If you give someone at Compass a soapbox, don’t be surprised to hear him or her start talking about how for-profits and not-for-profits have a lot to learn from each other. Enabling college students to use entrepreneurship for social good is our mission here at Compass, so we love when not-for-profits try to incorporate successful business practices and when for-profit corporations try to make their work socially beneficial.
To continue this stream of thought regarding the interconnection between the realms of anthropology, community interaction, and social entrepreneurship, I distinctly think of two clear examples that embrace these concepts that everyone should investigate:
Kiva is a micro-financing organization based online that connects donors with local entrepreneurs working within their own communities. With their mission to “connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty,” Kiva exists as a very successful example of bridging the disconnect between those who have the ideas but who are short on funds with people who have funding but no appropriate outlet world wide. The network is uniquely designed to provide the entrepreneur with a short-term loan, which will be paid back over time and can then can be re-issued in the future. I became personally connected to this site when relatives of mine gave a donation in my name for Christmas three years ago. Literally, it is entrepreneurial investing.
Check out their website at http://www.kiva.org/about
“Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson is a personal account of the achievement of “peace through education.” The book details Greg Mortenson’s determined quest to build schools in some of the most dangerous areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Raising money on his own, as of 2009 he has established/supports 131 schools which have provided education to 58,000 children, 44,000 of them being girls, throughout volatile regions in the Pakistani and Afghani countryside. Among many testimonials from political and military figures alike, “Mortenson is a living hero to rural communities of Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he has gained the trust of Islamic leaders, military commanders, government officials and tribal chiefs from his tireless effort to champion education, especially for girls.”
Check out his website at http://www.threecupsoftea.com/ and his new book “Stones into Schools” coming out this December.
Just some inspiration as we head into the last few days before break. One idea can go quite far…..
~ Kathryn Angstadt, Georgetown College 2010
Vail makes some great points in her post… points that flashed me back to some fascinating discussions from my STIA-305 class (Science and Technology in the Global Arena) last year. Much of this course centered around understanding and analyzing a technology’s life cycle. If I had kept my notes I could give you a more thorough explanation (with the correct terminology) but this essentially refers to a technology’s trajectory path from the invention and design stages to a local market and beyond. A staggering majority of new technologies fail miserably once left to the mercy of our free market system, but lucky few gain popularity and then enter improvement and further development stages. Depending on the specific technology, the next stage may be exportation, possibly for implementation in a developing country.
One of the books assigned for the semester was titled “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid” by C.K. Prahalad and the themes within it were drawn upon through the entire course. Many of the themes echo Vail’s thoughts from the last blog post. Much of the western world believes that throwing money at developing nations is the way to solve the myriad of issues plaguing these countries. While this charity is honorable (though a great percentage of funds are commonly funneled away from the deserving toward corrupt groups and leaders) it is not the economical nor efficient way to bring these nations up to a more comparable political, economical or social standing with the rest of the developed world—which should be the real goal. This is a mountain of a task, however, as “The Fortune” points out.
If you have a passion for any developing country in particular, have a future plan to start any charity or entrepreneurial endeavor in a developing world, OR are just looking to learn… I highly recommend picking up this book. It’s skimmable with comprehensive lists that summarize the lengthy paragraphs. If the book had one thesis it would be this: A technology that has been assimilated into a modern culture cannot simply be picked up an dropped into a developing world. To succeed, this technology and all mechanisms, marketing images, and functionalities related to it must be significantly altered to function in the potential market and appeal to the new population. Entirely new business models are necessary to assimilate a technology into the poorest areas of the world. As Bill Gates puts it, this book “offers an intriguing blueprint for how to fight poverty with profitability.” NOT a bad phrase, eh Compass?
To make this tangible, this book brings up questions beyond the typical “what does this area need,” and “where can the funding come from?” But expands to ask questions like “what kind of instruction manual would be most easily understood so the learning curve isn’t the downfall of this technology?” “Are replacement parts easily accessible?” “Are experts needed to get this company/tech off the ground? What about when these experts go back to their home country?” “Is this tech sustainable with local resources?” “Does this company fit into the cultural norms of this area?” And on and on… ACTUALLY aiding the developing world involves so much more than money.
I am currently studying abroad in Ifrane, Morocco for the semester and have spent the entire three months so far with wide eyes, this being my first living experience in a developing country. While my campus is quite modern, and serves many of the richest in this country, I have traveled extensively with fellow exchange students and have seen how the many modest of Morocco live. Tying Morocco to the aforementioned idea of reforming business models to be applicable in emerging markets is easy. Click on the pictures I’ve attached (I don’t know how to make them bigger!)… it is blaringly obvious that companies or technologies that are dependent on internet, electricity or RUNNING WATER need to get creative to succeed in certain areas here. And by some standards, Morocco is pretty advanced.
Food for thought.. sorry this is so long! See everyone in January! (:
~ Maria Hayden, Georgetown SFS 2011
Between the UNICEF Development Conference where I attended a workshop about Girls Education in the Middle East, writing an anthropology essay about the social implications of being poor, and reading an insightful book Working Hard, Drinking Hard about the plight of Honduras, much of the past few days has been characterized by themes and topics deeply connected to the world of social entrepreneurship.
Although I have previously written about the importance of education in breaking the cycle of poverty on the Compass blog (see post about Room to Read), my belief in this basic yet powerful human right was absolutely confirmed this weekend during a myriad of academic pursuits.
Poverty almost always derives in some part from a lack in standard education. In the tiny impoverished nation of Honduras, economic inequality stems from this reality. Consequently, thousands of individuals join violent gangs like La Mara Salvatrucha and accept government oppression as an internalized punishment for their sense of monetary inferiority. In Jordan and other Middle Eastern countries, lack of education access and academic support that encourage girls to stay in school causes many young women to abandon any dreams and instead marry young. This social reality in turn creates detrimental reinforcements of cultural stereotypes and excludes them from participating in the economic sphere.
Issues of poverty and education are inextricably connected, that much seems obvious. So how do we confront such an absence of education, not only the access to schools but also the quality of education they should provide for rural and impoverished kids??
Several decades ago, long before the term social entrepreneurship was widely used and understood, Colombia-native, Stanford-educated social entrepreneur Vicky Colbert revolutionized the approach to primary education in her home country. With her Escuela Nueva model of active student participation and engagement, as well as a focus on fostering dialogue instead of the simple transmission of information by teacher, Colbert has touched the lives of over 5 million children in Latin America.
As Charles Schwab Fellow of the World Economic Forum, Colbert knows how to effectively create powerful change through simple, sustainable, and cost-effective education models. In essence, the Escuela Nueva schools function as such:
“EN’s approach employs self-paced, cost effective learning materials and encourages a new role for teachers to facilitate learning rather than simply transmit information. Children work in small groups promoting active learning, participation and cooperation. Learning takes place through dialogue and interaction. The curriculum is locally adapted to include learning relevant to the daily lives and contexts of students. Beyond basic academic subjects, EN’s curriculum includes activities that strengthen each school’s relationship with the community and reinforces the self-esteem, democratic, participatory and citizenship values of students.”
The strategies outlined by the organization may seem simple, but their implementation foster huge changes that ultimately provide children with the necessary tools to one day escape the world of poverty into which they were born.
~ Sarah Henningsen, Georgetown College 2012