Session 1. Appropriate Solutions for Real Needs 10:00 - 11:30 AM


Needs assessment and market research should precede any investment in poverty solutions – products, services, or programs. But too often, organizations invest in the wrong solutions and distribution strategies without understanding the real needs and context of people living in poverty. The result is millions of dollars spent without impact, or worse - negative impact.

The speakers will explain how their organizations developed a meaningful understanding of the needs of the populations they serve and what they did to select the appropriate solutions to those needs. Panelists to include Shannon Lucas (Senior Enterprise Innovation Manager, Vodafone), Wendy Taylor (Director, Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact, USAID), Clive Allison (Open Innovation Director, Unilever), and Ned Breslin (CEO, Water for People). Moderated by Shawn Powers (Policy Manager, Jameel Poverty Action Lab).




SHANNON LUCAS - Senior Enterprise Innovation Manager - Vodafone

Bio: As Senior Enterprise Innovation Manager at Vodafone Global Enterprise, Shannon focuses on empowering global Fortune 500 businesses to stay agile, competitive and sustainable. She is continually refining the Innovation within VGE by developing tools, customer engagement models and processes to support a culture of change. Through Innovation Workshops, she helps enterprise customers transform their business by exploring how mobile solutions enable new business models, consumer insights and streamlined operations. Ms. Lucas presented her vision of Collaborative Innovation at TedX Hayward. Shannon has over 15 years of leading edge technology experience at companies including Microsoft, T-Mobile and BT.

Social Impact: Vodafone can help to transform societies by bringing innovative products and services to our 404 million customers, 68% of whom live in emerging markets. Mobile technology is already a vital tool in people’s lives and our ambition is for Vodafone’s mobile services to further improve people’s livelihoods and quality of life. At the same time, we aim to help consumers, governments and businesses tackle some of the significant challenges they face – from food shortages and ageing populations, to lack of access to communications, healthcare and financial services. Our business focus on emerging markets, enterprise, data and new services gives us the ability to achieve our ambition to contribute to global development in this way, while continuing to grow our business at the same time, by developing commercially viable, scalable services that support sustainable development.



WENDY TAYLOR - Director, Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact- USAID Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact

Bio: Wendy Taylor is focused on identifying market-based solutions to address diseases and conditions of poverty in the developing world. Currently at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), she established and leads a center of excellence to accelerate the development, introduction and scale-up of priority global health interventions, the Center for Accelerating Innovation.

Social impact: The Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact will promote and reinforce innovative, business-minded approaches and solutions to accelerate impact against some of the world’s most important health challenges, convening industry experts and academic thought leaders to inform our thinking. Applying these forward-looking practices to USAID’s health investments, the Bureau will invest seed capital in the most promising ideas and cut the time it takes to transform “discoveries in the lab” to “impact on the ground.”s focused on the needs of the very poor. 



CLIVE ALLISON, PhD - Open Innovation Director - Unilever

Bio: Clive Allison is Global Director of Open Innovation for Unilever one of the world's most successful consumer goods companies. Around 150 million times a day, someone somewhere chooses a Unilever product across our Home Care, Personal Care, Foods and Refreshment product categories. Our vision is to double the size of the business while reducing our environmental footprint and increasing our positive social impact. In Open Innovation we give people and organizations the confidence to build the transformational winning partnerships required to reach that vision. Clive has a PhD from the University of Cambridge and 20 years of experience in leadership roles across R&D and Open Innovation.

Social impact: At Unilever our purpose is to make sustainable living commonplace. We work to create a better future every day, with brands and services that help people feel good, look good and get more out of life. Published in 2010, the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) is our blueprint for achieving our vision to double the size of the business whilst reducing our environmental footprint and increasing our positive social impact. It has three big goals to achieve by 2020 – to improve health and well-being, reduce environmental impact and source 100% of our agricultural raw materials sustainably and enhance the livelihoods of people across our value chain.

Supporting these goals are seven commitments underpinned by targets spanning our social, environmental and economic performance across the value chain – from the sourcing of raw materials all the way through to the use of our products in the home. In the second year of our Plan, we made steady progress towards our goals. Our USLP is ambitious and we have much more to do and we continue to strive to deliver our stretching goals. The 2012 progress report can be downloaded here. Our website is our principal means of reporting. It includes more background to our progress on the USLP and the scope of our assurance program as well as more detailed information on our approach to running a responsible business. It also contains indices that cross reference our performance to the UN Global Compact Principles, the Millennium Development Goals and Global Reporting Initiative indicators.





Bio: Ned Breslin is the CEO of Water For People, a next generation water and sanitation non-profit focused on radically transforming lives through creative and bold investments, a deep commitment to long-term monitoring focused on field-level improvement, and the reshaping of the broader WASH-sector programmatic landscape for greater impact. Ned worked on WASH in Africa for 20 years and believes that bold ambitions matched by thoughtful execution and honest reflection can unleash people’s creative energy and talent for greater results, as reflected by Water For People’s work worldwide.  

Social impact: Water For People is leading a bold global initiative called Everyone Forever (EF) that is starting to shake up the water and sanitation community as results start to match the bold ambitions of the program. All water sector organizations have a vision/mission of a world where all have sustainable access to reliable and safe water, yet few actually program to achieve this goal. EF tries to reach every family, every school and every clinic with sustained water services in defined geographic areas (districts) that encompass thousands of villages, that unleash pent-up/un-utilized government, local private sector and community-based finance for WASH development. EF drives to reach the poorest, most marginalized and most politically/socially isolated, and monitors with passion and courage to identify strengths and gaps while building local adaptive management environments so that inevitable problems are addressed. Jobs are created to keep water flowing, incentives shifted and most importantly, demand from other mayors for EF support has grown as districts have actually reached full water coverage and are modeling solutions for others at scale.  





Bio: Shawn Powers joined J-PAL in 2011 and manages J-PAL's Education and Labor Markets programs, which include two research initiatives on post-primary education and youth. He is the author or co-author of a number of J-PAL publications, including review papers on primary and post-primary education. Shawn speaks regularly to representatives of international organizations, foundations, governments, and NGOs to help them understand and apply rigorous evidence on education and labor market policies. Prior to coming to J-PAL, Shawn worked in a variety of positions related to anti-poverty policy both in the U.S. and in developing countries. Shawn is currently President of TAMTAM, an all-volunteer organization which provides insecticide-treated bednets for pregnant women, small children, and other people at high risk of malaria in Africa. He holds a B.A. in Economics from Williams College; an M.Phil in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge, where he was a 2008 Gates Scholar; and an M.P.A. in Economics and Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. 

Scaling Development Ventures 2014 - February 8, 9-5 PM - Kirsch Auditorium, Stata Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.