ASHOKA WELCOMES SONJA BETSCHART AS A NEW FELLOW
We are truly pleased to announce that the newly selected Ashoka Fellow in Switzerland is Sonja Betschart, Co-Founder and Co-CEO at WeRobotics.
Through her work at WeRobotics and with the Flying Labs Network, Sonja has developed a new framework to ensure that local experts across the Majority World have the know-how and power to drive technology-rich solutions to developmental challenges their local communities care about most. This Inclusive Network model intentionally limits the power footprint of iNGOs by cultivating respect for the ‘power of local’, and by convening national and regional actors committed to the same work in a shared governance and implementation model.
Sonja’s focus on the Inclusive Network Model is starting to shift what ‘aid’ looks like in the Majority World. Her leadership and commitment in this domain, coupled with her ethical fiber made her stand out in the selection process.
Having worked in large organizations, startups, and in the humanitarian and tech for good sectors for more than 25 years, Sonja launched the model’s first iteration, the Flying Labs Network, in 2016, with a focus on access to drone and AI technology in Nepal, Tanzania, and Peru. In these countries WeRobotics helped to convene local organizations, universities, and research centers as “knowledge and collaboration hubs” for drone use for positive social impact. The success of these very first Flying Labs led to the creation of the Flying Labs Network and another 30 Flying Labs across Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The network, with its focus on honoring local skill and building local capacity, continues to grow organically at a constant pace.
On her Fellowship, Sonja shares: