14 November 2011

Innovating for the Poor

"I am confident that we will continue to innovate on behalf of the poor," says Bill Gates in his video on development innovation for Gates Notes.  He is often criticized for his top-down approach to development and that statement does little to dissuade critics.  Also note the parachuted safe landing in on the ground.  All seems to indicate that innovation is coming from the outside.

Unfortunately, the video ends when it shows how innovations are being shared between countries like Japan and Brazil.  The recipient, in the end, is an African country. It misses the final step that shows how future innovations will involve countries like Mozambique.  The recipients will not be limited to the developing world.  Accomplishing this, in part, will necessitate a re-configuration of the view that innovation goes in only one direction.  

We continue to do a disservice to the poor if we insist on innovating on their behalf.