Blogs

You Have Never Seen Women's Economic Opportunity Like This

The Economist set out to do the impossible: bring a one-of-a-kind, 150-page report on women's economic opportunity around the world to life. In just six minutes. (Video after the jump.)

WANTED: 10 young action heroes to save planet

The global search for agents of environmental change has begun! Are you up for it?

Project Borneo 3D: An Action Movie is looking for 10 changemakers aged 18 to 35 to star in an ambitious 3D feature documentary. This environmental Justice League will be sent into the heart of the Borneo jungle for five months to implement the DeforestACTION project and connect with the world through the Web -- providing updates for millions of students and activists across the globe who are responsible for driving, developing, and owning the project. (Video after the jump.)

Social enterprise has found a new home in housing

A perfect storm of economic and social constraints has begun to highlight how social enterprises and housing associations can become amicable bedfellows.

Technology can help Changemakers

[Editor's note: This post was written by Ashoka India Marketing Director Manoj Chandran and originally featured on the Ashoka India blog. Here, Chandran shares his views on the role technology has and will play in addressing social problems.]

India, today, has one of the most fertile environments for entrepreneurship in the world. Several positive changes have taken place during the last two decades that have resulted in entrepreneurship being accepted as a good career decision. Availability of better infrastructure, policies, skills and finances are just a few of these encouraging signs. The most important change has been the creation of a robust marketplace in the country, which has given rise to innumerable innovative entrepreneurship ideas that are being experimented. It, therefore, does not surprise us when a young management student expresses her desire to “start something of my own.”

Ashoka earns Charity Navigator's highest rating for fiscal responsibility nine years in a row

Think of it as a Michelin rating for charities and non-profits. For the ninth consecutive year, Ashoka has earned Charity Navigator’s four-star rating for fiscal responsibility. It is the nation's largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities, and forms its ratings based on an unbiased, objective, numbers-based system that assesses the financial health of over 5,000 of America's best-known charities. It helps potential donors, funders, and philanthropists make the most informed giving decisions. TIME Magazine calls Charity Navigator "One of America's 50 Coolest Websites" and Forbes has twice given it a "Best of the Web" award.

The Ashoka Fellowship is a Great, Global Resource

[Editor's note: This message comes from Ashoka Fellow Jill Vialet, the founder of Playworks, and was originally featured on the Ashoka US blog. Learn more about Jill and her commitment to social change by checking out her TEDxSF talk.]

My own experience as a Fellow has been nothing short of transformational. While I had been thinking broadly about exploring scale prior to becoming an Ashoka Fellow, it was through the induction process that I came to really understand, and be able to articulate, a one-day vision for my organization. I have likened the three hour interview I had with then Ashoka President Sushmita Ghosh, to having someone doing the intellectual equivalent of crawling down my throat and physically pulling out the vision that one day every child in America would get to play every day. I think the very simplicity of the statement belies an extraordinarily complex understanding of the world of change-making that Ashoka uniquely brings to bear in its dealings with Fellows all around the world.

Jill Vialet at TEDxSF: Now Press Play

Ashoka Fellow Jill C. Vialet is the founder and President of Playworks, whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of children by increasing opportunities for physical activity and safe, meaningful play. Today, Playworks is the only nonprofit organization in the country providing trained, full-time play coaches focused on recess to hundreds of low-income schools in major urban areas. Playworks also provides training and technical assistance to schools, districts and youth organizations that wish to include inclusive, healthy play as part of a positive learning environment. (Video after the jump.)

Richard Branson Teams Up With Tonic — and You! — to Empower South African Entrepreneurs

[Editor's note: This post, written by Josie Raymond, was originally featured on Tonic.com.]

Spread the word about our campaign to raise $50,000 for the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, and donate if you can!

Entrepreneur, adventurer and philanthropist Sir Richard Branson hosts an incredible group of 14 successful entrepreneurs from around the world when he visits South Africa this week with Virgin Unite to support the Branson Center of Entrepreneurship and connect with frontline leaders to learn how they can help drive positive change in the world.

Sea Turtles Win in Court

[Editor's note: This article was written by Alicia Graef and was originally featured on Care2.com.]

More sea turtles died or became disabled in the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico than in any other event in the past two decades, according to the National Wildlife Federation, the Sea Turtle Conservancy and the Florida Wildlife Federation.

African Stock Investment Competition (ASIC): Raising the global profile of Africa

The 2011 African Stock Investment Competition (ASIC), which opened for registration earlier this month, is an annual competition allowing university students from around the world to explore and learn about African stock exchanges. The virtual trading competition offers students a hands-on opportunity to learn about emerging capital markets as they compete to build the best performing stock investment portfolios.

A Few Thoughts on Egypt

Eleven months ago, to the day, I found myself at the American University of Sharjah (UAE) facilitating the Women’s Leadership and Technology Conference: Advancing Social Media for Community Engagement.

The ultimate goal of the conference? To explore how technology can improve civic engagement and build a robust civil society. 

Join us Monday, January 31st for a #SocEntChat on Sustainable Urban Housing

On Monday, January 31st, Ashoka Changemakers will bring together entrepreneurs, innovators and changemakers from around the world to discuss the importance of affordable, inclusive, and sustainable urban housing that respects local cultures and the environment.

Sustainable, Obtainable, Attainable

[Editor's note: This is a guest post by Stewart Sarkozy-Banoczy and was originally featured on the American Planning Association's blog. Stewart Sarkozy-Banoczy is the Director, Philanthropic Research & Initiatives, Office for International and Philanthropic Innovation, Policy Development and Research Office at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C.]

As I pondered the early-entry winners in our Sustainable Urban Housing Competition and the many other efforts we come into contact with during our work, I was also remembering some of my experiences in “sustainable” community development before coming to HUD.

Redefining housing innovation to build tomorrow's greatest cities

[Editor's note: This post is authored by Diedre Schmidt, Executive Director at the Affordable Housing Institute (AHI). AHI is a non-profit consultancy that works around the world, and particularly in the global South, with pro-poor affordable housing finance entities – what they call Mission Entrepreneurial Entities, MEEs – to help them create, develop, and implement affordable housing financial products and business lines, as well as by positively influencing the policy and economic ecosystem to enable them to grow.]

The word innovation, when used in conjunction with housing, usually conjures ideas of new building products or technologies that are successful because they are cheaper, lighter, stronger or easier to use. But our collective challenge isn't simply to create high quality new homes that are affordable a problem which lends itself to purely technological solutions.

We need YOU to identify innovative sustainable urban housing initiatives from around the world!

With just 15 eight (8) days left to enter the Changemakers Sustainable Urban Housing: Collaborating for Liveable and Inclusive Cities competition, we are launching a #SocEntNom Twitter campaign and would really appreciate your support!

Helping non-profits and the needy win their just desserts: GetMilkshake

In November (just over nine weeks ago), Pam Caffray and Amy Jurkowitz launched Milkshake, a daily email chock-a-block with pretty, delicious, and entertaining items that can be ordered or simply ogled. Sounds fairly familiar, perhaps, what with all those spammy "best bets" and "fresh finds" popping up in people's inboxes like so many e-weeds. But Milkshake is different. You won't find any random baubles whose purchases line the pockets of highfalutin designers or brand-name behemoths - everything advertised in this newser aims to do one thing: give back to those who need help most.

Win $25k to Change Digital Media: The PitchIt! Challenge

It was just two short years ago that Ashoka Changemakers and We Media joined forces to launch a community challenge to source innovative approaches for inspiring a better world through media and technology. People from all around the world entered their ideas - from very early stage projects to more established but never-before-seen innovations - for harnessing the power of media for social good.

Bjarke Ingels Has BIG Plans for the Big Apple

[Editor's note: This article was written by Kim Derby and was originally featured on EcoSalon.com.]

The 36-year-old Danish architect Bjarke Ingels is the hottest topic on the tip of every avant-garde’s tongue. I’m glad he’s here, mostly because he uses words like symbiosis and spontaneous interaction; hybrid typology and harvest resources. There’s nothing sexier than a voracious vocabulary. And an architect.

Join @changemakers Wednesday, January 26th for a Multilingual #SocEntChat on Geotourism

Geotourism Challenge: Places on the Edge
Saving Coastal & Freshwater Destinations

On Wednesday, January 26th, Ashoka Changemakers will bring together entrepreneurs, innovators, and competition finalists from around the world to discuss geotourism – an alternative tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place. Geoutorism is a means of developing coastal, waterway, and island destinations without destroying the land, the water, or the lifestyles of the local people by creatively mobilizing resources including technology and other tools.

Connecting Changemakers at the Ashoka Twin Cities Solutions Forum

You're invited to an inspiring evening of learning, sharing, and ceative thinking around new solutions to advance lasting social change!

On Tuesday, February 8, connect and engage with Twin Cities changemakers at the second Ashoka Twin Cities Solution Forum.

The Unreasonable Institute Empowers the Public to Choose the Next Wave of High Impact Social Entrepreneurs

Starting today, January 20th, 45 social entrepreneurs will share their innovative ventures with the world through an online platform called the Unreasonable Finalist Marketplace, where global donations will determine which entrepreneurs gain admission to esteemed mentorship program. (Video after the jump.)

Announcing your Geotourism Challenge 2010 finalists!

We are delighted to announce the twelve innovations chosen as finalists in the Changemakers Geotourism Challenge 2010: Places On The Edge - Saving Coastal And Freshwater Destinations, in partnership with National Geographic.

Our expert panel of judges have selected these innovations from a pool of 250 entries from 54 countries worldwide and represent the most promising solutions protecting coastal, waterway, and island destinations.

Introducing your 'Property Rights' finalists!

We are very proud to announce the finalists in our Property Rights: Identity, Dignity & Opportunity for All competition! A big 'thank you' goes out to the changemakers who spread word of the competition and voted for semi-finalists.

Collaborating Around the Clock: A recent visit to a late-night milk bar

On a Monday night late last year, I found myself sharing a car ride home with Ashoka Fellow Haron Wachira. We’d been together all day at a meeting with recently elected village elders in the community of Gichugu. Haron had presented to the elders his work with Akili, the organization he founded to coordinate an entire suite of agricultural value chain interventions aimed at lifting the smallholder farmer out of poverty.

Three Early Winners Showcase Innovation in Sustainable Housing


[Favelas Morro Da Providencia, Rio de Janeiro / TED.com]

Last November, Ashoka Changemakers, with support of the Rockefeller Foundation, and in collaboration with the US State Department, HUD, and the American Planning Association, launched the Sustainable Urban Housing: Collaborating for Liveable and Inclusive Cities Competition.  In late December, three early entry prize winners were announced.  What do their projects bring to the table, and how can they impact the planning profession?

Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Remembering a man who believed in non-violence, equality, and freedom for all.

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.spoke these powerful words on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC on Aug. 28, 1963:

A Conversation with Raj Kumar, Co-Founder and President of Devex


If you work in the field of international development, chances are you have heard of Devex. What I bet you didn’t know is that it is a social enterprise – this was news to me as well.

Raj Kumar, founder and President, evolved from political consultant to entrepreneur when he identified a gap in the development market. In 2000, Kumar launched Devex as a student project at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Today, Devex has become the largest provider of business intelligence and recruitment services to the development community – serving a majority of the world’s leading donor agencies, companies, NGOs and development professionals.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak offers advice to innovators

Steve Wozniak, computing pioneer and Apple co-founder, was recently tracked down by VentureBeat's Dean Takahashi at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. Wozniak briefly shared his experiences during the early era of personal computers. Of course, he also offered some advice to innovators -- as you can imagine, Wozniak is a man just bursting with creative energy. (Video after the jump.)

$50,000 Fellowships Available for Visionary Changemakers

Are you singularly committed to changing the world for the better? Great! Because we have some really exciting news, courtesy of our very close friends at New York University's Reynolds Program in Social Entrepreneurship.

What's your 'million dollar idea' for building a sustainable future?

Ashoka Changemakers is looking for innovative solutions that engage communities, entrepreneurs, and key institutions in collaborating to integrate and develop affordable, inclusive, and sustainable urban housing that respects the environment, local cultures, and practices. (Video after the jump.)

Rural Development Institute CEO Tim Hanstad tells us property rights turn people into global "somebodies"

(Update: The Rural Development Institute has been renamed Landesa.org)

In support of our competition, Property Rights: Identity, Dignity & Opportunity for All (for which we are still accepting votes for your favorite social changer through 5 p.m. EST TODAY), we interviewed competition judge and Rural Development Institute President and CEO Tim Hanstad. In the first of a three-part series, Hanstad, whose organization has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, the World Food Prize, and was a finalist for the Hilton Humanitarian Prize. Hanstad talks about the importance of Property Rights for women in developing countries in part one of our interview.

The Miniature Earth: How would you create a better world?

So, you're trying to change the world? Chew on this:

Today, a whopping 48 people live without basic sanitation, 14 are hungry or malnourished, and 21 people live on US$1.25 per day or less. Of course, these statistics would only hold true if the entire population of planet Earth was transformed into a small community of 100 people.

Welcome to The Miniature Earth, ladies and gentlemen. (Video after the jump.)

Defining the Issue of Dead Capital

[Editor's note: This article was written by Nicole Skibola, lawyer by training and human rights practitioner. It was originally featured on her blog, Strange Attractors.]

“Dead Capital” is capital in the form of unregistered real property, and is considered lost value because the landholder is unable to transfer or leverage his property for capital or capital access.  For instance, homes that are unregistered and extra-legal receive little or no infrastructure, are valued less, receive less investment and represent potentially areas of vulnerability for those who dwell in them. Globally, the estimated value of unregistered, yet inhabited property is $9.3 trillion in value held by primarily poor people.

Without property ownership, women will continue to get hurt

If you look at world conflicts, property is frequently a point of contention. In November, a Google map accidentally incorrectly demarcated the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. As a result, a Nicaraguan military leader ordered his troops to claim the Costa Rican land. The “Organization of American States (OAS) chief urged Nicaragua and Costa Rica to withdraw security forces from a border zone to ease tensions over a two-century-old territorial dispute that has flared up and drawn in Google,” ABC News reported.
 
If you look at personal conflicts, property (in the form of land, chattel, or money) is also frequently a point of contention – and can lead to domestic abuse, usually inflicted on women.

Educate! to Write World’s First National Social Entrepreneurship Curriculum

Educate! -- a Boulder, CO and Uganda-based non-profit that unlocks the potential of African youth to solve their communities' most pressing issues -- was asked by the government of Uganda and the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) to incorporate its social entrepreneurship program into Uganda's national high school curriculum.

Educate! recently won the Ashoka Changemakers Quality Education in Africa award. It has also been backed by Echoing Green (the leading venture philanthropy fund), received first place in the Pan African Awards for Entrepreneurship in Education, and was recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of 100 Brilliant Companies of 2009.

Join @Changemakers Tuesday, January 11th for a Multilingual #SocEntChat on Property Rights

Property Rights: Identity, Dignity & Opportunity for All

On Tuesday, January 11th, Ashoka Changemakers will bring together entrepreneurs and innovators from around the world to discuss property rights. With secure rights to land, people are able to improve their quality of life, invest confidently in their property, build security for their family, and improve their social status. Ultimately, the positive economic and social impact of property rights can transform lives and bolster communities.

We invite you to participate in this #SocEntChat via Twitter between 2pm and 4pm (EST) and share your ideas about the importance of property rights and their role in ensuring equity in opportunity. This chat will be multilingual, with simultaneous facilitation in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Want to halt tyranny, rape, HIV? Let women own land

Did you know that women produce 80 percent of the food in developing countries, yet own just 2 percent of the world's land? So, while women feed the world, they are routinely denied the right to own the land they cultivate and on which they are dependent to raise their families. Without titles to land, women and their families are incredibly vulnerable -- they're at risk of having their livelihoods, education, health care and identities stripped away.

Lack of property rights leads to new 'Scramble for Africa'

Let’s fire up the WABAC Machine and wake up in 1914.

For the past three decades, Europe’s powers have pillaged and plundered Africa under the misguided, ethnocentric mandate of New Imperialism.

This isn’t your great, great grandfather’s colonization of Africa. No, this is something new, fresh, and just as sinister – and actually seen as a way to eliminate the threat of a Europe-wide war over Africa. Divide, deal, and conquer they say. Today, the world map looks significantly different than it will 100 years from now, with Europe having added almost nine million square miles – one-fifth of the land area of the globe – to its colonial possessions.

What a terrifying takeover, particularly to those Africans lacking not only advanced weaponry, but also a united front to resist European aggression!

How do your country's property rights rank? (US barely in top 20)

 

According to the 2010 Index of Economic Freedom (compiled by both the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation), property and land rights in the United States rank 19th out of 184 examined countries.

Enigmatic Parisian street artist, JR, wins 2011 TED Prize

On New Year's Eve, Changemakers brought you six ideas that are making the world a better place.

As a follow-up and a way to kick off 2011, here is another powerful idea brought to life by another TED Prize Winner: The 27-year-old Parisian street artist known as JR.

JR, "a shadowy figure who has made a name for himself by plastering colossal photographs in downtrodden neighborhoods around the world," has been recognized as the winner and recipient of the 2011 TED Prize -- an annual award granting winners $100,000 to change the world with the support of the TED community.

TED Prize Winners: Six Ideas That Are Changing the World

[Editor's Note: This piece by Allison Ford was originally featured in Divine Caroline]

If you work in the fields of design, technology, publishing, art, entertainment, public health, science, non-profit, or government, you’ve probably heard of TED. But even if you’ve never heard of it, you’ve likely heard of some of its endeavors.

Started in 1984, TED has grown into a series of global conferences that bring people together to talk about ideas―big, transformative ideas. TED solicits presenters and speakers from all walks of life to discuss world-changing innovations, and to try to solve intractable global problems. Every year, more than one thousand people attend the main conference in Long Beach, California, to hear industry leaders and information pioneers talk about their plans to effect change through the dissemination of these groundbreaking ideas.

Each year, TED gives out $100,000 in prizes to people with big ideas to help them bring their ideas to fruition and make their dreams come true. These winners make a wish, and with the help of other TEDsters and professionals, they attempt to do nothing less than change the world.

Announcing the 2011 Globalizer Fellows!


We are very excited to share with you the seventeen entrepreneurs who have been selected to participate in the Ashoka Globalizer Fellowship this year!

The program aims to leverage Ashoka's global reach, selection process and network of social and business entrepreneurs to link initiatives ready for global scale to the strategic, intellectual and financial support they require to go global. After a very intensive process, involving great conversations and critical inputs from local staff around the globe, strong nominations from every region, a round of detailed conversations with Fellows and deliberation among the Globalizer team, we now have a fabulous new cohort of Fellows dedicated to scaling the impact of their ideas globally.

Now, without further ado, here are your 2011 Ashoka Globalizers:

Soccer: Helping Children Reach Their Goals One Game at a Time

[Editor's Note: This piece, by Changemakers' Kristie Wang, was originally featured in Divine Caroline]

Dr. Elizabeth Odera began working with children from Kibera, Africa’s largest slum, nearly two decades ago. “We were inundated with many young men and women from Southern Sudan who had run away from wars in East Africa,” Odera explained. “They had nothing to do. They would just roam around.”

Odera knew firsthand about the power of sport and achievement to build self-esteem. A former international competitive tennis player, she had gone on to become one of the first women to earn a PhD in immunology in Kenya. She decided to start a basketball league that would also engage the children in service related activities like tree planting and fund raising for improving their communities.

But even basketball had its risks in Kibera. For Odera’s children, playing on the dirt courts meant braving threats from the gangs that laid territorial claim to nearly every inch of the slum. “In Kibera, there is no place to call your own. We got chased from one point to another,” Odera said. “A number of times we were attacked. The men in the area ran away, but of course, I couldn’t leave the kids. I was left with hundreds of children cowering and wondering what to do.”

Google the good guy: Goliath gives $140 million to make world less evil

For years, Google, Inc. has held a notorious reputation for being the biggest cyber-bully on the block. As a result, it has been the target of virtual vitriol for its "insidious and potentially pernicious" business practices. Essentially, Google has been alleged as one of the kings of online malpractice, charged with smothering search neutrality and manipulating search results to hoarding queries and invading our privacy. (Ironically, Facebook passed Google as most-viewed site in US earlier this year. So now, it seems that Facebook -- another space invader -- has a stranglehold on our collective attention, time, and keystrokes.)

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