These not-for-profits could win $10 million each from Macquarie Bank — here’s how they are impacting the world

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  • 12 candidates could win $10 million each, with the winners to be announced in August
  • One finalist says the award could help wipe out a leading cause of death for children
  • Strong focus on tech among the successful finalists

Twelve non-profits, five of them Australian, are in the running for a slice of Macquarie Group’s $50 million 50th Anniversary Award for their community and social impact.

The finalists, from a pool of more than 1,000 NGOs, were announced on Tuesday, with the five winners to be announced in August this year. The winners will be the lucky recipients of a prize of $10 million each.

In a statement, Macquarie announced it was assessing the finalists against their “potential for lasting community benefit and a defined approach to measuring social impact” and the winners would need to execute on their plan over the next five years.

“The Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award extends the longstanding approach of our foundation to give back to the communities in which our staff live and work,” Macquarie CEO Shemara Wikramanayake said in the statement.

“We are delighted with the calibre and diversity of applicants for the Award, having selected finalists with bold projects that promise meaningful, lasting community benefit.”

Almost 1000 groups applied for the prize, but only 12 contenders were shortlisted. The groups and their projects are:

FRE02, University of Melbourne – Australia

FREO2 creates technologies to supply oxygen to pneumonia sufferers. The invention, which particularly assists patients without ready access to power, could be a lifesaver if it were rolled out.

FRE02’s Dr Bryn Sobbott said pneumonia kills 99 per cent of all its victims in developing countries.

“There is very strong evidence showing the impact of oxygen [on pneumonia], a study showed a 35 per cent reduction in mortality,” he said.

Dr Sobbott told Business Insider Australia winning would mean a lot to the team and their project.

“We’ve been doing this for nine years now and winning would mean we could skyrocket the speed of doing this,” he said. “We’d go faster, wider, deeper and we’d scale our technology much quicker.”

Benetech – USA

Benetech is an American non-profit software company founded in 1989 that offers book sharing, conservation and human rights documentation software.

They’ve supplied 14 million books to people with disabilities, with a reach of more than 650,000 people in 85 countries, with 700,000 books in their collection.

Macquarie said if Benetech won they would scale global access to their library by launching four new regional libraries in Africa, South America, South Asia and Southeast Asia and create access to books in local languages.

Human Rights Watch – USA

Human Rights Watch is a widely known humanitarian NGO headquartered in New York which monitors and publishes information on human rights abuses around the world.

The NGO would use the money to launch a 20/20 incubator laboratory to track human rights violations in hard-to-reach countries and locations, boosting the lab’s initial seed funding.

It would integrate satellites and drones into its investigations, to discover and verify abuses and visually present the data via crime scene geo-location, reproduction, and 3D modelling.

Cerebral Palsy Alliance – Australia

Since launching in 2016, the Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s disability tech accelerator, Remarkable, has supported 26 early-stage start-ups in Australia focused on disability inclusion, and plans to expand globally to the USA, Europe and throughout the Asia-Pacific.

This Australian NGO said that, if given the $10 million, they could scale their disability tech accelerator program Remarkable globally by recruiting startups through hosting global design challenges. The funding would support 50 startups, and services for startup partners.

Royal Far West – Australia

Based in Manly on Sydney’s northern beaches, Royal Far West connects country kids and their families all around rural Australia with health, education and disability services.

This proposal works towards establishing a National Paediatric Telecare Service that Royal Far West say will deliver technology-assisted health, education and social care services to children living in rural and remote areas of Australia, who often cannot access these services due to their isolation.

World Mosquito Program, Monash University – Australia

This global proposal is to create a self-sustaining control program for mosquitoes and prevent transmission and spread of tropical diseases.

The program uses special bacteria, Wolbachia, to reduce the ability of mosquitoes to transmit viruses such as Zika and Dengue and is currently in use in 12 countries.

Building on other grants the World Mosquito program has already secured, the funding would increase the program’s presence to 16 countries with nine new partnering countries and drive cost reductions through scale.

The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute – Australia

Scabies affects more than 200 million people worldwide, with up to one-third of people living in remote Australian indigenous communities infected.

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has found the oral medication Ivermectin is highly effective in treating the disease and is hoping to establish test cases in Fiji and the Solomon Islands to show scabies can be eliminated through the use of medicine.

If successful, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute plans to use the funds to buy medications for two doses for 1.5 million people and then evaluate the results. It would then develop training materials for community-based treatment models for scabies.

Last Mile Health – USA

Founded in 2007 by survivors of Liberia’s civil war and a group of American healthcare workers, Last Mile Health works in Sub-Saharan Africa to provide health coverage.

If it won, it would use the funding to scale operations in Liberia and design a community healthcare system in Africa, with an online academy for community health workers to improve their skills.

Girl Effect – UK

This NGO, launched in 2015, develops youth brands and mobile platforms in areas where young women are marginalised or vulnerable, including a mobile platform in South Asia which would educate and inspire girls.

Users of the platform receive support in navigating social barriers to work and get access to sexual and reproductive health services.

Girl Effect said it would use the award money to contribute to building and rolling out a scalable platform, with offline content, as well as secure partnerships and improve research.

LV Prasad – India

The LV Prasad institute has provided eye care services to children in developing countries since 1987 and uses an integrated system of eye care to examine and treat 250,000-300,000 children per year.

LV Prasad would expand its treatment with the award money by establishing better links with other global eye care centres, as well as developing new centres in India and elsewhere.

The Ocean Cleanup – The Netherlands

The advanced technologies of The Ocean Cleanup, a huge autonomously roving series of pontoons, if funded, claims it could remove half the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch every five years, potentially ridding the ocean of plastic by 2040.

Approximately 100 million kilograms of plastic are floating in the patch – also known as the Pacific trash vortex. The Ocean Cleanup says that oceanic plastic pollution costs the global economy $US 13 billion per year and threatens 1,220 species.

The award money would go towards rolling out the fleet of plastic catchers in the Pacific, with the launch to take place in 2019-20.

Social Finance – USA

Social Finance is proposing to “unlock” $US 1 billion in capital to build an evergreen investment fund that could help underemployed and under-skilled workers.

Some of the funds will go supporting 20-25 ‘Pay for Success’ projects, which it says will reach 20,000-25,000 people. The rest of the funds will go towards seed capital for a US$50 million evergreen fund, which will go to “ultimately benefitting hundreds of thousands of low-income Americans”.

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