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IEEE GHTC 2018 (Young Professionals/ Women in Engineering Reception) Pre-Conference Keynote – Erna L. Grasz, Founder and CEO of Asante Africa Foundation ( www.asanteafrica.org)

On Oct. 18th, 2018, a welcome reception for the IEEE GHTC 2018 attendees was co-hosted by the IEEE Santa Clara Valley – Young Professionals, and Women in Engineering chapters. The highlight of the reception was the inspiring keynote presentation by Ms. Erna L. Grasz, Founder and CEO of Asante Africa Foundation ( www.asanteafrica.org). She facilitated a thoughtful conversation on Getting Your Humanitarian Innovation Funded.

Although there have been many well-intentioned donations from the USA to Africa, some of them may not meet the needs of the local community. Many of us here in the Northern half of the globe would like to be a partner to make the world a better place for children and communities in the southern half of the globe, yet sometimes we are not approaching it in a partnership manner. For example, thousands of mosquito nets were air-dropped into locations where there was no problem with mosquitoes. Engaging the local community early and often is essential to “doing good, not just feeling good”.

Alongside the development of technologically innovative solutions for the developing countries, it would be necessary to develop a business model framework to navigate to a sustainable business. Today’s thought leaders indicate that the traditional level of business plan details are not so realistic for a new innovation in a new market, so business models are taking their place.

Business canvas model is readily being used for new entrepreneurs locally and globally. It is now a popular tool for developing the business model framework. AirBnB is one of the well-known companies that has adopted business canvas model to initially launch their business.

When deciding on what your start up business is worth, it is important to Identify and define the end game is necessary as that would impact the type of partner you would need. ( SSIR article)


Venture funding may be scarce for social impact businesses, as there is usually an expectation for a hockey stick growth projection. At least initially personal funding and crowdsourcing appear to be the way to go. During the offline Q&A, Erna confirmed the possibility of bringing innovations that are developed for the low resource regions back to the US, which can solve similar problems in the US – in a hockey stick shape, perhaps.

Every start-up CEO requires a team around them, with complementary skills, ideally. Thus you should know your strengths and weaknesses, and what other talents you need to make the business stronger.

The video: “Africa-your voice matters” carries an important message that the World needs new speeches and that those new speeches will come from this new young generation – to lead everyone towards building a better World for a new generation.

There are no limits on what you can do, when you are able to see yourself as that global change agent.




Following the inspiring keynote by Erna was the students’ poster competition award ceremony. There were three prizes awarded to:

  1. People’s Choice – Hong Kong Polytechnic University, “Capacity Building in Cambodia by Technology”
  2. Technical Award – (absence)
  3. Judges’ Award – DeVry University, “Vision Buddy”



Acknowledgments to Ms. Erna L. Grasz for her comments and suggestions to improve the original draft of this blog.


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Welcome back to the Silicon Valley, GHTC !

It has been three years since the last time the IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference took place in San Jose. It is so good to see the community again – organizers, speakers, researchers, volunteers and participants who are passionate in learning, sharing and applying technology to solve problems that could improve lives of many people, especially those who are underserved. Thanks to all your hard work!

The conference started officially early monring on Friday, Oct 20, with the opening remarks by Dr. Dick Willkins, 2017 General Chair. Dr. Larry Alder, VP of Product Definition, OneWeb, delivered the opening keynote on: “Connectivity Challenge and Evolving Solutions”.


While many of us reading this blog has enjoyed Internet access, similar to the electricity  – with an increasing dependency in daily lives. In a significant part of US and the World, there is still limited, or no access to the Internet at all. The digital divide has affected the economic growth in regions that has limited connectivity to the Internet, i.e. limited access to the enormous source of information, knowledge and an effective way of communicating with each other.

Dr. Alder presented an emerging solution to bridge the digital divide, by building a satellite communication system that would provide coverage to include those regions that do not have connectivity currently. The new, small satellites can be built at lower cost, as compared to the traditional ones.  A large number of these satellites can be launched into the lower orbit to circulate around the globe and provide connectivity in areas where the infrastructure for internet access are not available on the ground.

Following the opening keynote that addresses a fundamental problem in the accessibility of information and communication technology, the conference proceeded with the parallel sessions in five different tracks, after the break:

  • Maternal Healthcare Issues
  • Micro-Grids
  • Agriculture
  • Water
  • IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee (HAC) workshop

Multiple papers were presented in each track, followed by questions and discussions.

The panel session on Energy was moderated by Joe Decuir, with panelist: Alexander Anderson, Peter Michael, Sarah Majok, Dr. Henry Louie & Bruce Nordman.

The afternoon was filled with two sets of parallel tracks, separated by a coffee break:

  • Physical and Neurological Health Issues
  • Solar Energy
  • Agriculture and Food Security
  • Water and Sanitation
  • Humanitarian Challenges and Opportunities


  • mHealth
  • Panel (1): Social and Economic Development of Rural Women in Rwanda and Uganda through Solar Energy for Productive Use Panel; Panel (2): Opportunities and Challenges of Distributed Manufacturing for Humanitarian Response
  • Agriculture
  • The IEEE MOVE: Disaster Relief Project “in a box” Workshop
  • Humanitarian Challenges and Opportunities

Finally, the evening session was completed by Ms. Sayre White’s talk about the great work that she and her colleagues at the non-profit AnnieCannons has been doing to train the survivors of human trafficking to be software developers and engineers.

Looking forward to the next 1.5 days of exciting programs and interesting discussions at GHTC 2017!

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GHTC Launched

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Thank you everyone for attending and/or following us during the course of GHTC 2014. We could not have achieved so much without your support! See you in 2015!

GHTC Mission Complete

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Robert Melich, co-President of Agile3D Technology, has attended a lot of conferences.  A lot.  This was his first time at GHTC.  What did he experience and how does GHTC differ (in a good way) from other conferences on similar same topics.

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As we try to become a more sustainable conference, you won’t find any bottled water or soda cans here. Besides the usual fare (coffee, iced tea, water (dispenser, filtered)), today we have Horchata non-dairy rice drink and watermelon juice

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Here is Catherine Nelson, IEEE GHTC 2014 Chair, speaking about the amazing program on Day 2 including a very young speaker.  How young?  Find out below…

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