At the Software 2006 conference, Adam Lashinsky invites David Green, James Koch, C.K. Prahalad and John Wood to discuss their experiences in managing projects aimed at helping communities in the developing world. Lashinsky, a senior writer at FORTUNE magazine, asks where scale is and isn't important, what the challenges are for those bringing development projects to the five billion people usually below the radar of corporations and how companies and non-profit organizations are helping to bring technology to the developing world.
Applicability, and overcoming the many challenges, are of primary concern on development projects, as illustrated by examples from India and Nepal. When bringing specialized products, such as eye-care and surgery supplies, to mass markets in India, scale is everything. Leveraging tiered pricing is but one way to ensure that projects which strive to bring health care to all survive long enough to make a significant impact. David Green, who helped develop Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, India, explains how human resources and financial development are the two main stumbling blocks in ambitious projects such as his own.
Beyond the difficulty of bringing development funds to areas that need it most is how to challenge the local population to participate and innovate independent of foreign aid. While large multinational companies are often reluctant to publicly lower their margins and introduce their products at lower costs in developing sectors, meeting these corporations half way often opens up possibilities for development grants. It is often the case, however, that high tech solutions are not going to make a significant impact where low tech products for a similarly low tech market are much more applicable. In many cases, a physical book is the key component to educating and motivating change in the developing world.
Adam Lashinsky is a senior writer at FORTUNE, where he started as a contributing columnist in 1999. He covers finance and Silicon Valley for the magazine. Lashinsky is also a featured commentator for "Marketplace," the nationally broadcast radio business-news magazine, and a regular contributor to business-news programming on the Fox News Channel. Prior to joining FORTUNE’s staff in 2001, Lashinsky was the Silicon Valley columnist for TheStreet.com, the online financial news publication based in New York. From 1997 to 1999, he was the San Jose Mercury News' first high-tech stocks columnist and from 1992 until then, he covered a variety of beats as a reporter and editor for Crain's Chicago Business. From 1989 to 1992, he worked in the Washington DC bureau of Crain Communications, Inc.
A native of Chicago, Lashinsky earned a degree in history and political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1989. He is based in San Francisco, where he lives with his wife, Ruth Kirschner.
David Green has worked with many organizations to make medical technology and health care services sustainable, affordable and accessible to all, particularly to the poorer two thirds of humanity. David is a MacArthur Fellow, Ashoka Fellow and is recognized by Schwab Foundation as a leading social entrepreneur. His most significant work is the development of an economic paradigm for making health care products and services available and affordable to the poor. This paradigm of ‘compassionate capitalism’ utilizes production capacity and surplus revenue to serve all economic strata, rich and poor alike, in a way that is both financially self-sustaining and affordable to all members of society.
Green helped develop Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, India, which performs 250,000 surgeries per year, making it the largest eye care system in the world. He is now collaborating with the International Agency for the Blind to create an “Eye Fund” that will improve financing for sustainable eye care. David also is Vice President of Ashoka, where he works to develop more abundant and efficient financing for the social sector.
James L. Koch is founding director of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society, Co-Founder of the Global Social Benefit Incubator, and Professor of Management at Santa Clara University. The Center is recognized globally for its leadership in promoting the common good of an increasingly technological society through applied research, conferences, and partnerships with major technology companies. Jim received his MBA and Ph.D. from UCLA. He served as Dean of the Leavey School of Business from 1990 to 1996. Koch’s research and consulting focus on socio-technical systems and high performance organizations, technology and business models for scaling innovations in developing countries, and the role of social capital in society and the workplace.
C.K. Prahalad, the Paul and Ruth McCracken Distinguished University Professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, specializes in corporate strategy. He has been honored for his numerous authored works with a Life Time Achievement Award by the Ross School of Business. He received honorary doctorates from the University of London, Stevens Institute of Technology and University of Abertay, Dundee. He was a member of the UN Blue Ribbon Commission on Private Sector and Development.A prominent world-class figure, Professor Prahalad has consulted with the top management of many of the world’s foremost companies. He serves on the Board of Directors of NCR Corporation, Hindustan Lever Limited and the World Resources Institute. He is the Chairman and Founder of The Next Practice.
John Wood left his job as Director of Business Development for Microsoft’s Greater China region to form Room to Read, a nonprofit organization that promotes literacy in impoverished parts of the world. Wood founded Room to Read because he was concerned that nearly 1 billion people lack basic literacy. Room to Read, founded in 2000, has sponsored the opening of a network of over 2,500 libraries and 200 schools across Asia, with a goal of increasing the network to 20,000 serving at least 10 million children. In 2006, the organization will expand into Africa, starting with Ethiopia.
John, a native of Connecticut, holds a B.S. from the University of Colorado, awarded magna cum laude, and a Masters in Business Administration from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.
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