Episode 81:  Interview with Isaac Holeman, co-founder Medic Mobile  

2014_news_isaacattractssecondforbeslistingIsaac is a designer-researcher focused on global health equity and creating complex health systems that are beneficial to healthcare staff working with poor and marginalised patient populations. He is the cofounder of Medic Mobile, a non-profit technology company specializing in mHealth. Medic Mobile is guided by a mission to support community health workers and families using mobile and web tools to help register pregnancies, track disease outbreaks faster, and keep stock of essential medicines.
Medic Mobile started small, but found ways to expand access to medical care by equipping over 18,000 healthcare workers providing healthcare for over 8 million people in rural communities. The company realised that smartphones were not always easily available, but that basic mobile phones and could be used to deliver health information. Thanks to Medic Mobile, healthcare workers in over 20 countries are now more easily able to contact each other, remind patients of appointments, collect information from patients in hard to access locations, do basic diagnosing of potentially fatal illnesses, and more.
In this interview, Isaac Holeman talks about Medic Mobile’s pioneering work and identifies some of the biggest decisions he has made on his journey as a social entrepreneur. He highlights the crucial importance of human centered design at the centre of Medic Mobile’s technology solution, and the time the team spent at the outset to understand the community healthcare worker ecosystem. Isaac talks about different approaches to scaling technology solutions and how identifying your likely scaling strategy will help to determine the best approach you take. This is an insightful interview with a leading Mhealth company.

Episode 80 | Interview with Kevin Starr, CEO of the Mulago Foundation: The state of impact investing and funding for social entrepreneurs today

Headshot_6Kevin Starr has been supporting social entrepreneurs since before we used the term. He built the current incarnation of Mulago Foundation, a private foundation that funds early-stage social entrepreneurs devoted to maximum impact at scale in the lives of the poorest people in developing countries. In 2003, Kevin set up Rainer Arnhold Fellows Programme to apply Mulago’s principles and tools to help social entrepreneurs turn good ideas into lasting change at scale. The Mulago Foundation is currently funding fifty or so social ventures including Last Mile Health, One Acre Fund, Blue Ventures, Komaza, and The Boma Project. 

In this revealing interview, Kevin talks about the Mulago Foundation’s investment philosophy and the different ways it supports social entrepreneurs. He presents a simple model of sources of finance for social entrepreneurs-and advises as to the appropriateness of each– and he shares his thoughts on how social impact can best be scaled. Kevin gives a frank assessment of the state of impact investing today, warns of the dangers of investors prioritising business models over impact models, and cautions social entrepreneurs about over-reliance on for-profit business models when working on solutions for the very poor. (A version of this interview has previously been posted on the Financing Social Entrepreneurs site).

Episode 79: interview with Toby Norman, cofounder & CEO of simprints

Simprints is a nonprofit tech company from the University of Cambridge that is building an affordable, secure, rugged, open-source fingerprint system that works in the world’s toughest settings. According to the World Bank, an estimated 1.1 billion people, the majority of them living in Asia and Africa, struggle to access basic services and rights due to an inability to prove their identity – Simprints is developing open source software and biometric hardware to break this identification bottleneck and empower mobile tools used by researchers, NGOs, and governments fighting poverty around the world.


In this interview, Toby sets the scene explaining about the identity challenges faced by poor people around the world and the disastrous impact on their lives, particularly when it comes to healthcare. He talks about the company’s journey from initial idea to set up and growth and the scale of the different challenges that they have faced at different stages of the journey. Toby explains the thinking behind setting up as a tech non-profit and identifies the different skills that they have needed to develop to succeed. He talks about the invaluable support that Simprints has received on this journey, and the different partnerships it has developed. This is a inspiring-interview, rich in insights, with lots of hard won advice for social entrepreneurs in all sectors.


Episode 78: Interview with KJ Erickson, Founder and CEO of Simbi

KJ Erickson is Founder and CEO of Simbi, an innovative technology platform that allows people around the world to exchange or barter services. Users can do exchanges directly, or for credits that can be spent in the Simbi network. Prior to Simbi, KJ spent 9 years as the Founder and Executive Director of FORGE, a nonprofit that provides education, skills training, and entrepreneurial resources to more than 70,000 refugees in war-torn Africa.


KJ has won many awards include the Skoll Scholarship for Social Entrepreneurship, the Do Something Award for public service, and the Stanford Haas Public Service Fellowship

In 2014, KJ was a Skoll Scholar at Oxford’s Saïd Business School where she completed her MBA. In this interview, KJ talks about the roots of the Simbi idea, how it works, and common misconceptions. She talks about her experience as a social innovator and some of the challenges they have faced building the business. KJ gives a candid explanation why she thinks professional investors like FundersClub, Y Combinator & Greylock Partners invested in Simbi –and talks about her future aspirations for the business.

Episode 77: Interview with Biplab Ketan Paul, founder of Naireeta services  

paul_co_400x400Biplab Ketan Paul is founder of Naireeta services, an Indian ocial enterprise that has developed an innovative water management solution, the Bhungroo system, a unique irrigation system based on rainwater harvesting for farmers facing both drought and flooding situations  Paul, together with his wife Trupti Jain, has spent some 17 years developing and improving the Bhungroo system which now benefits some 100,000 farmers in India. Paul has won multiple awards for his work including the  Millennium Alliance Award for Global impact and India Innovation Growth Award-he is also an Ashoka fellow.