Ten years ago Ewa Wojkowska arrived in East Timor with her sleeves rolled up as an Australian volunteer for an NGO. Today she works behind a computer in Brooklyn. It might sound sexier, but she’s working just as hard to deliver aid to people who need it.
Last month social entrepreneur Ewa and her partner Toshihiro, another former UN worker, created Kopernik. It’s an online store of progressive, innovative technologies designed for base of the pyramid users who need help solving social problems and provides crowd-funded financial subsidies for their solutions.
Ewa became well versed in the aid world while establishing women’s empowerment organization Centro Feto and working at various NGOs including the World Bank and United Nations. She didn’t stumble upon the idea for Kopernik. Instead, she had a vision for a global marketplace where life-changing technologies would reach the people who need them.
It was evident connecting poor communities with necessary technologies was where Kopernik would stake its claim after Ewa visited a dusty village far from clean water, Oecusse near Indonesia. She received a proposal from Centro Feto to help put LifeStraws, a portable straw that filters water instantly and makes it safe for drinking, into the hands of rural women’s groups in hard to reach areas.
While in the village far from Centro Feto’s office – and Brooklyn – Ewa dipped the LifeStraw into a dirty bucket of water and was convinced. For $6.50 one person could have clean drinking water for an entire year. Pretty incredible? Kopernik uses Web 2.0 to connect a global network to put inventive products in the hands of people who need them.