By Saki Takasu (’16)
Did you know that in Indonesia, over 100 million people still rely on open-fire stoves for cooking, boiling water and light? Imagine what life would be like, inhaling the open-fire smoke and spending multiple hours a day boiling drinking water. Now, imagine that there are simple and smart technologies, like the Nazava® water filter, which removes 99.99 percent of the water-borne bacteria in a gravity-fed water bucket and can last up to two years; it costs anywhere from $17 to $35 and can make such a difference in the lives of so many families.
Kopernik is a Bali-based nonprofit organization that directly tackles the technology gap in the developing world by introducing simple and low-cost technologies like this to create a positive impact on people’s lives.
In March, Tomo Hamakawa, chief strategic officer at Kopernik, joined UCLA Anderson students for a discussion titled Achieving a Triple Bottom Line in Indonesia and Beyond: Kopernik’s Mission to Reduce Poverty, Empower Women and Drive Innovation. Kopernik is involved in a unique combination of crowdfunding, community building, and technology distribution to inspire technology-focused development in last mile communities — or the poorest people in the world. “There are many great technologies today, but they are not reaching the people who need them the most,” said Hamakawa.
Kopernik’s mission is especially focused on training women to become micro-entrepreneurs because they have the best interest of their family and communities in mind.
“We want to promote women’s empowerment at personal, household and community levels. We see women as change agents in their community,” said Hamakawa. Women who are a part of Kopernik’s Wonder Women Initiative take simple solar lanterns, water filters and clean cook stoves on consignment and sell them in their communities. As they gain income and business acumen, some reinvest or apply these technologies to develop their own businesses.
“What Kopernik is doing is smart, because they are really thinking about long-term empowerment of the community by avoiding supply chain dependency and training the local people, especially women, for sustainable impact,” said Sunny Cho (FEMBA ’17), who attended the event. International student Gena Goh (’16), from Singapore, commented, “It was very inspiring to hear that there is an NGO combining technology and development in Indonesia, a place that’s far from Anderson. It’s important for us, as future business leaders, to get exposure to what is happening in other parts of the world.”
Kopernik was founded in 2010, born out of the perceived gap in connecting simple technology with last mile communities, the poorest communities in the world. Kopernik works with the best technology designed for the developing world, bridging the gap between technology producers and the people who need these technologies the most. They work with simple innovations that are affordable, durable, easy to use and maintain, eco-friendly, money-saving and life-changing for families in the last mile.(https://www.kopernik.ngo/)