How (and why) a team of analysts pitched Amplio for a social impact competition
Last summer, Amplio's mission caught the attention of a team of analysts at Goldman Sachs in the Dallas and New York City offices. Inspired by our Talking Book technology, they chose to champion our cause in the Goldman Sachs 2023 Analyst Impact Fund competition. "Amplio Talking Books caught our eye because of their simple design, clear use, and proven potential for incredible impact," shared Oyindamola Olufosoye, a teammate who discovered Amplio during the team's nonprofit search process.
For the competition, the team used the name “Team Amplify," and Oyinda and her colleagues—Sophie Li, Duncan Haggerty, Linette Delgado, and Aidan Buckley—delved into our work. The team’s motivation extended beyond competition; it revolved around advocacy for accessible information in the most remote corners of the world.
This year, nearly 1,000 Goldman Sachs analysts pitched over 300 nonprofits. The competition was fierce! Team Amplify underwent three rounds of competition spanning several months and advanced all the way to the semifinals. With a heartfelt and moving pitch, they placed in the top 12 teams among hundreds of submissions, ultimately winning Amplio $5,000 in grant funding.
Since they were so deeply invested in pitching us, we asked them for an interview.
Tell us about Goldman Sachs Analyst Impact Fund.
Linette: The Goldman Sachs Analyst Impact Fund provides analysts with the opportunity to collaborate with peers across the firm to make an impact in their communities. It is crucial that initiatives like this exist. Through this competition, teams identify nonprofits that are tackling major global challenges and pitch innovative solutions to the firm’s leadership. Winning teams are awarded grants from our philanthropic fund, Goldman Sachs Gives, for the organizations they pitched.
Why did you decide to participate?
Oyinda: We believe the Analyst Impact Fund is a great way to make an impact and build a relationship with a nonprofit. We talked to colleagues who participated in the contest and were inspired by how they stayed connected to the nonprofits they championed. Our participation creates an impact by contributing funds and raising awareness.
Oftentimes capital is the bridge between ideas and outcomes. It is our hope that the grants provided by Goldman Sachs Gives through the Analyst Impact Fund start to close these gaps. Additionally, the extensive collaboration and peer review throughout the competition helps to ensure that each year, many individuals across the firm are exposed to nonprofits they might not have discovered otherwise.
How did you learn about Amplio?
Oyinda: We came across Amplio on Fast Foward's Tech Nonprofit Directory Our goal was to find a nonprofit with a tangible product and enough capacity to effectively utilize the grant capital. The Amplio Talking Book caught our eye because of its simplicity, clear use, and proven potential for meaningful impact.
As we continued our research, we were impressed by the Talking Book's feedback function and documented progress from both end-users and Amplio’s partners. The aspect of feedback, particularly from end-users who record their messages onto the device, was especially important to us due to the iterative nature of the programs.
For instance, in a project that addressed child marriage, Amplio and UNICEF utilized feedback from parents to craft stronger and more impactful child protection messages, resulting in positive social change on a critical issue.
How did your team agree to pitch Amplio?
Sophie: Our team was drawn to Amplio’s mission to develop inclusive technology for vulnerable populations facing a growing digital divide. How can we effectively share information with communities lacking devices for educational videos, the ability to search online, or even basic reading skills? Despite progress, 763 million adults still cannot read and write and about one-third of the world's population, or 2.6 billion people, remain offline, underscoring the critical need for inclusive technology.
What stood out to us was the innovative nature of the Talking Book, a “low-tech” audio device that distinguishes itself from other solutions. Unlike radios, where listeners must comprehend a specific language and be available at broadcast times, Talking Books can deliver information in any language at any time. Unlike cell phones, Talking Books are dedicated offline devices that don’t require broadband or cell service. Moreover, Talking Books overcome cultural barriers, especially in regions where women may be restricted from mobile device use or have limited input on radio broadcasts.
Amidst headlines spotlighting capital-intensive technologies like self-driving cars and machine learning, we were excited to pitch Amplio, a nonprofit committed to bridging the digital divide for some of the world's most underserved populations.
One exciting aspect is that Talking Book content is tailored for the community's language and culture. We were impressed by Amplio's strong commitment to ensuring the effectiveness and acceptance of Talking Books in societies.
You asked us a lot of questions, what stood out?
Aidan: We learned that Amplio effectively drives change by working with both public and private partners. We found this inspiring because it shows how well the team is integrated with the communities they serve, making efficient use of resources and time. Amplio's collaborative approach has resulted in the creation of a simple yet incredibly impactful product that can be leveraged by organizations globally.
One exciting aspect is that Talking Book content is tailored for the community's local language and culture. We were impressed by Amplio's efforts to ensure the effectiveness and acceptance of Talking Books in societies.
What kind of feedback did you get from the judges?
Duncan: Feedback centered around finding more ways to quantify and share the overall impact to end-users. Specifically, our judges and mentors wanted to know more about the long-term tracking and measurement of impacts to social behavior driven by the Talking Book technology and programs. They were really impressed by the product and partners and wanted to know more about the communities and how they fared —particularly as it related to campaigns focused on social and behavioral change.
[Editor's note: This is something Amplio is working on! With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Arm, we are beta testing SBC Impact Designer, an open source digital platform to help development practitioners design, manage, collaborate, and monitor and evaluate their social and behavior change programs.]
What did you find interesting about Amplio’s solution?
Linette: Amplio focuses on addressing the lack of access to knowledge due to poverty, low literacy, and gender inequalities. The organization enables marginalized groups, including women and children, to participate in knowledge sharing and solutions to social issues using Talking Books. These inclusive digital devices provide pivotal information in local languages for targeted communities, particularly those in hard-to-reach areas. It's essential to support this work because it helps break barriers, promotes learning and community dialogue, and encourages collaboration.
By supporting Amplio and its Talking Book programs, you are supporting more equitable access to information worldwide.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Sophie: We are incredibly honored and grateful to have placed in the semifinals of the 2023 Analyst Impact Fund. We extend a heartfelt thank you to our competition coach, Vikrum Vora, and to Brad Weinstein and Carlos Bernabe from the Goldman Sachs Gives team for their guidance and support throughout the competition process.
Of course, we also want to acknowledge and thank the Amplio team, who worked tirelessly with us over the past few months to help craft and refine our pitch for the competition. Participating in the competition was a highly rewarding experience, and we are elated that a profoundly impactful nonprofit such as Amplio was recognized.