Friday, April 18, 2014

Work on the Biggest Social Challenges of Our Time!

Are you motivated by the power of technology as a force for good that can directly help the world’s poorest communities thrive? Do you believe ours could be a world in which the benefits of technology touch the lives of all people, not just the wealthiest and most able five percent of humanity? Are you driven to make a real difference from a leadership position in the open source community, at the heart of Silicon Valley and at the unique intersection of technology and social change?

Are you willing to work on delivering maximum good for humanity, rather than maximum profits? 

Then read on: we might just have the perfect job opportunity for you.

Benetech is seeking a Vice President of Engineering to spearhead and expand our team of technologists committed to delivering social good at scale. We’re a nonprofit technology company on a mission to address unmet social needs by providing targeted software tools and services to groups left underserved by the market, such as human rights activists and students with learning differences. We’re passionate, agile, and growing, and we need you: an accomplished, entrepreneurial technology leader motivated by creating lasting impact for the betterment of society.

You’ll be responsible for the overall development, testing, and deployment of new technology in all of our multi-issue initiatives, but you’ll need to transcend the technology requirements alone. Success in this position means you have built and delivered products that have scaled in the marketplace, understand the ins-and-outs of the technology sector, and are able to foster collaborative environments between diverse groups and organizations.

We’re looking for an innovator who can help us strengthen Benetech’s reputation, recruit the greatest talent to enhance our team, cultivate and forge new relationships with partners, funders, and technologists, and guide our growing community of open source developer volunteers.

Do you like taking on big challenges? We’ve got plenty of them for you to tackle. Here’s a taste of what’s on the plate at Benetech:
  • Promoting Internet freedom by building and deploying strongly encrypted, open source tools for human rights groups and journalists;
  • Advancing equal education by helping students with disabilities and learning differences read and succeed at school;
  • Improving access to clean water for some of the world’s poorest communities by supporting community based organizations with the right technical tools.

We also offer great salary by nonprofit standards and annual bonuses, but do understand that we aren’t able to match what Silicon Valley for-profit technology companies can provide. If you’re looking to get rich, this isn’t the right job for you. You have to be someone who’s motivated above all else by the opportunity to work on high-impact software applications with extraordinary social return on investment.

Other perks we offer include:

  • Excellent employee benefits;
  • Work-life balance;
  • The ability to directly improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals around the world (and, with your help, millions).
If you ever wondered how you could have a job in the technology sector that truly helped the people who most need technology but are the least able to afford it;

If you ever wondered how you could personally work on the biggest social challenges of our time;

And if you ever got frustrated by having to abandon a great idea that could help entire communities just because it didn’t generate enough profit —

Then this is your moment. Check out the job description for more details and throw your hat in the ring. Join our team and help us make more impact than ever!

Thursday, April 03, 2014

The Librarian of Marrakesh

One of the joys of my role is meeting other social sector leaders: people with a powerful passion for good.  We learn from each other, and try to help each other when we can. 

Smiling, seated woman.
Jamila Hassoune
Ten years ago, I started corresponding with a fascinating woman from Morocco, Jamila Hassoune.  Over time, I learned more and more about her work and background.  She was the first woman bookseller in Morocco.  Her love for books led her to create the Book Caravans: treks each April out to a village in the desert or the mountains of Morocco.  She would bring books especially for children and women, and conduct a couple of days of workshops on wide-ranging topics about enterprise, culture, history, poetry and books.

Over the time I corresponded with Jamila by email, she started becoming better known in Europe.  One Italian book was written about her entitled the "La libraia di Marrakech," the Librarian of Marrakesh.

Last year, I was able to meet Jamila in person in Marrakesh, while I was there for the negotiations on the Treaty for People who are Blind or Print Disabled.  We had a great conversation, and I learned much more about her dreams for doing more for the people of Morocco.  She's very proud of her country, and thinks that her fellow Moroccans need to know more about their culture and history.  And, she wants to improve access to education, economic opportunity and of course, books, for all Moroccans, but most especially women!

I believe strongly in social entrepreneurs who understand their own society.  Jamila is a well educated and well read leader with a vision.  It's not the vision of an American or European trying to help Morocco, hers is the vision of a Moroccan who sees what needs to be done and how to do it!

After all of these years, I now know that Jamila has been working hard on these issues, with minimal supports, as a very dedicated social entrepreneur.  She has a new vision of doing even more than the book caravans: she wants to build a new kind of school and ecologically sound social enterprise at an oasis in Morocco, which would include a museum about Moroccan culture.  It's a big set of goals, but she's pulled off the improbable before! 

I know that she would benefit from more help: she's asked me if I know how she could get more volunteers to assist her with her work.  She would welcome English-speaking volunteers.  And though she doesn't ask, I'm sure she could use more donors, too.

So, if you're reading this and get excited about Jamila's approach, figure out a way to support her efforts.