Spring 2020

Small Businesses Right-Sized To Achieve Big Social Change Role of Data, Digital Solutions to Drive Global Transformations and Save Lives W e hear the hype. Entrepreneurial success and innovation today require businesses to master the science of big data and technology. But how can social enterprises, especially small social enterprises, realize data’s potential to leverage social change amid the everyday technical and organizational challenges they often face? Small social enterprises can lack the skills, awareness, and investment capital to turn technology and data opportunities into social advantages. Technology for the sake of technology – even data-based technology – can be a waste of precious resources if not used strategically. Unfortunately, too often small enterprises lack the right-sized examples and roles models they need to help sort through the jargon, hyperbole, and sometimes unwieldly tools and systems, and find their way to workable solutions that achieve results. At Panagora, a woman-owned small business that works to solve global health and other development problems, we’ve found that overcoming these challenges can be surprisingly simple. For example, by leveraging free online tools like Google applications, we can build accessible data repositories and sharing platforms that help people use data to make evidence- based decisions and innovate. This allows us to do things like improve health outcomes in some of the world’s most hard-to-reach places. Instead of being daunted by perceived limitations, we’ve learned to harness our strength as a small business and do what we do best – bring different perspectives, voices, and resources together – for exciting and innovative results. We’ve learned that when it comes to creating social value and leveraging change for the world’s most vulnerable people, it is the intersection of government, private, and social/local sectors that holds the most promise. 4 Pillars to Data-Driven Results Data- and technology-based solutions are key components in Panagora’s development activities. As a small business, primarily supporting the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), we have more than 100 full time staff on the ground working in over 15 countries to leverage data and technology to deliver development results and continuously improve our own systems and processes. Nowhere is this more critical than in our support of the USAID Global Health Supply Chain-Procurement and Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) activity, which delivers life-saving health commodities around the world. Among other support services for this activity, Panagora harnesses the power of data so key stakeholders and decision makers can increase efficiencies and cost savings for contraceptives and other reproductive health supplies, thereby reaching even more people with critical health care. At Panagora, our pillars for navigating when and how to apply data and technology to our development activities are captured in the way we provide support to USAID’s Contraceptive Procurement Planning and Monitoring by Betsy Bassan TECHNOLOGY 38 enterprising Women