Weekend Briefing No. 10

Rwanda +20. This week marked 20 years since the genocide tore the country apart. Since then the next generation forged a new path forward. Rising From Ashes (link to rotten tomatoes page) is a documentary on the Rwandan cycling team that’s cleaning up on the film festival circuit. Akilah Institute is a new college that’s showing early success at education and placing these amazing women in jobs. Rosine Urujeni tells her story of escaping the genocide and returning to Rwanda to serve her community by working with Indego Africa.


Are economic and social progress linked? That’s the question that Michael Porter and the Skoll Foundation are trying to answer with their Social Progress Index. The initial findings show limited correlation between GDP and social progress. However, at lower income levels, small differences in GDP are associated with large differences in social progress such as water and sanitation and shelter. For more findings click here.


Google’s Modular Smartphone. Anybody that has furnished their apartment with IKEA furniture knows the power of modularity to configure the best set up. Modular systems can provide greater value for customers, and drive social & environmental impact. Manufacturers in all industries are jumping on this trend, the most promising is Google’s Project Ara – a modular smart phone that will retail for $50 and continue to drop, which will give access to the bottom of the pyramid and allow  them to customize the best phone for their needs.


Impact Genome Project. In 1990, the Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health launched the Human Genome Project to predict health outcomes. In 2000, Pandora created the Music Genome Project to quantify music and predict songs that are likely to produce the outcome of a heightened listening experience. This year Mission Measurement is launching of the Impact Genome Project a massive effort to systematically codify and quantify the factors that research has shown drive outcomes across the entire social sector.


Silicon Valley’s latest obsession: education. Venture capitalists are pouring funding into new technologies for a trillion-dollar industry in the US that could be ripe for disruption: education. Education technology startups attracted $1.25 billion in funding in 2013, according to analysis by CB Insights, and the boom has grown in 2014, with ed tech companies attracting nearly half that amount ($559 million) during the first quarter alone. Read more here.