Social Innovation Makes the World a Better Place

St. Paul's GreenHouse

Rohit RamchandaniAs a new father, Rohit Ramchandani has a fresh perspective on the inequities of global health and childhood mortality, where 60 percent of childhood deaths are preventable with existing medicines, and where the main challenge is often simply getting medicine to remote, rural communities.

For Ramchandani, founder and CEO of Antara Global Health Advisors, social innovation means working collaboratively between disciplines and sectors to find solutions for pressing social issues like childhood mortality. “For me, social innovation is about doing well by doing good. We need to equip ourselves in the best ways possible to address these challenges. The best way to do that is through social innovation and social entrepreneurship.”

The fact that we’ve developed amazing technologies and can put robots on Mars is a wonderful testament to the human ability to think innovatively, Ramchandani says, but we also need to be able to apply the same skills to come together to address these social challenges. In his own field, he asks why Coca-Cola can get to the ends of the earth and medicine can’t – but says that today, with social media and Internet connections, such questions can be considered together by people from all over the world, from all backgrounds, disciplines and ages. 

He notes that it’s easy to talk about return on investment from an economic perspective, but that it’s also actually easy to measure the social impact of social entrepreneurial projects and interventions.

Ramchandani believes that spaces like St. Paul’s GreenHouse are rare but essential to bringing together partners for positive change. “We need more GreenHouses to facilitate social innovation,” he says. “How do you build an innovator and give them the tools and space they need, partnerships, and peers to talk about challenges from different perspectives, mentorship, and support? That’s GreenHouse.

“Social incubators like GreenHouse give options for investors who are looking for ways to make money, but also to see the world become a better place. We’re entering a new era of opportunity, where social innovation takes centre stage in many ways,” says Ramchandani.

“It may sound clichéd, but we’re only here for a short time and then we leave the world to our kids. You want to leave the world in better shape.”


- Susan Fish is a Waterloo-based writer who operates Storywell, an editing company, and who has two published novels (Seeker of Stars and Ithaca).

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