Top of the Class: What it Takes to be a Justmeans Social Innovation Awards Winner in the Categories of Finance and Philanthropy

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Top of the Class: What it Takes to be a Justmeans Social Innovation Awards Winner in the Categories of Finance and Philanthropy

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Friday, May 4, 2012 - 1:30pm

While many organizations look inwards to foster social innovation internally, others have recognized that they can work in concert with external partners to generate new ideas and tactics in places that need it most. Recognizing the importance of looking beyond oneself to create true and meaningful social innovation, the Justmeans Social Innovation Awards recognizes companies participating effectively in two important areas: Social Investment and Strategic Philanthropy.

Finance: Best Social Investment Strategy - This award recognized the company or organization with the best social investment strategy, a concept that refers to the ways companies invest their financial assets in order to advance causes or programs that have both social and financial returns. When evaluating this category, Judges agreed that Vestergaard Frandsen developed a unique tool to help a large community in more ways than one:

Vestergaard’s breakthrough initiative called LifeStraw Carbon for Water launched in 2011. Each LifeStraw delivers at least 18,000 liters of EPA quality drinking water, enough to supply a family of 5 with safe drinking water for 3 years. Between April and May of last year, Vestergaard donated 880,000 LifeStraws to roughly 93% of households in Kenya’s Western Province. In addition to effectively delivering clean drinking water, an impressive feat in its own right, the LifeStraw has an auxiliary environmental benefit.  Before the LifeStraw, the primary water treatment method was to boil it using wood fuel. The introduction of the lifestraw is expected to reduce carbon emissions in the area by 2 million tons annually.

Philanthropy: Most Strategic Use of Philanthropic Funds – Strategic philanthropy entails the contribution of money or time to causes that align with company operations, such that giving also contributes to the industry's sustainability. This award went to the company or organization that best met these criteria. And like Vestergaard Frandsen’s LifeStraw, this year’s recipient also took place in Kenya.

Hewlett-Packard’s Early Infant Diagnosis program is achieved through an alliance between HP, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), and the Kenyan government. These bodies have worked together to implement a technology-based solution for efficient diagnosis and treatment of HIV-positive infants in Kenya. The program gives babies the best chance of survival by greatly reducing test result turnaround times, enabling an early start on life-saving antiretroviral (ARV) treatment. The program also helps decision makers to take more informed decisions, monitor infant progress, and ensure receipt of ARV treatment. This innovative program makes it possible to manage multiple items of data (infant HIV test results), and transmit test results via SMS (short message service) to SMS-enabled printers located in even the most remote rural health clinics. SMS is the text component of many of today’s web, phone, and mobile communication systems, and is used by an estimated 2.4 billion people worldwide. The benefit of SMS is that test results can be reliability received by each clinic (whether or not the clinic has internet access). This program showcases what can be achieved through collaboration between the private sector, an NGO and a government. It also highlights how innovations in technology are being used to save lives. And it is an excellent example of HP’s commitment to social innovation. To help the Early Infant Diagnosis program, HP generously contributes 5 modern data centers with HP Server and Networking storage, Financial and technical support, they created a solution that allows test results to be sent via SMS to a printer in local clinics, as well as the printers required.

Justmeans will be highlighting video interview with the winners, impressive applications, and more from the 2012 Social Innovation Awards ceremony over the next few weeks. For more information, please visit the website www.socialinnovationawards.com.