For the first time in history we have the tools, technologies and approaches to end extreme poverty
USAID website (2017)

For the first time in history scientific and technological progress has placed the world within reach of eliminating world poverty altogether
Jeffrey Sachs (2005)

For the first time in history humanity possesses the knowledge and the skill to relieve the suffering of these people
Harry S. Truman (1949)

Thanks to more recent advances in technology and innovation,
today we live in a new ‘for the first time in history'.

But are we on track to become the first generation to take genuine advantage of the opportunity?

If we’re honest, the jury is still out. We know many projects rarely optimise for their beneficiaries and the environments in which they operate, and despite what they often claim, many set out as solutions looking for a problem. Too many initiatives lead with technology, and fail to scale into sustainable programs - in part because donors are constantly under pressure to disburse funds to new and ‘innovative’ projects, rarely giving older projects time to mature.

There is no minimum standard for funding development projects, either. As a result, money struggles to find it’s way to the projects most likely to succeed, and a vicious cycle ensues. Worse still, despite talk of local capacity building and ownership, the vast majority of programs are still conceptualized, executed and funded by outsiders and parachuted in.

And to top it all, as a sector we lack a shared vision of the future we all should be working towards.

All of this adds up to a cycle of underperformance, perpetuated by the fact that feedback loops between donors, practitioners, policy makers, academia, civil society and program beneficiaries are at best weak.

We can, and should, be better than this.

"Development is at a watershed moment, powered by accessible and affordable liberating technologies and an
emerging army of determined, local talent. This local talent is gradually acquiring the skills, resources, and support it
needs to take back ownership of many of its problems - problems of which it never took original ownership
because those skills and resources were not available. Well, now they are."

Ken Banks

"The Truth About Disruptive Development"
from the Stanford Social Innovation Review

Read full article


Four activities which have the potential for positive disruption


Ken Banks

Project Lead

Emauwa Nelson

Africa Research Lead