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 The mission of the "Your Mark on the World Center" is to solve the world's biggest problems before 2045 by identifying and championing the work of experts who have created credible plans and programs to end them once and for all.
Crowdfunding for Social Good
Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: January 2018

Successful African-American Silicon Valley Entrepreneur Feels ‘Like A Black Unicorn’

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes or Google Play.

Originally from inner-city Baltimore, Maryland, successful tech entrepreneur Clarence Wooten, 46, got into tech and computers through video games as a kid. He played on the old Atari, ColecoVision and Commodore platforms.

From those modest beginnings, a career blossomed. As a youth, Wooten looked up to people like Bill Gates and Reginald Lewis as role models. Lewis, the richest African American in the 1980s was born and raised in Baltimore. He died in 1993 after taking control of and subsequently growing Beatrice—the first African American-owned billion-dollar company. The power of role models would stay with Wooten throughout his career.

Clarence Wooten, STEAM Role

Still in Baltimore in the late 90s, Wooten founded ImageCafe, a startup that provided website templates for small businesses, something like what Wix and Squarespace do today.

“We were getting ready to raise a big venture round when Network Solutions, who was the GoDaddy of that time, swooped in and acquired us,” Wooten says. The deal was concluded for $23 million at the end of 1999, near the top of the dot com boom. “Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.”

While the deal price didn’t start with a “B,” the success and capital launched Wooten’s career. He moved to Silicon Valley and has started several companies since.

“I’m this guy who takes wacky ideas and turns them into things,” Wooten quips.

African American in Silicon Valley

To ignore race in the context of Wooten’s success would be to ignore one of the glaring issues facing Silicon Valley today. The treatment of women and minorities became the hot-button topic of 2017.

Wooten moved around a lot as a kid. Starting out in the inner city, virtually all his friends were black. Later he moved to a virtually all-white school. “I felt like I had a pretty diverse social upbringing and as a result you know I was never uncomfortable around anyone.”

Wooten’s personal philosophy doesn’t allow him to blame others for the challenges in his life. “You know you really can’t think about how you may be being held back for reasons that are beyond your control because if that enters your mind and stays in your mind you will not be successful because it will weigh you down.”

He has no apparent resentment toward the Silicon Valley culture—why should he? He’s been successful there. He says he’s treated about the same there as elsewhere. Still, he acknowledges the challenges. “I mean, being based in Palo Alto as an African-American entrepreneur who has had some success in tech and in Silicon Valley, you know, to some degree is like a black unicorn, which is unfortunate.”

“So, my dream is to see more success for African-Americans in tech.”

What is STEAM Role?

Wooten’s latest startup, STEAM Role, is his effort to fulfill that dream.

The name is first a reference to Silicon Valley’s areas of focus—science, technology, engineering, arts and math. He points out that Apple proved the value of adding the arts to STEM. The name also provides a clue to the secret sauce: role models.

“We aim to provide companies with a platform to inspire, track and hire diverse STEAM talent by leveraging their existing employees as role models to attract future hires,” he says.

Flipping the lens, he adds, “We aim to provide a roadmap for anyone to acquire their dream career by following and learning from role models that they can relate to.”

Ryan Scott, CEO of Causecast and an advisor to STEAM Role, says, “STEAM Role solves a gigantic issue for corporations. How to attract and retain a STEAM educated, diverse talent pool. As a corporate tool it allows employees to be role models and clearly helps steamers to get the exact skills the employee has to get the position they are in.”

To build an audience for the enterprise clients, STEAM Role is partnering with middle through high school guidance counselors and the startup has created a brand ambassador program across colleges and universities.

“You can learn anything you want to know on-line and virtually for free. Information is widely available; however, inspiration is not,” Wooten says.

How STEAM Role Works

“Think Tinder,” Wooten says of how the mobile app works. “But instead of swiping through your potential dates we’re showcasing role models that you can relate to. We show you their company, their job title, a one sentence description of what they do and we pull from Glassdoor their salary range.”

Don’t confuse role models with mentors. “Mentorship doesn’t really scale because it’s one to one,” he says. One role model can influence thousands of aspiring professionals on STEAM Role.

“So, if there’s an African-American, teenage female in Baltimore, we will try to show her African-American women who are STEAM professionals—successful.” Ultimately, the app will show her role models based on her interests, regardless of gender and ethnicity.

When she clicks on a role model, she can see all the skills that person acquired to get that position. She can also see where she can learn those skills and ultimately get someone to endorse her for having the skill.

Wooten says the design was inspired by watching his daughters use SnapChat and Instagram. The idea is to create a sense of intimacy and authenticity that today’s young people—who grew up with super computers in their pockets connected to all the world’s information—crave.

Scott, believes STEAM Role will create wins for everyone involved, from the sponsoring enterprises, to the role models and ultimately for the “steamers,” the aspiring professionals.

Wooten hopes that the startup will allow him to fulfill a mission.

A Purpose-Driven Life

“In the last ten years, I came to the realization that the first third of your life you learn, the second third you earn and in the last third you return.” This philosophy guided his thinking, allowing him to focus on giving back in the future. More recently, however, he concluded that “that the ultimate startup is when you can learn, earn and return all in the same company.”

“And so, we built a mission driven company. My entire team they’re here because they believe in the mission. They think the world needs this,” Wooten says. “It’s a calling to me as much as it is a company.”

Hundreds of nonprofits learned to successfully use online fundraising to reach–or surpass–their goals with my crowdfunding training. Get my free guide to attracting media attention.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

How Will You Increase Your Impact In 2018?

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Frankly, I put this question, “How will you increase your impact in 2018?” to dozens of social entrepreneurs and others in the impact space to help me figure out how to increase my own. I hope you’ll read their answers with the same idea in mind.

The responses came in two general varieties. The first are statements and goals that could be replicated by virtually any social entrepreneur regardless of their specific mission or operating plan. The second variety included objectives that are somewhat more specific to their particular situation. You can read about the inspiring work from the second list here. The first set of responses follow below.

As I reviewed the responses, a few themes developed. Half a dozen people highlighted the importance of teamwork in one way or another. That was clearly a key takeaway from the list. Note that some people hit on several topics; I’ve tried to include their full remarks where possible.

For instance, Lisa Curtis, CEO and founder of Kuli Kuli said, “In 2018, we’re going to also be looking inward and seeing what we can do for our employees and the sustainability of our internal operations. We’re measuring this using the B Corp assessment.”

Lisa Curtis

Celeste Mergens, CEO and founder of Days for Girls International, said her goal was to have “weekly team sprint goals to help each team member focus on completing one achievable primary goal a week, keep other objectives moving forward and still have more personal life balance.”

Celeste Mergens in Kisii 2010

Similarly, Kenton Lee, founder of Because International which sells “The Shoe that Grows,” said his goal was “Investing in our team, measuring our impact with the kids more accurately, and hustling in more creative ways. Staying in start-up mode will keep things fresh and inventive. It’s all about the kids!”

Kenton Lee,, Because International

“Impact is about growth in 2018. We’re focusing on only 1 goal every 90 days and the team is all aligned towards that one thing. Then I’m showing the team how that one goal serves our mission,” said Andrea Shillington, the CEO and business soul architect at Brands for the Heart.

“It’s really quite simple–you have to invest in your people. We need to constantly create learning opportunities and develop new talents. Meaningful impact comes from a committed, yet challenged team,” said Jacob Lief, CEO and founder of Ubuntu Pathways.

Katherine Fife, Principal Consultant founder at Philanthropy Matters, LLC, said, “Engaging in more activities that utilize my strengths, and offloading activities to better utilize the strengths of others, will lead to increased impact and better efficiencies in 2018.”

Katherine Fife, Philanthropy Matters

A second idea that popped up several times in the responses from social entrepreneurs was surprising to me. Three of our responses de-emphasized growth and scale.

For example, Michael Lowe, President of, said he would ” focus on quality of impact over scale of impact. Scale happens when quality is obvious.”

Michael Lowe, Kidoodle.TV

Similarly, Aaron Hurst, CEO and co-founder of Imperative, said, “I have spent a lot of time trying to increase my impact by thinking big. This year is the year of thinking small. How can I do one thing each day that matters to someone else? “

Aaron Hurst, Imperative

With a slightly different take, Ross Baird, President of Village Capital, said he would shift to “focusing more on how we innovate (how do we find, support, select ideas) than what the next big thing is.”

Ross Baird

Another theme that developed was the importance of introspection and personal time for having maximum impact.

Angela Parker, CEO and co-founder of Realized Worth, who shared a goal in that vein, saying her goal was a to “Alert, Orient, Act. My impact will increase when I challenge implicit bias by alerting to new ideas, orienting to what those ideas mean for me, and taking action toward new attitudes and behaviors.”

Steve Grizzell, managing director of InnoVentures, sounded thoroughly introspective with his goal, “I have begun to realize that Impact Investing is just part of a process of living a life of purpose. Why am I doing it? Is it just enough to do it because it feels good? How do I measure impact?”

Self-reflection was one of two objectives that Priyanka Bakaya, CEO and founder of Renewlogy set for 2018. “My two themes are i) find more ways to give back through community engagement, and ii) find more me time through meditating and journaling each day (I recommend 2 apps for this: Inscape & Grid Diary).”

Priyanka Bakaya, Renewlogy

Two of the responses received focused on the importance of connecting with other like-minded people.

Karim Abouelnaga, CEO of Practice Makes Perfect, said, “I’m committed to starting or joining a mastermind group in 2018 to increase my impact, surrounding myself with other entrepreneurs who are ready to push each other to take our impact to the next level.”

Karim Abouelnaga with student

Similarly, Amy Cortese, author of Locavesting, made this part of her plan by “tuning out the noise and focusing on what’s important—limiting social media and mobile news. I do my best thinking on long walks, so I’ll build that in. Also more face time with people who inspire me.”

Amy Cortese

The importance of reviewing past results to optimize future results came up a few times. Liz Baker, executive director of, said, “January is a great time to review last year’s programs. Look at outcomes, and work backwards: If you didn’t meet goals, why? Start with desired impact, and refine program tactics to do more this year.”

Liz Baker,

Echoing that idea, Thane Kreiner, PhD, executive director of the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, said he would “test playbooks to replicate proven social enterprise impact models.”

A couple of the respondents focused on personal productivity.

Kathleen Minogue, CEO and founder of Crowdfund Better, (with whom I have a business relationship) said, “Make a commitment to take action every week and keep a list to keep yourself honest. Even when life gets busy, you’ll have that commitment (and a written list) to keep you focused throughout the year.”

Nell Derick Debevoise, CEO and founder of Inspiring Capital, shared her take on productivity: “I’ve committed to blocking 7-10 am every morning on my calendar to get ONE important thing done toward my weekly and annual priorities, in an effort to be proactive and strategic rather than reactive.”

Nell Derick Debevois, courtesy of Inspiring Capital

The other insights received were similarly valuable but didn’t fall into themes or ideas.

Impact investor Morgan Simon said she would add political giving to her 2018 activities to increase her impact. “Markets won’t solve everything—philanthropic support for organizing and advocacy, and political giving, are essential complements to impact investing. In 2018 I will donate more systemically to organizing and politics.”

Morgan Simon

Judith Joan Walker, Director of Operations for African Clean Energy, said upgrading systems would be her strategy. “We will be pulling our extensive customer database into our newly upgraded CRM on Salesforce in order to accurately analyze the affordability and adoption barriers of our high tech energy products.”

Judith Walker

Nancy Pfund, Managing Partner and founder of DBL Partners, an early investor in Tesla, suggested something that almost everyone could do: “This year I’m reducing my food waste; 40% of our food is wasted, as is all of the water and energy required to make it. No shopping until leftovers are finished!”

Nancy Pfund, courtesy of DBL Partners

As you contemplate the ideas above, let us know in the comments below or on social media, what you’ll be doing to increase your impact in 2018.

Hundreds of nonprofits learned to successfully use online fundraising to reach–or surpass–their goals with my crowdfunding training. Get my free guide to attracting media attention.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

He Built An Organization From Trash To Restore Human Dignity

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes or Google Play.

At 29, Brett Durbin went to Tegucigalpa, Honduras to find a cause for his church to support. He’d never imagined how this would change his life. The organization he ultimately founded, Trash Mountain Project, serves the people who make their living—such as it is—by scavenging in the developing world’s trash dumps.

With fires constantly smoldering, burning a mix of toxic and noxious materials, these are literally hellish places, Durbin, now 37, explains. Toddlers, adults and the aged—entire multi-generational families—hunt for food to eat and anything of value to sell crawling and clawing through everything from animal to industrial waste.

After visiting Honduras, Durbin looked for an organization focused on serving the trash dump communities he’d seen. A professor counseled him, “The last thing we need is another nonprofit organization.”

After months of searching, however, he’d found no organization focused on serving them—though some had activities and provided services there—so, with the support of his professor and his wife, he decided to launch Trash Mountain Project.

Today, the 501(c)(3) is working at nine locations in five countries with eight full-time staff members in Kansas and 44 people receiving full-time support from the organization working at one of the sites.

Brett Durbin, Trash Mountain Project

Living in an Actual Dump

“These are individuals rummaging through trash and waste to find plastic or other recoverable waste. They are the poorest of the poor in many cities. Their living conditions, their health, and their future is some of the most precarious you will find on the globe,” echoes James Copple, President of Servant Forge, which is exploring a partnership with Durbin’s organization.

The challenges facing residents of trash dump communities are hard to comprehend for most of living in the developed world. Every year, hundreds of people are killed by trash avalanches. The residents face constant exposure to heavy metals as well as other poisons. The food they eat, picked from the pile, is contaminated. The animals they eat, whether they are fish, chickens or rodents are similarly contaminated.

“We see kids as young as you know two and three years old picking through the trash with their families,” Durbin says.

While Durbin has focused most of his energy on the humanitarian implications of trash dump communities, he is quick to point out that it is also an environmental disaster. The same lack of regulation and waste control that allows a two-year-old to scavenge for dinner in a toxic, burning pile of garbage, also allows for the waste to contaminate the environment. Virtually any contaminant that enters the water system ends up in the oceans we all share.

Simply closing dumps isn’t an optimal solution. It neither addresses the environmental nor the humanitarian crises. The trash dump creates an ecosystem; when you close it, the livelihoods of every person in the community is threatened but the toxic leaching continues.

“I’ve seen one police officer in 54 trash dump communities over nine years. This is it’s not a place where things are safe. Even police don’t really feel safe there in most scenarios,” Durbin explains.

Incremental Actions Bring Long-term Progress

Kevin Conard, owner of Blue Jazz Coffee Roasters, has become a supporter of Trash Mountain Project. For every bag of coffee sold, his company donates enough to buy a meal for a child living in a trash dump community in the Dominican Republic. He reports donating 57,000 meals to date.

Conard explains, “To me, Trash Mountain Project ultimately is in the business of infusing hope where there is none. They go into places where there is corruption, gang violence, social injustices galore, hatred, etc., and in very tangible ways, plant seeds of love, hope, future, systems, education, spiritual health… and over time, those seeds grow and spread through the community, slowly replacing the bad. It’s wonderful to see these growing pockets of good in places so dark.”

Trash Mountain Project is directly providing or partnering with other organizations to provide technical job training, food and nutrition, health care, and elder care. The organization, after eight years of service at the grassroots level, is now seeking to become more of a political force, advocating on behalf of these communities and the environmental devastation.

Durbin points to families who leave the trash dump communities as success stories. The work is, however, tricky. You can’t tell people they should leave. “So that’s something we’re not telling them to do. The last thing you want to do is minimize what they’re doing. I mean this is their livelihood.”

As their kids start to get better nutrition through Trash Mountain Project efforts to get them fed and educated, the families begin to appreciate the value of nutrition and seek out healthier food. When such families reach a point that their dignity is restored to the point that they both want to function and can function outside of the trash dump community, Durbin says that’s a win for him.

Hundreds of nonprofits learned to successfully use online fundraising to reach–or surpass–their goals with my crowdfunding training. Get my free guide to attracting media attention.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

This Social Entrepreneur Built An Organization To Serve The Youth Others Reject

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes or Google Play.

Fresh out of college, Rob Gitin took a job working in homeless services along with one of his classmates, Mumtaz Mustapha. One day, she said, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if one day someone started a program that was specifically focused on the kids who either got kicked out of our program or who tell us that they’ve known about it for five years before they ever set foot in it?”

Over the months that followed, the conversation turned from someone else doing it to the two of them. One day, twenty years ago, with an Echoing Green Foundation grant deadline coming the next day, the two decided to apply for the funds to launch At The Crossroads, serving the youth no one else could or would in San Francisco.

Twenty years later, Gitin, now 43, is still at it. Mustapha left after four years to go to medical school and has become a financial supporter. Today, the organization has an annual budget of $1.7 million.

According to Gitin, there are about 4,000 homeless youth in San Francisco. At The Crossroads serves about 1,200 of them—the most difficult ones. They are the more likely to be targeted by law enforcement than by service providers. They struggle with substance use and mental health issues. Many are unstably housed and don’t identify as homeless and so may not seek out programs that serve the homeless. Some don’t trust service providers. Some simply don’t know services are available. Some have given up all hope.

The Power of Unconditional Support to Change Lives

“We believe that unconditional relationships can transform the lives of the people that we work with,” says Gitin.

“Our goal with these young people is to help them build outstanding lives as they define them and the basic model is about eliminating all barriers to access,” Gitin says. Building relationships of trust is key. “They have to know that you’re there for them through thick and thin and that you’re not just saying that but that you will actually live up to that.”

Rashad, Maxine and daughter Serenity (last name withheld) with Rob Gitin

Building trust requires time. “We are out there night after night after night. If it takes 50 times of seeing you before you want to take a pair of socks from me that’s fine.”

As in any other circle of influence, from venture capitalists in Silicon Valley to the inner circles of power in Washington, introductions from trusted members of the community can accelerate progress.

“If your best friend is next to you and that person gives me a hug and says, ‘Hey, this is Rob from At The Crossroads. He’s the one who helped me when I was in a real jam with my housing. You should talk to him about what’s going on.’ You may have just saved us years of trust building through the way that you kind of validated our relationship.”

Gitin’s work is complicated by the clients’ drug use. “I would say [drugs] are a very serious problem for about 30 or 40% of our clients. And substance use is a part of almost every client’s life that we work with,” he explains.

Still, asked about his biggest win, Gitin boasts: “ We’ve never kicked a young person out of our program. We can truly say that our support is unconditional. ”

“When you bring that into someone’s lives it can be as if like they have blinders that start to come off and they start to see this much more broad vision of who they can be in the world and what the world can bring to their lives.”

Housing Challenges in San Francisco

With the city sitting near the top of the list of most expensive places in the country, finding a permanent place to live is a challenge for almost anyone in San Francisco. It has become almost impossible for young people without a proper support network. And Gitin says the problem is getting worse.

“They are rarely able to just get a room and a roommate situation in the way that they may have been able to 10 years ago and having that option off the table has made it a lot harder for kids to succeed even when they’re working incredibly hard,” Gitin explains.

Problems with housing don’t just apply to the unemployed youth. “A shockingly high percentage of our clients are already working when we first encountered them. Somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of our clients are working and in many cases have full time jobs. But that is not nearly enough to prevent them from being homeless.”

Gitin says that to afford a studio apartment in San Francisco “you need to be working three or four minimum wage jobs—full time.”

Supportive housing options are extremely limited, too. At The Crossroads has relationships with four providers where they can place young people living on the streets but it can take months to get them moved in. “We’ve had clients wait for five months for a slot that was already theirs just because the process was so bureaucratic and challenging,” Gitin says with exasperation.

The Challenge Continues

Once a client is in housing, the problems don’t end. Conditioned by adults who abandoned or abuse them—or at least failed them as they perceive it—the youth have a difficult time in some of the supportive situations they are placed.

Youth on the street have a short-term planning horizon, Gitin says. “I think often the culture of what it takes to be young and survive on the streets can be actually antithetical to the typical structure of a nonprofit program–in particular a housing program. So, when you’re on the streets you are fiercely independent and you’re constantly having to prioritize yourself, your own safety and your own needs above everything else, you don’t think about or at least you don’t prioritize what happens 24 hours from now or 48 hours from now. You prioritize what will help me get through these next 24 minutes.”

This creates a huge gap between a young person’s experience and requirements for moving forward. “If all a young person has experienced with the adults in their life is that they hurt me more than they help me and that I am better off trusting myself. It’s a really tough transition to then be in a program where you’re told if you don’t blindly trust these adults and follow what they want you can’t be here anymore,” Gitin says.

At The Crossroads seeks to keep up with all of their clients forever, to be a resource and a help throughout their lives, in part so they can help them when they stumble.

“Although the process can take many years, ATC sticks with their clients and never gives up on them. What a gift to these young people who have been abandoned again and again during their lives,” says Mary Gregory, senior program officer for five family foundations at Pacific Foundation Services, and one of the founding members of the At The Crossroads board of directors.

Success Stories

The program, at least anecdotally, works. Gitin is proud of the impact the organization has on the individuals it serves. A few examples he mentions, include:

  • A client who now owns his own restaurant in Hayward
  • A client who just bought a home in Marin County by selling artwork, supporting his wife and three kids
  • A client who started his own merchandising business and now employs 20 people most would see as unemployable: formerly homeless, recently incarcerated, and those that have had substance abuse problems.

Wins may not be as frequent as Gitin would hope but he has chosen only to serve those who have been rejected by everyone else. He counts every win.

Hundreds of nonprofits learned to successfully use online fundraising to reach–or surpass–their goals with my crowdfunding training. Get my free guide to attracting media attention.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

Attorney, Educator, Social Entrepreneur Shares Insights In Important New Book

Kathleen Kelly Janus, Stanford Lecturer and author of Social Startup Success, began her education in social entrepreneurship as a child, skipping church with her parents to help the homeless. That foundation led her to start a nonprofit called Spark alongside her legal career.

The book is about how to scale a nonprofit, with a focus on helping one reach a key milestone of sustainability: a $2 million annual budget. Written from the perspective of 100 nonprofits who did just that, the fresh take on growth in this key sector of the economy, the book is a must-read for nonprofit leaders.

Interview with Kathleen Kelly Janus, the Author of Social Startup Success.

The following is the pre-interview with Kathleen Kelly Janus. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

Social Entrepreneurs don’t have the tools they need to make a difference. This book is the playbook I wish I had when I started Spark.

More about Social Startup Success:

Twitter: @kkellyjanus



What Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammed Yunus is calling an “important catalyst for training the next generation of social entrepreneurs on how to change the world,” Social Startup Success: How the Best Nonprofits Launch, Scale Up and Make a Difference, by Stanford lecturer and Spark Co-Founder Kathleen Kelly Janus, is a guidebook for how to achieve breakthrough impact in the nonprofit sector. For the past five years, Janus has traveled the country visiting the founders, leadership teams, and funders of dozens social entrepreneurs, both newcomers and veterans in the field, including the leaders of Teach for America, City Year, DonorsChoose and charity:water. The book features her findings, detailing best practices for testing ideas, measuring impact, funding experimentation, leading collectively and storytelling with purpose. Social Startup Success is a social entrepreneurship’s essential playbook; the first definitive guide to solving the problem of nonprofit scale.

Kathleen Kelly Janus

Kathleen Kelly Janus’s bio:

Twitter: @kkellyjanus


Kathleen Kelly Janus is a social entrepreneur, author and lecturer at Stanford University. As an expert on philanthropy, millennial engagement and scaling early stage organizations, her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Stanford Social Innovation Review, TechCrunch and the San Francisco Chronicle. She is the co-founder of Spark, the largest network of millennial donors in the world. Based in the heart of the Silicon Valley, her forthcoming book, Social Startup Success, features best practices for early stage nonprofit organizations based on a five-year research project interviewing hundreds of top-performing social entrepreneurs.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

This Bank Not Only Serves B Corps It Is a B Corp

BDC is the only bank in Canada focused entirely on serving entrepreneurs. The bank is so excited about serving social entrepreneurs that it has a wide-ranging program to support them and provide the same banking services they provide to other entrepreneurs.

They don’t stop there. Craig Rayan, Director of Social Entrepreneurship says, the bank became a certified B Corp five years ago.

Interview with Craig Ryan, Director, Social Entrepreneurship of BDC.

The following is the pre-interview with Craig Ryan. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

Real economy entrepreneurs often have trouble finding the financial and advisory support they need.  We provide reliable, helpful and sophisticated support to Canadian entrepreneurs.

More about BDC:

Twitter: @bdc_ca



BDC is the only bank in Canada dedicated exclusively to entrepreneurs.  From 100 offices across the country, we offer loans, investments and advisory services.

For-profit/Nonprofit: For-profit

Revenue model: Revenue is generated by interest on loans and professional fees.

Scale: BDC has 50,000 clients across Canada.  To serve them, it has 2,000 employees and an asset base of $25 billion.

Craig Ryan

Craig Ryan’s bio:

Twitter: None


Craig is Director of Social Entrepreneurship at BDC, the only bank in Canada devoted exclusively to entrepreneurs. He leads its efforts to promote social entrepreneurship by growing the B Corp movement, as well as corporate initiatives to support entrepreneurs in underserved parts of the Canadian population.

Craig has more than 20 years’ experience in the public, private and civil society sectors. He has worked in developing countries on poverty reduction and health care, as a senior policy advisor to federal ministers responsible for the environment and foreign aid and as a corporate responsibility advisor to large energy and pharma companies.

He holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School, is a guest lecturer at McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management and in 2017 was named to Canada’s Clean 16, an award celebrating leadership in promoting clean capitalism.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

Surviving polio & fighting the label of being called the “dead wood of mediocrity”.

Veteran Kenyan journalist, Mr. Wycliffe Muga has a conversation with Siddharth Chatterjee, UN’s Resident Coordinator in Kenya.

Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator and the UNDP Resident Representative to Kenya.

A prolific writer, Chatterjee is a regular contributor to Reuters and Huffington Post.

A Princeton University alumnus, Sid Chatterjee was decorated for gallantry by the President of India during his service in the Indian Special Forces where he rose to the rank of Major.

He is active on social media; his Twitter handle is @sidchat1

Sid Chatterjee during a show jumping event at the National Defence Academy in India.

Wycliffe Muga (WM): Everyone has a remarkable story from his youngest days. Something which happened that only now looking back do you realise how profoundly it influenced you for good or bad. Looking back, what would you say had a profound impact on you?

Siddharth Chatterjee (Sid): Without a doubt it was being laughed at by a teacher when, aged 14, I told him my ambition was to get into India’s prestigious National Defence Academy. He hooted with laughter and described me in words I have never forgotten- “You are the deadwood of mediocrity”. He in fact asked me to pursue a vocational skill and forget about advancing in academics as he did not see a future for me there.

I was hurt and furious, but I was not really surprised because, to be fair, it wasn’t completely unjustified. So comparing me to the deadwood of mediocrity, may actually have been a compliment, as mediocre is certainly better than plain bad (Sid laughs).

Getting into the National Defence Academy is incredibly competitive and I was failing to shine both academically and at sport, so my big ideas about being a Special Forces officer in the Indian military and learning to parachute and play polo and dive sounded pretty hollow to my teacher.

I suspect that statement of my teacher stuck to my psyche. While it sounded cruel and insensitive then, on reflection it might have woken me up. Rather like a jolt of electricity that shook me and spurred me on.

By way of background, my father came to India as a refugee from East Pakistan– now Bangladesh–when India was partitioned in 1947. My mother came from a very simple background. She came from a family of 9 siblings and her mother was married at 11 years of age. Even as a child I remember clearly noticing the massively different status in Indian society of the different genders. Gender differences in India are very pronounced. I saw deeply ingrained patriarchy, misogyny and gender inequalities within my family and the wider community. It was not easy for my mother and for countless women who were married young and had scarce opportunities to achieve their full human potential.

Sid Chatterjee as a 6 year old with his parents Dilip Chatterjee and Gouri Chatterjee.

Ours was a simple household. My father’s family lost everything during the partition of India, which on all counts may have been one of the worst genocides in history. No side was innocent, except for the women and children caught up in the tragedy.

My paternal grandfather died and my grandmother fled East Pakistan with her two sons and a daughter. Life was hard for them, very hard. To be made indigent from a reasonably comfortable home and throughno fault of their own left my father’s family deeply traumatised.

So when I see refugees anywhere in the world, I connect with them in many ways and feel deep empathy.

My father’s family basically restarted their lives from scratch. When I was born and growing up, there was no money to spare at home but, like most parents, my mother and father were very ambitious for me, and really struggled to ensure they did their very best for me. My father was the bread-winner and my mother stayed at home to raise my brother and me. They used their modest means to get me private tuition, but I was still failing. I changed schools often simply to avoid having to repeat the previous academic year.

I also contracted polio as a child, but was very lucky as it was detected early and corrected in time. Countless other children in India had to resign themselves to a life of handicap, pain and immobility. I was three years old, but my memory is still vivid with the painful rehabilitation process I had to go through at a military hospital.

My brother was born 10 years after me and in the meantime my experiences at school could at best be described as inconsequential. I tried my hand at boxing, but invariably I would be either knocked out in the first round, or even when I survived the first round, I never won any fight.

However, I think my childhood experiences on seeing how women were treated and my own tryst with polio, may have had something to do with my passion to fight gender inequality and my enthusiasm to advance universal health coverage. These are two issues I am deeply passionate about.

Sid Chatterjee with his parents and his younger brother, Gautam.

WM: Looking back, do you see why? Because it wasn’t that you didn’t have brains. What do you think was holding you back?

Sid: Frankly I found the education system tyrannical. Corporal punishments and bullying was common. The pressure was intense. I must admit I hated each day, I had to wake up and go to school.

I also think it was because the education system involved a lot of rote learning. It was all about how much you could memorise, and didn’t focus on problem-solving or creativity of any sort. This didn’t play to my strengths.

It was obvious I wasn’t heading for a good university, but with the help of a tutor I managed to pass the entrance exam for the National Defence Academy (NDA) on my second attempt. This was a huge success for me. Out of around 100,000 applicants only about 200 were selected following difficult exams and rigorous interviews. I was overjoyed.

An aerial view of the National Defence Academy in India.

The NDA is like the West Point of the United States of America. However it is a unique military training institution where the three arms of the armed forces train together, the Army, Air Force and the Navy, as officer cadets. We join as sixteen year old after passing an entrance exam followed by a week of personality, psychological and medical examinations. The process is exacting, it is an intense period of studies and training. You are groomed to be an officer and a gentleman.

At the end of three years we receive a Bachelor’s degree and move to the specialised service academies, the Indian Military Academy, the Air Force academy and the Naval Academy, where we spend an additional year. It is like doing a graduate programme on steroids.

Something about being accepted changed me. Perhaps it was my “Forrest Gump” moment. On the first day at the Academy they cut your hair, put you in a uniform, and basically start to build you as a new person. I found this liberating. It was like a formal break away from the past where I hadn’t known any success and had no self-confidence. Suddenly the lights came on.

Sid Chatterjee as an officer cadet at the National Defence Academy.

From a childhood of academic and sporting failure, in three years at the Academy I became a top boxer, show jumper and polo player. I also finished my Bachelor’s degree by 19 years of age, and set my sights on joining the Indian Special Forces.

Sid Chatterjee (left) with his colleagues at the Indian Military Academy at a polo match.

Joining the Special Forces was a crowning moment of my life. You put on that maroon beret and that uniform and you are a part of an elite unit, quite a feat given my background. I started getting top grades in the commando course, the infantry course, and the junior leaders’ course. Suddenly I was coming first in my unit in battle physical efficiency tests, and I became a parachutist, a combat underwater diver and skilled in unarmed combat.

Sid Chatterjee, a trained Army Combat diver.

In a sense, the military helped me find purpose in my life. I was decorated for gallantry by the President of India for my part in counterinsurgency operations.

But this intense exposure to combat unsettled me. I started to feel uneasy, a sort of “subconscious disquiet”. Something about this violence did not make sense at all.

WM: Let me hazard a guess here: Was it all the people being killed? Was there an incident which crystallised the doubts in your mind?

Sid: Many years ago, while out on patrol in a very hostile insurgency environment, a platoon of my Special Forces unit came under fire. Minutes later, an officer lay lifeless from gunshot wounds. I remember that day like it was yesterday.

Nothing can prepare a soldier for the death of a comrade – nor for delivering the news to his family. I remember the look of pain and agony on the faces of my fallen comrade’s wife and children, and that memory still breaks my heart.

Sid Chatterjee holds up a live and deadly Russel’s Viper, teaching his students survival and living off the land at the Commando School which trains young infantry officers in commando operations. Photo: Indian Army

Every time the media reports on military deaths, I think of the families of those soldiers and wonder if a little more regard for soldiers and their familieswould inspire us to seek non-violent resolutions to conflicts.

Ihad misgivings about the whole principle of fighting an insurgency when alternate opportunities existed for advancing peace, dialogue and diplomacy. If I could turn back the clock and if I had any position of influence, I would have encouraged dialogue and reconciliation.

India has the largest number of war widows, currently estimated at 25,000, but very likely much more. I doubt there is another nation-state that has lost so many soldiers to fighting within its own borders.

2018-New Year’s Message by @sidchat1:

WM: That is a large number of war widows. Surely the political leadership in India as well as the population of India must be sitting up and taking note of this?

Sid: I wish that was the case. Frankly I am not sure.

In banal, patriotic statements, we declare these fallen soldiers martyrs and war heroes, while ignoring the shattered dreams of the spouses and children left behind. Clearly, we must find alternatives to sending young men and women to war. The cost is not only in lives lost and families shattered, but also in long-term damage to the mental health of military veterans. Many struggle to adjust to life after very traumatic and disturbing experiences in war, and some even take their own lives.

Sid Chatterjee reads Barbara Tuchman’s book “The March of Folly”.

When I went into a counterinsurgency operation in the North East of India, I realised we were fighting in an insurgency with no real prospect of success. I had read this very interesting book by American author Barbara Tuchman called “The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam”. The book is compelling and brilliant and draws on a range of examples, from Montezuma’s absurd surrender of his empire in 1520 AD to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbour-she defines folly as the pursuit by government of policies contrary to their own interests, despite the availability of feasible alternatives. Sheen lightens the reader with four decisive turning points in history that illustrate the heights of folly: the Trojan War, the breakup of the Holy See provoked by the Renaissance popes, the loss of the American colonies by Britain’s George III, and the United States’ own persistent mistakes in Vietnam.

Something started to stir in my mind when I went into this particular counter insurgency operation.

There was no endgame in sight, for that matter anywhere in the world in this sort of environment. That was when it became clear to me that something needed to change.

Sid Chatterjee with a team of Indian Special Forces Officers in a joint exercise with a US Army Special Forces team.

WM: You are saying then that military victory – or what is generally assumed to be victory – is really little more than an illusion. But many leaders who have taken their militaries into war have argued that there was no other choice. So what do you think should have been done?

Sid: History is replete with examples that military might alone cannot end such insurgencies or what is called low intensity conflicts.

From my own experience in India’s military, which included many years of active service in counterinsurgency operations, it is clear that unbridled violence invariably back-fires, as it tends to add fuel and sustain the insurgency, just as it has in other parts of India and the world.

In many parts of the world governments continue to combat insurgencies over decades. In most cases such conflicts are unwinnable, each side inflicting increasing levels of violence, creating a vitiated environment of hate and a vicious cycle of vendetta and revenge, with civilians bearing the brunt.

Insurgencies thrive in the parts of India have seen protracted socio-economic deprivation, inter-generational poverty, poor governance and a deep sense of injustice. For example this is particularly true given the fact that the problem of left-wing extremism and the question of social justice are essentially entwined in India. In 2009, former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared, “Left-wing extremism poses the gravest internal security threat to India.” He was right. India’s long-running Maoist insurgency has developed into one of the country’s most serious security challenge of the past 50 years.

Unfortunately, this form of militancy has all along been sustained by India’s wide and deep-rooted inequality with conflict over land ownership, struggles for the rights over mineral and forest wealth, poverty, and denial of justice and human dignity, which plays a pivotal role in alienating a large segment of the working class poor. It often reflects the harsh reality of the wider local region, which is typically affected by either exploitation of the peasantry, struggles over mineral wealth, or denial of rights over forest-land to the local tribal population.

WM: Not that I think your message would have any real chance of reaching him, but if you had an opportunity to convey a short message to India’s Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi, what would you say to him?

Sid: Ending conflicts through dialogue and diplomacy is a daunting undertaking. However, history shows that peaceful negotiation can resolve even the most obdurate conflicts. For instance, we can learn from the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to the long-running Irish conflict or the recently-concluded peace agreement in Colombia. It needs perseverance, stamina and an abundance of optimism.

The road to peace in Ireland was characterized by violence, setbacks and numerous false starts, but the negotiating parties realized that military strength alone would not guarantee peace.

India’s Prime Minister, Honourable Mr. Narendra Modi, can change this. He is an exceptional leader much admired throughout the country, leading the world’s largest democracy. Peace with India’s neighbours and peace within, would unleash the country’s’ true economic and social potential, lift people out of poverty, make India a beacon of hope, prosperity and social cohesion.

WM: I understand the Indian Army enjoys great prestige in Indian society and is considered a good career option. So what prompted you to leave the Army?

Sid: As Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

I still remember that day when it was announced in the newspaper that I had been awarded a decoration for gallantry for my role in counterinsurgency operations. Suddenly the events that led to my being decorated for bravery played out like a kaleidoscope.

I didn’t feel the euphoria that usually accompanies this kind of recognition. That was the moment I knew that my time to move on from the military had come.

Sid Chatterjee is decorated for gallantry. Photo: Indian Army

My award for gallantry in combat made me feel I was being recognised for something that was not going to bring the conflict to an end. I wished that soldiers could be rewarded for efforts to ensure peace and reconciliation, not for the number of people they had killed. I wished my own award recognised my achievements in negotiating with village elders and with belligerent groups towards resolving the conflict.

The primacy of politics and dialogue had failed and this was being replaced by belligerence and hate.

Obtaining early release from the Special Forces was not straightforward, and it took nearly 12 months of negotiation to secure my return to civilian life. I became a civilian on the 1st of January 1997 and set off for my first civilian job as a security officer in the UN mission in Sarajevo, on the 15th of January. That is where I started my career in the United Nations, from pretty much the bottom of the rung, and I am glad I did as it laid the foundations of my new work environment, which was very different from the army.

WM: Well, that was a long time ago. By now you have had two decades in the UN. What are some of the highlights of your UN career?

Sid: After a short stint as a security officer in Sarajevo, I went to Iraq, where I got a break from security to work as a UN Coordinator in Iraqi Kurdistan in a place called Suleimaniyah. I spent more than two years with the Kurds in northern Iraq and saw first-hand the impact that the UN can make in terms of improving access to basic services like education, health,clean water and sanitation, and nutrition. This in turn had a huge impact on the Kurds’ ability to find solutions to their own developmental needs and the foundations of democracy were laid. They are a group of people that have seen so much of pain and deprivation, yet they continued with stoic determination. I have tremendous respect for them.

From Iraq I went to South Sudan, which was fighting with the North but where there was also an internal war between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Sudan People’s Democratic Front. I set up an office in Rumbek South Sudan for UNICEF in 2000 and my boss, a highly dynamic leader called Dr Sharad Sapra, asked me, “Sid, “Why don’t we get the children out of the military?.”

Child soldiers in Rumbek, South Sudan, . Photo: UNICEF/OLS Mann

We began dialogue with Commander Salva Kiir, who was then chief of the SPLA, and with John Garang, the Chairman of the SPLM. In October 2000 we got a written agreement from (now President) Salva Kiir to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) chief Carol Bellamy, agreeing to demobilize 3,500 child soldiers from the frontlines of the conflict. This followed months of discussions, during which we never threw the book at them on the Convention to the Rights of the Child, but instead persuaded them that their political capital would go up exponentially if they became the first rebel army to remove children from their ranks.

Sid Chatterjee with Commander Salva Kiir, Chief of the SPLA, meet Ms Carol Bellamy, then UNICEF Executive Director, in Rumbek, South Sudan, Oct 21, 2000. Photo: UNICEF

To see those children in South Sudan return to a normal childhood and to give them access to education, food, immunization, clean water and sanitation was immensely fulfilling for me. It remains one of my proudest achievements to this day. In many ways this particular event was transformational for me personally. It also filled a spiritual vacuum in my life. Here is a TEDx talk I did on it. (Video)

3551 child soldiers were demobilized in February 2001. Photo UNICEF/OLS

I was then appointed chief of the emergency section in Indonesia, working with more than a million internally displaced people due to the conflict in Aceh and the Malukus. We were at the front lines of providing assistance to displaced communities, negotiating days of peace and tranquillity to access children in order to immunize them. We established an Indonesian version of a ‘school in a box’ programme that enabled us to set up and equip a makeshift tented school whenever belligerent groups burned down school buildings.

UNICEF’s then Executive Director Carol Bellamy asked me to lead UNICEF’s response to the emergency in Darfur in 2004. I helped scale up UNICEF’s response to the emergency and led a wide-ranging immunization campaign throughout Darfur. Ensuring we could access every child no matter where they were, which involved negotiating access with the rebel leaders who controlled wide swathes of territory in order to access these children with health, education, clean water and protection.

My work in Darfur was recognised by UNICEF’s senior leadership, and in November 2004 I was promoted and appointed UNICEF’s deputy representative in Somalia. This was a remarkable experience at a very challenging time for the country. I led UNICEF’s humanitarian response efforts spanning the tsunami in 2004 to immunizing children in conflict-affected parts of Southern Somalia to ensuring a back-to-school programme for children in North-eastern Somalia. My office was seen as a pivotal humanitarian and development organization and we developed good relationships with other organisations operating in the country, and with local governments.

WM: Now let us move to some of the more controversial stuff:I understand that you rose from a very junior IFLD 4 position in Sarajevo, in 1997 to a professional level P-5 in Somalia in 2004. That is like seven years and I am told this rarely happens in the UN. There has been some controversy that has followed you around because you are the son-in-law of Mr Ban Ki-moon, the immediate former Secretary-General of the UN. There are those who suspect that maybe this was the reason behind your meteoric rise.

Sid: Mr. Ban Ki-moon joined the UN as Secretary General in 2007, after a long and distinguished career as a diplomat. I joined the UN in 1997, a full 10 years before Mr. Ban.

Sid Chatterjee with his in-laws, Ban Ki-moon and Yoo Soon-taek in Seoul.

I met my wife Ban Hyun Hee in Darfur in July 2004 and we got married soon afterwards. By then I had already been appointed to P5 level (a senior level of UN management) after seven years of service in some of the world’s most difficult and dangerous places, and a full three years before Mr. Ban’s election as the UN Secretary General.

Yes, I progressed quickly in my career. That was because I was privileged to serve with phenomenal leaders like Ms. Carol Bellamy, Dr. Sharad Sapra and Mr. Rolf Carrier (who was UNICEF’s Representative in Indonesia), who recognized and rewarded results. I am deeply grateful to them.

In 2007, I turned down an offer from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to head up their Nepal office and instead accepted an invitation from the UN’s special representative in Iraq to work with him. Ironically, it was at that point that the gossip about nepotism started, though it is hard to imagine that going to serve in Iraq at one of the most dangerous periods in its history could be viewed as a soft option for a family member!

But soon after my father-in-law’s appointment my wife and I became a target of vicious and malicious media attacks. The period between 2007 and 2016 was difficult for both of us, because, suddenly, our private lives were thrown into the public domain. In those circumstances, it becomes not just about your family honour but protecting the name of the institution too. There was nobody who would speak out to defend you, the UN could not, so it was a complicated situation.

I soon realized that we were left to our own devices to protect our name and honour. The situation got so bad that our prospects for employment in the UN system were in jeopardy, because institutions were wary of bringing media attention on themselves.

It was a tough situation.

Everything that happened from January 2007 was viewed through the distorted lens of nepotism, with no regard for my 10-year career at the UN prior to that. Suddenly, it was all about being the SG’s son-in-law. Itwas relentless and distressing.

One of the few media houses that presented the story in a fair and just and truthful way was Forbes, which in 2013 published a piece titled, “Misread Nepotism At The U.N.: Why Siddharth Chatterjee’s Well-Earned Appointment Requires Explanation”.

I am deeply grateful to Ms. Carol Bellamy, Dr Sharad Sapra, Mr. Rolf Carrier, Ambassador Frank Wisner (former US Ambassador to India) and my former boss at the Red Cross, Ms Goli Ameri. Not only are they great leaders, they also had the courage to speak out publicly in my defence.

WM: I recently saw an interview you did which was published in WION News India, where you were asked about the UN Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohammed, and her role in the “rosewood scandal” when she was in Minister of Environment in Nigeria. You defended her. How come? And for those who may not know what this scandal was, maybe you could explain a little of the details.

Sid: Well the question was sprung at me by WION news, and I could have easily ducked it, but decided not to.

The Nigerian government emphatically rejected allegations of rose wood export racketeering to China levelled against UN Deputy Secretary-General Ms Amina Mohammed, when she was the Minster of Environment. The ministry stated that all the CITES permits signed by the ex-minister were done in line with stringent guidance and procedures.

Having been a target of malicious and fake news myself for close to 10 years, I could empathise with her. I felt it was most unfair to target Ms. Amina Mohammed, whose professional, ethical and integrity standards are excellent and beyond reproach. I have no regret speaking up for her. In my view that was the right thing to do.

Wycliffe, as the famous 1855 saying by Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon goes,“If you want truth to go around the world you must hire an express train to pull it; but if you want a lie to go around the world, it will fly; it is light as a feather and a breath will carry it.”

WM: By now you must be acquainted with the sad reality of just how polarizing Kenyan elections are. International civil servants like yourself, can suddenly find that either they or their staff are viciously attacked because something they said or did – really quite innocently – has upset one side of the political divide or the other.I noted during the elections in Kenya in 2017, one of your staff and also you personally were attacked by some bloggers. I took note that you came out strongly in your colleague’s defence. Are you saying people within the system should speak out in defence of their staff?

Sid: Absolutely. I firmly believe that we all have a moral responsibility regardless of our rank, pay-grade or station in life, to stand up for the truth without fear or favour.

I am the face of UNDP so it is easy to attack me. A lot of fake news got propagated after the elections. I can take the attacks but will stand in between when it comes to my staff. The safety, security and reputation of my staff is paramount. I will go to the end of the earth to defend them.

WM: Let’s go back a bit. You were offered the position of UN Resident Coordinator in Namibia in 2009, how did that come about and why did you not take up that position?

Sid: Every Resident Coordinator has to pass a UN Resident Coordinator Assessment. Failure rates are quite high. An independent human resources company from Canada carried out my assessment, which I passed in 2008 and was proposed by UNICEF (the agency I served with) to become the UN Resident Coordinator in Namibia in 2009. A post of that seniority and responsibility has to be signed off by the UN Secretary General, and so I made the difficult decision to decline that job offer because of my personal situation. I did not want to expose myself, my wife, my father-in-law or the UN itself to any suggestions of perceived impropriety. Perceptions matter and that is what I have had to deal with since 2007.

Instead I made a life-changing decision, perhaps my best decision. I decided to go back to school and spent a year studying for a Master’s in Public Policy at Princeton University. It was again a leap of faith, I took a year’s leave without pay and there was no right of return to my previous job or to any position for that matter. I would have to compete for any position. It was a big risk and I knew because of my special situation organizations in the UN were reluctant to hire me.

My year of study and reflection at Princeton was without doubt one of the best experiences of my life. I developed intellectually through engagement with teachers and with a fascinating mix of fellow students from all parts of the world and from all walks of life. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity I had at Princeton.

As Alvin Toffler said, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

I would encourage everyone to take a year out of their careers to pause and go back to school. It gives you the freedom to pursue your intellectual interests, develop new capabilities, expose yourself to new approaches and methods and advance your career.

Sid Chatterjee with Senator Ted Cruz at a Princeton University reunion in Princeton, New Jersey, June 2017. Photo: Caroline Cruz.

WM: There is one place where you have worked, which was neither the UN nor the Indian Army. I note that you went to work for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. You had a fancy title of Chief Diplomat. How did that come about?

Sid: While I was at Princeton, an executive search firm contacted me to check if I would be interested in this position at the Red Cross. I said yes without hesitation and went through a rigorous selection process. I had my final interview in Geneva led by the hiring manager, an absolutely spectacular leader called Ms Goli Ameri, who used to be a former Assistant Secretary of State during President Bush’s administration. She was the Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Diplomacy and Strategic partnerships.

My role was to promote humanitarian diplomacy. It was about persuading decision makers and opinion leaders to act at all times in the interests of vulnerable people, and with full respect for fundamental humanitarian principles.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is the world’s largest humanitarian network. The Movement is neutral and impartial, and provides protection and assistance to people affected by disasters and conflicts.The Movement is made up of nearly 100 million members, volunteers and supporters in 190 National Societies
The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, was led by a humanitarian hero and a champion for the most vulnerable, Mr. Bekele Geleta. It was a privilege to serve with both of them as well as develop a new network of friends and colleagues. The national societies of the Red Cross Red Crescent movement are perhaps the only organization that areprimed to go the last mile and can be relied on to deliver humanitarian assistance where no one else can go. These are true volunteers who epitomize the spirit of service, humanity, compassion and trust. It was an honor to be part of this great organization for nearly three years.

The United Nations family in Kenya is very lucky to have a partner like the Kenyan Red Cross, to respond to Kenya’s humanitarian needs. They are a versatile and highly respected organization globally.

Sid Chatterjee with his colleagues from the Red Cross Red Crescent movement during a Global Management meeting at the IFRC HQ in Geneva, 2012. Photo: IFRC

WM: So can you then trace for me the path by which you moved from the IFRC to your appointment as the UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya?

Sid: I first came to Kenya in 2014 as the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Representative to Kenya.

In 2016, I was invited by the UNDP to apply for this role andI am deeply grateful to Ms. Helen Clark, the former UNDP Administrator, for giving me the opportunity to apply and compete. I am also grateful to my predecessor Ms. Nardos Bekele-Thomas who encouraged me to take on this position.

As I was working with UNFPA they first had to approve my applying for the role, which they did. I applied for the UN Resident Coordinator(RC) role in Kenya in 2016. Again, I went through a selection process called the Inter-Agency Appointments Panel and was shortlisted. Regardless of the decision being taken, the final decision rests with the Government of the country where an RC is being proposed to.

I was honoured and deeply humbled by the support and confidence of the Government of Kenya to be the UN’s Resident Coordinator in Kenya.

Sid Chatterjee presents his credentials to CS Foreign Affairs Ambassador Amina Mohamed on taking over as the UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya.

WM: One more hypothetical: Let’s imagine you were given an opportunity to speak to a group of highly influential political leaders at the UN, what would you say to them?

Sid: In his New Year’s message on Sunday 31 December 2017, UN Secretary General Mr. Antonio Guterres issued “a red alert for our world.” He called for unity and has said that, “We can settle conflicts, overcome hatred and defend shared values. But we can only do that together.”

I would remind these political leaders of the words of the very controversial William Tecumseh Sherman, a Union General during the U.S. Civil War, who once said, “It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell.”

The damage of war goes far beyond what we once believed; society has now reached an understanding about the kind of moral, communal and psychological toll war can have on the soldiers, their families, community and even country.

Perhaps the question we need to ask is if there is a need to bolster our quest for non-violence as a means to resolve disputes and differences.

However, today we have terms like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), chronic depression, cognitive impairment and traumatic brain injury to help explain the symptoms suffered by active and returning soldiers.

Apart from PTSD, combatants also suffer from issues such as mood disorders, depression, anxiety, night terrors, and maybe at increased risk for substance abuse, and be more likely to commit violent offences in civilian life.

For example, suicide-related deaths in the U.S. military surged to a record 349 in 2012 — more than the 295 Americans who died fighting in Afghanistan in 2012. Statistics show that there is one suicide death every 18 hours.

Sid Chatterjee speaks to the Governors of Kenya’s 47 counties about the SDGs. Photo Credit: Council of Governors.

When we see terrifying images from across the world of professional soldiers from developed or developing countries carrying out some of the most egregious violations of human rights, we have to pause for a moment to think of the triggers that cause such reactions. Far away from families and friends, the pressure of combat brings the worst out in many. I have seen this first hand. It unleashes a savage, despite great educational, emotional, and spiritual enlightenment.

And I suppose societies too need to hold up a mirror to themselves. After all these soldiers do not come from Mars. They come from the very communities where they are raised, educated, groomed and nurtured.

The toll that war takes on a soldier is clear, but what sort of toll does it take on a community?

These problems don’t just affect the returning soldiers’ parents, wives, children, siblings, friends and neighbours. What are the social consequences of millions of psychologically scarred soldiers returning to communities all over the world feeling hopeless and angry?

And then there is the massive financial cost. A 2013 Harvard study notes that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars could end up costing the U.S. between 4 and 6 trillion dollars, including the medical care of veterans, leading to an enormous negative impact on the global economy.

No doubt wars and conflicts are hell — but for reasons far beyond what we traditionally thought. Conflict not only tears apart the people that partake in it, emotionally as well as physically, but also their families, communities, societies and even their countries. It is extremely expensive, not only in money, but also in human capital and lost potential. These costs are simply too great to bear.

My key message to them would be that, if the world cannot find a way out of war, then we may well be defeated as a civilization.

So I would implore them to get behind the UN Secretary General’s call for peace and prevention of conflicts.

WM: And in your view, what is the UN leadership doing about it?

Mr Guterres, swears in Ms Amina Mohamed as UN Deputy Secretary General. Photo Credit: UN

Sid: Today, over 65 million people are displaced or have become refugees, the largest displacement of humanity since the second world-war, due to conflicts, natural disasters or sheer poverty.

There are many thorny issues facing the world, and the UN Secretary General Mr Antonio Guterres and his Deputy Ms Amina Mohamed have called on the United Nations staff and member states of the UN to stand up and unite to tackle the challenges of extreme violence, large movement of refugees, underdevelopment and poverty, and civil strife.

They are together driving some of the boldest reforms of the UN system at the country level, which is where the UN makes a real difference. They are leading efforts to ensure that the UN is more effective, efficient, coherent, coordinated and a better performing United Nations country presence with a strengthened role of the UN Resident Coordinator and a common management, programming and monitoring framework.

They must get the support of the member states of the UN as well as the UN system as a whole. All the UN funds, programmes and agencies need to get behind the SG on this.

WM: No doubt you have had many opportunities to address young university students. Looking back on your own journey, and at how you reached where you are now, what would you tell such a group now, by way of offering them encouragement and urging them to have great aspirations?

Sid: I would say drive, determination, perseverance and belief. A belief that you can do it. Everyone needs a little bit of luck in addition to their personal drive and willingness to take risks. In my case, there were plenty of times when I had to take that leap of faith, not knowing how I would land.

Self-confidence, regardless of how much people doubt your ability, is crucial. That is what kept me going, because all the odds were stacked against me and there were many points when I could have failed.

You get attacked for your successes and your failures, and, as you rise, there are inevitably people that will be jealous and many who will dislike you. I always keep the wise words of Winston Churchill in mind, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

So having a thick skin is crucial, find strength in adversity and never giving up.

WM: What would you say to any of them who might then ask you what you now believe – after all these experiences – to be the key to your style of leadership?

Sid: I owe my foundations in leadership to the National Defence Academy in India and my unit, the 10th Special Forces battalion where I served. These are two institutions that were central to my all around development, my ability to withstand stress and adapt to rapidly changing situations. Above all it imbibed a sense of loyalty, courage and a “never give up attitude”. You learn about the true meaning of Espirit de corps, the sense of camaraderie, how to earn the respect of those you command and how to reward that respect by returning it. You are set some of the most difficult physical, mental and emotional tests and many strong people can’t cope. It’s not your physical stamina that sustains you over three days in the desert on a navigation exercise with very little food and water, it’s your willpower.

The culture is, a leader leads from the front and knowing the right balance when to lead from behind.

Courage and integrity are crucial, whatever the situation. Stand up and stand by your staff, be loyal to them.

UNDP Administrator Mr Achim Steiner joins Sid Chatterjee,the UNDP Resident Representative, and his team in Nairobi during a visit. Photo: UNDP Kenya

My principle is that when something goes wrong, I will take the hit for it and will stand by my staff. When things go well and we are successful, I will ensure the credit is passed on to individuals and the team.

To me real leaders are visionary in their aspirations but practical and flexible in their approach, ambitious for their staff and the organization, while being demanding, they must be sensitive and compassionate towards their teams. And when a leader is having a bad day, try not to show it.

I have always requested a 360-degree performance review. Getting honest and reliable feedback is necessary to test one’s own perceptions, recognize previously unseen strengths, and become aware of blind spots in one’s self-perceptions.

WM: I saw your article in Forbes where you threw out a challenge to President Obama and President Putin on the matter of the war in Syria. I think the title was Obama And Putin Must Stop The Appalling Slaughter Of Syria’s Children. What prompted that?

Sid: I wrote that piece in 2013 following heartbreaking research from the Oxford Research Group report, ‘Stolen Futures – the Hidden Toll of Child Casualties in Syria”. It was damning in that it shows that children were specifically and deliberately targeted. 11,420 children were killed in Syria between March 2011 and August 2013. Among them, 389 were killed by snipers, 764 executed, and 100 tortured.It highlighted the depravity on all sides of Syria’s war.

Nelson Mandela once said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

Perhaps there’s something else that needs to happen in terms of the way we see ourselves as a species and the collective nature of humanity. How can we prevent conflict, resolve it when it happens, and protect the most vulnerable from its impact?

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley holds photos of victims of a gas attack as she speaks as the U.N. Security Council meets in an emergency session on April 5, 2017, about Syria. Photo: Reuters

Children continue to suffer in war, as horrifying images from gas attacks in Syria show, and President Donald Trump correctly called an “affront to humanity.”

The United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, has described Syria as one of the worst conflicts of our time. But every day millions of children around the world are caught up in crises and disasters, many of man’s own making.

Consider this. In 2016 alone, one billion children around the world experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence. Globally, one in four children suffer physical abuse, one in five girls are sexually abused at least once in their lifetime, and more than 240 million children live in countries affected by conflict.

A growing number of boys and girls, some as young as eight years, are being abducted and sent to the frontlines as child soldiers, or fall prey to sexual violence in times of war. These experiences sear their psyches with macabre memories and condemn them to a terrifying and hopeless future.

On the issue of children, values must be the guiding principle, not Realpolitik. As President John F. Kennedy once said, “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future”. That future should not be jeopardized.

Frankly, it is difficult to find another species that treats its offspring with such cruelty.

WM: You came to Kenya in April 2014 as the head of UNFPA and now you have been the United Nations Resident Coordinator since 2016. In all this you have carved out for yourself a reputation as one man who is very passionate about women’s rights. Tell us about both your roles in this and what you may have achieved?

Sid: As mentioned, my firm belief in fighting gender inequality started as a young boy.

However, one particular incident remains etched in my memory to date. While serving in the army as a young officer, I was horrified to find out that a soldier from my unit had raped a young girl. I remember the sheer fear and trauma that girl went through, and the helplessness of her family.

It was a life changing moment for me. While the punishment that followed was swift and uncompromising, it was at that moment that I swore to fight all forms of misogyny, discrimination and violence.

So when I came to Kenya, it was as if the unseen hand of destiny brought me here. At UNFPA I had the opportunity to deal with the terrible tragedy of high maternal deaths, discrimination and violence at the centre of the country’s political, social, cultural and economic dialogue.

My role in Kenya has been the most exciting of my entire career. When I got here I found an incredible team of UNFPA staff determined to change the game and claim our space in matters of maternal health. I decided that the first move would be to get behind what the First Lady’s Beyond Zero Campaign aimed at ending maternal deaths in Kenya. Kenya is lucky to have a truly remarkable First Lady in Margaret Kenyatta.

The First Lady of Kenya, flanked by CS Foreign Affairs Amb Amina Mohamed, former UN Resident Coordinator to Kenya, Ms. Nardos Bekele Thomas and Sid Chatterjee. Ms Margaret Kenyatta was recognised as the UN Person of the Year 2014 for her invaluable efforts to advance maternal and child health in Kenya. Photo: UN Kenya

Her passion, dedication and sheer determination is exceptional and frankly unparalleled. Her clarion call, “no woman should die giving life” resonated to every corner of the country and beyond. That became the tailwind for UNFPA’s own efforts.

Working with the University of Nairobi, we discovered that 98% of maternal deaths in Kenya were happening in only 15 counties. Armed with that data for my first meeting with then Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia and the First Lady, I proposed we should get the Governors from the 15 counties to commit to ending the scourge of maternal mortality in their counties, and to support them with targeted interventions.

It was a success. Despite initial doubts from several quarters that we could do it, we gained the support of the Kenya Red Cross and the World Bank and ran a sustained and highly focused campaign. 15 County Governors from the counties which have the highest burden of maternal deaths signed a communique on ending preventable maternal and new born mortality in Kenya.

A communique signed by 15 County Governors to end preventable maternal and new born mortality in Kenya being held by former CS MOH, Mr James Macharia, Dr Ramana of the World Bank and Sid Chatterjee. Photo: UNFPA Kenya.

Change has been dramatic. Kenya had a maternal mortality ratio of around 488 deaths per 100,000 live births. In a matter of a few years, this dropped to 366 deaths per 100,000 live births. Our efforts were recognized by the World Economic Forum. We were invited to Kigali and then to Davos and Durban because of the gains that these counties had made.

Our next frontier is universal healthcare, so that no Kenyan is denied access to medical help through lack of financial means or lack of facilities. With the clear support of the government, I am confident we can achieve this.

Kenya is a beacon of hope in this region. A rapidly growing population offers opportunities for growth and innovation, but this demographic dividend can only be achieved through focusing concerted efforts on ensuring youth empowerment. We also need to ensure that women and girls have rights over their bodies and can plan their families. That will help unlock Kenya’s demographic dividend.

As the UN Resident Coordinator, I have worked with the UN country team and we have come up with five priorities in the new United Nations Development Assistance Framework, which will start in June 2018.

First is to help the government to create five million jobs by 2022. A million young people enter the labour market every year, but there are barely 100,000 new jobs, most of them in the informal sector. We need to dignify technical jobs, so the skills of a plumber, mason or carpenter are respected, encouraging young people into areas of high demand and helping them establish their own businesses.

Sid Chatterjee is congratulated by the former Chair of the Council of Governors, Honourable Peter Munya on being appointed the UN Resident Coordinator to Kenya. Photo: Council of Governors

Number Two is to address drought and hunger. By 2030, agriculture will be a trillion-dollar industry in Africa, with the potential to employ most of its youth, and Kenya must seize this opportunity. Young people’s energy and ideas could transform the sector.

Third is universal health coverage. We must not be afraid to think creatively. We know, for example, that it will be difficult for Kenya to produce enough doctors and nurses, so why not train community health workers to do some of the mundane, non-medical tasks that currently take up much of their precious time? We could train a million school leavers to perform immunizations, for instance. We need to think of new ways of addressing old problems.

Fourth is ensuring that development leaves no one behind and that is perhaps one of the best weapons to defeat the scourge of violent extremism. The principle of Vision 2030 is about making sure that it’s an inclusive process. As the UNDP Administrator, Mr. Achim Steiner, emphasizes, “let’s leave no one behind and reach the farthest behind first.” That is how you start to lead on issues of inequality and inequity.So the focus needs to be on the counties with the worst human development indicators.

Finally, we need to expand cross-border cooperation to encourage economic development and opportunity. The existing cross-border programme with Ethiopia, and the new road that connects Isiolo with Addis has seen the number of young people from Marsabit County joining Al-Shabaab drop exponentially. The road is a route to commerce and opportunity and economic integration.

President Kenyatta said he wants to turn this area into a ‘Dubai’. We will work very hard to make that happen.

The signing of the Kenya-Ethiopia cross-border programme by the Foreign Ministers of Kenya, Amb Amina Mohamed and Ethiopia, Dr Tedros Adhanom overseen by the Heads of State of Kenya and Ethiopia. December 2015 Photo: UNDP Kenya

WM: Speaking about violent extremism we are seeing this as an increasing phenomena globally, but particularly so in Africa. What is your take on this critical and highly sensitive issue?

Sid: Very important question Wycliffe. UNDP recently launched a ground breaking report, based on deep research and interviews with former extremists and those incarcerated. The report debunks a lot of myths and perceptions on the scourge of violent extremism. I would encourage everyone to read the report titled, “The Journey to Violent Extremism in Africa: Drivers, Incentives and the Tipping Point for Recruitment.”

Bottom line is, deprivation, marginalization, underpinned by weak governance, are primary forces driving young Africans into violent extremism.

The report also finds that, many of these extremist movements erupt from borderlands and under-served areas. Large swathes of the population are extremely poor and there are chronically underemployed youth. That is why the Kenya-Ethiopia cross-border programme is particularly significant. I really applaud and commend the vision and leadership of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia and President Kenyatta of Kenya, for moving this forward.

President Kenyatta of Kenya and Prime Minister HailemariamDesalegn of Ethiopia lay the foundation of the Kenya-Ethiopia cross-border programme in the border town of Moyale in Marsabit county, Kenya. Photo: UNDP Kenya

This programme has brought two National Governments, two regional authorities, and two United Nations Country Teams together to advancing peace, development and empowerment in this area.

I am confident that not only can this programme be replicated, but may potentially be the key to resolving intractable border problems globally.

WM: Given your background in both the military and as a global technocrat, in your view what would be the best way to go about addressing this challenge?

Sid: We need to address security challenges through a development lens. I would add that if we were to urgently invest in 4 E’s- Education and skills, Empowerment of youth, women and girls, a Marshall plan for Employment in Africa and Equity, Africa will not only reap a demographic dividend, it would prevent irregular and forced migration and perhaps prevent and defeat violent extremism.

I recently had the privilege of co-authoring an article with the former President of Ghana, Honourable John Mahama, titled, “Promise or Peril: Africa’s 830 million young people by 2050”, where we discuss Africa’s youth population. Africa has a median age of 19 and has a rapidly growing youth population, which is expected to reach over 830 million by 2050. Whether this spells promise or peril depends on how the continent manages its “youth bulge.”

Many migrants use the dangerous sea route crossing between North Africa and Italy in search of a better life. Photo: REUTERS/ MARINA MILITARE

According to the World Bank, 40% of people who join rebel movements are motivated by lack of economic opportunity.

In the wake of the Second World War, the Marshall Plan helped to rebuild shattered European economies in the interests of growth and stability. We need a plan of similar ambition that places youth employment in Africa at the centre of development.

WM: When someone has had the kind of successes you have had on the one hand and on the other hand also undergone a great deal of anguish – we might almost say injustice – at the hands of critics, there is always this need for vindication in the long run. Here’s my question within that context: ten years from now, what would you like to look back as having happened in the next five years? In other words, what would you look back on with the greatest satisfaction?

Sid: You know Wycliffe, the difficulties my wife and I had through 2007 to 2016, made us stronger and taught us to be resilient. As a matter of fact much of the negativity thrown at us, from within and outside the institution and those that tried to hurt us, only made us tougher and smarter. So I am grateful to them too and hold no grudges. I have learnt a great deal and developed immensely from this experience.

I am really grateful that I am now in Kenya. It is a time of monumental change and opportunity.

As you are aware, His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced his BigFour plans, inter alia, affordable healthcare, food security, manufacturing and affordable housing as his main concerns for the next five years. The UN’s priorities in the United Nations Development Assistance Framework(UNDAF) for Kenya are fully aligned with those of the Government.

In the next five years my hope is that we scale up our partnership with Kenya and all development partners to achieve the Big Four. I am confident Kenya can do it and serve as a model for many other countries in Africa and throughout the world.

The year 2018 presents incredible challenges and opportunities. Here is my New Year’s message to Kenya.

In several ways, 2017 was not an easy year, first because the UN globally is facing an ongoing funding downturn to which no agency is immune, but particularly in Kenya because of the turbulence and uncertainties associated with lastyear’s general election.

Despite these challenges, I firmly believe that 2017 was a year of notable achievements, when we once again asserted the value and credibility of the UN system in Kenya to the Government and people of Kenya.

I thank all UN agencies that stood at the forefront of the drought response. It is the credibility and trust we enjoy that led to resources coming our way from the Flash Appeal to support the humanitarian response. The Government of Kenya sees the UN family as a partner they can trust and rely on. We must continue to remain vigilant and ready to support the Government and people of Kenya as the indications for the coming year do not look so good.

Sid Chatterjee discusses youth employment with President Kenyatta. Photo Credit: State House.

Despite shrinking resources, we are expected to do more. These past years, we have responded on time, effectively and coherently; and our work is helping people feed themselves, care for the sick, empower more youth and women and promote models of development that reduce dependency.

For instance, the Joint Programme on Reproductive Maternal Neonatal Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) has led to notable progress on coherence, service delivery, partnerships and key health outcomes, especially in under-served counties. This was not only recognised by Forbes “The UN and Philips Bring Hope And Health To Africa’s Most Challenging Region”, but also acknowledged by the Government of Kenya and the World Economic Forum. This became the basis for the SDG public- private partnership platform to leapfrog universal health coverage in Kenya.

Here is Kenya Foreign Minister’s Speech, Ambassador Amina Mohamed, at the UN General Assembly on Friday, 22 September 2017, where she spoke specifically to the SDG platform in Kenya to leapfrog achievement of Universal Health Coverage in partnership with the United Nations in Kenya and emphasized the central importance of maternal and child healthcare.

The Cabinet Secretary informed the General Assembly of efforts made in her country to accelerate implementation of the SDGs as well as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. She also spoke of Kenya’s assistance to refugees and efforts made to combat human trafficking.

This is a wonderful endorsement and recognition of the UN’s role in “Delivering as One”. The Government of Kenya is already planning for a similar platform in partnership with the UN on Zero Hunger, SDG 2.

Partnerships with the private sector and development partners have unlocked significant resources and technical assistance to deliver significant improvements in areas previously considered little more than lost frontiers.

Our network of more than 25 UN agencies in Kenya has continued to offer creative programmes and campaigns on a wide-range of issues, including human rights, peace and security and sustainable development. In addition, we have put in place wider collaboration with the private and public sectors to make our programmes robust and our outreach more effective.

Sid Chatterjee together with the UN Country Team in Kenya welcome the former UNDP Administrator Ms. Helen Clark along with UNDP’s Regional Director Mr. Abdoulaye Mar Dieye to a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya in August 2016. Photo: UNDP Kenya

Kenya’s cross-border programme with Ethiopia, the UN Delivering as One programme, is finding great interest locally and globally and has the potential of not just unlocking more resources but can be replicated elsewhere too.

These are only a few examples of real progress; changes that are not abstractions but which have been documented in terms of mothers and new-borns saved, girls retained in school and the vulnerable fed. It is work that has made a real difference in the lives of people, but which could not have happened had we not worked together.

But we have challenges ahead. The SDGs which the UNDAF now seeks to support are broader and more challenging than the MDGs, because they encompass more goals such as peace, justice and strong institutions.

To that extent, much of the hard work lies ahead. Inequalities persist and progress has been uneven across the counties in Kenya. Our youth in Kenya remain on the periphery of development, and millions are left behind.

These are extraordinary challenges, but they also present extraordinary opportunities. The coming year is a chance for all our agencies to re-evaluate and to innovate. The question before us is, how can we do our work better? How can we stretch our resources more effectively?

The coming of a new year reminds us anew of the enduring value of the United Nations, as the place where citizens expect solutions to problems. I believe that each of us has a part to play in lifting up people all across Kenya, in finding solutions to today’s urgent challenges.

WM: Sid, I remember when we first met. It was at a party held at the residence of the (immediate former) German Ambassador Andreas Peschke in 2014.You have now been here for a few years, and no doubt have had the opportunity to form a personal impression of many members of the diplomatic community in Kenya, as you interact with them all the time. Is there any of them whom you would single out as doing exceptional work here?

Sid: That is a difficult question Wycliffe. All the Ambassadors and High Commissioners I know and interact with are superb and lovely human beings.

I will mention all the same, Ambassador Bob Godec, who is the epitome of a fine diplomat and a staunch believer in Kenya’s potential as a great democracy and a great country. We share a passion for running half marathons (he is far better than me though), the advancement of women’s rights and equality and leapfrogging Kenya’s push to achieve Universal Health Coverage. I had the opportunity of co-authoring an article with him in the Star about the scourge of Female Genital Mutilation in Kenya.

US Ambassador Robert F Godec and Dutch Ambassador Frans Makken, strong advocates of ending FGM. Photo: UNFPA Kenya

WM: Last question. Is it true that you run a half-marathon every Sunday?If so – and really that cannot be said to be out of a need to get some exercise – what inspires you to run?

Sid: Yes, as far as possible I run a half-marathon or 21 km every Sunday. I also try and run to the office 2 to 3 times a week. I stand at work for at least 4–5 hours a day and keep myself moving. And I also do a headstand two or three times a day.

Sid Chatterjee does a headstand in his office. Photo: JBC

Running is therapeutic and it also acts as a catalyst for ideas. Most of the ideas for the opinion pieces I publish on my blog in Huffington Post and Reuters come when I am running.

I wake up at 3 am each morning to read, write and reflect.

Sid Chatterjee runs a half-marathon. Photo: UNDP Kenya

I dote on my 6 year old son. He is the centre of my existence. I suppose I also keep fit for his sake. I must admit, if there is one thing I look forward to, every day and every second, it is the joy of seeing my son grow.

Wycliffe Muga and Siddharth Chatterjee had this conversation at the UNDP office in Nairobi, Kenya. Wycliffe Muga is a columnist for The Star where he was previously Opinions Editor, and also Weekend Editor. He was for ten years (2006-2015) the “Letter from Africa” correspondent to the BBC World Service (Business Daily). He is a former columnist for the Kenyan Daily Nation newspaper, and the monthly magazines, Nairobi-based Diplomat East Africa, and the London-based African Business; also, a former Contributing Editor (Science and Technology) for the East African Flyer magazine. In 2006 he was listed by the Financial Times as Kenya’s most influential print commentator.

Wycliffe Muga

Mr. Muga is a Fellow of the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a winner of numerous journalism awards and media fellowships.

This interview was originally published by The Star of Kenya here:

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3rd Generation Deaf Person Well Suited To Lead 1,000-Employee Nonprofit Serving Deaf Community

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes or Google Play.

Chris Soukup, 38, is a third-generation member of the deaf community. As a child, he remembers his paternal grandparents visiting each week with a list of phone calls to be made by his mother, who could hear. In those days, before the relay services offered by companies like Communication Service for the Deaf, or CSD, the nonprofit that Soukup now runs, members of the deaf community were effectively prevented from communicating by phone.

Soukup’s life was also influenced by injustice. His grandfather lost his farm when a banker explained he didn’t believe a deaf man could operate a farm.

There are approximately 1 million functionally deaf people in the United States. As many as 14% of adults are deaf or hard of hearing, many of them over the age of 65. About 8 million are hard of hearing, that is, they have difficulty hearing a normal conversation even when wearing a hearing aid. About 70% of deaf people are unemployed or underemployed.

For more insights, be sure to watch my interview with Soukup in the video player above.

About 40 years ago, CSD was founded by Soukup’s father, Ben Soukup, who was also deaf. While many people assumed that the younger Soukup would follow in his father’s footsteps at the helm of the organization, he did not, at least not until he got to college.

Chris Soukup, CEO of Communication Service for the Deaf

Soukup started working full time at CSD after finishing graduate school. He joined the executive management team in 2007 and was appointed President in 2011 and then named CEO in 2014. He now manages a $38 million operating budget, all major business units and over 1,000 employees across the United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and New Zealand.

The organization is focused today on solving a single problem: unemployment the high unemployment rate among deaf people.

“We’re very focused on trying to combat that and to combat that in a multitude of ways by creating resources and programs and solutions that better position the deaf community to be successful in employment, to identify opportunities and to help match the supply of jobs to those who are actively looking for employment.”

CSD provides job training, resources and educational material in ASL to deaf and hard of hearing people through a Federal program. This effort is called CSD Neighborhood.

Early in 2017, CSD launched another program called CSD Works to place deaf people in career positions and help create deaf-owned businesses.

CSD recently partnered with Uber to help riders interact more effectively with deaf and hard of hearing drivers. The organization is also adapting training materials for those drivers to help them succeed as well.

Soukup acknowledged that the deaf community is becoming more diverse. Not only does it include people who are deaf from a young age along with people who lose their hearing, often as they age, there are those who have cochlear implants that allow them to hear well but who also identify with the deaf community. CSD is working to serve each member of this community.

About 95% of CSD revenue comes from providing revenue-generating services, including relay services, equipment distribution and interpreting. The organization also receives grants and donations and has investment income.

Hundreds of nonprofits learned to successfully use online fundraising to reach–or surpass–their goals with my crowdfunding training. Get my free guide to attracting media attention.

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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

How Eckrich Used America’s Love of College Football to Honor and Benefit the Country’s Teachers

This is a guest post by John Pauley, Smithfield Food’s Executive Vice President of Retail Sales, Packaged Meats Division

Our country may have been split when the Alabama Crimson Tide faced the Georgia Bulldogs at this year’s College Football Playoff National Championship, but Eckrich brought fans together with a cause everyone could cheer for: America’s teachers. From the sheer importance of their job to their dedication to it, teachers deserve to be recognized, thanked, and rewarded—and that’s exactly what the Eckrich team strived to do at this year’s championship game.

In the brand’s second year as the official smoked sausage and deli meat sponsor of the College Football Playoff, Eckrich challenged ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit to complete a nearly impossible 20-yard throw to earn $1 million for the College Football Playoff Foundation’s Extra Yard for Teachers cause and invited Teachers of the Year from across the country to cheer him on from the sideline.

As hundreds of excited onlookers rooted him on and millions watched during ESPN’s “College Football Live,”Kirk stepped up to the line to attempt the throw. The ball soared through the air and hit the side of the target, missing by inches. Knowing he could make it, and unrelenting in his desire to earn the money for Extra Yard for Teachers, Kirk stepped up again and took two more attempts, sinking the third as his perfect spiral went right through the target. Despite two fruitless throws,we were thrilled to honor the success of the third and announce a $500,000 donation to the deserving organization.

The entire Eckrich team was elated when Kirk made his throw, and we feel honored to present the Extra Yard for Teachers cause with the largest donation from an outside benefactor it has received to date.

Teachers face multiple challenges in their profession today. This half-million dollar donation will help further elevate and support the teaching profession by inspiring and empowering teachers through the implementation of programs in four focus areas: resources, recognition, recruitment, and professional development. Extra Yard for Teachers hopes to address and make a difference in each of these areas over the next ten years, ultimately leading to brighter futures for tomorrow’s leaders—a“touchdown” for all.

John Pauley

John Pauley is Smithfield Food’s Executive Vice President of Retail Sales, Packaged Meats Division.

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Specific Responses to the Question: How Will You Increase Your Impact in 2018?

To kick off the year with some powerful inspiration, I asked some successful social entrepreneurs and others in the impact community, to answer a simple question: “How will you increase your impact in 2018?”

The answers fell naturally into two groups. The first group were broadly relevant answers that almost any social entrepreneur could mimic. The second group were more specific, based on their particular mission. The first list I published on Forbes here. The second cohort of responses, equally inspiring, are listed below in alphabetical order by respondent.

Adlai Wertman, David. C. Bohnett Professor of Social Entrepreneurship of USC Marshall Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab:

“I review our programs each year to ensure full alignment with our mission statement.”

Adlai Wertman

Adlai Wertman

Alan Naumann, sales manager of Rocky Mountain Renewable Energy:

I will increase collaboration with Native Americans.  I want to support Native American voices, political power and Co management of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, in particular!

Amory Lovins, co-founder and chief scientist of Rocky Mountain Institute:

Having proven that optimizing vehicles, buildings, factories, and equipment as whole systems can make very big energy savings very cheap (expanding returns), I aim to figure out how to turn such “integrative design” from rare to common.

Amy Cortese, Author, founder of Locavesting of Locavesting (also inevstibule):

More collaboration. We’re stronger together. I’m encouraged by the many efforts to join up disparate initiatives in 2018.

Andreas Karelas, executive director of RE-volv:

One person, truly empowered, can make a real difference. RE-volv’s 2018 goal is to empower scores of people with the tools they need to lead the clean energy revolution, starting in their communities.

Arlene Samen, founder of One Heart World Wide:

Our model “The Network of Safety” will be open sourced so others can save the lives of women in childbirth.

Arlene Samen

Billy Starr, founder and executive director of Pan-Mass Challenge:

We will grow every aspect of our cycling weekend which currently has 6,000 cyclists, 12 routes and 315,000 donors to cancer research. Our growth strategy also includes a winter indoor cycle event.

Charles Best, founder of

We’ll explore ways to strengthen the connection between our teachers and the donors and organizations that give on, in order to grow our community of passionate education supporters.

Dallas Graham, publisher and executive director of Red Fred Project:

Creating a toolkit for local professionals so they can assist in the effort of making more books with more children.

Daryl Hatton, CEO of FundRazr:

We are expanding our suite of digital fundraising power tools to help our professional fundraising customers do an ever-better job of engaging their communities and communicating their impact.

David D’Angelo, marketing director of Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden :

We will launch a revenue generating, social impact fellowship program, manage our new permaculture project, and develop a new international festival called “Voyages” to develop tourism in Laos.

Howard Leonhardt , executive chairman of Leonhardt’s Launchpads (with whom I have a business relationship):

Will work to complete development of a whole body organ regeneration chamber designed to regenerate humans to live 30 years longer with high quality of life.

Jack Griffin, founder of FoodFinder:

For issues like poverty and hunger, we may never truly win the war. But in 2018, I will do everything I can to move the needle on food insecurity since helping even a single life is worth it.  

Jack Griffin

Jason S. Trager, Ph.D., managing partner of Sustainabilist:

We’re using data-driven content marketing to reach more clients for our process improvement and quality assurance work in sustainability.

Jenny Kassan, owner of Jenny Kassan Consulting:

I will get more mission-driven female entrepreneurs funded by investors that love and support them.

Jill Vialet, CEO and founder of Playworks:

We’re giving away our secret sauce, enabling partners and educators to make play more safe and healthy in order to reach 1mm kids in 2000 schools this year

Kathryn Pisco, founder and CEO of Unearth the World:

We will increase our impact by planning transformative skills-based volunteer abroad programs for socially-minded companies. We will grow our local volunteer initiatives to catalyze change in the US!

Laura Callanan, founding partner of Upstart Co-Lab:

With a pipeline of more than $1.5 billion in opportunities over the next five years, the time has come to borrow from the lessons of gender lens investing and introduce a Creativity Lens to impact investing.

Laura Callanan, courtesy of Upstart Co-Lab

Laura Lemle, PhD., founder and chairperson of The NVLD Project:

In 2018 we will be increasing our presence on social media by working directly with people who have NVLD to spread awareness about the disability.

Laurie Lane-Zucker, founder and CEO of Impact Entrepreneur (Center, LLC, Network):

Our global network is active around blockchain and cryptocurrencies. I joined the Impact Token Project as Advisor and am looking at integrating blockchain as an operating system in our projects.

Marisa de Belloy, CEO of Cool Effect:

We’ll be launching a campaign to show people, for the first time ever, carbon emissions. When you can see the problem, you can fight it!

Melody Saunders Brenna, CEO Founder of Reef Life Restoration NanoScience:

Reduce manufacturing impact by inclusion of industrial waste. RLR advanced nano materials bring higher strengths using less cement/sand. Encapsulation of plastic/refuse = dual purpose CLEAN profits.

Nancy Hughes, president and founder of StoveTeam International:

I will be raising awareness of the dangers of open fire cooking

Nissan Bahar, co-founder of Bitwalking:

Build a currency only for the purpose of making life better, believing in the irreducible value of every human being.

Nissan Bahar and Franking Imbesi with a student in Africa, courtesy of Keepod

Pat Walsh, co-founder and chief impact officer of Classy:

Mobilize our employees to make a greater impact through philanthropy, and leverage our product and data to enable nonprofits to be transparent and communicate their impact with the world.

Peter Fusaro, EVP of 41 North Securities:

We are helping companies obtain capital to accelerate solutions in sustainability in clean energy, clean water and sustainable agriculture. That impacts the environment and reduces greenhouse gases.

Rahel, managing director of Afrolehar:

In 2018, we will be producing more multimedia content in addition to implementing our technology solutions to facilitate trade of added–value products between Africa and North America.

Rebecca Firth, community and partnerships manager of Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team:

Help anyone, anywhere contribute to development through making really complicated things really simple through apps.

Ryan Scott, CEO and founder of ICO Advisory Group:

Create a pipeline for new cryptocurrency offerings to give back to charity both as donation during their ICOs, and with their ongoing operations.

Shane DeRolf, Founder & CEO of Big Word Club:

Big Word Club is committed to closing the Word Gap in America.  In 2018,  we are seeking to prove the efficacy of BWC in a randomized control trial funded by J-PAL, a leading research center at MIT.

Siddharth Chatterjee, resident coordinator to Kenya of United Nations:

We will partner with private sector, civil society, faith-based organizations to support Government of Kenya’s efforts to leapfrog Universal Health Coverage. #UHC=Defeating poverty =Economic prosperity = #SDG 3 & 1.

Wendy Lipton-Dibner

Wendy Lipton-Dibner, president of Professional Impact, Inc.:

Launching business number 11, dedicated to finding, funding, & fostering hidden difference-makers so they can make the impact they were born to bring the world without giving up their lives to make it happen.

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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

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