100 UNDER $100 – A tool-filled resource inspires Pratt Capstone teams
Event recap by Leslie Kirschenbaum
Betsy Teutsch spent the last several years researching and collecting examples of social innovations that help women out of extreme poverty. She scoured the globe for simple and low-cost tools that are transforming the lives of women everywhere.
Take for instance, MPOWERD’s Luci®, a simple pliable plastic casing that feels like holding a beach ball as it glows and easily deflates. However, the Luci® is not a toy. It is a brilliant line of lantern products that provides up to 12 hours of light to help people who live in energy poverty. MPOWERD’s founders were determined to help the millions of people left without power after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and the further 3 billion worldwide who live without clean, reliable sources of electricity.
In another example, Alma Sana’s low-cost bracelet may look like nothing more than a thick rubber band with tiny symbolic impressions. Yet it helps mothers ensure the timely immunization of their child through age five to help prevent mortality from vaccine-preventable diseases. Annually nearly 20% of all deaths under age five, and yet past age five the chances diminish greatly. Conceived by a college student while interning in a Peruvian clinic, Alma Sana’s bracelets are simple reminders and precious lifesavers to help bridge health inequities in South America.
It wasn’t until she started grouping and sorting her work on Pinterest that Betsy realized she had amassed a collection of innovations with a powerful message. Examples like these became the foundation of her book, “100 under $100: One Hundred Tools for Empowering Global Women,” a carefully curated selection of simply designed tools, business models and tangible humanitarian solutions for the very poor.
After hearing Betsy speak at a wonderful eclectic bookstore in NY, the Chair of the Arts and Cultural Management (ACM) and Design Management (DM) Masters programs at Pratt Institute instantly invited Betsy as guest lecturer to share her insights with program participants. The timing was perfect. In June of every year, Capstone thesis teams form and begin to generate ideas for what will become their Integrative Capstone project as they enter their second year. Dr. McBride introduced Betsy’s story as a poignant example of how to ‘lead as if life matters’ for a positive future. “Betsy has effectively translated theory to experience with examples and links aimed at specific real-life problems from health, to subsistence farming and legal practices, along with their creative solutions.”
Betsy’s visit created a lively discussion about how she was able to combine her three passions – sustainability, microfinance/philanthropy and community building – with her strengths in research, writing and education to work towards her version of shaping positive futures. Betsy was a natural motivator for the Capstone teams. Her book “100 under $100” exemplifies a perfect roadmap as they begin their research phase and follow the programs 4D model Capstone – discover, define, design, deliver – to uncover potential areas of focus and new possibilities for catalyzing creative leadership.