Social Good Startup: Kopernik

kopernik dlight solar lanternKopernik is one of the 8 finalists to Startups Good Challenge that was held about a month ago, sponsored by the good guys at Mashable, 92Y and UN Foundation. I tried to reach out to all of the finalists, however, only 5 responded – with one left the event early, before I had the chance to interview the founder.

The criteria:

“Startups that are building or using technology to make a positive impact on the world will compete for a chance to present at the Social Good Summit and win a $10,000 cash prize for their company.”

So this is the first social good organizations out of four (that I was able to have conversations with) that will be featured here. The lineup: Kopernik, Empower Energy, Simple Energy and the winner of this competition – a 19-yo kid, Sun Saluter.

In this interview, I talked with Toshi Nakamura, the co-founder of Kopernik, a social enterprise who’s also a member of Clinton Global Initiative. Toshi and I shares one thing in common: Indonesia. Oh well, his organization is based in Indonesia, and I was lifted from there. That’s about it.

The problem that they’re trying to solve is in the distribution of life-changing technology to the last mile in the developing country (read: the poorest). Think of this business as the online store for innovative technologies, i.e. technology like what you see from the picture above showing d.light lantern, which is one of the products available from their store.

Continue reading “Social Good Startup: Kopernik”

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Why Upskilling is Key to Staying Employable

why skilling up is key to employableWhat is it about the world that makes it more challenging to find work? I know at least a couple of friends who are educated and still looking for jobs.

Technology has lowered the barriers for people to learn. For example, ever since English become one of the official languages use on the Internet, teenagers in Indonesia these days speak better English than when I was their age!

So now because of technology and access to Internet, competition for the same kind of jobs can come from anywhere in the world.

A robot can even replace you, the worker. This is already happening (as we speak). Diapers.com, uses robots (not people!) to move things around. How about that?

It’s either another person or robot or machine. Whatever. You’ve got competition! This competition leave us with few choices: either reinvent, redefine – or toast.

How do you stay employable?

Well, I’ve got news for you. You can. Here is what you want to do: skillup and keep on learning – for as long as you able to work – for life! Because a college degree alone won’t be enough to keep you employable. You want to keep moving forward and continue to reinvent and redefine your career.

3 REASONS WHY YOU NEED TO SKILLS UP 

1. The future lies on your (continued) education

The  US Congress on Joint Economic Committee, recently did a study “Nowhere to Go” to see the impact of Free Trade to US workers. The study finds that older workers and those without a college education – are at risk (of losing jobs). That being said, jobs are hard to come by for those without college degree. “Since most of the jobs expected to be created are in sectors that require education beyond high school.”

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 11.9 million jobs between now and 2018 will be in professionals category, where 65% of employees have a four-year degree.

chart shows how jobs growth needs higher education Continue reading “Why Upskilling is Key to Staying Employable”

The Path to Find Your Next Big Ideas

bright ideaI recently had the opportunity to chat with Peter Sims, the author of “Little Bets,” at the Social Good Summit. Peter is also a co-founder of Fuse Corps, a social enterprise that partner up with government, mayors, etc. to help tackle the nation’s most pressing problems. This is part of his little bets.

Little bets are a way to explore and develop new possibilities. The idea is to start small experiment to discover big things. You have to go through the process to discover bigger and better ideas. There is no shortcut for that.

For example, comedian Chris Rock would practice (read: experiment) with his lines at small comedy clubs around where he lives – before he uses those lines (that worked) for the big stage.

The same is true with VCs, how they would invest in a number of different companies. Not all companies would succeed (if it works out 100% success ratio, it would be a dream!), however, from the companies they invest one of two would grow big and give multiple times payback to investors.

So before you dive in to the conversation, here are some the things you can learn from this conversation:

  • where Peter finds his inspiration
  • that it’s okay to fail

Continue reading “The Path to Find Your Next Big Ideas”

Flooding and Impact on Businesses

CLIMATE SKEPTICS need to pay attention here. This man, Richard Han, CEO of Hana Microelectronics talks to CNN how the floods impacting businesses. The water is 2 meter (about 2.18 yards) high and you have to get to the industrial park – by boat!

There’s a correlation between deforestation, climate, rainfall. When we talk about Thailand’s worst flooding in half a century, look at the impact on people and business.

Half a century ago, Thailand was not as populated as today. Probably few manufacturing companies set up shops here.

Now is a different story.

Down the chain line, since the beginning of this month Toyota, Nissan and Honda combined are losing 6,000 units/cars a day! If you add this to the overall Thailand’s exports. And calculate its impact deeper down the chain line – how it impacted their businesses around the world – the  number could be really huge!

Check this out.

Deforestation, Thailand Floods and Supply Chain

You think deforestation has something to do with “Thailand worst” floods? Because rainforests affect local weather conditions by creating rainfall.

Between 1945 and 1975 forest cover in Thailand declined from 61% to 34% of the country’s land area. Over the next 11 years, Thailand lost close to 28% of all of its remaining forests. This means that the country lost 3.1% of its forest cover each year over that period.

What happened now is Thailand going through the worst floods in half a century. The floods have disrupted the supply chain of some of the big names, i.e. Toyota, Apple, Ford, etc. For example, Toyota, Honda and Nissan – combined – they’re losing 6,000 units of car production daily since early this month.

Thailand is a big regional hub for the world’s car makers and most are suffering disruption, either because their plants are flooded or, more often, because parts makers have had to close and the supply chain has been disrupted.

The output of Japanese car makers has fallen by about 6,000 units a day because of the flooding. Germany’s Daimler AG said late on Thursday it had halted car production because of the threat of flooding. (emphasis added)

via Reuters

Moreover, Bloomberg reports that “Thailand is the world’s largest producer of hard-disk drives, the biggest exporter of rice and rubber and the second- largest supplier of sugar, according to government data.” So if you total domestic productivity, exports and its global impact down the supply chain – the impact from the floods could be huge. Really huge!

I remember when we were still a kid in Jakarta. Our house got flooded few times. When the city gets flooded, it is like snow days for us. It’s fun when it’s not too much and go on for days. Because we can play around in the thick of water! But things can get messy and people got sick after a few days of continuous rain. So enuf of it.

This flood should be a wake up call for everyone.  There is a price to everything (in life and business). That when you disrupt nature’s natural cycle of cooling system this is what could happen.

Sure by now the Japanese conglomerates may already have learned the lessons from this experience. That there’s correlation between deforestation, climate and rain fall. They do learn pretty quick. It’s about risk management and Kaizen!

The chain is disrupted (in pictures)

Pictures worth a thousands words. My friend sent me pictures of Rojana industrial park, where Toyota and other manufacturers have their plants under water siege – that you can see below the fold..

Continue reading “Deforestation, Thailand Floods and Supply Chain”

Brands and the Power of Connected Citizens

Best global brands 2011

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview Simon Mainwaring, the author of “We First,” at Social Good Summit. If in the past, brands controlled the conversation. With social tools at people’s disposal, that is no longer the case.

Game changing: We First

The use of social tools changed how consumers view their relationships with brands. (even for those that do not fall under the category of big brands, i.e. business or people – like you and I) Because consumers now have the power to drive ‘the’ conversation.

So we talked about how connected citizens – those who are actively sharing their values via various social networks like Twitter, Facebook, etc. – choose to communicate with brands.

Some of the things that we discussed:

– The power of connected citizens.

We saw what’s happening in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain how people are reaching out despite the state of oppression in communicating the value of what they care. In the business world, for example, citizens’ participation in Pepsi Refresh Project. This is a project, where anyone with an idea can get their initiative funded.

Continue reading “Brands and the Power of Connected Citizens”

South Korean President Talks Green to US Congress

President Barack Obama and Republic of Korea Lee Myung Bak         photo: Pete Souza – White House

Did Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid give hint to South Korean President to speak about green economy to members of congress? The President of South Korea, Lee Myung Bak, who is on a state visit to Washington this week – his speech seems to hit the chord at today’s Joint Session of Congress.

At the session, Lee Myung Bak talks about his country’s emergence to join the economic powerhouses of the world. Transforming itself from one of the poorest to the most dynamic economy. Think about for a sec. You probably know some of the household names here via technology or car, brands like Kia, Samsung, LG, and Hyundai. Those brands originated from Korea and branched out from there.

So. Korea is a small country, with only 48 million people in comparison to the U.S. with 312+ million in population. This is a country that have no natural resources and yet managed to become global top 10 economic power!

It’s very impressive, when you think about how they achieved that position – in just one generation. Why? Because, they prioritized education.  Continue reading “South Korean President Talks Green to US Congress”