I often share this quote by the French author and aviator, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “Your task is not to foresee the future, but to enable it.”
Throughout my career at Microsoft I’ve been proud to play a part in enabling a safer, healthier, more sustainable and fairer future for our planet by supporting social entrepreneurship. It has helped me align my personal purpose with the purpose of Microsoft.
We only do well when the world does well.
Microsoft’s Global Social Entrepreneurship Program was created in early 2020, after we asked ourselves how we could further empower purpose-driven social enterprises that measure success not just by the profit they generate, but by the good they do. We know that technology plus purpose is powerful and lifts us all up.
Over a year later, I am pleased to share that we now have more than 100 social impact organizations participating from every market, working toward every single one of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Today, I’d like to tell you about three in particular.
Vector Center is helping companies, institutions and governments navigate profound water and systemic risks by providing real-time, contextualized intelligence about water, climate and intersecting global threats to help inform responses.
As J. Carl Ganter, Vector Center CEO and recipient of the Rockefeller Foundation Centennial Innovation Award put it, “To avoid serious, imminent disruptions for business, people, and the environment, the world needs nothing less than a coordinated, data-informed global water movement.”
And we need it now. Climate change continues to be the biggest single threat to all our futures.
But Ganter is also an optimist. So am I.
He believes we are entering an exciting era of accelerated innovation and problem-solving, where advancements in technology like machine learning are making it possible to work smarter, spot trends faster and predict responses better.
The organization draws on its decades of experience and its revolutionary Perception Reality Engine running on Microsoft’s Azure platform to uniquely combine state-of-the-art satellite data, social sentiment analysis and on-the-ground investigative research.
It’s also been wonderful to see how its network of purpose-driven innovators, all at the forefront of sustainability, analytics and global trends, has developed a creative, collaborative relationship with Microsoft as we work together to meet our common sustainability goals.
I’d now like to introduce you to Dr. Irfan Khan.
While he was the director of the electrophysiology lab at Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, New York, Dr. Khan made an important realization: Researchers need a diverse slate of clinical trial participants that fully represent the human population, and people from all backgrounds need access to the latest treatments.
As a result, he made the decision in 2016 to leave medical practice and focus on solving the problem. He founded Circuit Clinical, which works to bring together a network of health systems serving diverse populations to provide clinical research as a care option for patients.
I’ll let Dr. Khan tell you more about it:
“Circuit Clinical’s core belief is that patients prefer to learn about clinical research from healthcare providers they already know and trust. That’s why our team is integrated within our network to deliver clinical research where it matters most to patients – their own doctors’ offices. Since its founding, Circuit Clinical has brought together a network representing 180 doctors, more than 30 medical practices and a nationally accredited cancer center with direct access to more than 2 million patients who may qualify for clinical trials.”
To complement this strategy, the team also built TrialJourney, the first-ever ratings and reviews platform for clinical trial participants.
Circuit Clinical is not only working toward a healthier future, but a more inclusive one as well.
“Improving diversity in clinical trials is a very powerful opportunity to create real change,” Dr. Khan says. “We believe improving access and inclusion in clinical trials is both the right thing to do AND creates a differentiated business advantage.”
The Circuit Clinical team is also 70% women, and Dr. Khan meets personally with every hire to explain how they are all committed to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as a core value.
1.8 billion people will soon be living with absolute water scarcity. In urban environments and fast-growing towns and cities in Africa, water rationing and shortages caused by aging infrastructure and commercial losses limit household consumption and service even as demand grows.
At UPEPO, founder Kevin Kihara and his team are helping to solve this problem of water loss by integrating Azure-based Internet of Things solutions that help achieve water efficiency, conservation and management outcomes.
Most importantly, these solutions are customized for emerging markets and Africa where this issue is critical, and where high capital expenditure is a barrier to technology.
Like most social entrepreneurs, Kevin’s ambition to make an impact is both immense and inspiring, going well beyond the issue of water loss in his home country of Kenya.
“Our long-term plan is to go across Africa and the Middle East focusing on cities, eventually hoping to have our devices installed on over 300,000 devices,” he says. “Our objective is save every last drop. And through water conservation, we can address the issues of climate change, which is putting a great strain on our water resources.”
I hope you are inspired by these amazing stories as I am.