New Solutions to Global Problems

What? A recent article on the Huffington Post by Sally Osberg provided concrete examples related to several points we have discussed and learned about in this class.  The gist of the article is that upon visiting Africa a couple witnessed a breakdown in the health care system.  Despite the fact that these countries had vaccines citizens did not have access because of unreliable transportation.

So What?  Upon returning from Africa this couple became what Goldsmith would call “social entrepreneurs” – they even mortgaged their house to fund their new project.  They realized people did not have access to the medicine because the vehicles used to transport the medicine from clinic to clinic were not reliable or in some cases not in working order at all.  This couple felt so strongly about their solution because they studied the system and solicited input from everyone involved.  This included the patients, care givers, funders, medicine transporters, mechanics, and part suppliers.  They found that no infrastructure existed to maintain, repair or address the worn out and broken down vehicles used to transport medicine. 

Now What?  These social entrepreneurs founded a program called “Riders for Health” that is now used to keep delivery vehicles in working order.  By bringing all of the stakeholders together they were able to develop the infrastructure needed to keep the clinics operating in a reliable manner.  This approach provided a “reliable, scalable vehicle-maintenance system for health care delivery.”  This couple and their riders for health project brought about large-scale change by disrupting conventional wisdom and mobilizing a broad range of actors to deliver results.  This story provides insight into successful change agents and their process.  My favorite part of the story was a quote from the couple who stated “disruption, discipline, and drive are defining characteristics of social entrepreneurship.”


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