One World One Standard is the title of a short book I’ve written about the ROW Foundation. ROW was launched in 2014 “to improve the lives of people living with epilepsy and associated psychiatric disorders in under-resourced areas of the world.”
ROW is not a typical nonprofit. Scott Boyer and his partner, Bruce Duncan, created the foundation in 2014 in tandem with a start-up company—OWP Pharmaceuticals—which makes effective and inexpensive epilepsy medications. This hybrid model is an example of Social Enterprise 2.0. Scott explains it like this:
A nonprofit (ROW) holds a significant shareholder stake in a for-profit business (OWP). When the for-profit makes money, it pays dividends to its shareholders and the nonprofit gets its share. Since the nonprofit is an invested strategic partner, it’s difficult to sell the for-profit without the nonprofit’s approval. If the for-profit is successful, it will provide ongoing revenues for the nonprofit to carry out its humanitarian mission.
The number of people with epilepsy could be as high as 70 million worldwide. While epilepsy has a much lower public profile in the U.S. than Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) and multiple sclerosis, it afflicts more Americans than these three disorders combined: almost 3.5 million adults and children.
ROW is already making a difference, having funded projects in several countries with more in the pipeline. “I believe our model will allow us to become the world’s largest funder of projects focused on serving people with epilepsy,” says ROW President, Dr. Paul Regan.
“The global inequity in care of those with epilepsy is eye-opening and gut-wrenching,” says Scott. “The knowledge and medicines already exist to level the field in treating this disease. We just have to summon the will and do the work to make it a reality.”
“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare
is the most shocking and inhuman.”
–Martin Luther King Jr.