Levers of Exchange
S03E05 Natalia Pshenichnaya, former Head of Programs, GSMA Foundation
What we discussed: In a developing country, the mobile phone is a person’s first interaction with technology. Thus, the telecom sector is at the tip-of-the-spear to offer banking services, agricultural notifications and health services to hard-to-reach areas.
Why it matters: Within 5 years, climate change will change the agricultural crops across much of the world. Yet for small-holder farmers, working on family plots, they are cut off and unaware of the disruption to their livelihoods that is coming their way.
What it means for you: It took innovative business models in order to convince the telecom sector to offer new products and innovation in rural areas. Yet the ones who did, reached customer loyalty upwards of 70%, unheard of in the sector. This podcast is a classic case of getting to know your customers on-the-ground to develop life-changing products and services.
Natalia Pshenichnaya, formerly GSMA Foundation, Berlin, Germany
MBA, Saïd Business School
As Head of Programs, Natalia oversaw GSMA Foundation’s global portfolio of telecommunication innovation projects. She managed multi-million progammes (£10-20M+) across all stages: from design to evolution, pivot and completion, including GSMA AgriTech, CleanTech and mHealth initiatives. https://www.linkedin.com/in/natalia-pshenichnaya-7107781a/
In this interview, we discussed the following questions:
- What are some of your favorite vegan recipes?
- What was it like growing up vegetarian in Russia?
- How did you start your career in the Telecom sector?
- When you got to GSMA Foundation, you fell into just the right mix based on your interests. What was your role?
- What is GSMA Foundation as an organization?
- Why do you think the telecom sector got interested in impact broadly, but also agriculture specifically?
- Is competition beyond your traditional industry sector going to become more common through internet-of-things and technology?
- When you were talking to the farmers on the ground in Kenya, what were some of the problems they would reveal to you?
- We're talking about small holders, independent farmers who own their own plots. They are subject to these massive shifts in climate.
- Where does the telecom technology come in and what were some technology solutions?
- Why could the telecom sector make a difference when other sector couldn't?
- What was it like when you started off in AgriTech? What was your north star?
- What do you think is the role of the enabling technologies to climate change?
- It hints at how societal acceptance of technology lags behind technology adoption.
- Did you see similarities in working with farmers and with medical tech?
- What do you consider to be your primary skill?
- How complex was this interconnected web that you had to work within?
- There is lot if inertia to not do things when there are multiple stakeholders. How did you find leverage to make change happen?
- What is what you're most proud of?
- When you jump into a project that not only you haven't done before, but no one has done before, what do you do first?
- To a student or early professional today, what skill or expertise do you recommend them to learn?
About Levers of Exchange:
Interview by Jimmy Jia (www.jimmyjia.com)
Music by Sean Hart (www.seanhart.com)
Season 3 is funded by a generous grant from the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, at the Saïd Business School, Oxford University.