Design for (Real) Social Impact

Designing a product that will make life better for the poor isn't easy. You can't just design a cool product that works; you have to make sure it will get into the hands of those who need it most and that it will be used to good effect. As investors in tools and products to benefit the poor - and get them out of poverty - we've developed an approach to vetting product ideas that is based on the successes and failures we've seen over the years. We've found that using it in the design phase can help avoid the pitfalls that waste effort and money, and ensure that good ideas turn into real impact.

Kevin Starr runs the Mulago Foundation and is the founder and director of the Rainer Arnhold Fellows Program. Mulago works like a social impact venture fund to seed and grow the most promising solutions in health, development, and conservation in settings of poverty. Mulago’s investment portfolio is intended as 1) an exemplary collection of scalable ideas and the organizations that can deliver them, and 2) a platform to spread the notion that that investing for impact is both imperative and doable.

The Fellows program is an outgrowth of the Foundation, and works with some of the best social entrepreneurs working in the developing world to maximize their impact through a structured evolution of project design. Both the Foundation and Fellows program are built around a systematic way to evaluate and design for real impact that will scale up.

Kevin has been doing this work since 1995 and is currently – and closely - involved with more than 30 organizations around the world – from mothers teaching each other how save their children’s lives in Indonesia to stopping poaching by helping farmers in Zambia. He originally trained as a physician and continues to practice medicine (very) part-time.

Further information about the Rainer Arnhold Fellows Program can be found at

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