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Scaling Social Impact in the North East with Ashoka Fellows

Parvathi Menon's picture

In Calcutta a few days before Christmas, December 2011, Ashoka India brought together Fellows from the North and North East around a thematic workshop with Innovation Alchemy. The theme was ‘Scale’. The issue of increasing the IMPACT of the work that the Fellows are implementing through their diverse initiatives.

The two days of engagement was a quick immersion into the complex Development world of the North East. The region is perceptibly isolated from the rest of the country, politically, geographically, economically... A brief research of the core challenges in this part of the country points to porous borders, leading to migration, infiltration and huge demand on a weak economy. High degree of ecological instability and recurring natural disasters repeatedly impacting livelihoods, increasing displacement and further reducing opportunities. Adding to the complexity is a feeling that ‘the Central Government does not care about the North East‘.

Combine all this – human rights struggles, cross-border violations, weak economy, limited opportunity and lack of any strong progressive policy frameworks – and what you get is a situation ripe for human conflict.

2012 Social Media as a Tool for Citizen Feedback

Victoire Ngounoue's picture

Un Forum I-Social pour la Promotion de la Santé et la Bonne Gouvernance au Cameroun.More often than not, “we” criticize the “system” for being corrupt; yet it is simply a reflection of what we make of it. For example, what would happen if “we” decided never to collect bribes from users in our health service system? Or if we implemented and respected the rule of ‘first come, first served’ instead of paying or collecting bribes for faster service delivery? What would happen when it is brought to our knowledge that there are irregular practices operating within our health centers?

These questions are for everyone, particularly for authorities in health centers. These kinds of questions are being answered by winners of the Cameroon 2011 Development Marketplace competition. Nowadays, advances in ICT tools and social media channels provide us with various ways to monitor and expose corrupt practices. When I first visited the website of I Paid a Bribe by the Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy, I was amazed by the innovation, frightened by testimonies, and thankful to those who had the courage to report irregular practices. My next move while browsing the website was to check if Cameroon was amongst those countries participating on this platform. Unfortunately not!

Sports Program Helps Children Overcome Despair of Poverty

Matthew Spacie's picture

Parvati Pujari, 21, is training to be a football coach. When she is not playing football, Parvati works at Magic Bus as a mentor. She is also completing a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from the Mumbai University.

What makes all this special is that Parvati is from one of Mumbai’s 4 million extremely poor families who live on less than INR 592 – (USD 11.9) per person, per month. Her parents were constructions workers in Mumbai, helping build a five star Mall in central Mumbai. After construction finished, they moved into one 8 x 12 foot temporary room which floods every monsoon. “Our living condition is such that we get to see all seasons at close quarters,” says Parvati. Parvati’s family consists of nine people, making it difficult to make sure everyone gets enough to eat. “We mostly make do with a khichdi [rice and lentils],” she says.

What changed for Parvati was her belief in her own power to change her own – and her family’s – future by making sure she used every opportunity that was available in the system, but not used. Parvati completed school even as her girl friends were married off as children. While her peers were struggling with premature pregnancies and its attendant morbidity, Parvati was taking activity-and sport-based coaching classes for younger children, taking a job, working on her football course, and traveling abroad to raise funds for Magic Bus.

In the twelve years she has spent with Magic Bus, Parvati has demonstrated what is possible, even for the very poor to do to break out of poverty.

Wildlife Friendly Rice Captures Elite Market

Karen Wachtel Nielsen's picture

The Wildlife Conservation Society was awarded a DM grant in 2008 to pilot Cambodia's first market for payment for environmental services generated from agriculture using a "wildlife-friendly" branding and marketing strategy. Here is an update after 4 seasons.

Photo Credit: Karen Nielsen

In early 2009, when Ibis Rice first hit the dining tables of ten of Siem Reap’s elite and socially responsible hotels and restaurants, Le Meridien Angkor was amongst them. Going on the basis of a tasty sample and the willingness to aid conservation in Cambodia, these early supporters were vital to the fledgling enterprise. Today many have joined the ranks of Wildlife Friendly® establishments, both here and in Phnom Penh.

THE TECH AWARDS 2012

Dougg Jimenez's picture

Dr. Laura Stachel, co-founder of WE CARE Solar and 2011 cash-prize recipient in the health category, demonstrates her life-saving “solar suitcase” at The Tech MuseumThe Tech Awards, presented by Applied Materials, is a competition for social enterprises creatively using technology to benefit humanity.

Laureates have chance to win up to $75K, spend a week in the Silicon Valley for capacity development training, and attend a spectacular awards gala.

There are six different categories for the awards that include: Environment, Education, Health, Economic Development, and the new Young Innovator (under 26) and Sustainable Energy Awards.

Nominations for this program will close on April 6th, 2012. You can make a nomination for yourself or someone you know here.

Rejuvenating the Cacao Industry in Trinidad & Tobago

Jan Engels's picture

Photo Credit: www.trinitario-cacao.orgA relic cacao tree nestles deep in the valleys of the Northern Range of the island of Trinidad in a sleepy cacao village called Brasso Seco. Moss hangs from this tree creating an eerie effect; its ripe, rough, “lagarta” (alligator) shaped pods only hint at their fascinating contents of pale-coloured, prized Criollo-influenced, flavourful beans.  

This is the realisation of a cacao collector’s dream: ancient Trinitario cacao from the place where Trinitario originated.  Likewise, across the numerous valleys in villages of Aripo, Lopinot, Naranjho, Cumana in North Trinidad and the steep terrains of Moriah, Runnemede and Lanse Fourmi in Western Tobago, cacao trees of mainly relic Trinitario genotype still survive, carefully conserved in farmers’ fields over the decades spanning from when cocoa reigned as king, in the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago, to the present day.  The chocolate world owes these dedicated farmers a debt of gratitude.

Cacao scientists from Bioversity International and the University of British Colombia at Vancouver, joined forces with some from the Cocoa Research Section of the Ministry of Food Production, Land and Marine Affairs (MFPLMA) and the Cocoa Research Unit (CRU) of the University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago and conceived and fine-tuned an ambitious project to promote and utilise the latent treasures contained in the vast acreages of relic cacao still remarkably preserved in Trinidad and Tobago.

seToolbelt's Resource Competition has begun!

Dougg Jimenez's picture

seToolbelt is pleased to announce the launch of its second competition for original tools and resources for social enterprise! They are looking for innovative, practical, real-life responses to the challenges that arise in social enterprises so that they can help make these original tools available to the wider community of social entrepreneurs.

Electricity Simplified via Simpa Networks

Parvathi Menon's picture

This article was originally published on http://www.innovationalchemy.com/. Simpa Network has partned with SELCO, an India DM winner in 2011.

Simpa Networks has evolved a ‘Progressive Purchase‘ model for solar electricity, lighting up rural homes through a flexible payment option.  

The International Energy Agency estimates that about 1.5 billion people around the globe do NOT have access to electricity and 85% of these people live in rural areas.  In India, close to 40% of the country’s population still lives with limited access to grid electricity. This is not to say that rural India is in complete darkness. The up-front cost of procuring clean, affordable energy is high and so several parts of rural India rely on kerosene, charcoal and other forms of fuel that are easier to access and in local purchase terms, cheaper. The existence of these alternatives indicates that people have the ability to pay for energy, but it needs to be in a format and amount that they can access. Regular energy sources have not been able to find ways to fit this need yet. Simpa Networks leverages this insight into the rural market to find a way to fit within the ‘ability to pay’.

Customers pay up to $1000 over 8-10 years for kerosene lanterns why not capture what the customer is willing to pay and give them a cleaner alternative?”says co-founder Michael Macharg.

Based in Bangalore, Simpa Networks aims to develop affordable energy solutions for the poor. Their product makes solar electricity accessible and affordable to the rural and under served consumer through their innovative pricing system called ‘Progressive Purchase’.


2011 - The Democratization of the Social Entrepreneurship Movement?

Jill Richmond's picture

We begin 2012 with an overview of key developments in social entrepreneurship in 2011. As we scan the landscape we note four key findings of 2011 as the field continues to mature. The underlying trends continue to point to the idea that everyone can be responsible for advancing change and impact. This is manifested in the way we are seeing a continued democratization of the movement, a growing emergence of a new demographic of changemakers and discovery that collaboration and peer-to-peer networks continues to be on the rise.

1. An Uptick in Blended Funding Solutions for Social Entrepreneurs

Fact: Social enterprises (SEs) simply cannot be carried by a single source of funding. They need to look at different ways of blending capital to create the largest social impact. SEs are becoming more resourceful in the way they seek funding, and some of the most successful enterprises are using a range of capital sources: seed funding and impact investments, to government grants and CSR funds.

Maya Nut Could Boost Resilience to Climate Change

DM2009 Winner, Masagni, adopted the Maya Nut Institute's "Healthy Kids, Health Forests Maya Nut School Lunch Program" in Nicaragua's Miskito indigenous communities. For more information on this DM project, click here.

This article was originally published on http://ourworld.unu.edu/, for the original blog post, click here. The Our World 2.0 web magazine shares the ideas and actions of citizens around the world who are transforming our lives for the better.


Photo by Our World 2.0

Global climate models indicate that Central America will experience temperature rise and increasingly dry conditions over the next decades. Precipitation will decrease, causing severe water stress and more frequent and intense drought periods. Pressure on natural resources will grow, as a result of both demographic pressures and climate change, while degradation of ecosystems will further exacerbate water and food scarcity, worsening the living conditions of vulnerable people and communities.

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