Prominent entrepreneur and innovator Sonal Shah was the distinguished speaker at Tote Board’s sixth Social Capital Lecture, held at the brand new campus of the Social Service Institute (SSI) on Wednesday, 26 June 2013.
Sonal has amassed vast experience through her work as the first Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, in developing and managing Goldman Sachs’ environmental strategy and through founding a non-profit that offers fellowships for Indian-Americans to work on development projects in India.
During her lecture, Sonal brought her global expertise to the audience as she spoke on how non-profits can harness the tools of the digital age to advance social good. She drew examples from all over the world – from the USA to Kenya and India – to highlight how technology can democratize information.
To illustrate this, she cited a simple, yet highly effective model set up in South Africa; Project M. It gives medical advice by text message to HIV patients, as over 90% of South Africans own a mobile phone. The patients could also text back to receive further advice.
She also stressed the importance of gathering data and having the right technological tools to harness it. She encouraged the audience to continue to analyse and share data towards bringing about further innovation.
Sonal is currently a Senior Fellow at the CASE Foundation, where she researches impact investing. She presented this concept to the audience and highlighted how the government, the non-profit and the private sectors can work together to drive change by focusing on scaling impact and measuring outcomes.
Following her lecture, Sonal moderated a robust Q&A session from the audience. They sought her views on applying the models she had presented to Singapore’s non-profit landscape.
The Tote Board Social Capital Lecture Series is a signature project by the Board. It offers a platform for inspirational thought leaders in the field, from Singapore and beyond, to share their experience and wisdom.