What is Pro-Poor Innovation?

First, Pro-Poor was a somewhat hastily chosen name. As I’ve developed this project I’ve wondered if it might make more sense to use a different name, given the hopelessness conjured up by the word ‘poor’. Is ‘poor’ reductive, diminishing the creative capacity, intelligence, and drive repeatedly shown by those entrapped by the unfortunate circumstance that is poverty? Does it unnecessarily separate them from the privileged? ‘Consumer’ and ‘poor person’ are words that don’t relate to each other. ‘Consumer’ and ‘Underserved consumer’ have a clearly demonstrable relationship–in a clearly capitalist international system, we are all consumers. Some of us have not yet had our needs met.

Perhaps it’s overly academic to be preoccupied with a name.

In any case, a ‘Pro-Poor Social Innovation’ is any new process, technology, or relationship that helps address a challenge of access. It can be as simple as finding a new way of delivering market information to an underserved area, so that farmers can get a fair price for their goods. Or it can be as complex as a new medical system of specializing and dividing labor to make operations cheaper and more efficient, like the Aravind Eye hospital.

As Bill Clinton once said, “nearly every problem has been solved by someone, somewhere”. The Pro-poor innovation sourcing map embraces this quote, by tracking existing innovations. The map is open source and is a crowdmap designed by Ushahidi – anyone can add their innovation and contribute. Innovations and reports can be submitted online, via twitter, or on text. Add yours today! And feel free to explore the map for inspiration.


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