Womenomics: Why It’s a WIN for All.

Womenomics: Why It’s a WIN for All.
by Leslie Heyer, Founder Cycle Technologies

Decision makers are suddenly recognizing that investing in women should be a global priority. What’s driving this thinking? The appreciation that investing in women not only makes sense from a humanitarian perspective, it makes sense from an economic perspective. Womenomics – a term being used to describe this phenomenon, is suddenly very popular. Why is investing in women so impaWomenomic-A-Win-Win-for-All-by-Leslie-Heyer-Cycle-Technologiesctful?

For one very basic reason: WOMEN INVEST IN THEIR FAMILIES 

As Melinda Gates said in a recent TIME article, “When we invest in women, we invest in the people who invest in everyone else.”

But what does it mean to invest in women? There are a lot of issues to address – education, nutrition, healthcare, gender equality, employment, etc. They are all important. But at the very basic level, women must first have control of their bodies.

Family planning is key to improving the lives of women.

Investing in family planning enables a woman to have children when – and if – she wants them. It reduces family size, increases income, improves her health and the health of all of her children.  In short, having fewer children and having children only when she is ready, enables a woman to better take care of herself and her entire family. The infographic below highlights the benefits in investing in family planning.


Consider some of these interesting statistics:

  • For every $1 invested in family planning, reproductive and maternal health, society receives $130 benefit
  • According to The Copenhagen Consensus which did a cost-benefit analysis on global aid initiatives, investing in universal access to sexual and reproductive health could have benefits as high as 130 to 1.
  • For every percentage point of fertility reduction, per capita GDP growth will likely increase by .25%. (Source: DFID)
  • Women who have access to contraception typically make 40% more than women who do not (Source: PAI)

Imagine what a different world this would be if every single child had a mother (and better yet a father too) who could provide for them, care for them, and educate them.  Many of the issues we deal with today – poverty, crime, disease, violence, and pollution – could be greatly improved.

Cycle Technologies is a private company focused on addressing the needs of women around the world with effective, sustainable family planning options. We’ve zeroed in on the issue of preventing unplanned pregnancies because we believe that by reducing unplanned pregnancies, and helping women have children only when they are ready, we are giving women the ability to change the world.

Investing in women is the RIGHT thing to do; it improves the world not just for that woman, but for all of us.

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Can We All Stop Freaking Out About Super Bugs?

The idea of “super bugs” freaks us out, but a groundbreaking discovery for producing antibiotics is giving us hope. It addresses the issue of antimicrobial resistance and may help propel the development of new antibiotics.

As background, Dr. Kim Lewis and Dr. Slava Epstein of Northeastern University discovered a new antibiotic called teixobactin that cures severe infections and to which bacteria are unlikely to become resistant. It’s only been tested in mice so far. However, it’s expected to be tested for humans for use on strep, TB, and serious staph infections

So, this new antibiotic and its potential is super cool. What’s really interesting about it is HOW it was discovered and what this means for future antibiotic development.

Cycle Technologies Highlights the iChip

Slava Epstein – Northeastern University with iChip

Problem:  Growing new microbes is needed in order to make discoveries but only 1% of microbes can grow in the normal lab setting.  The result – no new discoveries within antibiotics have been made in almost 30 years.

Solution: Grow bacteria in soil – their natural environment! How? Use “iChip” – a small device that can help isolate and cultivate single cells in their natural environment.

The iChip was created by NovoBiotic with input from Lewis and Epstein.

Why is this a big deal? According to the World Health Organization’s first global report on surveillance focusing on antibiotics, superbugs are a major problem. The CDC estimates that two million people in the U.S. alone become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections.

Could this novel yet simple way path the path for future discoveries with regards to antibiotics? Possibly. Although teixobactin is touted as the first new antibiotic discovery in 30 years, it’s still about 5 years away from use on people. In the meantime, check out the following resources that summarize teixobactin and the iChip in greater detail.

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Brilliantly Simple Insights on Establishing Good Partnerships

On The Brilliantly Simple Blog we like to showcase creative solutions, innovative ideas, and new technologies that help people lead healthier lives. We believe that it’s important to highlight those companies and innovators who are making this world a better place.

But no one can make a real change alone. In order to have a serious impact, we must collaborate with others.

This week, we are exploring the importance of partnerships. This article was written by Cycle Technologies founder Leslie Heyer, and was originally published on the K4Health.org blog.

5 Insights on Leading Successful Private Nonprofit Global Health Partnerships
Cycle Technologies Global Health Partnership

Historically, it has been a challenge for the private sector and nonprofits to successfully partner. Each side tended to distrust the other’s intentions, and the goals were often mismatched. Having worked in the global health sector leading a private social impact company for the past 13 years, I’ve seen a positive change in this dynamic in recent years.

The private sector has begun to understand and emphasize the importance of having social impact that goes beyond just how it impacts the company’s bottom line. Nonprofits have begun to see that there’s more to the private sector than profit-seeking. Beyond its potential as a funder, the private sector can be a key partner, offering skills and pathways to create programs with real impact.

Nowhere is it more important for cross-sector partnerships to succeed than in global health. With people’s lives at stake, it is critical that the best and most appropriate solutions are made available in a cost-effective, sustainable way.

Through Cycle Technologies’ work with the Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University (IRH) we have learned a lot about what it takes to have a successful partnership between a private company and a nonprofit research organization. We’ve gained a few insights along the way.

Insight 1: Find partners you trust.

This might seem obvious, but the fact is that you have to truly trust each other. You have to know that regardless of what agreements might or might not say, the people involved are going to do their best to “do right”. If you don’t have this level of inherent trust, the partnership is doomed. Even with this level of trust, partnerships take a lot of work, but this confidence will help overcome and address any issues that come up.

Insight 2: Understand the individual goals of each organization in addition to the partnership goals.

Most organizations will lay out specific goals for the relationship. But it’s also critical that partners understand each other’s individual interests, goals, and motivations. If one partner is not getting what it wants or needs out of the relationship, it won’t be long before this partner becomes less invested. Or, other interests may creep in and affect an organization’s initial commitments to achieving collective goals. Communicating this can sometimes be a challenge, but if you trust each other (see insight 1), you are more likely to have an open, honest dialogue about juggling your own needs with that of the partnership.

Insight 3: Focus on HOW you will work together more than WHY you will work together.

You must have a shared vision for achieving project goals. But in order for a partnership to succeed, it’s even more important to think about how the partners will work together. Who is responsible for which activities? Be clear and specific. How will decisions get made? Involve both organizations to bring different perspectives to the table. How do we know we are on the right track? Create metrics to identify progress and discuss any gaps before they undermine the work. The answers to these questions may evolve and change, so make sure you have frequent and ongoing conversations about what’s working, what’s not, and how to improve the process.

Insight 4: Communicate about the partnership internally.

Partnerships are really about people. All too often they involve only a few people at each organization. Without a lot of internal communication, many of the people in an organization may be completely unaware of the partnership, or at the very least unaware of how it is affecting their work. In order for a partnership to be truly successful, everyone at an organization should have at least a basic understanding of the collaboration and the benefits that it brings to his or her organization. This creates buy-in, which ensures the partnership remains strong. Involving others can also generate new ideas and opportunities for growth.

Insight 5: Embrace your differences, and figure out how best to leverage them.

Among the greatest assets that a partnership brings are complementary skill sets. Private companies often bring intellectual property, manufacturing and distribution capabilities, and expertise in sustainable business practices. Nonprofit organizations often bring expertise in low- and middle-income country health systems, research and evaluation capabilities, and partnerships with policymakers and governments. The goal of any cross-sector partnership is to bring together these different skill sets to achieve more than either organization could possibly hope to achieve alone.

Partnerships are complex, but successful partnerships can make for extremely fruitful interventions and projects that save lives.