“If you have a preconceived notion of good, you cannot be creative,” said Zahra Ebrahim, founder of archiTEXT. “Let go of everything that already is, and design something that truly does not exist.”Armed with this advice, 15 social innovators in a design-thinking workshop led by Ebrahim went to work twisting pipe cleaners and arranging popsicle sticks to prototype new toothbrush designs.Ebrahim compared design thinking to the mindset required for social innovators during her workshop.
(Editor's note: This post originally appeared on Forbes.com)
You can buy a Coca-Cola anywhere in the world, but affordable products that provide essential value like water treatment or lighting often do not reach billions of poor populations around the globe. However, in what is commonly known as the “last mile distribution challenge,“ some social entrepreneurs are providing innovative solutions to make the last mile a first opportunity.
"I have been teaching Baptiste Power Yoga for about 15 years and I was on a family vacation here in Kenya in 2006. I saw a group of youth doing handstands. I got out of the car and did handstands with them. That day changed my life," explains Elenson, who saw yoga as a way to create jobs for young people in Kenya.
Every year, the World Economic Forum publishes its Global Gender Gap Report, tracking the world’s progress toward eliminating gender inequality. This year’s report, published in October, included some good news: in the nearly 140 countries counted, more than 90 percent of the divide in health and education has been closed. Still, there remains a huge gender gap in economic participation, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, where men are 60 percent more economically empowered than women.
(Editor's note: This post originally appeared on Forbes.com)
Ten years ago, I met a woman working in the kitchens of my son’s school. Prior to having children, she had been a high flying professional. This, she told me, was the only job she could find with the flexibility she needed to care for her family. After searching for months for something at her level of skill and ability, she felt she had no choice but to “back pedal” on her achievements, earning capacity and future ambitions.
From a young age, he was responsible for the well-being of his family, but Kennedy Odede never felt control of anything, especially his own health. He was growing up in Kibera, Nairobi, immersed in the devastating and ever-changing realities of Africa’s largest urban slum.
(Editor's note: This post originally appeared on Forbes.com. Photo credit: Specialisterne – "People with autism at an IT company")
In a world defined by rapid change, the search for solutions to societal and environmental challenges has become more complex. While market systems have become interconnected and supply chains have become supply webs, public policy and industry norms are not changing as fast. As a result, they are increasingly inadequate tools to govern our societies.
If you want to obtain different results, don’t do the same things. Improve your potential by combining systems that meet skills and strengthen creative gaps. Make the change you want to see as clear as the problem you want to solve.
Before venturing into entrepreneurship, Maria Umar was a full-time teacher at a private school in Pakistan. After she got pregnant, however, she was refused maternity leave and fired. Discovering online work through sites such as Odesk and Elance, Umar began to take on micro online tasks ranging from content writing to social media management before outsourcing them to her nieces, friends and other women in Pakistan. In 2009, she founded her own all-women virtual firm – The Women’s Digital League.
Featuring Kabelo Ramatlhape student of Ashoka Fellow Taddy Blecher's social innovation Maharishi Institute, and a serial entrepreneur in his own right.
"Why do all of us as social entrepreneurs do this work? Because I believe from the bottom of my heart that poverty is simply unnecessary, and that we could end it in our generation—and that’s what we work towards every single day." —Taddy Blecher, Ashoka Fellow and Founder of Maharishi Institute... read more
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Forbes.com. Tsega Belachew (@tsepeaces) shares insights on social entrepreneurs paving the path for youth employment solutions in Africa…
It is not easy to be young and in the labor market today. In the midst of economic and political flux, youth face a lot of uncertainty about their future. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), global unemployment is reaching crisis levels at 12.6%. But recent projections from the UN Population Division tell a significant story: the demographic future of the world will be Africa-driven.
Ewa Wojkowska has created distribution systems that are giving people in remote areas of Indonesia and other parts of the world, who lack access to electricity and clean water, life-changing technologies such as water filters, solar lights and fuel efficient cookstoves. She is co-founder Kopernik, a Bali-based nonprofit organization that launched a Tech Kiosk initiative in 2012 to support 41 Tech Kiosks across five Indonesian provinces.
Turkish Women’s International Network (TurkishWIN) seeks to inspire and connect female leaders in Turkey and abroad with stories that convey whole hearted stories and inspiration. The goal is simple: utilizing the power of video and the format of TED talks, it provides wings to women’s stories, unleashing the economic power of women by inspiring and connecting them across the homeland and in the Turkish diaspora.
“If we hire a woman, she will just leave the company when she gets married or has a child.”
“We want to hire women, but we can’t find women with the right qualifications.”
“We can’t hire women because our men will just harass them.”
The story of how one social entrepreneur in Guatemala, Curt Bowen, is starting a revolution—for farmers, by farmers.
The daily commute is considered a routine task by many people around the world – mundane, unchanging and more often than not, simple. In many parts of South Asia, however, this seemingly simply task of commuting to and from work is considered difficult and often dangerous for women. An issue brought to light by the horrific gang rape in Delhi, safe, harassment-free transportation is hard to come by for many working women in the region.
“Children should have the right to have their mother at home, not in the form of a maid, babysitter or grandmother,” says Nermin Saad. “At the same time, don’t these mothers have the right to use their degrees and qualifications flexibly whilst taking care of their children?
Investing in women creates a multiplier effect for society: better health and education outcomes, societal resilience, reinvestment in communities, and national prosperity. While progress has been made globally, women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) still face some of the most daunting barriers in asserting their economic rights.
“Women currently make up half of the world’s population, work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, produce half the world’s food, but only earn 10 percent of the income and own less than 2 percent of the world’s property,” according to Ashoka Fellow Ben Powell of Agora Partnerships. Moreover, the MENA region has one of the lowest rates of female labor participation in the world.
In Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula, Bedouin tribes have inhabited the region for centuries sharing a distinct cultural tradition, bound by tribal alliances and family connections rather than state citizenship.
It’s hard to believe that Afghanistan was once considered the “orchard of Central Asia.”
In the 1970s, about 60% of the world’s dried fruit came from Afghanistan with fruits and nut exports making up about 40% of the country’s foreign exchange with bountiful vineyards, farms and forests peppering the nation’s terrain landscapes. After years of drought, conflict and the Taliban rule, the war-torn country now stands as one of the poorest in the world.
Finding work in the Arab World is a daunting task. Battling the highest rate of unemployment among youth in the world, nearly a quarter of men and 42 percent of women aged 15 to 24 were unemployed in 2012. In contrast, youth unemployment in the European Union and the US are 18 percent and 16 percent respectively.
Yemen has long been one of the poorest countries in the Arab world and with a history of civil conflict and particularly conservative cultural traditions, the challenges facing its citizens, especially women, are nothing short of enormous.
Imagine turning the taps on, only to wait around for hours for piped water to arrive. This is the daily reality for hundreds of millions of people. In India, tech start-up NextDrop is using mobile phone messaging to spread the word—and the water.
With huge school drop-out rates and half a million young workers leaving for low-skilled labour abroad, Nepal’s education system is in dire straits. Five youngsters who studied abroad came back to turn the tide.
Ashoka and The MasterCard Foundation have partnered to bring the second webinar in the Future Forward series featuring youth and innovators, Ashoka Fellows selected in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation to answer: How can job creation be improved for young people?
Judy Stuart, Founder of Future Farmers, http://bit.ly/1g9I1Rw
Nokukhanya Nxumalo, a youth and now aspiring farmer participating in Future Farmers
Investing in women creates a multiplier effect for society – including better health and education outcomes, more resilient societies, reinvestment in communities, and greater prosperity. While there has been overall progress globally, women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) still face some of the greatest barriers in asserting their economic rights.
Sporting mega events such as the FIFA World Cup TM consume the hearts and minds of people around the world. With Brazil 2014 quickly approaching, as well as the 2016 Olympic Games, streetfootballworld would like to ensure that these mega events leave a lasting, positive effect on the host country of Brazil.
News headlines are replete with stories of a growing youth bulge and impending youth unemployment crisis in sub-Saharan Africa. This is the bad news. However, many social entrepreneurs are at work even now creating solutions to these types of challenges—a sort of counterbalance that shapes fortune out of misfortune. And within Africa, innovators are stepping up to the challenge of affecting behavior and pattern change with a deep understanding of the context of their communities’ problems. Young Africa (YA) founder Dorien Beurskens and her partner Raj A. Joseph are part of a wave of social entrepreneurs who are identifying root causes for the youth employment challenges in Africa and developing innovative solutions, which place the needs, assets, and priorities of the youth and the wider community at the forefront.
Sasha Kramer is working with communities in Haiti to fight diarrhea-related disease, the leading cause of child mortality. She co-founded SOIL (Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods), which transforms human waste into a resource for sustainable livelihoods, agriculture, and reforestation.
The Middle East and North Africa is home to a growing number of women who are, uncharacteristically, demanding equal citizenship and a greater role in society. The impetus? Women are getting educated—and getting online.
The Middle East and North Africa region represents a wildly diverse variety of cultures, customs, religions and political groups. And the relationships between these constructs and popular ideas about women's rights are similarly varied throughout different countries in the region.
What do Ethiopian fine coffee farmers, Uganda vanilla producers and women gatherers of Nilotica shea nuts have in common?
...They were all losing out on their hugely valuable products because of a lack of intellectual property tools.
Tony Juniper is a campaigner, writer, and “by popular consent the most effective of Britain’s eco-warriors.” He’s currently a special adviser to the Prince of Wales Charities’ International Sustainability Unit, a senior associate with the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership (CPSL), and editor-in-chief of National Geographic Green Magazine.
Capitalizing on the untapped labor market could transform business and the lives of 200 million individuals. In India, Barefoot College is leading the way.
What is the Women Powering Work community buzzing about this week? Check out these great reads about current trends in women’s economic equality:
Maria Umar is challenging the cement ceiling as an international entrepreneur and a key player in Pakistan's burgeoning tech scene. She is revered as one of the trailblazers in the female entrepreneurial revolution, and focuses her efforts on furthering work opportunities for women in Pakistan.