This talk by Ernesto Sirolli at TEDx Christchurch gives an excellent view of the kind of philosophy around which VOZ has been built.  We believe that local communities are best placed to provide information on human rights and environmental issues but are not always best placed to have access to GIS tools, or outlets for reporting on these issues. This may be due to lack of finances, education or infrastructure, or because of the threats of violent retribution. At VOZ, we aim to mitigate these issues by ensuring our mapping service is always free, easy to use and secure, and by working with NGOs to expand infrastructure to allow communities better access to VOZ.

Knowledge is at the heart of our work at VOZ. The study “Voices of the Poor” concluded that many people desire access to knowledge rather than charity to enable them to move out of poverty, and it is this that forms the key philosophy around which we work. VOZ aims not to just extract information, but to support the voices of those who are normally excluded, disenfranchised, or oppressed. It is designed to provide a safe, secure and professional way in which Social Movement Organisations and activists can build and share their knowledge online, helping it to be recognized both locally and globally, and addressing power inequalities around knowledge.

Ernesto Sirolli

Want to help someone? Shut up and listen!

When most well-intentioned aid workers hear of a problem they think they can fix, they go to work. This, Ernesto Sirolli suggests, is naïve. In this funny and impassioned talk, he proposes that the first step is to listen to the people you’re trying to help, and tap into their own entrepreneurial spirit. His advice on what works will help any entrepreneur.


This talk was presented to a local audience at TEDxEQChCh, an independent event. TED editors featured it among their selections on the TED home page.

The Sirolli Institute and the Mining Sector

Ernesto Sirolli is the founder of the Sirolli Institute, which in their own words ‘convinces that the future of every community lies in capturing the passion, intelligence, imagination and resources of its people, the Sirolli Institute™ has developed “Enterprise Facilitation™ as a person-centered approach to community and economic development‘.

Before posting this video we spoke with Ernesto about his work and the work of the Sirolli Institute, as we had a number of concerns about the institutes links with mega mining corporations such as Rio Tinto and GoldCorp, both of whom feature regally on the VOZ map because of their human rights and environmental abuses.

Ernesto has kindly allowed us to publish here the response to our questions:

The record of mining companies around the world is appalling and the behavior has to change. By vocation psychologists deal with the pathology of human behavior and I consider our work in the resource sector as important, and as challenging, as the work we do to change the paternalistic and patronizing behavior of some non-per-profit organizations that should know better.

Unfortunately arrogance and insensitivity are not the preserve of the extractive sector (actually the extractive sector has a vested interest in at least ‘appearing’ sensitive to local interests) the real problem are organizations that are so convinced of their superiority that can trample the most basic local self determination in the name of foreign gods, technologies and consuming patterns.

I am attaching a paper that has been widely circulated and exemplifies our pointed criticism of the mining industry.

Kindest regards

Ernesto Sirolli


VOZ will continue to distance ourselves from the mining sector and others that hinder the rights of people to live their lives without fear of human rights or environmental abuses. We do however feel sufficiently reassured by Ernesto’s letter to publish his talk here, and to advocate for the stance that he takes in this presentation.