Wow! I've been named a young international development leader by DevEx, the world's largest community of aid & development professionals.
Devex just published a first-of-its-kind list of the top 40 international development leaders in Washington, DC who are under 40 years of age. And I'm on it.
I was selected based on
my ballot box stuffing skills influence on the development agenda and impact on development results. The list includes a diverse array of leaders from the international development field and I am honored to be among them.
Here is how they highlight and celebrate my work inspiring the next generation of leaders in the international development community in Washington, DC.
Wayan Vota Senior Director, Inveneo
Wayan Vota says he's been a "backpacking geek" since his hippie, globe-trotting parents gave birth to him in Indonesia. As a young adult, he jumped from the Peace Corps in Russia to Silicon Valley dot-coms, the collapse of which led him to transition to international development with some incredible technical skills.
In 2004, Vota joined IESC Geekcorps, a non-governmental organization that promotes global development through information and communication technology. Three years later, he was appointed a senior director at Inveneo, a similar NGO with a broader reach.
"It's great to be able to work with the coolest kids on the block in a dream job and have it stable and growing," Vota said.
Information technology as a development tool is growing, not just for Inveneo but for its local partners. He and his team not only deploy computers to some of the world's poorest, they teach them how the equipment works and, their local partners earn money in the process.
Following this year's earthquake in Haiti, Inveneo built a long-distance Wi-Fi system to support humanitarian NGO's work. Inveneo is now pushing that network beyond Port-au-Prince and helping rural companies develop a fast-growing Internet industry. Similar scenarios are transpiring throughout the world. Inveneo now reaches 1.5 million people in 25 countries, with a particularly strong presence in Africa.
"Our partners are starting to eclipse the work of Inveneo itself," Vota said.
It has taken more than techie brains to do it.
"I'm a geek-to-wonk interface, so I'm able to translate between what technologists are saying with what the development experts want," Vota said.
He said that would not have been possible if he had not suffered through countless nauseating bus and taxi rides in poor regions to meet with needy locals, aid workers and politicians to find out what's missing and what's logistically feasible.
Now, through his "Technology Salon," a monthly, in-person meeting in Washington and San Francisco, he is inspiring others to do the same. At each one, he brings development professionals and information technology gurus to a table to discuss ways to carry out their work.
And thanks to their face time, people in the developing world are able to have remote conversations for the first time.
What makes Vota glow, he said, is "the thousand-watt smile when they get online and understand they're part of the global community, or the overriding joy of a son [in a rural area] being able to talk to his father in the capital."