Quality, dependable light transforms lives; children are able to study at night, adults are able to earn additional income, and indoor air quality is improved. Our services benefit women who traditionally spend more time working indoors and children who accidentally drink kerosene and inhale its fumes.
Policymakers, government officials, and business leaders can implement all sorts of special initiatives to nurture innovation and support it when it happens. Those initiatives can make it possible for scientists in university labs, or some high school kids playing around with computers in a local library or museum, or organizations out in the field who see a better way of doing things to make it happen. And indeed, that is the kind of innovation that advances our economy and drives the creation of jobs.
But it’s time to think bigger faster, because that’s not where innovation begins. Innovation begins in the mind. And it is up to all of us and our schools and community centers to equip young minds, as early as possible and as often as conceivable, with the tools and capabilities that can potentially empower everyone to innovate.
There is data that show that men in business tend to have the hero’s journey - you know, ‘I will go into battle.’ Women tend to be, ‘I’m going to create a collective, and we will go into battle together’…I think that skill set, male or female, is useful in an industry that is full of innovation, that needs creativity, that needs to create an environment in which people feel and are expected to bring their best selves in to collaborate.
The challenge social enterprises face within corporate multinationals is immense. Many social enterprise often don’t conform to traditional ROI criteria. Most of the time socially responsible businesses are betting on long-term strategies or “market shaping” opportunities, or they may simply tradeoff profit in some instances to enhance social impact. Moreover, outsider investors often penalize companies who are too innovative in this space. For one, BP’s renewables portfolio was heavily discounted. So what’s the best strategy?
Here’s how the water ATM processed works: local franchisees—people who want to make money as water stewards for their community—are allowed to operate ATMs in their villages. They pre-pay Sarvajal for water, and pick it up to dispense into the ATMs, which treat the water with reverse osmosis and ultraviolet rays. Community members get their pre-pay water balances from the franchisee, who is allowed to keep all cash from home deliveries. If something goes wrong with one of the cell phone network-connected ATMs (i.e. a leak), Sarvajal finds out immediately and fixes it.
Via Fast Company, Sarvajal is providing clean water via solar-powered ATMs for the rural poor in India. Amazing.