Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Slice of the Joy of Being at Benetech

My job is so much fun! I get to spend most of my time talking to people about social good: what we're doing with technology, what our partners are doing and what the many cool people we get to meet are doing along the way. I realize that it's rare that I can share some of these meetings with our team and with the blogosphere, so here are few tidbits just from last week!
  1. The first group was the De Novo Group, co-founded by famed Internet entrepreneur Eric Brewer to take cool, socially beneficial software (often created at UC Berkeley) and bring it to the world. We connected at the recent Silicon Valley Human Rights Conference and decided we should get together. Scott McNeil came to Benetech and we talked about their MetaMouse project (getting multiple mice to work on the same PC, so that kids in low-PC resource places can work together). KoBoToolbox is a toolkit for making it easy to collect survey data on mobile devices (turns out, I later found out we're already proposing to use this to do a survey in Africa). Plus, we discussed much more exciting tech that's in the De Novo pipeline, contributing to areas Benetech is very interested in!
  2. Next, our Palo Alto neighbors D-Rev (for Design Revolution) dropped by in the form of CEO Krista Donaldson. D-Rev wants to create solutions to help the poorest people in the world. We talked about their Jaipur knee project, and a low-cost lighting solution to fight jaundice in newborns. Krista and I had a wide-ranging conversation, the kind that social entrepreneurs tend to have when they get together (like, how to get projects to have impact at scale and where to find the money to launch new projects and scale them).
  3. Then, I heard that one of our partners had just been recognized as the first recipient of the David Kato Vision & Voice Award, which honors the murdered Ugandan LGBT activist. Jamaican lawyer and activist Maurice Tomlinson of J-FLAG will be recognized next month. We've been honored to support J-FLAG in their work, and we believe that our work with J-FLAG has helped lead to our new major project helping LGBT groups in Uganda and other African countries.

And that was on top of the normal hubbub at Benetech: meeting on existing and new projects, talking to donors and supporters, and even having our quarterly board meeting (went really well) and our annual holiday party (hope to provide more soon on the holiday party, we did something really cool with another social enterprise).

As we look forward to 2012, it's easy for us to be optimistic when we see the quality of the work of our partners, and see other technical people working to see technology fully serve all of humanity!

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