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2019 Skoll Awards | Bright Simons of mPedigree


– It’s an honor to be asked to introduce the next amazing awardee, Bright Simons, co-founder of mPedigree. Now, I’m often asked, just
what the heck is corruption? And for me, and all of
us at Global Witness, the answer is very simple. It blights and devastates people’s lives and it’s wrecking the planet. Now, it usually happens in secrecy, but the impacts, well, they’re
out there in plain sight. Now, whether that’s billions of dollars stolen from countries and their citizens, resources that could’ve been
invested to build futures, people trafficked and enslaved. Deadly commerce in weapons and drugs. Forests and livelihoods
destroyed and people murdered. Corruption, and its impacts, well, they actually reach
into all of our lives in so many different ways. And no more so than in the counterfeiting of medicines and seeds. Now, Bright and his co-founder were angry at the devastation that
they saw this caused every day in millions of people’s lives. And they saw a really clever solution. Using supply chain controls
to make a radical difference in the lives of tens
of millions of people. Thank you, let’s find out a bit more. Congratulations, welcome to
the stage, Bright Simons! – This special occasion
brings back to mind a windy day in Lagos
in the summer of 2014. Our organization mPedigree was on the cusp of a revolutionary moment. Working through the government of Nigeria, we convinced the powerful
pharmaceutical industry to agree to a protocol. A protocol that will
enable a box of medicine, produced in any part of the world, to be tracked from the factory, or the location of manufacturing, through the distribution channel, all the way to the hands of the consumer, who then, with a mobile phone, can validate the source of that medicine. And we’d done that before far more well-resourced
regions of the world like Europe and America, have
been able to achieve this. It was a few hours before I was to move on to a stage like this one, powerful pharmaceutical
industries executives before me, to do a demo that will convince them to do in Africa what they
hadn’t done in Sweden. It was as if we were walking on water. And then, few hours time, they struck, cyber attackers. They were trying to bring
down the toll-free number through which consumers will
use to do the validation. In a moment of momentary shock, most traumatic experience
of my life, it dawned on me, that I was going to depend on other people to rescue the situation. We began to mobilize our partnerships, data center operators, the equally powerful telecom industry, there are those who come
on board on our side. Oh yes, they’re powerful. And as we began to gain the upper hand, and the hackers and cyber
attackers retreated, they left us a message that
has stayed with me all my life Don’t celebrate yet. Don’t celebrate yet. And that taught me one thing, just as there are social entrepreneurs, there are anti-social entrepreneurs. Just as we are committed,
and we are driven, and some of us smart. They are also committed,
and driven, and smart. But they lack one thing, and that thing they lack is that they don’t have
trust and the solidarity that binds this room. May we never lose that
trust and solidarity. Thank you very much Skoll foundation. On my behalf and on
behalf of Selorm Branttie and the amazing mPedigree team, I’m glad to accept this award.

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