So This is What It’s Like to Host a Hackathon

In our next step to demand access to medicines, we enlisted the help of creative New Yorkers. We brought snacks.

On March 10, 2017 in New York City, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hosted its first ever hackathon, engaging over thirty developers, designers, and strategists on shareholder activism. We brought snacks. And coffee….lots of it.

We have been publicly campaigning for Pfizer and GSK to lower the price of the pneumonia vaccine to $5/child for the past two years.

While we’ve had some major accomplishments (thanks to you), we don’t think the corporations are doing enough to prevent the one million unnecessary deaths each year due to pneumonia.

It was time to try a different approach.

We’ve seen firsthand the strength in people coming together for a cause, and with our U.S. office based in Manhattan, we also see the talent of New Yorkers every day. By hosting a hackathon, we aimed to connect those who want to give back by contributing their skills to a cause that is near and dear to our hearts.

We sent out tweets/facebook posts/emails to join our hackathon only a week before the actual event, and were blown away by the community of creative and strategic supporters who showed up to participate.

The Challenge

We know that corporations are accountable to their shareholders, so if shareholders can start demanding lower vaccine prices, we hope that the corporations will begin to transform their business practices. Many people might not know that they actually own shares of Pfizer or GSK through their mutual funds and retirement plans.

For 48 hours, participants were placed in teams and worked on building a tool for people to discover whether they own a share of Pfizer or GlaxoSmithkline (GSK) through their investments (mutual funds, ETFs, 401K plants, etc.).

The winning team, named “Pfff” created an online tool that made it easy for people to see if they hold Pfizer and GSK shares in their investments, and empowered them with actions to ask the corporations to lower the price of the pneumonia vaccine.

Team Pfff: Amol Parikh, Scott Rothman, Kyle Rose, and Justin Tsang (not pictured)
Shoutout to our awesome judges: Francois Servranckx (Doctors Without Borders), Véronique Brossier (New York Times), Will Varner (Buzzfeed), and Eliza Pepper (Gaia Advisors)

So how do we get Pfizer and GSK to do more?

We worked with the winning team to launch this tool, Your Stock Your Voice, which is available now at: http://afairshot.org

Now it’s YOUR turn to take action and find out where your money is going. Make your investments help your future AND give all kids A Fair Shot at life. #YourStockYourVoice