Lisa Smith

Tapping into the Talent Pool Within the BoP

Do you have strong opinions about collaborative interdependence and the involvement of BoP entrepreneurs and producers? Have innovative ideas about how to create economic opportunities using new technologies for recruitment and engagement to include these individuals in business ventures? Looking for a way to scale your innovative ideas to a larger population? A competition supporting these ideas is under way, and you have until June 15 to submit your own.

Ashoka’s Changemakers, along with the Opportunity Project from eBay Foundation, is focused on employment and income generation for vulnerable populations through its open competition for systematic and disruptive market-based innovations.

The Powering Economic Opportunity: Create a World that Works competition is seeking the best, scalable solutions for creating economic opportunities and also for generating employment for disadvantaged populations. This competition hopes to identify and support groups or individuals that create new ways for businesses and entrepreneurs to use technology to engage talented individuals within their labor force.

You could win one of five U.S. $50,000 cash prizes to support your development project.

Applications* will be judged based on three main criteria: innovation, social impact and sustainability. So far the competition has received a record-number of entries, with 164 submitted from 36 different countries. If you would like to enter the competition by nominating an organization, changemaker, or collaboration of changemakers, OR by submitting an idea of your own/on behalf your own organization, you may do so here. Tips on completing your application can be found under the subtopic of “creating a better entry” here. There are 30 days left to nominate someone or to submit your own idea.

Please refer to the graphic below for an overall look at the competition timeline:

(Image credit: Changemakers).

“We are incredibly excited by the record number of innovations that are surfacing from around the world. From Cuba, to Uganda, to China, the Changemakers open-source model is providing a platform for innovators to collaborate on high-impact solutions to generate economic opportunity for disadvantaged populations,” says Gaston Wright, director of Community for Ashoka’s Changemakers.

Adds Lauren Moore, president of eBay Foundation: “I am thrilled by the overwhelming response we are receiving to our competition with Ashoka’s Changemakers. We look forward to supporting some of these great projects.”

Ashoka and eBay Foundation have compiled a group of expert judges to review the competition submissions. Their panel includes:

  • Bibek Debroy, economist and professor, Centre for Policy Research
  • Gayle Lemmon, author and deputy Director, Council on Foreign Relations’ Women and Foreign Policy program
  • John Donahoe, president and CEO, eBay Inc.
  • Maureen Conway, executive director of the Economic Opportunities Program, The Aspen Institute
  • Nancy Lee, general manager, Multilateral Investment Fund
  • Vivianne Naigeborin, strategic advisor, Potencia Ventures

Even if you aren’t interested in the competition itself, there is a great deal to gain from a review of the competition’s website. You can read through each submission competing and familiarize yourself with the key players attempting to change the opportunities for the bottom billion. You can even participate by providing your thoughts on different organizations within the discussion section for each entry.

Additionally, there are two competition related activities that you may be interested in participating in, one being a multilingual Twitter discussion – hashtag: #SocEntChat – slated for 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. EDT this Tuesday, May 17. For more information on the chat and how to participate you can click here.

Ashoka’s Changemakers also is running a photo competition called ChangeSpotting for individuals from the field to nominate innovative, market-based solutions that create economic opportunity. Five ChangeSpotters who submit a photo of himself/herself with their ChangeSpotting nominee will be randomly selected to receive a $50 gift card to

Good luck!

*Applications are accepted in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French.

Social Enterprise
Base of the Pyramid, social enterprise