July 14

Al Hammond

Introducing Ashoka to

Funny how life turns out. I helped found this NextBillion site about 6 years ago, in the aftermath of a large BOP conference that we organized at the World Resources Institute. That means I fronted for a group of younger, more web-savvy people who really invented the details, mastered the technology, came up with the name -my contribution was mostly to have the wit to appreciate its potential and to guide it in its early years. Now I’m very pleased to be introducing a new chapter in the life of this site -indicative, perhaps, of NextBillion’s increasingly global reach- as Ashoka becomes a partner. (Full disclosure: I’m a member of the Leadership Group at Ashoka.)

As many of the readers here probably know, Ashoka is the world’s largest network of social entrepreneurs -some 3,000 Fellows in more than 60 countries and local networks to support those Fellows and other activities in many geographies. Many Ashoka Fellows and parts of the global program are engaged with market-oriented activities in the Base of the Pyramid, like low-income housing in India, Colombia, and Egypt; small-scale agricultural producers in Mexico and sub-Saharan Africa; healthcare in dozens of countries. The result is a wealth of BOP experience, insights, and access to useful information-which we hope to share, when appropriate, with this audience.

In particular, I would like to introduce two of my colleagues, Stephanie Schmidt (based in Mexico) and Shivani Manaktala (based in India) -who are joining NextBillion as Staff Writers and eventually as part of the editing team that manages the site. Together they bring several decades of experience and perspectives from Latin America and Asia to help strengthen the global scope of the site, and unique skills: Stephanie, for example, will write both in English and in Spanish (for the Latin American blog).

In launching my own BOP healthcare venture, I have found the Ashoka network an amazing source of market intelligence, practical insights and valuable connections. I hope this new partnership between Ashoka and NextBillion will make similar intelligence and insights available and useful to the readers of this site.