cmblog's blog

Join Us Wednesday For A Live Chat With Chetna Sinha

Ashoka Fellow and award-winning innovator Chetna Gala Sinha will be taking your questions this Wednesday at 12:00 PM EST.

Chetna has dedicated her life to pioneering services that have led to economic empowerment and financial inclusion for rural women in the drought-affected areas of Western Maharashtra.

Got a problem? Throw money at it! Better yet, don’t.

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, the world's richest man, doesn’t believe in charity.

Now before you call him heartless, selfish, or The Grinch, know that he has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to his own charities and to joint-venture projects with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Last month, at the Forbes CEO Conference in Sydney, Australia, Slim made it clear he wants to be more than just “a Santa Clause.” And that others should do more as well:

Changewatch: Water Facts, Innovations, and Action

Today our Changewatchers are buzzing about water ... It is Blog Action Day, after all.

Why the water crisis matters? The health and economic impacts are staggering.

Six innovative design systems that improve access to sanitation for communities.

  • Top 6 Life-Saving Designs for Clean Drinking Water [Inhabitat]

6KM of action for water and sanitation!

Sikha Roy: Building the movement for women’s land rights

Congratulations to the Property Rights: Identity, Dignity & Opportunity for All Early Entry Prize Winner: Sikha Roy, SRREOSHI, India!

Sekou Andrews on the story of your health, your wealth, and you

By Evagelia Tavoulareas, Media Mobilizer at Ashoka Changemakers

Imagine you're a medical practitioner at a conference on healthcare and patient empowerment. You can probably expect the usual events and sessions that will be in store for the duration of the conference - you've even brought a notepad. Then something different and wonderful happens. A thin, dynamic figure with movie star looks takes to the stage and stands at the microphone. The rapid-fire wisdoms he bestows is so impassioned, it could level trees. Meet Sekou Andrews, who is known to riff on the connection between one's wellness with one's financial portfolio:

“If it’s easier to enjoy your health when your wealth has busted, than it is to enjoy your wealth when your health has ruptured … then health at its most fundamental definition … IS wealth.”

Respecting diversity to promote health

By Hylton Sarcinelli Luz

The modern world’s most pressing public health problems do not come from global disease or illness. Lethal epidemics, such as avian flue or hemorrhagic fever caused by Ebola virus, or chronic sicknesses that develop as populations increase their life expectancy are not the only threats to our well-being.

And the winners of the Strong Communities competition are ...

... three of the most groundbreaking social innovations and solutions for community change!

Sustainable Jersey
Sustainable Jersey is a LEEDS-style certification program for municipalities in New Jersey that want to go green, save money, and sustain their quality of life. It provides tools, training and financial incentives to support and reward communities as they pursue sustainability programs.


Small Businesses Around the World: Shared Challenges, Shared Solutions


[This Changemakers article is Part Two of a three-part series focused on SME investment opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa, also featured on Social Edge and]

For all the envy that the world’s wealthy economies may inspire, the businesses that are key drivers of those economies have a lot more in common with their intrepid developing world counterparts than one might guess on first glance.

In Ghana Women Are Riding Their Way To Power On Tractors

In rural Ghana 28-year-old Leticia Brenyah is teaching women to drive tractors and practice drip irrigation.

Her story, the second in this four-part series on economic empowerment of women in the developing world, she says, is about how poor and uneducated women need to learn to use modern day gadgets and equipment for their own economic improvement.

A Global Village Saves Albino Kids From Slaughter


An African principal, a Dutch fundrasier and a Mormon housewife are building a sanctuary for some of Kenya's most vulnerable citizens.

Changewatch: More machinery, more power to women; Making change in a video game; Grant funding for young entrepreneurs

Today, our changewatchers are buzzing about ...

How one of Ashoka Changemakers is using machinery (and other technologies) to empower women.

  • In Ghana Women Are Riding Their Way To Power On Tractors [Forbes]

A video game intended to help officials, agencies, and developers solve real-world problems, including climate change, water management, and supply chain crises.

A new grant program to fund new businesses run by young entrepreneurs.

  • Entrepreneur Offers Grants for Kids Who "Stop Out" of School [GOOD]

SOCAP10 Recap: Woodstock for Social Entrepreneurs

Far out.

That was the broader theme at the third annual Social Capital Markets (SOCAP10) congregation that took place October 4-6 at Fort Mason in San Francisco. The conference, part trade show, part summit, has been called the Woodstock for social entrepreneurs. Far out isn't always a good thing, though. Sometimes it just means far (as in far off) and out (as in out of reach).

Global Leaders on Cancer: a Ticking "Time Bomb"

As you probably already know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
But are you aware that every 69 seconds, a woman dies of breast cancer? More than 1.3 million women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year alone. Almost half a million will die – 40,000 of them in the United States.

To save the environment, we must learn to run together

By John Converse Townsend
Contrary to what one might expect, deforestation has slowed in the last decade. Between 1990 and 2000, 16 million hectares of forest were converted to other uses or lost through natural causes, like fires and typhoons. Today that figure sits at about 13 million hectares, which is an area the size of Costa Rica. Protected forest areas have climbed to 13 percent: a rise of 94 million hectares over the past 20 years.

Football for Education: Catalyzing Opportunities for Social Change

“Nowadays, sports are much more focused on financial reward than on educational development. We know that among those trying to start a career in football, very few actually become professional players. Education on the football field should go beyond its four boundary lines” said Thyago Luques, the manager of the “Corinthias Licensed School Initial Kick,” reflecting the current discussion among the first partners group established within the Changing Lives Through Football competition on

Changewatch: 7,000 words on failure; the four most pressing global issues; nurturing social do-gooders

Today, our Changewatchers are buzzing about ...

7,000 words on failure: a must-read set of lessons for any entrepreneur.

A Cliff Notes version of the most pressing topics discussed by world leaders at CGI.

Sound critical thinking is imperative to social progress. It's time to ask youth the right questions.

  • Can We Teach Creative and Critical Thinking? [GOOD]


Sixth TEDxYSE Speaker Announced!

Yesterday, TEDxYSE announced their sixth speaker: Seaon Shin!

Seaon Shin, 19, is the founder of Global Youth Empowering Movement, an open-source online database platform, where youth can connect to like-minded peers, adults, experts, NGOs and corporations in their field of interest. As Korean-American living in Dubai, Seaon discovered that changemaking gave her a sense of belonging and self-purpose. Seaon realized many teens wanted to engage in social change but didn’t know how, so she created an online support network for youth to collaborate and learn from each other. She is also working on a local level, organizing a youth center in Dubai to foster community and mobilize youth to learn, investigate, and act on social problems.

Youth have so much potential to do amazing things. All they need is to be connected together to make a positive impact.

Click here to learn more about Seaon’s work.

Hear Seaon speak at TEDxYSE on November 13! Register now!

Toward a New Normal - Vision for Development Leaders

Last week I was in NY for the Clinton Global Initiative and this week I am in Washington, DC attending the Business Civic Leadership Center Global Corporate Citizenship Conference. There have been many conversations about global development – from the status of the MDGs to the role of capitalism. I want to share my thoughts in an attempt to focus on the positive and the opportunities at hand.

The 2010 Clinton Global Initiative through the eyes of Changemakers

Changemakers were out in force at last week's 2010 Clinton Global Initiative. Ashoka's Changemakers staff, media, and -- most importantly -- social innovators joined hearts and minds in partnership for our collective future. Making commitments to social causes including economic empowerment, empowering women, fighting malnutrition, and building stronger communities; business leaders and social activists are achieving real results.

Team Iraq: Using Football to Move Beyond Conflict


“When hope is lost, people turn to violence and they think they can create change through violent means,” said Yamam Nabeel, the founder of Football for Unity.  “Team Iraq is able to create high profile football events to change mindsets in a positive way, and get young people to create change.  Democracy is a culture that needs to be learned, and we want to use football as peaceful cultural transition to democracy and the formation of a civil society.  Football provides a platform without labels, where all politics and religions can come together in a common place. “

What Is a Social Entrepreneur, Really?

In the middle of the night, I wake up thinking about this question. 

Why is this on my mind, you might be wondering? As a recently baptized Ashoka Fellow, I find myself spending a lot of time lately explaining the meaning of the phrase social entrepreneurship. The sometimes confused looks on the faces of people listening tell me that they don't always get it. 

Changewatch: News, Notes, and Video from the Clinton Global Initiative; plus the Social Good and UN Summits

Today, our Changewatchers are buzzing about ...

[What a fast-paced, hectic, moving, inspiring, and (hopefully) historic week it was!]

A video archive of this year's Clinton Global Initiative Sessions.

A multimedia-rich recap of the Mashable & 92Y Social Good Summit.

  • Mashable & 92Y Social Good Summit Recap & Complete Videos [Mashable]

News and media from this week's United Nations Summit.

  • We Can End Poverty, Millennium Development Goals, 2015 [UN]

Interview with Mr. Aromar Revi: Sustainable Design Visionary

Earlier this week I had an opportunity to speak with one of Ashoka’s early fellows from India – Mr. Aromar Revi. Mr. Revi has spent over 20 years working on settlement rights, public housing, and institutional reform around the globe. Currently, he is leading the process to build a national university focused on how to transform the country (among other things).

We had an interesting discussion about property rights in India – below is the summary of our conversation:

Why are property rights and land reform important issues?

India is a country of over 1.25 billion people, and ran out of agrarian land 50 years ago. Over 50% of the population resides in urban areas, where there is little to no access to water. In rural areas, the most valuable asset is access to land. Unfortunately, while laws exist to manage these issues, they are outdated and do not speak to the pressures of modern life.

… almost 60 % of the population lives in informal settlements … this is not a marginal question, it’s a CENTRAL question.

Lua Nova: Rehabilitating Addicts and Empowering Women as Contractors


Abandoned by her mother at the age of ten, Sandra’s aunts forced her and her two brothers to beg on the streets of São Paulo, Brazil.  When Sandra gave birth to her first child at the age of 20, her aunts would beat her because they had to spend the begging money on the baby. Nine months later, Sandra gave birth to a second child, and starting smoking marijuana to escape the problems at home. 

Economic Downturn as an Opportunity Investing in Small and Medium Sized Businesses Now

[This Changemakers article is Part One of a three-part series focused on SME investment opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa, also featured on Social Edge and

The global economic downturn may seem an unlikely opportunity for creating jobs and wealth, but optimists at the forefront of developing world finance and business argue that now is precisely the moment for big things.

Strong Communities Finalists: Engaging Citizens, Strengthening Place, Inspiring Change

An independent panel of judges reviewed the semi-finalists and selected these eight projects to join us at CommunityMatters '10, where they'll have an opportunity to showcase their work, meet other innovators, and develop community building skills.

These programs and projects span a variety of fields including youth engagement, local economy, economic development, public engagement and networking, proactive collaboration, environmental sustainability, and community living.

Winners will be selected by YOU via online public voting, so take a look at the finalists, get your clicking fingers ready and VOTE NOW!

Our Interview with Majora Carter: Greener of the Ghetto, Prophet of Local, Changemakers Judge

Majora Carter is a MacArthur “genius” award recipient for her work as “a relentless and charismatic urban strategist,” pioneering green-collar job training and placement systems through her organization, Sustainable South Bronx (SSB) in one of the most environmentally and economically challenged inner cities of the United States. The founder of Majora Carter Group recently served as a judge in Changemakers and Community Matters' Strong Communities challenge, which used an online competition to find innovative solutions from citizens who are collaborating to make their communities vital, enduring places.

PART II -- Ending Energy Poverty: The Missing Millennium Development Goal

If you missed Friday’s Changemakers’ introduction to the work of Bob Freling and the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), SELF’s inspirational efforts to end energy poverty is truly worth a look as the world prepares to discuss ten years of progress on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, leading to the September 21st to 23rd annual gathering of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York City.

TEDxYSE Announces Fifth Speaker: Rocco Falconer

Rocco Falconer, 22, is the founder of Planting Promise, a community-based organization dedicated to the development and expansion of education in Sierra Leone. The social business projects projects were inspired by 2008 a meeting with Eddie Boston-Mammah, a local philanthropist whose wartime experiences had convinced him of the need to engage with the development of his country:

In order to control the number of children in the street as "street children" and to prevent them from leaving home to become street children/wayward children, we decided to open a FREE PRIMARY SCHOOL on the 8th September, 2008 to help parents who cannot afford to give quality education to their children and secondly, we observed that in order to reduce the rate of children in the street, we can start providing education for them in an early age for them to know the importance of education with the notion that "Learning is better than silver and gold."

Barack and Bill to Join Forces at Clinton Global Initiative


If you're a game changer, or just want the game changed, CGI is where it's at.

There ain't no party like a CGI party — and President Barack Obama isn't about to miss out. The annual Clinton Global Initiative conference brings together heads of state, top business leaders, philanthropists and nonprofits all in the name of making the world a better place. The president will attend again this year and will introduce first lady Michelle Obama to the crowd.

Changewatch: A Historic Discussion on the State of the World; The Enthusiasm Gap; Third World America

Today, our Changewatchers are buzzing about ...

A conversation between Cornel West and Toni Morrison at the Society for Ethical Culture in New York.

  • Toni Morrison & Cornel West: A Historic Discussion on the State of the World, the 50th anniversary of the Brown Decision and Condoleezza Rice [Democracy Now!]

Breaking down barriers to change by closing the "enthusiasm gap."

The increasing poverty rate in "Third World America."

  • U.S. Poverty Rate Hits 14.3%; 44 Million Are Poor []

Ending Energy Poverty: The Missing Millennium Development Goal

“Most people don’t appreciate the extent to which women bear the burden when it comes to energy poverty,” said Bob Freling, the Executive Director of the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF). “They breathe indoor air pollution, have to haul water long distances, and can’t safely deliver their babies at night in darkness.  Just think about what it would mean to give women alternatives that free up their time.  SELF is specifically working with women leaders in communities to demonstrate ways that they can uplift their own lives and the lives of community members by looking for solutions that offer economic empowerment and champion women as leaders.”

New Trends: We Want YOU to Solve the World's Problems

What do General Electric, the Obama administration, and Ashoka have in common? No, the answer to this question isn’t a punch line—but it should make you smile. The private company, the federal government, and the social sector organization all oversee competitions to collect and fund the world’s best solutions to the world’s worst problems.

Breaking Down the Stigma of HIV/AIDS Through Football in Indonesia


What do an Indonesian soap opera and a drug rehabilitation center for HIV positive individuals have in common?  First, there’s the name:  Rumah Cemara, or “House of Pine Trees” in English.  Second, and most importantly, they both provide important lessons on how people from different backgrounds can come together and overcome differences and obstacles.  

SMEs and global finance: The missing link

Ashokas Changemakers and G-20 team to rebuild local economies worldwide

There exists a sector in the global economy representing more than 95% of the world’s business, contributing to over 50% of the world’s GDP, supporting large multi-national corporations, and triggering economic growth in developing countries. It is made up of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). And only a fraction of this sector has access to credit. This means that the single largest source of job creation remains largely unfinanced.

Khan Academy: Virtual Classroom, Real Results

On Monday, we asked the question: are colleges worth the price of admission?

(If you haven’t, we suggest you track back and read yesterday’s article.)

The answer is very much up for debate and the issue is neither black nor white. But if we accept that a quality, affordable learning experience is becoming less tangible with every education budget cut and tuition hike, what “troublemaker” will change the system.
What about a 33-year old “ebullient, articulate Harvard MBA and former hedge fund manager?"

Meet Salman Khan.

Is our children learning? And is higher education worth it?

Rarely is the question asked: Are colleges worth the price of admission?

The Economist reports that American universities dominate global rankings; on the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy’s list of the world’s best universities, 17 of the top 20 are American, and 35 of the top 50. American universities also employ 70% of living Nobel prizewinners in science, economics, and “produce a disproportionate share of the world’s most-cited articles in academic journals.”

UNICEF Picks Top Nine Aid Innovations From the Near Future

Want to save the world? UNICEF might have an answer to that question.

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