Ashoka, the world’s largest network of changemakers and social innovators, has named Atma Connect CEO Meena Palaniappan to its alliance of changemakers as a Special Relationship (Virtual).
It is the latest honor for Palaniappan, founder of Atma Connect, an award-winning global tech nonprofit that created and launched an innovative platform enabling people in vulnerable communities to collaborate for disaster resilience and become changemakers.
“Meena Palaniappan is a terrific addition to Ashoka’s global network as she exemplifies the concept of ‘Everyone a Changemaker,’ a much needed paradigm for our rapidly changing world,” said Bob Spoer, Chief Entrepreneur for People/Search, Ashoka. “Meena is a leader in large-scale social change, and her experiences and insights will benefit many people, particularly on the topics of civic engagement and disaster resilience while building toward a better, more resilient future for all.”
“I’m inspired by ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and the idea of neighbors helping neighbors, and I’m honored to share insights we’ve learned from launching AtmaGo, Atma’s mobile platform, in Indonesia and Puerto Rico, reaching over 7 million people,” Palaniappan said.
People use AtmaGo to share real-time information and solutions to better prepare for disasters, advocate for better government services, and prevent the next disaster by creating more resilient communities. An independent evaluation by the Centre for Innovation Policy and Governance (CIPG) found that people took early action as a result of an early warning on AtmaGo; people evacuated, warned others, and moved valuables. At a scale of 1 million people, this added up to $106 million in avoided property damage and over 6,000 years of healthy life saved every year.
AtmaGo has expanded beyond its roots in disaster preparedness. In addition to news and updates, AtmaGo has offered free telecounseling in Indonesia during the COVID-19 pandemic for those experiencing anxiety, plus hundreds of hours of radio streaming on the topics of local community leaders helping their communities, and entrepreneurship. The organization also provides grassroots trainings to empower people to spot disinformation and misinformation and show them how to be citizen journalists.