Latest News

Here you’ll find all the latest on kiwanja’s activities including talks, conference attendances, media interviews, writing and other general news. Links to earlier news items can be found at the bottom of the page.

May 2016: Interview with Social Innovation Exchange on ‘scale’

Following his interview with the Social Innovation Exchange (SIX) as part of their research into a new paper on innovation among NGOs (see below), two segments of the interview have been turned into blog posts for the SIX website. The first of these, on issues of scale, can be read here

May 2016: kiwanja interviewed for study on innovation among NGOs

six-logoThe Social Innovation Exchange (SIX) recently worked with Bond, the UK’s membership body for international development, and Oxfam to demysify what social innovation looks like within NGOs to help build greater common understanding of social innovation across the sector and inspire more impactful innovation efforts. The output was a paper which attempts to define social innnovation in international development by exploring the contextual drivers, the different types of innovation that exist, and the processes that faciliate it. It also highlights examples of how NGOs are creating an enabling environment that is conducive to innovation. kiwanja’s Ken Banks was interviewed about his work as part of the research. You can read more, and download the report, on the SIX website

April 2016: kiwanja’s new edited book tops Amazon’s new Business Entrepreneurship chart (again)


Our latest edited book, Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation: International Case Studies and Practice continues to do well, hitting the top of Amazon’s ‘Hot New Releases’ in the Business Entrepreneurship category on a number of occasions. Further details about the book can be found on the publisher’s website (as well as Amazon). A recent blog post is also available here

April 2016: Ken Banks to speak at NESTA development innovation book launch


Later this month, kiwanja’s Ken Banks will be speaking at the launch event for NESTA’s new “Innovation in International Development” book. The event will bring together leading development practitioners, experts and policy makers to debate the most important insights from the new book, share their own experiences and set a collective agenda for future efforts across and beyond the sector. The book is structured around four themes that are essential to any innovation journey – how to fund innovation, how to organise for innovation, how to harness new players and collaborations, and how to scale innovations and transform systems. In addition to speaking, Ken also co-authored a chapter in the book with Ben Ramalingam from IDS. Further details of the book and event are available on the NESTA website

March 2016: BBC Click interviews kiwanja about our new book


The team at BBC Click have invited Ken Banks to come into the studio to record an extended interview about kiwanja’s new book, Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation: International Case Studies and Practice. During the interview we talk about the origins of the book, the challenges of social innovation in the technology sector, and Laura Stachel of We Care Solar – who wrote one of the contributing chapters – speaks about her own work with the solar suitcase. The full programme can be played back on the BBC Click website, or for the interview segment (and post-interview podcast discussion) see the Audio & Video section of the kiwanja website

March 2016: New ODI paper on politics and innovation


kiwanja’s Ken Banks has recently completed a short piece of consultancy work with ODI looking at politics and innovation, supporting the team at ODI with research and outreach for case studies. According to the ODI website:

“In order to solve sustainable development challenges and provide universal access to basic services, we need new ideas, as well as old ideas, applied in new ways and new places. Innovation can make basic services cheaper, more accessible and more relevant for poor people. Despite innovation efforts and optimism across the development sector, few innovations lead to actual sustainable, systemic change. Too often the barriers are political – factors such as motivation, power and collective action prevent innovations from leading to real progress.

Politically smart approaches can help navigate and mitigate these challenges. This report and policy brief demonstrate how innovations can alter the balance of power in societies and markets and provoke systemic political change. The authors address when and why politics matters for innovation, and what this means for donors, foundations and impact investors backing innovations for development.”

Further details, and a link to the report, are available on the ODI website

March 2016: kiwanja’s new social innovation book hits the shelves

Case-Studies-Social-Innovation-CoverOne year in the making, kiwanja’s new edited book, “Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation: International Case Studies and Practice”, has hit the shelves. Featuring the stories of thirteen social innovators working in diverse sectors across the globe, the book aims to address an imbalance in the literature which often neglects to tell the full stories of social innovators, in their own words.

The book comes with forewords by Bill Drayton, Founder and CEO of Ashoka, and Peter Gabriel, musician and humanitarian.

Using their own words to reflect upon their experiences, the case studies featured do not gloss over the setbacks and the dead-ends social entrepreneurs can face. Instead, it is designed to give readers a realistic insight into the challenges and an engaging look at the problem-solving mindset needed to overcome them. From a life-saving project to bring solar-powered lighting to midwives in Nigeria, to a news dissemination service that’s grown from small beginnings to have a global impact, each case study draws out the lessons learnt by the innovators, providing guidance and advice for those looking to follow in their footsteps. The book is available via the publishers website, or via Amazon (publication is set for later this month in the US)

March 2016: Ken Banks to speak at Practical Action ‘Tech Justice’ event


“Rub shoulders with leaders in business, development, government and research, and collaboratively workshop to explore new pathways towards pro-poor innovation, equitable tech access and sustainable use of technologies. Practical Action are keen to  forge pioneering new partnerships for change and set the world on course towards a new paradigm of sustainable and equitable technology development.” kiwanja’s Ken Banks has been invited to speak about grassroots social innovation and technology-driven empowerment at the event. You can find out more, and get tickets, here

February 2016: Ken Banks to speak at Skoll’s Social Impact Careers Conference 


“The Social Impact Careers Conference is an interactive day of networking and the sharing of lessons learned from a range of professionals who have chosen different paths to social impact in their careers. It is an opportunity for delegates to explore careers with a positive impact and learn from some recent graduates who can share their career stories as well as some of the top movers and shakers in the sector”. Ken Banks has been invited to speak on the ‘Social Technology – Applying new technologies to social change efforts” panel. You can read more on the conference website

January 2016: kiwanja speaking at Africa All Party Parliamentary Group event

appg2016 will be a critical year for ICT in Africa.  For the first time, the digital agenda will form the centre piece of the global development agenda. The World Bank’s 2016 World Development Report ‘Digital Dividends’ looks beyond connectivity towards government services, efficiency and productivity gains. ICT takes on a different importance for the World Economic Forum – this year their Africa session ‘Connecting Africa’s Resources through Digital Transformation’ examines the potential of the digital economy to drive structural transformation and leverage pan-African capabilities. This APPG event will build on a previous ‘Tech lunch’ hosted by the Africa APPG with the Africa Union Foundation and look more deeply at the digital transformations that are changing Africa. You can see the Agenda for next month’s event, and get tickets, here

January 2016: kiwanja talks technology and capability on BBC Click 


Ken Banks has been invited to take part in the latest edition of BBC Click to discuss a recent report from the Humanitarian Technologies Project which challenges the use of technology in disaster and crisis situations. You can read the initial blog post, “Technology Without Capability is Pretty Useless, Study Finds” here. The full podcast is available on the BBC website or the shorter programme segment on the kiwanja website ‘Audio & Video‘ page

January 2016: Peter Gabriel and Bill Drayton provide Forewords to new kiwanja book

Case-Studies-Social-Innovation-Coverkiwanja’s new book, “Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation: International Case Studies and Practice“, is due for release in early March. As we apply the finishing touches we’re excited to announce that we have not one but two Forewords in the book – one from musician and humanitarian, Peter Gabriel, and the other from Bill Drayton (CEO and Founder of Ashoka). These complimentary Forewords come from two people who have made significant but different contributions to the field of social innovation. Peter Gabriel gives the ‘outsider’ humanitarian perspective, while Bill Drayton – often cited as the ‘Grandfather of social entrepreneurship’ – gives the ‘insider’ line. You can read more on the publisher website and in this recent kiwanja blog post

January 2016: kiwanja to speak at EU event on entrepreneurship


The FACE (Failure Aversion Change in Europe) Entrepreneurship project is a communications campaign financed by the European Commission aiming to boost technology-based entrepreneurship among young people across Europe. With the support of Telefónica Open Future and Microsoft Bizspark, FACE are organising seven offline events across seven European cities. The first will take place in Madrid during the South Summit on October 7th, and will mark the launch of the campaign. kiwanja’s Ken Banks has been asked to speak about his work in social innovation at the Dublin event, slated for January 2016. You can read more on the FACE website

December 2015: Latest guest post for the Stanford Social Innovation Review


kiwanja’s latest guest article for the Stanford Social Innovation Review asks if international development projects designed and managed at the grassroots level perform better overall than those managed from the outside? You can read the full article on the SSIR website

December 2015: kiwanja keynote at Symposium on Computing for Development

acm-devThe sixth annual Symposium on Computing for Development (ACM DEV 2015) is due to be held in London this month and will provide a premier venue to present original and innovative work on the applications, technologies, architectures, and protocols for computing in developing regions. This year, Ken Banks has been invited to give the opening keynote on the challenges and opportunities in the technology-for-development sector. You can read more about the day’s schedule on the ACM DEV 2015 website

November 2015: Ken Banks appointed CARE International’s first ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’


kiwanja’s Ken Banks has been appointed CARE International’s first ever ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’. Based in the UK office with a global remit, Ken will help CARE navigate the technology- and innovation-for-development sectors, advising and assisting staff on a part-time basis over the next twelve months. CARE is a major international humanitarian agency delivering emergency relief and long-term international development projects for over 70 years. You can read more about the new role via a short interview on the CARE Insights website

November 2015: kiwanja to speak at Betterplace Lab in Berlin


kiwanja’s Ken Banks has been invited to speak about technology and social innovation in Berlin this November at the annual Betterplace Lab conference. The Betterplace lab researches and experiments at the intersection of innovation and social good. You can read more on the conference website

November 2015: kiwanja co-authors new paper on technology for conservation

ambioEstablished in 1972, Ambio: Journal of the Human Environment is a peer-reviewed scientific journal published eight times a year by Springer Science+Business Media on behalf of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. In a special edition covering the use of technology in global conservation efforts, kiwanja was invited to co-author a paper in which we consider what nature conservation can learn from the introduction of digital technology in human development. From this, we derived a Charter to be used before and throughout project development, in order to help reduce replication and failure of digital innovation in nature conservation projects. Finally, we argue that the proposed Charter might promote collaboration with the development of digital tools and ensure that nature conservation projects progress appropriately with the development of new digital technologies. You can read more on the Ambio website, or download the paper here

October 2015: Ken Banks awarded Fellowship at RMIT University in Australia


RMIT is a global university of technology and design and one of Australia’s original tertiary institutions. It enjoys an international reputation for excellence in professional and vocational education and outcome-oriented research, and is a leader in engineering, accounting and finance, computer science and information systems, communication and media studies, psychology, education, law and economics. kiwanja’s Ken Banks has been invited to Melbourne as a Visiting Fellow and will be giving a number of talks to faculty and students, including a keynote address at RMIT’s College of Business ‘Research Showcase’ event in October. More on the RMIT event here

October 2015: kiwanja to speak at Google Campus event


Pitch It Africa are putting together a series of events to showcase opportunities that exist in the area of telecommunications, utilities (off grid solutions), health, education, mobile money, agriculture, investment, property management, software development, databases, security and more across the African continent. The first in the series focuses on IT and the ICT sector, and Ken Banks has been invited to speak about his technology work across Africa. You can see more, and book to attend, here

September 2015: kiwanja article published in the European Business Review


The European Business Review is the leading business intelligence magazine designed to ensure that business leaders make informed decisions. It provides them with indispensable insight, current best practices and breakthrough ideas. kiwanja’s Ken Banks was recently invited to contribute an article on social innovation and mobile technology. You can read this online here, or download a full PDF from the print version here

September 2015: Ken Banks to keynote at ‘Game Changers Summit’


Hosted by United Methodist Communications, this month’s ‘Game Changers Summit’ will demonstrate how information and communications technology can be used to improve all facets of life. The focus? Helping parts of the world left behind by the technological revolution, to solve problems in education, wellness and community development with cutting edge communications tools. Further details on the Summit, and kiwanja’s keynote, are available on the website here

August 2015: kiwanja interview with Aidpreneur now available as a podcast

torEarlier this summer, kiwanja’s Ken Banks was interviewed by Stephen Ladek as part of his Terms of Reference podcast series. In the interview, Ken spoke about his work with, his earlier technology background, the need for a people-centred approach in international development, and the rationale, history and thinking behind FrontlineSMS. You can listen to the podcast on the Audio Video page or on the Aidpreneur “Terms of Reference” web page here

August 2015: Ken Banks to take part in Buntwani 2015 in South Africa


Buntwani 2015 is a global gathering of actors from the civil society, technology, donor, research, government and policy sectors focusing on the intersection of governance and innovation. It provides a platform for reflection, analysis and candid dialogue on the impact of technology-supported initiatives aimed at empowering citizens to voice their concerns and demands, and improving governments’ responsiveness and accountability to their citizens. kiwanja’s Ken Banks will be taking part in the event, which is being held later this month in Johannesburg. Further details on the Buntwani website

August 2015: kiwanja to appear at Resource Politics event at Sussex University


Later this month, the STEPS Centre and its partners will be holding a conference can help unpack assumptions, question simplistic prescriptions and debate alternatives about the politics of resources and pathways to sustainability. The conference will present research evidence from varied locations revealing multiple pathways of change, linking conceptual challenges of understanding ‘resource politics’ with institutional and practical dimensions, from an interdisciplinary perspective. It is hoped this debate – with academics, practitioners, policymakers and activists taking part – can provide the basis for open and balanced debate about future options. You can read more on the event website

July 2015: TEDxCannes social innovation talk now online


kiwanja was recently invited to give a talk about his work, and the field of social innovation, at TEDxCannes. TEDx is a program of local, self-organised events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Ken’s talk, “When problems find people, amazing things can happen” can be watched on the TEDxCannes website

July 2015: Guest book review in Cambridge Business Monthly


Ken Banks was recently invited by the publishers of the Cambridge Business Monthly magazine to write a review of a new book on innovation. You can download a PDF of his article on “Dream Cafe” here

July 2015: kiwanja to present non-profit award at industry social media gathering

gadmBilled as the ultimate digital social gathering of the summer, kiwanja’s Ken Banks has been invited to give a short talk on tech-for-good and to present the non-profit category prize at this year’s GADM Campaign Awards in London. Previous events have attracted leading brand marketers from across the industry such as Ted Baker, Expedia, Coca Cola, Barclays, Sainsburys, Harrods, British Airways, Miss Selfridge, and many more. For further details, and for tickets to the event, check out the Eventbrite page

July 2015: Ken Banks signed up by international speakers bureau


Headquartered in London and Dallas, and with offices in Hong Kong, Lagos, and Mumbai, Chartwell Speakers Bureau sources the most insightful keynote speakers from around the globe. kiwanja has recently been signed up by the bureau. You can check out our speakers page here

June 2015: kiwanja to help judge the DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia 2015

dbs-challengekiwanja’s Ken Banks has been invited to sit on the judging panel for this year’s Social Venture Challenge Asia. The Challenge is an Asia-wide competition for social enterprises, open to any member of the public. Organised by NUS Enterprise in partnership with the DBS Foundation, the Challenge aims to identify and support new social ventures that have the potential to generate positive, scalable and sustainable social impact. Further details are available on the official competition website

June 2015: Ken Banks to speak at Singapore Management University


Ken Banks has been invited to speak about social innovation and social entrepreneurship at the Singapore Management University this month. During his visit, he will also be attending and speaking at an awards gala at the National University of Singapore. Further details of the SMU event are available here

May 2015: kiwanja to return to the stage at Thinking Digital 2015 

Thinking Digital is an annual conference where the world’s greatest thinkers and innovators gather to inspire, entertain and discuss the latest ideas and technologies. kiwanja last appeared at the event in 2010 to talk about his ongoing work with FrontlineSMS. This year we will be returning to the stage to talk about ‘development outside the system’, and how hackers, fixers and lone rangers are taking on some of the bigger development challenges. Ken will also be talking about his new book, “The Rise of the Reluctant Innovator“. Further details on the Thinking Digital website

April 2015: New Stanford Social Innovation Review article

Ken Banks has written a new article for the Stanford Social Innovation Review website. Based on an earlier blog post on the kiwanja website, “From Projects to People: Addressing a Donor Funding Imbalance” proposes that private funders and foundations consider funding individuals, as well as projects, to help social innovation flourish in the sector. You can read the SSIR piece here

April 2015: Ken Banks co-authors GSMA mobile data report

kiwanja’s Ken Banks recently carried out a short piece of consultancy work with the GSMA to help with the research, writing and production of a new report on the use, and potential, of data in mobile-for-development. The report seeks to “frame and assess the current landscape of mobile phone and other data usage by mobile services providers operating in emerging markets that serve underserved customer segments, otherwise termed Mobile for Development (M4D) services. There is a growing interest in this area of M4D as the data captured by the mobile platform offers visibility on many aspects of a mobile service’s operations”. You can download the paper from the GSMA website here

April 2015: kiwanja podcast on The Mobile Frontier

Ken Banks recently gave a one hour, wide-reaching interview with Ryan Fetterly as part of his “Entrepreneurs & Economic Development” podcast series. You can listen to the interview on Ryan’s website here, or on the kiwanja website here

April 2015: Ken Banks to sit on National Geographic Judging Panel

Following the successful conclusion of the Terra Watt Prize last year, National Geographic are planning a new social and environmental challenge for 2015. Ken Banks, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer from 2010, has been invited to sit on the Judging Panel. Further details of the challenge will be made public in the next few weeks

March 2015: kiwanja to appear at TEDx Cannes

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organised events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Ken Banks has been invited to speak at the TEDx event in Cannes at the end of March. Further details are available on the event website

February 2015: Ken Banks to help judge Young Entrepreneur Awards

Building on the success of the 2013 AwardsUnilever is inviting young people to come up with practical and innovative solutions to some of the world’s biggest sustainability challenges, and enter them in the Unilever Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneurs Awards. kiwanja’s Ken Banks has been invited to sit on the Judging Panel. Further details of the Awards can be found on the official website here

February 2015: “The Rise” book interview

Ken Banks recently gave an interview about his work in technology, conservation and development, and the thinking behind “The Rise of the Reluctant Innovator”, to ‘Thursday Throng’, a series of interviews dedicated to profiling books of interest. You can read the interview on Linda Parkinson-Hardman’s website here

February 2015: Sussex University talk lined up for One World Week

This year, as in previous years, Sussex University will be celebrating One World Week with a series of events and talks. Ken Banks, who is Ambassador for International Development at Sussex where he studied between 1996 and 1999, will return to the university during the week to give a talk on his work in conservation, development, technology and Africa, and his new book. Further details will be made available on the Sussex website nearer the time

January 2015: New “Reluctant Innovator” book review

The Society of Business Economists recently reviewed kiwanja’s book, The Rise of the Reluctant Innovator. Described as a book that “exceeded our expectations in so many ways”, you can read the review on the kiwanja blog here. It will appear on the SBE website in the coming weeks

January 2015: kiwanja at Technology Innovation Exchange 2015

Later this month Ashoka’s Technology Innovation Exchange in Silicon Valley will bring together leading players in the technology and social change sectors through a series of networking and brainstorming events focusing on entrepreneurial solutions and opportunities for scalable social impact. kiwanja’s Ken Banks has been invited, along with two other international Ashoka Fellows, to take part in the event which includes meetings and talks at Facebook, LinkedIn, Intuit, Singularity University, Intel, Google, and Stanford University’s StartX. Further details are available on the Ashoka website here

January 2015: Ken Banks to speak at Royal Holloway

Ken Banks has been invited to speak to students and members of faculty at an evening event scheduled to take place at Royal Holloway in London. The university has a long history in ICT4D, drawing on the expertise of staff, postgraduates and undergraduates in the academic Departments and Schools of Geography, Computer Science, Management, and the New Political Communication Unit in Politics and International Relations, as well as in the Information Services Department and the Educational Development Centre

Archived news from 2014 is available here.