Artwork for podcast SolarAid: Permission To Fail
Funding with permission to fail
Episode 328th July 2023 • SolarAid: Permission To Fail • SolarAid
00:00:00 00:20:54

Share Episode


Is restrictive funding holding back innovation for sustainable development? What is high risk philantropy? And can funding with permission to fail work hand-in-hand with accountability?

In the third episode of Permission to Fail, host Kirsty Adams together with Dr. Ewan Kirk (technology entrepreneur and philantropist), John Keane (SolarAid CEO) and Richard Turner (SolarAid Director of Fundraising), explore what funding with permission to fail means, and if daring to fund high risk projects can lead to greater innovation.

Guests’ Bios

Dr. Ewan Kirk is a technology entrepreneur and philanthropist. He has been involved in a number of ventures to commercialise, apply, and support science, technology, and mathematics research. 

He holds a PhD in General Relativity, a BSc. in Natural Philosophy and Astronomy and completed Part III of the Mathematical Tripos at Cambridge. Between 1992 and 2005, he was a partner at Goldman Sachs, responsible for leading their 120-strong quantitative technology group. Ewan Kirk is best known for founding Cantab Capital Partners, a science-driven quantitative investment management firm that uses data analysis to research and implement systematic investment strategies.

Alongside his wife, Dr. Patricia Turner, Kirk founded the Turner Kirk Trust, which supports STEM, early childhood development, and biodiversity and conservation causes. Since its establishment in 2007, the Trust has disbursed over £7 million to charitable causes across the UK and the developing world.

John Keane pioneered solar projects in Africa, focusing on developing energy solutions for low income households after living in rural Tanzania as a volunteer in 2000. Since helping SolarAid set up in 2006 he has held many positions in the organisations and has been SolarAid CEO since 2017. John wrote the sector defining book about the growing Pico-Solar sector in 2012 and has played an instrumental role in helping develop the solar sector across Africa. He is currently based in Zambia. 

Richard Turner worked as Chief Fundraiser at SolarAid from 2011 to 2016, and returned as Director of Fundraising in 2021. With over 30 years of experience as a Fundraiser at Oxfam, Farm-Africa, FFI and ActionAid UK he is a well known name in the UK Fundraising sector. Richard has been delivering fundraising training for charities around the world, inspiring organisations to turn supporters into advocates by offering a great experience, by learning from failure, and by telling a great story.


Find out more about SolarAid here.

Learn how you can support SolarAid here.


Find out more about SolarAid here.

Learn how you can support SolarAid here.