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Photo of Chair Marie Staunton with a patient in Zimbabwe

Innovation: from idea to impact

5th November 2018

Photo of Chair Marie Staunton with a patient in Zimbabwe
Meeting a mother at one of many RBF clinics Crown Agents works with throughout the country

The great innovations of modern times began life as ideas – electricity, penicillin, the internet and the contraceptive pill are all ideas that changed the world. We often associate their invention with a light bulb or eureka moment, but many of the greatest innovations started with a single person using limited resources to pursue a grand vision.

An idea is just the beginning. For that idea to become an innovation, there is a requirement for hard work, persistence and commitment, sometimes in the face of scepticism or resistance. That’s why at Crown Agents we believe that innovation requires leaders and communities as well as technology.

This is true of the mobile app our team is using in Zimbabwe to help health workers get paid on time. It was our intern, Anthony, who had the idea, but it took our team to bring it to life, and it took hundreds of health workers across the country to make it an innovation that changes lives. Similarly, our work in Nepal designing and building a new web-based accounting software system is remarkable not only because it replaced a host of time-consuming systems virtually overnight, but also because it empowered civil servants to account better for the use of public money and to support Nepal’s new era of federalism.

Nepal is not alone in experiencing new leadership. This year we have seen new leaders being elected across Africa – in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone – making commitments to their people to deliver ambitious agendas filled with energy and optimism for the future.

The responsibility for innovation must be shouldered by all of us. This is how Ukraine has sustained ambitious healthcare reforms, saving money and lives, and it’s why we continue to pioneer the use cutting-edge solar storage technology across Africa.

Photo of Jari clinic in Zimbabwe
Smart solar technology has enabled out-of-hours deliveries for the first time at Jari Clinic in Zimbabwe

I’m proud that we have stood shoulder to shoulder with leaders in these countries and others for another year. I have met public sector leaders on the Crown Agents Women In Leadership courses whose strategies for change have really encouraged me in 2019.  We will continue to encourage innovation whilst bringing centuries of expertise to bear on accelerating self-sufficiency and prosperity for their countries and their people.

Read more about translating ideas both big and small into impact in our latest Impact Statement.