Everyone loves a speedgeek!

February 3, 2006 § Leave a comment

San Francisco, USA

I came to San Francisco for the Innovation Funders Network Summit, a gathering of foundations, philanthropists and development agencies with an innovation itch to scratch.

As seems to be the pattern with any meeting facilitated by Allen Gunn, the speedgeek was amongst the highlights. Three speedgeekers stood out for me:


The folks from Youth Radio, a media access centre in Oakland. The fact that they provide a public space for young people to gain media skills is interesting enough in its own right. But, the icing on the cake, is that they’re trying to do it as a social enterprise. The young people sell clips to NPR, podcast like mad through iTunes and offer media production services. A very interesting model for telecentres elsewhere to look at.


Holly Ladd from Satellife. Holly is part of the IDRC-funded team mashing up infrared, cheap PDAs and low bandwidth GSM data to automate health information flow in rural Uganda. I’ve heard the Uganda Health Information Network story second hand in the past. However, having a health-info-packed PDA in hand brought to life for me (and 100 other people at the event).


Peter Bladin, from Grameen Tech Centre. Grameen continues to blow me away with their smart ideas about how ideas travel and scale. As blogged last month, their village phone replication program includes a detailed ‘how to rip off this business model’ guide based on their successful initiative in Uganda. Their Microfinance Open Source (MiFOS) software platform, which will offer a complete backend for running a microfinance bank, is based squarely on the idea that the best way to digital-ize the microfinance industry is to give away the store (the software itself) and then build a business ecology around it (consultants and other orgs evolving the software).

Fun stuff!

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