Addressing poverty where it exists with Salesforce and TaroWorks

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Grameen Foundation is a lot like the other 20,000 nonprofits that use Salesforce.com–its helps us be more efficient and effective in delivering on our mission. But Grameen Foundation is pretty unique. Not only do we use Salesforce.com for fundraising we’ve built a number of apps to support our programs. But I think most interestingly, we built four mobile apps, culminating in TaroWorks, our mobile field force management product based on 10 years of experience working with the very poor.

TaroWorks is a powerful set of tools currently used by 26 inclusive businesses and NGOs in 11 countries. Awesome groups like Honey Care, VisionSpring and Trocaire rely on TaroWorks to deliver on their missions. These orgs all have field workers out in very remote and rugged places gathering data, doing tasks, servicing equipment, all with the goal of making people’s lives better. They each carry an Android phone with TaroWorks installed, and it helps them do their work in a high quality, repeatable way, that also informs headquarters with critical operational data.

It’s this combination of great field force tools along with data flowing in real- or near-real-time into Salesforce that can transform the operations of these organizations. Most orgs struggle with knowing what’s actually happening in the day-to-day. Imagine how much harder that problem is when you’ve got a field force servicing remote wells in rural Kenya–we’ve talked to groups that don’t see their field work data till many months after it’s collected. TaroWorks and Salesforce flips that problem on it’s head and can give these orgs more high-quality operational data than most much better funded organizations can pull together. We built TaroWorks because we believe that creating a world without poverty requires good ideas and a whole lot of operational rigor. It’s exciting to see our awesome customers take on that challenge.

On the product side we appreciate a lot of the features of the Salesforce platform: development and packaging tools, the killer API, the rapid nature of development, enterprise scale and security, and the steady drumbeat of new features. Our customers love the product we’ve built, and they’re also finding Salesforce to be a very rapid and extensible platform for mission delivery. It’s an incredibly useful combination to have our rock-solid tools directly on the Salesforce instance where our customers run their business and deliver on their mission. Once the field force data is on the Salesforce platform all sorts of interesting things can happen, and those features can be quickly developed and deployed.

At Grameen Foundation we use a lot of platforms, and build a number of products. We are at our core a very practical organization. We’re focused on how to empower the poor to create a world without poverty. We’re don’t think like your typical think tank or a charity, even though we are a nonprofit. We’re an innovation shop with ruthless energy and expertise to throw at the problems the very poor face every day. We aren’t swayed by glitzy projects, or things that make a good story. We care about making people less poor, and in everything we do we seek solutions that lead to that outcome. So when it comes to technology, we are always looking for what’s appropriate, and many times we’ve leaned on Salesforce. It has proven to be a great platform with which to change the way poverty is addressed in some of the poorest parts of the world. We’re looking forward, with the help of all our supporters, to continuing to push the Salesforce platform in service of the poor, and in working with many great NGOs and businesses and helping them with their work.

 

Why Grameen Foundation?

I just finished my first week at Grameen Foundation as their new CTO. My brain is absolutely full after a week of conversations and reading about my new home. I couldn’t be more excited about the move, the mission, and my new colleagues. On the last afternoon of a week of sucking in data, org charts, strategic plans and health care forms, I sat down and watched some videos of Grameen’s work.

New and old friends have asked me why I chose Grameen. Watching the videos brought it home to me in a very clear way. The work is amazing, important, challenging, and incredibly interesting. After a week of digging into what the work is and how we do it, it has me thinking of a different why question. The broader why of Grameen, the Simon Sinek version of why. So I’m taking a newbie’s stab at it. Here’s rev 0.1:

WHY

We believe the very poor are locked in a generational chain of poverty, and they are the ones best positioned to break the chain.

HOW

By deeply understanding the needs of the very poor, the power of technology and innovation, we help the very poor build the power necessary to break the chain of poverty.

WHAT

Working with strong partners, we create and scale innovative solutions in financial services, agriculture, and health that address market failures.

This resonates strongly with me personally, as I’ve figured out I’m all about helping people realize their best selves and build their personal power. And it resonates with what I’ve seen from Grameen over the last 10 years, and much more deeply over the last 5 days.

Lifeboat

lifeboat-logo@2x My good friends Tim and Alia have launched Lifeboat, a movement to reinvigorate how we aproach friendship. It’s a fascinating idea–friendship is something we supposedly learn in kindergarten and never have to think about again. But studies show that’s not true. We’re lonelier than we have ever been, and have fewer people we consider “real friends.” Tim and Alia are diving in to the research of friendship and their work has already changed the way I think about how I interact with my close friends. Check out their inaugural post, Our Darth Vader: The Friendship Crisis

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