In the past four years, led by the World Bank and Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research at the Wharton School, Ideas for Action has sought to support and shine a spotlight on young innovators and entrepreneurs around the world. Specifically, I4A works to connect them to each other and, ultimately, to the existing institutions at the local, national and global level that can help turn their sustainable ideas into action. On Monday, September 24th we took a significant step toward this personal-institutional connection by collaborating on two events anchored on the celebration of our incredible SDGs&Her 2018 winners.
The first event, hosted by UN Women and co-organized by the UNDP, World Bank, and Zicklin Center, was a formal celebration of SDGs&Her’s winners: Tanzania-based WomenChoice Industries and Kenya’s Mukuru Stoves. Women’s Choice Industries, owned by Lucy Odiwa, manufactures vitally-needed reusable sanitary pads while promoting menstrual health hygiene management in local and regional schools. Mukuru Stoves, owned by Charlot Magayi, recycles waste metals to produce efficient and affordable cookstoves that produce less indoor air pollution than traditional stoves. World Bank Group Senior Vice President Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP’s Development Policy Bureau Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Egyptian Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Dr. Sahar Nasr, Head of IFC Gender Secretariat Henriette Kolb, and Wharton’s Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research Senior Fellow and Lecturer Djordjija Petkoski, and other international leaders and dignitaries honored the winners and provided inspirational messages to all those in attendance – including a challenge by Dr. Petkoski for everyone to listen to and learn from micro-entrepreneurs at the local level and mobilize the private sector to support them.
With this challenge in mind, a second round table event was hosted by Franklin Templeton Investments directly following the first session. While the initial event focused on open dialogue between the winners and leaders of the private sector, development and nonprofit community, and academia, this round table focused on critical issues such as the important of good governance and compliance, knowledge exchange, disruptive technology, innovative financial models, and measuring impact. After a brief recount of their projects by the SDGs&Her winners, the session quickly moved to a lively and open discussion that included expert advice and testimonials from senior executives at GTIS Partners, Google, Knowledge@Wharton, Olson Zaltman, Southern Star Shipping Co., Hemofarm, and, of course, our hosts Franklin Templeton Investments. The discussion represented unprecedented diversity in perspective and experience, providing a unique and invaluable learning experience for all.
To close the discussion, we were thrilled to announce that the 2019 Ideas for Action competition has officially opened for applications – and that more than 350 teams have now registered. Monday’s events were just the beginning of what we hope will be many follow up conversations on the local, national, and global level in which the I4A team provides the crucial and often missed connection between the thousands of innovators working on local solutions to global problems and the private sector and international institutions. We believe the private sector can both provide valuable support for and receive invaluable feedback from our young entrepreneurs, and that through this dialogue we can together achieve meaningful change and make greater strides toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.