FIP 41: World Toilet Day with Jack Sim

Jack Sim, Founder of the World Toilet Organization (WTO) has been a successful businessman for all of his adult life. After achieving financial success in his 40s, he felt a strong desire to give back to humanity.

Jack found that toilets were often neglected and grew concerned that the topic was draped in embarrassment and taboo. In 1998, he established the Restroom Association of Singapore (RAS) whose mission was to raise the standards of public toilets in Singapore and around the world.

Jack soon realized that there were other organizations worldwide like RAS, however, they lacked the channels to collaborate and share ideas. As a result, in 2001, Jack founded the World Toilet Organization (WTO), eventually earning himself the nickname Mr. Toilet.

On this podcast, we will cover:

  • Jack’s interest in tackling a problem that most people felt uncomfortable talking about and how he began to shift this taboo.
  • The origins of World Toilet Day (November 19) and how to be opportunistic when seeking partnerships.
  • The importance of relinquishing credit as a leader and remaining humble. Jack talks about creating a negative space that champions can sign up to eradicate, rather than focusing on being recognized for individual efforts.
  • How to get almost anything for free! While you don’t have resources, you do have a reputation and a story that businesses may want to align with.
  • How to leverage your story to bring attention to your cause. “If you don’t publish, you perish” Academics need to write, ask them how you can help! Helps bring credibility to your cause too.
  • The importance of being mission driven and removing individuals from the equation. “You are not the important thing, the mission is the important thing.”

Links to resources:

Connect with Jack:

What was your favourite lesson from this episode? Let me know on Twitter by clicking here!

Kevin Starr Finding Impact

FIP 38: Designing for Impact at Scale with Kevin Starr

Kevin Starr, Managing Director at Mulago Foundation and Founder of the Rainer Arnhold Fellows Program, has been scaling social ventures that provide the best solutions to the biggest problems in the poorest places, since 1994. Kevin also serves as the chairman of Big Bang Philanthropy and he is a regular contributor to the Stanford Social Innovation Review, PopTech, TEDx and

On this episode, Kevin walks us through Mulago’s designing for impact at scale (DIF) model and gives us great advice for how social entrepreneurs can sharpen their focus on impact. We end by illuminating the poverty-conservation trade-off and how Mulago Foundation intends to tackle it. Specifically, we learn about:

  • Why the social impact sector doesn’t function as a market for impact and why social entrepreneurs rarely make legitimate links between their intervention idea and its impact, including the responsibility of funders, budget allocations, and monitoring and evaluation.
  • Each component of Mulago’s DIF model to understand what the foundation deems necessary for a successful intervention.
  • Kevin explains the eight-word mission statement, the single impact indicator, and the behavior map in detail.
  • The four “doers at scale” and why social impact models need to be built based on these doers’ behavior change and ability to change others’ behaviors for successful replication.
  • The four “payers at scale” and why it’s imperative to know which payer a social venture serves in order to build sustainable pricing into the strategy as early as possible.
  • The significance of systems-thinking and treating your social venture like a “lab” by staying lean, failing fast, recognizing success, and proving your model.
  • In relation to for-profit social ventures, the three types of money available -which Kevin calls free money, real money and maybe money – and how entrepreneurs can overcome the typical funding obstacle of obtaining real money after accessing free money.
  • Current trade-offs between poverty and conservation efforts and how Mulago aims to encourage social entrepreneurs to link social, environmental and business indicators through their Conservation Fellowship.


Links to Guest


Shawn Shafner finding impact podcast

FIP 029: Breaking Taboo with Shawn Shafner

When taboos exist, issues are skipped over. This is bad news when you’re encouraging people to come together to solve societal issues. Shawn Shafner is a master at breaking the taboo of shit. He created The People’s Own Organic Power Project – AKA The POOP Project – which is breaking boundaries in a subject long bound up by stigma and taboo. I first met Shawn at the World Toilet Summit in Philadelphia in 2010 and it’s been great to watch him take his message global.

On this episode you’ll learn:

  • Breaking taboos is important not just for sanitation, but other societal challenges, such as issues of old age, death, HIV/AIDs, and menstruation.
  • Social media is by far the most scalable way to get your story out there, which can be a powerful medium to break the taboos your organisation is fighting for.
  • Other news and media companies are attracted to taboo subjects, which can be great for your marketing campaign, so your message gets amplified by others.
  • Being sensitive to audiences reactions is important, and listening is key. Making it clear in the title, what your video/blog/show is about, is one way to screen out people who might take offence.
  • “Making creativity happen” with a group of people is hard. What you can do instead is create structures that invite creativity to come. So you might throw some pipe cleaners into a group and suggest they make stuff.
  • In using communications to garner support for your cause, it can be useful to pique people’s interest by showing them the status quo, get them really angry, then show them how it can be different, and what they can do about it.


Connect with Shawn:


Carne Ross Finding Impact

FIP 022: Creating Your Own Political Strategy, with Carne Ross

Carne Ross is a Skoll Awardee and TED speaker. He’s a principled man, having walked away from his diplomatic career in the British Government in protest over the Iraq war. The non-profit he founded, called Independent Diplomat, is geared towards tackling the imbalance between the diplomatic processes and those affected by the decisions made in diplomatic processes.

In this episode, Carne talks us through nine principles for action that changemakers can use to create their own political strategy.

Some of the things you’ll learn on this podcast include:

  • The three creative tools of diplomacy, including public relations, international law, and political strategy.
  • Political strategy is where you try to understand who are the political decision makers and why they are making those decisions, and then think up ways to shift the outcomes towards your desired goal.
  • Excavate your convictions is about defining the thing you care most about and making that your calling. Focus on what makes you angry.
  • Who’s got the money, who’s got the gun? is about finding out who’s got the power so you can be most efficient in your actions.
  • Demonizing the person sitting on the other side of the table in government is not the most effective way to influence them. Far better by being respectful to them and having a conversation to find out their reasons for their course of action, and then offering an alternative route forward after thorough analysis.
  • The best piece of advice from Carne, on utter determination.


Connect with Carne:


Yasmina Zaidman Finding Impact Podcast

FIP 018: Welding Corporate Partnerships with Yasmina Zaidman

Yasmina Zaidman is Chief Partnerships Officer at Acumen, who has been working with social entrepreneurs to see how solving problems of poverty might align with the activities of large global corporations. As of 2017, Yasmina has been with Acumen for almost 14 years, working with them to continually challenge itself to grow and evolve. Acumen uses business to solve problems of poverty, and has been doing so since its founder, Jacqueline Novogratz, began in 2001. Since then, Acumen has invested more than $103 million in 96 companies across Africa, Latin America and South Asia.

Some of the insights I drew from this podcast include:

  • Great partnerships come from two organizations wanting the same thing.
  • Choose the right corporate to invest time into, by first finding out if they have the technical capabilities you need, ensure their geographical footprint overlaps with yours, and try to figure out what their interests might be.
  • Corporates may seek partnerships with social enterprises to give their employees opportunities to work on social problems, or it may be because they are seeking to grow in the geographies you operate.
  • Be ready for lots of conversation to figure out what value the corporate is seeking in the relationship, knowing that there’s normally an official driver, but quite often, there will be secondary, less spoken of, drivers.
  • Check out the Skoll-Acumen report (link below) which breaks down the three main types of partnership, which can help to know when going into conversations with corporates
  • It is appropriate for the CEO of the social enterprise to be involved, as this is similar to sourcing capital, but within the team, people need good business development skills, such as relationship building and negotiation, and able to build broader relationships within a corporate to mitigate against individual staff turnover.
  • Timescales can be issue in these partnerships, and its important to be clear about tlimelines and what happens in times of delay – because they’re all working in a very dynamic, complex environment.
  • Bringing in an intermediary, like an investor, is a great way to support the process.
  • A skills partnership, when a corporate gives some short term input, is perhaps more appropriate for small, earlier stage enterprises.
  • Why energy and agriculture are two sectors that Acumen thinks is ripe for collaboration and ecosystem engagement.
  • Some strategies to address the power imbalance when partnering with corporates.


Connect with Yasmina


FIP 014: The Importance of Story with Avery Bang

In this episode, Avery Bang talks us through the importance of story and staying clear of poverty porn. Avery is the CEO of Bridges to Prosperity, a non-profit working to connect rural communities to essential services, like education, healthcare and markets. She has earned her stipes in storytelling, having done a TED talk, appeared on local TV stations, has an IMAX film featuring Bridges to Prosperity by an academy award winning director and is expected to receive 30 million viewers. If there’s one thing she has an unfair advantage on, it’s about how she uses story to embed what she’s doing into the minds of people around the globe. I was keen to catch up with Avery to deconstruct the process she’s followed to get the global exposure she’s achieved.

Some of the things you’ll learn on this podcast include:

  • We talk about the importance of telling stories in a tasteful, ethical way, and how to stay away from “poverty porn”.
  • If your solution is not a physical product, or resides in your local neighborhood, then getting people to connect with your solution is hard to do, which is why connecting with them through a story is important.
  • Avery’s method is telling stories of humanity – of hope and inspiration – rather than tugging at heart strings about the poor people who can’t cross the river.
  • We talk about the psychology of telling people about a big problem in international development, which tends to shut people down, which causes them to shrug and say there’s nothing they can do about a problem so large.
  • The story as a way to invite people with you, encourage them to celebrate the big wins with you, encourage them to inspire others, so they tell the story and it spreads.
  • Avery talks about how she pulled in creatives, who work in stories everyday, to visit the field with her, and ask them to tell the story from their perspective.
  • We point to Scott Harrison of Charity: water who is a ninja storyteller (my words), who makes charity: water’s work hopeful and encouraging people to think of their support like a badge of honour.
  • We stress the “Why” is so more important than the “How”.
  • We talk about what Avery’s first iteration of her story was when she started out, but she quickly realized it’s not about the bridge. It’s about the kid going to school, or the farmer going to market. The bridge connects stories every day.
  • Thinking about the story before your intervention, and then the story after your intervention, is a good way to think about it.
  • We talk about episode 002 with Scott Roy, and how this topic chimes with what he said, about what problem can your intervention solve for someone. It’s not about how good your product is.
  • To build your storytelling skills, Avery’s suggestion is to do something that makes you uncomfortable, like being part of toast masters, or doing a locally-run TED talk, to force you to work on translating your vision to someone else.
  • We briefly talk about the Oxford MBA, and how taking time out for your organization is a way of accelerating it to the next level.


Connect with Avery