Episode 53: Interview with Nithya Ramanathan, President and Co-Founder of Nexleaf Analytics

Nithya is the President and Co-Founder of Nexleaf Analytics, a nonprofit based in Los Angeles, California. Nexleaf’s mission is to build, scale, and support wireless technologies and data analytics tools to measure the impact of public health and environmental interventions in the field.

Nexleaf’s is current focussing on key projects in supporting vaccine delivery in developing countries (ColdTrace) and evaluating the impact of improved cookstoves (StoveTrace).

In this interview, Nithya talks about: Nithya

  • Nexleaf’s work helping customers deliver impact
  • The big, neglected, question in social innovation: how do you fix things?
  • The importance of developing standard operating procedures for maintenance
  • Building win-win partnerships
  • Nexleaf’s approach to scaling

Episode 52 Interview with Ned Tozun, cofounder of d.light

Ned is the cofounder of d.light, a for-profit social enterprise that designs, manufactures and distributes solar lights and power products to the developing world; the company provides high quality light and cost savings to households, farms and small businesses.

d.light has developed a wide range of solar lighting products at different prices, from desk lights and portable solar lanterns to solar home systems that power radios and mobile phones; the d.light A1 is the world’s most affordable high-quality solar light.

To date, d.light has sold 13 million solar light and power products in nearly 60 countries, improving the lives of nearly 60 million people. According to the World Bank’s Programme ‘Lighting Global’, d.light has been listed as the leading solar lantern manufacturer.

In this interview, Ned talks aboutNed_Tozun

  • How d.light got started
  • The potential of solar energy in emerging markets throughout the world
  • How to think about scaling-from the very beginning
  • When  and how to look for venture capital
  • Where d.light has focussed its innovation efforts
  • Ned’s vision for the future


Episode 51 Interview with Alasdair Harris, cofounder of Blue Ventures

Alasdair is Executive Director and cofounder of Blue Ventures, an innovative social enterprise that works with coastal communities to rebuild tropical fisheries.

Blue Ventures work with some of the the world’s poorest coastal communities, developing transformational approaches to marine protection by creating incentives for small-scale fishing communities to support fisheries management and marine conservation efforts. Among other successes, Blue Ventures’ models have inspired the largest locally-managed marine protected areas in the Indian Ocean and been replicated in coastal states in Africa, the Indian Ocean and southeast Asia.

Over the last decade, Blue Ventures’ innovative approach has inspired communities, NGOs, businesses, and government agencies to support grassroots marine conservation efforts at scale, having a transformational impact on national fisheries and marine conservation policy. Its work has led to new approaches to community-led fisheries management and to financing and incentivising marine conservation.

Al has won many awards for his work. Al is a TED Fellow, an Ashoka Fellow, and 2015 winner of the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and the WWF Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Award.

In this interview, Alasdair talks about: Al Harris 2

  • The critical need for innovation in the environmental conservation sector
  • The tremendous opportunity and potential of working through local communities
  • Why being a social enterprise is crucial to Blue Venture’s success
  • The potential of viral social innovation in the conservation space
  • Why being able to say ‘no’ to funders matters

Episode 50 Interview with Marc Koska the inventor of the non-reusable K1 auto-disable syringe and founder of the SafePoint charity

Marc Koska has been on an amazing 30 year mission to eliminate dirty syringes responsible for more than a million deaths a year. Marc invented the non-reusable K1 syringe – thus preventing the medical transmission of blood-borne diseases. Since the first K1 syringe was sold, more than five billon K1 syringes have been sold worldwide.

Marc is also the founder of the SafePoint charity -which educates people on the dangers of reusing syringes. Marc has been intensely involved in advocacy –including years of lobbying the World Health Organisation (WHO) to introduce guidelines promoting single use syringes. (The WHO began a global campaign warning of the dangers of reusable needles in 2015).

In this interview, Marc talks about: IMG_3590

  • How Marc began his journey
  • The problem with syringes
  • How Marc spent 3 years trying to understand the problem –before beginning to try to find a solution
  • Marc’s approach to advocacy
  • Marc’s vision for the future

Episode 49 Interview with Kathleen Colson co-founder / CEO of the BOMA Project

The BOMA Project is a U.S. nonprofit and Kenyan NGO committed to building resiliency and ending extreme poverty in the drylands of Africa by focusing on enrolling ultra-poor women in a two-year poverty graduation program.

BOMA’s Rural Entrepreneur Access Project helps women to “graduate” from extreme poverty through a sequence of interventions that include a cash grant to start a business, financial and life skills training, mentoring, and the formation of formal savings accounts so that mothers can feed their families, pay for school fees and medical care and accumulate savings so they can survive shocks like drought.

BOMA’s goal is to change the lives of 100,000 women and children by 2018, and 1 million women and children by 2021. Earlier this year, BOMA was among a select group of 19 winners, chosen from over 1,700 applicants worldwide, for a prestigious grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Kathleen graduated from St. Lawrence University with a B.A. in government.

In this interview, Kathleen talks about:

  • Why poverty graduation programmes are so important as a tool to reach the Sustainable Development Goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030
  • The challenge of getting a social innovation organisation off the ground
  • The importance of “evidence of impact” to raise funds
  • How BOMA won a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • BOMA’s scaling options