Jaye Connolly-LaBelle, who serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at RippleNami, brings more than 30 years of experience to the table. She has served in various leadership roles during her tenure in the finance and mergers & acquisitions areas, as well as in key C-level roles in both privately and publicly traded corporations. At RippleNami, she holds the responsibilities of developing and executing the company’s long-term strategies as well as creating shareholder value.
RippleNami is a company that is redefining mapping, connecting the unconnected through its proprietary visualization platform. They have positively affected 3 million+ users (such as farmers, refugees, veterans, women, and children) in places like Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and the UK.
“Phil Gahn was in the intelligence services for about 12 years and after that he went on the humanitarian side landing aid for the UN in Africa. One of the things that he kept seeing over and over and over is that no one had current maps. He started putting it all together and said, ‘Why can’t we connect to unconnected people?’ We spend about 150 billion dollars a year on aid, 90 billion never reaches those in need. He pitched it to me, and I said, ‘I love to travel, I love to help people, let’s do this.’ That’s how RippleNami was formed. Nami in Swahili means with me. Ripple means movement, so create movement with me. We’re a for-profit, social good company.”
How do you turn the unutilized data into powerful, smart information?
“While we had landlines and computers, developing countries have immediately just got cell phones. They’ve created huge amounts of data. What they don’t have in Africa is data structuring and data management. A lot of it comes from lack of security. That’s why when blockchain came around, we thought it was a great way to break down data silos. We put it up in the block, so it’s secure, and we give access to those who actually need it.”
How does blockchain technology work on the cell phones and help the people who need it?
“I’ll walk you through Kenya livestock. We partnered with the Department of Veterinary Services. Their problem was that they went out and provided animals with vaccinations, but didn’t know anything about the animals, what disease they have, if they’ve been treated before, who owns them. The farmers that own the cattle can’t prove that they own it, therefore, they’re not bankable. We realized this is a whole ecosystem of problems. To solve it, first we need to know who the animal is. By using a microchip, we can do a whole electronic healthcare record on a cow, as we say, the internet of cows is here. Once we identified the cows, we also identified the farmers. Now when the vets go out, they can provide them with the healthcare that they need, they can see it on a map real-time, and the blockchain will come into play with micro financing. The banks can now start micro lending to the farmers, based upon the assets they have, the cows.”
What has your impact been so far?
“In the livestock, in three months, 40,000 cows were tagged, 700 farms were recognized, in one county. There’s 47 counties in Kenya, so we are planning to do the same in next 3 counties, and so on. Once we have phase one done, then they’ll go to the micro lending and slaughter houses. In the UK they don’t know where their veterans are, who they are, what they need, what services are available. Compare that to the US, we have 47,000 charities that help out veterans, but no one is really collaborating in helping them out, so that’s where our system comes in and allows everyone to collaborate. In UK it’s about 2.8 million people right now that are on our system and are using it to collaborate and figure out how and where can they get the services they need.”
Being on the road a lot in different parts of the world, how does your team collaborate, how does technology help in that?
“Believe it or not, WhatsApp is the app of Africa, Skype is the app of Europe, and a lot of different ones in Asia. We’re a virtual company, we’re up all the time.”
How do you make sure your data is secure?
“Because our customer is the Ministry of Defense in the UK, we are already GDPR compliant, which has now been the gold standard that everyone else is following.”
How does an IT department look like at RippleNami?
“Everyone’s based in San Diego, all our corporate offices are here. We’re a SaaS based model, and cloud based, but when something new comes around, we’ll look at it, we’ll evaluate it and make the decision. On technologies, we’ll either buy it, partner, or build it. If there’s something already great out there, we’re not going to go recreate the wheel. If it doesn’t exist, we’ll build it, and if it exists, we want to possibly own it.”