Innovation at UNICEF: How to Help Balance an Asymmetric World


Fabian, Christopher
Fabian, Christopher


Session Description

Using science, technology, and venture investment to help balance an asymmetric worldHow do we find solutions to the greatest challenges facing humanity? UNICEF's Office of Innovation ( helps the world's leading children's organization use new methods and approaches to identify, invest in, and scale open source technologies that benefit children, and the world. This talk will share our approach to developing solutions to billion-person problems - a hybrid between the world of Silicon Valley venture capital and the world of global development, policy, and governmental change. Chris will discuss using data, science, and failure to drive investment and development decisions, as well as issues in developing good companies that also want to do good. Examples from Uganda, Estonia, China, Nigeria, and more show that new portfolios of (sometimes surprisingly simple) technologies can create global collaborations around issues important to us all.

Speaker Bio

Christopher Fabian is a technologist and innovator who co-leads UNICEFs Innovation Unit. Fabian works on finding solutions to big problems that face humanity, particularly children. Since 2007 he has held the title of Senior Advisor on Innovation to the Executive Director at UNICEF and Co-founder and Co-lead of the UNICEF Innovation Unit. He is best known for his work on tools for children and communities in low-infrastructure environments. The UNICEF Innovation Unit helped build the largest mobile health system in the world in Nigeria (reporting more than 42M births by SMS) as well as U-Report, which enables over 2.6 million young people to be connected to decision makers via SMS and social media. They have used cell data to predict the spread of Ebola, smartphones to register children after a disaster, and tablet-based games to teach kids in Sudan. Before UNICEF, Christopher founded and exited tech startups in Africa and the Middle East. He continues to advise startups, entrepreneurs, and funds on emerging business models and on how to make new things succeed despite the noise of voices saying they are impossible.

Conference/Event Name
Winter Enrichment Program 2017

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