Devin D. Thorpe thinks he is the luckiest person alive. After being “let go” from the best job he’d ever had—as the Chief Financial Officer of the multinational food and beverage company MonaVie—he and his wife ended up living in China for a year where he wrote Your Mark On The World and embarked on the career he’d always wanted yet hadn’t dared dream.
Now, as an author, a popular guest speaker and Forbes contributor, Devin is devoted full time to championing social good. His current life isn’t much like his past.
As an entrepreneur, Devin ran—at separate times—a boutique investment banking firm and a small mortgage company. He served as the Treasurer for the multinational vitamin manufacturer USANA Health Sciences years before becoming CFO for MonaVie. Over his career he led or advised on the successful completion of $500 million in transactions.
Devin squeezed in two brief stints in government, including two years working for Jake Garn on the U.S. Senate Banking Committee Staff and another year working for an independent state agency called USTAR, where he helped foster technology entrepreneurship during Governor Jon Huntsman’s administration.
Devin is proud to have graduated from the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business, which recognized him as a Distinguished Alum in 2006. He also earned an MBA at Cornell University where he ran the student newspaper, Cornell Business.
Today, Devin channels the idealism of his youth with the loving support of his wife, Gail. Their son Dayton is a PhD candidate in Physics at UC Berkeley (and Devin rarely misses an opportunity to mention that).
By: Dr. Robert Kagbo, PhD, Director of Agriculture, World Hope International
In the African coastal nation of Sierra Leone, memories of a brutal 11-year civil war still-linger as the country continues to work to rebuild its infrastructure, its people and their livelihoods. Though more than 10 years have passed since the war’s end, the devastating effects are still tangible – most notably in the country’s extreme levels of poverty, food scarcity and stagnant economic growth.
Growing up in a poor family in rural Sierra Leone, I know all too well the many struggles that my people have had to endure. From malnutrition and HIV/AIDS to illiteracy and lack of clean water sources, it’s no surprise that Sierra Leone currently ranks 177 out of 187 countries worldwide on the Human Development Index, a measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, standard of living and quality of life.
Despite the grim story this ranking tells, there is hope for my country – hope found in Sierra Leone’s largest industry – agriculture. By leveraging the land’s rich, fertile soil and natural resources, Sierra Leone can create a more robust and stable economy. As the newly appointed Director of Agriculture for World Hope International (WHI), a U.S.-based Christian relief and development organization, we have recently launched a new innovative agriculture program involving pineapples, which is designed to grow Sierra Leone’s agricultural export base and provide small holder farmers with jobs and year-round income. Why is this so important?
Employing nearly 75 percent of working Sierra Leoneans and making up close to 50 percent of the country’s GDP, agriculture plays a crucial role in Sierra Leone’s economy. Yet the majority of Sierra Leone’s poor live in rural areas – where agriculture and small holder farming are the primary sources of livelihood. The plight of these farmers worsens during Sierra Leone’s “Hungry Months” – the four-month season in between harvests when farming families often eat only one meal per day.
To combat and ultimately eliminate the difficult “Hungry Season,” pineapples- with their high market-value and ability to be harvested year-round - will play a key role in WHI’s agriculture program. Overall, the program aims to introduce the concept of cultivating pineapples to be commercially exported (a first for Sierra Leone!) to smallholder farmers in Sierra Leone - creating an estimated 2,500 long term and sustainable agricultural jobs, as well as year-round incomes for farmers.
Through the “Planting Pineapples, Harvesting Hope” program, WHI will work with 160 villages to enhance local pineapple farming by training and educating farmers to grow pineapples on a massive scale – in large farming plots or in their own villages – and improve their local institutional capacities to a level that will earn them steady income and jobs. Moreover, farmers will have access to a direct buyer and guaranteed market for their fruit. Africa Felix Juice (AFJ), the first manufacturer to export significant value added goods from Sierra Leone since the end of the country’s long civil war, will purchase pineapples grown by these smallholder farmers and produce juice concentrate to be sold all over the world. The result? A win-win for all!
The best thing about the pineapples program is that its influence spans beyond small holder farmers and Africa Felix Juice. Families, villages and future generations will reap the benefits of pineapples through more stable communities and a stronger economy. As Sierra Leoneans look to restore our country from its broken past, pineapples offer hope for a fruitful future.
About Dr. Robert Kagbo:
Dr. Robert Kagbo is the Director of Agriculture at World Hope International. A native Sierra Leonean with a PhD in Agronomy and Soil Science, Dr. Kagbo has extensive experience in agriculture in West Africa. Motivated by a deep desire to leverage both his training and knowledge to give back to his home country of Sierra Leone, Dr. Kagbo views the pineapples program as an innovative means of poverty reduction and economic stimulation.
At noon Eastern on Monday, December 9, 2013, people involved in Impact HUBs around the world will join me for a live discussion about the things that are going on in these exciting collaboration spaces for social entrepreneurs.
Tune in and listen while you work!
A few weeks ago I visited the Bay Area Impact Hub and wrote this piece for Forbes. Kevin Jones, one of the owners and an owners in several other HUB locations and founder of SoCap, will be among those who join us Monday.
Guest post by Alison Jane Reid
I have two great passions in life. The first is writing and the second is slow food. By the time I was seven I knew I would be a writer. Reading and living in my imagination is and was as important to me as breathing.
The second passion found me. I was a freshman at university in Wales studying for a degree in English Literature. The eighties was a miserable time to be a foodie. It was the era of boil in the bag fish, pot noodles and cuppa soup. Ghastly doesn’t begin to describe the situation. Everything had the pervading taste of plastic and chemicals. Then something utterly marvelous happened. A tiny jewel of an organic bakery opened in my Welsh university town, with a ridiculously long name in Welsh, which I still can’t pronounce. At the time it was like entering a lost, culinary Elysium - the holy grail of baking nirvana.
Soon the secret was out. Every day there would be a queue of discerning students who had discovered that our daily bread was better than quick, fumbled, inexperienced sex or binge drinking in the student bar. You have to remember the traditional craft of baking had been sacrificed on the altar of industrialized convenience. Bread if you can call it that, came pre-sliced and anemically white and tasted like sawdust and glue. Just in the nick of time revolution was in the air, and my little bakery was right there offering a tantalizing glimpse of food that was not only delicious; but thoroughly life enhancing too.
I am trying on a fascinator, made of nettles. The picture was taken at the London Fashion Week Exhibition for Sustainable Fashion and Accessory Design.
Suddenly, bread was no longer an abomination – it was a meal. Did I want a rich, nutty wholemeal organic tin, shot through with tangy, decadent layers of caramelized local cheddar? – Or a soft, yielding Pain de Campagne that made the perfect partner to thick, homemade soup? I’ve saved the best until last. The cakes were the work of a genius. The wholemeal organic Chelsea Bun was my eureka taste moment. The day I became an organic girl forever, with an eternal cake habit. The bakery made a bun that was absolute cake decadence. It was a cross between really good Christmas cake and a toasted teacake. Reader, it was a fat, sticky, nutty, fruit-packed slab of unadulterated pleasure – and I can still smell the sweet, aromatic aroma of cinnamon today.
The bakery and joining a student food co-op set me on a path to culinary discovery that continues to delight and sustain me to this day. Yet it is only in recent years that I have finally had the time and the opportunity to write about food and some very exciting chefs who truly understand that great cooking begins with really good raw ingredients, as un-tampered with as possible.
For the first part of my grown up life, I concentrated on developing a successful career as a feature writer, writing about icons and national treasures, and my love of real food remained in the background, a private passion. Despite a rather snooty English teacher telling me I was aiming my sights too high to become a leading journalist, I proved her wrong. For the best part of the last eighteen years I have worked as a high- flying journalist. Training at Mirror Group Newspapers and going on to work for The Times Magazine for a decade, creating interviews and theatrical fashion stories with the icons of our age from film icons, to national treasures and naturalists to adventurers and captains of industry. I have interviewed: Sir David Attenborough, Karl Lagerfeld, Naomi Watts, Clive Owen, Yves Saint Laurent, Kate Moss, Kim Cattrall, Colin Morgan, Brian May, Marianne Faithfull, Helena Christiansen, Hugh Bonneville and Richard Branson to name but a few. I have also contributed features and opinion pieces to: The Lady, Country Life, The Orient Express Magazine, Newsweek, Red and You Magazine. My work has been published around the globe.
Covered in organic chocolate for the first Ethical Hedonist Chocolate Odyssey Event for Organic September 2013.
I love writing with a passion, and thrive best in an atmosphere of intense creativity and encouragement.
Occasionally, my public and private interests were indulged, but not often enough! Sue Peart, the editor of You Magazine encouraged me to create a serious of groundbreaking articles in the mid noughties, which held a mirror up to the fast world of fashion and asked the question – how could it become more sustainable? I interviewed and styled Sienna Miller, in the little known Fairtrade label People Tree, and she asked You Magazine readers to buy organic knickers and change the world. The feature created a lot of excitement and Philip Green invited the brand to be stocked in Top Shop.
I went on to interview and style the daughters of British rock ‘n’ roll royalty in organic and recycled couture clothing – and talked to Bono’s wife Alison about putting the sex appeal into sustainable fashion.
Then, suddenly things started to get tough.
Everything changed in 2008 when the media and journalists were very badly affected both by recession, and the growing impact of the Internet. Towards the end of 2008, I experienced a sudden and very dramatic fall in fees for my journalism. There was no warning. It was a terrifying and worrying time. Gradually, I woke up to the truth. Fees were plummeting because the audience for print journalism was vanishing. While a few people clung to what was fast becoming ‘the old media’ – most people were finding out what was going on the world by going online, and disserting magazines and newspapers. It was a huge shock. My finances went into free fall and my health suffered terribly from a constant struggle to survive.
Sienna Miller starred in my sustainable fashion feature for You Magazine fashion shoot and helped to start a revolution
I faced a stark choice. Either think about a dramatic career change or join the digital revolution. I didn’t know the first thing about digital technology. At the same time, I have always been naturally entrepreneurial, and I knew that it would be a personal tragedy to give up journalism. I started to research setting up a website, and read one very good piece of advice. A fellow journalist said that if you wanted to be successful online, you needed to find your niche. ‘Follow your passion he decreed’. It was the best advice I have ever been given.
That was the day I decided to merge my private passion for food and sustainability with my love of writing about icons and national treasures and The Ethical Hedonist started to take form.
My idea was simple, to create a magazine inspired by the life I have lived since I was an eighteen year old fresher at university – a life which happily revolves around eating delicious slow, local and organic food, dressing in gorgeous vintage gowns, using organic skincare and seeking out authentic treasures that are made by talented artisans to last a lifetime. I would also include exciting interviews with world-class icons from Sir David Attenborough to Colin Morgan and Brian May.
Colin Morgan, the ethical star of BBC Merlin - I interviewed and styled him and the interview has become a global hit
I don’t like the idea of cults. Far too dangerous; but I do want to share the life of an unashamedly optimistic Ethical Hedonist! I like the idea of changing people’s perception of what it means to live a slow, authentic life, one dress, one cake and one loaf of real, slow bread at a time. The last five years have been a slow, exciting and sometimes frustrating journey. There were periods when I had to press the pause button on EH, and go off and do something else to keep a roof over my head, and that of my gorgeous cat – Belle de Jour.
Then, after parting company with a magazine over ethics and fees, I won a scholarship for Ethical Hedonist and my journalism with School for Creative Start-ups. This was my breakthrough moment. Former Dragon, Doug Richard realized there was a very serious need to help creative people succeed in business, especially during a recession. After an interview at Somerset House, I was picked to be just one of hundred people in the UK given this opportunity in 2012/13. I spent ten months attending boot camps, and learning how to turn my idea of Ethical Hedonist into a dynamic business.
Fast-forward five months, and I am really proud of how far I have come. Ethical Hedonist has some amazing content and Christian; my web maestro and cameraman extraordinaire is doing a brilliant job of transforming the look and functionality of EH as I develop more and more content. Money is starting to come in from the exciting new Directory that features a growing A-Z of brilliant sustainable brands from extraordinary bed makers to super sustainable luxury hotels. I have a lovely graduate intern working with me called Harlen, who overcame dyslexia as a child to graduate with a degree in journalism. Her enthusiasm spurs me on every single day. I have also been offered my first major deal to create Ethical Hedonist content on London for a really lovely sustainable brand and a second deal is also being discussed with a brand that has been at the forefront of green innovation for thirty years. To that you can add a calendar of EH events for 2014 and some very exciting interviews and fashion videos.
Now my dream is to offer a trainee-ship to one lucky aspiring journalist in 2014 – so please join my emerald revolution. Become an Ethical Hedonista and help me make that dream come true and reach for the world with journalism that inspires, educates and truly makes a difference.
****Check my interview with Gordon Buchanan – BBC cameraman turned presenter for Wild Burma – In Search of a Lost Kingdom on BBC 2 tonight. The program takes a critical and magical look at the extraordinary species diversity that still exists in Burma. If we want Asian elephants to survive and thrive in the wild, we need to help Burma protect them.
Alison Jane Reid December 2013
Images Copyright Mike Owen/Alison Jane Reid/Eyevine All rights reserved.
CrowdFunding World Summit is a free online conference featuring in-depth interviews and presentations with over 65 CrowdFunding experts heard over two weeks, including:
* U.S. Senator Mark Warner* U.S. Rep. David Schweikert* U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry* U.K. Member of Parliament Barry Sheerman
* RocketHub Founder Brian Meece* Fundrise Founder Ben Miller* Community Leader Founder Joseph Barisonzi
* Draper Fisher Jurvetson VC Tim Draper* Business mentor Jay Abraham and invited guests* Former NASDAQ Official David Weild IV
It’s free to attend online for Your Mark On The World subscribers and friends, thanks to generous sponsorship by:
The CrowdFunding World Summit is a virtual event, broadcast online from
December 3rd through 16th. You can listen from anywhere.
The world is filled with suffering, so much so that we often assume not only that this is how things have always been but that this is how they must always be.
Forgive me for saying this, but I’m not buying it. It will be hard. It will take money. It will take commitment. It will take passion. But we can change things in one single generation. Thirty years is all that it should take to eliminate many of the world’s biggest problems.
For the last few hundred years most things in the world have been improving observably, not only in terms of generational time, but much faster. In my lifetime we have put a man on the moon and put the computing power that did it into our pockets (which we largely use to share photos of our food with everyone we know).
Not only do we in the developed world have smart phones, but almost every person on earth now has a cell phone. The very next upgrade cycle for phones in the developing world will give them smart phones with the same technology you’ve got in your pocket right now—if you haven’t upgraded your phone in the last 18 months.
The world is online. The entire world. A poor kid in Kenya can now go online using her phone and learn how to become a doctor. Or how to make a more effective IED.
While the progress of technology has extended access to the world’s entire knowledge base to virtually every living human, there are still nearly one billion people who are hungry and starvation continues to be a major cause of death. Well over one billion people live on less than $1.25 per day—the standard definition of extreme poverty.
Millions will die this year of diseases like cancer, malaria, AIDS, tuberculosis, polio and countless other diseases. We already know how to prevent the spread of many of these.
There are tens of millions of young people, predominantly girls, who are not being educated. More people are subjected to slavery today than at any time in the history of the world.
Never before have we had better tools, smarter people and more opportunity to fix what is wrong in the world than we have today. The opportunity is right before us.
Beginning now and for the next several months, I will be interviewing dozens of the world thought leaders about the potential for us to solve big world problems in the next 30 years. I hope—I pray—that I am not overly optimistic in assuming that the world’s brightest minds will lay out for us a path that will allow us to solve big problems.
With each one, I will explore the limits of what we can accomplish, how far we can go toward ending or eliminating one or more of the problems that cause so much human suffering today. Then I will seek to elicit from these brilliant minds the requirements for success. We’ll evaluate the money required, the public policies needed, the attitudes and values that we must adopt in order to bring about the goal.
Together, we will seek to identify the career opportunities for people who want to play a role in this historic effort to solve these problems. We’ll consider the role of entrepreneurs and business in bringing about the changes we hope to see. Finally, we’ll look at what each one of can do, should do, frankly must do in order to make the kind of progress that is needed.
As we review these big problems, I’m confident we’ll find opportunities for everyone to have an impact. And the ultimate outcome of this fight to change the world can and should be peace. World Peace.
When we are fighting for human rights, the end of poverty, the promotion of literacy, health and prosperity, we can’t help but enhance the sense of abundance required to end battles for scarce resources dressed up as ethnic warring.
In the end, I will produce a book, think of it as a handbook, for us to use to guide our collective efforts to make peace achievable by ending so much unnecessary suffering. For now, I’m calling this book, Thirty Years To Peace.
Please tune in for these interviews. I’ll post them here at yourmarkontheworld.com and most will also be available at Forbes.com. Subscribe to my blog to be sure you never miss one. Share this post and the future interviews with your friends.
Together, everyone working together, we can do this. Are you in?
Guest post from Sanjay Banka of Banka BioLoo.
Over 600 million Indians do not have access to toilets and are forced to defecate in the open, posing health hazards, raising environmental concerns and leading to water contamination. With an average 18 million people travelling by train every day, Indian Railways is ‘our lifeline’, says Namita Banka, founder and CEO of Banka BioLoo, but its toilets were ‘in a pitiful state’.
In 2009, she began her toilet journey as a liaising agent for two toilet manufacturers supplying the Railways and developed her knowledge of the sanitation situation. An able businesswoman, she built up a reputation and bagged a US$100,000 annual toilet maintenance contract on certain East Coast Railways lines. It was her ticket to an even more promising business – with immense benefits to the society and environment, which she incorporated in 2012.
Banka BioLoo uses the bio-digester technology patented and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), an Indian government agency, to dispose of human waste in a low-cost and low-maintenance manner. ‘We use a set of bacteria that “eat away” human waste, leaving bio-gas that can be used as fuel and effluent water that can be reused for gardening.’
The bacteria are placed in the bio-tanks that can then be fitted to new toilets or retrofitted to existing facilities, including septic tanks. ‘No replenishment of bacteria is required and very negligible sludge is formed, which makes these toilets virtually maintenance free. Bio-digester is a consortium of anaerobic bacteria, which convert the organic waste into water, methane and CO2. The anaerobic process inactivates the pathogens responsible for water-borne diseases. The household is not dependent on an external infrastructure for waste transportation and treatment. It eases the burden on the central waste treatment system such as sewage treatment plants in urban areas. The enterprise has taken a lot of initiative and effort to popularize the technology, as also takes it to the masses and the needy.
In addition to its work with Railways, Banka BioLoo is installing bio-toilets in individual houses, state schools and on-site facilities of construction and infrastructure companies. Some of the installations have been in rural areas of Andhra Pradesh, funded by an NGO, in Odisha, funded by an industry association.
The social enterprise, having pioneered the concept of bio-toilets, advocates a general shift in thinking about human waste disposal. ‘The government is spending millions of rupees on building public toilets that are not maintained because nobody wants to clean up other people’s waste.’ Along with the trains, Namita’s goal is to ‘bring a toilet to every household in India.’
These bio-toilets (or bioloos) dispose the human waste:
Believing in Sanitation for All, and going beyond the MDGs, the social enterprise is actively working on ways to bring down the costs of the bio-toilet to make them available to the vast majority of very low-income population. The mission is to provide affordable, effective and safe toilet systems.
By Aziza Kibibi McGill Ayinde, 2013 Women’s Opportunity Awards Recipient
Soroptimist & LiveYourDream.org would like to introduce a woman near and dear to our hearts, one of our 2013 Women’s Opportunity Awards finalists, Aziza Kibibi (McGill). Aziza’s story is one of pain, but more so of the triumph of spirit to overcome, and a story of how women (like you!) were instrumental in changing Aziza’s reality. She is not a victim, but a survivor, and she flourishes in her new life. She is the recipient of a 2013 Women’s Opportunity Award, which will allow her to continue her education and pursue her dreams. Here is her story.
Last year I took a major step in my life and entered a world that was foreign to me. The world of formal education. I was homeschooled by my parents until I was about eleven, after which I taught myself. If I asked my parents what a word meant, they sent me to read the dictionary. If I wanted to know how something worked, I was instructed to look it up in the encyclopedia.
I learned fourth grade math by watching ‘Square One’ on PBS and Mr. Rogers taught me how crayons were made. But my childhood consisted of more than just reading books and watching channel thirteen.
When I was eight years old my father decided to give me hands on lessons about what some people refer to as the birds and the bees.
By the time I was ten, he was having intercourse with me, and taught me how to perform oral sex on him.
By the time I was eleven, he had me watching pornography more than I watched educational television, and he’d penetrated me in every part of my body. All attempts at escape failed and he deemed me his sex slave.
At fifteen I got pregnant with my first child and by the time I turned the age where most girls are celebrating their sweet sixteen, I gave birth to my own sister.
I’ve been pregnant with five of my father’s children, four of which I carried to term. Two are healthy, and two had genetic disorders, which is a challenge in itself.
After losing custody of my children to foster care, emancipating myself from my father, getting my children back and recovering from the death of my fourth daughter, I decided I was going to school. I got my GED and I applied for college.
I am currently a Liberal Arts Communications major with a 3.68 GPA, I run my own catering and baking business, I’ve written a book on my experiences and I administrate two online blogs. Not bad for someone who started off with less than a fourth grade education, huh?
In my first semester of college last year, one of my classes was sociology. I learned about Karl Marx, W.E.B. Du Bois and a host of other experts of human behavior in society. What stood out to me in sociology class, was Robert K. Merton’s idea of ‘The Self Fulfilling Prophecy.’ As I read about his and other theories of socialization I applied them to some of my experiences growing up, my lack of socialization and how I integrate myself in society now.
When I was younger I dreamt of being able to go to school. I created an existence in my mind where I was in control of my life and my destiny.
And even after I started having children for my father I never gave up on the possibility of escaping him. Then one day after the first domino in my life had been knocked over, I turned around and realized I made all the dreams I had as a child a reality.
And though as a single mom I don’t get enough sleep, my bank account has question marks instead of dollar signs, and I don’t know what comes on television anymore; I truly understand the meaning of liberation.
The prophecy that I created when I was a child in an attempt to protect my sanity, is being fulfilled; and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Each year, more than $1.6 million in education grants are disbursed through the Women’s Opportunity Awards program to more than 1,000 women, many of whom have overcome domestic and sexual violence, just like Aziza.
Emma, the provider of email marketing services has chosen to provide free accounts to a variety of nonprofit organizations.
On Wednesday, December 4, 2013, at 6:00 Eastern, I’ll be joined by four people to discuss strategies for effective email marketing for nonprofits. Listen while you work:
The participants in the call will include: