Our guest today is the ultimate jack of all trades. A scientist, journalist, award-winning filmmaker, and most recently, tech entrepreneur — Meet Anjali Nayar. Anjali began her career as a scientist before realizing that it wasn’t the lack of facts that prevented change, but the lack of hope. This led her first into journalism, and then documentary filmmaking for award-winning films like Gun Runners and Silas, which demonstrate the human potential for transformation. One of Anjali’s latest feature documentary, Silas, highlights citizen reporters that are using smartphones to expose the land-grabs and corruption in their countries. In fact, Silas is the whole reason TIMBY came about in the first place.
TIMBY, short for “This is My Backyard,” is a suite of encrypted tools created by Anjali. It is used by communities and NGO workers to document and share human rights violations in order to hold companies and governments accountable. TIMBY is used across the world by governments, the United Nations, OXFAM, WWF, and many others.
In this episode, host Benjamin Von Wong speaks to Anjali about the responsibilities of storytellers around the world, how we need to re-think aid in the context of empowering communities, and how we as individuals can fight against corruption. For the full story of Anjali’s career and how TIMBY is having a positive impact in the world, click on your preferred podcast platform below:
Key Points From This Episode
Storytellers, whatever the form, have an obligation to tell the story in a way it will reach people while also ensuring it is told from the subject’s perspective.
Anjali’s service, TIMBY, came to be while working on the film Silas as a way to increase the exchange of information and collect media for the film.
Storytelling can be extractive — you come in, you tell the story, and you leave. By developing TIMBY while telling the story of Silas, it provided a long-term system to help locals solve their own problems.
TIMBY operates on a SAS model, which mainly relies on revenue from subscriptions. The tool has spread to so many different countries and organizations that the TIMBY team works with whoever wants to use it to build it to work for them.
The point of most tech developments is to empower people to do what they want to do quicker and better — TIMBY shows that:
- There are ways to use tech to adapt to different circumstances to help humans across the globe.
- You don’t need a background in tech to build something amazing.
“All of my films have been about this idea of changing your world.” — @anjalinayar [0:07:21]
“Empowering people with their own data and enabling them to control, own, host, and manage data was so much more influential than what I, as a journalist could do in terms of the storytelling.” — @anjalinayar [0:17:59]
“My career has been centrally motivated to push the needle forward for environmental and social justice issues. Taking the left turns necessary to be most effective.” — @anjalinayar [0:18:57]
‘One has to look beyond one’s own ego to make a successful or impactful product’ — Anjali Nayar [0:19:26]
‘It was, from the very beginning, our intention to not take equity, and to not fundraise in any ways that would prevent us from serving the people that we set out to serve’ — Anjali Nayar [0:37:36]
“The best way that we can serve the groups that we know how to serve best is to open our doors to them by creating profit and revenue in other ways and folding it back into the service.” — @anjalinayar [0:34:19]