Ewa Wojkowska
Tuesday, September 12, 2017 - 09:23

By Ewa Wojkowska
Co-Founder and COO

Adopting R&D principles in the social sector

In our work at Kopernik, we’re seeing a lot of promise in applying research and development (R&D) approaches - well-established in private sector best practices – to improve our programs and find what really works to reduce poverty. Our lean experimentation methods focus on rapid, small-scale testing of ideas and products to determine their viability prior to investing large amounts of money, effort and time into widespread implementation.

We like to call ourselves an R&D lab for poverty reduction.

Testing a solar dryer developed by Kopernik team and a group of farmers in Adonara, East Nusa Tenggara

We have chosen this approach because breakthrough interventions are unlikely to emerge in the course of ‘business as usual’ and finding effective solutions to reduce poverty requires systematic efforts, risk taking, trial, error and experimentation. We believe that ideas and potential solutions should be tested first and that impact should be demonstrated before large investments are made into programs.

Great ideas come from many places and we work with a diverse group of partners from the public, private, social and community sectors to find or develop smart solutions that can address the problems faced by people living in the last mile. We’re excited to bring some of these partners together for a discussion at the upcoming Sankalp Southeast Asia Summit in Jakarta.

Join me for a discussion on R&D for Social Impact with Derval Usher (Pulse Lab), Athman Ali (KOMPAK), Amri Ilmma (J-PAL Southeast Asia) and Richard Wecker (UNICEF). We will be talking about how they are developing solutions for testing and iteration, how they decide which ideas to experiment with and which ones move on for further development and implementation.

Sound exciting?  Come and join us at Sankalp Southeast Asia Summit in Jakarta on the 20th of September 2017.


Kopernik is a proud sponsor of the upcoming 3rd Sankalp Southeast Asia Summit 2017 in Jakarta, 19-20 September. At this event we will be leading two-panel discussions about related topics; ‘Unusual Suspects for Innovation: Forming multi-sectoral partnerships towards SDGs’ and ‘R&D for Social Impact: Early-stage experimentation and prototyping.’ Join us at the forum by registering here.