[TC-I Call to Action]: SEED Awards for Sustainable Development

InfoDev helps announce the SEED Awards for Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Development, an award recognizing partnerships in developing countries that are working on environmental and social issues.   The approach to the award is interesting, however, because winners do not receive the normal cash prize; instead, they will receive something that many enterprises need: support services, catered for the specific need.

Note that eligibility means that at least three partner organizations are involved – a great way to encourage collaboration for social impact.

The SEED Awards for Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Development is an annual international competition, designed to support locally-led, innovative, entrepreneurial partnerships in developing countries, which have the potential to make real improvements in poverty eradication and environmental sustainability.

The SEED Initiative assists young and promising initiatives in strengthening and scaling up the impact of their activities. This is not a cash award. Instead, a comprehensive package of tailor-made support services, with a value of US$25,000, will be provided to Winners.

Applications will be available online soon, so be sure to keep your eye on the SEED website.

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Changing the Face of Public Health: Click Diagnostics

This winter, through the gracious support of the Social Equity Venture Fund (S.E.VEN), I will be working in Cairo, Egypt with Click Diagnostics, a mobile tele-health social enterprise venture that recently won the $100K Entrepreneurship Competition hosted yearly at MIT. As mentioned in previous posts relating to cellphones and development, mobile technology seems to be the next frontier in terms of poverty alleviation. In this case, the focus is on the delivery of high-quality, affordable healthcare to rural populations in developing countries.

Currently, the organization is in the start-up stage, and is piloting its implementation model in several areas, including Egypt. For the benefit of those who would like to learn more about Click Diagnostics’ for-profit model, a more detailed description follows:

The Need: The confluence of four critical factors has led to what Click Diagnostics believes is a global health mandate – 1) a severe scarcity of doctors in rural areas, 2) the relative abundance of medical expertise in urban areas, 3) the presence of trainable community health workers and local-level micro-entrepreneurs, and 4) the rapid penetration of relatively inexpensive mobile technology into the markets of developing countries.

The Model:
Click Diagnostics employs a mobile tele-health model to connect locally trained community health workers with a remote, web-based network of medical specialists. Through the integration of inexpensive technology, locally trained community health workers, and remote medical expertise, Click Diagnostics aims to provide a sophisticated end-to-end healthcare service delivery chain for “remote diagnosis and consultation, health risks screening, early warning systems, and health data analysis.”

The Vision: Click Diagnostics aims to “provide quality medical advice to every household in disadvantaged regions of the world at an affordable price, and develop cost-effective solutions for gathering critical data needed for planning and executing public health interventions.”

Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2008 Finalists [Updated]

This week has had no shortage of announcements of accepting nominations for some competitions and the unveiling of winners from others. Today, IndiaPRwire reports that the Nand & Jeet Khemka Foundation, Schwab Foundation, and UNDP has picked finalists for the 2008 Social Entrepreneurship of the Year Award.

The Award recognizes individuals who offer the most innovative and sustainable solutions to society’s impending social problems. The ‘Social Entrepreneur of the Year’ Award over the last few years has risen to prominence among social entrepreneurs with applicant’s immensely valuing the benefits the award brings. The steady increase in the number of nominations filed for this award is proof of it growing significance

Here are the three finalists:

Access to Safe Drinking Water, the Sustainable Way

PepsiCo Foundation has awarded two grants, totaling $76 million, to sustainable water and sanitation efforts by WaterPartners and Safe Water Network. The PR release describes each program. WaterPartners will use the award to implement their WaterCredit program:

The WaterCredit program in India has two main components: first, to provide traditional grant funding directly to local non-government organizations to install pipes, faucets and storage cellars in impoverished communities, reaching some 60, 000 people. The second component is to establish a loan fund that will empower communities to expand access to safe water for an additional 60, 000 people over the course of the three-year project. This model produces a “multiplier effect” for impact based on a single source of funding and is the first time PepsiCo Foundation has applied micro finance as a strategic vehicle to advance water and sanitation improvements.

The idea of building community-based water supply projects through a combination of grants and loans is new to the water sector. Until now, nearly all water projects facilitated by other organizations have been funded entirely by grants, even when the individuals served by the project have the means to share costs.

Bridging microfinance and water is a topic that NextBillion.net covered earlier this year, so this is a connection that is working well in some regions and with the support of different organizations, such as ACCESS Development Services and Hindustan Unilever Limited. The vision behind this is that communities may not be able to afford methods that purify water and make it safe for drinking, but using microfinance models allows them to collectively take a loan and repay until they eventually purchase the system. Continue reading

Helpyourbody, a Piramal Healthcare Campaign

The Piramal Group, a research and diagnostics firm based in Mumbai, is partnering with the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), NGOs, and more than 25,000 doctors across India to create a new campaign called “helpyourbody.” As LiveMint reports, helpyourbody is a

crusade against chronic diseases, aiming to provide affordable medicines in rural areas.

The programme… will emphasize on imparting knowledge on healthy food for healthy body and target each and every individual.

Through the three phases of knowledge, action, and care (which is the Piramal tagline), the campaign will first work to partner with thousands of doctors, then make “helpyourbody” tests available and employ detection camps, and finally build communities and involve local NGOs.

Dr. Swati Piramal, Director of the Piramal Group, is quoted as explaining the dire need for this CSR initiative:

India is expected to be the chronic disease capital of the world with 70 million diabetics, 213 million hypertensive patients and 60 million suffering from arthritis by 2025. According to the WHO, the cost of chronic diseases, including welfare losses, is estimated to be Rs 15,01,200 crore by 2015.

With those those numbers providing motiviation, the campaign, according to the helpyourbody website, aims to minimize “economic loss by 2% every year and [earn]  the nation Rs. 67,500 crores by 2015,” as well as save about 1 million human lives.

Small Steps, Big Possibilities

In the past week, I’ve come across several stories that highlight isolated successes or intriguing ideas that are being implemented on a small scale. Here’s a quick recap:

  • In the Chandni Chowk area of old Delhi, iGovernment reports the introduction of greener rickshaws, run by solar batteries. Obviously such vehicles can only go short distances and for short periods of time, but in an congested area like Chandni Chowk, greener autos may make a large impact on the surrounding environment:

It would be run by a solar battery, which would suffice for a journey of 70 km. The battery would take five hours to be charged with the help of solar panels in the charging unit which will be functional above the Delhi metro stations, an official of the city government said.

  • A waste management system (an issue we’ve covered here and here) in Maharastra shows a PPP at work – a privatized system in a city named Latur requires residents to pay Rs 20 per month for garbage pick up. This case shows that the involvement of both an NGO and a private system can result in efficiency:

Of the 183 who have been employed, around 75 per cent are women. Rather than a monthly salary, the women are paid per tonne of garbage collected. As an added incentive, they can sell the recyclable material of the garbage in the market.

But is the system fair (especially to the rag pickers)? The article paints a rosy picture, and it would be interesting get a sense of what the reality is on the ground.

  • Community radio has been making waves in Jharkhand with a program called “Chalo Ho Gaon Mein,” which is narrated in the local language and touches on a number of issues. A project manager at the NGO AID (Alternative for India Development) explains in this article by The Hoot:

We realized that all these problems were stemmed from the fact that the people of the region were unable to express themselves and speak freely about the problems that they were facing. So, setting up a radio programme seemed like a good way to give a voice to the voiceless. A programme for the villagers and by the villagers that would not only address their issues and make them more aware, but would also reach out to other people who could make a difference to their lives.

As with many solutions to social issues, these approaches are taking place as pilots or for specific regions and populations – but all are encouraging and may shed light for the bigger picture.

World’s Largest Solar Project Proposed in Gujarat

Solar power may go on the wide-scale in the western state of Gujarat as the Clinton Foundation is currently considering an “Integrated Solar City” in the Kutch or Banaskantha region.  If followed through, the investment would create the world’s largest solar project and will involve a number of players in the private sector.

The project, tagged as one of the largest foreign direct investment (FDI) into the state, will also be a landmark project as the cost of power generation is likely to be 70 per cent less — around Rs 20,000 crore — than the conventional cost of generation, say sources close to the development.

The project envisages an integrated solar city wherein all the raw materials including glass and panels will be produced by them, bringing down the cost substantially, said a senior government official.

Source: Business Standard