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ViewChange: Unleashing Innovation
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ViewChange: Unleashing Innovation
What is social innovation? Solving some of the world's most pressing problems -- including global poverty and development -- requires innovative thinking, unusual partnerships, and entrepreneurialism. And it's already working. Find out how in Unleashing Innovation.
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Segment 1

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Soccer is the world's most popular sport
BILL CLINTON
An idea for clean energy that I think it's fair to say hardly anybody else on the planet had ever thought of.
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One out of five people live without electricity
BILL CLINTON
It's quite extraordinary really -- kick a ball, turn on a light.
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Thirty minutes of play generates three hours of light
BILL CLINTON
It's an off-grid solution that gives us a way to bring power and improve quality of life, working capacity, learning capacity.
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Soccket: innovate, play, empower
VOICEOVER
Soccket, and other social innovations, in this ViewChange special.
VOICEOVER
ViewChange is about people making real progress in tackling the world's toughest issues. Can a story change the world? See for yourself in ViewChange: Unleashing Innovation.
VOICEOVER
That was Soccket. It's gotten a lot of attention recently, and not just from Bill Clinton. Which isn't surprising: it has all the trappings of a game-changer. Soccket is clever; it's creative; it's relatively cheap; and most of all, it takes on one of the biggest challenges in the developing world -- access to electricity. Soccket is unique, but it's one of a growing number of projects with a similar goal: tackling the world's toughest problems from surprising and inventive new angles. Problems like hunger, disease, clean water, security -- problems that are crying out for a fresh approach. Lynn Taliento from McKinsey & Company's Social Sector Office, and Tom Freston, chairman of the ONE Campaign, are two leaders in this field, which goes by the term "social innovation." It's a field that sits at the nexus of industry, entrepreneurial thinking, and philanthropy. As they explain, understanding social innovation takes some nuance.
TOM FRESTON [Chairman of the Board, ONE]
Social innovation's sort of a category that wasn't even around ten years ago and has been booming ever since -- and it's really about identifying new ideas, new organizations, new strategies to attack social problems.
LYNN TALIENTO [Partner, McKinsey & Company]
For me, social innovation is about looking at a social challenge and coming up with different ways to address it. A lot of people think it means coming up with a new technology or a new solution, sort of a point solution. But we see it way broader than that. If you think about it you can come up with a new solution but then you can come up also with a new way to deliver that solution. It might be an old solution that you deliver in a new way.
TOM FRESTON
It's clearly an area that is growing. We see the White House has a Social Innovation Fund. We see in various countries all kinds of government support. There are all kinds of exciting people doing things.
LYNN TALIENTO
So, some of the groups that are social innovators are pretty well known to us. Think about (PRODUCT)RED, products you can buy in the stores like the Red Apple iPod. Or think about TOMS Shoes, which many of us wear. Kiva.org, where you can actually make a loan to a micro entrepreneur in another country and get paid back and then reinvest. Or think about Ushahidi, which is revolutionizing crisis communications.
TOM FRESTON
Ten years ago, if you got out of a good school, there's a good chance you were probably headed to Wall Street. Thirty years ago, if you got out of a good school, there was a good chance you'd want to be an investigative journalist. I think a lot of the bloom is off the rose on the Wall Street, money-making culture, not all of it certainly, but a lot of people are attracted to this realm because it combines their innate desire to do something good along with a possibility to tie it into something innovative in terms of technology, or approach, or so forth.
LYNN TALIENTO
There's a whole spectrum of social innovation, and it really can be found anywhere. That's really what's so exciting about it. It can be found in labs that are developing new vaccines. It can be found very commonly on the ground in a nonprofit, say a midwifery clinic working with moms to figure out how to deliver their babies more safely. But increasingly it's happening in corporations. Companies are engaging more and more in social issues and figuring out how to use their supply chains, their people, their skills to address a social issue in a location where they're operating.
VOICEOVER
So where does this "spectrum of innovation" begin and end? From the smallest villages to the world's top tech labs, these innovators are changing the face of their industries. Here are four short films, entered in McKinsey's Social Innovation Video Contest, pushing the boundaries of the expected around the world.
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ViewChange
WOMAN
As I watch my child sleep, I feel a sense of inner peace. I will do everything to protect him, and I want to always be there to give him unconditional love. But the day my child was born, the only thing I wanted was to help him live.
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Twenty million low-birth weight and premature babies are born every year around the world, 450 every hour
VOICEOVER
One of the biggest problems these babies face is staying warm, but traditional incubators cost thousands of dollars. The Embrace infant warmer is a simple solution to this problem. Embrace consists of three parts: a sleeping bag, a heater, and a pouch of phase-change material. Once heated, the phase-change material is placed into a compartment in the sleeping bag. The product stays warm without electricity, and allows for close mother-to-child interaction. Embrace's mission is to give every infant a chance for a healthy life.
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ViewChange
VOICEOVER
You may already know the story. Uganda, plagued by a twenty-five year long war. Two million people displaced, left homeless, jobless, and desperate. But when we actually went to Uganda, our perspective changed. We met women with names and stories. Women who are ready to step forward and get a fresh start. The identity of 31 Bits was born, combining creativity with recycled paper to make incredible jewelry. We realized that we had a market, and they had a skill. Together, we made a business. We believe true economic sustainability is a result of holistic care, enabling a person financially, spiritually, mentally, and physically. After four years in our program, a woman has an education, a career, confidence, and a voice. She is empowered to rise above poverty.
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Buy a necklace. Share their story. Give hope.
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ViewChange
MIKE LIN [Founder & CEO, Fenix International Inc.] With over 1.6 billion people without access to power, we need scalable solutions. The name Fenix comes from the mythical bird, and it's about rebirth and renewal. And we're focusing on renewable energy for frontier markets. The Fenix ReadySet system is a renewable power center that can charge from virtually anything. It can charge from solar, it can charge from a bicycle generator that we've developed, and it can even charge off the grid. We aim to reach massive scale, installing megawatts, gigawatts of power, in areas that never had access to energy. An entrepreneur can use the ReadySet system to power a small business, they can charge cell phones and they can power lights at night so they can keep their stores open longer and generate new, meaningful income. We're hoping to actually innovate a new business model where we're thinking about people, prosperity, and the planet. We're hoping to address not just the environmental issues but also improve the quality of life for billions of people around the world. >> TITLE
ViewChange
TITLE
Meet Kamala. Kamala and her mother spend hours every day collecting water for their family. This leaves little time for school, for play, or for work. One billion people on the planet lack reliable access to safe water. This means they must travel at least half a mile to reach a safe water source. Transporting water is time consuming. Average time spent = 25 percent of a woman's day. Water is heavy. Five gallons = 42 pounds, or one piece of checked luggage. People need at least five gallons of water per day to stay healthy and hydrated. Kamala and her mother struggle to meet their family's daily water needs. Would you rather be the woman on the right, or a woman on the left? Wello is a social venture with a bold mission: to deliver clean water to a thirsty world. Now that they have a Wello WaterWheel, Kamala and her mother spend their time in more productive ways. This gives Kamala and her family a chance at a better future. In a single trip, one WaterWheel delivers enough water for an entire family. By re-imagining the water crisis as an opportunity, Wello has reinvented the wheel.
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ViewChange
VOICEOVER
Those are only four of many stories happening around the world. Meanwhile, governments and aid groups have been targeting challenges like water and electricity access, and children's health, for almost a century. Lots of progress has been made, but there's plenty of room for more. Problems this deeply entrenched require more than just another look. They need a whole new outlook.
LYNN TALIENTO
If we're going to solve some of these increasingly complex social issues we definitely need fresh thinking. We need unusual suspects if you will. We need people who haven't spent their lives necessarily thinking about social issues but who have talents and capabilities in areas like gaming, or design thinking, or financial engineering to put their talents to work to solve these issues. The essence of social innovation is finding new solutions to old problems.
VOICEOVER
Consider the case of Mozambique, the site of a severe landmine problem. Leftover from a 16-year civil war, the mines are a national menace. Untold thousands remain hidden. Bart Weetjens, a Belgian engineer, studied traditional demining methods and found them dangerous, expensive, and slow. And that's when he tried enlisting the help of an indigenous ally. This ViewChange film has the story.

Segment 2

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ViewChange
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Bomb Squad Rats
VOICEOVER
Here in Mozambique, the Cricetomys gambianus, or, as it's better known, the African giant pouched rat, is no longer feared or reviled.
ALBERT ZACHARIA
Mostly in our African culture, rats are considered as a useless animal. So, at first when I heard that rats are being used for demining, I didn't believe it.
VOICEOVER
Here at this rat training camp in Chokwe, near the Limpopo River, these furry heroes are going through their final training. When the rats detect some explosive, they indicate by scratching the ground. The trainers then make a clicking noise to let them know they can return for a reward.
ANDREW SULLY [Program Manager, Apopo]
What we are trying to do is here the rats are an African solution to an African problem.
VOICEOVER
Andrew Sully works for Apopo, the Belgian NGO that runs the rat program. He says the inspiration came from scientific work dating back decades.
ANDREW SULLY
Well, rats have actually been used for the detection of explosives for many, many years. I mean, there were experiments using laboratory rats back in the 1950s if not before that.
VOICEOVER
Putting that research into practice hasn't been easy, and each rat takes two years to train. But they have some distinct advantages over their canine counterparts. Unlike sniffer dogs, they're loyal to food, rather than one particular trainer. And they can also be more effective on windy days, like today. Demining teams have spent more than a decade trying to clear Mozambique of land mines. Millions of them were laid during the ten-year fight for independence and the two decades of civil war that followed. Today, the rat team is on its way to the former garrison village of Hate-Hate.
ANDREW SULLY
From the initial surveys that have been done I think there have been at least five or six mine accidents in this sort of horseshoe shape which was the mined area around the barracks.
VOICEOVER
Alfredo Adamo gave up his job as a schoolteacher to work with the rats, and he's proud of his new career.
ALFREDO ADAMO
Because I know every time we find a mine and we destroy it, I know if it continued there something bad should happen, either to a person or to an animal, actual cattle or whatever.
VOICEOVER
The area the de-miners are working in today lies either side of a track leading down to a borehole, the area's main water source.
VENDELINE SHIRIMA
So they put mines in this area in order to protect those local people inside here.
VOICEOVER
By the end of today's shift, they've already found two live land mines. The final job of the day is to safely detonate the rat's haul.
CERVEZA
It's TNT, almost all of it. There's 150 grams. This is the detonator.
VOICEOVER
It's slow and painstaking work, but bit by bit, Mozambique is being cleared of land mines, and it's all thanks to the work of man's new best friend.
TITLE
ViewChange
VOICEOVER
So far, the organization has cleared more than 2,700 explosives in Mozambique's Gaza province. And it plans to make the area completely mine-free this year. Apopo is one of three demining groups in Mozambique today, and they've branched out to Thailand and Tanzania too. This new approach was met with skepticism at first, but the rats have proven themselves worthy allies. The United Nations, many governments, and foundations support the program. And the rats themselves? Like any specialist, they're subject to regular testing.
VOICEOVER
So who are the social innovators of today? It turns out; they come from some pretty unlikely fields. Professionals in areas like engineering, design, and finance are realizing that they too can make headway on social causes. That's a powerful discovery. Enter design thinking -- usually something that pertains to things like art and architecture. But as Dave Kilcullen and his team at Caerus Associates know, it's a way of engaging social problems, too. Kilcullen has been an advisor to the Bush and Obama administrations, aid groups, and governments around the world, but he is best known for his work in postwar reconstruction. In his bestselling books, Kilcullen shows how social challenges require the same kind of engineering. And the most important part of design thinking for social problems? Understanding the local environment, and the local issues.
DR. DAVID KILCULLEN [CEO, Caerus Associates]
I founded Caerus with a bunch of like-minded people, with the objective of identifying ways to solve complex problems, things like poverty, urban overstretch, energy shortage, and particularly conflict, understanding how those problems overlap and figuring out simple design-based solutions to resolving them. Design thinking is a way of thinking about problems, and it's a way of bringing in the environment where something's going to be used. And the people that are going to use it, and the system within which it's embedded, and wrapping all of that up into the production of a particular type of thing, an object or a product, or a service. I'll give you an example. Things that are happening in the rural areas around cities lead people to move into urban environments. And the urban environment can't handle the people that are now putting pressure on its infrastructure. And you end up with what we call peri-urban areas, so slums and shantytowns and a variety of different unplanned development happening around the outside of preexisting cities. So you can intervene to make things better by looking at the cluster of urban problems that result from that movement. And what we try to do is look at it as a whole system, and think where we can intervene in concert with local populations together. People talk about making things population-centric, but often we just pay lip service to that. We treat the population like she's a silent movie heroine tied to a railway track, and the bad guys are driving the train down the track. And she's like, "Help me!" You know, and we say, you know, "hang on, we'll rescue you." Our experience is it doesn't really work like that. You actually have to, no kidding, treat the population like they're the principal actor. They are the clients, and you have to work with them as an architect would work with a client to design a solution that really meets their needs.
VOICEOVER
So what happens when smart design is applied to a tough problem? Look no further than the latrines of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The city is saddled with an overtaxed sewage system and thousands of overflowing pit latrines. But some engineers in Colorado have designed a solution that mitigates the need for central sewers, while also reducing disease. It's a clean answer to a messy question. This ViewChange film explains.
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ViewChange
TITLE
The Gulper, Rockhopper TV, Tanzania
VOICEOVER
Only ten percent of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's biggest city, is connected to the central sewage system. Eighty percent of the city's population lives in settlements that have sprung up without planning permission. They rely on a huge number of smelly, dirty and unsafe latrines. But a solution is at hand. Meet "The Gulper." These motor tricycles, and the equipment they carry, are transforming the way pit latrines are emptied here. In the past, sewage often ended up contaminating water supplies, particularly during the rainy season.
ERNEST MAMUYA [Environment Health Officer]
You wouldn't get surprised if you were finding fecal matter rolling with the storm water. It was common. In those areas, we had a problem of widespread cholera and other infections related to the disposal of waste.
VOICEOVER
The Gulper is designed to reach customers who live down even the narrowest streets.
JULIUS CHISSENGO
We have gloves, masks, helmets, and gum boots. Then, when we arrive, we assess the toilet for any risks.
VOICEOVER
Many of the latrines are unsafe because of the old way of emptying them.
JULIUS CHISSENGO
We used to completely demolish the toilet to drain it. The owners would get upset because it was completely broken.
VOICEOVER
Julius used to earn his living this way, and saw how dangerous it could be.
JULIUS CHISSENGO
There was one time when our colleague died because the toilet collapsed in on him and covered him completely.
VOICEOVER
It's The Gulper's pump that has made life safer and cleaner for Julius. It's not motorized, so it's easy to maintain. It's cheap and, above all, it's effective -- he can clean up to six latrines a day. All the sewage is removed, and very little spills on the ground.
JULIUS CHISSENGO
We have a container that can hold fifty liters. We usually drain into this, and when it is full, we put it on a motorbike. Then we take it to a place specially designated to pour it all away, and that is that.
VOICEOVER
There's another way the Gulper has made life sweeter for Julius: he's paid better. Yet customers pay less for the Gulper's services. And it's this affordability that's key to improving health for everyone living in the unplanned settlements. The more sewage that gets dumped centrally, the less risk there is to local people. Cholera is not the only disease in decline.
ERNEST MAMUYA
The Gulper is getting rid of intestinal diseases: strongoloids, hookworms, tapeworms. There's a reduction of typhoid, amoebic dysentery. If the coverage increases, we are sure of reducing these infections quite a lot.
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ViewChange
VOICEOVER
Mobile sewers, super rats, and electric soccer balls. It's an almost unbelievable spectrum of ingenuity. But all these projects are very real. They're the result of business savvy; of irreverence toward the expected; and of design meeting need. Projects like these are turning aid work on its head, and turning heads in the business world too. That's the promise of social innovation. It's redefining the power of creativity in social causes, and it's blurring of the lines between what's good business, and what's just good.
VOICEOVER
Want to learn more about innovation, design, or anything else you saw here? Head over to ViewChange.org/TV, where you could watch, read, and get involved in projects that are making a real difference. Watch the films you just saw, and over 400 more from around the world, at ViewChange.org/TV.