Thursday, 15.15-16.45 (Balcony C)

The growing world of ICT social entrepreneurs (WISE): Is social impact significant? Dale Hill, Independent Consultant; Jacob Korenblum, Souktel; Christopher Robert, Dobility, Inc.; Jerusha Govender, Data Innovator and South African M&E Association; Roger Nathanial Ashby, OpenWise; Nick Martin, TechChange
Join us for a discussion with founders of companies in the MERL Tech space who aim for social impact to discuss what we know about the world of ICT social entrepreneurs (WISE) and what motivates them. We’ll explore aspects of representation in this “world”, unpacking what may be an ongoing digital divide. Finally, we’ll discuss the role of evaluators in helping to measure the social impact of social entrepreneurs. Who are the main clients for this type of evaluation — social entrepreneurs themselves or social impact investors? Is the impact of WISE significant? If so, how can we encourage growth? 

Session Level: 

Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced.

Speaker Details:

The title and abstract of this session encompasses several subquestions: What do we know about the growing world of ICT social entrepreneurs (WISE) and their companies? What motivated the founders? Are they achieving their original goals? Can evaluators help measure the social impact of WISE? Who are the main clients for this—WISE themselves? Or social impact investors? Is the impact significant? If so, how can we encourage growth? Are emerging economies well represented in this “World”? Or is there still a digital divide?

This session will aim to balance the genuine need to provide introductory information to a new field of interest (with many overlapping categories and confusing definitions) with the desire for audience interaction. Having 5 founders of ICT social entrepreneurship ventures present provides a rare opportunity to provide further understanding of the introductory material.

Introductory Portion: First, Dale, as moderator will ask for a show of hands to determine the composition of the audience: Evaluators? Managers of evaluators? ICT social entrepreneurs? Other ICT entrepreneurs or consultants? Other social entrepreneurs in other sectors? Social impact investors? Then, Dale will present, from her grant funded research, a concise introduction to the various categories that make up the “World of ICT Social entrepreneurs (WISE) with a Venn diagram – legal benefit corporations (with a lower case b), certified B corporations (with an upper case B, aspiring B corporations, and other entrepreneurships. She will introduce the nature of accountability requirements of each of these, and the implications for measuring social impact (or evidence of “no harm”).

Then, the 5 founding social entrepreneurs will speak on their own motivations and experiences, and their views on measuring and reporting social impact. Spoiler: There IS a range of views! They may also comment on whether they indeed perceive their “world” to be growing, and whether it crosses global boundaries, or is operating in a growing “digital divide”.

Interactive Portion: The participants, split up into tables, will be provided 5 – 10 minutes to discuss the questions above, and decide on three priority questions each to ask the panel. Dale Hill, as moderator, will group the questions, eliminating overlap, and assign them to the panelists for a discussion.

Session Speakers:

Dale Hill, Evaluation Consultant. An economist/evaluator w/>35 years experience in development/humanitarian work, Dale became interested in unleashing market forces for the public good after winning a World Bank (WB) Innovation Marketplace grant in 1999. More recently, she won a Faster Forward innovation grant to examine issues in measuring social impact of benefit corporations/social entrepreneurship ventures Concurrent with this interest, Dale worked at WB in Operations, field office management (Turkey), research, evaluation, and resource mobilization, where she oversaw policies for an $8 billion grants portfolio and contributed to research on how to evaluate the growing number of global partnership programs. At American Red Cross, Ms. Hill led the evaluation team, and now consults and is Board member for three non-profits. She has presented her work at 13 professional association meetings. Ms. Hill holds an MPA from Princeton University and a BA in economics w/highest honors from the University of Virginia. More on Dale here.

Jacob Korenblum, President and CEO, Souktel. Jacob is President of Souktel, a social enterprise founded in 2006 to “provide digital solutions that transform lives.” Fluent in Arabic and French, Jacob draws on experience managing development and relief projects for USAID and CIDA in the Middle East, E Africa, S. Asia, and the Caribbean. He is an author and frequent panelist on technology and development. His work with Souktel has been profiled by The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fast Company and the UK’s Guardian newspaper. Jacob holds an Ed.M. from Harvard University, where he also served as a Harvard Reynolds Foundation Fellow in Social Enterprise from 2005-06. More on Jacob here.

Nicholas Carl Martin, Founder and CEO of TechChange. Nick Martin is the founder and CEO of TechChange, where he oversees all strategy and programming. TechChange is a US social enterprise which provides courses on the use of technology in addressing social and global challenges. It is a registered benefit corporation based in Washington, DC and was founded in the summer of 2010. Nick is an educator, technologist, and social entrepreneur. He is a PopTech Social Innovation Fellow (2013), an Ariane de Rothschild Fellow (2014), and an International Youth Foundation Global Fellow (2009). Nick was also the runner-up for the Society for International Development’s Rice Award (2014). He is an adjunct faculty member at George Washington University and Georgetown University. Nick received his BA with honors from Swarthmore College and holds an MA in Peace Education from the United Nations mandated University for Peace. More on Nick here.

Christopher Robert, Founder/CEO of Dobility, Inc. Dobility produces SurveyCTO, an electronic data collection platform used worldwide by leading researchers and evaluation professionals. Earlier in his career, he co-founded and helped grow an internet technology consultancy and led technology efforts for the top provider of software and hardware for multi-user bulletin board systems (the online systems most prominent before the Internet).As an economist, researcher, and lecturer, he is involved in a long-term project to evaluate the impacts of microfinance in South India; he develops online curriculum for a program to promote the use of evidence in policy-making (initially in Pakistan and India); and he has taught statistics and policy analysis at the Harvard Kennedy School. He holds an A.B. in public policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as Master’s and Ph.D. degrees, also in public policy, from Harvard University. More on Christopher here.

Jerusha Govender, (MM-PDM, MPH, BSc (Med), Hons) Founder and Managing Director of thedatainnovator.com.  Jerusha is an entrepreneur, data creative, and Monitoring and Evaluation specialist with 10 years’ experience in public health and development management. She has worked in 11 African countries and multiple donor contexts. Jerusha has worked within Research, Monitoring and Evaluation units playing a central role in creating systems for data gathering, information management and knowledge sharing. She has worked extensively in leading the development of software and infrastructure to enhance management of projects as well as promote use of information for decision making and experiential sharing. Jerusha has been featured as a start up entrepreneur in Entrepreneur Magazine SA, Destiny, and Destiny Man Magazines. She is also currently a board member of the South African Monitoring and Evaluation Association. More on Jerusha here.

Roger Nathanial Ashby, Co-Founder & Principal Consultant at OpenWise / Executive Director at OpenWise Learning – Founded in 2014, OpenWise’s mission is “Employing open technology to build powerful solutions for public good.”  Mr. Ashby is a technologist with over 19 years of experience working in academia, government, nonprofits and the private sector. Areas of expertise include: solution engineering, cloud computing, project/program development & management, strategic planning, data science & visualization, and Open Source Software (OSS) systems & applications. Mr. Ashby holds an associate degree in computer science from HCC, and a bachelor’s degree in business from Johns Hopkins University. Additionally, Mr. Ashby holds a graduate certification in International Development from Johns Hopkins SAIS, and earned a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Sustainable Development Practice (MPA-DP) at Columbia University SIPA. More on OpenWise here