This summer I was invited to speak at the TED Global conference in Edinburgh, Scotland on Open Development. As you might know, TED features "Ideas Worth Spreading" and this year's global conference focused on "Radical Openness." This was an opportunity to highlight how the traditional development paradigm is opening up in dramatic ways that allows us to achieve stronger development results.
Today, many of us the world over are working to open up aid, increase transparency, empower citizens, and connect country practitioners to innovative solutions globally -- all of which moves us towards our goal of eradicating poverty. As per TED practice, this is interwoven with the evolution of my own thinking and experience as a development practitioner, since I was a student in India. I want to invite you to share your own innovations in Open Development.
This past summer, I joined my colleagues on a visit to the Global Innovation Summit and study tour in Silicon Valley—which is undoubtedly the world’s capital of innovation and entrepreneurship. Also joining us were representatives from Lebanon and Vietnam, who were clearly interested in enabling inclusive innovation in their respective countries.
The Global Innovation Summit brought together more than 500 innovation practitioners—including entrepreneurs, financiers, think tanks, NGOs engaged in inclusive innovation, and government officials from emerging markets. While we were there, we got an inside look at business accelerators, financiers, higher education institutions, and NGOs engaged in inclusive innovation. It was an important learning opportunity for us, considering the importance of innovation to the development agenda and the World Bank’s role in fostering innovation in our client countries.
One of the year’s largest conferences focusing on international development, European Development Days (EDDs) will be convened by the European Commission this week in Brussels, bringing together about 6,000 development professionals to discuss the theme, “Supporting inclusive and sustainable growth for human development.” A large contingent from the World Bank Group will take part in the array of EDDs panels and seminars – many of them to be livestreamed – on such topics as the global food crisis, environmental sustainability and resilience, women’s entrepreneurship and inclusive urbanization.
Palo Alto and Bangalore may soon have to make room for Nairobi at the top of the tech startup world. Kenya, the setting for such success stories as M-PESA, is making a name for itself as the center of the “Silicon Savannah”. This growth is supported by incubators, investment and policy – an ecosystem of actors committed to capturing opportunities in a promising field.
Today, the Climate Innovation Center (CIC), the first of its kind in the world, opens its doors to Kenyan startups hoping to also make waves in climate technology sectors. infoDev’s feasibility studies estimate that such companies can create up to 4,600 direct and indirect jobs over 5 years and over 24,000 within 10 years, but they require substantial support to realize this potential. To this end, the World Bank’s infoDev, in partnership with the governments of Denmark and the UK, engaged with Kenyan entrepreneurs, policymakers and financiers to determine what climate technology ventures need in order to flourish as their counterparts in other industries have done. In short, they seem to be: financing, business advisory services , networks and policies that support innovative entrepreneurship.
In May 2012, Alexander Shakaryan’s MicroForester, which is an online platform to stimulate reforestation in designated parts of the world, received the runner-up prize of infoDev and Nokia’s m2Work Challenge. The m2Work competition was a global call for innovators to design jobs that anyone could do from a mobile phone. Three months later, the Armenian developer assesses next steps for his fledgling company.
As an entrepreneur, winning a competition is only the beginning of the tougher part of the journey, which is creating a real company from an idea. You can win a competition with just an idea, but winning investors and customers depends on lots of other things like money, connections, and fame. The m2Work competition was good for local fame, and the m2Work Hackathon will help as well, but more importantly the events show us who the entrepreneurs are and how to help us on our own tough journey.
A few months ago I received an email from the Enterprise Incubator Foundation (EIF) about the m2Work contest. Inspired by the idea of microwork and driven by my love for nature, I had an idea for an app to allow people in different corners of the world to use their phones to earn money by planting trees. That was MicroForester.
Since the competition we have put together a great team of developers. We have developed an application for mobile platform iOS. The first trees have already been planted with MicroForester in Yerevan, Armenia. We have a sponsorship agreement with a local leading food industry company, and we also have mining companies interested in financing the project. We have a signed Letter of Commitment with the American Institutes for Research for a future USAID-funded reforestation project in Cambodia.
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Building a Toilet Fair - Day 1
“Usually, Sunday would see the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Seattle campus empty save for a duck or two, and maybe a few zealous weekend workers. However, this last week was another story entirely. The campus was buzzing as exhibitors from around the world started to set up toilet prototypes for the upcoming Reinvent the Toilet Fair.
The Reinvent the Toilet Fair held August 14-15, 2012 at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Wash. showcases innovations from around the world that are creating a new vision for the next generation of sanitation. The fair aims to inspire collaboration around a shared mission of delivering a reinvented toilet for the 2.5 billion people worldwide who don’t have access to safe and affordable sanitation.
Here's a look behind the scenes during day 1 of transforming our campus into a toilet fair.” READ MORE
Too many of the people reading this blog will have experienced the familiar trajectory of a development project: prove the need, find the funding, define your outputs, deliver against your targets and either find more funding to carry on, or regretfully exit.
There is a fundamental mismatch between what I take to be the objective of development projects (sustainable, transformational change at scale) and a funding environment and model of project design based on a time bound, linear, output driven delivery model. So what lessons are there from elsewhere to help us move beyond this hamster wheel?
Bill Clinton observed that “there is no shortage of good ideas …the real problem is how to scale them”. There also far more people in the world interested in improving the lives of their communities than there are budding social entrepreneurs. Social franchising – taking a successful idea working in one place, distilling its essence and helping someone else in another place to create their own version of it – is one way of trying to break this cycle.
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
International Center for Journalists
Digital Map to Track Corruption Launches in Colombia
“A new digital mapping tool to track and monitor corruption in Colombia on a national scale, launched July 24th a result of our partnership with the Consejo de Redacción, a country-wide organization of investigative journalists.
The "Monitor de Corrupción" (or "Corruption Monitor") will provide journalists and citizens a platform to submit reports that will expose and map incidents of corruption.
It’s a project I anticipate will contribute to making Colombia a more transparent and stronger society. The idea for this grew out of another similar project by Knight Fellow Jorge Luis Sierra.” READ MORE
Forget about flying cars and wristwatch phones—innovators today are more likely to be tackling solar lamps, cleaner cookstoves, energy-efficient housing and water filters. Such products promise the tantalizing combination of steady jobs, better lifestyles, and a cleaner planet…but for whom, exactly?
The big challenge is making sure that those opportunities reach the more than a billion people living in poverty. Recently infoDev teamed up with the Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship global practice, the World Bank Country Office in Pretoria, and the Gauteng government’s The Innovation Hub to run four workshops on low-income communities’ needs, attitudes and perceptions about climate technology products.
I recently visited Israel to learn about various programs and tools used to support Israel’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. It is well known that innovation and entrepreneurship are two pillars of the Israeli economy and a source of global leadership.
The educational visit was arranged byMATIMOP, the government agency of the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) under the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. It included visits to incubators, technology transfer offices, research institutes, universities and the OCS. We had the opportunity to interact with both directors and beneficiaries of various support programs, and to learn about day-to-day operations, programs, management, and the role programs played in beneficiaries’ lives and businesses.
This weekend I drove by a Popularise sign and wondered what it meant. I learned later that a local commercial real-estate investor, Dan Miller of WestMill Capital, has been using Popularise to encourage communities to share their ideas about possible development ideas. This is a great way for “grassroots” brainstorming on commercial development.
In an article in The Washington Post about this phenomenon, Dan Miller states, “Most people…don’t get a say in how their neighborhoods take shape. Popularise is one solution to … a "broken community engagement" process…In [Advisory Neighborhood Commission] meetings, you have a vocal minority that dominates…You can have a much broader discussion with thousands of people and have it be dynamic. Popularise is the 21st-century version of a community meeting.”
One could feel the ‘buzz’ at the Open Innovation Africa Summit² in Nairobi. Enthusiasm was teeming, lots of energy displayed in animated discussions and business cards eagerly switched hands at the event, organized by the World Bank’s infoDev and Nokia, which brought together more than 150 inspirational people from across the continent. Sleepy summits come and go, but these three days of sharing, debating and mapping out action plans across four discussion streams all dealing with entrepreneurship gave everyone something tangible to go home with; tools and networks that can create and grow better companies, foster better business environments, and link entrepreneurs to capital.
As Albania prepares to celebrate 100 years of independence in 2012 with an eye towards becoming a member of the European Union; it must make crucial improvements in a sensitive area: good governance.
For better governance, citizens need more access to information; budgets and local taxes need to be transparent. Women and youth need equal opportunities in business, and agriculture policies need to be developed openly.
To address these, the government is drafting and implementing new policies for central and local government, with support from the World Bank Project for Good Governance in Albania. The World Bank is further supporting the government's agenda through support for civil society projects using the Development Marketplace competition platform to solicit and select high impact projects for implementation. The British Council is overseeing their implementation.