The “empowering people. Network” (epN) is an initiative of Siemens Stiftung that promotes appropriate technological solutions for the major areas of basic supply in developing regions. It provides a ground for partnership, consultancy, research, technology transfer and entrepreneurial thinking. Evaluated technological solutions with significant social and entrepreneurial potential are accessible in a public Solutions Database that provides in-depth information on the functionality, facts and figures as well as examples of implementation. The Network supports creative inventors and entrepreneurs, who run impact-oriented organizations and social enterprises of different types and in different stages. Various activities aim to further the implementation and scaling of projects with positive effects on daily lives.
Using their creative zeal, inventors worldwide have developed and tested innovations to make ready-to-use products and solutions to help people improve their basic supply. However, it is often only by chance that a practitioner onsite happens to stumble across an urgently needed, fitting solution. The Solutions Database showcases practical and ready-to-implement solutions that have been submitted to the worldwide competition “empowering people. Award”. Collating appropriate, evaluated innovations, this collection is accessible to everyone involved in technology, development and entrepreneurship, to international organizations and all those working in developing areas. Users are able to search and compare solutions, learn about the conditions for implementation and contact the inventors for further information and exchange.
“Exchanging ideas, establishing partnerships, creating networks – even just understanding how other people are functioning helps you to develop your own idea.”
(Haron Wachira, “empowering people. Workshop”, Nairobi, 2013)
There is nothing as powerful as the insights gained through live meetings: This is the objective of our “empowering people. Workshop”. Bringing together social entrepreneurs, innovators, potential multipliers and investors from around the globe, these workshops further their goals: improving the living conditions of those in developing countries with simple, innovative appropriate technologies. Exchange of project experience, advice on funding opportunities or seeds for collaboration.
“I think the onsite training workshop is a really good approach to empowering people. It brings people together that work in the same environment. We shared ideas and empowered each other guided by the facilitators. Listening to different experiences from South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia helped me become better than how I am right now.”
(Caroline Okila, Ezylife, “empowering people. Onsite” workshop, Jinja, 2014)
Social entrepreneurs face complex challenges in organization, market or administration. To equip teams working onsite, the Network offers skills training and practical advice to help social businesses work more efficiently. These workshops provide relevant knowledge and also a forum to discuss problems of daily work.
Our scientific research-driven projects intend to provide a better understanding of the ecosystem of social business and social investing in general, as our practice-related research involves selected projects of the Network directly in studies that analyze key conditions, opportunities and threats. The findings are not only shared within academia but shall become the basis for following activities of assistance and consulting. Specific aid will be provided with innovative tools and methods, for example the first “Self-Assessment Manual for Social Entrepreneurs – SAMforSE” or “Stories about us: How to advance business”, a qualitative monitoring tool.
Technical and social innovations that can vastly improve living conditions in poor regions could have more impact if partners connected. Effective collaboration aiding implementation, providing consulting or financial support can advance promising projects. Strong international alliances to tackle interdisciplinary topics as well as implementing partnerships onsite are crucial. The Network aims to be a vibrant interactive platform where entrepreneurs and inventors can meet passionate like-minded actors from relevant fields – virtually as well as in person. As an entry point for active players on the ground, international organizations, facilitating initiatives and researchers working in the context of development, it joins forces and acts as an initial point for collaboration.
Siemens Stiftung operates in the fields of basic services, education, and culture. As a hands-on foundation, we develop our own projects and implement them with a view to the long term. Together with our partners, we aim to help people improve their living conditions. By doing so, we try to empower functioning communities in which people can have a good life. We are committed to international, impact-oriented, and transparent project work. The geographical focus of our work is on regions in Africa and Latin America as well as on Germany and other European countries.