The Data-Driven Countdown Clock to End Extreme Poverty

The Data-Driven Countdown Clock to End Extreme Poverty

Did you know 1.1 people escape poverty every second? The World Poverty Clock uses data to countdown toward Global Goal #1, no poverty. 

Episode Summary

In this episode, we talk with Kris Hamel, Chief Operating Officer at World Data Lab. World Data Lab sources high-quality data and then makes the data come alive in the form of interactive tools, such as the World Poverty Clock. Here’s a podcast summary:

  • 1:45 What is the mission of World Data Lab?
  • 8:15 What is WorldPoverty.io, and why did you join World Data Lab?
  • 13:00 Why did you choose Global Goal #1?
  • 14:50 What is the current state of poverty and how can we remove it?
  • 18:30 How does the tech work?
  • 14:45 How does the business model work for World Data Lab?
  • 27:50 What are some of your biggest 90-day challenges?
  • 32:00 What do you see for the future of impact data in general?
  • 36:30 How can someone get involved?

We’ll focus on how World Data Lab addresses Global Goal #1, no poverty. At worldpoverty.io you can see a real-time estimated number of people living in extreme poverty. Listen in if you’re interested in learning more about interactive data tools and how to help eradicate poverty. 💯

Full Post

The Mission

World Data Lab is a social enterprise operating out of Austria. They are set up to do 2 things:

  1. Income: How much do people earn?
  2. Demography: Where are people likely to live?

“We view these 2 domains as the two biggest questions people will ask themselves, so governments and development organizations will be interested in this data.” 

That’s why the data is important. As World Data Lab sources high-quality data internationally, their job is to get the data peer-reviewed and then make it visual and simple to understand. Their poverty clock shows how many people are living in extreme poverty every single day. You can actually see animated little people escaping poverty, and how close we are to increase the “escape rate” from 1.1 people to 1.6 people per second, which is the rate that would have us reach Global Goal #1 by 2030: to reduce poverty from 8% to 6% of the global population.

“No one can credibly talk about trying to solve SDG #1 (no poverty) or any of the SDG’s if we don’t know the reality of the current situation or the likely future situation… we can design development interventions to try to solve what’s likely to happen. So that’s what our maps give you.”

Kris’ Story

Kris has worked in the development space for 15 years, and worked as a project economist at the World Bank Group. He did infrastructure projects like hydroelectric dams and finance projects to fund them. As he spent time around people with the influence and power over governments, Kris got interested in how best to make a difference.

He then moved to work with the UN on more grassroots initiatives to support marginalized people. Kris was able to see the difference between how to make an impact through large intermediary organizations, and how to make a difference from the bottom up.

He concluded that the real currency is through data “it’s most important give people access to data and help them use data to help them make decisions.”

Why Global Goal #1?

Here are the reasons World Data Lab chose to tackle Global Goal #1: No Poverty:

  • It is a quantified, specific goal that can be tracked
  • Tackling this goal will impact multiple other Global Goals dramatically
  • We can use data on this goal, whereas other goals are more aspirational or broad and less quantifiable.

However, we’re not quite on track to reach the goal by 2030:

  • Currently, there are 630 million people on the planet who make less than $1 per day
  • By 2030 it will still be around 415 million. That is progress, but it’s far from eradicating poverty.
  • Asia will eradicate extreme poverty as a region by 2030, which is huge. Extreme poverty is people making less than $1 per day.
  • So, extreme poverty will be isolated to Africa. The good news is, we can target very specific areas of development as organizations with an aid budget.

“The thing we’re trying to do now with the poverty clock is to get to the next level… we want to tell you which countries in which regions need the most targeted aid.” The data becomes a critical decision-making tool to address poverty where it counts.

The Tech

Kris sees the tech as a 2-step process.

  1. Advance the data and tech familiarity and usage as a 20th-century phenomenon – with visual data clocks and easy-to-read dashboards. They intend to use the data available now and design the best use cases to collect and show it.
  2. Gather data more efficiently. Move from surveys as the sole-source of information and use more reliable and granular techniques to gather information, like satellites and sensors.

Kris shares that gathering and showing data has been a political issue in the past. Governments want to allocate aid funding based on political preferences rather than where the aid was most needed. So as data collection and distribution improves, the politics become less of a block to accomplishing Global Goals.

Sustainability

When developing the poverty clock, it has been important to create a sustainable business model to keep the tech up to date and drive traffic to the website. So, the World Data Lab partners with organizations who find this data valuable.

In the next 90 days, the World Data Lab has 2 goals:

  1. To go deeper than just what survey data can provide.

“What we really want to do is go down to the village level. So our challenges are developing new methods to process satellite imagery data – teach machines how to recognize different attributes in a daylight picture.”

2. Develop games where people upload pictures and information that will crowdsource data.

“We’ve got the platform, now we can improve the credibility of the data and the visual maps we’re working with.”

What’s it going to take to get to 1.6 escape rate (people per second)?

Kris says that the biggest gamechanger for poverty actually isn’t economic growth. “Another place to look is human capital – the extent to which education can be focused on, and transitioning graduates with skills into jobs – that will have the most direct impact on poverty and infrastructure.”

To get involved:

  1. Read the methodology and send feedback.
  2. Go to the world poverty clock and drill down on the country, and check the numbers.
  3. Become an affiliate partner to represent World Data Lab locally, and help develop the next data tools. Contact them at hello@worlddata.io.

Takeaways

Chandler shares his top takeaways at the end of the show:

  1. The role of credible data in society. “It’s tough to know the real information and find legitimate numbers from credible sources about the Global Goals. I love the world data labs put the world poverty clock together and they’re going to expand to other SDGs.”
  2. As a social entrepreneur “I gotta say my favorite part about this tool is just seeing the real numbers behind these grand challenges.”
  3. Asking the right questions. As Kris mentioned, with the current solutions we have as a planet, we’re behind pace to eradicate extreme poverty off the planet by 2030. So, that means there’s a gap in the marketplace. Here are some questions to close that gap:
    1. Who are the top players?
    2. What solutions are out there?
    3. What are the top solutions that have the most leverage?
    4. What do they need to scale faster?
    5. What does your mind think about?
    6. How does the data change the way you see your business if you’re working to tackle global goal #1?
The Impact Ecosystem That Supports Early Stage Social Entrepreneurs To Change the World

The Impact Ecosystem That Supports Early Stage Social Entrepreneurs To Change the World

Spring has helped 700 entrepreneurs launch over 350 business globally. In this episode, we talk to Co-Founder and CEO Kieth Ippel to hear how Spring’s growth programs work.

Episode Summary

Keith Ippel is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spring. Spring helps social entrepreneurs make an impact with their Incubator, Accelerator, Peer to Peer learning network, and their Funding Roundtables. Here’s what we cover:

  • 2:20 How Spring started
  • 3:30 Spring has worked with a LOT of entrepreneurs… how?
  • 5:45 What does it take to start a social venture?
  • 15:30 What are the top lessons Keith has learned?
  • 26:45 Keith’s proudest company wins
  • 37:30 Impact investing tips and the Global Goals

Spring is taking on Global Goal #8, decent work and economic growth. Listen in to hear some of the top lessons learned while working with these social entrepreneurs, and the key things to know as you look to raise for your social venture.

Full Post

Keith shares what it takes to start a social venture, and what Spring looks for in entrepreneurs they want to work with.

“We’re looking for entrepreneurs who are highly inquisitive, sharp, have a trememndous amount of hustle, are coachable, are able to articulate their why, and understand that they’ll need to create some white space in their industry in order to create growth. Our heart is really for people who want to change the world… it requires a deeper resillience to get impact-driven products and services to the world.”

How Spring’s Programs Work

Spring’s programs are set up to work locally in the cities they have a presence in, and they are headquartered in Vancouver.

  • Incubation: Pre-launch, idea validation, setting the path to launch. 6-12 weeks. Guest speaker and teaching heavy, classic models.
  • Acceleration: Post-launch, helping people prepare for scale and capital raising. 3-6 months. Mentoring and capital raising education.
  • Funding Roundtables: Educating impact entrepreneurs to get the check.

Listen Now

Finding Success in Fundraising Rounds

Kieth shares with us that the biggest gap they are trying to fill for social ventures is targeting the right impact investors.

“Our entrepreneurs are good at target marketing for their customers, but not so much for investors. Most investors have criteria for who they are looking for.”

The rest, he says, is helping them get the paperwork right. How to create a cap table, how to break down and manage a due diligence folder, how to do a negotiation and ultimately how to get 8-12 investors to sign the same deal.

Listen Now

Should We Pre-Sell? Or Go for Funding?

“That is the million dollar question!” Kieth says,

When it comes to raising money for our business, there are several ways we can go.

  1. Our own back pocket
  2. Friends and family
  3. Pre-selling
  4. Selling shares of your company

Selling shares of your company is expensive, especially if you don’t have revenue or credibility data. Kieth advises to get all of that data together to prove that you can get users, understand your key metrics, grow a team and company, and prove your model. “That will make it easier to find the right investors for you, too,” he says.

Listen Now

Top Lessons from Working with Social Entrepreneurs

  1. The paperwork is universal. These are the four main ways investors fund a business.
    1. Common shares
    2. Convertible notes
    3. Safe agreements
    4. Preferred share deals

The entrepreneur should be agnostic to what type the investor chooses. Each one can be great or terrible for a company, depending on how the terms are set up.

2. Be cross-border fearless about finding the right investor.

“You’ve said the most important thing: raising money is a business. It requires a sales process. Run it like a business. Run it like a funnel.”

He explains, “There’s a top of funnel, there’s stages that you go through with gates, you’ll need to ask for 10x what you need at the top of the funnel in order to get what you need at the bottom. And frankly, investors value being treated that way, because it increases the communication and efficiency of the deal.”

Better to Build an MVP or Fundraise Right Away?

“The more that you can prove, the more confidence you’ll have to go raise as an entrepreneur.”

At the end of the day, Kieth says, if you’re working under a million dollars of revenue then the investor can only invest in you. After the first meeting, all other follow up meetings will be all about

  1. Can I trust you and your team with my money?
  2. Are you asking smart questions?
  3. Are you adaptable?
  4. Are you showing progress?

So, the more that you can push to MVP, they more you’re showing that you and your team are capable, adaptable, and pushing toward the finish like. You have to display your resilience and perseverence towards that. Sometimes a landing page with an email signup to get a million interested buyers!!

Listen Now

The No-Fail Investor Trust Plan

Kieth says 50% of the preparation is for the first meeting. The following 50% is planning for the 3-6 months after the first meeting to the next meeting, in order to show maximum progress and exceed your investors’ expectations.

So, plan for your first meeting with an appropriate deck and sales pitch training. Then, plan your growth stages between the first meeting and second to prove your progress.

And, how can you get to the MVP as cheaply and quickly as possible? It’s not about how to do it all, just get to MVP with less time and less money and you will succeed. The more money you have leftover, the more time and margin you have to adapt.

“Apple computer started in a garage with 2 guys. If they can do that, you can.”

Listen Now

Which companies is Spring Super Proud of?

  1. Social Nature: transforming the way people get food. 

Anna was lazer focused on getting her ideal investor, and the 3-6 month plan to keep investors engaged and invested.

2. Nada: the zero-waste grocery store. 

This grocery store has an underlying platform that could enable all grocery stores to strip all consumer plastic waste. They were strategic and balanced their raise across multiple platforms. They took loans, won a contest, did a killer crowdfunding campaign, and raised several good investment rounds as well.

“The best rounds with the highest investment have all been female founders. They are incredible at preparing ahead. They know their stuff when they go in. And they’re more natural in sharing their impact WHY. For all the female founders listening to this, go for it. And here’s a challenge for the men: take some best practices from the women around you.”

Another example is Emily with LegWorks, who was fearless about being cross-border with her investors and being prepared for rounds. They are now able to sell their products globally.

Listen Now

Growing Impact Investing

“Human nature is hard-wired to make the world a better place.”

Kieth says what works is to get rid of the term impact. Smart investing isn’t some exclusive thing to do with money, Kieth says, so to change the terminology will lower the entry and remove the cognitive bias to make impact investing mainstream.

Kieth emphasizes telling the success stories of impact companies and investment rounds to show the world of investors and partners that the “impact sector” is not only viable but worth being personally involved as a player. Telling the success stories captivates the market who still thinks traditional philanthropy is the only way to make impact.

Listen Now

Impact Investing and the Global Goals

In order to really tackle the Global Goals, Kieth says, it will take more collaboration. Most of the companies Spring works with have no idea how many countries and markets they could impact, if they were fearless about going cross border for customers and partners and teams.

“My encouragement for investors is to know that cross-border deals are going on every day. Set aside a part of your portfolio for Cambodia, Belgrade, Canada… wherever you find values-aligned opportunities. That’s how we’re going to change the world.”

Takeaways

  1. Your investors are customers as well. They need to align with your values because they’re buying the future potential of your company.
  2. Build an ideal investor avatar, and be ready to turn down investors who are not aligned.

Thanks for reading and listening – please COMMENT with the biggest questions you’ve had about starting a social venture, and check out spring.is to see more of Spring’s awesome impact companies.

Listen Now

Empowering and Employing Talent in Africa

Empowering and Employing Talent in Africa

The average age in Uganda is 16 years old, and the unemployment rate is over 60%. Nationally, 400,000 people graduate university each year in Africa while only 80-100k jobs open up! In this episode, we will talk about the online platform that closes that graduate-to-career gap.

Episode Summary

We talk with Eddy Vaisberg, the COO of Fuzu. Fuzu is a career platform where 500k active users can discover their talent, get the skills they need to fully unleash their potential and find a career they love. We will talk about:

  • 3:00 The unemployment challenge
  • 7:30 How Fuzu aims to help graduates and employers
  • 26:30 The technology behind Fuzu
  • 46:30 The business model
  • 48:45 The global goals they are tackling

Find out how Fuzu tackles 3 Global Goals: Global Goal #8, decent work and economic growth for all, Global Goal #10, reducing inequalities, and Global Goal #1 of taking on poverty through the power of jobs. Listen and enjoy!

Full Post

 

The Unemployment Issue

Eddy explains the numbers of the education to job-entry gap.

“What you’re looking at is a bunch of young people coming into their own, looking over the next 5-10 years to start building their careers to push the continent forward. But at the same time we don’t have the ecosystem to support them yet. What you see is this great push toward education… however, unfortunatly, the quality of that education is not at the level of the States, or Europe, or Asia. So when they come out of higer education they are not ready to jump into the job market. 70-80% of these graduates are not ready to contribute. And there’s nothing that bridges that gap between education and unemployment.”

Here are some of the stats:

  • Kenya: 40% unemployment for the last 3 years of graduates
  • Uganda: 65% unemployment for recent graduates
  • 400k people graduating in Uganda, 1% of the population per year. But only 80-100k jobs open up each year.

Eddy talks about the infrastructure in the US, Europe and Asia to get graduates into jobs, like mentors, peer groups, career counseling, and internships. Africans need further training before they can even go into an internship, and African companies are only accepting 3-5 years of experience.

Listen Now

How Fuzu Closes the Gap

Here are some of the initiatives happening to help Africans close this employment gap:

  • Large companies like Microsoft running intensive trainings
  • Government and organizations looking at this problem intensively

But even with many initiatives, the scale of the education-to-employment gap poses the biggest problem.

“750 million people will enter the job force in the next 25 years. These initiatives can’t provide the tools and solutions that can solve this problem across the millions. For us it’s about how we support millions of aspiring junior professionals with tools, career advice, and mentorship to address the problem for Africa.”

Fuzu is intended to be a deep, personalized, catered technology experience to enrich the job seeking journey and unleash the potential of millions of graduates.

A Digital Career Companion

Here’s what will make Fuzu stick:

  • Hosting the best job openings
  • Contributing the best career content: how to write an email, how to do an interview, how to drive a discussion or lead a meeting
  • Supplementing the experiential knowledge that is lost in multiple-choice-test style education

Listen Now

Fuzu and the Global Goals

Eddy emphasizes equal opportunity as an important focus for Fuzu (Global Goal #5). In oder to address the multiple Global Goals they care about, Eddy says that the platform must be the most engaging and opportunity-rich platform experience available.

“We’re trying to leverage all of the analytics to drive a merit-based hiring approach. In order for us to drive our mission, to have graduates and junior professionals utilize their potential and become a leader in the continent by providing the best job opportunities. So what we do is we give employers access to their personality, their talents and core competencies, and their experience.”

The user experience and analytics on Fuzu addresses 2 problems:

  1. Eases the unknown element of recent graduate hiring
  2. Mitigates the referral network approach of hiring – which is exacerbated by the tribe network and gender biases in Africa

“This way we force our employers to hire on merit, so everyone has an equal opportunity to get a great job.”

How It Works

  1. The employer creates a job search with detailed skills and personality requests
  2. The platform scrapes all 500k users to find matches
  3. Fuzu reaches out to the top 1000 potentials for the job by email
  4. Users apply through the platform
  5. The platform ranks applicants from 1-100 based on the accuracy of matching
  6. Employers review applications and select a new employee

“You don’t have bus drivers applying to be your accounting manager, or 5-year marketing managers applying for entry level customer service positions.”

The Business Model

Fuzu makes the platform accessible to anyone to use the tools and take the courses. For the employers, the platform has a freemium model, and for applicants, there are certain paid features like creating a CV.

“We don’t want to limit anyone from dreaming, growing, or being found. Most of the monetization is on the employers side, where we have large companies on an annual contract to ingrain us into their hiring process, and manage the hundreds of hires they engage per year.”

Listen Now

Scaling Fuzu

Here are Fuzu’s main points of focus to scale:

  1. Market expansion, to disrupt and enter a market ready for a new solution. This means going into West Africa, South Africa, and other areas. “You can only enter a market once. So we’ve got to make a big splash,” Eddy says.
  2. Enriching the experience to become the #1 career companion and CRM.

“We see Fuzu as a tool for building the economies and create more people that are ready to make a contribution. It will become a self-fulfilling cycle of job creation… and we want to impact and touch as many people as possible.”

Takeaways

  1. Wow, the education system isn’t giving real-world skills! How do we decide how we’re educating youth?
  2. What is it going to take to change the education system?
  3. We can tackle poverty and economic development by equipping young people to stimulate the economy from the bottom up.

www.fuzu.com

Ron Okello – The High-Impact Tech Platform for Goods Transportation

Ron Okello – The High-Impact Tech Platform for Goods Transportation

Lori Systems is a logistics coordination platform that connects Cargo Owners and Transportation in East Africa. Find out how the company addresses Global Goals 1, 8 and 9 in this episode.

Summary

In this episode, Chandler interviews Ron Okello, the head of product marketing and PR at Lori Systems. Ron shows us how Lori Systems solves a major economic problem in East Africa: the relative cost of moving goods across East Africa is one of the highest in the world.

  • 4:30 How the Platform Works | Lori Systems is a logistics coordination platform that seamlessly connects Cargo Owners and Transportation.
  • 13:30 Why Does the Data Matter? | With data on transporter reliability and costs, the company helps suppliers optimize their business.
  • 19:00 Business Model Insider | Ron talks about three pillars of their business: tech, operational excellence, and customer service.
  • 27:00 Tech in Africa – Who Will Survive? | Hear the two main industries ready for tech innovation in East Africa.
  • 32:30 Timeline for Exponential Technology | Ron expects exponential tech to come sooner than we think.
  • 40:45 Lowering Costs, Alleviating Poverty | Find out how problem-solving in the cost margins can shift a whole economy.

Full Post

Lori Systems was founded in 2016 by Joshua Adam Sandler, a South African Native and Harvard Alumni. When they saw the inefficiencies in the transportation industry, they created a platform to revolutionize logistics in Africa.

Platform features:

  • Manage invoicing and operations
  • Visibility of where the trucks are
  • Rates for product moves
  • Which cargo is coming and going, and the cost
  • Access to consistent cargo
  • Centralized control system and reliability enforcement
  • Consolidation of providers, products, trucks, and feedback on driver compliance
  • Journey and performance monitoring
  • Push notifications telling their driving habits and arrival times

Formerly, there was no certainty that trucks would show up when a company would call them to transport products. This way, the product companies and warehouses can dependably transport their products and optimize their business based on the data in the platform.

Getting from point A to B in East Africa is not as easy as ordering Uber Eats. Most cities in Africa have unmapped, unpaved areas between them. This makes driving and delivering product challenging.

“The driver is our number one priority. His compliance and reliability is important to us.”

Listen Now

What do you do with the data?

“Every month we have a sit-down with our clients, and have a conversation about performance. We give feedback and they give feedback, based on the data. We better ourselves and also scale with the data.”

Lori Systems decreases the cost of goods for their customers by 15% just in lowering transport costs. “When we do this we will be able to realize more of the global goals – bettering economies and reducing poverty.”

Lori Systems address the Economic Development Global Goal by providing transporters consistent wages, and also they address poverty by reducing the cost to move products.

“The biggest goal for me would be Industry Innovation and Infrastructure. We looked at the challenges within that goal, and we come in to bring the innovation to streamline the process and make it more efficient.”

Business Model Insider

“We are centered in 3 pillars. We have technology to drive decision making, Operational excellence to operate teams, and customer service – which is the biggest one if you ask me. The beauty with Lori systems is that 33% of a move cost goes into fuel. And how we solved that problem is through fuel financing. We provide them with fuel to execute the job, and when they come back they give us the invoice. Then, we handle the documents with the clients and ask for a contract.”

This means it’s an all-around win for the transporters. They have fuel, insurance and access to consistent cargo.

“We map out your future for you. On your journeys we are looking for your return journeys, or move you from town B to town C because we have a new customer there. We always make sure that your trucks are constantly moving. I can’t begin to stress how much time we save the transporters.”

Tech in Africa – Who Will Survive?

“Tech cannot solve all our problems. It needs to be supported by people.”

Ron talks about crowdsourcing solutions to the industry, since it’s an industry “build on relationships.” He sees opportunity in the growing workforce and the government’s support of indigenous companies.

Ron suggests that any tech company oriented toward the Global Goals will be more likely to make it. Agriculture and logistics will especially thrive in African markets.

Another area of tech opportunity is tech for finance. Any technology that can help create access to capital or make fund transfer simpler will go over well.

“In a nutshell, as long as its a problem that you can solve, the industry is ripe and open to solutions.”

Listen Now

Timeline for Exponential Technology

Ron explains that on the financial side, exponential tech could arrive “sooner than we think.” Blockchain is growing in Africa since transparency is an issue in developing markets. “Self-driving cars may take awhile,” he says, since the infrastructure to support exponential tech in transportation is still developing.

Trust is a key factor in adopting exponential tech, Ron says, even if the market is ready. Moving from carrying groceries on your head to riding a hoverboard is an unlikely leap.

Listen Now

Expanding Impact

As far as Lori’s expansion, Ron talks about moving into Uganda next. Expanding the company requires partnerships and tackling the infrastructure issues in the country. How will they bank? What roads will they use? Though Lori will have the advantage of access to landlocked ports, they will have to create partnerships to allow imports and navigate the existing infrastructure.

Lowering Costs, Alleviating Poverty

Though costs of goods increase as their source companies move more inland, Lori is able to maintain consistent pricing because of the services they offer. Ron says it costs 4x the amount to move product in Africa as compared to the United States.

Takeaways:

  • Moving things is expensive! Margins are a critical problem-solving opportunity in an emerging market.
  • What margins have you planned for in creating a business in an emerging market? How will increasing volume impact those prices and margins?

Listen Now

14 Maurice Otieno

14 Maurice Otieno

The Kenyan manager of Metta shares about the business climate in Nairobi, and talks about how technology improves the emerging markets by solving simple problems.

Summary

  • 6:45 What is the startup landscape in Nairobi Kenya? The small population and scarcity of talent and resources impact which businesses thrive.
  • 18:45 What is M-Pesa and why is it such a big deal? M-Pesa is mobile money sent through text. It makes business safer and easier for Kenyans.
  • 26:00 What are the biggest challenges to starting a business in Nairobi? Companies have to be solving an immediate, critical problem and avoid government corruption.
  • 31:00 How does technology impact building a company in this ecosystem? The technologies that work are very simple and they solve a pertinent problem.
  • 37:30 What will it take for people to get access to basic needs and address the Global Goals? Maurice talks about social impact companies that give people jobs while they address systemic problems.

Full Post

Maurice Starts with the vision of Metta:
All entrepreneurs to have an equal opportunity and access to resources across the globe. To do that, we form partnerships in the middle east, Asia and Africa so that by 2025 each of those markets are connected and able to move from a nascent to an established entrepreneurs ecosystem.

Currently, Metta is located in Hong Kong and Nairobi. They will be starting in Bali and Thailand soon, and they have representatives in 14 countries. Through the virtual platform, their members can log in and meet each other.

“If I was to predict, I would say probably South America will be next for us.”

Meta is not just a place where entrepreneurs come together, but a place for them to find resources, community, and mentorship.

“We are limited in terms of mentorship to grow businesses into unicorns, and limited in terms of investment opportunities. We’re also limited in terms of finding talent. …So, we’re offering something different than coworking spaces and accelerators. We’re offering shared resources.

Listen Now

Business in Nairobi

“The difficulty you face in East Africa is that we are a very small population. Within even the small market the people are at the bottom of the pyramid.”

Maurice talks about the market in detail: “Since technology innovations are new to the market, there’s very little investment in those projects in Kenya.” Many of the people are involved in NGOs and are refugees from other countries. So, the mentality, Maurice says, is “Gimme gimme gimme.” Startups and investment are a new conversation.

What does success look like for startups in Africa?

The successful companies, Maurice says, are companies who don’t mind sharing. Also, they are the ones creating solutions for people living on $1 per day or less. The individual entrepreneurs who are successful are the ones who take meetings and go to events frequently. They spend money to get talent, too.

“They do spend an arm and a leg to get the talent they need. But you need a good team who can hold fort while you go to brave the fronts of getting investment.”

First World Problems

Maurice teases about first world problems that Americans deal with versus survival problems that Africans deal with. “Do we even have a road?” he laughs.

It is easier for an expat to start a business in Kenya because they can look at what businesses worked in their country, and bring those same business models back to Kenya.

The Benefits of Starting a Business in Kenya

Maurice lists the benefits for founders in Kenya:

  • Payments are transmitted so quickly through M-Pesa
  • The weather is good and Nairobi is beautiful
  • Kenya needs businesses and startups
  • Most Kenyans speak 3-4 languages. English, Swahili, language from schooling (Japanese, French, etc) and one of the 14 tribe languages.
  • Moderately expensive to live there, but more stable than neighboring cities and countries.
  • Many expats and company headquarters based in Nairobi as well.

Listen Now

M-Pesa

Here’s the basic outline of the power of M-Pesa:
  • No internet access needed
  • Money transfers through text
  • There are 100k agents or dresser-sized ATM’s to get money
  • Banks are now partnering with M-Pesa to put your money in your M-Pesa wallet

Interestingly, there are still 70-80% cash transactions in Kenya, but the technology is spreading rapidly. M-Pesa was a major need in Kenya because opening a bank used to be for the rich. The minimum deposit for a bank account is $100, so it was too much to open and maintain a bank account for most Kenyans.

Also, carrying money is dangerous in underdeveloped countries. So M-Pesa provides a measure of safety.

Challenges of Doing Business in Nairobi

Maurice says that in order to be successful in Nairobi, you have to be solving an immediate, critical problem. He notes key areas that impact business growth in the country:

  • Security
  • Infrastructure
  • Addressing an immediate need
  • Avoiding corruption – caution when interfacing with the government

“Funny enough, we’ve had the most recent political assassinations of any country. That was an eye opener. Also, Europe is 35 years behind Silicon Valley, and Africa is 10 or 15 years behind Europe. But I think right now, it’s coming of age.”

Listen Now

Do Tech Companies Survive in Emerging Markets?

“The fundamental thing people are forgetting is that you are solving a problem first, before you introduce the tech. So over here you find that the technologies that work are not that advanced. They are very simple and they solve a pertinent problem.”

Problems like “How to get milk to a place that has a lot of bananas” – these are the simple technologies that work in Kenya.

Blockchain has been recently introduced to address corruption in the government, and Maurice says that is a huge step. “It’s simple but very very key.”

As far as exponential technologies, Maurice says they are present and it’s a matter of time before they begin to spread. Adaptability is the issue, though. For example, in order for Uber to spread to Kenya, people have to know how to use Google Maps. Google Maps hasn’t been adopted yet, and the country isn’t well mapped. Once distribution, basic data, and familiarity with basic applications are established, exponential tech can grow. “10-20 years, I’d say,” says Maurice.

What It Will Take To Address the Global Goals

“It’s already started” Maurice says. He talks about social impact companies that give people jobs while they address systemic problems.

 

Takeaways

  1. M-Pesa: 30 million people rely on M-Pesa for their transactions through their flip phones.
  2. So, wherever you go, you’ve gotta have a financial foundation!
  3. M-Pesa addresses the corruption and banking problems that made starting a business next to impossible.

Listen Now

13 The IoT Technology Startup Tackling Infant Mortality

13 The IoT Technology Startup Tackling Infant Mortality

Three years ago, two biomedical engineers had the courage to travel to Uganda and discover why millions of newborns die of preventable causes. In this episode, hear how Sona and her co-founder Teresa created a social impact startup while still in grad school, and how you can tackle a Global Goal with field research.






Podcast Summary

 

  • 7:50 Sona’s Story to Become a Social Entrepreneur While still in grad school, Sona and her cofounder headed to Uganda and decided to solve the problem they found at the newborn wards.
  • 9:30 Tackling Global Goal # 3.2: Neopenda’s goal is to help end all preventable deaths for children under 5 years old with a simple vitals monitor.
  • 15:45 Why is the Product so Disruptive? Sona talks about infrastructure and medical device problems in emerging markets, and the valuable data that their devices collect.
  • 22:30 Business Model and Growth Path How will two biomedical engineers grow a company to enter and transform newborn health in an emerging market? Hear how to enter an emerging market with new technology.
  • 32:00 Create A Career Around a Global Goal Chandler and Sona share what it takes to explore a problem you care about and create a solution. “You might come out of grad school with a startup… and be the happiest you’ve ever been.”




Full Post

 

About Neopenda

Three years ago, two biomedical engineers had the opportunity to travel to Uganda. They discovered that many hospitals did not have medical equipment and that newborn wards are overcrowded and undersupplied. They discovered that babies don’t make it out of the hospital for preventable reasons, and decided to do something about it.

After spending time at the wards in Uganda, Sona and her soon-to-be co-founder discovered the key problem with few nurses taking care of so many newborns at once. This meant that the nurses didn’t know when the babies were in trouble. Sona and Teresa then designed a wearable technology for newborns that continuously measures four vital signs and signals health problems:

  1. Pulse rate
  2. Respiratory rate
  3. Blood oxygen saturation
  4. Temperature

The vital signs from all the newborns in the room wirelessly connect to a tablet that the nurse holds. This way, the nurse can see the status of all the babies in the room.

“3 million newborns are dying around the world, and most of them are in emerging markets. Something like 80% of those deaths are preventable.”

Listen Now

How does Global Goal 3 Direct Tech development?

Image via sight.iee.org

Although the rate of mortality for children under 5 is decreasing, the mortality rate of children under 28 days old has not decreased. Neopenda targets that problem specifically. Sona talks about Uganda as a great starting point, since there has been a 46% increase in the country’s spending on medical devices. Uganda also has one of the highest fertility rates of any country in the world.

Turning Overwhelm to Impact in Uganda

Chandler asks what the first visit to Uganda was like, and Sona mentions how much emotion is still there for her.

“It’s overwhelming…and it’s inspiration for us. When we go, we spend time in the hospitals to see what’s really happening. And I would be remiss if I didn’t say it’s overwhelming. We already have ideas of what our next products will look like… but it isn’t one solution that will fix everything.”

When there are 2 nurses watching 125 babies stay alive for the first 28 days of their life. Neopenda’s first product makes a huge difference, and Sona was moved to tackle the problem after walking by bed after bed of babies that had died unnoticed.

Listen Now

The Business Model: Who are Neopenda’s Customers?

Neopenda is for-profit, and they focus on emerging markets. “We are impact driven… and we see that emerging markets are a huge opportunity for us because there aren’t very many medical device companies specifically for emerging markets. That market is untapped.”

Neopenda will sell devices to private facilities in emerging markets because they have more purchasing power and less red tape to try new devices. The cost of acquisition is higher with private facilities while the team goes from hospital to hospital, but Neopenda is engaging health ministries (governmental organizations) to get to public health facilities. Finally, Neopenda is partnering with international NGO’s who already have a presence and distribution channels all over the world.

Listen Now

 



Private Hospital Partnerships

Many private hospitals in emerging markets are backed by faith-based organizations that have a lot of jurisdiction over the hospitals they work with. That means it’s easier for Neopenda to work with the organizations and the hospitals to find out what will best serve their infrastructure.

Sona says it’s unusual for a 3rd party company to provide medical devices through partnerships, and shares that they sell the monitors in packages of at least 15 to ensure the wards have more than one monitor. “We don’t want to be the only monitor in the wards,” Sona says, “but that is often what we see right now. So, it is displacing the market a little bit but we want to show the value of the product not just from how many lives we actually help, but also in helping them understand how we can help improve their efficiency and cost-effectiveness. How can they improve the retention rates of nurses… all kinds of types of value that we can provide with one device.”

Is the Market Ready?

Sona says there are some facilities that are excited to do pilot studies and some that are not as willing to change. That unwillingness impacts the sales cycle and rate of adoption. This means that pilot tests can become the inroad to make product adoption an obvious choice.




Technological Details

Sona talks about the divine as similar to the finger-clip you get when you get at the doctor to pick up your vital signals. The sensors connect with bluetooth to the nurses’ tablets. She talks about designing the product to work on low energy and without wifi. The next step, she says, is collecting data with the tablets for NGO’s and hospitals to better address the problem.

Chandler asks what else they will be able to do with all this data, and Sona brings up analytics for resource allocation. “Another level,” she says, “is that most wards are calculating statistics on the babies on paper.” Neopenda can collect all that information simply through the tablets. The tablets can run for 5-7 days on batteries, then recharge the battery with a standard micro USB cord. With Bluetooth, the tablets can connect without wifi, and the company will be able to collect all the data from the tablets to the cloud by connecting once or twice a month.

Sona talks about FDA approval, logistics, and the business model, and shares that Neopenda is about 1 year from commercialization. The company has opened a crowdfunding equity campaign and is moving through rounds of investment while the product pends FDA approval.

Listen Now

Emerging Market Challenges

As far as the challenges in emerging markets, Sona talks about medical device testing regulations. Many emerging markets do not have regulations for new device adoption, and they do not purchase devices. Most medical equipment is donated in these countries. “It will be a mindset shift,” Sona says. She mentions the “equipment graveyard” room in most hospitals in these markets, where donated devices without manuals or working parts pile up.

This is just one reason Neopenda is a for-profit model instead of a nonprofit. “The more profitable we are and the more successful we are as a company, the more babies we can help.”


 

How to Get Involved

Sona recommends several steps to start off as a social entrepreneur:

  1. Reach out to leaders in the industry you’re interested in, and reach out to projects or initiatives that are already happening.
  2. Follow your heart and interests!
  3. Get out to the field as much as you can and witness the problems there.

Sona says, “Choose a Global Goal, start doing some research, and you may come out of grad school with a company… and be the happiest you’ve ever been.”

Listen Now

Takeaways:

  1. It takes a high commitment to address a Global Goal. The Neopenda device was designed specifically for the problems their customer faces. No wifi needed, long-term battery, and valuable data provision.
  2. Get in the field. Have you gone to explore your customers problems?
  3. Here’s a link to check out Neopena’s fundraising campaign

Listen Now

Want to get the best stuff from the podcast?

Stay in the loop with the latest episodes, show notes, and bonus content :)

You have Successfully Subscribed!