• Game-changing startups: Astrome

    by Neha Satak, Co-Founder & CEO, Astrome

    blog image alt text

    Unreasonable FUTURE is a unique multi-year initiative bringing together disruptive entrepreneurs to create a more sustainable and equitable future for all. Its founding sponsors are Pearson, Fossil Foundation and Accenture. This Q&A series spotlights a few of the ventures in the program to provide a glimpse into the innovative work that is being nurtured.

    Using tech to bridge the socio-economic divide in rural & urban areas

    How would you describe your business to your grandmother?​

    At Astrome, we focus on connection through technology. Be it connecting farmers to the government, connecting children to teachers in cities, or connecting craftsmen to the worldwide market to sell their products—we develop internet technologies to make those connections possible.

    What problem does your business solve for society?​

    Astrome bridges the socio-economic divide between rural and urban areas, helping to create more equal opportunities for all. We develop innovative products that can deliver reliable internet services in these rural areas, allowing millions of people to access the information they need for the betterment of their lives.

    Where did you source inspiration?​

    Our inspiration has always stemmed from using technology to improve the world we live in, particularly within the emerging world. From a personal perspective, both my co-founder and I grew up in small towns in India with many of our relatives living in villages. During this time, we witnessed firsthand the changes that occurred in our own areas due to limited internet access. Even today, we still see a large gap in accessibility of the internet to villages. As technologists, innovation excites us, so we combined this with our passion for solving critical world problems, and Astrome was born.

    What’s something you know now that you wish you knew when you started your business?​

    Looking back, we wish we knew more about the maturity of the VC funding ecosystem in emerging countries for deep-tech and hardware; we also discovered that the funding available at pre-Series A and Series A stages, as well as the understanding of deep tech start-ups by investors, is much lower than required in many countries.

    What’s the best place for people to learn more about your company’s work or to follow your progress?​

    The best place for people to learn about our company’s work is on our website; the best place to follow our progress is through our LinkedIn page.

     

    read more
  • Leading students through a changing career landscape

    by Pearson

    blog image alt text

    read more
  • Game-changing startup: Kuza

    by Sriram Bharatam, Founder & Chief Mentor, Kuza

    blog image alt text

    Unreasonable FUTURE is a unique multi-year initiative bringing together disruptive entrepreneurs to create a more sustainable and equitable future for all. Its founding sponsors are Pearson, Fossil Foundation and Accenture. This Q&A series spotlights a few of the ventures in the program to provide a glimpse into the innovative work that is being nurtured.

    Empowering rural youth to help farmers increase productivity & income

    How would you describe your business to your grandmother?​

    At Kuza we are changing the status quo by nurturing and growing youth as Agripreneurs—agricultural entrepreneurs, while democratizing access and creating opportunities for smallholder farmers to learn, connect (with other ecosystem partners) and grow (their Agri business).

    We use technology to bring new ideas to remote areas. Agripreneurs visit a cohort of smallholder farmers in rural communities, taking a backpack which holds a Wi-Fi router, portable cloud designed to work without power and internet and a projector. They use this to stream specially created, bite-sized learning videos on best agriculture practices, life and business skills, which farmers can watch using tablet devices that Kuza lends them. The farmers need not be digitally literate.

    What problem does your business solve for society?​

    Smallholder farmers contribute to 80% of agricultural produce in Africa, yet they don’t have access to extensive resources and are dependent on middlemen. They are the people creating value and taking risk, but earn the least in the supply chain.​

    Additionally, about 90% of the 1.8 billion young people worldwide between the ages of 10-24 are living in low and middle-income countries. Most of these youth are unemployed and live-in agrarian societies and rural areas.​

    Enter Kuza; we’re revolutionizing the resilience of over 500 million smallholder farmers by handpicking enterprising rural youth and enrolling them in our REDI program (Rural Entrepreneurship Development Incubators) to become Agripreneurs—each supporting 200 farmers to increase their productivity & income.

    Where did you source inspiration?​

    Late in 1999 there was a hurricane (cyclone) in Orissa, India; over 13 million people lost their livelihoods and over 100,000 lost their lives. We (the future founders of Kuza) developed an idea to support the hurricane victims and put together one of the world’s first crowdfunding campaigns; it was called Cause an Effect. The idea went viral and we raised over $1.5 million in 45 days to support the hurricane victims. A global community of 18 million people from 70+ countries actively participated in the campaign.

    We won the Kauffman award for Social Entrepreneurship for this effort and began a new chapter as social entrepreneurs. To date Kuza has impacted over 5 million lives and created 150K new jobs across 9 African countries and South Asia.

    What’s something you know now that you wish you knew when you started your business?​

    We wish we had the wisdom and clarity on how to leverage the power of communities to create a sustainable social business model at the time when we started.​

    What’s the best place for people to learn more about your company’s work or to follow your progress?​

    Please visit our company website or follow us on our social channels: Sriram Bharatam | Bharathi Bharatam​

     

    read more
  • Game-changing startups: Kanarys

    by Mandy Price, CEO and Co-Founder, Kanarys

    blog image alt text

    Unreasonable FUTURE is a unique multi-year initiative bringing together disruptive entrepreneurs to create a more sustainable and equitable future for all. Its founding sponsors are Pearson, Fossil Foundation and Accenture. This Q&A series spotlights a few of the ventures in the program to provide a glimpse into the innovative work that is being nurtured.

    Tech-powered collaboration between companies and employees on diversity, equity, and inclusion

    How would you describe your business to your grandmother?

    Simply put, Kanarys helps people work where they belong by fostering collaboration between companies and employees on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. The Kanarys technology platform collects both anonymous employee feedback and objective company data to help diagnose, prioritize, and optimize DEI efforts in the workplace.

    Kanarys works alongside company partners to give them a deep look at the diversity, equity, and inclusion at their own company—equipping them the information and tools they need to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. Through transparency and accountability, the Kanarys platform provides a feedback mechanism for companies to continuously improve their diversity, equity, and inclusion, ultimately creating a better workplace for all.

    Kanarys provides benchmarks for companies based on their industry, making it very clear where they fall behind in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion and also provides actionable insights for companies on where they can improve.

    What problem does your business solve for society?​

    My co-founders and I started the company in 2018 because we knew that current DEI initiatives were failing employees, and data, accountability, and transparency can help ensure that employees’ voices are heard. Given our personal and professional experiences as Black women and men in the workplace, we observed a breakdown in communication, even at well meaning companies, and we knew we could build a technology platform that could solve this problem for employees and companies everywhere.

    Based on our research, DEI initiatives were lacking the key aspects of data, accountability, and transparency. Kanarys is working to change how DEI is measured and how efforts are being implemented so the kind of hardships we faced in the workplace are stopped, leading our society in creating a better workplace for all. Our platform is built knowing that change starts from within and if business leaders across the U.S. commit to doing the work, we will finally see an inclusive workplace and a more equitable society, where everyone can work where they belong.​

    Where did you source inspiration?​

    We created the platform based on our own lived experiences in the workplace. I had many of the same experiences and accolades as my colleagues in the legal industry, but I continued to experience many inequities in the workplace that Black women often encounter.

    I knew that although my experiences were traumatic, they were not unique, and employees everywhere face similar situations. For example, I have been called the company’s “diverse” partner by a colleague —immediately minimizing me and my experiences to being a token at the company. Additionally, I have been asked if I had gotten into Harvard legitimately.

    It was from these experiences throughout my career, along with the experiences of others, that I drew the inspiration for Kanarys. We are really building a bridge between employees and employers where concerns are addressed without the fear of retaliation, which is something that would have greatly benefitted me during my previous career.​

    What’s something you know now that you wish you knew when you started your business?​

    I have been a leader many times in my life and during my career, but the demands of being a leader in a startup environment are in a league of their own. Add to that the challenges of leading a business during a pandemic and it’s even more challenging.

    I have a greater appreciation now than ever before about how important it is to be responsive to my team’s mental health and how, as a leader, it’s up to me to make sure this is prioritized. We are a mission-driven company and I’m so fortunate to have a team full of people so personally devoted to that mission.

    But, at the end of the day, it is my job to check in with folks, which ultimately gives the team permission to share concerns and feel comfortable taking full advantage of all the resources we have available. For my team to be at their best, I have had to make sure they are taken care of holistically. I’ve learned that sometimes, you have to go slow to go fast.​

    What’s the best place for people to learn more about your company’s work or to follow your progress?​

    You can learn more about our company on Kanarys.com or our social media channels at @kanarysinc on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

    I encourage everyone to log on to our website and anonymously rate and review your workplace today. Additionally, we offer a robust Resource Center at Resources.Kanarys.com with free webinars, toolkits, and guides for both employees and companies on how to create a more diverse and equitable workplace.

     

    read more
  • Harnessing change in higher education

    by Pearson

    blog image alt text

    From test optional to online learning, the whole college search, application, and enrollment process has changed for applicants and schools in 2020.

    In fact, by harnessing these changes, we may open doors for new ways that:

    • colleges can assess applicants
    • applicants can evaluate their choices
    • adult learners can gain new job skills

    Learn how from Joe Morgan by watching the video below.

     

    read more
  • Game-changing startups: Re:Coded

    by Alexandra Clare, CEO & Co-Founder, Re:Coded

    blog image alt text

    Unreasonable FUTURE is a unique multi-year initiative bringing together disruptive entrepreneurs to create a more sustainable and equitable future for all. Its founding sponsors are Pearson, Fossil Foundation and Accenture. This Q&A series spotlights a few of the ventures in the program to provide a glimpse into the innovative work that is being nurtured.

    Training youth in conflicted affected areas to join the digital economy

    How would you describe your business to your grandmother?

    Our goal at Re:Coded Labs is to democratize access to quality learning and ensure that youth from underserved communities are prepared for the rapidly changing workforce of today and tomorrow. We do this by offering transformative learning experiences to talented youth and educators, in a range of technical and non-technical skills, with the goal of facilitating high value employment in the digital economy.​

    We offer three core products / services under one umbrella:​

    Immersive Career Driven Learning Programs

    Each of our immersive programs has one goal: to help launch a new tech career for talented youth being left at the margins of the global digital economy. Throughout the programs, students apply theory to real-world problems, learn software development or design skills, and receive instruction and support from industry leaders while maximizing their personal growth. Our students then receive dedicated career support to help them land their first job in the tech sector.​

    Educator Innovation Programs

    Our intent with these programs is to achieve systemic change in outdated learning models and education systems. We do this by empowering educators to reimagine learning for the future of work using our own pedagogical and metacognition framework.​

    Education Products

    We develop a range of educational products that enable learners to learn faster and more effectively.​

    What problem does your business solve for society?

    We’re in the midst of a digital revolution and traditional education systems and outdated learning models are failing to prepare youth for the future of work. Nowhere is this more evident than in countries that are already affected by conflict, violence, poverty and disaster.

    Meanwhile, COVID-19 has caused massive economic disruption, exacerbating the effects of this technical transformation. While the net impact of this pandemic is uncertain, youth who were already at the margins of the global digital economy risk being further left behind and entering a dangerous cyclical relationship between economic disenfranchisement and instability, unless we ensure they have the skills, resources and networks to thrive. We exist to reconcile this global digital inequality divide by providing youth with in-demand skills and networks in order to create opportunity and good jobs for entire communities.

    Where did you source inspiration?

    The inspiration behind what we do comes from witnessing the problem firsthand. In June 2014, I first traveled to Iraq to implement a peace-building initiative for Syrian refugees who had been displaced by the civil war. Upon seeing the lack of access to meaningful education & employment opportunities for youth, I set about researching initiatives that could bridge the education and employment divide in the wake of conflict.

    Two years later after securing seed funding, I teamed up with my co-founder Marcello to create an organization with a startup mindset and a mission to empower youth by teaching high-end technical skills for the digital economy. My background is in human rights law whilst Marcello’s is education in emergencies.

    What’s something you know now that you wish you knew when you started your business?

    Everything and yet nothing! Starting and growing this organization has been one of the steepest learning curves of my life. I came from a legal background without an MBA or any experience running a business. Yet, every failure has been an opportunity to learn and grow. From designing our first programs to managing complex operations in conflict zones to hiring — it’s been a fun challenge. I’m not sure any business book or course can prepare you for what is to come on the journey of social entrepreneurship.

    What’s the best place for people to learn more about your company’s work or to follow your progress?

    Subscribe to our newsletter here or follow us on social media @recodedofficial.

     

    read more