Thursday, 24 December 2009

Thank-you & Happy Holidays

In the course of this year I have been deeply fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet a huge number of amazing and inspiring individuals from all over the world: entrepreneurs, business people, world leaders, designers, humanitarians, activists, scientists, engineers, free-thinkers, change-makers ... overwhelmingly smart, determined & formidable souls who rendered almost insignificant, the naysayers, bullies and worse.

So to everyone who inspired me in 2009; those who listened, shared their advice and their experience, to any who encouraged and all who spent their time, I'd like to let you to know that I'll be thanking each of you quietly by making every effort to spend 2010 mindful of whatever lesson you had to share.

Thank-you for your support. We, truly, couldn't do without you.

“Friends are helpful not only because they will listen to us, but because they will laugh at us. Through them we learn a little objectivity, a little modesty, a little courtesy; We learn the rules of life and become better players of the game”
- Will Durant

Happy Holidays everyone. x

Monday, 30 November 2009

Red Button Design appoints new non-executive director

Internationally award-winning social enterprise Red Button Design announced on Nov 27th 2009, the appointment of Peter Corke, MD of the marketing agency Willoughby Stewart and founder of The Ketchup Group, as its Non-Executive Board Director.

Pete has 10 years' industry experience covering a broad range of disciplines including new product development, sourcing, production and logistics management, marketing strategies, branding and design. His clients include large multinationals such as Costa Coffee and Fairline Boats, as well as start-ups and SMEs.

Announcing the appointment, Amanda Jones, Red Button Design's Chief Executive said:

"I'm thrilled to announce that Pete will be joining the board of RBD. He brings a vast amount of relevant experience into the company along with the capacity to both challenge and support the business while providing a great deal of enthusiasm on the way. We consider ourselves extremely fortunate to have found an individual who not only has the breadth of skills we were looking for but whose ethics and ideals match those upon which RBD was founded."

Pete added:

“I thrive on working relationships with companies and individuals with industry leading propositions, but the day Red Button Design walked through our door I instinctively knew it would be the start of something quite extraordinary! To be an integral part of Jamesʼ and Amandaʼs relentless pursuit of finding innovative solutions for humanitarian markets is an honour and one of my most exciting challenges to date.”

In his new role of Non-Executive Director Pete will actively participate in the work of Red Button Design, leveraging the diverse talents of the component companies within The Ketchup Group to make a creative contribution towards the launch of Red Button Designʼs flagship product and bringing an independent view to the table.

For additional information please view the full release

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Why Making The Poor Pay, Pays Off

(a.k.a. The blog in which I purport to argue that the poorest and most vulnerable people on the planet should be charged for life-saving products and services)

This blog was originally written and posted on the UnLtdWord Blog as part of the 'SHOUT OUT for Social Enterprise' series.

For almost 9 centuries we have, in the UK, nurtured the idea of charity as an honourable activity that will win you respect from your neighbours, help you sleep soundly at night, enhance your CV and earn you kudos with the guy (/ girl / folks) upstairs. As a formalised notion it is viewed as a self sacrificing gift from the better off to those less fortunate, bearing the cost of providing otherwise unobtainable goods or services.

But, like any gift, donations are dangerous when they become expected and often not what was really wanted in the first place. For too long our love of charity has blinded us to the emerging realisation that the current donor/gift model is often no more appropriate a method to effect sustainable change in developing countries than relying on the novelty jumper, two sizes too small, sent by your great aunt at Christmas would be a wise provision for your long-term clothing needs. The jumper may be hideous (though she means well, of course) but since you politely say thank you and drag it out to wear it once a year when you see her, she never finds out how much you loathe it. Seemingly satisfied, she’s going to send you another next year..

So, for all the smiling images of African children receiving our gifts of aid I want you to hold in mind this alternative reality, because when the cameras go away and the charities have enough footage to satisfy their donor community, that novelty jumper goes straight to the back of the wardrobe.

Don’t take my rich, western, word for it either, take the following quote from one of my favourite articles on the matter:
“When free American maize turned up in Kenyan schools in 1984, thanks to Bob Geldof and USA for Africa, it arrived in gunny bags and presented itself at school dining tables: steaming yellow, not white like the maizeflour we knew as a staple [...] I must confess that I hated school food, anyway, and that yellow maize porridge tasted not that much worse than everything else we were forced to eat. But our speculation was powerful. It is American animal feed. And it started tasting a bit too earthy. It has been treated with contraceptive chemicals. And it started to taste metallic. It was sent to us because it has gone bad already. And it started to smell funny.
Soon, in the Njoro High School dining hall, vast amounts of yellow porridge went directly into the bins. Our teachers, normally violent fascists in matters of discipline, looked the other way. We had food fights with the porridge every evening, and the floor would be littered with the clumpy remnants of America's love.
("Pure Product" written by Binyavanga Wainaina for Harpers Magazine, June 2007 )

The inevitable reality is, be it food, water, fuel or mosquito nets, aid is managed most effectively where there is a price associated with it. Free is worthless and even ‘beggars’ will be ‘choosers’.

Ask yourself: so long as it doesn’t cost you anything to receive unwanted gifts where is your incentive to stop accepting them, and how do I know when to stop giving?

A fundamental truth of human nature demands autonomy; so much so that this will even be expressed to our own detriment. 35% of Sub-Saharan Africa's improved water sources are out of service at any given time, mainly due to poor maintenance. If the community had paid for that pump, had elected to install it and had invested time and money in it – do you think this figure would be so high?

Demanding a user pays a nominal fee for a product or service encourages autonomy, it becomes opt-in marketing and it’s far more valuable to all involved. Without it you create a market with no feedback loop. A charity works on a top down model, e.g. they look at a situation, evaluate the problem, raises funds from donors, procure a solution and deliver.

Done correctly, commerce and free market forces unavoidably establish communication channels. It is a more honest, empowering and, I would assert, cost effective model if an enterprise looks at a situation, evaluates the problem and offers up a solution; then, if no one purchases/contributes, modifies the offering until something of true value gets made.

If the enterprise can’t sell the product, they can’t evidence its desirability and they won’t break-even as neither end users nor those who provide any subsidy will back something that can’t be sold. Inevitably, if they don’t break-even the business goes under and natural selection weeds the offering out of a market that doesn’t want / need it. If a charity is similarly failing and doesn’t break-even – they raise more donor funding and remain in the market despite forces saying they should be gone.

If you want real world experience of why user buy-in is an absolutely essential modification to the traditional charity methodology, try this:

This Christmas it personally costs you to receive each gift, 10% of the gifts value. If you don’t pay, the gift goes back to the store and you get the cash.
I’d venture it’d cost less in total, reduce waste and more effectively provide what you really wanted.

(Almost) Everyone benefits if we allow market forces to empower the poorest populations to take responsibility for their own welfare. Those who don’t benefit don’t deserve to monopolise a multi billion dollar industry with ineffective product or service offerings simply because no one knows better (yet).

Please feel free to comment below or, even better, join the full debate at UnLtdWord!

Monday, 16 November 2009

Amanda Jones receives a Cosmopolitan "Ultimate Woman" award!

Last Wednesday, November 11th, at a red-carpet, black-tie event at Whitehall's 'Banqueting House' I was awarded a Cosmopolitan Magazine “Ultimate Woman of the Year Award” for my work establishing internationally award winning social enterprise start-up “Red Button Design”

"The Ultimate Women of the Year awards were founded to celebrate Cosmopolitan's core mission - to inspire women to be the best they can be. Every year Cosmopolitan honours the women who really make a difference, who break boundaries, who help those in need and who have been fast-tracked in their field. Readers vote for the women they believe have been the most fun, fearless and fabulous over the past year. It is then left to a panel of judges, all movers and shakers in their own right, to pick the winners from the short-list to attend the glamorous awards ceremony."

So, it transpired that amidst kind words from none other than Fearne Cotton, Lamar, Vernon Kay & Sarah Brown themselves, I collected the award for Ultimate "Green Queen":

“She’s only 25 and the simplicity of her brilliant idea just jumps out at me.”
Ultimate Woman judge Vernon Kay

Even though the award has had a few days to sit on the mantelpiece now, I still think that my instant reaction (though tipsy and somewhat bemused) remains heartfelt and genuine "Feeling humbled, supported & above all invigorated to fight another day... Thank-you!"

You can read "Five Reasons Cosmo Loves Amanda" right now and the full printed article can currently be found on page 90 of Cosmopolitan Magazine's December issue!

Monday, 26 October 2009

Red Button Design - Glenfiddich "Pride Of Scotland" Award Finalists

For the twelfth year Scotsman Publications has joined forces with Glenfiddich to give readers the chance to vote in the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Awards.

We're happy to say that Red Button Design have been nominated in the Environment Category and once you have voted for us in The Pitch we'd sheepishly invite you to consider also voting for us in the Spirit of Scotland Awards.

Copy below courtesy of The Scotsman.

Few years have more tested Scotland's enterprise and talent than the past 12 months. Banks have tumbled, firms have failed, unemployment has risen and household spending has been reined in. Fear and apprehension have marked a year that has shaken our confidence and pride.

If ever there was a period in which the creativity and ambition of the nominees for the Spirit of Scotland awards were sorely needed, this is surely it. For it is in the difficult times that perseverance and success are especially important, and which inspire us to greater endeavour. Given this background, the achievements of this year's selection are particularly outstanding.

This unique awards scheme aims to recognise the individuals who make us proud, inspire our nation and lead the way across Scotland's rich cultural spectrum from the fields of Food, Music, the Environment and Screen to Art, Business, Writing and Sport: people who through their achievements are making every year count.

Receiving a Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Award is now one of the country's most sought-after tributes – made all the more important because the winners are selected not by an elite few, but by you, the people of Scotland. Last year readers cast their votes by the thousand for winners including Olympian Chris Hoy, actor James McAvoy and young SuperJam entrepreneur, Fraser Doherty.

In the coming weeks The Scotsman will profile four individuals in each of the following categories: Business, Art, Food, Sport, Music, Screen, Environment and Writing. The nominees have been shortlisted by a consulting panel but it's over to you to decide who should win. In the final week, you can vote for the Top Scot Award, an open category where you can choose the Scot from any walk of life whom you believe has made the greatest impact in furthering Scotland's reputation at home and abroad this year.

The consulting panel for the Awards includes: John McLellan (Scotsman editor), Sally Gordon (Glenfiddich), Peter Irvine (Unique Events), Fiona Bradley (Fruitmarket Gallery), Celia Stevenson (Scottish Screen), Stuart Nisbet (Unique Events), and correspondents from The Scotsman newspaper.

Friday, 23 October 2009

"Fact Friday": 10 things you didn't know about water..

1. Lack of safe water and adequate sanitation is the world's single largest cause of illness.

2. Over 50% of Hospital beds in the developing world are occupied by people suffering from preventable diseases caused by unsafe water or poor sanitation.

3. In developing countries 90% of sewage and 70% of industrial wastewater is dumped untreated into the same sources of surface water used commonly used for drinking / bathing

4. The average woman in Sub Saharan Africa walks 6km to find a protected source of drinking water

5. It's estimated that fetching water costs women/girls in Sub Saharan Africa 40 billion hours, or 5 billion workdays a year.

6. It's estimated that fetching water costs women/girls in India 150 million workdays a year, at a National cost of 10 billion rupees / USD $208 million.

7. Lack of easy access to safe drinking water is one of the greatest barriers to education and economy building in the developing world. A reduction in time spent collecting water enables women to engage in enterprise, enables girls to receive an education, and access to safe drinking water drastically reduces illness and therefore absence for all pupils.

8. Europeans spend $11 billion a year on ice cream, $2 billion more than the estimated annual total needed to provide clean water and safe sewers for the world's population.

9. Between 1991 and 2000, over 665,000 people died in 2,557 natural disasters, of which 90% of these were water related events.

10. In order to meet the water supply MDG target, an additional 260,000 people per day up to 2015 should gain access to improved water sources based on the current population. However, between 2010 and 2015, the world’s population is expected to increase every year by 74.8 million people.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Give me half the money I asked for and an advisor who can save me the other half…

So there’s a rumor I keep hearing in certain circles; that whilst starting a business will take time, it needn’t take much money.

And I agree. Kind of.

Starting up a business is expensive only when you’re spending money on things you don’t need and, broadly speaking, I would claim that startups only need two things: ‘Stuff’ and ‘Understanding’

“Stuff”: Capital expenditure, physical things have a natural expense to them. The cost is usually linked to the wider world, abundance or scarcity of resources & the state of the planet in general, which is is all fine and rational by my account.

“Understanding”: Knowledge, however, has no such natural price point. As long as our accountant costs us less than the price we'd pay for getting the accounts wrong, and as long as getting that test verified earns us more than the certification cost us to get, it was the correct course of action. These experiential things aren’t justifiable or tangible costs but they’re also a bulk of our expendature.

Now, depending on what you’re starting, you’re going to want these at different places in the startup cycle and in different proportions. If you’re daft you’ll start a business that requires a vast amount of ‘stuff’ early on, pre-revenue even, and whatismore you might choose to do so in a recession.. y’know.. Just to make your life really complex but I digress..

At RBD we’re just putting the finishing touches to a £110k funding package. It has been an insane amount of work to push though, and as the money isn’t in our account yet there’s not even a guarantee that it won’t still all go awry, but it’s £110,000. I’m guessing it’d take me 3-4 years to earn that - so what is 3 months buried under a forest of paperwork of loan / equity agreements, tech docs and grant applications in comparison?

Nothing really, until you seriously consider the fact that we don’t need £110k.

We probably don’t need half of £110k,

What we need is a mentor / non-exec / advisor type bod.

Mistakes are expensive; without a mentor we have to budget for them, and so do you, and so do the vast majority of young start-ups with high growth potential who haven’t found adult supervision yet.

The lovely souls at the banks, grant making agencies, government and such would do well to realise that if they started training and encouraging mentors they could save themselves a bundle in cash. By all means buy the stuff, but ought we really to be buying in the understanding?

I, for one, would certainly rather have less money wisely used than a heap of cash with which to outsource my companies knowledge at the expense of my personal learning.

Come on guys, give me half the money I asked for and a mentor who can save me the other half…

Thursday, 1 October 2009

"Press Relations Goddess"?.. I've been termed worse!

I was at a Fast Growth Marketing event, run by School for Startups at the British Library last Friday and, despite all best intentions to sit down, shut up, and duly learn from the wonderful speakers, it would appear that what I actually did was manage to find myself causing a slight ripple of trouble.

'Oh', indeed.. And I can tell you're all surprised.

But let me explain; one of the great things about S4Startups is that the events allow for entrepreneurs in the audience to ask Doug Richard, or one of his guest speakers, for advice on how to resolve some of the issues they've been having regarding their businesses. With the advent of S4Stv the incorporation of live tweeting was encouraged, giving the rest of us in the audience the opportunity to pass ill informed judgement on the poor souls.. didn't I tell you this was great stuff?

So it transpired, then, that during a debate on PR and Marketing one such entrepreneur told a tale of how her business was contacted with regards to providing a 'profile' (not interview!) for a factual, industry specific, publication. Her problem was that when the copy came out it was riddled with inaccuracies, some simply wrong, others misleading to the company's extreme detriment and as a couple of others murmured from the auditorium that they too had suffered from the misreporting of facts in a similar fashion I, daftly I'll admit, grabbed my Blackberry and threw out into the ether this Tweet:

#s4stv Umm... am I the only entrepreneur who is successfully self-generating PR & who *demands* copy approval?! 'Copy Approval' people!! ;-)

So.. some followers on Twitter may have seen a little debate kick off between myself and @CriagMcGill which culminated in his recent blog post on the subject.

Now, to clarify, Red Button Design has been fortunate enough to receive a sizable chunk of press attention but up until recently we've been the feature of a huge number of factual publications and very few opinion pieces. When it comes to factual profiles I am afraid I am one of those difficult souls who do insist on seeing and checking the copy before print. To be frank, this is simply because, when it comes to technical or industry publications the difference between saying; 'cleans water', 'purifies water', or 'sanitises water' is technically significant in a way a journalist might not fully appreciate prior to a crash course in UN procurement and WHO sanitation regulations. And while getting the piece in the publication but having it inappropriately worded is harmful beyond measure, not being there at all is neutral ground. Perfectly defensible actions, I'm sure you'll agree.

However, I am pleased to say that the opinion pieces are beginning to come our way now, Gillian Bowditch recently interviewed me for the Sunday Times and produced a wonderful piece which I hasten to add I didn’t have copy approval over, nor did I request it. Similarly this morning I interviewed for a very well known national women's' magazine and didn't even consider making the request.

So I'd counter that my Tweet was misleading to those deprived of it's context, which given that there were maybe 100 or so folk at the event means that the vast majority of you might have been mislead and for that I am sorry. (I shoulda known better really, mea culpa and all that!) Hence I don't think @CriagMcGill and I are really arguing discussing the same thing, even,.. but tell us what *you* think either by commenting here or over at his blog, and I, for one, promise to post your opinions verbatim ;-)

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Red Button Design feature in the first ever Social Investment Almanack

The first ever Social Investment Almanack, which features a double page spread on Red Button Design's flagship 3-in-1 water purification product, was launched today by third sector minister Angela Smith.

You can find us in the chapter entitled "Shiny and New" (and how I do love that title) on pages 86 & 87.

The following excerpt is taken from from the Social Enterprise Live webiste:

"The first ever Social Investment Almanack was launched today by third sector minister Angela Smith.

Good Deals 2009: the Social Investment Almanack is published by Social Enterprise magazine and supported by the Office of the Third Sector and NESTA.

Speaking at the City Seminar on Social Investment at Mansion House, Smith said:

'This is an unprecedented collection of think pieces and case studies that aims to build knowledge and inspiration among those investment space as well as those looking in with curiousity from the outside.'"
You can download the Social Investment Almanack here

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Wildcard voting opens for "The Pitch"

Back in June I took part in a business competition, aptly called The Pitch, that had me filmed live "Dragons' Den" style with a four minute time limit, tasked to convince 5 judges of Red Button Design's worthiness to win yet another award.

Back then I made it as far as the Regional Finals, I didn't, however, quite make it through to the Grand Final, due to be held on the first day of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2009, (16 Nov for those sleeping at the back).

The Grand Final will see the winners of each regional heat (Bristol, Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham and London) PLUS the winner of a public vote, a "wildcard" entry, competing for the £50,000 worth of business support available to the lucky winner.

You can now vote for us to sneak through into the final as the wildcard, 6th entrant.

Here's how:

1) Go here:
2) Click the far right tab that says "Scotland"
3) Scroll down until you see me looking very emphatic & click me
4) Watch the video that appears and rate me from one to five stars ;-)

Also... (and I'm just mentioning) it looks as if you can vote more than once....

Monday, 31 August 2009

Small is..?

Engineers Without Borders is organising a celebration and evolution of the ideas of 'Small is Beautiful' in a weekend summer festival in the grounds of Practical Action Bourton on Dunsmore, Rugby. September 5th & 6th

James will be there proposing that 'Small is' .. "Appropriate" and illustrating the importance, and subtleties of, 'appropriate' design using examples from Red Button Design, Maker Faire Africa and more.

James' session will be held at 2pm on Saturday 5th.

More information, full weekend schedule and tickets available from EWB-UK

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Red Button Design co-founder Amanda, profiled in The Sunday Times

For those spending bank holiday weekend in Scotland, you'll be able to find me in today's Scottish Sunday Times.

For those currently elsewhere .. the digital article can be accessed here:

"The ethical way to get ahead in business"

Red Button Design and Maker Faire Africa, a perfect fit?

Before our recent trip to Maker Faire Africa in Ghana a short while ago I was asked to write an introduction to RBD, what we are all about and why we wanted to be at MFA09. My response is below, originally posted over at

"Red Button Design is a UK based not (just) for profit startup which works towards developing products for emerging markets. We are currently working on a water transport, purification and storage device which uses human power to drive the filtration process. Other projects include a sustainable vaccine cooler, and a solar powered irrigation pump. In this regard we are a commercial venture, however our main social aim is to foster the sharing, development and manufacture of locally-sourced ideas and innovation through a network of local manufacturing co-ops.

Initially these co-ops would manufacture our products from ‘kits’ of components which are difficult to source locally in the required quality and quantities. However, longer term we see this network as a way of sharing ideas between distributed co-ops whilst providing access to resources that would be otherwise unavailable. We would offer support to the network, perhaps by providing product development services, access to specialist knowledge or components/materials etc.

We believe that a network of linked manufacturing co-ops could harness the latent talent that exists throughout emerging markets on a small scale with a multitude of local fabrication centres which, by exploiting the network, could each have an impact on a global scale.

An innovation in Ghana could be combined with another from India and developed with support from the US or Europe and the market ready product could then be manufactured wherever local demand existed. If the innovation was a way to protect against maleria, or a safe, low cost solution to lighting (or a drinking water transport, purification and storage device) then the global impact could be huge.

MFA09 for us holds the opportunity to meet people already involved in small scale manufacture, to learn more about their capability and barriers to growth and to learn about how we can best support local talent."

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

The Makers of MFA '09 - Post 2/3

I am clawing a few minutes away from the chaos that has enveloped RBD post Ghana, to share with you a few more of the Makers we met there...

I'll start you off with Wisdom, who if i am honest, sort-of embodied the whole of Maker Faire Africa for me..

Craig Calfee / Wisdom Toxla - Bamboo Bike:

There are many versions of the "bamboo bike" concept, this one is the 'Bamboosero' and was designed by American Designer Craig Calfee and built by Ghanian Maker, Wisdom Toxla (a.k.a "The Boy").

Wisdom assured James that his Bamboosero was lighter, faster & more comfortable to ride than a metal frame cycle and, heavily prompted by James' questions, went on to give him detailed instructions on how to go about crafting his own bamboo bicycle, back in Blighty. Amidst all the enthusiastic gesticulating I noticed Wisdom's watch ... find me a man more MFA than him and I'll eat a recycled plastic hat ...

Amit Gandhi / Mark Driordan - Plastic Bag Recycling Press:

Another IDDS team, Amit Gandhi and Mark Driordan (USA, UK respectively), displayed their heat-press designed to transform waste plastic bags into useful plastic sheeting from 3ply to 40ply in thickness. This recycled plastic sheet can then be used to produce... well, anything! Shoes, satchels, pencil cases and folders were some of the examples on display but critically the cost of assembling and running this press is minimal and doing so is well within the technical capacity of Ghanaian Makers, meaning anyone could produce their own recycled plastic goods. Seriously good stuff.. I genuinely want to make and use one. What more can I say?!

...and I will be leaving it to James to introduce you to the zero-electricity fridge; as he spent most of the last academic year researching similar technologies before starting development on what will be Red Button Design's second product, 'Medicool'.

"Medicool is a temperature controlled vaccine carrier that allows health workers in developing countries to keep vaccines within their safe temperature range for longer, increasing the range of immunization programmes. It works by capturing waste heat so avoids the need for a traditional power source."

Once again, photo credits go to the brilliant .. nah 'course we're not biased!

Saturday, 15 August 2009

The Makers of MFA '09 - Post 1/3

Installed myself just outside the hotel, in the heat & darkness of a Ghanain bar. I have live music, a beer, and my Mac :-)

...Whatsmore, I am very pleased with myself, because if I orientate myself *just so* I can pick up the wifi from the Hotel Business Centre without having to sit inside the ice cold confines of its sodium lit, air-conditioned, anonymity. Bliss!

Although is is somewhat hard to know where to begin, I thought I'd dive right in and introduce you to 3 very different "Makers" I met today:
Meet Bernard, Yasmeen and Stephen.

Bernard Kiwia - Pedal Powered Hacksaw:

Bernard is a Tanzanian bike mechanic. Like many at Maker Faire Africa, he was also part of 'IDDS Ghana' last week (The International Development Design Summit) Bernard's "Make" is ... well it is a bicycle / pedal powered hacksaw for disabled workers. Which really has to be seen to be believed. He has also created a mobile phone charger, a water pump and a windmill, each based around cycle technology.

Yasmeen H. Nsiah - Handmade Soaps:

Yasmeen hand crafts soaps from natural, locally abundant, ingredients like shea, eucalyptus and coconut. She sells them at a premium price in her small store in Accra, citing that her native, minimally processed products are much better for the body than highly processed chemically stabilised American brands which, as they are imported, also command a premium price. A business savvy eco-chic, Yasmeen is a one-woman Lush - what's not to love?

Stephen Gerrard - Bike Powered Water Chlorinator:

Stephen Gerrard (no, not that one) is a recently graduated chemical engineer from Cambridge and was exhibiting a concept-stage chlorinator. By producing enough electricity via pedal-power to pass a current through salt water, the prototype can produce a chlorine solution for use in disinfecting drinking water.

As I say, these are just three of many, many amazing innovations at MFA..

Stay tuned for information on the "Bamboo Bike", which is as it sounds, a bamboo framed bicycle, a "Plastic Bag Press" which makes clothes from a leather-like compound made from old plastic bags and a "Passive Cooling Fridge" which operates without electricity..

Photo credits to James Brown of James-Elliot

Introducing MFA 09 - 'Can't miss' BoP Tech!

Well Maker Faire Africa is in full swing, stalls and stands sprawling out from the Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence and I like to think Red Button Design is holding its own amidst a bustle of new innovation & nascent collaborations from the obvious (water & agriculture) to the sublime (roboteers and traditional doll making - culturally diverse animatronics anyone?!)

Completely surrounded by dust and tech* but diligently on hand to blog the mind bending array of inventions presented: from traditional hand crafts, paintings & dolls, through eco-goods made from roadside trash, up to plastic fabrication technologies (made, in part, with old MIT kit!), robotics, cycle powered chlorinators, and agricultural rice processing...

I will endeavour to cover, in the detail they deserve, as many of these ... 'cant-quite-express-just-how-amazing'.. ideas as I possibly can over the next few days. SO if you don't already RSS us, get us on your Reader.

This is 'can't miss' BoP tech.

*(an interesting combination... I think our Camera equipment and Macs are enjoying the dust and humidity about as much as my damnable Caucasian hair!)

Monday, 10 August 2009

So... we're going to Ghana.

Oh how I have wanted to post this!
No, it isn't just a dirty rumor,

Red Button Design are officially going to Accra, Ghana for Maker Faire Africa!

In true RBD style, flights, visas, inoculations and other logistical necessities have been arranged in less time than is theoretically possible, and we're off to Ghana in 72 hours thanks to some amazing ongoing support from some genuinely fabulous people.

Pleased for us, but still not sure what MFA 'really' is at its heart? Well now that it's all finalised, check out this great interview with Emeka Okafor (Maker Faire Africa co-founder) speaking about who and what will be at the event, recorded for the BBC.

Now you've seen that, I know you're as excited as we are and you'll not want to miss a stitch of gossip!
Here is how you keep ahead of the game:

@JamesElliot - Tweets by James Brown, RBD
@RedButtonDesign - Tweets by Amanda Jones, RBD
@NubianCheetah - Tweets by Nii Simmonds, co-founder MFA

#makerfaireafrica - Maker Faire Africa official hashtag

and we'll be posting photographs to Flickr ... many more details to follow!

Thursday, 16 July 2009

How Do We Define 'Community'?

Charmian Love got me thinking this evening when she asked members of the Twitterverse to share their definitions of "Community". Hers is here but, not exactly known for my brevity *ahem*, I doubt I could even have asked that question in a Twitter-friendly 140 characters, let alone answered it too!

My characteristically rambling answer to Charmian's question is, therefore, below ;-)

1) A community is a number of individuals connected by the spirit of belonging to something synergic, or (to steal a phrase) greater than the sum of it's parts. To me the word 'community' evokes the notion "we're stronger together."

2) My conceptual community has an established set of core values shared by all members and, of which, the maintenance is equally and autonomously the responsibility of each individual. So the community is, therefore, self governing.

3) There is an established culture of co-operation to resultant mutual benefit which allows for the creation of a creative space to cultivate and grow ideas.

The definition I have settled upon is 621 characters long. Interestingly, it happily suits 'virtual' and 'cyber' communities as well as neighbourhoods and, I would assert, is the foundation for the happiest families I know.

It is also, I have just realised, pretty damn close to the definition of Anarchy .... oh well ;-)

Think you can do better? Go tell her yours!

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Ponderings on Jeff Saperstein's RSA Thursday Lecture

I attended this week's "RSA Thursday" lecture entitled "Vision Matters: Defining Identity - how visionaries can help us not only survive but thrive" by the wonderful Jeff Saperstein who I was Twittering in favour of throughout his afternoon session at Reboot Britain.

His lecture got, and kept, me thinking so my interpretations and resultant ponderings follow for your (hopeful!) interest. I do, however, encourage you to experience the 'pure' version by viewing the slides and listening to the full audio in order to judge for yourself!

Jeff outlined how we, as individuals, need to 'define'. We draw up definitions and boundaries of ourselves, each other, our environment and our roles, in order to interpret, understand and react to the world. If our definitions of ourselves are narrow they function to restrict us, e.g:
I am a marketing person <--> I do marketing things
This is not a marketing thing <--> I won't do this thing
If our definitions are wider, however, they seek to rightly distinguish us by skill and not restrict by implementation, e.g:
I am a person who facilitates communication --> I could be a journalist, telecommunications engineer, graphic designer, language translator, therapist (!), bar tender (!!) and so on..
The particular problem with restrictive definitions he was proposing (as clearly there are varied and significant problems that can be identified with labeling people in this manner) was that it stifles innovation.

As a collection of people restricted by our labels, be it a community, company, government or NGO, we loose out on a great deal of collected skill & talent as people aren't rising up to the challenge of taking on tasks which they could perfectly well complete. This is because they fall outside of the definitions they have established for themselves (or have been established for them.. yet there is so much to say on that facet I shant even begin!)

In this way, our restrictive definitions stifle our ability to try new things, to challenge and to innovate.

Innovation, he goes on to say, is the only path to increasing productivity and there are no limits to its progress. Clearly I agree, you will never become more productive by doing the same things, the same way you always have, with the same people you always did them with.

He rounds off this domino effect saying that productivity increases wealth and wealth is still the great divider between those that 'survive' and those that 'thrive' as illustrated by discussions of geographic, digital, socioeconomic and educational divides.

The interesting tie in, for me, was the assertion that the most important and effective innovation is the way in which we work together. This links further to messages I took from his "Reboot Britain" session around the common features of highly successful technology clusters being partly a 'respect for knowledge' but hugely weighted towards the concept of an open and flexible working culture where people are encouraged to collaborate with those unlike themselves.

When brought to bare bones it is a somewhat obvious but fantastically empowering message:
By not restricting myself in terms of the way I allow myself to be defined, by working flexibly and openly with people who are culturally/experientially different from myself, and by learning from these people, I can achieve great and unexpected things. Thus adding more to my community/workplace/family and becoming a productive and instrumental force in driving positive change.

(BTW, I'll also be at the Sustainability Project panel on Mon 13th 6:30pm - so shout if you're going :)

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Pooling Our Talents *

Spent last Monday's heatwave down in gorgeous Poole. Alas we were not flown down to laze idly on the beach but rather to meet with a team of designers / investors / manufacture, procurement and logistics / marketing & brand strategy, folk.

Again, it was one of those mountainous days. Up at 5:30am to fly at 8:40, jump first connecting train to make meeting at 12:15 (only a little after the 12 noon official start-time) Back on the 6pm train for a flight home at 20:20 and back through the door a little before eleven!

And, yes, I know what you're thinking. 6 hours does seem like a dauntingly long time to have the project (and ourselves!) under the spotlight but, aside from the crippling heat and my longing for the sea, the meeting just flew by in a haze of positive feedback and constructive points for development.

All in all it was an excellent day and we're continuing to work with the team as we speak. Should things proceed in this positive manner we may even have business related news to report!

* I wasn't going to... and then my better judgement left to get coffee. Sorry :-)

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Printed Bag Shop win 'The Pitch' Scotland!

Congratulations to Craig Smith, founder of The Printed Bag Shop, who was named winner of the Scottish heat of The Pitch 2009 !

We'll be keeping you posted to his progress.
Read the full article on The Business Zone site!

"Judged by a panel of experts including Jennifer Cheyne, Edinburgh entrepreneur and star of Channel 4's The Secret Millionaire, Smith fought off tough competition from five other small business owners to take the title.

After being made redundant and hit by spiralling debts, Smith set up the The Printed Bag Shop in 2007 with help from the Prince's Trust.

In just two years, the company, which supplies environmentally friendly printed carrier bags, has achieved impressive growth and attracted high profile clients including Coca Cola, Boots, The London Stock Exchange and Virgin Money."

Saturday, 27 June 2009

SICamp Scotland ... Blogpost 2/2 - James' Take

The third Social Innovation Camp (SICamp) was held last month at Glasgow Caledonian University. 60 people from across the UK (and Europe) gathered to help turn ideas into reality. Six back-of-the-envelope ideas for web tools that would make a positive difference to the real world had been previously chosen out of 133 applicants. The six chosen ideas, which included an online public planning tool (think google maps meets sim city!) and a website which enables flash-mobbing for social good, were taken on by a group of people with an amazingly diverse range of skills, from hardcore coders to services designers and interaction specialists.

Diversity, in fact, proved to be the aspect of this gathering that made it such an enjoyable and productive experience. Without exception all the ideas started off as rough concepts at 9am on Saturday and by the time we presented to the judging panel at 2pm the next day, every site was online. But not just that, one team who were working on a web tool which gives live bus information via txt message had a fully functioning demo. And the flash mob team (FlockLocal) actually arranged for a group of people to turn up to a communal garden in Glasgow and spend an hour fixing it up! Its incredible what can happen when a group of motivated people with a wide skill set focus on a defined problem, in fact the whole weekend had the feel of a FlockLocal-style flash mob, with lunch and dinner announced on twitter and the fantastic support crew from Gladserve running from team to team with the latest server news.

Each team was not only tasked with building a site, but also with defining the need, creating a sustainable business model, designing the site to work within the user’s needs and then putting together a presentation to show it off.MyPolice Logo

I worked with a fantastic group of people on a website which fosters and supports meaningful dialogue between local communities and the police which serve them. Named MyPolice, the site allows the public to share their experiences of the Police and allows the Police to respond, either individually or on more general topics. By encouraging people to talk more openly about both good and bad aspects of the policing service they receive we hope the site will be of true value to the Police, the public and support services.

At the end of the weekend MyPolice was awarded the idea with the most potential by the panel of judges and we have been given a range of business and technical support as prizes so keep an eye out for!

* Cross posted from Social Design Entrepreneur RBD Design Director, James Brown's, personal blog

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

A Day at "The Pitch"

Spent today tucked away in a breakout room within the Aurora building in Glasgow, alongside representatives from 5 other business all shortlisted for the Scottish heat of The Pitch 2009

The pitch is a Dragons' Den style business competition where 'business owners from across the nation pitch to a panel of top industry experts to demonstrate the innovation, market knowledge, customer engagement and financial viability of their business, competing to win a massive £50,000 worth of business related goods and services.'

I have to confess the day didn't start off as well as it concluded. There was some initial confusion as to the format of "The Pitch" including whether powerpoint was permitted, with some participants having been told it wasn't allowed and some (myself included) turning up with presentations prepared. In the end it emerged that while powerpoint was technically permitted, they had no projector or means of displaying it (*g*) So we all did without. Which was nice actually, I almost wish I was forced to present without it more often... (almost).

Also there was no schedule (or at least not one that was circulated amongst the participants) so we all turned up expecting a much shorter day than the crew had planned. For some this meant that meetings had to be jigged & trains home were missed, though no problem for us as we split up and James left to go about 'business as usual' periodically returning to check on progress and dropping off care packages while I stayed put at Aurora

So we went last, which gave me plenty of time to chat with the other shortlisted businesses: some new to me, and some entrepreneurs I am aware of and have admired for a while. SO, without further ado, lets introduce the competition!

The other pitchers in the Scottish heat were (in chronological order):

Russell Young - Proguard Plus:
Protective paint for Yachts and Jets

Craig Smith - Printed Bag Shop:
Suppliers of eco friendly printed carrier bags (@printedbagshop)

Andy Smith - Agenor Technology:
IT project implementation management software

Richard Burton - HoodEasy:
Suppliers of eco friendly printed carrier bags (@hoodeasy)

Alan Powell - Energy Mechanics:
Renewable energy services

And us. I was Pitching with James on hand to address any specifically technical or design orientated questions.

Our turn rolled around a little after 4:15. Previous 'pitchers' had alluded to problems with tech but the teething problems must have resolved themselves somewhere down the line as we had no such difficulties. The pitch went smoothly, technology behaved, and I timed in at an impressive 3m 58s.

The Judges ( Nick Price, Michael Canon, Jennifer Cheyne, Graeme Scott, Craig Patterson & Bill Morrow ) were great. I was impressed with how engaged they all still were having spent a long and unbelievably warm day stuck in a glass room under many lights.

Also, the folk running the day were really helpful and nice, as were the tech crew. Previous gripes aside, it is hard not to have fun, even under stressful circumstances, when you're surrounded by such enthusiastic people so my thanks and gratitude to them all for arranging the day.

So, what to say?
On the whole i'm pretty happy with the way my Pitch went, I got some lovely comments from the judges on my presentation style, some of which I am pleased to say made it onto the Twitter Stream. Other than that, however, I will withhold further judgement as the video will make it onto "The Pitch" website very soon allowing you to make up your own minds, and speaking of making up minds ...
the announcement of who is to progress to the finals of "The Pitch" is due to be made tomorrow.

Watch this space I guess??

Monday, 22 June 2009

SICamp Scotland ... Blogpost 1/?

I spent the last 48 hours completely immersed in Social Innovation Camp-ness .. no wait, that didn't come out quite right ;) Still, the sentiment holds if not the expression. Unless it was Twittered to #sicamp I have no idea what happened outside of The Saltire Centre for the last 2 days.

Like the most convoluted of film plots I am going to start with the end, skip to the beginning and see if the middle sorts itself out in the interim, so bearing that in mind ... let me introduce FlockLocal.

FlockLocal was born in the spirit of the SICamp pseudo-mantra "using the online world to change the offline world." Using this idea we elected to create ClusterFlock...,. FlockYourCommunity... FlockLocal, which is a website and collection of associated apps & plugins to allow people to flash mob for social good. That is, to allow people who identify a social need to quickly mobilise volunteers to fill it.

Let me illustrate. We started to think about this idea in the pub on Friday night. By Saturday morning we had a fairly good idea of the user scenario. By 11am we decided we'd like to aim to actually hold a flash mob (henceforth to be known as 'organising a flock') 2 hours later (now 1pm) we had found the wonderful Glasgow Wood Recycling who were due to be reclaiming wood from a theatre set at Gilmorehill which needed loading into a van, driving across town and unloading into their community garden (which itself needed some painting and weeding). By 12noon the next day we'd assembled 15 people, done the job, and headed off for the afternoon.

Hence our tagline FlockLocal "Do Good. Fast"

But it wasn't just us!
The 5 other fabulous teams created the following:

Wee Day Out - A mapping tool for locating & rating disabled toilet facilities.

Fix the Freakin Buses (a.k.a "Hitch 'n' Bitch !!) – A SMS text platform for accessing live bus data.

AngelFish - Hyperlocal Micro-finace for community startups and business growth. – Allowing the public to give positive and negative feedback on the police.

Citipedia-An online public town planning tool.

.....and we'll hear more about them shortly.. in part 2 ... after I get some sleep!

but just before the zzZ 's hit, let me say a massive thanks to all at SICamp for working so hard to support all our hard work. We all really appreciate it!

Stay tuned for part 2.

Footnote: Glasgow Wood Recycling is an amazing organisation run by Peter Levelle to whom FlockLocal are very grateful and I will be blogging more about Glasgow Wood Recycling very shortly!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Thought for the Day..

Today I was wondering.. how do you know when you've got a "good deal"?
What makes a deal desirable and how does it differ in different types of business?

These are my instinctive thoughts on the matter...

In traditional enterprise the definition is both parties thinking they got the better deal.

In ethical enterprise it's both parties thinking each got a fair deal.

In social enterprise it's both parties thinking each received non-financial benefit from the deal.

So, think i've nailed it? .. Needs work?
Or am I talking utter rubbish again?
Feel free to discuss, below or on Twitter

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Shell LIVEwire "Grand Idea" voting open!

Red Button Design are up for public vote as part of Shell LIVEwire's "Grand Idea". You need to register but you can vote for us to receive the £1,000 funding by visiting the LIVEwire website.

For this part of the award we were required to make a 60 second video, which would ordinarily have been a fun activity. However, email problems on Shell's end meant that I missed receiving this information until a stressed out researcher called to apologise. Anyway, I ended up doing our video pitch at about 5am in my pyjamas in order to meet the 9am next-morning deadline. Accordingly my hands are all of me that actually feature ;) Still, it's not too shabby an effort in our opinion.

Curious yet? Good good..
Now simply log in to view the 8 competing videos displayed on the home page. The voting buttons are just under each video and you only get one vote, so choose wisely!*

Voting is open until June 30th.

Pass the message on!

*well, choose us!

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Press & Media for the NLS Environmental Innovation Award.

The press wagon has been laggard getting moving on this one but over the last week, slowly and surely, the releases and announcements have been made.

Firstly, the NLS have issued a statement of congratulations and uploaded their Official Press Release announcing us as the winners of the Innovation Award for Environmental Technology.

NLS commercial director Ian Rippin issued the following comment:
“We are delighted to present this award to Red Button Design. Science innovation is at the heart of what we do at NLS and our support of this award underlines our passion for developing new ways of doing things. Congratulations to our worthy winners, Red Button Design.”

In addition there's a little voxpop below which was taken on the night (and demonstrably, by my near-laughter, fairly late on in the night, well after the bar opened!)

A full list of winners from the night can be found alongside the official press release on the Sustainability Live website.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Red Button Design win NLS Environmental Innovation Award.

Having been as pleased as I was to announce that our water sanitation device "ROSS" made it into the finals of "The 2009 NLS Innovation Awards for Environmental Technology" I am now very excited to announce that, at a black tie event on Tuesday night, we went on to win the award!

While it is true to say that we have been fortunate enough to receive ... a fair few awards in the last 2 years it is also correct that (with the exception of perhaps the 'Wall Street Journal Innovation Award' some 18 months ago) these have not often been in recognition of the scientific and technical achievements we have made.

The National Laboratory Service (NLS) Awards, however, are judged using a strict set of scientifically demanding criteria and we are thrilled that the technical progress we have made has been recognised by winning an award from such a reputable and influential organisation with such an unrivalled reputation for scientific excellence.

I will be following up this post with a collection of some of the press and media surrounding the event, very soon!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Shine 09 & Web 2.0

Well I have just about come down from the high of "Shine", the Unconference for Social Entrepreneurs, which ran Friday & Saturday last week. As I briefly blogged on the Friday, Shine represented a thoroughly enjoyable, inspiring, buzz of ideas, enthusiasm and (critically) caffeine.

According to The School for Social Entrepreneurs:
"The four partners started the event because they felt there was a need for an accessible, affordable, practical, well-networked, dynamic event that was less about long powerpoints and plenary speeches, and more about one-to-one support and moving your business on."
And I have to say I agree with both the premise and the execution of the idea.

I was particularly interested in how well this event translated itself to Twitter. You only need to browse through the Hashtag #shine09 to see how actively the event was reported by UnConference delegates and followed by those unable to attend. Increasingly I am coming to the conclusion that a good Twitter following can make or break an (un)conference and I had similar discussions at the highly Twittered Engage Invest Exploit Conference in Edinburgh last month (Hashtag #eie09).

For example, on the Saturday of Shine I hosted a scheduled, round table, discussion bearing the rather grand title "'Real & Perceived Barriers to UK Investment for Global Projects". I was asked to do so after a conversation which sprung up around my Tweet "Fed up of the misguided & labored notion that a social enterprise worth UK funding has to have beneficiaries within the UK"

It was advertised (optimistically in my nervous opinion!) as being an opportunity for 'provocative conversation' though I need not have worried. A brilliant hour or so was spent exploring common problems and barriers to investment, not only by the 15 or so people present in the room but, as some of us were Twittering, we had followers and contributors from the global Twittersphere! Most notably @cliffprior and @jameselliot chatting with me and @davedawes.

Furthermore it looks as if the roundtable discussion produced an idea that is going to translate to a longer, larger discussion on Ning and result in a sort of democratic, crowd sourced, crowd funded, international, endowment investment fund (!) inspired by the likes of Kiva, Zopa and MyFootballClub

....Oh I feel a web 2.0 / Social Entrepreneurship Blog post coming on! :)

It'll have to wait though, I'm off to the NLS Awards tonight. Wish me luck!

Friday, 15 May 2009

Social Enterprise - Powered By Coffee!

In the run up to the NLS Awards on Tuesday I am in London having a crazy-busy few days networking, chatting, collaborating, debating, generally drinking loads of coffee with young, cool, like minded social entrepreneur / innovator types :)

I can only hope that my enthusiasm comes across loud and clear as I will find it difficult to expressly articulate just how much fun I am having and how much great business is being done!

The fun started yesterday when I had the absolute pleasure of chatting to Ian Wallis head of Entrepreneur TV for over a coffee in Adam Street and continues in full force today at "Shine" the Unconference for Social Entrepreneurs.

There is far too much of interest going on just now for me to blog about it all but check out the action on Twitter! (Hashtag #shine09 !)

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Shortlisted for Scientific Award by The NLS.

I am thrilled to announce that our water transport, sanitation and storage device "ROSS" (due for commercial launch Feb 2010) has made it through multiple rigorous judging stages in order to be named one of 7 finalists for "The 2009 NLS Innovation Awards for Environmental Technology".

The National Laboratory Service (NLS) Awards are judged using a strict set of scientifically demanding criteria and we are thrilled that the significant technical progress we have made in the last 9 months is being recognised by such a reputable and influential organisation with such an unrivalled reputation for scientific excellence.

The winner of the NLS Innovation Award for Environmental Technology will be announced at a black tie dinner on May 19th at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham, as part of Sustainabilitylive! 2009.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Kofi Annan's Astonishing Facts

"4% of the 225 richest men's wealth could provide for entire globe: basic education, basic health care, adequate food, clean water and safe sewers. "

"Kofi Annan's Astonishing Facts"

(Courtsey of the New York Times News Service and taken from the United Nations Human Development Report)

Every year the United Nations Human Development Report looks for a new way to measure the lives of people. Putting aside faceless statistics like per capita gross domestic product, the report burrows into the facts about what children eat, who goes to school, whether there is clean water to drink, and so on. This year, the report takes its first look at what people have--from simple toilets to family cars--and what proportion of the world's goods and services are consumed, comparatively, by the rich and the poor. The pie is huge--the world's consumption bill is $24 trillion a year--but some servings are very small indeed.

The haves. The richest fifth of the world's people consumes 86% of all goods and services while the poorest fifth consumes just 1.3%. Indeed, the richest fifth consumes 45% of all meat and fish, 58% of all energy used and 84% of all paper, has 74% of all telephone lines and owns 87% of all vehicles.

Natural resources. Since 1970, the world's forests have declined from 4.4 square miles per 1,000 people to 2.8 square miles per 1,000 people. In addition, a quarter of the world's fish stocks have been depleted or are in danger of being depleted and another 44% are being fished at their biological limit.

The ultra rich. The three richest people in the world have assets that exceed the combined gross domestic product of the 48 least developed countries.

Africa. The average African household today consumes 20% less than it did 25 years ago.

The super rich. The world's 225 richest individuals, of whom 60 are Americans, have a combined wealth of over $1 trillion--equal to the annual income of the poorest 47% of the entire world's population.

Cosmetics and education. Americans spend $8 billion a year on cosmetics--$2 billion more than the estimated total needed to provide basic education for everyone in the world.

The have-nots. Of the 4.4 billion people in developing countries, nearly three-fifths lack access to safe sewers, a third have no access to clean water, a quarter do not have adequate housing, and a fifth have no access to modern health services of any kind.

Meat. Americans each consume an average of 260 pounds of meat a year. In Bangladesh, the average is six and a half pounds.

Telephone lines. Sweden and the U.S. have 681 and 626 telephone lines per 1,000 people, respectively. Afghanistan, Cambodia, Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have one line per 1,000 people.

Ice cream and water. Europeans spend $11 billion a year on ice cream--$2 billion more than the estimated annual total needed to provide clean water and safe sewers for the world's population.

Land mines. More than 110 million active land mines are scattered in 68 countries, with an equal number stockpiled around the world. Every month more than 2,000 people are killed or maimed by mine explosions.

Pet food and health. Americans and Europeans spend $17 billion a year on pet food--$4 billion more than the estimated annual additional total needed to provide basic health and nutrition for everyone in the world.

$40 billion a year. It is estimated that the additional cost of achieving and maintaining universal access to basic education for all, basic health care for all, reproductive health care for all women, adequate food for all and clean water and safe sewers for all is roughly $40 billion a year--or less than 4% of the combined wealth of the 225 richest people in the world.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Maker Faire Africa 2009!

Q: What happens when you put the drivers of ingenious concepts from Mali with those from Ghana and Kenya, and add resources to the mix?

A: Maker Faire Africa.

"The aim of a Maker Faire-like event is to create a space on the continent where Afrigadget-type innovations, inventions and initiatives can be sought, identified, brought to life, supported, amplified and propagated"
- Emeka Okafor of Timbuktu Chronicles and the Director of TED Africa

We, at Red Button Design, are excitedly planning our visit to Ghana for Maker Faire Africa (#MFA09 on Twitter!)

MFA is new this year. We are very much hoping not only to support the event but to get RBD involved in promoting and harnessing African innovation as part of our ambitious new development plan to establish an alliance of manufacturing cooperatives, constructed to harness the country's extraordinary spirit of entrepreneurialism and innovation.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

A little "Wisdom" for the weekend.

"You don't have to be rich & you don't have to be an army... If you find yourself in a situation that needs to be changed, if you're willing to offer your life for it - you might actually get something done."

- Bernice Johnson Reagon. (3m40s)

“Inspired by the idea that wisdom is the greatest gift one generation can give to another, award-winning photographer and filmmaker Andrew Zuckerman interviewed, photographed and filmed 50 of the world's great writers, actors, artists, designers, politicians, musicians and religious and business leaders of our time. He posed seven questions to each of his subjects - all over 65 years of age”

I got the Book / DVD combination of this project for Christmas and can thoroughly reccommend it. It is certainly worth 5 minutes of your morning to watch the video below. If you like it, go buy it!

Wisdom - Introduction from SLNSW on Vimeo.

"you can't get to 'wonderful' without passing through 'alright'"
- Bill Whithers (1m58s)

"Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and work"
- Chuck Cose (2m30s)