Guest post by Karen Gould (@ssgkaren) from StartSomeGood.
Personally, I can’t imagine a much more terrifying experience than being locked up in a Qatar prison on charges of insulting Islam.
This is where Nepali teacher Dorje Gurung found himself, after an attempt to teach private school kids about stereotyping and discrimination was tragically misinterpreted.
Things could have got very bad indeed, but this is how the story ended:
Photo credit: Alka Shrestha
Dorje’s friends and family started a petition and campaigned voraciously across social media. Finally, he was released from prison to the arms of his family in Kathmandu.
“After my friends secured my release from prison, I learned that online campaigns and social media had been mostly responsible for it,” says Dorje. Having witnessed the power of online communities in his own life, he was inspired to harness that power to fight broader injustices.
“I owe my professional and personal success to education, which I wasn’t supposed to have had access to because of my background: I came from a low socioeconomic background,” says Dorje.
“I achieved academic success owing partly to charities of others: my education was paid for mostly by others. It’s incumbent upon me therefore, to seek to provide such opportunities to the young and marginalized children of Nepal.”
Dorje’s experience in Qatar was an eye-opener. He was released, but he saw many others who weren’t so lucky, and had many an occasion to be grateful for his education, and that of his supporters.
“In Qatar I learned that if you are from a developing country and you don’t have good, high quality education at home, then you will easily become a victim of gross exploitation abroad,” he says.
“I saw semi-skilled and unskilled laborers from the Indian subcontinent and other parts of Asia suffering from this on a daily basis both outside and inside the jail in Qatar.
“High quality education gives you the freedom to determine your own destiny.”
Dorje is running a crowdfunding campaign on StartSomeGood to improve education standards and resources for schools in Sindupalchowk, Nepal. He’s calling on those who believe that education is freedom to support his project and help create a fairer future.
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Guest post by Cordelia Manis of the Savii Group.
When Gina Manis-Anderson took her corporate cost cutting skills to form Savii Group, she knew she wanted to do more than just help companies increase their financial capital. She wanted to use her experience to help companies realize the importance of increasing their human and social capital as well. And she believes strongly that social capital is the key.
“A company’s philanthropic culture is a formidable differentiator in the marketplace. Positive social capital improves recruiting and retention of key talent, and helps to attract customers who make buying decisions in a socially responsible manner,” says Manis-Anderson. “Plus, it’s just the right thing to do for non-profits who face such steep challenges in fundraising in the current economic climate.” Research shows that non-profits are increasingly operating in crisis mode, with little or no budget for program expansion or emergencies. Manis-Anderson’s commitment to non-profit organizations inspired her to find a solution.
Relying on the innovation that made her a leader in expense management, she created the Partnership Pledge Program (P3) to bridge the gap that exists between non-profits and corporate donors. Formulated for both corporations and non-profits, the P3 strategy engages Savii Group’s expertise in freeing up capital companies didn’t know they had. This capital can be applied toward Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to increase the corporate value of for-profits and create sustainable donations for non-profit organizations.
Here’s how it works:
“Savii Group’s new P3 program makes it painless for corporations to become involved with non-profits and enables them to reclaim capital to grow their corporate social responsibility programs with a focused approach,” says Manis-Anderson, “All while creating sustainable, new revenue for the non-profits that need it so badly.”
Manis-Anderson is proud of the commitment Savii Group has made: they’ve set a million dollar goal for their Big Give program. With the pledges they have in the pipelines, they are confident it won’t be long until they reach that goal.
Guest post by Shaun King, founder of HopeMob.
By now you have heard the news of the devastation caused by the tornado in Moore, OK. The stats are history in the making: a rating of EF5, winds 166 to 200 mph, an estimation of size to be at least two miles wide at one point as it moved through Moore. And while these stats are mind shattering, it’s the stories that are most heart breaking. 38,000 people without power. Vine videos from @GeminiTiger86 right in the midst of devastation. Highways completely shut down. An elementary school full of children demolished.
In the days and hours following natural disasters like this one, social and online platforms are critical tools not only for information sharing, but also for fundraising. Crowdfunding sites make it easier for people to donate to victims of tragedies, to help restore buildings and pay hospital bills, funeral costs, and more.
As soon as I heard of the tragedy in Oklahoma, I knew that I could mobilize a community on my crowdfunding website, HopeMob. We’re a mob of kind-hearted strangers who are banding together to raise money and awareness on HopeMob. HopeMob is the first site of its kind and it’s exactly what it sounds like – a mob of people bringing hope. The revolutionary part? It’s the first site in history to offer fee-free fundraising. While most sites charge between two and 15 percent service fees, HopeMob is not charging anything to users and, additionally, we are covering the transaction fees by going out and fundraising on our own from corporations and foundations.
Our initial plan to help was simple. We partnered with Convoy of Hope and aimed raise $15,000 in 7 days. Why 7 days? In these first 7 days the town of Moore, OK will be consumed with clearing out destruction and accessing their needs. Once those needs are known, Convoy of Hope will be able to give them the funds to help them rebuild.
Convoy of Hope has served more than 55 million people throughout the world through international children’s feeding initiatives, community outreaches, disaster response and partner resourcing. Year after year, they are lauded for their effectiveness and efficiency in mobilizing tens of thousands of volunteers for community outreaches and during times of disaster response.
Leadership communicator Andy Stanley once said, “Do for one what you wish you could for everyone.” We know we can’t help everyone. But we can help SOMEONE. Fortunately, we’ve surpassed our goal, but naturally, we want to continue to raise as much money as we can over these next 7 days to help victims of this devastating tragedy. Join us in our effort to raise this money in the next 7 days. We believe in giving, we believe in you, and we believe in Oklahoma. Please visit the fundraising page for Moore tornado victims and donate $5, $10 or whatever you have. Share the link with your friends and family and join the mob of hope.
This is a guest post from Alex Binkley, a Harvard and Boston University educated corporate lawyer. He has worked for and run numerous small businesses throughout his life, ranging from a small local recycling company to a rowing shell manufacturer. But it was after spending years helping both startups and public companies build and grow that he really noticed a lack of options for small businesses that needed capital. He helped start Funding Community with the goal of helping businesses gain greater control over their own destiny.
My local New York City coffee shop has a problem… its espresso is good but not great. The owners are itching to improve, but they have a business to run and baristas to pay so they just cannot afford expensive improvements like a better espresso machine. The shop’s cash flow is solid, but because the business is relatively new it does not yet have reserves for major improvements. And if you have followed small business news over the past few years you likely know there is little chance a bank would lend to my coffee shop.
Personally, I want to see this business take off, but I am only one person and despite my best efforts I cannot fund these improvements buying $2 cups of coffee all day.
Like many Americans, I have worked hard and always saved my money. I put a little in the market, but most stayed in the bank where it would be safe and grow with interest. Recently, however, my hard-earned savings has been wallowing in a bank account earning just 0.5%. Meanwhile my bank has been turning around and lending my money to its other consumer clients at 23%!
This is why we started Funding Community, the first US crowdfunding platform for small business loans. Funding Community lets small businesses borrow money on better terms and allows individuals to lend to support these small businesses’ loans. If my coffee shop were to start a campaign to buy a $5,000 espresso machine Funding Community would post the loan campaign to the platform at www.fundingcommunity.com where just about anyone from across the United States could lend anywhere from $25 to $1,000! Each month the coffee shop repays principal and interest, and at the end of nine months its loan is fully repaid.
That’s not all a lender gets though. We ask each borrower on Funding Community to provide a “reward,” like 10% off, to its lenders. That way lenders like me who already support the borrower are encouraged to come in more often, while other local lenders are encouraged to become customers and new champions of the business. Because I am lending to local businesses I want to patronize I get the opportunity to shape my own community’s growth!
While we would love all borrowers to be fully funded locally, there may only be enough local interest to fund a portion of each loan. Because our primary goal is to find funding for these great local businesses we will not leave out someone in San Francisco just because she cannot take advantage of the discount at my coffee shop.
She can still lend to the business because she likes how the shop looks and operates and has found Funding Community to be a better place to put her money.
Funding Community is trying to change how individuals can shape the small business landscape of the United States, while doing better financially at the same time. By lending in Funding Community everyone can do well by doing good.
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to attend the Milken Institute Global Conference 2013. For me, this was a once-in-a-lifetime (so far) experience that ranks high on my list. I wrote a piece for Forbes on some of the great panels on impact investing that I attended.
While Al Gore was there, I did not get a chance to visit with him.
By special arrangement, I was able to get an hour one-on-one with four-star General Wesley Clark, the former NATO commander of allied forces in Europe who ran for President in 2004.
In an upcoming article in Forbes, I’ll be writing more about my interview with him, but let me just say that he is an extraordinary person. He is as articulate off the cuff as anyone I’ve ever met and clearly as smart as they come.
General Clark serves on the advisory board to Vital Capital, which is led by Eytan Stibbe of Tel Aviv. Vital Capital has partnered with Impact Capital Strategies in the U.S. Eric Weinberg and David van Adelsberg joined Mr. Stibbe at the conference. They arranged for me to meet with the General.
General Clark was immediately impressed by Mr. Stibbe when they met in Milan years ago and immediately traveled with him to see his projects in Africa. Vital Capital is a large, private equity firm that does impact investing–investments made with a social impact objective–there in Africa. Vital has provided the equity for several billion dollars of affordable housing in Sub-Saharan Africa.How’s that for impact!
I’m eager to tell you the whole story, but you’ll have to wait. Next month I’ll be going to Africa to see the projects myself. When I return, I’ll write up my report in Forbes and perhaps do a longer report in a Kindle Single. I’ll also share thoughts and insights here–don’t worry.