Blogs

Weekly Highlights from our ChangemakeHERS Campaign

WEEK FOUR Highlights:

  • Sara Diestro, founder, Sport and Life
    Diestro is a Peruvian social entrepreneur, a specialist in football strategies for social development, and a founding partner of Street Football's South American network. She uses soccer as a tool to improve the lives of at-risk youth so they can create a better future for themselves. She also gives a voice to women and encourages them to fight for their rights.
  • Diana Wells, president, Ashoka
    Wells has supported and witnessed the work of nearly 3,000 social entrepreneurs around the world in every sector and at every level of changemaking. She shared some of her insights, from generating a spark of inspiration to creating global impact.
  • Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
    Lavizzo-Mourey spoke about transformative social change and her journey and commitment to improving health.
  • Cheryl Dorsey, president, Echoing Green
    Dorsey shared her insights about the unique challenges women face in the field of social entrepreneurship.
  • Sikha Roy, founder, SRREOSHI
    Roy discussed facing on-the-ground realities while working with rural communities and shared advice for budding social entrepreneurs.
  • Becky Buell and Sophia Tickell, co-founders and co-directors of Meteos
    Meteos is a globally networked non-profit company that works with institutional investors, governments, global companies, NGOs, labour unions and entrepreneurs. Buell and Tickell talked about their theory of change and the importance of networks and collaborative relationships.
  • Gloria de Souza, Ashoka fellow and founder
    De Souza was the very first Ashoka fellow ever. She pioneered experiential education in her native India and serves as a shining example of the role women social entrepreneurs have played in leading the transformation of entire systems.
  • Karen Dillon, editor, Harvard Business Review
    During Dillon’s tenure as the editor of the Harvard Business Review, the magazine has been honored twice as a finalist in the category of General Excellence at the National Magazine Awards. She shared her strategies for success and her thoughts about the invaluable mentors that helped her along the way.
  • Albina Ruiz, founder, Ciudadsaludable.org
    Ruiz has helped dignify the job of garbage collectors in Peru through a system of micro businesses that are dedicated to collecting and processing urban waste as a way to promote cleaner and healthier cities. She discussed her entrepreneurial experience and how she has succeeded in improving the living standards for many people.
  • Bea Pellizzari, founder and strategic director, La Usina
    Pellizzari has dedicated 18 years of her life to transforming the public image of people with disabilities. She founded La Usina in 2002 on the principle that diversity yields collective enrichment.

★★★

CHANGEMAKEHERS WEEK FOUR KEY THEME: LEARNING HOW TO GLOBALIZE

If you are not having unintended consequences, you are doing something wrong.

It’s the last week of the March campaign. We’ve heard from some incredible women. Women that have offered their guidance to help us navigate our own changemaking. But globalizing is a topic that hasn’t received much attention here yet. Beyond the spark of an idea, and the sustainability of the model, comes a far greater challenge: How do you globalize?  

Social entrepreneurs start out with a focus on local needs. Often, they develop a solution that is deeply context-dependent. As a result, the challenge of growing to a global scale is one of understanding how to leverage your core innovation for a larger unit of scale. Quite simply, that means having a vision for how to address global needs, and working backwards to develop pathways outward from your model that can help you reach that vision. 

This process might surprise you. Some elements of your organization may no longer be necessary. Recognizing this, and having the ability to let go, is critical. Don’t be afraid to liberate your core. What aspects of your organization need to be leveraged? Which ones need to be culled? Ultimately, what is your absolutely core hypothesis – and how can you grow this?

As one of our Ashoka Globalizer Fellows remarked, “It’s important to destroy some of the idols of your organization.”

The challenge for the social entrepreneur is one of creative destruction. In the commercial realm, the goal is growth by replication, but in the citizen sector, it’s a more subtle strategy. It’s not just about pushing out a model. It’s about becoming a magnet. That requires a great transformation in the mindset of many social entrepreneurs. You are no longer championing your model, but enabling its pollination.

So what allows for successful pollination? A lot of it comes down to framing. You need your model to be adapted. So that means creating an opportunity for other people. Whether you are creating space in your organization for other entrepreneurs, or enabling people in other countries to adopt your model – carving out that opportunity space begins as a simple framing exercise. 

Framing is an invitation to others. So let’s learn from those who are successful at it. Take the organization Meetup, a group with more than 7.2 million members that mobilizes local communities to “meet up.” Their success at mobilizing people has to do with a simple invitation. The word most repeated on their website, “let’s…”

So what is your “let’s?” What opportunities do you have for others? What are you inviting people to participate in? Global opportunities come from global invitations – so how are you working to get people to RSVP?

★★★

WEEK THREE Highlights:

  • Heather E. Cameron, founder of Boxgirls International, Professor of Education at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, and University of the Western Cape, South Africa
    Cameron spoke about how boxing training teaches girls skills that translate into powerful tools for success in the real world and for enacting social change.
  • Teresa Clarke, chairman and CEO of Africa.com 
    Clarke revealed how the lessons she learned as a managing director in investment banking at Goldman Sachs prepared her for success in launching a social enterprise.
  • Astrid Aafjes, founder and executive director, Women Win
    Aafjes discussed how she successfully designed an effective girls sport program that addresses economic empowerment and gender-based violence.
  • Lauri Elliott, CEO, conceptualee, Inc., USA
    Elliott is a business strategist focusing on global business, innovation, technology, new ventures/start-ups, emerging markets, and SMMEs. She revealed the strategies that were key to her successful launch of a startup for social change.
  • Sara Ost, publisher and editor-in-chief, EcoSalon.com
    Ost shared her journey as a changemaker and the inspiration that empowers her work.
  • Carie Lemack, co-founder of the Global Survivors Network, and executive producer of Killing in the Name
    Lemack co-founded Families of September 11 and the Global Survivors Network (GSN). Since its founding in 2009, the network has generated global attention, coordinated and inspired events around the world, and created an Oscar-nominated documentary that tackles the taboo subject of terrorism.
  • Katherine Lucey, founder and CEO, Solar Sister
    Lucey profiled Eva Walusimbi, one of the first entrepreneurs of Solar Sister.  As a team leader for entrepreneurs in her community, Walusimbi's work with Solar Sister helps to provide economic opportunities to many women and provides light and resources to the 1,600 orphans and other vulnerable children at Uganda’s Maranatha schools, which she established with her husband in 1989.
  • Raquel Barros, Founder, Lua Nova
    Barros spoke about Lua Nova's work transforming the lives of young, at-risk mothers. Lua Nova allows young mothers and their children to rediscover citizenship and self-esteem so they no longer are excluded from society, through innovative career and construction training, income generation workshops, health care, psychotherapy, and remedial classes.
     

★★★

CHANGEMAKEHERS WEEKS 1 - 3 KEY THEMES:

Ashoka’s commitment to Everyone A Changemaker™ means we can leave no person behind. We hope to awaken all individuals to their inner power and potential to create enduring change. That’s why the ChangemakeHERS campaign is offering words of advice and encouragement for innovators at all stages of their efforts.

To complement the outstanding voices of the women who have shared their insights so far, here is some of our own guidance to social entrepreneurs and the institutions that support them. Below we’ve outlined four key principles that we believe are critical to the evolution of the social entrepreneurship sector as it stands today.

Ewa Wojkowska: Stop dreaming and put your money where your mouth is!

Ewa Wojkowska was honored as an Ashoka ChangemakeHER, Changemakers's inaugural celebration of the world's most influentual and inspiring women. Find her fellow honorees' voices here.

by Ewa Wojkowska, Co-founder and COO of Kopernik

Changemakers asked: Converting an idea for social change into a reality is a critical step facing many “changemakers” like yourself. How would you advise potential innovators to move from idea stage into active prototyping? How do you convert your idea into an actual model for social change? And what particular advice would you have for women?

Leading Change in a "Man's World": Reflections on Gender from Women Social Entrepreneurs


 
by Renee Manuel and Jon McPhedran Waitzer, Ashoka Globalizer
 
To produce large-scale social impact, having a great idea is not enough. For it to travel, generate excitement, and change ways of thinking, it needs a critical number of people in the public and private sectors who are willing to support it along the way.
 
But building these networks of influence is no easy task. Social entrepreneurs must rely on personal characteristics they have gained over time – often unbeknownst to themselves. While gender is rarely the trait that first comes to mind, its influence is undeniable. For women in particular, gender plays a huge role as they must navigate male-dominated societies and learn the skills they need to succeed.
 
In honor of International Women’s Day, three of Ashoka’s most vibrant social entrepreneurs have shared how being a woman has shaped their approach to scaling their social innovations and building their networks of influence around the world. Across North America, Africa, and Latin America, Vickie Cammack, Lesley Ann Van Selm, and Marta Arango are revolutionizing their fields. All three are also members of Ashoka’s Globalizer program, which connects “ready to globalize” social innovations with the resources they need to scale their ideas worldwide.
 

Lana Hijazi's Tech Solution Empowers Women in the Arab Job Market

Lana Hijazi was honored as an Ashoka ChangemakeHER, Changemakers's inaugural celebration of the world's most influentual and inspiring women. Find her fellow honorees' voices here.

by Emily Bosland, Ashoka Changemakers

Lana Hijazi knows what it feels like to be doubted; to search in vain for employment; to struggle against economic hardships and myriad cultural barriers.

But she also knows what it feels like to succeed. She has proved her doubters wrong, and offered hope and tangible opportunities to hundreds of women in Palestine and throughout the Arab world.

Hijazi spent months searching for employment after graduating with a degree in business administration from Birzeit University in the West Bank. She was shocked at how difficult it was to find a job – even with a degree – and she started thinking, not just about how to get a job, but also “about ways to help other people have an easier time finding jobs.”

Alongside two of her friends, Mohammed Kilany and Jacob Korenblum, Hijazi founded Souktel in 2006 to help connect unemployed youth with jobs and internships. Today, Souktel has assisted more than 8,000 youth and 150 employers in the Middle East and East Africa.

For Transformative Change, We Must Give Strategically – and Build a Movement

Christine Grumm was honored as an Ashoka ChangemakeHER, Changemakers's inaugural celebration of the world's most influentual and inspiring women. Find her fellow honorees' voices here.

by Christine Grumm, President and CEO of Women's Funding Network

The news of this past year in philanthropy has focused on billionaires engaged in two different types of giving. On one side Warren Buffett, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill and Melinda Gates are giving millions to causes like education and health. On the other, George Soros and the (Charles and David) Koch brothers – opposite ends of the political spectrum from left to right – are using their philanthropy to build movements to achieve their visions. Those of us supporting equality for women and girls must take note.
 
Leaders in women’s philanthropy realize we must scale up our movement building. The Women Moving Millions Campaign -- our partnership with visionary philanthropists Swanee and Helen LaKelly Hunt – is just the start of what we can achieve through our collective power. In 2009 the campaign exceeded its goal of raising $150 million in gifts of $1 million and more that went to improving the lives of women and girls.
 
The movement building philanthropy practiced by Soros and the Koch brothers shows transformative change is not possible if the infrastructure is not in place. From think tanks and policy groups to sustainable women’s organizations on the ground to support for organizing efforts, communication campaigns to networks and research -- all of these need to be in the mix, if we are serious about making a difference that will make history.

The Silent Sports Trade: Sex Trafficking

Ziba Cranmer was honored as an Ashoka ChangemakeHER, Changemakers's inaugural celebration of the world's most influentual and inspiring women. Find her fellow honorees' voices here.

Ziba (center) after finishing the Casablanca Course Feminine – a 10K for women where 25,000 women and girls take over the streets of Casblanca. The race was organized by Nawal el Mutawakel, first Arab woman to win Gold at the Olympics.
Ziba (center) after finishing the Casablanca Course Feminine – a 10K run for women 
organized by Nawal el Mutawakel, the first Arab woman to win Gold at the Olympics.

by Ziba Cranmer, Vice President at Cone Inc.

I am an athlete, I am a fan, and I am a woman. 

As an athlete, I celebrate. I celebrate the skills and lessons I learned on the field (and truth be told, sitting on the bench).

As a fan, I cheer. I cheer because I love the feeling of solidarity and community that comes from a shared commitment to a local or professional sports team.

But as a woman, I cringe. I cringe because I know that some of our most celebrated sporting events, from the Super Bowl to the World Cup, are also the occasion of a terrible crime: the sex trafficking of tens of thousands of women and children.

Social Change Is The Same In Every Language

Jess Weiner was honored as an Ashoka ChangemakeHER, Changemakers's inaugural celebration of the world's most influentual and inspiring women. Find her fellow honorees' voices here.

by Jess Weiner, Author, Self-Esteem Expert, Consultant, and Media Personality

I believe everyone has an opportunity to make a difference in the world.

If I didn’t believe that, I couldn’t have forged the path for myself that I have as an Actionist®, which is my term for someone who is committed to taking action in their everyday life to help others.

How To Save A Life: To Cancer And Back

Fran Drescher was honored as an Ashoka ChangemakeHER, Changemakers's inaugural celebration of the world's most influentual and inspiring women. Find her fellow honorees' voices here.

by Fran Drescher, President and Visionary of Cancer Schmancer

“Women are like teabags. We don't know our true strength until we are in hot water!”
                       
                           — Eleanor Roosevelt

And honey, let me tell ya, I’ve been in some scorching H20!

You may know me as the nasally, big hair gal from Queens … and you’re right! But what you may not know is that I’m a ten-year cancer survivor. It took me two years and eight doctors before I was properly diagnosed with uterine cancer. Let me tell ya, I was in the stirrups more times than good ol’ Roy Rogers!

Leading Women ChangemakeHERS Reveal Blueprints for Action

Ashoka’s Changemakers brings you ChangemakeHERS. A campaign launched in honor of International Women’s Day Centennial presenting the collective wisdom of some of the world’s most accomplished women social innovators. This campaign reaches across the globe and builds on Ashoka’s deep 30-year history as a pioneer and leader in the social entrepreneurship movement.

Each day in March 2011, the Changemakers Idea ExChange blog featured compelling, concrete advice that only experienced, successful leaders can provide. The women featured on the blog are breaking down barriers to women’s empowerment and, through innovation, are tackling global problems on every front. They have succeeded at reaching their goals, and they continue to reach for more. As a reader, you have exclusive access to their insights and wisdom about what works and what doesn’t.

These women are inspiring, but ChangemakeHERS will take their expertise well beyond inspiration. It will be captured in their own words and in a way that accelerates change. At the end of the month, Changemakers experts, with a decade of experience analyzing and distilling trends, barriers, and opportunities in the field of social change, will convert the teachings into a tool for success for women around the world and for anyone working to make a difference.

View full press release.

Emily May, Co-founder of Hollaback: "Followers are the New Leaders"

Emily May was honored as a ChangemakeHER for her work to shape global social change. View the other voices of ChangemakeHERS.

by Emily May, co-founder and executive director, Hollaback

Turning your idea into reality requires guts: you have to be ready to face down some pretty big obstacles. But, if you’re ready – and I mean really ready – those obstacles look like nothing compared to the feeling that, if you don’t act, you’ll be standing in the way of progress.

Celebrating International Women's Day's 100th Year: Congratulate Our HERS Honorees of 2011

There is a moment when the human spirit stirs. When we see shortcomings in our world, an awareness is kindled and we are driven to act. From the small, fleeting problems of daily life, to the great challenges facing humanity, we have unprecedented opportunity to make a difference.

But what makes us move from awareness to action? From idea to impact? How can we boost our confidence in our ability to solve problems? What are the ingredients to launching a successful solution? How can that idea become a program that touches hundreds? Or thousands?

Celebrate International Women's Day with Changemakers, All Month Long

To celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th, Changemakers will be bringing you the voices of powerful women leaders who are changing your world. All March long, influential women will share their insights into what it will take to build a stronger global future, as well as what challenges lie ahead for the progress of women in the next decade.

From Slave to Student, Narayan is One in a Million

[Editor's note: This post was written by April Thompson of GoodWeave (previously called the RugMark Foundation). GoodWeave was a finalist in the 2008 Changemakers Ending Global Slavery competition.]

While his elementary school peers repeated addition and subtraction drills in a classroom each day, Narayan wove knot after knot at a Kathmandu carpet loom. For eight years of his early life, Narayan was a bonded child laborer without access to education, toiling up to fifteen hours a day.

Going Beyond Profit ... for Land Rights

Land is a critical asset to fighting poverty -- and a whole host of other development issues.

Beyond Profit, a social enterprise magazine that presents the stories, people and ideas behind innovative social ventures, partnered with the Omidyar Network and the Ashoka Changemakers Property Rights: Identity, Dignity & Opportunity for All competition in pursuit of the best solutions for improving access to property rights.

To Tell a Story: Part IV

This fall, Roshan Paul, Senior Change Manager at Ashoka, led a professional development workshop on the art of storytelling.  The stories that emerged from it were so powerful we decided to turn some of them into an audio blog series.  Stay tuned and prepare to be moved.

Ashoka Partners with Techonomy to Create a New Philosophy of Progress

Techonomy Media just announced its second annual Techonomy Conference -- an invitation-only event for leaders devoted to accelerating innovation both in the United States and around the world. Previous attendees included Charles Best of DonorsChoose.org, Ushahidi founder Ory Okolloh, and Google chairman Eric Schmidt.

Students: Big Hearts, Big Brains

[Editor's Note: This post was written by Jonathan Lewis, founder and CEO of Opportunity Collaboration, and was originally featured on the Huffington Post.]

Last Saturday on an especially dreary, stormy day in the San Francisco Bay Area, 300 Stanford University students dragged themselves out of their cozy dorm rooms to learn about -- get ready for it -- economic development. This admittedly wonky day was organized by the Stanford Association for International Development (SAID), a voluntary student organization educating the next generation of leaders in global citizenship about international development.

Two More Great Posts in the NextBillion Special Series -- And Exciting News about Tomorrow's #Socentchat!

The special series "Advancing Healthcare with the BoP" has continued on NextBillion and we are pleased to bring you two more great posts (as well as an exciting development in our #socentchat plans for tomorrow!).

To Tell a Story: Part III

This fall, Roshan Paul, Senior Change Manager at Ashoka, led a professional development workshop on the art of storytelling.  The stories that emerged from it were so powerful we decided to turn some of them into an audio blog series.  We'll be sharing them with you every Monday and Thursday this month. Grab your headphones -- and prepare to be moved.

An inside look at the Wisconsin budget repair bill protests

Last week, over 50,000 protesters surrounded the Wisconsin statehouse in Madison to take a stand against Republican Gov. Scott Walker's SB11 budget repair bill. The bill calls for unionizing public employees to pay more for pensions and health insurance -- locking their pay rates and cutting benefits. (Video after the jump.)

A Plot of One's Own: The Value of Women's Right to Property

[Editor's note: This article was written by Alison Craiglow Hockenberry, contributing editor at Ashoka Changemakers, and originally featured on the Huffington Post.]

They may till its soil for years, they may live on it for decades, they may build a home and feed their families and raise their children on it, but the vast majority of the world's women have no legal right to the land upon which they live and work.

To Tell a Story: Part II

This fall, Roshan Paul, Senior Change Manager at Ashoka, led a professional development workshop on the art of storytelling. The stories that emerged from it were so powerful we decided to turn some of them into an audio blog series. We'll be sharing them with you every Monday and Thursday this month. Grab your headphones -- and prepare to be moved.

The Real Power of a Woman’s Touch


[Morton (top left) walking a local Hesquiaht community through renewable energy options.]

Donna Morton has successfully made the transition from a promising changemaker to a high-impact 2011 Unreasonable Institute Fellow, tackling poverty, economic and community development, and climate abatement.

Rights to Land are Rights to Life

Meet the winners of the Changemakers property rights competition!
 
Throughout the Property Rights: Identity, Dignity & Opportunity for All competition, the Changemakers community submitted ideas on how to improve access to property rights around the world. 

Vodafone's Webbox brings the power of the Internet to emerging markets

Vodafone, the world's largest mobile telecommunications company, recently released the Webbox: a smart, nifty innovation developed specifically for customers in emerging markets. (Video after the jump.)

Landesa.org CEO Tim Hanstad on how property rights go beyond (but still need) government support

 

In support of our competition, Property Rights: Identity, Dignity & Opportunity for All, we interviewed competition judge and Landesa.org President and CEO Tim Hanstad. In the second 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, talks about the importance of Property Rights, and how policy change can impact them. How would you solve land rights issues to ensure quality of life, prevent abuse, and secure livelihoods of people across the world? Tell us your suggestions in the comments!

International Geotourism Challenge Winners Announced: The best solutions protecting coastal and freshwater destinations

This is the moment you have all been waiting for! With support from National Geographic and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), we have announced the three winners of our international collaborative competition: Places on the Edge – Saving Coastal and Freshwater Destinations. The competition identified the most innovative proposals that protect the beauty, culture, and character of the world’s threatened coastal, shoreline, and freshwater destinations.

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.

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