, environmental protections, health systems and education. And, one of the things we know, unequivocally, is that women have received the short end of the stick, almost no matter how you measure it. Here’s the thing: marginalization of women doesn’t just happen in traditional development settings. It’s alive and well in the US, Europe… and, well, every other leading economy on the planet. This is why I’m especially pleased to have Claire Wasserman as my guest for the 178th Terms of Reference Podcast. Claire is the founder of Ladies Get Paid - an organization focused, currently, on empowering women in the workplace. As you’ll hear in the show, I found Claire when seeking to learn more about Red Bull Amaphiko, where she is the Deputy US editor. Red Bull Amaphiko is a is a collaborative platform for social entrepreneurs that is sponsored by the energy drink company of the same name. But our conversation quickly turns to how Ladies Get Paid was founded and has quickly expanded into a phenomenon of 10,000 women... and growing. You're going to love this show where we talk about women rising up to get what they deserve, and how one woman has made the leap to be a leader in that movement.
39 minutes | Dec 12, 2017
TOR177 - The mSTAR project with Troy Etulain of FHI360
If you're an ideas person, no matter what your field or expertise, there is nothing I can think of that is more attractive than a clear, tangible problem in need of a solution. As much as we hate to admit it in the social sector, these types of problems are not terribly common and they are almost never the lowest hanging fruit in a given situation. But in those instances where clear problems in need of solutions are identified, the next most attractive thing to an innovator is funding to play with. I mean that in the most generous way of course, given that, at the end of the day, we don't just want to play, we want to find answers. As I think you'll agree after listening to today's 177th episode of the Terms of Reference Podcast, my guest, Troy Etulain, has a job that seems quite a bit more play than work. He's the project director of FHI360s Mobile Solutions Technical Assistance and Research project, or mSTAR for short, and he's also the head of FHI's digital development unit. While again, Troy doesn't just have funding to play with, he does oversee a mechanism that is built to identify clear problems and then take action to find potential solutions. We talk about wifi that covers 50 kilometers, financial technologies that are increasing inclusion, the new business models that are driving rural mobile network development, mapping the unconnected areas of the world... and much more.
42 minutes | Dec 5, 2017
TOR176 - The International Rescue Committee with Jodi Nelson
The International Rescue Committee is a well known force in humanitarian aid. As the organization has continued to evolve since 1933, they have literally written the book, multiple times, on how to best serve those in need. My guest for today's 176th Terms of Reference Podcast is Jodi Nelson who is IRC's Senior Vice President, Policy and Practice. Jodi has overall strategic and operational responsibility for IRC program technical units – including Research and Evaluation and Global Advocacy and Strategic Communications. And, for long time listeners, you already know all this as she was also a guest way back in 2014 on show number 33. What I love about this conversation is its focus on how IRC is innovating through three specific lenses: First how do we get get enough of the right aid to the right people, second, how do we shift from planning the help the social sector delivers in terms of activities, to one of outcomes and finally, how do we ensure programming is designed based on the best available evidence rather than inertia and antidote?
28 minutes | Nov 21, 2017
TOR175: The SPONGE Project with Sanjay Prasad of IVL
Last week, we dove into an especially practical example of innovating to improve the plight of the agriculturalist. Or, more specifically, those who benefit from their yields. I'm happy that this week we have another agricultural innovation around water - but one that works in a very different way, solving a very different problem. My guest for the 175th Terms of Reference Podcast is Sanjay Prasad. He's working in an area where there is abundant, but very intermittent water supplies. His innovation, delivered under the project name SPONGE, captures water from dew and fog and transfers it to the soil where it can keep plants thriving. I hope you'll enjoy this episode where we talk about life in the Himalayas, how an exceedingly simple technology is changing agricultural practices and how his organization is ensuring women and marginalized groups are core beneficiaries of the programme.
29 minutes | Nov 14, 2017
TOR174 - The Bhungroo Innovation for Agriculture with Trupi Jain of Naireeta Services
One of the things I love most about hosting this podcast is the sheer range of ideas, aspirations and impact I've been lucky enough to listen to over the past three years. In some cases we've talked about a digital future that we can only just now begin to see coming into shape and in others, extremely practical how-did-we-solve-this-problem-today with nuts, bolts and duct tape... and of course everything in-between. Today's show is one of those nuts and bolts conversation. For the 174th Terms of Reference Podcast I speak with Trupti Jain of Naireeta Services about BHUNGROO an unique application of Aquifer Storage and Recovery process for storm water management by enabling farmers to convert challenges like flood/water logging in monsoon and drought in summer into lifelong food security, rural livelihood and climate change mitigation opportunities. I think you're going to enjoy this frank conversation about a service that has literally transformed the potential of the agricultural sector in india, Ghana and elsewhere, and, more importantly, the lives of thousands of farmers. We also discuss Trupi's journey as a woman in our sector and how that has helped to shape who she has become.
25 minutes | Nov 8, 2017
TOR173 - Patents for Humanity with Edward Elliot
For most of us seeking to innovate in the social sector, solving existing problems in new ways is accomplished by bringing technologies or processes from other sectors to bear on the problems faced by the vulnerable. However, innovators are sometimes also true inventors - devising first of their kind solutions for today's most pressing problems. In these cases, it is not uncommon for the inventor to seek protection for the unique intellectual property contained in their ideas. After all, what benefits those in need may also turn out to be something that is also extremely useful for those with greater levels of disposable income. Patents are one type of protection that are recognized around the world and, assuming you have the financial and legal resources, enforceable. Enter the US Patent and Trademark Office. Since 2012, the USPTO has given awards to businesses, universities, and non-profits using patented technology to aid the less fortunate. My guest for the 173rd Terms of Reference Podcast is Edward Elliot who manages the Patents for Humanity program. For those inventors out there, you're going to find this conversation extremely useful and potentially rewarding. For the rest of us Aidpreneurs, our conversation is a fun and surprising discussion about past awardees and the massive impact they've had on global issues.
52 minutes | Oct 31, 2017
TOR172 - A New Model For Higher Education with Eric Glustrom of Watson
Long ago, in the days of yore, when I was completing high school and looking to what was next, college was the path of least resistance. Unfortunately, as it turned out, following that path put me on a trajectory that would take 3 colleges, many majors and an embarrassing amount of tuition to finally spit me out the other side with a degree. And, here's the kicker, like so many others, when I was newly minted, I still didn't really have a clue about how to engage with the problems I wanted to help solve. That took another 5 years to figure out... and is a story for another time. So, long story short, whenever I hear about a new, innovative approach to higher education - especially one that engages students, rather than locking them into a system - I want to know more. My guest for the 172nd Terms of Reference Podcast, Eric Glustrom, is the CEO and President of Watson. Watson is a new university model tailored for next generation innovators, leaders, and social entrepreneurs. Eric tells us Watson protects the courage of the next generation so they can pioneer their education, trail blaze lives as innovators, and contribute to solving the toughest challenges facing the world. I'm hoping you'll be as inspired as I was recording this interview with Eric and left with the hope that all of our institutions of higher education can become more learner driven.
39 minutes | Oct 24, 2017
TOR171 - The Office Of Transition Initiatives with Stephen Lennon
For many years now - and its just crazy that I can say that about this podcast at this stage - I’ve been saying the social sector is filled with lots of very smart, well educated people who truly want to lift up others in pursuit of greater human flourishing. Almost always, this is a fantastic thing, I mean, having intelligent, thoughtful people on your team is something we all wish for. But, at the same time, something I’ve also noticed over my career is that when we create teams with many highly intelligent, ambitious, motivated people… those teams often miss the forest for the trees. Reports that could be 2 or 3 pages end up being 100 page tomes, people dive deep into their passions or niches and often have trouble seeing how their initiatives are interconnected with others and, as has been so often pointed out on just this show alone, we frequently forget to just listen to the very people and communities we’re trying to serve. One area where this rings true is in the area of planning. We plan so we can measure. We plan so we can articulate the theory behind the change we expect to see. We plan because of budget cycles and resource allocations. We plan so much that sometimes - and no, I’m not kidding here - we forget to “do”. This partially why phrases often associated with places like silicon valley - things like innovation, iteration and fail fast - have become such buzzwords around the social sector. So, what if it was your job to lead a US Government Agency that had to operate without a plan and literally embrace the unknown to achieve foreign policy objectives? For most of the people I know in our sector, this would be highly undesirable. Now, this isn’t a value statement, this is just common sense - most of us look for stability, predictability and minimal risk in what is otherwise a unique career choice. But for people like Stephen Lennon, my guest for the 171st Terms of Reference Podcast, delivering positive outcomes in turbulent situations is his sweet spot. Stephen is the Director of the Office of Transition Initiatives for the US Government. OTI helps local partners advance peace and democracy by providing fast, flexible, short-term assistance targeted at key political transition and stabilization needs. If your like me - or really any shade of an Aidpreneur - you’re going to love this conversation about how OTI operates, how they innovate on the fly in situations across the globe and why sometimes not having a plan is the best plan of all.
29 minutes | Oct 23, 2017
TOR170 - Adding Value To Technology With Indigenous Knowledge with Muthoni Masinde
When you think of innovation, you think about the future, right? At least, that's what I think about. My mind is usually filled with flying cars, holographic displays and a moneyless world. But, I know, that's just the super geek talking. Innovation is really about solving an old problem in a different way. But the reason I bring up the future is that, typically, when I speak to those interested in innovation they are focused on how we use new - sometimes yet-to-be-invented - technologies, processes and options to solve the issues at hand. Today's guest for the 170th episode of the Terms of Reference Podcast, Muthoni Masinde, is also a future thinker. But she also remembers and knows how to honor the past. Her invention that we discuss on this episode - an innovation to detect drought - combines the latest in sensor and mobile technologies, with the indigenous knowledge of local farmers. I'm sure you're going to love this episode where we talk about her invention (called ITIKI), but also about her path from Kenya to become an inventor and Head at the Department of Information Technology at the Central University of Technology in South Africa.
33 minutes | Oct 3, 2017
TOR168: The World Food Programme Innovation Accelerator with Bernhard Kowatsch
When I think of innovating for food, well, I have to admit I’m usually focused on how my family can make dinner something special. Finding a way out of the rut of eating the same food as my children is a pain. But I know, that you know, we’re not here to talk about how I can become an Iron Chef. And indeed, in today’s 168th Terms of Reference Podcast episode, we are here to explore how innovation can be applied to making sure people don’t go hungry. My guest for today’s show is Bernhard Kowatsch. He’s the Head of the Innovation Accelerator at the World Food Programme. The accelerator was launched in 2016 to identify, support and scale high potential solutions to hunger worldwide.
34 minutes | Sep 26, 2017
TOR167: A Strategy For Digital Financial Inclusion with Badal Malick of Catalyst
I know that I take for granted that I am able to perform financial transactions, around the world via a multitude of channels, essentially any time I want. In fact, only because of my lifestyle, my biggest headache comes from a banking system in the US that often flags my non-US transactions as suspect for fraud. Today's episode is about how we can take a look at individuals and businesses on the other side of that coin (yes, another wonderful pun). I'm referring to the vast majority of people who operate exclusively with cash, are unbanked and have little of any real access to credit. These individuals are not included in the efficiencies and benefits of the digital economy, and the gap only gets more difficult to bridge as time presses on. My guest for today's 167th Terms of Reference Podcast is Badal Malick. Nadal is the CEO of Catalyst, an organization focused on helping India's small businesses and low income consumers unlock the power of digital payments to gain access to broader financial services and create opportunities vital to their future prosperity. This is a fantastic discussion about financial inclusion where we cover both the size and chicken-and-egg nature of the problem, the 4 part solution Catalyst is implementing, Why financial inclusion is a potential game changer for so many and much more.
43 minutes | Sep 12, 2017
TOR166: Venture Funding For Social Actors With Alix Zwane Of The Global Innovation Fund
Most social sector work, if not all of it at this stage, is driven by some type of results framework that is focused on outcomes. Unsurprisingly, when people (or a government or foundation) give you their money to do some good in the world - they want to know that it actually happens… or, as often happens, at least you gave it your best shot. Underpinning these frameworks are theories of change. In this paradigm, gaps in markets or social contexts are identified by the social actor and then the design programmes, products and services in an attempt to fill those gaps. Now, for those of you who have been listening to this show for any amount of time, this is standard stuff and, as you know, we’re here to talk about how we break this system. So, on today’s 166th Terms of Reference Podcast, my guest is Alix Zwane. She and I explore an alternative to the theory of change approach - what she and her colleagues call being venture or entrepreneur driven. Alex is the CEO of the Global Innovation Fund, a $200 million fund that takes a venture capital approach to supporting entrepreneurs and the scaling of evidence-based innovation in global health and development. This is an exciting discussion as we discuss the Fund’s current ventures and the criteria for those investments, how the Fund partners with the private sector, how you successfully exit from investments in social problem solvers and much more.
37 minutes | Sep 5, 2017
TOR165 - Investing In Freedom Of The Press with Harlan Mandel of MDIF
Its taken me a while to figure out how to introduce today’s topic. Not because its totally radical - but rather, because my brain is freaking out that its something I have to introduce in the year 2017. So, I’ve decided the best approach is just to dive right in: Today’s topic is, essentially, freedom of the press. Now, while I don’t spend my day to day life in the United States, I’m definitely an American. And something that is just a part of who I am is an understanding that we need freedom of speech and freedom of the press to ensure human flourishing. I think there’s a fairly decent consensus on this around the world. As I’ve watched events unfold over the past year related to US politics, and how it has impacted individuals’ ability to distinguish between fact and fiction and, more importantly, destroyed people’s ability to have even the simplest conversations, I’m left wondering if Mike Judge didn’t have an amazing crystal ball when he made Idiocracy. Now, I personally remain optimistic we’ll all come out of this moment in time better for it. But the fact that it feels like we’ve stumbled backwards into the 1940s in so many ways is heartbreaking. My guest for today’s 165th Terms of Reference Podcast is Harlan Mandel. He’s the CEO of the Media Development Investment Fund of MDIF. Their work focuses on supporting independent media around the world and they do this through a variety of investment vehicles. The work of MDIF has been transformative across the globe. I think today’s conversation is important because we talk about how an organization like MDIF supports freedom of the press, how they have evolved over the past 20 years - especially with the advent of digital everything, how events in the US are reverberating across the world, and much more.
55 minutes | Aug 29, 2017
TOR164 - The Power and Promise of Open Contracting with Gavin Hayman
How much money did your government spend in 2016? The Government of the United States spent over $3.5 trillion dollars. China threw down $2.8 trillion and the UK just over $1 trillion. Worldwide, governments spent a combined total of $22.7 trillion. My point here is that there is a ton of money being spent by governments around the globe to procure products and services. It would be great to know where exactly all of that money goes, right? I mean, in most of the major economies out there, there is an expectation that the public should know what their hard earned taxes are funding. And, there are some big figures out there, usually represented in pie charts, that are relatively easy to access. But what about specifics? Governments spend a great deal of money internally, for things like defense, but - especially in a place like the United States - governments rely on contractors for products and services. Everything from vaccines to uniforms. In order to find out what any individual contractor received for their work takes a massive amount of effort… and then the available information often is less than satisfying. As you can imagine, this is unfortunately the beginning of the corruption game. But equally as important, it is also the beginning of the inefficiency game. Honestly, just thinking about the numbers involved gives me the willies, and how to crack this problem? Forget about it. Luckily for us that’s exactly what my guest for the 164th Terms of Reference Podcast thinks about and works on all day. Gavin Hayman is the Executive Director of the Open Contracting Partnership - an organization that seeks to open up public contracting through disclosure, data and engagement so that the huge sums of money involved are spent honestly, fairly, and effectively. And, as the former Executive Director of Global Witness, Gavin knows a thing or two about how to uncover unsavory practices of government contractors. You’re going to love this episode where Gavin and I talk about the origins of the Open Contracting Partnership, the size of the issues they are trying to tackle and how we all benefit when governments (and contractors) get it right. And, personally, I was surprised by some of Gavin’s examples - their just not from where you’d expect to find massive transparency… and I think you will be as well.
39 minutes | Aug 21, 2017
TOR163: Building Leadership In Advocacy with Jamie Bay Nishi of the Global Health Technologies Coalition
Today’s conversation has two themes that I think are important for our listeners. On one level, you’re going to hear about advocating on behalf of health sector innovators, but on another level you’re going to hear about what it takes to pivot a career and take on an entirely new role, in a new sector after almost a decade of dedicated service in another. My guest for today’s 163rd Terms of Reference Podcast is Jamie Bay Nishi. For the past 9 years, Jamie was at DevEx, starting with member support and ending by leading the production of DevEx World. Only a few months ago, Jamie took over the leadership role at the Global Health Technologies Coalition - an advocacy organization in the health sector. This is a story of serendipity. But as with all stories of serendipity, it has its foundation in a great deal of hard work, experience and personal investment. Today’s conversation is about finding comfort with being vulnerable, how you advocate in an environment that may not be receptive, how to absorb massive amounts of information quickly in order to communicate effectively with policy makers and, perhaps most importantly, what is possible for all of us in the social sector.
48 minutes | Aug 15, 2017
TOR162 - How Creative Tech Agencies Can Accelerate Social Impact with Sam Applebee of Super Global
For as long as I’ve been in the social sector, there has been a consensus that those organizations who depend mostly on grant funding (whether from government or foundations or private donors) need to find better, and more sustainable ways to partner with the private sector, or more specifically, for-profit companies. The main reason behind this drive is the assumption that the for-profit world has resources and capabilities that can help socially focused programming achieve sustainability, inject innovative ideas and provide agility not typically found in the public sector. You’d think after a few decades that this question could be answered - and we’d see a constant mash up of companies and charities. And, to be sure, we do have myriad examples of those partnerships playing out at this very moment. But there is definitely no silver bullet that has swept across the not-for-profit landscape and, I am of the opinion, that there are just some fundamental differences between companies that are solely profit driven, and organizations that are not, which must be negotiated on a case by case basis… or maybe even a person by person basis. Sam Applebee, my guest for the 162nd Terms of Reference Podcast, sees the necessity for this negotiation and understanding between for profit firms and charities as an opportunity. That’s why he founded Super Global, a network of design, tech and data science companies that support and accelerate the impact of social actors. I became aware of Super Global after Sam sent me an article he wrote on why why doing pro bono work might be the worst decision for profit companies can make. Intrigued, I had to learn more and I think this conversation goes straight to the heart of what this podcast is all about - how we’re seeking to break the mold of the social sector. Over the next 45 minutes or so, Sam and I talk about the nuts and bolts of starting an initiative like Super Global, the key points of that negotiation between for profit services and the charities that seek them, and some of the sexy (and not so sexy) project that Super Global has attracted already.
44 minutes | Aug 8, 2017
TOR161: Supporting The Open Data Movement with Pavel Richter of Open Knowledge International
According to the May 6th, 2017 issue of the Economist, data has officially displaced oil as the world’s most valuable resource. If you’re like me, the most surprising part of this declaration is that its taken until now for it to appear. Data drives the business models of most, if not all, of the world’s most valuable companies, governments rely upon data for safety and security issues and data availability is something so many of us take for granted when we’re driving from our homes to an unfamiliar destination. As the world’s most valuable resource, you’d think that data would be locked in safes, or hidden from view or, basically, hoarded whenever possible. And you’d be correct. However, what we also know is that there is an absolutely mind boggling amount of data that is publicly accessible, or “open”, for anyone to access and use. And there is a powerful movement, which continues to gain popularity, that seeks to unlock, set free and make useful as much of the world’s data as possible. My guest for the 161st Terms of Reference Podcast, Pavel Richter, sits at one of the focal points of open data movement. He is is the CEO of Open Knowledge International, a worldwide non-profit network of people passionate about openness, using technology to unlock information, and enabling people to take action on pressing social problems. And, Pavel is no newbie to open data, before joining OKI, Pavel was Executive Director of Wikimedia Deutschland for 5 years, and pioneered the internationally acclaimed Wikidata project which is now the fastest growing project for open structured data. I’m sure you’ll enjoy our conversation, where we discuss topics such as what open data means, the ethics of open data, where open data “lives”, if open data used for “evil” and even how different cultures interpret what “open” means.
49 minutes | Aug 1, 2017
TOR160: Supporting the Economy of Prestige with Kurt Shaw of the Shine A Light Foundation
You’ve heard me lament more than a few times on this podcast about the fact that innovation in the social sector is often times synonymous with technology. We talk a lot about how phones and apps and data are accelerating change and opening up opportunities for those in need. And, of course, being something of a super geek, I admit I love these conversations. But, I’m also aware of this narrow focus, and so, when I get a chance to highlight other forms of innovation, I pounce. The innovator I’m excited to introduce to you on today’s 160th Terms of Reference Podcast hasn’t created a new technology. Rather, his organization has recognized that prestige is its own type of economy for street kids. So much so, that as the opportunity to earn prestige has flourished through their programs, it has literally transformed the lives of tens of thousands of youth across latin America. My guest is Kurt Shaw. He is the Executive Director of the Shine A Light foundation. Shine a Light teaches digital arts - think video, movie making, audio storytelling - to marginalized children all over Latin America. And, as you’ll hear in our discussion, their work has had serious, measurable impact on street kids in many different countries. Perhaps the quality I enjoy the most about this conversation with Kurt is his humility and recognition that he and Shine a Light are facilitators that help to unlock potential, and the kids they work with are the real inspiration. So much so that their movies, art, comics, books and other productions have won several awards - locally and internationally.