How to Change the World: Reflections of an Archbishop, an Author and a Technology Innovator.

“Despite all of the ghastliness in the world, human beings are made for goodness. The ones that are held in high regard are not militarily powerful, nor even economically prosperous. They have a commitment to try and make the world a better place”Archbishop Desmond Tutu


How do we really change the world? Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Tori Hogan and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Ken Banks share their thoughts (Photo: Evan Swinehart)


I’ve been home for about three weeks since leaving the Unreasonable at Sea ship in India. I spent just over a month helping mentor eleven technology start-ups as they sail the world taking their big ideas to new markets. That alone made it a memorable experience, but what really stood out for me was the interaction they had with the hundreds of students aboard. This left me with a stronger sense than ever of how important it is that we encourage, engage, support and mentor the next generation of planetary problem solvers (something I’ve written about before).

If that wasn’t enough, the trip also gave me the chance to re-immerse myself in the kinds of environments that were responsible for starting me on my own journey back in 1993. Witnessing suffering and hardship, and countless young children denied a childhood in India, Myanmar and Vietnam, reminds me that there’s still much work to be done.

Spirituality plays a large part in what drives me, and I’ve tried to capture some of this before. It’s not just a subject I find incredibly interesting, but one which puts humanity and purpose back at the centre of development (something which has become increasingly cold and institutionalised of late). I’ve never thought that helping people was a ‘career’. For me it was a way of life, a deeper purpose. So it was a huge honour to be invited to sit on a panel with Archbishop Desmond Tutu to talk about “how we change the world” aboard the MV Explorer. A big thanks to Tori Hogan (who was also on the panel) for inviting me to take part.



I’ve had something of a crazy time over the past few years, finding myself in all sorts of places I felt I had no right to be. Having the chance to chat with the Archbishop on a number of occasions during my time aboard the ship was both enlightening and humbling. This one hour discussion in front of a packed auditorium is probably the highlight of my career.

Whatever drives you, here’s to making the world a better place. For everyone.

Ken Banks is an innovator, mentor, anthropologist, National Geographic Emerging Explorer and Founder of / FrontlineSMS. He writes about how mobile phones and appropriate technologies can be used throughout the world to improve, enrich, and empower billions of lives. You can read all his posts, visit his website, or follow him on Twitter.

Changing Planet

Meet the Author
Ken Banks is an innovator, mentor, anthropologist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer. Founder of and now Head of Social Impact at Yoti, he spends his time applying Yoti's digital identity solutions to humanitarian problems around the world. His earlier research resulted in the development of FrontlineSMS, an award-winning text messaging-based field communication system designed to empower grassroots non-profit organisations. He shares exciting stories in "Digital Diversity" about how mobile phones and other appropriate technologies are being used around the world to improve, enrich, and empower billions of lives.