Is the charity sector a place for true disruption and can embracing failure help tackle some of the world’s most pressing issues? What is the difference between organisations which learn from failure and those which don’t? Permission to fail shines a light on setting crazy ambitions, failing and rising from the ashes, to then succeeding. It tells the story of SolarAid, an organisation which succeeded, then failed, to succeeding again by bringing 12 million people clean, safe renewable light. About SolarAid SolarAid is an international charity founded in 2006 to combat poverty and climate change. Through its social enterprise, SunnyMoney, it provides access to solar lights in Malawi and Zambia to help catalyse solar markets with renewable light. Visit: solar-aid.org
Domino effects and rural repairs
16:49What can failure, learning and success look like when designing a new programme? Do we, as development organisations recognise the domino effects that our well meaning interventions can have on rural communities and the environment? And when recognising these, how can we turn them into opportunities? This is a case study of that.In this episode host Kirsty Adams, together with Fred Mwale (Programmes Manager, SolarAid Zambia) and Courtney Paisley (consultant with SolarAid) explore the topic of electronic waste, repair and how the small electronics that make up solar lights can be turned into opportunities for circular economy and give second life to life changing solar lights.Electronic waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world. Recognising that they had distributed over 2 million solar lights across rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa, SolarAid started asking themselves what happens to their solar lights once they stop working. This eventually led them to launch their solar light repair pilot in Zambia, which has seen carrying out research in rural areas, launching a repair app, and training and upskilling local Repair Technicians across the country. It has given second life to solar lights across rural areas, while also limiting electronic waste. But the journey there was not straightforward - this episode, is the tale of that.Guests’ BiosFred Mwale has been SolarAid Zambia’s Programmes Manager since 2020. He has more than 7 years of experience in rural development, specializing in renewable energy and agriculture. Fred has used that experience to help in the provision of alternative livelihoods, access to energy, and food systems, and to cushion the impact of climate change through various innovative models. His experience in the private sector has seen him work with donors from GIZ (German government), FCDO (UK government), and USAID. Fred has a Bachelor of Education in Environmental Education from the University of Zambia.Courtney Paisley has nearly two decades of experience in the development field, honing her expertise across a range of sectors from agriculture, natural resource management, renewable energy access, the circular economy, youth employment and conservation. During her extensive career, Courtney spent 8 years in a global role as the director of a youth network in agriculture and rural development at the UN Food and Agriculture. Nevertheless, the majority of her career has been focused on the African continent, in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia, where she currently works with the Frankfurt Zoological Society.Courtney thrives in environments that prioritise holistic and multi-disciplinary solutions to addressing environmental challenges and sustainable rural development - a field she has dedicated her career to. She upholds sustainability principles, both professionally and personally, demonstrating her commitment to making a lasting positive impact on the world.________________________Find out more about SolarAid here.Learn how you can support SolarAid here.________________________Find out more about SolarAid here.Learn how you can support SolarAid here.LinkedInTwitter<a href="https://www.instagram.com/solaraid/" rel="noopener...
Changing the narrative in storytelling
23:41Images and stories are fundamental for charities to spread awareness about the problem they are trying to solve, to harness support and show impact of the funds they are receiving. These images and stories are being used for campaigning, fundraising and advocacy. But with charities operating in complex environments, and often with people in vulnerable situations, there is debate around the portrayal and representation of poverty and images of suffering. How can we tell better and more authentic stories and who ultimately owns the story? What are the risks with charity storytelling and can it do more harm than good? And most importantly, how can we learn from past mistakes?In this episode host Kirst Adams, together with Kondwani Jere (Documentary photographer and Storyteller), Jess Crombie, (Researcher and scholar at UAL) and Sofia Ollvid (Communications Director at SolarAid) explore the topic of storytelling and content for the non-profit sector, looking at the people and the processes who hold the power to form perceptions, and how this can be done better.Guests’ BiosKondwani Jere is a documentary photographer and storyteller hailing from the vibrant landscapes of Malawi. With a profound commitment to ethical storytelling, he preserves the dignity and humanity of his subjects, amplifying their authentic voices in his visual narratives. Driven by the motto "Malawi to the World"; Kondwani challenges prevailing narratives and stereotypes, bringing diverse perspectives to the forefront. Through his lens, he strives to make the voices of the unseen and unheard resonate with truth, compassion, and dignity. His work serves as an enchanting exploration of humanity, empathy, and profound reflection.Jess Crombie is a researcher and scholar working as a Senior Lecturer at UAL, and as a consultant for some of the leading organisations in the humanitarian sector. In both contexts Jess utilises almost two decades as a senior leader in the charity sector to explore the ethical complexities in documentary storytelling. Her research focus investigates the potential for power shifts in both story gathering and telling by seeking out the opinions and ideas of those with lived experience and co-creating story gathering actions and outcomes, a process that she has coined ‘contributor centred storytelling practice’.Sofia Ollvid is Sofia Ollvid is the Communications Director at SolarAid. She has over a decade's of experience working with content and communications within the development and humanitarian sector across the globe. Having worked with creative processes both behind the camera, as a storyteller as well as a producer, she has developed a particular interest in power dynamics and perceptions in storytelling and visual communications. ________________________Find out more about SolarAid here.Learn how you can support SolarAid here.________________________Find out more about SolarAid here.Learn how you can support SolarAid here.LinkedInTwitterInstagramFacebook
Funding with permission to fail
20:55Is restrictive funding holding back innovation for sustainable development? What is high risk philantropy? And can funding with permission to fail work hand-in-hand with accountability?In the third episode of Permission to Fail, host Kirsty Adams together with Dr. Ewan Kirk (technology entrepreneur and philantropist), John Keane (SolarAid CEO) and Richard Turner (SolarAid Director of Fundraising), explore what funding with permission to fail means, and if daring to fund high risk projects can lead to greater innovation.Guests’ BiosDr. Ewan Kirk is a technology entrepreneur and philanthropist. He has been involved in a number of ventures to commercialise, apply, and support science, technology, and mathematics research. He holds a PhD in General Relativity, a BSc. in Natural Philosophy and Astronomy and completed Part III of the Mathematical Tripos at Cambridge. Between 1992 and 2005, he was a partner at Goldman Sachs, responsible for leading their 120-strong quantitative technology group. Ewan Kirk is best known for founding Cantab Capital Partners, a science-driven quantitative investment management firm that uses data analysis to research and implement systematic investment strategies.Alongside his wife, Dr. Patricia Turner, Kirk founded the Turner Kirk Trust, which supports STEM, early childhood development, and biodiversity and conservation causes. Since its establishment in 2007, the Trust has disbursed over £7 million to charitable causes across the UK and the developing world.John Keane pioneered solar projects in Africa, focusing on developing energy solutions for low income households after living in rural Tanzania as a volunteer in 2000. Since helping SolarAid set up in 2006 he has held many positions in the organisations and has been SolarAid CEO since 2017. John wrote the sector defining book about the growing Pico-Solar sector in 2012 and has played an instrumental role in helping develop the solar sector across Africa. He is currently based in Zambia. Richard Turner worked as Chief Fundraiser at SolarAid from 2011 to 2016, and returned as Director of Fundraising in 2021. With over 30 years of experience as a Fundraiser at Oxfam, Farm-Africa, FFI and ActionAid UK he is a well known name in the UK Fundraising sector. Richard has been delivering fundraising training for charities around the world, inspiring organisations to turn supporters into advocates by offering a great experience, by learning from failure, and by telling a great story.________________________Find out more about SolarAid here.Learn how you can support SolarAid here.________________________Find out more about SolarAid here.Learn how you can support SolarAid here.LinkedInTwitterInstagramFacebook
What does it mean to truly listen?
32:07In the second episode of Permission to Fail, host Kirsty Adams together with Tokozile Ngwenya (Monitoring and Evaluation specialist in Zambia) and Kat Harrison (Director at 60dB) explore what is means for non-profit organisations to really listen to the people and communities they work with on the ground as they innovate to drive change.What are some common preconceptions? How do we open up for conversations, and how can we work better alongside communities?Guests’ BiosTokozile N. Ngwenya is a Monitoring and Evaluation consultant in Zambia who has over a decade of demonstrated experience in research, surveys, logical framework, interviews and focus groups in various sectors, such as Public Health, WASH, Private Sector Development, Agriculture and Renewable Energy. Tokozile has co-authored several publications in the leading journals such as Malaria Journal and Next Billion, and has been featured on PBS NEWSHOUR.Kat Harrison is a Director at 60 Decibels and leads the company’s energy work. She has been working on understanding, measuring, and sharing insights on the impact of energy access for end-users for 10 years, having specialised in impact measurement, M&E, and insights for international development for 15+ years. Kat developed the sector’s first impact benchmark and was previously Associate Director of Impact at Acumen and Director of Research & Impact at SolarAid where she developed and managed the award-winning research and impact work there. Kat chaired the GOGLA Impact Working Group from 2013-17, leading the development of the standardised Impact Metrics for energy access. ________________________Find out more about SolarAid here.Learn how you can support SolarAid here.
Setting a Big Hairy Audacious Goal
28:02In the first episode of six, host Kirsty Adams, together with guests from SolarAid, John Keane (CEO), Richard Turner (Director of Fundraising) and Brave Mhonie, (General Manager in Malawi), explores setting big ambitions and daring to fail.John, Richard and Brave make some interesting points on:The importance of setting ‘Big, Hairy, Audacious, Goals’ in the charity sectorHow the communities are at the heart of its last mile distributionIts business based approach, and why its social enterprise SunnyMoney became the largest distributor of solar lights in Africa.________________________Find out more about SolarAid here.Learn how you can support SolarAid here.LinkedInTwitterInstagramFacebook
Permission To Fail
1:12Is the charity sector a place for true disruption and can embracing failure help tackle some of the world’s most pressing issues? What is the difference between organisations which learn from failure and those which don’t?Permission to fail shines a light on setting crazy ambitions, failing and rising from the ashes, to then succeeding. It tells the story of SolarAid, an organisation which succeeded, then failed, to succeeding again by bringing 12 million people clean, safe renewable light.About SolarAidSolarAid is an international charity founded in 2006 to combat poverty and climate change. Through its social enterprise, SunnyMoney, it provides access to solar lights in Malawi and Zambia to help catalyse solar markets with renewable light.Visit: solar-aid.org