During a series of trips to Somalia in the late 1980s, Barry and Andrea Coleman noticed that broken down emergency transport vehicles were to be found at hospitals and clincs around the country, while women in childbirth were being brought to hospitals wheelbarrows. Frustrated by this failure of supply and demand, the Colemans remortgaged their house and founded Riders for Health to help manage fleets of vehicles serving as transportation solutions for healthcare organizations targeting rural populations. The Coleman’s organization was quickly ready to be scaled up and applied to more countries. Now, after winning a grant from the Skoll Awards in 2006, Riders for Health is operating in 7 African countries to help provide 11 million people with access to healthcare.
The Skoll Awards occur every year and represent the Skoll Foundation’s primary method for sourcing innovative and entrepreneurial organizations to receive grants to help them scale up their proven innovation. These 3-year grants vary in dollar amount but are generally given to support the operating budget of these organizations. This type of funding model entrusts that organizations know how to uses these funds to scale their innovation for maximum impact.
But increased funding is not the only benefit ofa Skoll Award. “What makes the Skoll Awards unique is connecting and celebrating the social entrepreneurs,” says Brittany Boettcher, Associate Program Officer at Skoll. Skoll Award winners are invited to take part in the Skoll World Forum which takes place in Oxford and is where the newest recipients are celebrated each year. This gathering of funders, entrepreneurs and other innovators allows innovative social entrepreneurs to show case their solutions and make key connections to help drive impact. Boettcher adds, “When a social entrepreneur receives a Skoll Award, they are always a member of the Skoll community. We hope this means Skoll social entrepreneurs will continue to get value from this community even after a funding relationship has ended.”
Who qualifies for the Skoll Awards? This can best be determined by looking at the criteria listed on Skoll’s website and taking their Eligibility Quiz, but here are a few key factors. An organization must:
- Organization must be led by a social entrepreneur (definition on Skoll website)
- Be non-profit
- Have an approach that fundamentally disrupts the status quo to solve social and/or environmental problems
- Have an innovation with a proven track record (generally of at least 3 years) and be looking to scale up this innovation
- Work in one of Skoll’s key issue areas (which includes health)
Ultimately, Skoll is looking to fund organizations that will create lasting change, even beyond the timeline of their own existence. Boettcher explains, “Skoll social entrepreneurs work to address the very root of some of today’s most pressing problems. Their innovations are disrupting the status quo and, at the end of the day, aim to change systems so the causes of these pressing problems no longer exist.”
If you think that you’re a good match for the Skoll Awards, apply soon! Applications for the 2013 Awards close March 1, 2012. Visit the Skoll Award’s website for more information and details on how to apply and visit the following profiles to learn about CHMI-profiled programs that have won in the past: APOPO, Saúde Criança, Barefoot College, Mothers 2 Mothers, Riders for Health, VillageReach, and VisionSpring.