Imagine having to clean a dirt floor. I ask myself, is that even possible? Dirt is inherently dirty, so how can it be cleaned? Well, 80% of Rwandans face this challenge every day. To tackle this issue, Gayatri (Gaya) Datar is providing clean, durable, earthen floors to low-income Rwandans through her social enterprise start-up, EarthEnable.
“This election in particular has brought to bear some of the deep divisions we have in this country. It’s critical that the millennial generation leads the way in being bridge-builders politically, ethnically, racially and socio-demographically.”
Steven Olikara is the Co-Founder and President of the Millennial Action Project (MAP), a nonpartisan nonprofit with a mission to re-establish political cooperation across parties and defeat the polarization and gridlock that is holding back the United States government. By working in close collaboration with lawmakers, MAP has already advanced legislation on issues including entrepreneurship, technology, 21st century skills training, veterans’ employment, immigration, volunteerism, and more.
If you had the technology skills and opportunity to transform your government for the digital era, would you do it?
In 2015, Travis Moore attended the Code for America annual summit, a collection of some of the most talented civic tech leaders in the country, all working to build a government for the digital age. Travis couldn’t help but notice that many of the people and partnerships involved weren’t working directly with Members of Congress. “I was working with former Representative [Henry] Waxman at the time, and I remember wondering: Of all these people, who is working to bring tech into Congress? Aside from Seamus Kraft and a few others, no one was really doing it.”
Through his time in the policymaking world, Travis learned that most Members of Congress weren’t able to explain fundamental technological concepts. Very few had any tech training. “This was a huge problem,” Travis explained. “In today’s world, tech isn’t just a slice of the policy-making pie. It’s the crust that impacts everything. In essence, every policy issue in the 21st century is also a technology policy issue.” So, while the work of Code for America is both productive and forward-thinking, Travis felt that more was necessary. Technology leaders needed to be truly embedded into the policy-making process within Congress. And so TechCongress was born.
“For of those to whom much is given, much is required.” – President John F. Kennedy, May 1963
These words have inspired many, including Seamus Kraft, Executive Director and Co-Founder of The OpenGov Foundation. Seamus grew up in Marblehead, Massachusetts, the birthplace of the American Navy in a state with roots that predate the United States of America. He describes it as a place where the principles that govern free society are palpable–they are in the air, where the community is still governed directly by citizens through a town meeting. Seamus’ family raised him to understand that the most important thing he can do with his life is to meaningfully serve others. All of this has led Seamus to develop a passion for service, which is why he works every day to help people live their best lives.
Though not an education professional by trade, Sweden native Katarina Stensson is passionate about the education and nonprofit sectors. So when she heard about the Global Learning XPRIZE Competition, she was immediately interested in entering. Following the competition’s guidelines, Katarina began developing an open source, interactive, educational application. The app enables children to learn basic literacy and numeracy skills outside the traditional classroom environment.\]
Jan Guštinčič is a half-Slovenian Italian social entrepreneur living between Trieste, Italy and Zurich, Switzerland. On top of his native tongues, he speaks English, Spanish, and a bit of Swedish, French, Croatian, and German. What unites these disparate countries, tongues, and people? The threat of climate change.
In the last 6 months, we’ve interviewed more than 20 social entrepreneurs operating from countries all over the world. We asked about their greatest successes, most pressing challenges, and important pieces of advice.
Here’s what we learned.
1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water that is contaminated by sewage and unsafe to drink¹. Approximately 3.5 million people die each year due to inadequate water supply, sanitation, and hygiene. Every 20 seconds, a child dies as a result of poor sanitation².
Since launching H2GO in 2011, Dr. Rajiv Bhanot has brought clean drinking water to over 1.5 million people, and not just for one day, but for years. Here’s how he did it.
Salima Visram grew up in Kenya, right beside a village where 22,000 people live below the poverty line. Throughout her childhood, Salima worked on projects supporting her community, spending a great deal of time in schools and with youth. As she grew older, she became driven to find a way to help alleviate poverty and break down the barriers to education.
In the biotechnology industry, there is a significant financial barrier to entry for entrepreneurs. On average, a start-up in biotech needs at least USD $3 million in initial investments in order to bring their product to the market. This prevents countless entrepreneurs from pursuing an idea, separating customers from potentially life-altering advancements in pharmaceuticals, food quality, and more. Through his social enterprise, STÄMM, Juan Vegh is trying to break down this barrier. He is working to democratize access to biotech.