Tuesday, 10 July 2012

We need your support.

It's tough running any business, let alone a small social enterprise with aspirations to improve the lives of millions of people. There are only really 2 of us behind this whole thing and whilst we don't like to ask for much, today we need a favour.

We are working with some of the largest Aid Agencies in the world. The organisations in question are understandably resistant to change and cautious of new solutions, particularly those presented by young westerners.

We have been required to meet extremely high targets to prove that small and innovative social enterprises like RBD work as well, if not better, than traditional Aid/Charity. We are currently under a tight deadline to meet such outreach targets and, sadly, failure to do so will have severe consequences on our ability to go on as planned.

You can help ensure we are able to continue with our work.

Handily, the simplest way is to treat yourself to some designer jewellery(!) 10 of these Alex Monroe sponsored bracelets would meet our target for this month. You can also help by sharing this post or link above with anyone who maybe interested, or donating any amount you see fit.

For any questions or more information, please drop us a line: Amanda@redbuttondesign.co.uk


Thursday, 14 June 2012

"Behind Every Land Grab Is A Water Grab.." (via grain.org)

Image via grain.orgAs Red Button Design starts to move into Ghana, with initial units showing the same promising results as in Kenya, a few key similarities hold true.

Beneath every MDG is a requirement for water. It is, as has been said,
"The single greatest barrier to third world development"..

This wonderful article from Grain is well worth reading.

"The reality is that a third of Africans already live in water-scarce environments and climate change is likely to increase these numbers significantly. Massive land deals could rob millions of people of their access to water and risk the depletion of the continent's most precious fresh water sources. "

Friday, 18 May 2012

A Passing Thought On "Social" Networking..

So today we learn that the shares Facebook is selling today are valued at $18 Billion? That puts the company at what, around $100 Billion? I can't help, in passing, despair a little at this.

For a little perspective, some UNDP estimated costs:

Global cost of providing water = 9 Billion
Universal education = 6 Billion
Basic health & nutrition = 13 Billion
Maternal care = 12 Billion

When we look at what we value, and how highly; what we interact with day to day, sometimes the phrase "Social Network" seems like a dreadful irony.

If you want to, today might be a good day to tell a friend about us:
Get Involved

Friday, 4 May 2012

Red Button Design's CEO Addresses the MDG Summit.

This afternoon I was given the opportunity to address the Summit audience under Goal 7: "Environmental Sustainability"
(water, agriculture and energy).

My address was entitled "Water Solutions: Designing Against Dependency" as I used our Midomo water purifier as the case study to outline Red Button Design’s theory of change.

It is, however, equally applicable to any product or service geared towards affecting grassroots social change. It covers 15 basic points grouped into three stages (design, develop, deploy) which comprise best practise when generating base of the pyramid solutions.

The principles were extremely well received and provided the jumping off point for a great deal of theoretical and academic discussion. Of particular interest was the way we view possible alignments between commercially intelligent decisions and urgent social problems, with ethical business and social enterprises such as ours being front runners in the argument 'pro-profit'.

Midomo itself was met with its usual instant understanding and unanimous approval. We hope that the feedback from the audience this afternoon, towards both the product and the method of thinking that gave rise to it, is indicative of wider reaction. As we seek to roll (literally!) Midomo out to additional African countries and agencies, and release "Design Against Dependency" as an e-book for other BOP designers, this summer..

"Watch this space" - as they say!

MDG Summit, reflections on Day 1. (James)

The MDG Summit sees representatives from the private sector, governments, the UN and NGOs coming together to discuss how business can contribute to solving the challenges set out in the MDGs.

One of the key themes is the importance of partnerships; success, it is being argued, relies upon all implementing actors working together to achieve sustainable outcomes.

But with all this talk of donors, philanthropists, governments, businesses, charities and the UN all working together, one important stakeholder has been somewhat sidelined.

It is indicative, perhaps, of the distancing effect of working towards a set of global, all-encompassing development goals that throughout the first day of the conference very little mention has been made of the communities, families and individuals whose lives we are trying to improve.  One presentation in particular stood out in this regard, explaining a project which used the sale of carbon credits from reductions in emissions from boiling water to fund the provision of water filters to 900,000 households. Although innovative in its use of new funding models this project, as it was presented, seemed to totally avoid any kind of community engagement to understand the needs of those communities.  Although it could be argued that the provision of water filters to families in need is a no-brainer, I worry that without a deep understanding of the issues faced at a local level projects like this will not achieve the long-term outcomes they were designed to.

We must not let funding models, or even the MDGs become any more than the tools, else we risk losing sight of the very point of development work – to improve lives.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Millennium Development Summit - Cape Town

Red Button Design have a much coveted speaker's spot at this year's UN MDG Summit in Cape Town, May 3rd & 4th.

On Friday, Amanda will address the summit's distinguished audience outlining "Design Against Dependency" (our 15-step theory of change) using the Midomo water purifier as a case study. Later that day James will participate in a panel discussion "Analysing Bottlenecks and Constraints to Accelerated Water Development".

This is an unparalleled opportunity for us to take to the global stage with our life-saving design. Cross your fingers for us, we'll let you know how it goes..
"The UN describes the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 – as a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions. These goals have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.

Progress towards reaching the goals has remained uneven. Some countries have achieved many of the goals, while others remain off-track to realize any. The major countries that have been achieving their goals include countries like China and India due to clear internal and external factors of population and economic development. However, areas needing the most reduction, such as the Sub-Saharan Africa regions have yet to make any drastic changes in improving their quality of life.

The role of business in creating employment, wealth and services has been grossly overlooked in the entire MDG campaign

The private sector only gets a brief mention in the Millennium Development Goals. Yet it is business –entrepreneurs, employers, investors and workers – who are best positioned to help areas such as Africa and the rest of the developing world achieve the Goals.

At this event some of the world’s key solution providers will be available to showcase their products and services and speak about the importance of engaging them as an equal partner in promoting sustainable development and making the MDGs a reality for all."

Monday, 27 February 2012

Celebrate Life! - £50 off Alex Monroe for Red Button Design

One of the things we liked most about our jewellery collaboration with Alex Monroe was how neatly the collaboration provided benefit to everyone.

Our customers got beautiful designer jewellery and the chance to change a young woman's life, our partner charities got free tools to help in their ongoing fight against unnecessary illness and death, the users themselves got a new chance at life, and the donated units gave us flexibility in our deal structure with new customers.

We're currently a few units short of being ready to go with the next batch of Midomo and need your help. So, to test this fair business model yet again, we have released the Discount Code "CelebrateLife" for an amazing £50 Off!

Please share, tweet, blog, or even treat yourself to a Midomo Bracelet so that everyone can #CelebrateLife!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

5 Newsworthy Notes to welcome 2012..

Happy New Year! I hope you're all settling back into routine as invigorated and inspired as we are. I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of our more noteworthy news. We hope you will take a few minutes to read of our progress and please do get back to us with any comments and/or connections you are able to make. Your support is, and always has been, invaluable to us..

1.) Pilot Deployment with FARM Africa

As you will have seen, this summer saw a pilot deployment of 8 units in Mwingi, Eastern Kenya, with the support of FARM Africa. The trial was extremely successful and saw the culmination of many months of supply chain and logistical work as well as updates to the design of the unit itself and over a year of relationship building with partners in the UK, China and Kenya.

The core components of the units were shipped from the factory in China to Mombasa, then brought overland from Mombasa to our workshop in Nairobi where the frames were built using local materials and labour. Working with FARM Africa’s local staff, we then trialled these units with the community in Mwingi, where they were very well received by the site staff and local women/girls, alike. We were also able to establish that local craftsmen were more than capable of carrying out required routine maintenance such as replacing the filter cartridge and adjusting the cycle chain.

2.) Subsequent Product Development

Following the deployment in Mwingi we judged that the current pump, whilst perfectly functional, was not optimal for the usage environment. In response to this we have established a relationship with UK-based pump manufacturers, Williamson, and are collaborating on a bespoke pump design which, when completed in early 2012, will not only increase performance but will significantly reduce the cost of production and give us much greater control over component sourcing.

3.) Intellectual Property

Last month we were excited to receive a “Notice of Allowance” from the European Patent Office that confirms our patent will be granted. The patent was originally filed at the beginning of 2007 so to reach this stage represents a marked success in a major ongoing body of work.

4.) Partnership with Rotary

We have also spent much of the last 6 months building a relationship with Rotary International. At the end of 2011, at least one local club has taken the initiative and committed to fundraise for at least 50 units. We have high hopes that this enthusiasm, which is being followed up by a number of other local clubs, will be indicative of the wider Rotary response.

5.) Launch of a suite of CSR Packages and Donate Function

In response to inbound enquiries we launched a number of Corporate Social Responsibility packages at the annual “Good Deals” Social Enterprise conference in November. Beginning at £25k to supply 250 individuals with safe drinking water, Midomo is seen as a great low-cost, media-friendly option for organisations looking to create measurable social impact across multiple targets whilst reinforcing brand ethics amongst consumers and employees alike.

We also added the option for individual donations, and our Midomo Bracelet campaign is ongoing into 2012.

If you have any comments or if there are any connections you'd like to make relating to the above, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

All the best,
Team RBD.