The World’s Most Innovative Solutions to Power Economic Opportunity
By: Julie Vennewitz-Pierce
Identify innovative solutions that are igniting new economic opportunities and creating jobs for disadvantaged populations – that was our goal this past March when we launched the Powering Economic Opportunity: Create a World That Works competition with Ashoka Changemakers. Now, almost a year after developing our initial concept for this competition, we have completed our search and are thrilled to share some of the outcomes.
Our competition received a huge response. With nearly 900 entries from 83 countries, our call for solutions generated the most submissions ever for a single Changemakers.com competition since they were started by Ashoka seven years ago. With entries ranging from new mobile innovations and finance models, to crowd-sourcing approaches and rural energy initiatives, the caliber and diversity of entries was impressive.
In addition, it was remarkable to watch the active Changemakers community get involved by commenting on entries, asking questions and providing feedback, and, ultimately, voting on their favorite entries. In fact, to increase participation in our competition and beyond, we worked with a team of eBay engineers to create a new Facebook application. Now, people around the world can learn about, vote on, like and share their favorite competition entries through Facebook. And the application doesn’t end with our competition – it will continue to spark involvement in all Changemakers competitions to come. Check it out and get involved here.
The five winners we identified (with your help!) come from diverse locations and advance unique models for creating a world that works. In the US, Twin Cities Rise! advances a new funding model that makes use of state funds to help some of the hardest people to employ find long-term jobs. On the other side of the world, in Africa and India, Nuru Energy addresses the need to replace kerosene as a source of lighting for the two billion people who lack electricity, while simultaneously creating jobs for those living in poverty. Our other winners (Solidarium Fair Trade in Brazil, Grameen Foundation in Indonesia and Fundacion Paraguaya in Paraguay) have similarly creative approaches and over the coming weeks we will explore each of them in-depth in their own blog posts. Stay tuned to learn more about our winners.
We are extremely appreciative of everyone who helped make this competition a success. We are especially grateful for the time and expertise our international panel of expert judges contributed to help us determine the five winners. They were:
- • Maureen Conway, Executive Director of the Economic Opportunities Program, The Aspen Institute
• Bibek Debroy, Economist and Professor, Centre for Policy Research
•John Donahoe, President and CEO, eBay Inc.
• Nancy Lee, General Manager, Multilateral Investment Fund
• Gayle Lemmon, Author and Deputy Director, Council on Foreign Relations’ Women and Foreign Policy program
• Vivianne Naigeborin, Strategic Advisor, Potencia Ventures
In addition, we are thankful for the Changemakers team for partnering with us on this competition and to the thousands of individuals around the world who participated. The response has been truly inspiring and is propelling us forward in our goals and strategy for The Opportunity Project.