North Star Alliance participates in Harvard’s first-ever executive education course for late-stage social entrepreneurs

North Star’s Regional Director of Southern Africa, Paul Matthew, returns to South Africa this week, after being one of forty leading late-stage social entrepreneurs involved in a week-long executive education module on creating systematic change. With the objective of immersing participants in systems thinking for social change, the course was developed jointly by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs, Harvard Kennedy School’s Executive Education Program, and Harvard Kennedy School’s Centre for Public Leadership.

With a focus on exploring innovative approaches and collaborative opportunities to achieve system level change, the course was a perfect fit for North Star. Launched in response to the growing impact of HIV and other communicable diseases on mobile populations, the organisation has constantly created innovations over the past eight years to bring health services to hard-to-reach populations in strategically positioned ‘Blue Boxes’.

“North Star Alliance has improved the quality of life of key populations across the African continent by providing access to complimentary healthcare in areas that are hard-to-reach and at times that are more suitable to mobile communities,” says Paul, “North Star has participated in cross-sector collaboration between the medical and transport industries and has delivered on social impact by reducing the HIV footprint in Africa. Working in collaboration with the Ministries of Health to strengthen healthcare systems, North Star is innovative in our use of the Blue Box Roadside Wellness Centre and the Corridor Medical Transfer System (COMETS) which acts as a medical passport to the Network of North Star Blue Boxes.”

“Our social entrepreneurs have the vision, ingenuity, and skills to affect system change,” said Hilde Schwab, Co-Founder and Chairperson of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. “Through their successful organisations, they have proven that social issues can be tackled with scalable, replicable business models. The question now facing the sector is how to create change on a larger scale than what you can reach alone by growing your organisation. That requires influencing change at the system level, and HKS—a renowned institution around the world—is an ideal partner to work with our social entrepreneurs not only their organisations, but their solutions, worldwide.”

Spending a solid week together on campus at Harvard University, from the 22 to 27 March, the forty participants were selected from within the Schwab Foundation network of social entrepreneurs. This was not the first time that the work of North Star, and Paul, has been noticed by the Schwab Foundation. In 2012, Paul was named as Schwab’s Social Entrepreneur of the year.

”Participating in this course was a fantastic experience and a wonderful opportunity, not only from a learning point of view but also networking and experiencing what others are doing on a global platform.” Says Paul, “After attending the course on creating systematic change I feel even better equipped to drive North Star to the next level in system change.”

“Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurs are the most sophisticated and scaled social entrepreneurs in the world. They are at stages in their own career trajectories that allow them to move beyond their individual organisational agendas and to begin to think at the system level,” said David Gergen, co-Director of the Centre for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School and co-chair of the course. “These entrepreneurs recognise that relying on organisational growth alone is insufficient to meet global need. The key to creating broader systemic change that they—and we—all seek is mobilisation of a much larger set of actors.”


Schwab Foundation

More about the Schwab Foundation can be found at their website, here.
An overall agenda of the program can be found, here.

North Star Alliance

North Star Alliance brings health to hard-to-reach people across Africa in a “Blue Box”. We use converted shipping containers (painted blue) to house clinics that deliver public health programmes for people with increased health risks, like truck drivers and sex workers, and primary health care to communities with limited or no access to medical services. Since 2007, we’ve grown from one clinic with 5,000 visitors, to a network reaching over 280,000 people in 13 countries every year. Each drop-in clinic is run by well trained clinical and outreach teams and supported by our electronic health passport system, which allows patients to access their health records at every clinic within our network. We work with more than 70 partners from the private, public and humanitarian sector to achieve our goals.

For media enquiries or interview arrangements, please contact:
Esti at North Star Alliance on t. +27 31 701 1258 or e.

Photo credit, Susan Young

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