Here’s the harsh reality:
Female refugees are more oppressed, the victims of greater violence, and less supported than any other refugee group. When they arrive in Utah, their conservative cultures require them to maintain the home and raise children, their family’s poverty requires that they go into the workforce, often without adequate English or skills to do so. Female refugees suffer PTSD, domestic violence, social ostracism but have few social safety nets to fall into when they are overwhelmed.
This, according to Samira Harnish, an accomplished, retired engineer who has devoted herself to serving refugee women.
Samira’s organization, Women of the World, is here to help. She says, “Women of the World serves and advocates on behalf of female refugees independent of their time in the United States. WoW ensures women feel at home before developing a customized service package for them which can include our Practical English Program, partnering with mental and physical health professionals, immigration or housing agencies, or enrollment in our Economic Empowerment program. We work until our ladies our self-reliant and then recognize them to make role models out of their efforts.”
Faced with the daunting challenge of helping women from around the world to overcome seemingly overwhelming problems, Samira strikes an optimistic tone. “Women are the pillar of the family and when they have a voice, an agent of change for the entire community. Women of the World not only creates in roads for refugees, but also serves to educate the broader Utah populace to the struggles and perseverance of our new neighbors and ways they can get involved.”
She adds, “Indeed it is easy to help female refugees, you befriend them and speak to them in English, this practice and social network will ensure they become active citizens”
On Wednesday, December 23, 2015 at 3:00 Eastern, Samira will join me for a live discussion about her work in helping refugees. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about Women of the World:
Women of the World is a women’s refugee service organization that helps women move from victim to active citizens in the SLC community. We accomplish this through our programs of Customized Advocacy, Practical English, and Economic Empowerment. Women of the World is a five year young organization that helps refugee women that are no longer getting resettlement assistance in all of their roles in order to attain our mission of Supporting Refugee Women to Achieve Self Reliance, Economic Empowerment, and a Voice in the Community. Women of the World has been granted the SLC Mayor’s Award for Diversity and Human Rights along with numerous foundation grants. Women of the World’s Annual Fashion Show during the International Women’s Day is a signature event for teaching Utahans about the cultures and trials of our new neighbors.
Samira Harnish is the Founder & Executive Director of The Women of the World, a non-profit helping refugee women achieve self-reliance. She struggled against bigotry and poverty to get her degree in Civil Engineering and, after settling in Boise, getting a job as a semiconductor manufacturing engineer. As a research and development engineer, Samira was integral to the development some of the most advanced memory products ever assembled. When she retired, Samira was in charge of storage node development at the largest domestic manufacturer of semiconductor memory.
Samira has always served her community. She has been responsible for educating young women in the sciences as a member of Women in Engineering, assisting the elderly in Meals on Wheels, and interpreting in Arabic in the courts and healthcare sectors. In Utah, she served as an officer in the Iraqi Community of Utah and as a contractor at Utah Health and Human Rights Department. In 2010, Samira founded Women of the World to fulfill a lifelong dream of assisting women refugees who had suffered mental and physical trauma in war and camps to achieve self-sufficiency in her adopted country of America. Women of the World is Samira’s heart on her sleeve, a 24/7 small business with the mission of supporting refugee women to achieve self-reliance, a voice in the community, and empowering economic success. Samira has received numerous awards for her service work including Enlightened 50 and the Mayor’s Diversity and Human Right’s Award.
“My life plan was completely altered on July 17, 1997. While at work as a customer support manager for a software company, I started having an excruciating headache. It was like a volcano erupted in my head. Actually it was an eruption–of large and small veins in my brain. A massive hemorrhage ensued that resulted in a paralyzing stroke,” explained Julia Fox Garrison, the bestselling author and motivational speaker.
The stroke was debilitating.
Julia says, “Aside from the obvious physical impairments of left-sided hemiparesis with attendant numbness, tone and spasticity; I also have a condition called “Left Neglect.” My brain doesn’t recognize that I have a left side. It is a basic unawareness that the left side exists. It’s a condition that has gotten me into some unusual circumstances that sometimes leave people somewhere between bemused and bewildered, but all I can do is laugh because I have no control over it.”
The physical challenges are really just the starting point, she says. “In addition to the debilitating physical limitations, there was an enormous emotional toll as I tried to reclaim my roles as working mother, wife, daughter, sister. I went through an identity crisis while recuperating. I had been climbing the corporate ladder, but post-stroke, I couldn’t even sit up straight. Going back to work was a nonstarter. I no longer could be a mother to my three-year-old son. I no longer could be a wife and partner to my husband. I needed 24/7 assistance and had to relearn the basic functions.”
Julia’s journey wasn’t easy. The people you’d most expect to be there to help and support her weren’t always the allies you’d want. She says, “While struggling to regain control of my body and my life, I faced a lot of negativity from the medical community regarding my prognosis. For over nine months no one could say with any certainty that I would live. Some suggested that if I did survive, I would by wheel-chair bound with no hope of ever walking again. I realized early on that it was totally up to me to prove all those naysayers wrong.”
But it was that very challenge that put her on her current path. “I never aspired to write a book, but through my experience as a long-term patient embroiled in the healthcare system, I found my voice to be an educator from inside the bed rails. It is important to illuminate the issues patients face beyond their illness: to integrate humanity into the medical treatment; to connect with patients by not only treating the medical condition, but the mind as well; to instill the spirit to achieve the best possible outcome.”
Her life’s biggest challenge has created a stepping stone to impact. She says, “I am also motivated to demonstrate and empower anyone facing a life challenge that they can overcome adversity by trusting intuition, fostering a positive attitude, and practicing happiness and kindness.”
“There are many ways to measure success. For me success is defined by the positive impact I have on others. Readers who tell me my book changed their lives. Attendees who come up to me after I speak to say how moved they were by my message. Medical personnel, doctors, therapists who say I have given them new insight and perspective on how to treat their patients,” she notes.
“I preach the gospel of positivity. Never say ‘I can’t’ without following it up with ‘yet.’ My motto sums up my success: Positive Outlook = Positive Outcome,” she concludes.
On Wednesday, December 23, 2015 at noon Eastern, Julia will join me for a live discussion about her remarkable work. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about Julia’s book Don’t Leave Me This Way.
Julia originally self-published her memoir in May 2005 as’ P.S. Julia: missing a piece of your mind can be puzzling’. It reached the Boston Globe bestseller list within two months by word-of-mouth alone. The success created a stir among national publishers and it went to a publisher’s auction in August 2005. HarperCollinsPublisher won the bid and after some editorial changes released the book in June 2006 as Don’t Leave Me This Way or when I get back on my feet you’ll be sorry.
Julia Fox Garrison had a promising executive career in the computer industry when she suffered a massive brain hemorrhage and paralyzing stroke. While recovering, Julia realized that she had a lot to say. There were lessons to share … about humor, inner strength, and self-determination. In 2006, Harper-Collins published Don’t Leave Me This Way: or when I get back on my feet you’ll be sorry, which chronicles her struggle to regain control over her life and her body. Her experience was a blueprint for how not to let the system dictate the direction, pace, and objectives of one’s recovery experience. The message it conveys is clear: you hold the key to overcoming the obstacles put before you.
Since the publication of Don’t Leave Me This Way (or when I get back on my feet you’ll be sorry), Julia has received far-reaching media exposure, including: Good Morning America, People Magazine, NECN, Fox News, ABC News, BBC World News, NPR, Oprah & Friends with Dr. Mahmet Oz, and various other media channels. Barnes & Noble selected Julia for their Discover Great New Writers series, following the book’s publication. Reader’s Digest included her book in its Condensed Volume for ‘Today’s Best Nonfiction (2007). Her book won the Applied Association of Therapeutic Humor (AATH) award for furthering their mission—humor in medicine.
Julia is now not only a best-selling author, but a national motivational speaker promoting empowerment and humanity in all walks of life.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Tim Ballard’s career with the CIA and Homeland Security may not be what you’d expect. With years of leading rescue efforts to free victims of human trafficking, especially those used as prostitutes, he founded Operation Underground Railroad to liberate captive slaves.
Ballard explains the need for his work. “The scope of the problem is vast; there are an estimated 27 million enslaved human beings in the world: more slaves than ever existed during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Many are sex slaves, as sex trafficking represents the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. Many reputable organizations exist to disseminate information about this problem, and others function as aftercare organizations for victims. Very few, if any, dedicate themselves to the pro-active rescue and direct extraction of the victims, and to the capture and prosecution of their captors. Operation Underground Railroad fills this void.”
Operation Underground Railroad’s work is already logging success. “In just our first two years, O.U.R. has already rescued over 350 victims of human trafficking,” Ballard reports. “Because of the undercover skills of our operatives, foreign governments often seek out O.U.R. to assist in sting operations against child sex traffickers. We keep the respective U.S. Embassies informed of our activities, and have been fortunate to count on their support and participation in a number of our rescues. Our motto is, ‘We enter through the front door, or we do not go in at all,’ and that formula has worked in countries as diverse as Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, and the United States.”
To gain access to trafficking victims, O.U.R. uses a simple rouse of a group of men traveling for sex. Ballard notes, “In a sad commentary on our society, the reason that our cover story has worked so well and has been easily bought by perpetrators is due to the fact that this type of sex party and sex tourism happens for real every day and in almost every part of our globe!”
Although O.U.R. is quickly developing a reputation for dramatic rescues (you can see some on YouTube), much of the work the organization does involves technology. Ballard says:
Our organization has in the past partnered with computer software companies that have helped us root out and pursue child pornographers, child rapists, and child traffickers. These initiatives led to some of the successful operations we conducted to date. Based on feedback we’ve received from countries and embassies around the world and because of the constraints we’ve found in delivering the software, O.U.R. is currently developing its own online tool that will be at the cutting edge of anti-trafficking operations. Because of the international impact this software will have, it is being designed with a federal focus in mind. This solution will empower law enforcement agencies around the world to track not just sex offenders but people who are making or viewing child pornography who are traveling across borders to likely act out against children.
Ballard maintains a clear perspective on the problem he’s set out to solve. “Despite our organization’s successes, we realize that nearly two million children are still out there being abused and trafficked in the worst form of slavery imaginable. It is our hope and prayer that they all will be freed someday, and it is our commitment and promise to dedicate all we have to rescuing them. This vast problem will never be stopped unless good people everywhere rise up and seek a solution, and that is the mission of the Operation Underground Railroad.”
On Thursday, December 17, 2015 at 3:00 Eastern, Ballard will join me here for a live discussion about O.U.R.’s efforts to rescue trafficking victims. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about Operation Underground Railroad:
Since being founded in December 2013, O.U.R. has gathered the world’s experts in extraction operations and in anti-trafficking efforts to bring an end to child slavery. O.U.R.’s Jump Team consists of former CIA, Navy SEALs and Special Ops operatives that lead coordinated identifications and extraction efforts. Once victims are rescued, a comprehensive process involving justice for the perpetrators and recovery begins. While the U.S. government is leading the world in such operations, bureaucracy and jurisdictional limitations can largely hinder it. Most of these suffering children fall outside U.S. jurisdiction and often find themselves kidnapped and abused in regions where the resources to save them are scarce.
Timothy Ballard is the Founder and CEO of Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.). He also serves as O.U.R.’s Jump Team Commander for rescue operations. Ballard began his career at the Central Intelligence Agency where he worked cases dealing with terrorism and Latin America. He has spent over a decade working as a Special Agent for the Department of Homeland Security where he was assigned to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and deployed as an undercover operative for the U.S. Child Sex Tourism Jump Team. He has worked every type of case imaginable in the fight to dismantle child trafficking rings. Ballard has worked undercover in the United States and in multiple foreign countries to infiltrate child trafficking organizations. In this effort he has successfully dismantled dozens of these organizations and rescued countless children from sex slavery. He is an expert at managing Internet investigations, particularly those dealing with file-share networks where pedophiles and traffickers go to trade in child pornography. He has trained hundreds of law enforcement officers at home and abroad in best practices to liberate children from sex slavery.
Ballard has been featured on many national news outlets to discuss his efforts to combat child trafficking. He has appeared on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, The Meredith Vieira Show, CBS Nightly News, ABC Nightline, and CNN Headline News, MSNBC, The Glenn Beck Program, as well as many local news shows. Ballard is the best-selling author of The Covenant: One Nation Under God and is the author of the sequel to that work, The Covenant, Lincoln, and The War. He has taught American and International Politics courses at Imperial Valley College, San Diego State University and American Heritage School. He has been featured regularly on both local and national TV and radio programs to discuss American history and politics and the role America has played in defending liberty at home and abroad. He has often commented on how his academic work in American history has provided him the inspiration and motivation to rescue children–to carry on the American tradition of liberating the captive. He recently received the distinguished George Washington Honor Medal from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge.
After serving a church mission to Chile, Ballard graduated Cum Laude with a BA in Spanish and Political Science from Brigham Young University. He went on to graduate Summa Cum Laude with an MA in International Politics from the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Omidyar Network, an impact investing pioneer, recently published a new report entitled “Frontier Capital” on impact investing. Given the attention that has been paid to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which parallels the structure of the Omidyar Network in some respects–critically allowing for both impact investing and traditional philanthropy–I’ve taken time with Paula Goldman, a report author and Senior Director, Global Lead for Impact Investing at Omidyar Network to get her take on the report.
Goldman makes three key observations about impact investing for 2016:
Let’s take a look at each of these key issues through Goldman’s eyes.
She notes, “Interest in impact investing is at an all-time high with champions including the Pope and Bill Gates. However, to date, the amount of capital being deployed to impact investing is still relatively small – constituting less than 0.1% of total capital markets today. In 2016, we will see interest in impact investing convert into exponentially more action — taking a significant leap forward from an “unorthodox” idea to more mainstream.”
She explains the parallels between the founding of Omidyar Network and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to help make that case that impact assets will grow dramatically.
eBay and Omidyar Network founder Pierre Omidyar recognized early in his journey as a philanthropist that addressing big social challenges would require the use of multiple assets. His experience at eBay was that markets, in particular, are an incredible tool for positive social impact. As a result, in 2004 he created Omidyar Network as both a traditional foundation and an LLC so that he could invest in the right changemaker, regardless of whether it is a for-profit or nonprofit.
The recently announced Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is taking a similar hybrid approach in establishing an LLC that can make for-profit investments in addition to nonprofit grants. I expect others to follow suit in 2016 and beyond.
Goldman looks at the demographics of “NextGens” to drive much of that shift. She notes, “There are incredible demographic shifts underway, including the impending $41T wealth transfer to ‘NextGens.’ We’re also seeing more young investors really drive impact investing. The next generation of investors is more globally aware and connected, viewing investing in a fundamentally different way. 67% of Millennials see investment decisions as a way to express social, political, or environmental values versus only 36% of Baby Boomers – nearly twice as many.”
“For example, Millennial employees at BlackRock BLK -2.80% were a significant influence in the development of the company’s first impact investing fund. Major mainstream investment firms are responding to an increase in demand from Individual and institutional investors alike,” she adds.
Goldman sees emerging markets as a place where impact investing and technology will come together to lead innovation. She explains:
2016 will be the year where entrepreneurs and investors leverage the ubiquity of smartphone technology and demographic shifts to fuel the next wave of innovation and impact in emerging markets. We’ve identified a $3 trillion opportunity just above the base of the pyramid to achieve both financial returns and social impact — what we’ve called “frontier capital,” which is early stage risk capital in emerging markets directed towards businesses that serve those earning between $2 and $8 daily. These people have greater purchasing power and a steadier income than the very bottom of the pyramid, but still benefit greatly from products and services that improve their lives. Companies like Lenddo and MicroEnsure are leveraging technology to create socially impactful businesses that directly serve this population, enabling them to scale more effectively and serve the bottom of the pyramid without subsidy.
On Thursday, December 17, 2015 at noon Eastern, Goldman will join me here for a live discussion about the report and its implications for investing in 2016 and beyond. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about Omidyar Network:
Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change. Omidyar Network has committed US$879 million to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple initiatives, including Consumer Internet & Mobile, Education, Financial Inclusion, Governance & Citizen Engagement, and Property Rights. To learn more, visit www.omidyar.com, and follow on Twitter @omidyarnetwork#PositiveReturns.
Paula Goldman is an entrepreneur, anthropologist, and movement strategist. She leads Omidyar Network’s global efforts to accelerate the impact investing industry through a combination of investments, strategic partnerships, and thought leadership. She also acts as an advisor on advocacy and influence efforts across Omidyar Network investment initiatives. Paula has served on a number of industry advisory boards–including PEERS and the Harvard Business Review’s Insight Center on Scaling Social Impact—and is an inaugural Social Impact Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. She also serves an advisor to a number of tech start-ups.
Born in Singapore, Paula has lived in eight countries across four continents. Paula came to Omidyar Network with extensive background in frontier markets enterprise, managing businesses ranging from an affordable private school in rural India to a micro-enterprise syndicate in post-war Bosnia. She has led innovations that harness the potential of technology, advocacy, and entertainment. As founder and director of Imagining Ourselves, a project of the International Museum of Women, she led the creation of one of the world’s first online museums, alongside a book, traveling exhibits, and series of global events with more than a million participants. This work was recognized with the 2007 Social Impact Award from the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology and a 2008 Muse Award from the American Association of Museums.
Paula earned a PhD from Harvard University, where she studied how unorthodox ideas become mainstream. She holds a masters in public affairs from Princeton and a BA with highest honors from UC Berkeley. She has been on faculty at both UC Berkeley and Mills college and contributes as an author to outlets such as the Financial Times, HBR.org, and Huffington Post.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Tony Robbins, The New York Times number one bestselling author, is working to feed 100 million meals to America’s hungry this year through a partnership with Feeding America –and they’re almost there. (You can donate here.)
Robbins explains the tragedy of hunger in America, saying, “It’s a tragedy that in the United States, the richest country in the world, 49 million people, including 16 million children, may go to bed unsure if they will have a meal tomorrow. These are some of the hardest working people on the planet, often people that we interact with each day, and are scraping by from paycheck to paycheck, just one unexpected expense away from not being able to put food on the table.”
It struck me as being almost out of character that the author of Awaken the Giant Within, a book that is all about teaching people to take responsibility for themselves to overcome whatever obstacles they may face, would be so engaged in this effort. So, I asked him why. His answer surprised me. This giant of a man, who is the very picture of success, relates to the hungry personally because he was once hungry.
“I know that those are more than startling statistics — those numbers are human beings suffering — and I came from one of those families,” Robbins confessed.
Then he shared the story of one Thanksgiving when he was eleven years old:
For me, money was always out of reach as a child. It was always a source of stress because there was never enough of it. I remember having to knock on the neighbor’s door to ask for food for my brother and sister and me. Then, on Thanksgiving Day when I was 11 years old, something happened that changed my life forever. As usual, there was no food in the house, and my parents were fighting. Then I heard someone knocking at the front door. I opened it a crack and saw a man standing on the steps with grocery bags filled with enough food for a big Thanksgiving dinner. I could hardly believe it. My father always said that nobody gave a damn about anybody. But all of a sudden someone I didn’t know, who wasn’t asking for anything in return, was looking out for us. It made me think, strangers care. And I decided that I was going to find a way, somehow, someday, to give back and pay it forward.
Robbins hasn’t given up on the principles of self-reliance. He notes that personal responsibility is the long-term solution to poverty and hunger.
“There are a variety of factors that play into food insecurity, poverty being one of the main ones. Growing up in a poor household, working my way up from a janitor to where I am now, I’ve always believed that working to improve yourself and your skill sets is a key component to ending hunger long-term with any individual or family,” he says.
In his new book, Money: Master the Game, Robbins credits Jim Rohn for teaching him key principles of success. “I asked Jim years ago, ‘What’s the secret to economic success? The key,’ he said, ‘is to understand how to become more valuable in the marketplace.’”
Robbins says, “[Rohn] looked directly in my eyes and said, ‘All you have to do to earn more money in the same amount of time is simply become more valuable.’”
On Thursday, December 17, 2015 at 11:00 AM Eastern, Robbins will join me for a live discussion about his goal to provide 100 million meals in partnership with Feeding America and about his new book. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about Anthony Robbins:
Anthony Robbins is an entrepreneur, New York Times #1 best-selling author, philanthropist, and performance strategist. A recognized authority on the psychology of leadership, negotiations and organizational turnaround, he has served as an advisor to leaders around the world. Author of five internationally bestselling books, including the recent New York Times #1 best-seller MONEY: MASTER THE GAME, Mr. Robbins has empowered more than 50 million people from 100 countries through his audio, video and life training programs. He created the #1 personal and professional development program of all time, and more than 4 million people have attended his live seminars.
As a successful entrepreneur, he serves as chairman of seven privately held companies ranging from media production and business services to education and hospitality. Additionally, Tony recently partnered with America’s Best 401k, one the most disruptive solutions in the retirement planning space offering plan sponsors and participants freedom from expensive 401k plans and underperforming investment options.
He has been honored by Accenture as one of the “Top 50 Business Intellectuals in the World”; by Harvard Business Press as one of the “Top 200 Business Gurus”; by American Express as one of the “Top Six Business Leaders in the World” to coach its entrepreneurial clients; and Fortune’s recent cover article named him the “CEO Whisperer.”
As a philanthropist, Mr. Robbins has fed more than 42 million people over 37 years and he is working to reach 100 million total through his partnership with Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization. His nonprofit Anthony Robbins Foundation provides assistance to inner-city youth, senior citizens, and the homeless, and feeds more than three million people in 56 countries every year through its international holiday “Basket Brigade.”
Entrepreneurs and corporations alike spend tremendous time and money to get good publicity. I’ve reached out to Forbes Contributor Cheryl Snapp Conner, who also serves as the CEO and Founder of SnappConner PR, to find out out social entrepreneurs should leverage the publicity they work so hard to get.
Cheryl offers three key tips:
1. Share and extend your great press coverage. This is a big part of the mileage you receive in today’s press environment. Via social media, your own blog, and other re-postings this is easy and fruitful to do.
2. You are the best author of your own story. As opposed to relying on the press to tell your story, you should hone your abilities to also tell and publish your story on your own.
3. Communications is power! Are you “on the record” for the things you actually stand for? Make certain your social media profiles and your website are clear and consistent in telling your vision and mission and inviting others to join in.
On Wednesday, December 9, 2015 at 4:00 Eastern, Cheryl will join me here for a live discussion about public relations for social entrepreneurs. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about SnappConner PR:
Our company is a strategic public relations firm that supports technology, business and lifestyle companies out of Salt Lake City. Additionally, we have developed a program called Content University to help entrepreneurs, executives and individuals to be more successful in telling their stories to the world via blogging and thought leadership publishing.
I am an entrepreneur and communications expert from Salt Lake City and founder of SnappConner PR. I am the author of Beyond PR: Communicate Like A Champ The Digital Age, available on Amazon. I am co-creator of Content University, available at www.ContentUniversity.com. The opinions I express (especially when tongue in cheek) are entirely my own. My newsletter, the Snappington Post, is available from www.SnappConner.com.
One of my role models is a young social entrepreneur, Nidhi Singh, in India who has created a platform not unlike the Your Mark on the World Center to cover corporate social responsibility (CSR), social entrepreneurship, impact investing and philanthropy in India.
Nidhi reached out to me about six months ago to explore a collaboration between the Your Mark on the World Center and her platform, CSRlive.in. We are excited to be doing so, cross sharing content to give her audience direct access to our stories and our audience direct access to hers.
India recently passed a law requiring all corporations to do some CSR. Nidhi explains, “The new mandatory CSR law has opened up a world of possibilities for Corporate India to do good and contribute strategically to equitable, sustainable growth in India. So I would not say this is a problem, rather a tremendous opportunity that has materialized for all CSR & Sustainability professionals to work, collaborate and create real, on-ground impact with some real funds (INR 25,000 Cr/ $4.5 Billion annually) that are now available specifically for this purpose. There are many companies that have been voluntarily executing CSR projects but many more new companies (approximately 16,500) have now come under the ambit of the new CSR law. CSRlive aims to facilitate the process of optimum utilization of this CSR spend.”
Nidhi has ambitious plans for CSRlive. She says, “As an online platform dedicated to briging news, updates, policy changes, and expert opinions in the CSR & Sustianability sector; we promote best practises, thereby inspiring and encouraging more of the best to take a foothold, grow and expand. We facilitate connections between relevant stakeholders – for example – a genuine NGO looking to survive/scale up can present it’s case and funding requirements to a Corporate company looking for an authentic project that is aligned with their CSR policy. If there is a noteworthy activity in the CSR & Sustainability domain, CSRlive will be its voice. Going forward, we also aim to acknowledge best practises through CSRlive Change-Makers Awards.”
Nidhi has an inspiring vision for the future. “We believe in the power of a good story that is well told to engage and inspire people towards greater good! Getting transferred to the CSR division is still considered ‘Corporate suicide’ (though unadmittedly)- and CSRlive is committed to turning this around with its reportage and passion to connect and bring the right people to the right jobs and the right funds to the right organizations and individuals. The success of CSRlive will be in facilitating a change in mindset – which in itself is half the battle won,” she says.
On Wednesday, December 9, 2015 at 11:00 Eastern, Nidhi will join me here for a live discussion about CSRlive and the promise of the new CSR law in India. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about CSRlive.in:
CSRlive is positioned as India’s credible, livewire news platform dedicated to the social sector and CSR practices presenting content that is delivered using innovative social media engagement, cutting edge technology and a sterling team of subject matter Journalists. We intend to create new benchmarks with frontline reportage on CSR, Sustainability, Philanthropy and Corporate Citizenship. We aim to not only inform, but to establish long-term partnerships with different stakeholders, creating a synergy between available resources and needs of communities. Through CSRlive.in, we intend to give voice and strength to every noteworthy activity in this sector, whether undertaken by a small gram Panchayat or a large multinational Company. As a part of our long-term strategy, we will identify, analyze and acknowledge the best practices and the real change-makers in the social sector, through our proprietary Award modules.
Nidhi is a prominent Social Entrepreneur and a well known name in the field of Advisory and Communication in the sustainability space. She is a former Television Journalist and has worked with leading National Channels like Star News and TV Today Network in various capacities widely reporting on lifestyle, fashion and trends. As a successful entrepreneur Nidhi is co-founder of thecsrjournal.in, Indigreen – a fair trade, organic clothing label & The Green People of India (TGPI) – a collective of sustainable enterprises across India. Nidhi is very passionate about Yoga and is a long time practitioner of Kriya Yoga Meditation as taught by Paramahansa Yogananda (Autobiography of a Yogi).
This is a guest post from Bailey Schroeder, Founder & CEO at ResQwalk
Inspired by a rescue dog named Charlie, ResQwalk was started to give people a free and easy way to help animals and animal welfare organizations closest to their hearts. Even though millions of people have the desire to help, many don’t have the money to donate or time to volunteer. ResQwalk bridges this gap. By downloading ResQwalk, and using the FREE app during a walk, run or other fitness activity – people can earn valuable resources for their favorite animal welfare organization. ResQwalk currently supports over 2,000 organizations across the United States and Canada.
ResQwalk is a unique concept because the app makes it easy to incorporate giving into daily life. All people have to do is download the free app and use it while walking to dinner, running to the store or participating in any outdoor activity that measures distance. Furthermore, there are a number of in app initiatives to help adoptable animals get seen and adopted. Each day ResQwalk highlights an adoptable ResQanimal of the Day. The animal appears throughout the app – and the hope is that the extra visibility will help the animal get adopted. Furthermore, instead of focusing entirely on the individual, and how his or her exercise routine can benefit an animal welfare organization, ResQwalk is also working to build a community of likeminded, socially conscious individuals that want to act, educate, and connect over their mutual passion for helping animals in need.
ResQwalk’s mission is to help animals in need and the company’s vision is to be THE platform for animal lovers to both give back and find the information, tools and resources they need to live happy and healthy lives with their pets. Since launching on June 26, 2014 ResQwalk has distributed $95,000 to over 2,000 animal welfare organizations in the United States and Canada.
The way the app works is simple: At the beginning of each month ResQwalk puts together a ResQpool comprised of cash and products contributed by corporate sponsors. ResQwalkers simply need to pick their favorite ResQpartner, start the app, and get moving. The app uses GPS to track the user’s activity. This means the user can participate in any daily activity, such as walking, running or biking, as long as the activity can be measured by GPS and involves a speed of less than 14 mph. At the end of every month, the ResQpool is proportionally distributed according to the total distance contributed by the app’s dedicated users.
About Bailey Schroeder:
Bailey founded ResQwalk in March 2014 and spearheads all aspects of the business. This includes product development, strategy, and marketing.
Bailey has a strong background in finance and sales, and was a former Assistant Vice President at Barclays Capital. Prior to Barclays she was a Financial Analyst at Skellig Capital LLC, where she focused her research on technology and consumer goods. Bailey has always had a passion for humanitarian work. Through her entrepreneurial endeavors, she aims to combine her knowledge and expertise in product strategy, technology and sales, with her love of animals.
With ResQwalk, her goal is simple: to support and bring awareness to animal welfare organizations. The cause closest to her heart.
This is a guest post from Drew Ades, President and CEO of the Housing Partnership Equity Trust and the Housing Partnership Network.
There is a clear crisis in America for affordable housing, with over 12 million households paying more than half their income on rent. This problem is growing, with rents continually rising, wages mostly stagnant and the supply of affordable housing simply not keeping pace.
Investors typically shy away from affordable housing, citing the risk as a reason to opt for investments in commercial and luxury housing properties. But in its own small way our REIT that is entirely focused on affordability and governed by non-profit community housing organizations has just proven that impact investors can do the right thing for society, mitigate their risk and still make a decent return.
This month our two-year-old Housing Partnership Equity Trust, whose lead investors include large financial institutions like Prudential, Citibank, and Morgan Stanley as well as the MacArthur and Ford foundations, paid its first round of quarterly dividends – returning more than $1.3 million to investors. By the end of this year, HPET will have a portfolio approaching 2500 residential rental units with a value approaching $250 Million and is well on its way towards acquiring and preserving $1 billion in apartment buildings over the next five years with a combined 12,500 or more units available to police and teachers, waiters and nurses aides and people on fixed income.
Among HPET’s investors are more than a dozen non-profit community housing groups who collectively already own or operate over 65,000 apartments units and operate in more than 30 states. These non-profits are also partners in our deals, providing local expertise and a proven infrastructure built around providing high quality housing to low income residents.
HPET’s non-profit partners have the same technical resources needed to efficiently buy and refurbish units as for profit operators, but they lacked the access to fast and flexible equity that understood their market. HPET works with the Impact Investor market to solve this problem.
Impact investors – both high-net-worth individuals and institutions – that want a return on their money but also want to make a social difference are the ideal partners for these kinds of projects. It took a bold early capital commitment from the MacArthur Foundation to provide guaranteed liquidity and minimize risk for other investors, coupled with smart leadership from the Housing Partnership Network, to get the idea of a non-profit owned fund like this one up and running.
Debra Schwartz, managing director of Impact Investments at MacArthur says the REIT is working as she envisioned and is proof that this sort of business model can work in other social ventures outside of housing.
However, this is only a start. HPET plans to acquire 3,000 new units next year, assuming we continue expanding the investor base. This model offers a scalable, innovative and viable private sector approach to address the growing affordable housing crisis. We’re in it for the long haul.
About Drew Ades:
Drew Ades is President and CEO of Housing Partnership Equity Trust in Washington, D.C., hpequitytrust.com