Reporting LIVE from TEDxYSE!

Foreign Aid: Should it be a "DIY" Project?

by Evagelia Tavoulareas, Media Mobilizer at Ashoka Changemakers

Recently, a debate has emerged about "Do-It-Yourself" initiatives for foreign aid.

G-20 Looks to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises for Economic Revival in Developing Countries

by Harold Rosen, Grassroots Business Fund (G20 SME Finance Challenge Finalist)

The G-20’s 19 member countries, plus the European Union comprise 85 percent of the world’s gross domestic product and roughly two-thirds of the global population. Decisions made by this powerful body can help restore global economic growth and steer the future course for economic development worldwide. 

During this week’s G-20 Summit in Seoul, South Korea, leaders are turning their attention to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as the economic vehicle of choice. Long shown to be engines for economic development, SMEs have the potential going forward to serve as catalysts for countries at various stages of development. Why then, have SMEs been largely underserved by traditional financial institutions? 

Changewatch: $500M SME Framework, Why piracy is good for innovation, a Bicycle Empowerment Network

Today, our Changewatchers are buzzing about ...

A $528 million framework to support the businesses of the poor and near poor in developing countries.

  • New Global Framework to Fund Innovative SME Finance Models [U.S. Embassy]

How notorious markets and pirate services can be viewed as engines for innovation. 

  • Why Piracy Is Good For Innovation [Hypebot]

An organization bringing communities to life by turning shipping containers into bike shops, and bikes into ambulances.


Veterans Day, social media, and a rewarding community of support

I just had a great conversation with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America's Communications Director, Chrissy Stevens, who shared what IAVA was doing for Veterans Day.

Hey, East Coast women! Do something good with your money


West Coast women are more entrepreneurial than their East Coast counterparts. At least according to Deborah Perry Piscione, co-founder of Desha Productions and its accompanying online women’s magazine,

Video: Ashoka-Western Union Executive in Residence Program – Class of 2010

We are thrilled to share with you all the Ashoka-Western Union Executive in Residence video!

Greg Stone: "The Savior of the Seas"

In 2000 Greg Stone, American scientist and ocean research pioneer, was invited to join an exploratory cruise of the Phoenix Islands of the Pacific nation of Kiribati.

Changewatch: Monopolizing the poor; War and development; The Thin Mint Paradox

Today, our Changewatchers are buzzing about ...

The destructive microfinance competition between government and MFIs.

  • India's Microfinance Crisis is a Battle to Monopolize the Poor [HBR]

Whether or not economic growth and development should be paired with military missions.

How the increasing number of for-profit arms of businesses are leading to "mission distraction."

Changewatch: Outsourcing leads to opportunity at BOP; More social impact from foundations; Life without lights

Today, our Changewatchers are buzzing about ...

How the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry leads to opportunities at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP).

  • BPO opportunities as part of the poverty alleviation toolkit? [Beyond Profit]

A largely untapped source of capital that can play a critical role in devleoping the social finance marketplace.

Peter DiCampo's photo essay: A glimpse of life in rural Africa without electricity.


Proudly Presenting: The Winners of the G-20 SME Finance Challenge

Our judges have selected the winners of the G-20 SME Finance Challenge from a pool of 345 entries worldwide. These are 14 of the world's brighest and most innovative solutions to unlocking financing for small- and medium-size enterprises:

Winners of G20 SME Finance Challenge TBA tomorrow: Will you influence the global economy?


The social entrepreneurs' winning entries in this global competition -- held by Ashoka Changemakers, the Group of 20, and the Rockefeller Foundation -- will have best demonstrated leverage, scalability, social and economic impact, and sustainability. Their selected proposals will continue to tackle a wide range of pressing social issues with innovative finance structures and transformative, system changing missions. With funding from the G-20, international development banks, and interested bilateral donors, winners will not only address challenges in various markets, but across multiple regions.

Snag-free hybrid model: Do well, do good

By John Converse Townsend, Media Mobilizer at Ashoka Changemakers


One of this week’s most-shared stories was Stephanie Strom’s “Hybrid Model for Nonprofits Hits Snags”. The New York Times article described several prominent examples of the hybrid model of social enterprise: the marriage between for-profit businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Making the hybrid model work is tougher than one might think, as Strom explains:

"[T]he hybrid model for nonprofits is proving problematic. On occasion, the need to generate returns for investors overwhelms the social mission. In other cases, business falters altogether and cannot support the nonprofit."

Fight Digital with Digital to Help End Cyberbullying

By Katie Leavitt,

Unless you've been living in a blissful state of medialessness, you've probably heard quite a bit about suicide, bullying and digital abuse lately. Sadly, many of the great assets of the cyberworld –– like quick and easy mass communication –– can turn ugly when used with malicious intent. That's why various campaigns are developing across the Internet, to help affected youth understand that they are not alone and that life doesn't have to be this way.

Cultural Tunnel Vision: Africa is more than meets the eye

By John Converse Townsend, Media Mobilizer at Ashoka Changemakers


This is not Africa.

Changewatch: The neglected key to development; A case for SME financing; Mobile healthcare in Africa

Today, our Changewatchers are buzzing about ...

How legalizing land rights increases income, improves social security, and enhances opportunity.

Reasons the capital needed to drive economic growth in Africa is being invested in the wrong asset class.

The story of an innovative mobile phone-based project helping to improve healthcare in Africa.

  • Africa is saving lives by turning mobile phones into hospitals [Telegraph]

Monday chat with development moghul Vineet Rai


Ashoka Fellow Vineet Rai will be taking your questions this coming Monday today at 3:30PM EST!

You're Invited! A Knowledge Management Impact Challenge Event

Online competitions -- like those run by Ashoka Changemakers -- are gaining popularity and becoming a go-to knowledge management tool. (They are also becoming more popular in the academic sphere, where universities like MIT now host global innovation and entrepreneurship challenges.)

But how do we define and achieve success? Perhaps more importantly for continued investment, how do we measure and demonstrate their impact? What can online competitions contribute to improve development effectiveness?

"My name is Chetna Sinha. I am a changemaker."

Today at noon, we took our first dip into an Ashoka Fellow interview series. We had a 30-minute conversation with women's empowerment devotee Chetna Sinha. (For background on Chetna, click here.) Through passionate storytelling, she shared tales of impact and change for impoverished women in Maharashtra, India.

All aboard the Changemakers choo-choo at ASU

Ashoka recently named Arizona State University an Ashoka U/Changemaker Campus, making it the ninth institution selected for setting the standard for excellence in social entrepreneurship education. This is a group of institutions committed to providing students with the tools they need to make an impact and pursue what they believe in. The photo above depicts the light rail train in Phoenix, outfitted with banners that promote ASU as Changemaker Campus.

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!

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. “

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