TOR180: The Global Knowledge Initiative with Sara Farley
44:35You 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.
TOR179: KopaGas with Dr. Sebastian Rodriguez-Sanchez
38:33I 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.
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TOR178 - Ladies Get Paid and Red Bull Amaphiko with Claire Wasserman
38:58Even 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.
TOR177 - The mSTAR project with Troy Etulain of FHI360
39:20If 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.
TOR176 - The International Rescue Committee with Jodi Nelson
42:17The 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?
TOR175: The SPONGE Project with Sanjay Prasad of IVL
27:40Last 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.
TOR174 - The Bhungroo Innovation for Agriculture with Trupi Jain of Naireeta Services
28:34One 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.
TOR173 - Patents for Humanity with Edward Elliot
25:26For 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.
TOR172 - A New Model For Higher Education with Eric Glustrom of Watson
51:40Long 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.
TOR171 - The Office Of Transition Initiatives with Stephen Lennon
39:22For 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.