007 No Ordinary Business with WellDone

Goal 6 of #Envision2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals strives to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. By 2030, the goal is to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all through, in part, supporting and strengthening the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management. Join us for our conversation with Addison Nuding, Managing Director of WellDone, an organisation empowering communities to build clean water solutions.

 

Gina:  Addison welcome to No Ordinary Business!

 

Addison: Thanks for having me!
 

Gina: Before we get into WellDone can you give us a little bit of insight into to your own background and how you got to where you are today?

 

Addison: Sure, I think I have always been really passionate about sustainability and conservation and the work that nonprofits are doing but my path hasn't been very linear. I grew up in Pennsylvania, I went to college in North Carolina and studied international business and anthropology and then after college, I went to Google, where I managed community affairs, hardware operations for our consumer electronics teams, and helped to design and build futures and UX for many of those devices. 

I built a circular economy programme for consumer electronics that would take all of our old electronics, try and reuse them, donate devices to nonprofits, and then take some of the components and recycle them and extract as much value out of them as possible. I initiated that project at Google and it attracted a lot of non-profit organisations inside and outside of Google and one of those was a founder of WellDone, Joshua To.

In my spare time, I was always involved with nonprofits and conservation efforts. I actually met Joshua To while working at Google. We were on the same product area team and kept bumping into each other at a bunch of non-profit events. We would always just have conversations about WellDone and what they were doing. I realised they had a very similar mindset about sustainability with regards to the water and sanitation sector and realised the opportunity to step in and help out the organisation.

 

Gina: So, you were working in the for-profit sector at Google and engaged in the not-for-profit sector on your personal time.  Where was your focus in terms of sustainability issues at that time?

 

Addison: I was always trying to steer a little bit toward a full-time effort in the not-for-profit sector but was either hesitant for one reason or the other or the right opportunity didn’t come around. Google itself had a lot of initiatives but I just never was able to find something that aligned with what I was hoping to accomplish. I had hit a tipping point, I was ready for a change and was excited for the opportunity to lead an organisation that had a track record of good work, had a vision for the future, and had a need for leadership.

 

Gina: Okay great! So you decided that there was a good fit with WellDone. What resonated with you and made this a good fit for you to transition out of the private sector?
 

Addison: I think it was just good timing. My predecessors had started to develop this remote monitoring technology that collects data from rural infrastructure such as water flow rate or electricity usage to improve accountability in the developing world. It’s called MoMo (mobile monitor) and is still our flagship product.  Anyway, they had won a couple of awards for the design, they had established a grant and they were piloting this technology in Tanzania. 

The challenge with hardware projects is that they are expensive, especially in the beginning.  There is a lot of R&D that is required and subsequent risk.  Most individuals and organizations are apprehensive to fund hardware projects until they are proven for these reasons.  Running a hardware startup within the nonprofit sector is particularly difficult because of the added complexity of grant-based funding and an end consumer that is not the paying customer. Nevertheless, my predecessors chose to go off and work on separate projects, so it left an opportunity for someone to step in and pick up this project where it was left off. 
 

Gina: Let’s talk about your mission for a minute.  What inspired the formation of WellDone and what specifically was it designed to tackle?  

 

AddisonWellDone started out similar to many other non-profit water organisations, raising funds and using those funds to create new water projects, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and the developing world. We ran advocacy programs and raised money to build hundreds of new water points for rural, underserved communities. Most people, especially your audience, are well aware of the water crisis. There are still about 1 billion people lack access to clean water.  The UN has established a goal of ending the water crisis and granting everyone on the planet safe drinking water. This is a challenge mostly for rural communities who are detached from resources and are distributed away from traditional infrastructure. City water treatment facilities have improved but it is still very hard for rural, poor communities to gain access to safe water. 

We were helping these communities by building wells until we realised that the challenge was not creating new wells, but actually maintaining them. Water is not the same as a vaccine, in that it is a one-time cure-all. Clean water is a service, it's something that needs to be provided continuously on a daily basis in order to be effective. The challenge is if it breaks down, or if it’s contaminated, or if it is improperly used, then it can become a life-threatening problem immediately. 

And so, what we saw is that a lot of the communities were struggling because these wells were being established and then after a year, they would break down and the communities didn't have the proper infrastructure in place to maintain them. The dependant communities didn't have repair technicians that were responsible for the wells, they didn’t have a community that was chipping in money to pay for the maintenance. 

 

GINA: Sorry to interrupt, but this is beginning to sound like a familiar story with the foreign aid building infrastructure in the developing world…  

 

ADDISON: So the non-profit organisations that actually established the wells weren't anywhere to be seen.  They would basically come in, put in a hand pump and then depart, leaving it up to the government or the community to maintain. We saw a strong lack of accountability, sustainability, and longevity with these infrastructure projects. So that became the issue we wanted to address.

In addition to the accountability issue, we realised there is also just a large gap of information or data that is not present. We don't know how successful a lot of these projects are, we don't know which communities have or do not have access to water, and it's really hard to make informed decisions about how we are going to solve some of these problems unless we have the metrics and the data to make those decisions.

 

Gina: Right, so what WellDone realised is that the traditional NGO model was not sustainable and that it wasn't creating a solution for the long-term because the maintenance component was missing. Was that what prompted a change of direction for the organisation?

 

Addison: Absolutely! The benefit of our organisation is that we've always been adaptive. Our mission is still providing clean water, but it is a matter of how we think we can best use our resources, our network, and our presence here in Silicon Valley to make the biggest impact. We've performed some design projects, some advocacy work, but we thought that this hardware technology could really be instrumental in helping.

 

Gina: Why don't we dig further into the technology then, how does the hardware address the accountability issue and offer a long-term solution?

 

Addison: At a very basic level, the mobile monitor, or MoMO as we call it, is a device that can measure the amount of water that is flowing through a hand pump and indicate how often it is being used. So, this can tell us information about how many times a hand pump is being used per day, how much water is being extracted from the aquifer and that alone can tell you whether it's working or not, which the core is the highest indicator of whether someone is getting water or not. So, if the hand pump breaks we know that people aren't receiving water and if we're notified we can send someone out to fix it or to figure out what the problem is.

 

Gina: So, it's monitoring usage and then if there is no longer use then is WellDone alerted that this well is no longer being utilised? How are you alerted?

 

Addison: Yes, so a couple things there, first of all, we realise that we are just providing a platform. We're providing a tool for communities and organisations to use. It's very important that we have really strong partnerships with the field NGOs, with the communities using the wells, to educate them on how to use the tool and the platform. It doesn't really help to have an alarm system if no one is there to respond to it and if there aren't incentives for using it. 

It is up to the community to decide what works best for them and what we found is that communities that are paying for services and look at water not as a one-time investment but as a service, similar to how we look at it here in California where you pay for the amount of water that you use, then they are more invested in that water system. If you're paying for monthly use of the hand pump, and if it breaks, then there is a there is a maintenance fund that can be used to help to repair and finance future problems. People that pay for services respect them more and also expect better outcomes.

 

Gina: So how do you structure this? You’ll identify a community using a well for instance then you have this monitoring device and you find local partners who you train to use it and to coordinate a fee for access? Are the local communities collecting the "monthly fees" or the "service fees" from community members who want to use the pump? 
 

Addison: Yes, again we are providing the tool and the platform. We’ve left building new hand pumps to the institutions that are there on the ground that have already done all the research, that know what the community needs. We work very closely with those organisations to establish a model and define the metrics they want to measure.

The other thing I should mention is that remote monitoring is very nascent for the water and sanitation industry. It's still an emerging tool, we're still perfecting it and we're still making improvements to it.  The goal is to find and work with field partners so we can monitor water systems locally. 

 

Gina: Great, so then at this point in time the hardware you've developed has the capacity to monitor use.

 

Addison: Correct.   We are currently developing it further to expand its features but it’s premature to share those details.
 

Gina: Okay, great!  Perhaps you can share an update once you’ve completed the development process and can provide more information.
 

Addison: Exactly! We're looking at applying machine learning to our software and further improving our hardware design. The idea is to have an affordable device that can withstand harsh conditions for a long period of time while providing the information that's requested by on-the-ground organisations. This might be information around functionality, quality, and making predictive assessments about when a hand pump might break down, or where to invest funds in the future so that we can serve more people.

 

Gina: Can you go into more detail about what some of those requests are?

 

Addison: I think I would caveat this by saying that sometimes I'm not quite sure a lot of the water community is entirely sure what they want or what they need. A lot of people think that they want this real-time alert system and they imagine "I want to get a text when a hand pump breaks!" and that is the dream some people have. Yet as I mentioned, while that system can be achieved, it is a matter of whether they have the resources and a system in place to actually respond when there is a need. Do you have trained personnel, do you have parts that can fix it, and do you have transportation to go out and monitor this? Do you have funds to pay for the alert system and all of those things that are necessary? I think the goal is working with the community, working with the water sector and helping to re-frame exactly what it is that it is required. 

Our perspective is that we actually need to take a step back and we need to provide more of the base-level data. There is little information on how many hand pumps are installed in the world, there is little data on how many people are using hand pumps to get their water. There is little information about how many hand pumps are broken or not. 

 

Gina: What type of monitoring is in place and why isn’t it working?

 

Addison: The traditional method right now is that local government will be ambitious and will pay a bunch of surveyors to walk out into the field and write down whether a hand pump is working or not. That is the current method of monitoring and that doesn't provide much information. It is not a time series metric, but rather a snapshot in time which may be 10 years after the hand pump was installed. With this method, we don’t know at what point in the past 10 years the waterpoint was broken. A lot of that information is just lacking and so what we're trying to do with our product, with our mission, is to help to educate the community that the data can be a very powerful tool and that we need to start collecting it in a more accurate method. Then we can start to make better decisions about where to place investments, what's working and what's not working. It's really hard to make those decisions currently using the traditional monitoring methods.

 

Gina: Are you coordinating this effort across the water community then?
 

Addison: One of the other challenges with the 'WASH' (water, sanitation, and hygiene) community, as it’s called, is that it is very diverse. Governments, non-profits, and aid organisations all have their own agendas and their own ways of working. Not everyone in the WASH community is on the same page, but there are some individuals that are aligned and share the same vision for more data, for more transparency, and more collaboration.

 

Gina:  Are you focused geographically in sub-Saharan Africa?
 

Addison: We are agnostic geographically but most of our work has previously been performed in sub-Saharan Africa. We have some projects in Southeast Asia and we're actually kicking off a pilot in Cambodia very soon.

 

Gina: The partners that you are working with are they just diverse or are they more local NGOs, international NGOs? 

 

Addison: This technology as I mentioned is still relatively nascent, but the potential is big and so it attracts some of the larger organisations that want to fund these projects from a pilot or development perspective. But, we've worked with very small field NGOs and with some larger NGOs that have localisation. Those are ideal partners, we want to work with people that have knowledge about the specific geographies, about the communities, about the people, because ultimately, we're going to be installing a device or a product that's someone’s source of water! So, we want to make sure that it is designed appropriately, that they know what it's used for, that it is not intimidating and that they respect it and understand how that information is being used. So, we really rely heavily on strong field partnerships.


Gina: Do you want to talk a little bit about your other initiatives? You've got the clean water projects and your research and advocacy. 

 

Addison: So, the clean water projects, as I mentioned earlier, was originally how we got started. We were raising funds here, we were using a lot of advocacy projects, fundraising events and utilising those resources to create new clean water projects or to build new wells. We've started to move away from some of this traditional a clean water projects, 
 

Gina: Can we talk a little bit about what you look forward in terms of sustainability in partnerships? How do you identify partners that have sustainable models, what does that look like to you, what are you looking for? 

 

Addison: Absolutely, I think it comes across in our conversations with these organisations. Sustainability is often touted on the websites or it's part of their mission in general. A lot of the WASH community is moving in this direction and they realise that it is a waste of money to just invest in a clean water project and then abandon it or hope that things go well. I think in general we are collectively moving in that direction and it's just a matter of finding good partnerships where they have that as a priority in mind. 
 

Gina: How are we achieving sustainability? What are the models that are being adopted or developed that are different from what's been done in the past? What direction are we moving in towards that you can describe? 

 

Addison: I think some of the similar methods that I mentioned earlier about creating systems to get the community invested.  Having community leaders that are responsible for the water systems, having a locally sourced funding platform, sharing the metrics and the information about the health of the water systems with the community, having trained personnel that can repair water systems. All of those things are still core components and those are the organisations that we would support for new projects. We're helping to aid them in their mission, so this is just an additional level of service to provide to them for monitoring, for tracking, and for notification.

 

Gina: Are they paying for that service or are you donating the hardware?

 

Addison: Right now, it’s usually grant focused but ultimately, we would like this to be an affordable product that every organisation could purchase from us.

 

Gina: I think that’s a good lead to ask you about your own sustainability objectives. How are you planning to make the hardware affordable and sell it to users in the communities so that you become less grant-dependent? Can you talk about how you are working towards that direction so that you can become sustainable? 

 

Addison: Yes, it certainly is - life as a non-profit is challenging. It’s always a struggle to figure out funding especially if you try to align your mission and goals with that of other organisations. Our strategy for sustainability right now is to basically develop this product to a point where it is scalable, where it can be utilised in a lot of different capacities. We're targeting hand pumps at the moment, but this technology can be used in other traditional pipe systems, latrines, there is a lot of variation. We're thinking about other applications for this product and the idea is that this is a platform that can be purchased off the shelf and can be scaled all around the world. The idea is to make it an affordable platform that people can plug into and start gaining all the benefits from it. 

 

Gina: So is it fair to say that one of the challenges that you are facing getting there is to get the financial support required to do the R&D so that you can develop the product and make it as cost efficient as possible?
 

Addison: Certainly. I think the challenge with hardware is that there is a lot of expense upfront to design something that is functional before you can even get out and test it. Some of the easier ways of doing a product or a service are to start out by testing it right away, it's hard to test a product unless you have something to work with. That's certainly a challenge but we are working with organisations that understand the potential and that are willing to work with us in these smaller pilots to make sure the technology is working appropriately. I think they understand the potential of where we can take this and that once we scale it, once we hit a critical mass, it will be affordable, and it'll be something that other organisations can leverage.

 

Gina: This is a challenge and I don’t think you're alone. It’s less sexy. It’s kind of like, from a traditional donors’ perspective, it's sexier to build new wells than to maintain them. But the direction of traditional philanthropic capital, as you pointed out earlier, is not a sustainable model. What I’m hearing from you is aligned with my own personal experience working with the philanthropic community.  There is still a lot of education that needs to take place so that philanthropic capital can be applied to holistically, to the development, to the R&D, to the maintenance of whatever you built. 

I’m wondering, of the partners that you have that you say are more understanding or see that this is an important part of the process can you describe their profile? Who seems to be getting the importance of shifting the approach? Can you comment on that? 

 

Addison: Just a quick point on your previous comment, you're absolutely right - I think it is a shift in mindset. It's really tough to talk to a layperson who is a little removed from the sector or doesn't have a lot of knowledge and get them to understand that we need to adopt a sustainable approach. As you mentioned, a lot of people still come to us and they want to just drill a new well because it's sexy, it’s an easy win. People can say “we've delivered water to 1000 people,” but unfortunately, I’d respond, “for how long?” 

I do, however, think sustainability is important to the WASH community. I think they understand the need for it and I think the mindset is slowly shifting towards that. Hopefully, we can ride that wave and find partners that are aligned with us. I think it comes down to the corporate social responsibility wave that happened recently where now people, consumers, care about where their food is coming from or how their energy is produced. The same is going to be said for organisations like Coca-Cola or Nestlé and what are they doing positively for the environment? The question will be for non-profits: You've created all these new clean water projects. Well, show me the numbers. How many people are you serving? How much water been distributed?  Are they still working? So, I think it'll get there - it's just a matter of time.

 

Gina: Switching to the issue of financing development and testing costs, I'm wondering if the private sector would be more understanding of the process because they are familiar with what is necessary to develop a product, test it and get it to market. They are familiar with the R&D, the hardware development, the software development, the piloting. You don’t have to educate them as to the need for that process.  Are they better funding sources from their corporate philanthropy programmes?

 

Addison: We have found exactly that, actually. What we found is that a lot of the technology companies get it. For example, we were a recipient of an award from the Vodafone Foundation.
 

Gina: Yes I saw that through the Social Innovation Summit, congratulations!
 

Addison: Thank you! So, we are a previous winner of that award and those types of organisations that are technology, forward-thinking, and have funds that they are willing to dedicate towards something like this, we found that that is where a lot of support is coming from or where the opportunities are. It’s more of the private corporations where we're finding those opportunities a little bit easier. A lot of the multilateral grants are still kind of traditional unless they come up with the idea themselves and are specifically looking for this type of work or if there is some sort of collaboration and there is a project that aligns with them. I just think there are a lot of factors that go into making those decisions for those large organisations.

 

Gina: I can appreciate the red tape that you must encounter from traditional funders. I’ve been working in the philanthropic sector in almost a decade now and I learned pretty quickly that traditional model is not a sustainable one. The impetus for me to create this platform, this blog, as the first step to a greater platform that we're developing, is intended to highlight ways that social entrepreneurs and social enterprises are tackling societal challenges in a more sustainable way. 

We are also promoting ways of diversifying revenue streams so that there isn't the dependency that is created by the traditional donation model. A lot of philanthropists may be completely committed to their philanthropy but don't align that mission and those values in their business practices. I think that the power business and the power of corporations economically today is such that their impact is too strong to ignore. So, we're never going to achieve sustainability through philanthropy alone unless and until there becomes more alignment in mission and values in business. So, that necessitates a shift in the mindset that my charity and my work are different things. Once we're able to do that, organisations like yours don’t have to explain why you need to have different revenue streams, it’s got to become a given, because I see so many great organisation struggling. I am doing this because I’m frustrated with the process and it needs to change. 
 

Addison: Thank you. You are absolutely right. First of all, thank you for speaking with me and for taking the time to reach out, I’m glad that you thought that we were worthy of your time. We're trying to do things differently, as you mentioned, we also realise that the traditional non-profit model is not sustainable. We don't want to be asking for grants or hoping for charitable donations in the long term. We want to be sustainable, we think that we can do well and do good simultaneously and I think we're close. We are well-positioned. We are in a great location here in Silicon Valley where there’s a convergence of hardware, software, great minds, and so it’s just a matter of building on our wins.

There is a lot I want to share in terms about the direction we are headed. We're excited about the next steps of what our remote monitoring platform looks like and we want to work with organisations that are forward thinking and that have this as part of their core impetus as well.

 

Gina: We’ll have to share an update with our readers once you’re ready to announce your developments!
 

Addison: I am hoping before long we will have something more to share with you. 

 

Gina:  What is your vision for WellDone in five years? Where do you want to be in five years if you could have your wish-list fulfiled? 

 

Addison: This is always a fun exercise. I think fast forwarding beyond five years, right, 15 -20 years, I think the hope is that we don't exist, that we make ourselves obsolete and that a lot of these other water organisations no longer exist. I think the long-term vision is that we have, as humans, a better relationship with our resources, with the planet's resources. Not just water but even our waste, even sanitation. Having more of a circular approach, more of a cradle-to-cradle approach in how we're using our resources more sustainably. Hopefully, the need for a lot of these philanthropic efforts doesn't exist because we're managing our resources better, we are more connected to one another and our processes. 

I guess in the short term, in five years, ideally, we would like to be able to scale our model of monitoring and evaluation to as many hand pumps and water systems as possible. We'd love it to be a sustainable business model where local organisations, multilaterals, corporations, or governments can purchase our products and services and install them easily and maintain the system. Ultimately, we're working towards SDG number 6 to eliminate this issue by 2030 and we're not going to get there unless we can measure and track our progress. We hope to be one of the platforms that people are using to help to measure and monitor the success towards SDG 6.

 

Gina: In terms of measuring the impact, what is your strategy and what are some of the challenges that you're facing? You alluded to some of the complications that make this less easy to achieve and the corresponding need. What is the strategy in order for you to be able to accomplish that goal? 

 

Addison: It's always funny because measuring and monitoring is intrinsic as part of our vision and our product. It is great, the more we can produce and the more we can get our product in the hands of our customers the more we're actually measuring. I guess your question is how are you measuring against, maybe the alternatives at the moment?

 

Gina: You're obviously looking at what else is out there when you are developing your product in order to fill a gap.

 

Addison: Our main competition right now is, well, not the competition but some of the alternatives are these traditional field surveys that are done manually and are very costly. There are also ways of digitising that data collection but it is still pretty manual, you still have to send someone out to measure and monitor and there are inaccuracies that are inherent. That’s our first hurdle; we want to make sure that our solution is an improvement upon that traditional service. There are some other organisations that are actually more academic institutions looking into remote monitoring technology. As I mentioned, one of our competitive advantages is that we are not tied to an academic research facility and we have the proximity to Silicon Valley. We have a network of hardware and software engineers that can help to develop that technology much faster. 

In terms of measuring and monitoring, I think our goals for the next the next year are; we're going to be very focused on these pilots and making sure that we're measuring it against the traditional field surveys, we’re making sure that this is working for the field NGOs, we’re also focused on fixing design constraints around the end product that is installed in the communities. That is one of the biggest challenges frankly, I didn't mention it earlier, but from some of our previous models the actual design of the hardware enclosure is really important because it needs to be weatherproof, it has to be waterproof. It has to be able to withstand the elements: heat, humidity, abuse, physical contact and it has to last a long period of time. It doesn't make sense to have a piece of equipment that needs more repair than the well itself. It has to be able to sit there for a long period of time and do its job properly.

 

Gina: I have a question about the technology itself. Let’s say, somebody purchases a device and then installs and uses it for monitoring purposes. Are you able to also access the data from that device so you can aggregate it? You're talking about creating a better information system of what is needed in order to be able to better meet needs. Are you going to be able to also collect that information for your purposes on a more meta-scale?
 

Addison: Absolutely. We would own the information that is being collected and we would share that exclusively with the organisation of the community that is measuring and monitoring it. Then we can start to do a lot of really cool aggregation modelling techniques at a larger scale. That is where we are headed.

We're also trying to think about how we can incorporate other forms of data, maybe it's these field surveys, maybe it is non-traditional types of information, and have that as supplementary to the ground truth data.
 

Gina: Hmm… Let me think that through for a moment - so if you have the data that is collected by the device and then you develop a software application where people can input additional data that could enhance the quality of data, is that what you are describing?

 

Addison: Yes, more or less, that’s our vision. We think that there is a lot of potential down that avenue. I’d love to share a little bit more maybe in another month or so. 
 

Gina: I’m looking forward to it!

Moving on more broadly, in your opinion having worked in the nonprofit sector, what do you feel that the role of government is versus the private sector versus the nonprofit sector in creating shifts towards sustainability. Since you are dealing with each of these groups and gaining insight into their own individual perspectives, I would be curious to learn of any impressions you’ve formed around the needs of these individual sectors or maybe generally all of them. Do you have any sense as to potential improvements that can take place within the sectors themselves or across the sectors that might help shift the needle towards sustainability and achieving the SDGs?

 

Addison: Yes, that’s a great question. I think one of the things that I've learned after working in the non-profit and the corporate sector is that all businesses need money in order to function. Corporations, for example, need funding in order to sustain themselves, to pay their employees, and to finance projects. Eventually, a business reaches a point where it has enough money, where there are enough resources, and where it's sustainable. Hopefully, these corporations have also considered the people and planet on their path to profitability.

I think the challenge with some of the traditional non-profits is that they are approaching it from the reverse perspective. They want to have a positive impact on the world and then financial sustainability is secondary.  The challenge then becomes, how can we afford to perform the work?  In most cases, the end user is unable to pay for the humanitarian aid.  How can we expect the poorest people to pay if they cannot afford it?  The challenge for the sector is getting donors to care about your issue when there are many issues one can care about.  This is an ongoing struggle.  Ultimately, nonprofits need to move closer to the social enterprise model in order to find sustainability.

 An organisation like Patagonia is a vanguard in the social enterprise space and, in my opinion, is the future of ‘philanthropy’.  They are promoting social and environmental values directly through their corporate structure, their products, and their business practices. 

 

Gina: A great model.

 

Addison: Amazing business model. And now it is starting to gain traction because they build fantastic products and they have a great brand. They are now educating Walmart and Nike on how to improve their systems in terms of sustainability in the textiles industry. I think that's going to be the trend, It's corporations like Patagonia, that are triple bottom line focused, that can help to bridge the gap between social impact and profitability. 

 

Gina: It’s good to hear that Patagonia is sharing its knowledge with other large corporations. What is also happening which I think is encouraging is I am seeing these large companies, companies like the Walmart, Cargill, Unilever coming together with civil society in forums, small gatherings where they are talking about sustainability goals and challenges, sharing experiences and trying to learn from one another. So, these discussions are taking place across the two sectors between civil society and corporations and sometimes government, which is, in my view where we need to go further. 

 

Addison: It's very much a bottom-up approach. I don't mean to get political, but you can look at the Paris Accord as an example, where the top-level government leadership backed out of this Accord, this worldwide goal, and so instead you are seeing communities, governors, who are leading the charge in terms of reaching the carbon emission goals. I think you're right, I think it's going to be tough, I think it's pressure from all sides and I think the government needs to be adapted. It needs to have a different outlook on how to solve some of these problems. It is a confluence of government, corporations, community, and nonprofits.

 

Gina: And individuals. Looking at the government’s role, in my opinion where there is room for improvement in corporate accountability. Enforcing greater accountability for good corporate behaviour, through rewards, be it tax incentives or otherwise. Equally so, accountability for bad corporate behaviour is necessary. I think there is much room for improvement there. 

Also, I think that the individual consumer power is important too. I personally have a lot of hope in the Millennial generation because they are much more sensitive and attuned to these issues and sustainability issues are more of a priority for them than for their predecessors. We all have a part to play. Drawing on what I was saying earlier, there is no single sector that is going to solve the world’s problems. The billionaires, philanthropists are not going to save the world and business alone is not going to save the world but it's a critical element to achieving sustainability. 

I have one last question for you, this is a general question, but I like to ask this in all of my interviews; how would you define social enterprise?

 

Addison: I think I would define social enterprise as an evolution of the typical business, one which values people, planet, and profit, in that order.  A social enterprise seeks not to merely grow its wealth and influence but rather measures its success on how it's improving the world in its chosen cause or impact. 

 

Gina: I like to ask the question not because I think there is the right answer but because I think it’s important to explore what social enterprise means as we refine approaches.

 

Addison:  I also wanted to agree also with your earlier statement.  I have a lot of hope in the future generations of this planet. There are still many problems and injustices in this world. Each one of us has an opportunity to care and to do something about it.

 

Gina: That’s a great note to end off on. I am looking forward to getting an update on your impending updates to your product and services to share with our readers!  Please do reach out and let us know when you’re ready to share.

I also want to thank you for joining us today. If readers want to follow up with you how can they find you?

 

Addison: They can visit us at www.welldone.org or they can email us at info@welldone.org. Hopefully, I will be back on your blog shortly with some more news!

 

 Addison Nuding is the Managing Director of WellDone, a not-for-profit organisation based in Silicon Valley dedicated to improving global access to clean water and other basic services essential to human health, productivity, and wellbeing.