Alan Upstone

Alan is CEO of the Helpful Group, a small business information consultancy with experience in demonstrating value for money and outcome delivery. He merged a passion for voluntary work with considerable business experience to move into the charity/social enterprise sector in 2008.  Before that, commercial work has included BMW, Rover, Volkswagen, Reuters, Informa, PeopleSoft,  British Telecom, Cable & Wireless, UK Department of Transport, Tesco, B&Q, FI Group, EDS, BUPA, Intel, and the Reader's Digest.

Alan served as project manager for Relate, a UK relationship counselling charity for three years, working on their response to gender-based violence within couples and families.

Alan has volunteered in the fundraising and programme  departments of Plan International's UK office since 2011,  most recently developing a framework for responding to large grant opportunities that require cross department and international collaboration. He  has studied European Community and UK Department for International Development (DFID) moves towards payments by results and cash on delivery and has advised NGO staff in responding to this trend.

Alan holds a Bachelor's degree in Architecture,  an MBA and a Postgraduate Diploma in Development Management. He is researching micro-actions to complete his Masters in Development Management through the Open University.  

Alan and colleagues from the Helpful Group are collaborating with Michael Jenkins and his colleagues in metaLAB to pilot the use of  micro-actions for social impact and development.


Michael Jenkins

With a particular focus on Africa, Michael has over 30 years' experience working as a high level consultant and advisor to organisations from the private, public and voluntary sectors.

Past roles include Consortium Member for the Wireless Africa Initiative (funded by IDRC); Strategic Partner with CSIR, Meraka Institute, RSA (African Advanced Institute for Information and Communication Technology); Consortium Partner with ACU (Association of Commonwealth Universities) and SARIMA (Southern African Research and Innovation Managers Association); Consultant to UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade & Development) ICT.

Michael is founder of metaLAB UK, who are 'for profit' social entrepreneurs with a focus on replicable, sustainable, user driven, multi-stakeholder initiatives - that seek to address the needs of the poor and the vulnerable in systemic ways.

Michael is also the founder of Every1Mobile, who use the massive expansion of mobile phones in Africa, along with social networks like Mxit, to achieve targeted, measurable access to the young people across Africa. They have 2 million monthly active users.

Michael holds an MSc in Information & Communication Technologies from Science Policy Research Unit, Sussex University, UK and an MA in the Anthropology of the Middle East from School of Oriental and African Studies, London University, UK.

Joining as a contributor

You are, of course, welcome to contribute through comments. But if you'd like to submit a guest post or become a regular contributor, please get in touch via the contact link.

We are especially interested in hearing from young people in Africa, Asia and South or Central America who can speak on things as they really are.

We are also interested in hearing from those in the development field, whether programme staff or academics and commentators.

Disclaimers and copyrights

All posts here are entirely the author's own view or, wherever practical, sources of text and images have been acknowledged to give due credit to their creators and introduce them to the site visitor.  Please show us the same courtesy.

Nothing should be taken to represent statements on behalf of any employers, clients or collaborators.  Also,  although some of the views expressed are polemic in nature, we acknowledge that many in the development  sector have been trying to be helpful for many years and deserve respect for their sincere efforts and significant achievements.