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Lindsey Noakes- Co-Founder of Sanitation NGO, Gather and Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneur

by White Green on November 15, 2018

Lindsey Noakes runs Gather, a non-profit using data to get toilets to people who need them. A trained geographer and fledgling geek, Lindsey leads Gather’s programme strategy. In 2018, Lindsey was listed in Forbes’ 30 Social Entrepreneurs Under 30 and MIT’s 35 Innovators Under 35, and was nominated for the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award. Lindsey sits on the board of the United Nations Association (UK) and has a Master’s degree in conflict studies from SOAS.

Each week, What Matters Most interviews a revolutionary leader from the business and activism world about what is most important to them in their life and work. We are deeply inspired by these people and we hope our readers will be too!


When were you happiest in your life? 

Now. I’m in a job I love, where I spend my days meeting and learning from incredible people. I’m helping to solve one of the biggest challenges in the world: getting toilets to the 2.5 billion people in cities who don’t have them. Of course there are still Monday mornings and Wednesday afternoons, but it’s a pretty great thing to get out of bed for.


What's the one thing you wish you knew 20 years ago? If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?

20 years ago I was eight, so I guess I’d stick to the basics: be kind and be brave. And that Beanie Baby collection still isn’t worth millions.


What matters the most to you in your work and why?
Celebrating the good stuff, no matter how small. Our vision is so huge – we want to transform the way the urban sanitation system works so we can get toilets to 2.5 billion people – that sometimes it can seem overwhelming and impossible. My co-founder John and I have a Celebration Wall where we write the things we achieve each month, from big things like hosting the world’s first urban sanitation data dive, to smaller things like “John was funny on Twitter this month”. It helps remind us why we do what we do, especially on those weeks that feel like they’re made up only of Monday mornings and Wednesday afternoons.


Gather uses data to get toilets to people who need them. Gather was founded in 2016 by Lindsey Noakes and John Peter Archer. By 2020, we want to be implementing our pioneering, collaborative, data-led approach to solving the urban sanitation crisis in four countries, transforming the lives of 4.3 million people. In 2018, Gather was a regional finalist in the World Bank’s Ideas for Action competition and a finalist in the Comic Relief Tech4Good for Africa award.


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