SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwired - Apr 23, 2015) - More than 2 billion people worldwide live in extreme poverty. A wave of well-funded technology companies has embraced innovation as a powerful tool to address many of the social and economic needs of the poor and is seeing early signs of success. However, many of these companies need access to specific expertise to navigate challenges and capitalize on opportunities to scale the business, which will in turn lead to meaningful paths out of poverty.
Today, non-profit foundation RippleWorks launched an immersive program pairing proven startup veterans with promising businesses in developing countries, and is announcing its first class of ventures. RippleWorks' mission is to help these companies address immediate and specific growth challenges with RippleWorks Experts who have successfully tackled these challenges before.
Launched by serial financial technology entrepreneurs Doug Galen and Chris Larsen, RippleWorks accelerates financial inclusion globally by bridging the gap between concept and scale with talent and expertise. RippleWorks pairs engaged and experienced technology executives with well-funded social impact startups that are gaining traction but facing scaling challenges. Through an immersive partnering experience, these domain experts will help companies define the imminent and mission-critical challenges facing the venture, develop specific and achievable plans with goals and milestones, and ultimately drive faster results.
"We believe that pairing technology and business experts with promising entrepreneurs globally can create a long-term ripple effect of economic and social good," said Galen, co-founder and CEO of RippleWorks. "In turn, empowering these domain experts to tackle critical business challenges through a deep, immersive in-country experience can open the eyes and hearts of the Experts to create a new generation of engaged global citizens."
"Our efforts to drive change on a global scale are anchored in entrepreneurs who are breaking new ground in financial services to underserved populations," said Arjuna Costa, investment partner at Omidyar Network. "Across emerging markets, these start-ups are working in underdeveloped ecosystems and confronting the challenges of scale. RippleWorks is exactly what the CEOs of our portfolio companies need: meaningful connection with proven experts from tech hubs like Silicon Valley, who have seen and solved these scaling issues before."
The first class of companies selected for the RippleWorks program includes five ventures from Indonesia, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and the United Kingdom.
- Kopo Kopo: The world's first merchant services platform built for mobile money and offering a full-suite of payment, credit and marketing tools.
- MicroEnsure: Serving over 15 million customers across the mass market in Africa and Asia, MicroEnsure is a recognized leader in the design and provision of vital microinsurance products that address the risks faced by low-and-middle income customers.
- OffGrid:Electric: The world's first massively scalable solar leasing company offering radically affordable energy for the 1.6 billion people who live without access to the grid.
- Ruma: An Indonesian company that empowers trusted community stores to provide their customers access to buy mobile reload, pay bills, and shop for a wide range of goods from cellphones to cookwares.
- Zoona: A money transfer and payment services solution dedicated to helping people in Africa send and receive money. Zoona provides emerging entrepreneurs with a business solution that enables them to make money as Zoona Agents and serve their communities by providing the money transfer service to consumers
These companies will be paired with RippleWorks Experts like Clinton Health Access Initiative CTO Geoffrey Weber who will help selected companies solve for specific scaling challenges.
"There are thousands of wonderfully talented people like Geoffrey who would love to volunteer their time for ventures with a social mission if someone could create a program that fits into their busy and successful careers and lives," continued Galen. "RippleWorks is a well-defined, low hassle, high impact program that vets the venture, manages the project, and pays for each RippleWorks Expert to spend time on the ground with each company."
RippleWorks is actively recruiting startup veterans and domain experts to volunteer their fresh perspectives and innovative approaches in areas such as engineering, product design, marketing and technology strategy. These RippleWorks Experts will enter into customized mentoring experiences that include a 7-10 day local immersion followed by completion of the project remotely once back home.
A number of the world's leading foundations and organizations supporting innovation in emerging markets have committed to work with RippleWorks, including Accion, IDEO.org, Omidyar Network, and Village Capital.
RippleWorks is an immersive program pairing "Silicon Valley" experts with promising companies in developing countries seeking to build paths out of poverty through innovation. RippleWorks Experts help global entrepreneurs with a social mission solve business-specific problems to accelerate scaling. RippleWorks is a non-profit foundation based in Silicon Valley. RippleWorks can be found online at http://www.rippleworks.org or by following @rippleworksorg.