Winners of The Rockefeller Foundation 2013 Centennial Innovation Challenge Announced

By Vallabh Rao|20th Jun 2013
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The Rockefeller Foundation has selected 10 Winners of the Centennial Innovation Challenge, a competition launched in search of solutions that improve livelihoods for poor or vulnerable workers in the world’s informal economies. The awardees of the Centennial Innovation Challenge were selected by an international panel of judges that included: Oscar Silva, Aleka Dondo, Ai-Jen Poo, Amolo Ng’weno, Seiji Machida.Each Winner will receive support in proposal-writing to enable the further development of their solutions, in addition to an invitation to apply for a grant of up to $100,000.

The 10 Winners were chosen for their breakthrough ideas, which have the potential to transform livelihoods for millions of poor or vulnerable people working in informal economies worldwide. Informal employment is a significant and growing part of the world’s economy; it accounts for around 50% of employment in North Africa and in Latin America, 65% of employment in Asia, and 72% in Sub-Saharan Africa. Given the vast number of informal workers, spurring new innovations that improve worker’s livelihoods in the informal economy is a critical issue.

The winners are:

Power to the Pickers: Technology for India’s Informal Workers

Biplab Paul, Never Let Your Waste Go To Waste

Ahmedabad City, Gujarat State, India 

Unlike many other models that target waste collectors in the informal economy, this model leverages an ICT application, which ensures workers receive fair market prices for their work, while also creating platforms for advocacy to improve working conditions for what has traditionally been an unsafe and hazardous job.

A New Social Network: Connecting STEM Professionals with E-Waste Workers

Dr. Yasmine Abbas and Dr. Kwadwo Osseo-Asare, Agbogbloshie Makerpace Platform

Agbogbloshie, Ghana 

Makerspace has the potential of disrupting the current model of low-value, high-risk (in other words, dangerous work for little pay) standards for e-waste practices, while also creating social resilience by creating interclass connections and tapping the expertise and networks of local STEM professionals.

Empowering A New Generation of Street Vendors through Disaster Risk Management

Laura Alfers, WIEGO

Durban, South Africa 

It is a replicable process that takes a participatory approach to risk protection that could catalyze a shift in how workspace regulation is approached in informal communities worldwide.

Linking-in: Building Trust in Hiring Through Greater Transparency

Christine Blauvelt, Duma Inc.

Durban, South Africa 

DUMA is a social job matching service for emerging markets. Igniting existing dynamics, DUMA brings transparency to the otherwise murky process of both finding jobs and finding reliable employees in the informal sector by transforming the word-of-mouth hiring system into a network-based platform.

A Better Health Plan for Pakistan’s Informal Economy

Asher Hasan, Naya Jeevan

Karachi, Pakistan 

Naya Jeevan has the potential to provide large numbers of people worldwide with an affordable, accessible option to health care. For less than $2 per month/per person, any individual or organization can enroll, and by investing in insurance for informal workers, a business’s participation not only supports the worker, it boosts the entire health service system.

The Mobile CV: Overcoming Literacy Barriers to Employment through Using Mobile Interactive Voice Response Technology

Jacob Korenblum, JobMatch

Middle East and Africa 

JobMatch creates greater access to labor markets, transforming opaque systems that exclude the average worker in the informal economy to transparent systems that improve the livelihoods the most vulnerable workers. The cutting edge Interactive Voice Response (IVR) service can generate even broader usage, thus increasing access to relevant jobs for illiterate populations.

Micro-insurance for the Informal Worker

Ahmed Karim Cisse, Connexion Sans Frontiers

West Africa 

Connexion Sans Frontiers, in partnership with telecom providers, offers a low-cost SMS solution for micro-insurance. The ability to accept payments via SMS technologies, an inexpensive, accessible medium, could greatly expand informal workers’ access to insurance options.

Healthy Foods and New Jobs for East Africa’s Slums

Rachael Miller, MamaCarts

East Africa 

MamaCarts introduces a new value chain for food vendors with triple benefits: more stable jobs, better sanitation practices, and higher nutritional value at market costs.

Transactions without Transport: Social Lending to Empower Smallholder Farmers

Steve Wardle, Grameen Foundation

Eastern Kenya 

Integrated mobile solution which enables smallholder farmers to overcome traditional market barriers linked to the warehouse receipt system.

Uma Mensagem Para a Liberdade: Safe Passage to Freedom

Rodrigo Brito, Alianca Empreededora

Brazil, with potential for Latin America and Worldwide 

It makes “urban slavery” a noticed situation within a number of industries and economic activities. The platform utilizes mobile and online technologies to process, geolocate and integrate anonymous complaints concerning slave labor in urban areas and mobilizes and engages key actors around the need to create dramatically improved working conditions for this population.

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