How We Work

How we work

We developed tenets, borrowing an approach used by leaders at Amazon, to guide our strategic decision making.  Tenets represent our aspiration as well as help us make tough trade-offs and choices.

OHBD Fund Tenets

  • 1

    Our scope is Ethiopia, K-12, and education

    Although our approach is applicable to other regions with similar challenges, we need to focus our efforts to be successful.  We believe the biggest opportunity we have is focused in these three areas.  We believe education is broader than formal schooling.  We are focused on literacy, art, technology and leadership since we believe these areas represent the tools the next generation needs to solve the complex challenges that lie ahead of them.

  • 2

    We run like a business

    Having been a business executive for more than a decade, our founder wanted to take the best of a business approach to drive accountability as well as to generate faster and more impactful results.  Many of our board and advisory board have corporate and business experience we want to leverage. We set big, bold goals and hold ourselves accountable to achieve them. We use experiments and pilots to test before making a larger investment.

  • 3

    We identify game changers, reimagine, reinvent and innovate

    We look for efforts that, although they may present uniquely difficult challenges, if solved, will have a disproportionate impact.  We also identify areas where there is no organization currently focused on solving a key challenge.  We want to supplement or support the good work already being done, not be a “me too” organization.

  • 4

    Our projects close important gaps

    Our projects search for gaps that need to be closed and have a need for us to design a results oriented solution. For example, our Ready Set Go Book Project is designed to close the key gap that exists in the lack of early reader content.  Most literacy efforts are focused on printing and distribution but we are working to create content at scale to close this gap.

  • 5

    We design to scale and include measures of success

    Many NGOs stay small and don’t focus on scaling.  We want to take the business approach to building scale into each project over a period of years.  For example, when the Ready Set Go books project came to us, it was focused on smaller languages requested by individuals or organizations that provided small amounts of funding. The printing was done with local resource in Portland.  We redesigned to scale with on-demand printing on Amazon and focused on the top 3 languages which would cover 80% of the local population. To start, we set a bold goal of 200 titles since research indicated that was the number needed to have the chance to improve the literacy rate. For example, when the Ready Set Go Books project came to us, it was in the experimental (or “development” or “start-up”) stage with a few prototype books developed and one successful field testing in a rural area of Ethiopia.

  • 6

    We partner with NGOs and organizations who build local capacity

    We know our limitations.  Working in Ethiopia requires unique skills, knowledge and relationships.  Many organizations are already doing great work there based on our previous experience.  We want to work with those who are innovating, willing to collaborate, have bold goals and are focused on increasing local capacity. 

  • 7

    Supporters trust us because we measure and disclose our impact

    We know trust is critical if we are asking people to donate their precious time, talents and funds. We want to ensure we honor that trust by measuring and disclosing the impact of our projects and programs as much as possible. We also share stories of our impact, the impact of those we collaborate with, and those we learn about, to amplify and elevate their efforts. Stories show what is possible and have power to inspire and move people. We believe these stories will engage more talented people to create a beautiful ripple of positive impact.

  • 8

    Our results inspire involvement and encourage collaboration

    We want game changers and results that inspire others to get involved to help.  NGOs currently don’t have many incentives to collaborate.  We want to change that by using our Model Projects to take the best of organizations we vet and help them teach other organizations so they can move faster in challenging areas.