Over 100 Global Social Entrepreneurs convene to discuss revolutionizing social change through invention

Written by Businesswire India | New Delhi | Updated: Jan 27 2010, 21:29pm hrs
Ashoka and The Lemelson Foundation, with support from Microsoft, will bring together inventors and social entrepreneurs from February 11- 13, 2010, in Hyderabad. The goals of this first-of-its-kind meeting, called Tech4Society, are to bring greater attention to the importance of technological innovation in driving global development and highlight effective strategies for cultivating the next generation of inventor-entrepreneurs and scaling their world-changing ideas. The event will attract over 250 of the worlds foremost social entrepreneurs, innovators, business leaders and movers and shakers to showcase technological advances and entrepreneurial business models that are revolutionizing social change.

Over the past three years, the Ashoka-Lemelson Fellowship has brought together two organizations that work passionately to find, support and celebrate social innovators whose technologies offer fresh, effective approaches to advancing social change. These innovatorsa cohort of 106 Ashoka-Lemelson Fellowshave been chosen for their unique and cutting edge uses of technology, education, capital and support as tools for community development, policy setting and poverty alleviation. They will be in attendance at Tech4Society, sharing best practices, demonstrating inventions and developing partnerships that can work toward solutions to economic, environmental and societal challenges.

Some of Ashoka-Lemelson Fellows of Indian origin who have significantly contributed towards providing solutions are, Hilmi Quraishi, who is using mobile telephony to bring important public health messages to the masses. He envisages the widest and deepest reach through the mobile phone, the computer, and the internetthe technology tools of the futureto combat various health and other critical social problems by delivering useful knowledge products in the form of games. Vijay Pratap Singh Aditya and his social enterprise, Ekgaon Technologies, are creating technology platforms to provide financial, health, and agriculture services, to rural customers as more and more companies compete for the bottom of the pyramid markets in rural India.

Pradip Sharmah has developed safer rickshaws with improved ergonomic design and has initiated a program designed to provide a means of self-employment for members of the poor and marginalized rickshaw community who live in urban slums. The Rickshaw Bank" issues an asset-based loan to a rickshaw puller, who can repay the debt in daily installments over 18 months. Now, the rickshaw puller not only gains the economic advantage from owning the rickshaw for a lifetime, but also has the ability to access accident & life insurance.

Harish Hande,whose organization, SELCO-India, brought affordable and reliable solar-powered electricity to more than 100,000 homes and businesses in India; Isaac Durojaiye, who created Nigerias first mobile toilet initiative to remedy rampant urban unemployment and poor sanitation conditions; David Green, from U.S., who is producing and globally disemminating socially-useful products, including affordable hearing aids, using a tiered price-structure; and Tri Mumpuni, founder of People Centered Economic & Business Institute, tackling challenges of rural electrification and economic development by creating community-owned, micro-hydropower systems throughout Indonesia.

Inventor-entrepreneurs such as these Ashoka-Lemelson Fellows can help lead the way to eradicating poverty, says Bill Drayton, CEO and Chair of Ashoka. They have the ability to think creatively and systemically to design appropriate solutions, profoundly increase markets for life-changing products, increase incomes and advance sustainable rural development.

The people who will attend Tech4Society demonstrate the power of uniting social entrepreneurship with invention and technology. Their successful approaches will help international policy makers and actors in the private sector, financial industry and civil society learn how to support invention-led development, a bottom-up entrepreneurial approach to economic-inclusion, adds Julia Novy-Hildesley, Executive Director of The Lemelson Foundation. The conference attendees work in greatly varying fields, from low-cost alternative energy development to science education to agricultural innovation, but they are all brought together by a singular goal: to harness their inventiveness to be changemakers.

The 3 day conference will include plenary panels and break-out sessions covering topics such as mobile technologies for social change; women and girls in science and invention; venture capital; and intellectual property. Tech4Society is also supported by Microsoft, Infosys and will take place at the Indian School of Business.

For more agenda, attendee and speaker information about Tech4Society, please visit: http://tech.ashoka.org/hyderabad_info.