Archive for July, 2009

Limerick County Enterprise Board actively engaging

July 30, 2009

I was pleasantly surprised to get an invitation this morning from Limerick County Enterprise Board to connect on LinkedIn, which I duly did. The account there is registered to their 'eMarketing & Social Networking Promoter'. I hope they make it a bit more… human, eventually, but congratulations to them for taking the plunge, not just on LinkedIn but also with a new blog and on IGOpeople. Now all they need is a Twitter account 😉

Bytes ‘n Pieces

July 24, 2009

Dublin Hub is a new coworking / hotdesking space launching soon. Check out the photos from their first co-creation event – lots of good brainstorming on the whiteboards.

– Congratulations to the four winners of the My Toyota iQ campaign, Keith BohannaMaryrose Lyons, Rob Cumiskey and Christine Duggan. These bloggers will now get to trial the iQ car and write about it for 6 months.

– The same Maryrose Lyons emailed about "Simple Assembly Me Hole.com" [yes, really] which is, she says, a site aimed at Ikea virgins. And like Ikea (Ireland) they're launching on Monday, offering assembly of Ikea furniture and other flatpack services. Clever opportunism.

– I paid a visit to the Enterprise Acceleration Centre in Limerick yesterday where I got a sneak peek at some of the work being done by YourPinPoints, Edware, CoClarity and Mobanode. It's genuinely exciting to see what's happening at this little hub of innovation.

– And well done to an EAC alumnus TouristR for getting a high profile spot on the Eircom site.

– Another incubation center, Hothouse, is calling for applicationsThe Hothouse Venture Programme is a year-long comprehensive support and incubation programme for graduate entrepreneurs with industry experience and a technology-based business idea. There are 16 places available on each Programme. The deadline is the 31st July so hurry!

Free Human Centered Design Toolkit for social impact

July 16, 2009

Fast Company writes about IDEO's Human-Centered Design Toolkit which is available for free download and aims to "empower organizations and design firms by giving them their field-tested tools for social impact in a way that focuses more on sharing information than authorship."

The toolkit began as a conversation between IDEO's CEO Tim Brown and a program officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who first broached the idea of creating some kind of common language around designing for social impact.

"Human-centered design has always been IDEO's approach to creating innovation," says HCD Toolkit project lead Tatyana Mamut. But it was the Gates Foundation's work in developing nations where IDEO saw an opportunity to apply their three core values for sustainable design: human desirability, technical feasibility and technical viability. "What we've done with this toolkit is taken the basic structure of that methodology and turned it into a process that makes it applicable to the developing world."

There was also the notion of sharing these tools with non-designers. "There's excitement around this notion of design thinking, especially within the social sector, but there's not much of a common understanding of what that means," says social impact lead Jocelyn Wyatt. "By putting the toolkit out in the world our hope was that we could help social sector organizations, which we think could really benefit from the approach." In addition, tools like this also increase the understanding of design among non-designers, which the team believes will elevate the work of designers everywhere.

Testing the all new TypePad

July 15, 2009

And auto-twittering to… er, Twitter.

Review: One Wild Life (amazing stories of social entrepreneurs)

July 1, 2009

Unfortunately I still haven't gotten around to reading Clare Mulvaney's new book One Wild Life but fellow Social Entrepreneur Dara Hogan, project leader at Fledglings Childcare, has. And wrote a terrific review which he has kindly allowed me to reprint in full here –

Review of "One Wild Life" by Clare Mulvany

This book is a “must read” for all social entrepreneurs!  Many of us will remember Clare as the excellent photographer who shot us (the 2008 SEI awardees) in Maynooth last September.  I must confess that I was surprised to learn that Clare had spent practically a whole year travelling around the world interviewing social entrepreneurs and writing them up for her book "One Wild Life".  It’s a series of short articles over 256 pages documenting the work of 35 social entrepreneurs (including 11 in Ireland) on 4 continents.  Clare didn’t get to South America – yet!

I have a surprisingly short concentration span so I loved Clare’s chosen format which is a mixture of overviews and detailed project reports interspersed with blog / diary extracts, travel notes and sectoral snapshots.  I also liked Clare’s short, third-person introduction to each project followed by a few pages comprising the words of the social entrepreneur (in the first person).  I was very glad that it was not the tired question and answer format that I expected to find.

My first impressions are the sheer variety and diversity of social enterprises that Clare has written up.  This is not unlike what we have in SEI in Ireland but, somehow, it is magnified by the geographic and the racial diversity as well as by the scale of the problems she saw at first-hand.  

Given that Clare spent lots of time in the Developing World (Africa and Asia), she reports on some social enterprises that, happily, are not needed in Ireland.  These include Kailash Satyarthi who set up Rugmark (and two other social enterprises) in India in his drive against child labour.  Later, in the US, Clare also met Nina Smith of Rugmark to learn about the Developed World side of the Rugmark social enterprise.  Clare reports that there are about 218 million child labourers in the world of whom about 22,000 children die each year in work-related activities.  In the US, Clare met Sarah Symons & John Berger of The Emancipation Network which fights child sex trafficking.  They used the equity in their house to finance their project saying "We are gambling – it is interim".  Now that’s what I call commitment!

In the health sector Clare interviewed Peter Mugyeni who is pioneering the fight against HIV/AIDS with his Joint Clinical Research Council in Uganda.  The global statistics are staggering – 33 million people living with HIV/AIDS of whom 3 million die each year with 2.7 million new infections per annum.  As a result of HIV/AIDS, the average life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa (the most heavily-infected area) is 47 years.  The Republic of South Africa alone has 1,500 new HIV/AIDS infections per day.

In Cambodia, Clare wasn’t able to meet with Mechai Viravaida AKA Mr Condom.  However, she did write up his PDA (Population Development Association) project and his stunning results.  In the 8 years ending 1997, Mechai reduced Cambodian STD (Sexually-Transmitted Disease) infections from 410,000 to just 23,000!

The extent of child labour and the scale of HIV/AIDS pandemic present issues for social entrepreneurs of a magnitude that we in Ireland can only barely grasp.  For example, Clare documents the work of Nick Moon who, in 1992m installed 40,000 latrines in UN Refugee Agency camps in Somalia in order to earn a fee for his Kickstart project so that he could deploy new technologies in Africa.  At the peak Nick and his team were building 130 latrines per day and earning funds for Kickstart!

Clare's travel tales are cautionary and memorable too.  In Mombasa, a bad bout of food poisoning meant that Clare missed people by a few days after travelling all that way to meet them.  In Kenya, Clare opted for “mid-range accommodation” which turned out to be a brothel.  The place was filthy and Clare found a used condom between the sheets!  She went to sleep trying to muffle the sounds coming from the adjoining rooms.

Clare was moved to tears in Mumbai for the women led by Jyoti Mhapsekar of the Women’s Liberation Movement who worked sorting rubbish in appalling conditions (which had been much improved by Jyoti’s project).  In a chaotic Indian railway station, Clare had to waste 3½ hours in ten separate queues just to buy a train ticket!  Twice in her travels Clare lost her wallet and on both occasions it was returned safely and intact.

If, like both Clare and me, you have a fondness inspirational quotations then this book is a veritable treasure trove of them.  I’m sure that Ruairi McKiernan of Spunout in Galway is not the only one who can say "I nearly quit a million times".  Likewise we would all identify with Taddy Blecher of CIDA (the free South African university) when he said “being a social entrepreneur is unbelievably hard”.  In the same vein Kyle Zimmer of First Book found that in disadvantaged American neighbourhoods there was only one book per 300 children.  Kyle said "If this were easy work someone else would have done it….this is hard – really hard".  

Clare has done a lot of thinking along the way and her short conclusion outlining the top 10 lessons that she learned is a brilliant summary.  Her list of web resources is comprehensive as is her list of travel tips for anyone else heading off around the world.  As a photographer myself I was surprised that Clare used a compact digital and only bought a DSLR camera when she was well into the journey.  However, the lack of this technical resource is not evident in the excellent quality of the photography on nearly every page.  The child in me likes books with pictures and this one has many great shots.

One final quote is very relevant to Social Entrepreneurs Ireland when Clare quotes Jim Fruchterman of non-profit tech company Benetech who said "Networks are reciprocal – if you put something in you will get something back – that is their magic".  

I have only been able to touch on a handful of the projects that Clare documents in "One Wild Life".  Don’t miss this book – in it Clare has captured the essence of what we do.

— Dara Hogan