Our values guide everything from our strategic planning, to our tenant selection criteria, to what programming we create. They are the core of our beliefs and what we see as an important foundation for making all decisions, with and for our Tenants, Members, partnerships, funders, and all actors involved in our work.
“Collaboration is not just a matter of playing nicely with others. It is an element of structural reform which can reduce organizational dysfunction. Institutional silos (such as entrepreneurs vs. nonprofits, governments vs. foundations, funders vs. grantees) block pragmatic problem-solving. Pack your ideas and solutions, but leave your institutional baggage (and your ego) behind.”
— Opportunity Collaboration
If you want to go far, you have to go together. As a Center, we are making headway growing global economic and social prosperity. Individual organizations may be focused on a single global challenge, but we are collectively changing underlying international development systems by sharing best practices and illuminating partnership opportunities. Our purpose is to leverage resources, combine forces, share innovations, and operate more effectively. Global poverty is rooted in multi-disciplinary problems, so multi-disciplinary solutions are needed.
“Poor people are the world’s greatest entrepreneurs. Every day, they must innovate in order to survive. They remain poor because they do not have the opportunities to turn their creativity into sustainable income.”
— Muhammad Yunus
We are part of a movement that looks at society’s challenges as opportunities. We seek to engage social entrepreneurs and impact investors that focus on scaling market-based solutions to global poverty, not handouts. While there is an important place for humanitarian aid in the world, aid is not a solution on its own. Entrepreneurship is the antithesis of dependence and good business is good development.
“It’s not just about the number of signatures on a petition or lives touched or mentoring sessions delivered, but the effect a service has on people’s lives. And these effects have to be additional to what might have happened otherwise.”
— Dan Corry, The Guardian
Collaboration for collaboration’s sake is useless unless that collaboration means that we have, in fact, created lasting solutions to global poverty. This can feel like a vague and lofty goal that means next to nothing, unless the data allow us to tell you exactly who we have impacted, in what ways, and how we did it (or where we have fallen short and plan to change). We aspire to build a community that’s able to tell you not only how each group in our building is affecting global poverty, but also how our collaborative efforts are creating meaningful and measurable collective impact.
“In teaching others we teach ourselves.”
— Traditional proverb
Growing knowledge about best practices in international development is the cumulative effort of everyone in our network. Honest communication helps us test the integrity of our work and leads to more efficient programs, faster innovation, and meaningful relationships. We believe all partners in development have assets and expertise to share and that knowledge emerges with lessons gleaned from success and failure, alike. We seek to foster an environment where access to information is reciprocal and transparent among all stakeholders, from communities to global organizations. We strive to create a culture in which all players see themselves as both teachers and students, open to continually learning from one another.
“Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing one another’s uniqueness.”
— Ola Joseph
We value the richness of ideas that results from people’s visible and invisible differences—be it age, nationality, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, strengths, or needs. Bringing diverse individuals together allows us to more effectively address issues. We strive to build an inclusive community where all people feel supported.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity and innovation. If failure isn’t an option, innovation isn’t an option.”
— Brené Brown
There is simply no way to talk about innovation with any real merit without also talking about creativity, risk, curiosity, courage, and vulnerability. To create and innovate mean to take a step out into the unknown and risk failure, which is consistently present (and pervasive) in international development. When we say we’re “building a community of innovators…”, it means we’re working to create a culture that not only owns up to this fact by finding ways to share where and how we’ve failed, but that also uses failure as a tool for inspiring creativity and a stepping stone to innovation. This will allow us to celebrate when we get it right and, in turn, humbly ask how we might do it even better.