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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

TF5

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How Tony Robbins Was Inspired By A Turkey To Feed Millions

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Tony Robbins, The New York Times number one bestselling author, is working to feed 100 million meals to America’s hungry this year through a partnership with Feeding America –and they’re almost there. (You can donate here.)

Robbins explains the tragedy of hunger in America, saying, “It’s a tragedy that in the United States, the richest country in the world, 49 million people, including 16 million children, may go to bed unsure if they will have a meal tomorrow. These are some of the hardest working people on the planet, often people that we interact with each day, and are scraping by from paycheck to paycheck, just one unexpected expense away from not being able to put food on the table.”

It struck me as being almost out of character that the author of Awaken the Giant Within, a book that is all about teaching people to take responsibility for themselves to overcome whatever obstacles they may face, would be so engaged in this effort. So, I asked him why. His answer surprised me. This giant of a man, who is the very picture of success, relates to the hungry personally because he was once hungry.

“I know that those are more than startling statistics — those numbers are human beings suffering — and I came from one of those families,” Robbins confessed.

Then he shared the story of one Thanksgiving when he was eleven years old:

For me, money was always out of reach as a child. It was always a source of stress because there was never enough of it. I remember having to knock on the neighbor’s door to ask for food for my brother and sister and me. Then, on Thanksgiving Day when I was 11 years old, something happened that changed my life forever. As usual, there was no food in the house, and my parents were fighting. Then I heard someone knocking at the front door. I opened it a crack and saw a man standing on the steps with grocery bags filled with enough food for a big Thanksgiving dinner. I could hardly believe it. My father always said that nobody gave a damn about anybody. But all of a sudden someone I didn’t know, who wasn’t asking for anything in return, was looking out for us. It made me think, strangers care. And I decided that I was going to find a way, somehow, someday, to give back and pay it forward.

Robbins hasn’t given up on the principles of self-reliance. He notes that personal responsibility is the long-term solution to poverty and hunger.

“There are a variety of factors that play into food insecurity, poverty being one of the main ones. Growing up in a poor household, working my way up from a janitor to where I am now, I’ve always believed that working to improve yourself and your skill sets is a key component to ending hunger long-term with any individual or family,” he says.

In his new book, Money: Master the Game, Robbins credits Jim Rohn for teaching him key principles of success. “I asked Jim years ago, ‘What’s the secret to economic success? The key,’ he said, ‘is to understand how to become more valuable in the marketplace.’”

Robbins says, “[Rohn] looked directly in my eyes and said, ‘All you have to do to earn more money in the same amount of time is simply become more valuable.’”

On Thursday, December 17, 2015 at 11:00 AM Eastern, Robbins will join me for a live discussion about his goal to provide 100 million meals in partnership with Feeding America and about his new book. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

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

Tony Robbins, NYT Bestselling Author, courtesy of Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins, NYT Bestselling Author, courtesy of Tony Robbins

More about Anthony Robbins:

Twitter: @TonyRobbins

Anthony Robbins is an entrepreneur, New York Times #1 best-selling author, philanthropist, and performance strategist. A recognized authority on the psychology of leadership, negotiations and organizational turnaround, he has served as an advisor to leaders around the world. Author of five internationally bestselling books, including the recent New York Times #1 best-seller MONEY: MASTER THE GAME, Mr. Robbins has empowered more than 50 million people from 100 countries through his audio, video and life training programs. He created the #1 personal and professional development program of all time, and more than 4 million people have attended his live seminars.

As a successful entrepreneur, he serves as chairman of seven privately held companies ranging from media production and business services to education and hospitality. Additionally, Tony recently partnered with America’s Best 401k, one the most disruptive solutions in the retirement planning space offering plan sponsors and participants freedom from expensive 401k plans and underperforming investment options.

He has been honored by Accenture as one of the “Top 50 Business Intellectuals in the World”; by Harvard Business Press as one of the “Top 200 Business Gurus”; by American Express as one of the “Top Six Business Leaders in the World” to coach its entrepreneurial clients; and Fortune’s recent cover article named him the “CEO Whisperer.”

As a philanthropist, Mr. Robbins has fed more than 42 million people over 37 years and he is working to reach 100 million total through his partnership with Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization. His nonprofit Anthony Robbins Foundation provides assistance to inner-city youth, senior citizens, and the homeless, and feeds more than three million people in 56 countries every year through its international holiday “Basket Brigade.”

Remember to “join the cavalry” by subscribing to our content here.

Devin D. Thorpe

Expert Coaches Social Entrepreneurs To Leverage Good Publicity

Entrepreneurs and corporations alike spend tremendous time and money to get good publicity. I’ve reached out to Forbes Contributor Cheryl Snapp Conner, who also serves as the CEO and Founder of SnappConner PR, to find out out social entrepreneurs should leverage the publicity they work so hard to get.

Cheryl offers three key tips:

1. Share and extend your great press coverage. This is a big part of the mileage you receive in today’s press environment. Via social media, your own blog, and other re-postings this is easy and fruitful to do.

2. You are the best author of your own story. As opposed to relying on the press to tell your story, you should hone your abilities to also tell and publish your story on your own.

3. Communications is power! Are you “on the record” for the things you actually stand for? Make certain your social media profiles and your website are clear and consistent in telling your vision and mission and inviting others to join in.

On Wednesday, December 9, 2015 at 4:00 Eastern, Cheryl will join me here for a live discussion about public relations for social entrepreneurs. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.


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

More about SnappConner PR:

Twitter: @SnappConnerPR

Our company is a strategic public relations firm that supports technology, business and lifestyle companies out of Salt Lake City. Additionally, we have developed a program called Content University to help entrepreneurs, executives and individuals to be more successful in telling their stories to the world via blogging and thought leadership publishing.

Cheryl Snapp Conner, courtesy of SnappConner PR

Cheryl Snapp Conner, courtesy of SnappConner PR

Cheryl’s bio:

Twitter: @CherylSnapp

I am an entrepreneur and communications expert from Salt Lake City and founder of SnappConner PR. I am the author of Beyond PR: Communicate Like A Champ The Digital Age, available on Amazon. I am co-creator of Content University, available at www.ContentUniversity.com. The opinions I express (especially when tongue in cheek) are entirely my own. My newsletter, the Snappington Post, is available from www.SnappConner.com.

Remember to “join the cavalry” by subscribing to our content here.

Devin D. Thorpe

New Collaboration Brings More CSR Coverage

One of my role models is a young social entrepreneur, Nidhi Singh, in India who has created a platform not unlike the Your Mark on the World Center to cover corporate social responsibility (CSR), social entrepreneurship, impact investing and philanthropy in India.

Nidhi reached out to me about six months ago to explore a collaboration between the Your Mark on the World Center and her platform, CSRlive.in. We are excited to be doing so, cross sharing content to give her audience direct access to our stories and our audience direct access to hers.

India recently passed a law requiring all corporations to do some CSR. Nidhi explains, “The new mandatory CSR law has opened up a world of possibilities for Corporate India to do good and contribute strategically to equitable, sustainable growth in India. So I would not say this is a problem, rather a tremendous opportunity that has materialized for all CSR & Sustainability professionals to work, collaborate and create real, on-ground impact with some real funds (INR 25,000 Cr/ $4.5 Billion annually) that are now available specifically for this purpose. There are many companies that have been voluntarily executing CSR projects but many more new companies (approximately 16,500) have now come under the ambit of the new CSR law. CSRlive aims to facilitate the process of optimum utilization of this CSR spend.”

Nidhi has ambitious plans for CSRlive. She says, “As an online platform dedicated to briging news, updates, policy changes, and expert opinions in the CSR & Sustianability sector; we promote best practises, thereby inspiring and encouraging more of the best to take a foothold, grow and expand. We facilitate connections between relevant stakeholders – for example – a genuine NGO looking to survive/scale up can present it’s case and funding requirements to a Corporate company looking for an authentic project that is aligned with their CSR policy. If there is a noteworthy activity in the CSR & Sustainability domain, CSRlive will be its voice. Going forward, we also aim to acknowledge best practises through CSRlive Change-Makers Awards.”

Nidhi has an inspiring vision for the future. “We believe in the power of a good story that is well told to engage and inspire people towards greater good! Getting transferred to the CSR division is still considered ‘Corporate suicide’ (though unadmittedly)- and CSRlive is committed to turning this around with its reportage and passion to connect and bring the right people to the right jobs and the right funds to the right organizations and individuals. The success of CSRlive will be in facilitating a change in mindset – which in itself is half the battle won,” she says.

On Wednesday, December 9, 2015 at 11:00 Eastern, Nidhi will join me here for a live discussion about CSRlive and the promise of the new CSR law in India. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.


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

More about CSRlive.in:

Twitter: @CSRlive_In

CSRlive is positioned as India’s credible, livewire news platform dedicated to the social sector and CSR practices presenting content that is delivered using innovative social media engagement, cutting edge technology and a sterling team of subject matter Journalists. We intend to create new benchmarks with frontline reportage on CSR, Sustainability, Philanthropy and Corporate Citizenship. We aim to not only inform, but to establish long-term partnerships with different stakeholders, creating a synergy between available resources and needs of communities. Through CSRlive.in, we intend to give voice and strength to every noteworthy activity in this sector, whether undertaken by a small gram Panchayat or a large multinational Company. As a part of our long-term strategy, we will identify, analyze and acknowledge the best practices and the real change-makers in the social sector, through our proprietary Award modules.

Nidhi Singh, courtesy of CSRlive.in

Nidhi Singh, courtesy of CSRlive.in

Nidhi’s bio:

Twitter: @nidstertalk

Nidhi is a prominent Social Entrepreneur and a well known name in the field of Advisory and Communication in the sustainability space. She is a former Television Journalist and has worked with leading National Channels like Star News and TV Today Network in various capacities widely reporting on lifestyle, fashion and trends. As a successful entrepreneur Nidhi is co-founder of thecsrjournal.in, Indigreen – a fair trade, organic clothing label & The Green People of India (TGPI) – a collective of sustainable enterprises across India. Nidhi is very passionate about Yoga and is a long time practitioner of Kriya Yoga Meditation as taught by Paramahansa Yogananda (Autobiography of a Yogi).

Remember to “join the cavalry” by subscribing to our content here.

Devin D. Thorpe

Entrepreneur Builds Business Bridges To Africa

Rahel Getachew, founder and Managing Director of Afrolehar, is working to change perceptions of Africa by building business bridges between the U.S. and Africa.

Rahel explains the problem, “The African continent has been seen as the dark and hopeless continent. There is a lack of linkages between US investment and African SMEs, a growing youthful continent that needs jobs to keep peace and security in the region and are missing platforms designed to solve these problems.”

She is working to address the lack of platforms focused on these problems. She says, “I started this business to strategically transform the image of Africa and contribute in strengthening North America- Africa relations. We provide integrated communications solutions through our advisory or in-house services, business development to penetrate and retain consumer markets in North America and Africa–based on client need–and manage creative productions for government, private sector and non-profit organizations.”

A vision of Africa where the economy is driven by value added there more than the commodities grown or extracted. “Ultimately, our success would be defined by the way Africa will be perceived by investors, businesses and consumers markets and African products and works will have greater market value than it currently has. As the world has always turned to the African continent for resources (commodities), we aim to have the world purchase quality added-value African products,” she concludes.

On Tuesday, November 24, 2015 at noon Eastern, Rahel will join me for a live discussion about her efforts. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.


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

More about Afrolehar:

Twitter: @afrolehar

Established in Washington DC, Afrolehar LLC is a cross-cultural branding firm offering integrated communications solutions, business strategies and creative productions services to Government, private sector and non-profit organizations in addition to building Afrolehar LLC brands like knocknockafrica.com, an eCommerce platform with an integrated logistics component designed for SMEs producing added-value products in Africa to connect to consumer markets in North America; Agrifrica.com, a membership-based platform focusing on Green Business linkages between the African continent and North America. As a brand hub and branding solutions advisors, Afrolehar LLC is created to strengthen North America- Africa economic and cultural relations.

Rahel Getachew, courtesy of Afrolehar

Rahel Getachew, courtesy of Afrolehar

Rahel’s bio:

Rahel Getachew, entrepreneur at heart, founder and managing director of Afrolehar LLC, a cross-cultural branding boutique company, has extensive experience in international affairs, integrated marketing and communications, creative productions, program and project management and business development. A cross-cultural problem solver, to actualize her vision of owning her business, Rahel established Afrolehar LLC after extensive international and domestic experience. Rahel’s goal is to enter the African marketplace of ideas and products into the psyche of consumers and various stakeholders; and in the process, the aim is to change the image of Africa and to increase North America’s investment in African countries. Rahel understands that AID and grants is not the way to elevate Africa, instead Africa has to leverage the abundance of natural resources, human capacity and technology into a sustainable economy. Rahel’s professional experiences in Africa and North America have taught her that the way a people or a country is viewed depends on those who create the campaigns on their behalf. Rahel earned her bachelor of Arts with a major in Political science and minor in business studies, and is certified in ICT; she is an active member of the AGOA civil society and private sector networks, African Women Entrepreneurship Program and Top ladies of distinction.

Remember to “join the cavalry” by subscribing to our content here.

Rahel was referred to YourMarkOnTheWorld.com by our sponsor, Gate Global Impact.

Devin D. Thorpe

How To Launch A Nonprofit Quickly and Easily

Brent Andrewsen, an attorney with Your Mark on the World-sponsor Kirton McConkie, explains the simple steps required to form a nonprofit charity.

There are two basic steps required. First, you need to create a legal entity and second, you must obtain tax exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for the entity.

Most “nonprofits” are either a charitable trust or a nonprofit corporation. Brent recommends a nonprofit corporation for organizations looking to operate a traditional nonprofit. The formation requires articles of incorporation, bylaws, a board of directors (at least 3 in number), naming of officers, etc. The articles must be registered with the state, and the state also requires the names and addresses of board members and officers. These steps are almost completely within your control and while they sometimes take months, they can be done as quickly as you are willing to do them.

Once the entity exists, you are in a position to prepare and submit an application to the IRS on Form 1023. The IRS estimates that you can learn what you need to learn to complete the form yourself and complete the form in approximately 20 hours. Most applicants get at least some help from attorneys like Brent who have submitted hundreds of applications. Brent says he’s never had an application rejected. Once you submit the application, the IRS will take three to four months to review it. Sometimes, the IRS will respond with additional questions. Sometimes they will respond with an immediate approval.

Brent notes that the application is important. “Get help from an expert.” If the IRS ever has a question about whether your organization should be subject to tax, the IRS will conduct an audit. If the auditors find that you are doing what was approved in your application, the audit usually will be quick and painless. This also provides protection should the IRS change its opinion about the nonprofit’s activities. The IRS cannot penalize your organization for conducting activities disclosed in the application. In order to ensure efficient audits and protection from penalties, Brent encourages applicants to be “specifically broad” in their applications so that the auditors will quickly recognize that your activities align with your approved application.

One secret that Brent suggests for those who are financially constrained with respect to the legal costs of setting up a nonprofit, is to ask your nonprofit lawyer for templates and some coaching up front and then to prepare the documents yourself. As a final step, ask your attorney to review your work. In this way, your attorney can help you create a successful application at reduced cost.

On Tuesday, November 24, 2015 at 1:00 Eastern, Brent will join me for a live discussion about the process of setting up a nonprofit. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

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

More about Kirton McConkie:

Kirton McConkie is Utah’s largest law firm. It provides excellent service in helping clients solve problems, achieve results and realize opportunities. We serve individuals and businesses, from large multinational organizations to small start ups. As the largest law firm in Utah, we represent a depth of collective knowledge and skills, clients desire. We also know, for the most part, clients tend to hire individual lawyers they have heard about, who have been referred to them or who they already know. We know it is true because it happens for us all the time. Many of our new clients come from referrals. To us, this is the highest form of recognition for the work and service we provide as lawyers and as a law firm.

Brent Andrewsen, Kirton McConkie

Brent Andrewsen, Kirton McConkie

Brent’s bio:

Mr. Andrewsen is a member of Kirton McConkie’s Corporate, and Tax and Estate Planning sections. His practice includes estate planning, probate and trust administration, gift taxation, tax-exempt organizations, charitable trusts and planned giving. Mr. Andrewsen also has advised clients with respect to business matters and has assisted in forming various business entities and transactions. He is a frequent speaker on issues regarding tax-exempt organizations, planned giving, estate planning, and related topics. In addition to his professional work, he has sat on the boards of various charitable organizations over the years. Mr. Andrewsen has an AV PreeminentTM peer rating from Martindale-Hubbell and is recognized as one of Utah’s Legal Elite for estate planning, a Mountain States Super Lawyer for estate planning and non-profits and a Best Lawyer for trusts/estates and nonprofit/charities. He was also honored by Utah Business magazine as a 40 Under 40 Rising Star.

Remember to “join the cavalry” by subscribing to our content here.

Devin D. Thorpe

’10 Things For’ Campaign Tells Us How To Help Today

Have you ever wanted to do something to make the world a better place but didn’t know what? The new “10 Things For” campaign is trying to ensure you always know what to do.

Emily Paxman, founder of the campaign, says, “There is a tremendous amount of goodwill in the world, as evidenced by the large number of people who draw awareness to the issues they’re passionate about by posting articles on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. While raising awareness can be valuable in the long-term, it often does nothing to alleviate immediate suffering in the here and now.”

Coby Vail, director of campaign research, adds, “In the Information Age, everyone is becoming more aware of the problems that plague the planet on a daily basis. With so much to do, it can be hard to hone in on one problem and find a meaningful way to contribute, whether that be money, time, or talents.”

Emily notes, “We are working to find and share creative ways that individuals can make a difference. Not everyone has the time to go build a house in Mexico, or the money to sponsor a child. By providing a healthy mix of small, easy ways to help with more traditional forms of charity, we want to help put people who want to make a difference to work.”

“The 10 Things Campaign makes it easier for people to get involved by selecting a cause every three weeks, providing education and 10 meaningful activities you can do to make a difference. We interview activists working on each cause in order to get the most effective activities for our followers to participate in and make a dent in the problem at hand,” Coby adds.

Emily is convinced that enough small acts will change the world. She says, “If all of our followers pick something from our list of ten things to do each month, they will be making someone else’s life better, even though that difference may be small. Ultimately, if enough people feel empowered to help, those small things add up, and the world begins to change.”

“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,” Coby concludes.

On Thursday, November 19, 2015 at noon Eastern, Emily and Coby will join me for a live discussion about the 10 Things For campaign. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

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

More about the 10 Things Campaign:

Twitter: @10things4

Our mission is to empower individual activism by sharing ways to make a difference, providing education on issues, and enabling ordinary people to share their work to inspire others. To accomplish this, each month The 10 Things Campaign selects a social or humanitarian issue to focus on. Examples include illiteracy, homelessness, hunger etc. During the course of the month, we will share ten ways individuals can help those affected. These ten things vary in nature, allowing individuals with different time and material constraints to participate in the way that best fits their circumstances.

Emily Paxman, courtesy of the 10 Things For campaign

Emily Paxman, courtesy of the 10 Things For campaign

Emily’s bio:

Twitter: @EmilyPaxman

Emily Paxman is an activist, science-fiction enthusiast, and lifelong learner. She graduated from Brigham Young University with degrees in Middle East Studies an Arabic. Throughout her career, Emily has had the opportunity to live among and work with refugees, develop curriculum for youth science programs, and help communities develop programs to encourage volunteerism. Emily currently resides in Utah with her husband Skyler and their two dogs, Safari and Cairo.

Coby Vail, courtesy of the 10 Things For campaign

Coby Vail, courtesy of the 10 Things For campaign

Coby’s bio:

Twitter: @goberope

Coby Vail grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah. Beginning in high school, he became interested in the world outside of Utah, history and learning about different cultures, traditions, and values. Two years in Austria taught him that, contrary to his experience in High School German, he could learn another language. Also in Austria, he interacted with refugees from all over the world, but particularly from the Middle East. As a result, he studied Middle East Studies/Arabic and International Development, a major that led to experiences in Amman, Jordan and Istanbul, Turkey. Both of these experiences brought him into contact with refugees and the broader world. Nowadays, he works at the Refugee Service Office in Salt Lake City. His experiences abroad and at home have imbued in him the desire to help provide opportunities to those who have little or none and educate others on what they can do to make a difference in the world.

Remember to “join the cavalry” by subscribing to our content here.

Devin D. Thorpe

To Optimize Impact, Follow Mother Teresa and ‘Start with the Person Nearest You’

Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you. ~Mother Teresa

As I sit on the plane reflecting on my trip to Haiti, one key lesson comes to mind. Yesterday, I visited St. Damien’s hospital in Port-au-Prince and met the founder of Haiti Cardiac Alliance, Owen Robinson, a truly incredible individual and also met Rob Raylman, the CEO of Gift of Life International.

The interesting thing about both organizations was the the parallel in their founding stories. Each began by helping one person, presented to someone for help. In the case of Owen, he was working in Haiti and was presented with a girl who needed a heart surgery. It would have been reasonable for him to say that it wasn’t his job to arrange for kids to travel to the U.S. for heart surgery, principally because it wasn’t his job. But he did. Having done it once, he did it again and before he knew it, he was doing it a lot. And Haiti Cardiac Alliance was born.

Samantha Cadet, Haiti Cardiac Alliance patient number one. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Samantha Cadet, Haiti Cardiac Alliance patient number one. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Gift of Life was born of a similar situation. Back in 1975, a Rotarian in Uganda reached out to Robby Donno, a Rotarian in New York asking for help treating a child who had been mauled by a hyena. When Robby called back, the girl was already on her way to Australia for treatment, but the Ugandan said he had another child, this one needing a heart surgery. Robby and his Rotary Club agreed to help that one and did. Then they helped several more. Before long, Gift of Life was formed. Today, they report having helped almost 20,000 kids from the developing world get life-saving surgeries.

The stories are so similar you probably got bored reading the second one thinking you’d heard the story before.

On Monday, I met the guys at Carbon Roots and wrote about their work, which finally began to take shape when they actually did what their customers asked for. While obviously not the same story, actually doing what is requested does seem like a close parallel to helping the one nearest you. They stopped pursuing their big plan (use charcoal as fertilizer) and started doing what locals had been asking them to do for a long time (make eco-friendly charcoal for cooking).

On Tuesday, I met with a young man, Jude Tranquille, who had launched an entrepreneurship camp for his peers in Haiti. He was helping some of those nearest to him.

On Wednesday, I met the folks at HELP. Their founding story is almost identical to Haiti Cardiac Care and Gift of Life. Conor Bohan, the founder of HELP, was teaching at a Catholic school in Haiti and was asked by one of the girls about to graduate for $30 to go to secretarial school. When he probed, he learned she really wanted to go to medical school but couldn’t afford it. He arranged for the money for her to go to Medical School and HELP was born.

On Thursday, I met the folks at EGI. Their founder, Steve Keppel, was trying to find a way to help the students at the same Catholic school mentioned  above and launched an training program for young entrepreneurs. Again, he started with the people right in front of him.

The lesson I learned in Haiti is that Mother Teresa was right. Starting with the nearest person doesn’t limit your potential for impact, it simply proves your model. Once you prove the model, rinse and repeat endlessly and there will be no end to your impact.

Recap Of My Week In Haiti: In a Word, Amazing

My week in Haiti is coming to an end, tomorrow I hope to share a few concluding thoughts here at YourMarkOnTheWorld.com. Tonight, let me review quickly some of what we’ve covered this week.

On Monday, I visited the Cap Haitien on the northern coast of Haiti, giving me some literal perspective on the country as I flew over the largely deforested countryside. Once there, I visited with the folks at Carbon Roots who now have the largest charcoal production in Haiti (a big deal since most Haitians use charcoal to cook) using an eco-friendly process using agricultural waste. Read my Forbes piece here.

Charcoal production at Carbon Roots. (Note that the material being burned to produce charcoal would be burned in any event.) Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Charcoal production at Carbon Roots. (Note that the material being burned to produce charcoal would be burned in any event.) Photo by Devin Thorpe.

On Tuesday, I spent the day with a group of Rotarians who were working to help young entrepreneurs here in Haiti. It was exciting to see the impact that the young organizers of the events had and how it all started at a young Rotarian/Rotoractor conference in Washington, DC–just what you’d hope would be happening at an international gathering of service-minded young leaders. Read my Forbes piece here.

Peterson Figaro, Smiff Lormier and Napoleon Rodolpho. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Peterson Figaro, Smiff Lormier and Napoleon Rodolpho. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

On Wednesday, I spent the day at HELP, an organization that provides amazing scholarships to underprivileged and overqualified college applicants in Haiti. The program is training a generation of leaders who will lead Haiti into a brighter future. Read my Forbes piece here.

Classroom addition at the HELP center. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Classroom addition at the HELP center. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

On Thursday, I spent the day with Isabelle Clerie who lead EGI, a venture accelerator that rejects that moniker but does the work anyway. She also introduced me to a couple of other amazing social entrepreneurs, Edouard Carrie and Fracois Benoit, the Haitian king of plastic recycling and the former ambassador to the U.S., respectively. The latter also has a farm on the roof of his house. Really. Read my Forbes piece here.

Francois Benoit, photo by Devin Thorpe.

Francois Benoit, photo by Devin Thorpe.

Today, I spent the day with Owen Robinson, the founder of Haiti Cardiac Alliance. He just flat out saves lives. He’s working to find every child in Haiti that needs heart surgery and to then make sure that every single one gets that surgery. With help from Rotary’s Gift of Life Foundation, I saw them in action today. It was difficult not to weep from joy or sadness at almost every turn. I’ll post my report on Forbes tomorrow if all goes well.

Medical team screens a child for a heart condition and possible surgery. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Medical team screens a child for a heart condition and possible surgery. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Let’s do some good!

 

What Will Fix Haiti? These Amazing People!

After four days in Haiti, I’ve seen some amazing things and met some of the most amazing people I’ve found anywhere.

It is late and I just posted today’s Forbes post about HELP, an organization that is helping to ensure that the very brightest, underprivileged kids get the opportunity to go to college. They encourage them to stay in Haiti to make the country better rather than to leave the country. By training them as leaders and turning them loose in Haiti, they hope to change the country’s fortunes and future. Read the story here.

Today’s story will be amazing. I could hardly believe was I was seeing. I met a 28-year-old running the country’s largest plastic recycling business. This one young entrepreneur is responsible for ensuring that there is almost no plastic garbage on the streets of Port-au-Prince.

Francois Benoit, photo by Devin Thorpe.

Francois Benoit standing in the middle of his rooftop farm, photo by Devin Thorpe.

Then, I met Francios Benoit, the former ambassador to the United States who spent 30 years in exile. Past 70, he’s now an entrepreneur with a plan to remake Haiti’s agricultural industry. There’s much more to the story, but let me tease you with the fact that he has a farm (it would be an insult to call it a garden) on his roof!

In addition, I met the team from EGI–Entrepreneurship, Growth, Innovation–to learn about the challenges and opportunities they see in fostering economic growth through formal entrepreneurship.

It’s past midnight and I’ve got another full day tomorrow! See you then!

Could This Photo Be The Metaphor That Explains Haiti’s Problems?

Yesterday, I spent the day working on a story I just posted to Forbes about young social entrepreneurs finding impact opportunities around the world through Rotary’s Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA).

As research for the story, I met with some young entrepreneurs who had been trained at an entrepreneurship camp organized by Rotoractors (young Rotarians).

The entrepreneurs make backpacks. Nice ones. They took me into the shop where they rent space to produce the bags.  Check out what I found.

Photo by Devin Thorpe

Photo by Devin Thorpe

Here’s another photo of the same machine, the first of about twenty in the shop.

Photo by Devin Thorpe

Photo by Devin Thorpe

In case your eyes are playing tricks on you, let me explain what you are seeing. These are manual sewing machines that are still in use. Built 100 years ago or more, I imagine, they are still used. Perhaps they serve only as backups for times when the power is out or only for light duty tasks. The backpacks, my young entrepreneurs explained, are not produced on these machines.

This struck me as a tragic metaphor for the challenges facing the country. In a place where 100 year old technology still has utility, a century’s opportunities appear to have largely passed it by.

My trip has also been filled with inspiring visits with people who are working hard to help Haiti catch up with the 21st century. It is more opportunity than problem. Ten million people are waiting and ready to join the rest of us in the year 2015. I’m convinced a clever group of entrepreneurs are the key to activating this population and helping them to join us at a much higher level of prosperity.

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