How can we unlock and scale innovation through partnerships to achieve the SDGs?


(Dr. Lisa Bonadonna) #61

As for the enabling conditions I agree with my colleague Priya and this is why we created the GSK-Save the Children Healthcare Innovation Award - one designed to support initiatives developed for countries with low health resources by those with first hand experience of living with these challenge. Being able to offer our winners consultancy support through Dan's organisation to help take their innovations to scale has yielded remarkable results! Taking initiatives to scale helps you reach more people that starting a new pilot - simple maths really.

Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Great contributions! Let's move onto our second set of questions:

What are some of the key drivers and barriers to innovations reaching scale sustainably and what are the essential enabling conditions required for success?


(Zahid Torres-Rahman) #62

Thank you for sharing your insights! Let's move onto the third and final set of questions:

What principles and processes do partnerships between business and the development community need in place to help drive innovation? What are some good examples and what can we learn from them?


(Wendy Smith) #63

I am Wendy Smith, author of Give a Little: How Your Small Donations Can Transform Lives. I have just joined the conversation, but I wanted to make this contribution - perhaps it has already been shared. My bias is ALWAYS to involve those who are impacted most by efforts to achieve the SDGs. Has there been conversation about involving local communities in helping to pave the "last mile"? Imagine the potential created for locals by having them partner with large NGOs and businesses to develop models that will work.


(Jolene Dawson) #64

Thanks Lisa - some of the challenges we've certainly seen while balancing both commercial and development agenda's in our partnership work is exactly what you mention - funder apetite.

There is often a fair amount of tension to deliver against 'typical' corporate returns in a development setting, while the development agent, just wants to maximise impact - My opinion is partnership brokers need to balance both sides of this and work to have fair commercial returns, but potentially over longer timelines, while the impacts are delivered on the ground.

Dr. Lisa Bonadonna said:

Jolene I concur with many of your points and would add the following:

  • Breaking down the challenge to facilitate creating a manageable innovation pilot at the expense of understanding the social system the behaviour change must be embedded within
  • Funder apetitie for new undertakings relative to funding initiatives often piloted by others that merit being taken to scale
  • Rejecting the role that for profit enterprises can play in addressing social challenges either in the short or long run


Jolene Dawson said:

Barriers to Innovation Scaling:

Commitment to move beyond pilots – most partnerships that have been underway in pilot have proven their impact but have stumbled when it comes to scaling. Partly due to financing and investment constraints, but also due to slow responsiveness and lack of agility to “fail-fast”, internalise the lessons learnt in piloting and recalibrate for success.

Harnessing technologies to leapfrog traditional growth trajectories – companies, especially large corporates, like most people, resist change. Delivering innovation at scale is perceived a little like “Fixing what isn’t broken” For innovation to be embedded and truly scalable, traditional growth, business, operating and deliver models should be questioned – is there a completely new way we could do this? Mobile in Africa hold great promise, if the mobile network operators can (1) provide reliable and consistent signal coverage, (2) provide affordable mechanisms for people to adopt new technologies (especially smart phones) and (3) manage allocation of spectrum, a finite resource for all MNO’s

Making funding models sustainable from the outset – A key barrier to scaling innovations beyond pilots is breaking the poverty cycle by supplementing the aid flows sustainably. Two elements are needed to achieve this (1) a tangible mechanism to source and cultivate revenue streams in pilots from the outset, and grow these in tandem as the pilot grows and matures and (2) think like an entrepreneurs and embed and formalise mechanisms to transfer of skills, capacity and knowledge to the beneficiaries, creating ownership of the outcomes and sustainability of the programme without dependence on outside parties, development agencies or otherwise.

Business not being able to make pilots commercially viable – even at scale. This is partly due to “best-case- scenario” business cases being presented for funding decisions or some vague assumptions caveating the numbers. I believe the cause of this is due to not truly and deeply understanding and proving how the innovation in pilot is solving the real issue faced by the beneficiaries. This, in turn, is an outcome of working in isolation and not taking a systemic, cross-sectoral view on how to address issues. Without deep community knowledge of the issue, often the outcome is not relevant or appropriate to solve the issue that the community faces. Businesses, grantees and governments cannot fund programmes indefinitely, so commercial viability and volume, even with minute margins, must be the
real issue that is solved for in pilots

Government’s ability to address fast-paced changes in demand – the bureaucracy under which they must operate directly impedes their ability to respond timeously and proactively to changes in their communities. We live in a orld now where what is true and real today, is not that tomorrow – governments are scrambling to keep up and must not focus in the short –term, but solve for the issues anticipated in 10-20+ years, building resilience and flexibility into their programmes consistently.

Mismatch between Pilot success factors and actual impact delivered – In my experience with partnerships, often pilot measure their success on factors not aligned to the impact needing to be delivered to solve the real development issue. In theory is does, indirectly, but in reality it is seldom measured as a key outcome. I’d like to see business, governments and development agencies working to measure the impacts and communicate successes along the specific goals of the SDG’s e.g. % poverty reduced, % increase in gender balance in schools, number of lives saved through access to healthcare…

Lack of collaboration and true partnering – over the last 10 years, Accenture Development Partnerships has seen an evolution of Partnerships from:

- isolated philanthropic contributions unrelated to business, to

- opportunistic projects that bring the strength of the partners capabilities, to

- strategic partnerships where development issues are addressed directly with long term focus, to

- shared-value partnerships that have a meaningful source of competitive advantage.

Now, we are seeing more partnerships being set up that are transformational in nature meaning they are setting out to systemically change the status quo and work at the market level, improving enabling environments and setting global standards – it is these transformational partnerships that will drive the market-changing innovations that will push us into new paradigms

Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Great contributions! Let's move onto our second set of questions:

What are some of the key drivers and barriers to innovations reaching scale sustainably and what are the essential enabling conditions required for success?


(Dr. Lisa Bonadonna) #65

Completely agree - please see my comment about the GSK-Save the Children Healthcare Innovation Award.

Wendy Smith said:

I have just joined the conversation, but I wanted to make this contribution - perhaps it has already been shared. My bias is ALWAYS to involve those who are impacted most by efforts to achieve the SDGs. Has there been conversation about involving local communities in helping to pave the "last mile"? Imagine the potential created for locals by having them partner with large NGOs and businesses to develop models that will work.


(Devyani Parameshwar) #66

It's true that there are some amazing ICT innovations that could have an impact on health systems, access to energy, agriculture, and more, and at Vodafone we're excited to be at the forefront of some of these including IoT applications. As was raised earlier though, awareness and behaviour change will be key to adoption at scale.

Jolene Dawson said:

Jim, digital is certainly a huge space for innovation and when you start adding the Internet of Things (machine to machien communication), robotics and artificial intelligence into the space of agriculture and, more broadly livilihoods in developing markets - things get REALLY interesting, very quickly - check out Accenture's Precision Agriculture, where we use drones to help farmers...Accenture Digital - Precision Agriculture

Jim Thompson said:

Innovations coming from the IT community are reducing costs and inefficiencies that we see across sectors. We see that financial services have moved to mobile, humanitarian response now includes online locating services and mapping, and agriculture is also moving to the cloud. Take a look at these connected cows and think of the potential across the entire agriculture spectrum:

http://www.fujitsu.com/jp/group/kyushu/en/solutions/industry/agricu...

Jim - Director of Innovation

U.S. Department of State


Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Let's kick off with our first set of questions:

What role will innovation play in achieving the SDGs? How can the SDGs help build and strengthen the ecosystem for innovation? What roles can different sectors best play?


(Dr. Lisa Bonadonna) #67



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Thank you for sharing your insights! Let's move onto the third and final set of questions:

What principles and processes do partnerships between business and the development community need in place to help drive innovation? What are some good examples and what can we learn from them?


(Mike Tuffrey) #68

Thanks everyone for great discussion. Just to add... somewhere in this question about fostering innovation and the role of the different sectors is a specific role for governments and state agencies in de-risking (but not taking over and directing!). Do colleagues from eg the US State Department or public-private partnerships have a view? Thanks, Mike.


(Priya Madina) #69

In their partnerships, businesses and the development community must do just that: be partners. Today’s challenges cannot be effectively addressed by unilateral action. It is no use for a business to simply finance the community and for them to take all further actions with their funding. The two entities must interact and each share their knowledge and ideas to drive innovation. This ultimately leads to more efficient action, as well as greater commitment to the projects’ success.

Partnerships work best when the common objectives are clear and agreed upfront and the roles and responsibilities are well defined. Clear leadership and coordination are also key.

Successful partnerships where business can provide professional insight and expertise in whichever field they specialise in, and the development community can provide insider knowledge about the community in which the business is investing/local tailored intelligence, as well as information regarding its needs in order to prioritise when it comes to taking action.



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Thank you for sharing your insights! Let's move onto the third and final set of questions:

What principles and processes do partnerships between business and the development community need in place to help drive innovation? What are some good examples and what can we learn from them?


(Jolene Dawson) #70

Kate and Chuck, we have seen many companies looking at moving up- and down-stream in their supply chain trying to create value and increase transparency and traceability for their consumers.

Some businesses decide to integrate their spply chians to take more control, but the more successful approach we've seen is where companies decide to collborate with their suppliers and consumers (or beneficiaries) to ensure they are getting the value hey need - a much more collaborative and partnering approach

Kate Wolfenden said:

Love this thread Jolene and Chuck,

To build on the collaboration comment, a big thing companies can do is democratise access to their supply and value chains in order to create a more inclusive value chain. This is both in developed countries where sustainable innovations can advance sustainability agendas with new business models and step changing technological advancements if given the chance... and indeed fast developing countries where being able to accept a broader range of suppliers into the value chain can give more people a chance.


Chuck Slaughter said:

Great point Jolene. Look at the most successful technology companies in Silicon Valley. Google Microsoft Facebook Twitter etc. Even these innovation engines depend for their ongoing success on acquiring small agile companies who are quicker and nimbler at coming up with the next ‘big thing’.



Jolene Dawson said:

Business: Large corporates, although many are appointing Chief Innovation Officers, find it challenging to structure innovation into business. Medium and small enterprise are more agile and better at a harnessing innovation.

Business’ role in delivering innovation and helping achieve the SDG’s lies in collaborating with SMME’s, governments and the development sector, in partnerships, to bring innovation to the areas that need in and scale these at pace. To do this, business needs to:

- Align their business vision, mission and goals with the SDG’s relevant to their industry and business

- Allocate investment to drive no only short-term profits, but long-term sustainability of their business and indeed the communities and environments in which they operate

- Lobby government to put in place regulations that allow SMME’s to flourish and cross-sector partnerships to be successful

- work with the development sector, not only by providing funding, but also by building capacity and leveraging their assets and capabilities to make programmes successful

- Set up innovation hubs that incorporate accelerators, incubators, mentorship programmes and invest, either by building or buying from SMME’s to identify and scale market-changing innovations



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Let's kick off with our first set of questions:

What role will innovation play in achieving the SDGs? How can the SDGs help build and strengthen the ecosystem for innovation? What roles can different sectors best play?


(Chuck Slaughter) #71

Let’s talk more about MOBILE tech innovation. In addition to founding Living Goods I invest in wide range of sectors via private equity. Nearly every sector has been or will be disrupted by the Internet and mobile technology. So if you’re going to innovate you need to be thinking about how mobile technology is going to play a part. At living goods we began investing deeply in developing on mobile technology backbone for our social business three years ago. That toolkit has moved from being a useful accessory to being the heart, lungs, and central nervous system of our organization.

Every Living Goods Community health entrepreneur now has an android phone with the living goods designed Smart Health app. Our treatment app makes diagnosing child illnesses easy and accurate; it also sends daily dosage reminders to the patient. The pregnancy app helps flag pregnant women at high risk of complications and sends timed SMS health messages to them every week. These tools enable us to track and report on every customer contact. Any staff member can see the performance of any agent, using any device, in real time. Living Goods also uses this system to broadcast health messages and money-saving promotions to customers via SMS. This drives better health behaviors and increases demand and sustainability.


(Jolene Dawson) #72

In order to set up a partnership that focusses on using innovation, some things to consider are:

- Transparency and trust: Partnerships and innovation can make things significantly more complex. Upfront planning and embedding of good governance, clear reporting and open communication are key to a healthy and successful partnership that delivers.

- Alignment on Roles & Value: Goals of the partnership must be clearly defined upfront with accountability, roles and responsibilities defined before the partnership in formally launched. Perceived value that each party brings must be defined upfront and balanced as far as possible.

- Manage Communication Closely: Sometimes, the excitement of what the partnership intends to do gets the better of the parties and, once in the public domain, is easily misconstrued or misrepresented. Ensure that communications about intended outcomes, investments, scaling plans and key success criteria are realistic and attainable and can be measured. Also, embrace digital in all its forms – for content creation, content management and dissemination (social media), crowd sourcing and collaboration etc.

- Set realistic financial expectations: The models that are used to make decisions can sometimes not be based on realistic expectations or even feasible on the ground. A good example of a flawed model here is that on driving financial inclusion in South Africa. A critical success factor here was uptake, but no-one thought to measure usage – commercial institutions poured money into making their products work with high operating costs, not reaching the usage requirements they needed to make it viable for them to pursue, long-term. An additional contributing factor was that the South African government mandated banks need to address financial exclusion, making it a grudge spend, as opposed to a market changing innovation like M-Pesa that is now competing directly with banks in Kenya an looking to expand into credit.

- Lobby Government to get buy-in, early: many partnerships fail to scale, despite significant impacts they have proven as they either clash with or do not directly support existing or planned government interventions. Be sure that the markets you operate in are going to be an enabling environment and the communities you work in really are involved

Partner for the ‘right’ reasons: Sometimes, it simply does not make sense for businesses, government and the development sectors all to partner, chiefly due to the complexity that can arise from multi-stakeholder, multi-beneficiary partnerships. Partner in order to deliver bigger impacts faster. Finding the ‘right’ partner means critically looking at the solution you want to achieve and probing exactly where it is weak or lacking – it is here you should find partner (preferably an entity, government, business, development agent or otherwise, who leads their industry in this aspect) to bring on-board what you don’t have. Be clear on who will delivers what, especially where more than one entity in a partnership has a strong capability.

Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Thank you for sharing your insights! Let's move onto the third and final set of questions:

What principles and processes do partnerships between business and the development community need in place to help drive innovation? What are some good examples and what can we learn from them?


(Carey Carpenter) #73

To chime in, digital is revolutionizing the way we deliver impact. Living Goods has partnered with Medic Mobile to develop a smartphone-compatible mobile application that tracks the performance of community health workers. We put a smartphone in the hands of each Living Goods agent and train him/her to understand how to read and interpret their performance data. It is incredible to see the smiles and lifted spirits as our frontline health workers, often for the very first time, get to see in real-time how their work in the field contributes to lives saved.

Jim, Jolene - I am a huge believer and fan of mapping technologies in the agriculture space! If we can identify the smallholder farmers, map them, and get data to/from them in real time.... the possibilities are endless.

Devyani Parameshwar said:

It's true that there are some amazing ICT innovations that could have an impact on health systems, access to energy, agriculture, and more, and at Vodafone we're excited to be at the forefront of some of these including IoT applications. As was raised earlier though, awareness and behaviour change will be key to adoption at scale.

Jolene Dawson said:

Jim, digital is certainly a huge space for innovation and when you start adding the Internet of Things (machine to machien communication), robotics and artificial intelligence into the space of agriculture and, more broadly livilihoods in developing markets - things get REALLY interesting, very quickly - check out Accenture's Precision Agriculture, where we use drones to help farmers...Accenture Digital - Precision Agriculture

Jim Thompson said:

Innovations coming from the IT community are reducing costs and inefficiencies that we see across sectors. We see that financial services have moved to mobile, humanitarian response now includes online locating services and mapping, and agriculture is also moving to the cloud. Take a look at these connected cows and think of the potential across the entire agriculture spectrum:

http://www.fujitsu.com/jp/group/kyushu/en/solutions/industry/agricu...

Jim - Director of Innovation

U.S. Department of State


Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Let's kick off with our first set of questions:

What role will innovation play in achieving the SDGs? How can the SDGs help build and strengthen the ecosystem for innovation? What roles can different sectors best play?


(Chuck Slaughter) #74

I agree, partner-powered integration is the future in supply chains.

Jolene Dawson said:

Kate and Chuck, we have seen many companies looking at moving up- and down-stream in their supply chain trying to create value and increase transparency and traceability for their consumers.

Some businesses decide to integrate their spply chians to take more control, but the more successful approach we've seen is where companies decide to collborate with their suppliers and consumers (or beneficiaries) to ensure they are getting the value hey need - a much more collaborative and partnering approach

Kate Wolfenden said:

Love this thread Jolene and Chuck,

To build on the collaboration comment, a big thing companies can do is democratise access to their supply and value chains in order to create a more inclusive value chain. This is both in developed countries where sustainable innovations can advance sustainability agendas with new business models and step changing technological advancements if given the chance... and indeed fast developing countries where being able to accept a broader range of suppliers into the value chain can give more people a chance.


Chuck Slaughter said:

Great point Jolene. Look at the most successful technology companies in Silicon Valley. Google Microsoft Facebook Twitter etc. Even these innovation engines depend for their ongoing success on acquiring small agile companies who are quicker and nimbler at coming up with the next ‘big thing’.



Jolene Dawson said:

Business: Large corporates, although many are appointing Chief Innovation Officers, find it challenging to structure innovation into business. Medium and small enterprise are more agile and better at a harnessing innovation.

Business’ role in delivering innovation and helping achieve the SDG’s lies in collaborating with SMME’s, governments and the development sector, in partnerships, to bring innovation to the areas that need in and scale these at pace. To do this, business needs to:

- Align their business vision, mission and goals with the SDG’s relevant to their industry and business

- Allocate investment to drive no only short-term profits, but long-term sustainability of their business and indeed the communities and environments in which they operate

- Lobby government to put in place regulations that allow SMME’s to flourish and cross-sector partnerships to be successful

- work with the development sector, not only by providing funding, but also by building capacity and leveraging their assets and capabilities to make programmes successful

- Set up innovation hubs that incorporate accelerators, incubators, mentorship programmes and invest, either by building or buying from SMME’s to identify and scale market-changing innovations



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Let's kick off with our first set of questions:

What role will innovation play in achieving the SDGs? How can the SDGs help build and strengthen the ecosystem for innovation? What roles can different sectors best play?


(Carey Carpenter) #75

Partnerships between business and the development community will flourish when there are shared objectives at the every level, plus routine and transparent feedback mechanisms to quickly share success stories; flag risks; and address issues.

In our partnerships at Living Goods, we have routine check ins between advisors and folks running operations on the ground. This helps all sides understand the challenges the team faces in the field, and allows us to put our heads together to find the right solution. Best of all, given the different backgrounds of each individual/organization represented in our partnerships, we can pull in the right expertise when we need it: for example, a BoP product/marketing specialist from Living Goods, a supply chain whiz from GSK, Barclays experts who can train social enterprise staff on the ins and outs of cash flow management, and leaders at CARE who have worked in community development for decades.

In these partnerships, the ability to admit when we don’t know something, and to have the courage / boldness to ask to speak to someone who does, can do wonders for the effectiveness of a partnership. But when we try to “go it alone” and we forget the very essence of partnering, we are taking a step backwards. We have so much to learn from each other – openness, transparency, and recognition of each partner’s strengths are key.



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Thank you for sharing your insights! Let's move onto the third and final set of questions:

What principles and processes do partnerships between business and the development community need in place to help drive innovation? What are some good examples and what can we learn from them?


(Simon Wright) #76

Partnerships between businesses and development community need to aim for equality. Very hard when one is providing the funding. Understanding different organisational cultures and traditions takes time and effort. For an NGO, assuming that a business can just behave like and NGO will only lead to tears. But understanding the motivation of the company can help to build activities which are likely to have impact and be sustainable.


(Jolene Dawson) #77

Chuck, for us, at Accenture Development Partnerships, Digital and Mobile is the way to go!

Especially in Africa where traditional infrastructure is not well dispersed - the mobile network operators need to ensure three things to guarantee their leapfrogging of traditional technology trajectories (this was in one of my earlier comments I think)

"Mobile in Africa hold great promise, if the mobile network operators can (1) provide reliable and consistent signal coverage, (2) provide affordable mechanisms for people to adopt new technologies (especially smart phones) and (3) manage allocation of spectrum, a finite resource for all MNO’s"



Chuck Slaughter said:

Let’s talk more about MOBILE tech innovation. In addition to founding Living Goods I invest in wide range of sectors via private equity. Nearly every sector has been or will be disrupted by the Internet and mobile technology. So if you’re going to innovate you need to be thinking about how mobile technology is going to play a part. At living goods we began investing deeply in developing on mobile technology backbone for our social business three years ago. That toolkit has moved from being a useful accessory to being the heart, lungs, and central nervous system of our organization.

Every Living Goods Community health entrepreneur now has an android phone with the living goods designed Smart Health app. Our treatment app makes diagnosing child illnesses easy and accurate; it also sends daily dosage reminders to the patient. The pregnancy app helps flag pregnant women at high risk of complications and sends timed SMS health messages to them every week. These tools enable us to track and report on every customer contact. Any staff member can see the performance of any agent, using any device, in real time. Living Goods also uses this system to broadcast health messages and money-saving promotions to customers via SMS. This drives better health behaviors and increases demand and sustainability.


(Kate Wolfenden) #78

Hi Priya,

Love this and wanted to share two insights from our experiences to date:

1. On the clear and common objectives agreed up front. Its amazing how many times we 'think' we have agreed on something, but in reality, due to cross sector, cross industry, global partnerships - many definitions are lost in translation. Ie if I think blue is actually purple. When my partner is actually talking about blue which is in his or her reality, yellow.

2. Principles. When we work on activities and objectives alone we find ourselves tied up on knots over specifics. We are taking time to align on collaboration principles and to REALLY understand the definition of them before moving into action. This is especially important for us as we innovate at the core of business, not at the fringes, so risk - if not managed effectively - is potentially highly contentious.



Priya Madina said:

In their partnerships, businesses and the development community must do just that: be partners. Today’s challenges cannot be effectively addressed by unilateral action. It is no use for a business to simply finance the community and for them to take all further actions with their funding. The two entities must interact and each share their knowledge and ideas to drive innovation. This ultimately leads to more efficient action, as well as greater commitment to the projects’ success.

Partnerships work best when the common objectives are clear and agreed upfront and the roles and responsibilities are well defined. Clear leadership and coordination are also key.

Successful partnerships where business can provide professional insight and expertise in whichever field they specialise in, and the development community can provide insider knowledge about the community in which the business is investing/local tailored intelligence, as well as information regarding its needs in order to prioritise when it comes to taking action.



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Thank you for sharing your insights! Let's move onto the third and final set of questions:

What principles and processes do partnerships between business and the development community need in place to help drive innovation? What are some good examples and what can we learn from them?


(Wendy Smith) #79

One last point on funder appetite. Informed individuals would invest in innovation being taken to scale. I know this from my own research. Given the chance, everyday donors - households - will invest in what can has shown to be effective. They need to be asked! Maybe this kind of funding needs its own platform - a Kickstarter for innovation, scale and sustainability. With promotion, people WOULD contribute, particularly Americans who think of themselves as individualistic in their giving and want to make informed personal decisions rather than contribute through taxes.



Jolene Dawson said:

Thanks Lisa - some of the challenges we've certainly seen while balancing both commercial and development agenda's in our partnership work is exactly what you mention - funder apetite.

There is often a fair amount of tension to deliver against 'typical' corporate returns in a development setting, while the development agent, just wants to maximise impact - My opinion is partnership brokers need to balance both sides of this and work to have fair commercial returns, but potentially over longer timelines, while the impacts are delivered on the ground.

Dr. Lisa Bonadonna said:

Jolene I concur with many of your points and would add the following:

  • Breaking down the challenge to facilitate creating a manageable innovation pilot at the expense of understanding the social system the behaviour change must be embedded within
  • Funder apetitie for new undertakings relative to funding initiatives often piloted by others that merit being taken to scale
  • Rejecting the role that for profit enterprises can play in addressing social challenges either in the short or long run


Jolene Dawson said:

Barriers to Innovation Scaling:

Commitment to move beyond pilots – most partnerships that have been underway in pilot have proven their impact but have stumbled when it comes to scaling. Partly due to financing and investment constraints, but also due to slow responsiveness and lack of agility to “fail-fast”, internalise the lessons learnt in piloting and recalibrate for success.

Harnessing technologies to leapfrog traditional growth trajectories – companies, especially large corporates, like most people, resist change. Delivering innovation at scale is perceived a little like “Fixing what isn’t broken” For innovation to be embedded and truly scalable, traditional growth, business, operating and deliver models should be questioned – is there a completely new way we could do this? Mobile in Africa hold great promise, if the mobile network operators can (1) provide reliable and consistent signal coverage, (2) provide affordable mechanisms for people to adopt new technologies (especially smart phones) and (3) manage allocation of spectrum, a finite resource for all MNO’s

Making funding models sustainable from the outset – A key barrier to scaling innovations beyond pilots is breaking the poverty cycle by supplementing the aid flows sustainably. Two elements are needed to achieve this (1) a tangible mechanism to source and cultivate revenue streams in pilots from the outset, and grow these in tandem as the pilot grows and matures and (2) think like an entrepreneurs and embed and formalise mechanisms to transfer of skills, capacity and knowledge to the beneficiaries, creating ownership of the outcomes and sustainability of the programme without dependence on outside parties, development agencies or otherwise.

Business not being able to make pilots commercially viable – even at scale. This is partly due to “best-case- scenario” business cases being presented for funding decisions or some vague assumptions caveating the numbers. I believe the cause of this is due to not truly and deeply understanding and proving how the innovation in pilot is solving the real issue faced by the beneficiaries. This, in turn, is an outcome of working in isolation and not taking a systemic, cross-sectoral view on how to address issues. Without deep community knowledge of the issue, often the outcome is not relevant or appropriate to solve the issue that the community faces. Businesses, grantees and governments cannot fund programmes indefinitely, so commercial viability and volume, even with minute margins, must be the
real issue that is solved for in pilots

Government’s ability to address fast-paced changes in demand – the bureaucracy under which they must operate directly impedes their ability to respond timeously and proactively to changes in their communities. We live in a orld now where what is true and real today, is not that tomorrow – governments are scrambling to keep up and must not focus in the short –term, but solve for the issues anticipated in 10-20+ years, building resilience and flexibility into their programmes consistently.

Mismatch between Pilot success factors and actual impact delivered – In my experience with partnerships, often pilot measure their success on factors not aligned to the impact needing to be delivered to solve the real development issue. In theory is does, indirectly, but in reality it is seldom measured as a key outcome. I’d like to see business, governments and development agencies working to measure the impacts and communicate successes along the specific goals of the SDG’s e.g. % poverty reduced, % increase in gender balance in schools, number of lives saved through access to healthcare…

Lack of collaboration and true partnering – over the last 10 years, Accenture Development Partnerships has seen an evolution of Partnerships from:

- isolated philanthropic contributions unrelated to business, to

- opportunistic projects that bring the strength of the partners capabilities, to

- strategic partnerships where development issues are addressed directly with long term focus, to

- shared-value partnerships that have a meaningful source of competitive advantage.

Now, we are seeing more partnerships being set up that are transformational in nature meaning they are setting out to systemically change the status quo and work at the market level, improving enabling environments and setting global standards – it is these transformational partnerships that will drive the market-changing innovations that will push us into new paradigms

Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Great contributions! Let's move onto our second set of questions:

What are some of the key drivers and barriers to innovations reaching scale sustainably and what are the essential enabling conditions required for success?


(Jolene Dawson) #80


I personally have seen the impact the Living Goods Community Health Workers are having and how enabling mobile tech (hardware and software) can be...


Jolene Dawson said:

Chuck, for us, at Accenture Development Partnerships, Digital and Mobile is the way to go!

Especially in Africa where traditional infrastructure is not well dispersed - the mobile network operators need to ensure three things to guarantee their leapfrogging of traditional technology trajectories (this was in one of my earlier comments I think)

"Mobile in Africa hold great promise, if the mobile network operators can (1) provide reliable and consistent signal coverage, (2) provide affordable mechanisms for people to adopt new technologies (especially smart phones) and (3) manage allocation of spectrum, a finite resource for all MNO’s"



Chuck Slaughter said:

Let’s talk more about MOBILE tech innovation. In addition to founding Living Goods I invest in wide range of sectors via private equity. Nearly every sector has been or will be disrupted by the Internet and mobile technology. So if you’re going to innovate you need to be thinking about how mobile technology is going to play a part. At living goods we began investing deeply in developing on mobile technology backbone for our social business three years ago. That toolkit has moved from being a useful accessory to being the heart, lungs, and central nervous system of our organization.

Every Living Goods Community health entrepreneur now has an android phone with the living goods designed Smart Health app. Our treatment app makes diagnosing child illnesses easy and accurate; it also sends daily dosage reminders to the patient. The pregnancy app helps flag pregnant women at high risk of complications and sends timed SMS health messages to them every week. These tools enable us to track and report on every customer contact. Any staff member can see the performance of any agent, using any device, in real time. Living Goods also uses this system to broadcast health messages and money-saving promotions to customers via SMS. This drives better health behaviors and increases demand and sustainability.