In our highly-connected daily lives, the loss of a smart phone is a catastrophe. Disrupted electricity in the aftermath of a storm is a major inconvenience. And, low power warnings on a laptop can send colleagues scurrying for cords and wall sockets. Access to technology-based information is a given for most of us.
But for millions of people in developing countries around the world, the ability to gather information is a challenge because of lack of electricity, high illiteracy rates, and geographic isolation. How do you get vital, relevant information to rural communities that will allow residents to improve their livelihood?
Santa Clara University’s Center for Science, Technology and Society (CSTS) recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of its signature program, the Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI) by doing what it always has - pairing up to 20 of the most promising social entrepreneurs with experienced Silicon Valley business mentors for months of learning and networking—capped off with a two-week stint of classes at Santa Clara University (SCU), and a grand-finale summit at which they presented their business plans to Silicon Valley financiers, executives and others.
Addressing ‘the gap between good intentions and skilled execution’ successfully has been a hallmark of GSBI since its inception, and Applied Materials is proud to have been involved in various ways with this exceptional program year after year.
The program has had notable successes throughout the developing world —helping to transform social ventures like micro-lender, Kiva; Indian rural electrification pioneer, Husk Power Systems; and optical health leader, VisionSpring, to name just a few of the nearly 200 startups that have successfully completed the rigorous 10-month process.
As I watched the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, I was impressed – not just with the amazing production – but with the hundreds of smiling athletes from countries around the globe who have worked so hard and long to realize their dream of international competition. They have developed unique talents, persevered in the face of challenges, and focused with tremendous determination to reach a goal that puts them on a global stage.
It wasn’t much of a stretch for me to think of the social entrepreneurs and leaders of nongovernmental agencies who do the same thing each day … they lock their sights on a goal and drive themselves and their organizations to fulfill a vision of making a positive impact on society. Although the scale is different, the annual Tech Awards, presented by Applied Materials, are the Olympics for innovators who are using technology to benefit humanity and for philanthropists like Narayana Murthy who is a champion in using the power of technology to improve the way people live.
His accomplishments in both business and charitable endeavors are remarkable, but I was most impressed by his humility as an influential entrepreneur and philanthropist, N.R. Narayana Murthy, was announced as the recipient of the 2012 James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award at a recent event at the Tech Museum in San Jose, California.
In acknowledging praise for his contributions to society, Mr. Murthy talked of “transforming the world through ideas and technology” and stressed the importance of solving the problems of poverty through the creation of jobs. In expressing his gratitude for the award, he spoke of philanthropy as bringing justice and equity to the world and making the planet more peaceful and harmonious.
Each year, one individual whose vision and leadership is helping to address some of the world’s most critical issues is awarded the James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award – an honor inspired by and named after the Chairman Emeritus of Applied Materials.
Applied Materials, the presenting sponsor of the international awards program and proud sponsor of the James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award, joins other sponsors in recognizing people from around the globe who have developed programs and products that are having a positive impact on the way people live.
2010 Tech Awards Laureates with Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, the recipient of this year’s Global Humanitarian Award.
The Tech Awards represent the single longest-standing forum for recognition of organizations that are actively creating a sustainable future building process. The quality of Laureates has consistently recognized role models who out shine the rigid, prescriptive formulas of conventional aid. Winners have in common a process that draws from an ever-expanding reference collection of preferred and likely ingredients which are blended together to meet local needs with locally empowered people. These results can be emulated and evolve on a global scale.
During Saturday night’s presentation of the Tech Awards in Santa Clara, California, I experienced a range of emotions as innovators who are using technology to benefit humanity were honored for their accomplishments.
The idea of using technology to benefit humanity brings to mind awe-inspiring, life-changing innovations of significant scale and impact, such as medical breakthroughs, advances in communications and high speed transportation.
Recently philanthropy made headline news when Bill Gates and Warren Buffett challenged the world’s top 40 billionaires to join them in donating at least 50% of their wealth to philanthropy at some point in their lifetime. Published reports show many people are accepting this challenge.
However, there still remains a critical role for all companies, private foundations and individuals to help improve the lives of others. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton recognized an opportunity five years ago to enhance philanthropy through the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) program, where he assembles the world’s leaders annually to focus their philanthropy and help answer the burning question of how can we better address the challenges facing our world? Simply put, through stronger global partnerships we can be more effective in improving people’s lives.
Imagine using a cell phone combined with diagnostic microscopy to expand basic healthcare in remote poverty-stricken areas around the globe. Rethink how use of a social entrepreneurship model can help communities gain access to clean water and sanitation.
I recently attended Santa Clara University’s Boot Camp for social entrepreneurs, the Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI) — which never misses ‘wowing’ audiences as to how innovative individuals can be when confronted with a pressing societal need. With support from the Tech Awards, Presented by Applied Materials, the GSBI has been mentoring and training would-be entrepreneurs how to make their vision come alive profitably.