Meet Ellie Ereira and Aly Blenkin, an enterprising product manager and a designer, both based at Pivotal London. They're also the driving force behind Pivotal Act, a new, "low-bono" program within Pivotal that aims to be the bridge between the tech word and non-profit or non-government organizations that are discovering the uses of technology in addressing tremendous social, humanitarian, and environmental challenges, and often lack the deep resources of the private sector.
Aly and Ellie sat down with Jeff Kelly at SpringOne Platform in September to discuss Pivotal Act, its origins, and what they’ve achieved so far. In the interview, they traced their inspiration for the program from an unlikely place—functioning toilets. For women in a refugee camp in Homs, Syria, the walk to a functioning toilet was lengthy and potentially dangerous. Working with the Humanitarian Innovation Fund, which provides grants to NGOs, Aly and Ellie brought the practices Pivotal have long-cultivated in working with private enterprises to provide sanitation design solutions for refugee camps.
They also explain how many non-profit and non-government organizations have the right intentions with technology, but how in application good intentions are often diluted, and technology is often under-leveraged. They cover how this initial project to bring human-centered design and lean and agile approaches led to a similar assignment with the Red Cross to bring the agile and design thinking to solutions for climate change resiliency in coastal cities around the world, and later, designing cash delivery systems for relief programs around the world.
Lastly they break down what they’ve learned along the way in working with seasoned NGO professionals to identify a host of risks, adapting their approaches for the unique needs of non-profits, and the process of building a business model within Pivotal that scales, sustainably.