Q&A: Director of Vodafone Americas Foundation on the role of passion in addressing development needs

Winners of the 2017 Wireless Innovation Challenge with Vodafone Americas Foundation Director June Sugiyama (right). Photo by: Vodafone Americas Foundation

CANBERRA — In her 10 years as director of the Vodafone Americas Foundation, June Sugiyama has inadvertently become an expert in developing challenges.

Since 2009, the foundation has been running the Wireless Innovation Challenge, which seeks innovative ideas using wireless-related technology to address social issues around the world. This year marked the ninth challenge, which awarded a total of $600,000 to projects addressing infectious diseases, animal poaching and mobile financial services. Years of leading the challenge have helped Sugiyama to refine ideas of what works in creating disruption to address social and other issues affecting developing countries.

In a conversation with Devex, she explained that technology alone is not the key. Here is the interview, edited for length and clarity.

The Wireless Innovation Challenge is quite remarkable in the diversity of ideas from winners. Are you surprised by the types of ideas you receive?

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About the author

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    Lisa Cornish

    Lisa Cornish is a Devex Reporter based in Canberra, where she focuses on the Australian aid community. Lisa formerly worked with News Corp Australia as a data journalist for the national network and was published throughout Australia in major metropolitan and regional newspapers, including the Daily Telegraph in Melbourne, Herald Sun in Melbourne, Courier-Mail in Brisbane, and online through news.com.au. Lisa additionally consults with Australian government providing data analytics, reporting and visualization services. Lisa was awarded the 2014 Journalist of the Year by the New South Wales Institute of Surveyors.