Let me start with a clarification: while I’m a tech startup founder, I am no tech utopian. Tech has long been oversold as a panacea and most big tech companies today clearly need stronger governance and regulation if they are to be a net good in the world — not least regarding their impact on democracy itself. Nor do I believe that all government’s problems would be solved if it simply worked exactly like the private sector. …

Overnight, the Covid-19 pandemic has turned millions of parents into reluctant teachers. Amongst the poorest families, for whom school can mean full stomachs and a safe environment for their children, homeschooling can come at a dangerous cost. But even well-off parents seem to view homeschooling mainly as an exercise in damage limitation — both to themselves and to their children. I think they are looking at the challenge in the wrong way. …

We started working on Apolitical in 2015. At the time it seemed an unexceptional year to start our company, a peer-to-peer learning platform for government. In retrospect, it was like signing up to a rodeo, for 2015 proved to be a year on the brink of a cluster of momentous political, social and economic upheavals, all of which affect our work:

  1. Polarising votes in the UK, US and Brazil, to name just a few
  2. Rising anger towards multilateral collaborations, from the EU to NATO
  3. A global shift to more politically extreme parties
  4. Opaque money in social media warping democracy, epitomised…

Apolitical Academy’s Southern African Fellows

The seeds of better democracies are being planted by a growing movement of passionate entrepreneurs. Funding them could be the best investment you’ll ever make.

It is news to no one that we are facing a crisis of resurgent nationalism and autocracy around the world. Less visible, however, is the growing movement of incredible entrepreneurs throwing their hats in the ring to fight the ‘democruptcy’ that is threatening hard-won peace, prosperity and our ability to tackle critical global challenges, from climate change to ethical AI.

In the wake of every autocratic clamp down, every extremist resurrection, every election result that…

This is not an argument I ever imagined making. The chilling assertion by British Prime Minister Theresa May that ‘If you believe you are a citizen of everywhere you’re a citizen of nowhere’ makes me feel vaguely nauseous. Having grown up in New Zealand and Botswana, I now live in London, where I’ve spent my career trying to improve lives in distant places. ‘Global citizen’ is the closest I come to a comfortable identity. So it is with existential unease, fingers walking on coals, that I find myself questioning whether it’s the right approach after all.

A clarification: the problem…

A bombed school in Deraa, Syria, surveyed by the elected local councillor featured in this piece

By Robyn Scott and Lisa Witter, Co-Founders, Apolitical.

Written for the YGL Resilient World Series

Perhaps most striking about the developed world’s war on terror is the numerical mismatch with its opponents. The world-changing attacks on September 11, 2001 were carried out by 19 hijackers; the bombs in London on July 7, 2005, were worn by four men; the co-ordinated strikes on Paris on last month appear to have been perpetrated by less than a dozen.

Even including all the domestic terrorists those countries have ever heard of and generously adding accomplices and sympathisers and those who were caught before…

Image: World Economic Forum

Close the Generosity Gap

Of the powerful crowd that gathered in Davos this year to discuss the world’s challenges, 17% were women. It’s a shocking figure, especially given that the World Economic Forum, to its credit, offers companies free tickets for women in their delegations. When one considers the critical challenges discussed — inclusive growth, gender parity, education, creativity, climate change to name a few — 17% is frankly, in 2015, embarrassing. Incidentally, there was much talk of artificial intelligence this year. By some estimates, at current rates, we will close the human computer intelligence gap in around 30 years. …

There are no quick fixes. I know this as a social science junkie, who’s read endless books and blogs on the subject, and tried out much of the advice — mostly to no avail. So I do not entitle this post lightly. And I write it only having become convinced, after several months of experimentation, that one of the simplest pieces of advice I’ve heard is also one of the best.

It is not from a bestselling book — indeed no publisher would want it: even the most eloquent management thinker would struggle to spin a whole book around it…

And what gets found in translation 

GiveDirectly, a superb non-profit organisation, sends unconditional cash grants to the poorest households in Kenya and Uganda. Amongst other measures of success, they test beneficiaries’ cortisol, normally elevated by the stress of extreme poverty. They are, rightly, celebrated for their ingenious impact measurement — the new religion of the non-profit and social enterprise sectors — and I’d encourage anyone to consider supporting their excellent work.

Yet there’s a hidden side-effect of the relentless quest to measure the return when we give our money. The return on money (even if it means cortisol tests) is usually easier to measure than the…

And the best things I’ve learned in 2013 about how to thrive in a hyper-connected world

“Distracted. Overwhelmed. Meaningless.”

Words like these echo across 2013's conversations. For all its benefits, the relentless march of connected technology — and with it, ego, information and commerce —into every crevice of our lives, comes with real costs that are increasingly:

  1. Shared by everyone (in the wealthy world). No longer is the question whether you get the device or connection. It’s how you tame it, harness it, or sedate the beast that often hatches out of the beautifully packaged, bluetooth-enabled, apparently benign egg.
  2. Compromising the quality of essential parts of our lives. A quick glance around restaurants suggests the “Tech…

Robyn Scott

Entrepreneur & author. Co-founder and CEO, Apolitical. Ambassador @ATMIndex. @WEF YGL. robynscott.org

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