The EWB approach to development

Poverty is the product of broken systems that prevent people from realizing their full potential. Beating poverty means making those systems work.

EWB is doing exactly that. We invest in people—smart systems changers, and we incubate the systemic innovations that they create to accelerate rural African development. It’s not about projects. It’s not about technology. It’s about people working with people to create lasting, scalable change that unlocks human potential.

Intelligent Development

In Africa, EWB’s approach to development focuses exclusively on systemic innovations that impact the masses. So we don’t drill wells, we help to ensure that tens of thousands of wells are monitored and repaired. We don’t distribute seeds, we work with small businesses to help them provide the tools and information that farmers need to prosper.

All of this is made possible by unprecedented local insight – our teams integrate with businesses, governments, organizations and entrepreneurs to understand systems from the inside out, then work with them to incubate change using an established, five-stage process:

1. Search – We integrate into the system, understanding it from within and identifying opportunities for systemic innovation.

2. Prototype – We co-design systemic innovations with local partners, with the goal of fixing a broken system or introducing a new model.

3. Pilot – We test small to determine viability at low cost, providing support as our partner leads. Failure means we learn and return to prototype. Success means we refine and multiply.

4. Multiply – We support our partner in deploying the innovation on a larger scale, ensuring we aren’t needed to sustain the solution.

5. Exit – The innovation is sustaining itself or the change is institutionalized through policy innovation and we withdraw, allowing the partner to own the success.

It all combines to create an unprecedented, locally driven approach to development that ensures:

  • Greater efficiency and value—we identify what doesn’t work early, learn, and improve until we find what does.
  • Local relevance—we “get inside” problems to ensure we really do understand and address the root causes.
  • Local capacity is built—our partners learn and get stronger, changing the system from within.
  • Change is lasting—EWB is invisible. Put bluntly, if it appears that a solution is ours, we’ve failed.

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