PopTech Social Innovation Fellows
Class of 2008

PopTech Social Innovation Fellows are high potential young leaders with new approaches poised for transformational impact. Most are working internationally – in places like Bhutan, India, Kenya, and Brazil – are in their mid-30s, and boast 8-10 years of experience working on pressing global challenges. They are the world-changers of tomorrow.  

 

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Ken Bankskiwanja.net
United Kingdom

Technology

Ken is the founder of kiwanja.net, an organization pioneering new applications of mobile technology to effect positive social and environmental change in the developing world. kiwanja.net helps local, national and international non-profits put mobiles to work through innovative offerings like FrontlineSMS – free software enabling coordinated, many-to-many, two-way text messaging. Ken’s solutions have been used to improve communications in many critical situations, including human rights and election monitoring, as well as disaster relief coordination.

 

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Kushal ChakrabartiVittana Foundation
Seattle, WA

Education / Finance

Kushal Chakrabarti’s Vittana Foundation brings student loans to the developing world through the power of person-to-person micro-lending – eliminating barriers to education and providing a path to meaningful, productive employment. Building on the success of organizations like Kiva, Vittana partners with microfinance banks throughout the developing world to support and catalyze new student lending programs. By connecting socially-minded people around the world to students, Vittana enables more and more microfinance banks to begin lending for education.

 

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Eric DawsonPeace First
Boston, MA

Education

Eric launched Peace First in the early 90s to address sky-rocketing youth homicide rates. The non-profit has already reached 40,000 children and families in five states and is focused on changing school cultures – teaching students the conflict resolution and peacemaking skills critical to create a safe learning environment. Through Peace First, students, teachers and volunteers come together to initiate service projects that reclaim gang-tagged buildings, build community gardens, launch recycling programs and tear down the walls of violence, sexism and racism.

 

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Tshewang DendupBhutan Broadcasting Service
Bhutan

Journalism / Education

Bhutan’s recent transition from an absolute monarchy to democracy has created unfathomable new choices and opportunities for the Bhutanese – and exposed the daunting challenges that lie ahead for the world’s youngest democracy. Tshewang plans to help his compatriots seize this historic moment by providing them with hands-on training in business and computer skills, journalism/filmmaking and hospitality. He is working to introduce a self-sustaining training center that will empower the country’s emerging leaders to drive Bhutan’s economic success and standing in the modern world.

 

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Melanie EdwardsMobile Metrix
San Francisco, CA / Brazil

Economic Development / Technology

A veteran of J.P. Morgan, IDG and the United Nations IT Service, Melanie launched Mobile Metrix to identify and serve the world’s one billion "invisible" people. The market research and distribution company connects those at the base of the pyramid to critical products and services – including pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, voting registration, and job training. Mobile Metrix accomplishes this by hiring, training and equipping local youth – in Brazil and other developing nations – with hand-held mobile technology that’s used to gather demographic data, door-to-door. The company also develops, administers and analyzes surveys for corporations, governments, NGOs, foundations and local communities.

 

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Abby FalikGlobal Citizen Year
Oakland, CA

International Development / Education

Abby Falik is Founder & CEO of Global Citizen Year, which sees the transition to college as an extraordinary – and largely untapped – opportunity to unleash the potential of a new generation of global leaders. Global Citizen Year recruits and trains a diverse corps of high-potential graduating seniors and immerses them in emerging economies during a “Bridge Year” before college. Ultimately, Global Citizen Year envisions a world in which a global Bridge Year before college is the norm, not the exception, in how young Americans are prepared to lead in our globalized world.

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Heather FlemingCatapult Design
Menlo Park, CA

Design / Technology

Heather Fleming is the founder of Catapult Design, and has worked closely with Engineers Without Borders-USA. Catapult helps foundations and nonprofits apply design thinking to global development; EWB-USA partners with developing world communities in more than 40 countries to tackle critical humanitarian challenges. Under Fleming’s leadership, EWB-USA is designing a low-cost wind turbine capable of generating enough electricity to charge a cell phone or power LED lighting in Guatemala, where 75 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. EWB-USA also contributed to the Darfur Stove Project, improving the design and usability of an innovative cookstove that requires less firewood, reducing the need for thousands of Darfuri women to leave refugee camps and risk exposure to violence.

 

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Erik HersmanUshahidi, Afrigadget.com and others
Orlando, FL / Kenya

Technology

Erik is an innovator and technologist focused on advancing the use of technology as an empowerment tool in the developing world.  He is a co-founder of Ushahidi, and has also established afrigadget.com and whiteafrican.com as key online communities promoting creative solutions to human rights, entrepreneurism and development challenges across Africa.

 

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Tevis HowardKOMAZA
Los Altos Hills, CA / Kenya

Economic Development / Environment

Tevis founded KOMAZA, a profitable microforestry social enterprise, to help end extreme poverty for rural Kenyan families living in arid landscapes. KOMAZA partners with poor families to plant high-profit commercial tree farms: families provide underutilized land and labor, KOMAZA provides planting inputs on credit, technical training, and tree marketing. With this microforestry partnership, KOMAZA is generating life-changing income for poor families and preserving indigenous biodiversity.

 

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Brian McCarthyPFNC
Corrales, NM

International Development

Brian McCarthy is Founder and CEO of PFNC, LLC; a manufacturer and provider of affordable housing. A 2004 visit to Ciudad Juárez made Brian aware of the poor living conditions and market need along the US-México border. PFNC converts surplus US shipping containers into residences for the 1.1 million laborers who work in Maquiladoras; factories for export in México. By utilizing recycled and other affordable building materials, PFNC will deliver deeded homes for under $10,000 per unit while achieving a ‘triple bottom line’. These homes will provide residents with improved safety and sanitation while also enabling wealth creation.

 

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Priti RadhakrishnanInitiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge (I-MAK)
Lewes, DE

Global Healthcare

Priti is Co-Director of I-MAK, a team of lawyers and scientists working to strengthen patent systems and encourage innovation in new medicines, while expanding broad access to the best and latest treatments. The organization does this by reviewing pharmaceutical patents to strengthen patent examination, and selectively exposing unmerited pharmaceutical patents – which drive up the cost of essential drugs and prevent them from ever being accessible in less developed countries for poor patients. I-MAK’s team is working to create technical analyses of 100 critical medicines and patents, which will help them preempt the granting of unmerited patents, increase accountability and ultimately make lifesaving drugs more affordable.

 

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Chip Ransler & Manoj SinhaHusk Power Systems (HPS)
Charlottesville, VA & Bihar, India

Energy

Chip and Manoj are key principals behind HPS, a for-profit company that’s created a proprietary technology to cost-effectively convert rice husks into electricity. The organization utilizes this technology in the production and operation of 35-100 kW mini power plants that deliver pay-for-use electricity to un-electrified villages in India’s “Rice Belt.” HPS pilot projects have become operationally profitable within six months, while delivering sustainable, environmentally-friendly, low-cost energy that is dramatically improving the lives of rural Indians.

  

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N. Taylor Thompson & Nathan SigworthPharmaSecure
Lebanon, NH

Global Healthcare

Taylor and Nathan are co-founders of PharmaSecure, a for-profit start up with a breakthrough solution to the $50+ billion, global pharmaceutical counterfeiting racket – which kills millions each year. PharmaSecure will soon launch a cell phone-based authentication mechanism enabling healthcare professionals and consumers to easily confirm the validity of purchased drugs. Their work is focused on the 5 billion people living in low and middle-income countries who are particularly susceptible to fake or sub-standard pharmaceuticals.