Blogs

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.)

The game of building a shared future

Something happens to me whenever I play a game, and this happens to all of us when we play. A sport practice, the one taking place in neighborhood fields, moves us, touches us. The reason is simple: it is inevitable to learn about myself and about my relationship with others, and be able to make something possible by starting from a "we”. Shall we go to the field? Let's go!

Announcing the Sustainable Urban Housing Early-Entry Prize Winners

It's that time of the year again. The holiday season is a time for giving and for change. In the spirit of both, Changemakers is proud to announce the early-entry prize winners in our Sustainable Urban Housing Competition: Green Development Zone in the USA, Housing Finance for urban financially excluded families in India, and Franquicia Social para el desarrollo de vivienda sustentable in Mexico! Each of these entrants have been awarded a prize of US$500.

These entries were evaluated per the Changemakers criteria -- innovation, social impact, and operational sustainability -- as the best competition entries submitted at or before the December 12 early-entry deadline.

Visionary doctor kept his eye on the prize, changed ocular healthcare in India forever


In 1976, Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy -- perhaps better known as Dr. V -- founded the Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, India. Dr. V had once been head of the Department of Ophthalmology at the Government Madurai Medical College, as well as the head eye surgeon at the Government Erskine Hospital in Tamil Nadu. After his mandatory institutional retirement at age 50, Dr. V decided to change the game.

Hans Rosling's 200 countries, 200 years, 4 minutes


When statistics go stale, Hans Rosling finds a way to make them sing.

So, I'm certain Rosling couldn't resist participating in the operatic ode to the "glorious nerdiness of statistics": 'The Joy of Stats.'

"I kid you not, statistics is now the sexiest subject on the planet."

The Robin Hood Tax: The world's greatest bank job

Changemakers, I would like to introduce you to an incendiary idea: The Robin Hood Tax.

Inspired by the actions of England’s most popular outlaw, The Robin Hood Tax’s mission is to “take from the richest in society and give to those who need it.” Rest assured, the plan is more detailed than that. The tax is imposed on banks and would give billions to tackle social issues in England and beyond.

365 Donations, 365 Blog Posts, and a Year Reaping the Joy of Giving

For each and every day this year, Betty Londergan has strived to “let love loose in the world.”  By the end of December 2010, Londergan will have identified 365 worthy charitable organizations, written about them on her blog, What Gives 365, and sent each of those organizations a personal check for US $100.

Barefoot Power wins big at the Cool Company Awards

Australia’s leading entrepreneurs and business rock stars met at 24 Moons Bar on AC/DC Lane in Melbourne last week for Anthill Magazine’s 2010 Cool Company Awards.

The Cool Company Awards is an initiative launched to celebrate Australian organizations making real change through innovative means – rule-makers, rule-breakers, and trend-setters in attitude and action

Google's Gift

by Keith Hammonds, director of Ashoka’s News & Knowledge

In this season of holiday cheer, we’re very cheered to report that Google Inc. has given Ashoka $1 million to support our News & Knowledge Entrepreneurs program.

Catch the debut of Be the Change: Save a Life

Have plans for Friday night?

Whether you answered 'yes' or 'no', consider joining ABC News tomorrow, December 17, 2010 at 10PM EST for the launch of Be the Change: Save a Life.

Who needs women, really?

Who needs women? Humanity does. Desperately.

Sustain-A-Raisers: Applying a Barn Raising Approach to Community Sustainability Projects

by Kristie Wang, Ashoka Changemakers

When Joshua Arnold was preparing to lead his community group, Global Awareness Local Action (G.A.L.A.), in restoring a grange hall to create a community space for Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, he learned about barn raising, an event in which an entire community gathers to help build one household’s barn. “I had heard about it before—it’s always been in my cultural memory—but as I read more, I really became fascinated by how barn raising built a way of life centered on reciprocity,” Arnold said.

I Jumo. Should you?

by Evagelia Tavoulareas, Media Mobilizer at Ashoka Changemakers

In keeping with yesterday’s discussion around "wired for good" technologies, I wanted to take a look at the new kid on the block: Jumo.
 

Mark Zuckerberg: The New Face of The Giving Pledge

by Evagelia Tavoulareas, Media Mobilizer at Ashoka Changemakers

This past summer, Warren Buffett announced the launch of a long-term charitable project: The Giving Pledge.

John Marshall Roberts: The Global Urgency of Everyday Empathy

In this TEDxChCh talk, John Marshall Roberts (CEO of Worldview Learning) draws on his knowledge of systems theory and developmental psychology to discuss how the glut of "global non-empathy" impacts how our world works.

Reasonable Entrepreneurs Need Not Apply

The Unreasonable Institute, an international accelerator for high-impact ventures, has opened applications for its second annual institute – a search for 25 of the world’s most promising entrepreneurs committed to launching globally significant social ventures that can reach at least one million people.

The Secret to Finding Jobs in a Harsh Economy

by Kristie Wang, Ashoka Changemakers

[After completing the Making Connections Louisville program, Shavelle Gordon (left) found a job in housekeeping at Norton Healthcare and support from Norton manager Michelle Williams (right). Gordon has since become a nursing assistant and is studying to be a nurse.]

A community movement that serves four of Louisville, Kentucky's most distressed inner-city neighborhoods has been extraordinarily successful in linking its members to lasting employment despite the harsh economic downturn. How does The Making Connections Network—known as the Network—do it?

The Fun Theory: Why fun should be used to change behavior for the better

The Fun Theory is a site dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people's behavior for the better.

Everybody Deserves a Roof, Don't You Think?

by Lisa Germinsky, Tonic.com

This week Tonic is working with innovative nonprofit EDAR to help get a roof over at least 10 homeless Los Angeleans. Sound like a worthy cause? It's easy to help.

An eye-opening approach to preventable blindness

by Betty Londergan, What Gives 365?

Ashoka is the granddaddy of all associations of social entrepreneurs, working since 1981 to support men and women around the world who have developed system-changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social  problems. Instead of trying to explain all Ashoka does, over the next few weeks I’m going to feature Ashoka Fellows, Changemakers, Young Champions and Youth Venture folks who demonstrate the breadth & depth of Ashoka’s vision. Today, it’s Youth Venture activist Sheel Tyle.

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