On March 24, the Schwab Foundation announced the “Social Entrepreneurs of the Year 2014.” The foundation, in collaboration with the Huffington Post, awarded thirty seven social entrepreneurs working in a variety of fields including education, health, employment and the environment.

Hilde Schwab, co-founder of the foundation, said in the announcement that “Social entrepreneurs are the driving force behind innovations that improve the quality of life of individuals around the world, and they represent an integral and dynamic community of the World Economic Forum.”

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, and his wife, Hilde, founded the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship in 2000. Since it was started, its mission has been to identify social entrepreneurs and form a community to work together to solve difficult problems.

The Schwab Foundation chose social entrepreneurs who have been able to work with governments and businesses to truly have a global impact. The awardees, as a group, operate in over 20 different countries and their work aims to find solutions for both social and environmental problems.

All of the awardees will now be included in the Schwab Foundation “Community of Social Entrepreneurs,” which is made up of 250 social entrepreneurs from 60 countries. These individuals work with the World Economic Forum to exchange and to interact with world leaders in politics, business, the media, and civil society.

David Aikman, Senior Director for the World Economic Forum and the head of the Schwab Foundation, said, “We are seeing greater appetite among other stakeholder groups of the Forum to learn from social innovation models and collaborate with social entrepreneurs in innovative ways.” Aikman went on to discuss his belief that this idea will continue growing and that there will be more collaboration in the future.

One of the notable winners was Shelly Batra of India, who co-created Operation ASHA with Sandeep Ahuja to make India a tuberculosis-free country. Since it started in 2005, Operation ASHA has been able to treat people living in over 2,000 slums in six states in India as well as in two provinces in Cambodia.

Another winner from India was Chetna Viay Sinha, who had previously won the same award from the Schwab Foundation in 2013. Sinha works with the Mann Deshi Group of Ventures and the Mann Deshi Foundation, where she is responsible for the largest microfinance operation in Maharashtra. Since it was founded in 1997, her operation has gained 185,000 clients after starting in just a single village.

The Schwab Foundation also honored five groups of American social entrepreneurs in its 2014 list. One of the awardees was Nancy Lublin of, which works to engage teenagers in causes that interest them. Do Something uses various forms of technology to reach out to over 2 million people ages 13-25 and brings 26 campaigns to these people every year. Some of the organization’s most successful campaigns include the “Give a Spit” campaign that led to a bone marrow registration drive, the “Bully Text” campaign that had over 80,000 young people participate, and the “50 cans” campaign that resulted in over 1 million aluminum cans being recycled.

– Julie Guacci

Sources: The Schwab Foundation, World Economic Forum, The American Bazaar
Photo: Social Enterprise Network

During the past three decades, more than 500 million people in China were lifted out of extreme poverty. And now, those people are buying the same goods that Americans have been purchasing for decades.

The Birth of Entrepreneurship in China

Peasants wanted ownership over the land they farmed and they did not achieve this under Mao Zedong’s rule. Deng Xiao Ping dismantled the farm communes set up by Mao and established a household responsibility system that led towards a more stable society, thus allowing for the establishment of a civil society with growth in the non-government sector. In about 40 years, the number of Chinese NGOs went from 6,100 to 354,000.

Emerging Market Consumer

The number of Chinese people earning $1,000 or more is equal to the number of people earning the same amount in Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey combined. China has been catching up to western markets and it has been catching up faster than other markets.

Youth in China Earning More and Spending More

The new generation in China has more education and therefore, more opportunities to work outside of factories. The young Chinese people have the highest incomes and they are willing to spend it. Specifically, they are spending more to be connected; they are buying smartphones. As incomes rise, consumers spend money on food, personal care products and smartphones.


China is the first developing country to half the number of people living in poverty. During the past 34 years, the number of people suffering from hunger was reduced from one-third to one-tenth. China is not only lifting its own people out of poverty, it is also lending aid to Asia and Africa. These efforts have made the China Development Bank the world’s largest lender.

– Haley Sklut

Sources: Skoll World Forum, The Atlantic, CNN
Photo: Flickr

After Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, then 10-year-old Talia Leman decided that she needed to do something to help. This desire to aid those in need led to the birth of RandomKid, a nonprofit organization that has made a difference in the lives of millions.

Leman was living in a small town in Iowa and was shocked by the media coverage of the hurricane’s disastrous effects. She began reaching out to the country’s youths in hopes of getting them to fundraise for the survivors of the hurricane. She started a movement encouraging other children to decide to collect donations towards a relief fund on Halloween, rather than collecting candy. Leman called the project Trick or Treat for the Levee Catastrophe (TLC) and created a website.

The project gained media attention, with Leman and her younger brother Zander being invited to appear on The Today Show, resulting in children across the country participating in fundraising efforts. After that, Leman explains that, “kids were reporting their totals in this TLC website and we’d call and verify the amount and the effort. Along the way, kids didn’t all trick-or-treat; kids also wanted to sell their 4H sheep or they wanted to wash cars and do others things as well.”

All of these efforts resulted in a huge number of young people raising money and ultimately reported $10 million worth of relief funds for Hurricane Katrina.


The Birth of RandomKid


When Leman saw how successful her efforts to inspire other children and young people were, she decided to co-found RandomKid, a nonprofit organization whose goal is mobilize efforts among these groups to bring about change.

Since then, RandomKid has been able to rally together about 12 million young people from 20 different countries to help people around the world. These efforts have resulted in the building of schools in Cambodia and play centers in Iowa as well as providing for water pumps in Africa and medical care, all working towards the overall goal of creating a more peaceful world.

As CEO and a founder of RandomKid, Leman has been an inspiration to young people around the world. She was appointed as UNICEF’s National Youth Ambassador and has been awarded nationally and internationally for her work. Leman has won the National Jefferson Award for global change, with the co-recipients of this award being Marlo Thomas and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Back in 2008, she also received a World of Children Founder’s Youth Award.

RandomKid’s tagline is “The Power of ANYone,” which Leman credits to the organization belief in the “power of the in-, individual because it’s those small efforts along the way that lead to the biggest outcome.”

Today, RandomKid partners with other nonprofit organizations and services, with Leman running the organization with help from volunteers and her family and friends. Her mother Dana now serves as the Executive Vice President and has said in regard to RandomKid that, “There is nothing more fulfilling than helping a child to help another.”

Only 18 years old now, Leman has a long future of humanitarian efforts and projects ahead of her. When asked what she loves the most about RandomKid, Leman has said, “The moment when the random youth who come to us realize that we are here to work FOR them.”

Through projects like Leman’s, we can see that together, young people can fight a lot of the world’s issues, including poor conditions and global poverty.

Julie Guacci

Sources: RandomKidE, The Story Exchange, Huffington Post, World of Children, Forbes
Photo: The Women’s Eye

The groups parted ways officially in 2004 so that Maya Pedal could be an independent local organization. Now, Maya Pedal “works with a number of local groups, working to implement community-based projects using pedal technology.”

Maya Pedal takes donated bikes from the United States and Canada and refurbishes them to sell locally. However, their main claim to fame is their bicimanquinas, or “pedal powered machines,” which are composed using locally available materials.

These bicimanquinas have several benefits:  since they do not require electricity, they can be used practically anywhere, even in places where electricity is not accessible. Additionally, unlike most human-powered machines, they are pedal powered rather than hand powered, requiring far less effort.

While Maya Pedal is based in Guatemala, they have composed and provided fact sheets and step by step instructions on their website so that the machines can be used worldwide. Their designs for bike-powered water pumps have been used as far away as Malawi, providing sustainable access to water that anyone can use.

Maya Pedal has designed both a stationary and smaller mobile form of bicycle-powered water pumps. The stationary version is able to access water from wells and boreholes up to 30 meters deep, 18 meters deeper than electric pumps and is capable of pumping water at 5-10 gallons per minute making it useful for communities or homes.

While the mobile version is less powerful, only capable of accessing water up to 5 meters below the pump, it is designed with the added capability of moving the water after it has been pumped, making it ideal for watering and irrigating crops, or moving water from tank to an elevated area.

The pumps utilize locally accessible materials, many of which are recycled including old bike tires, construction rebar and electric water pumps with broken motors. In addition to providing sustainable, electricity-free access to water, the pumps repurpose materials that would often be thrown away, saving money and resources.

Additionally, the simple construction of the water pumps makes them accessible to anyone, and can be modified to suit the specific needs of a situation in a way that the more expensive standardized electric pumps cannot.

Maya Pedal’s bicimanquinas, especially their water pumps, are revolutionary, offering sustainable machines that anyone can build and use. In places where water and electricity are not readily accessible, these pedal-powered water pumps offer a crucial link for communities to survive and thrive.

– Cameron Barney

Sources: PEDAL, Maya Pedal, The Permaculture Research Institute, Maya Pedal (2), Maya Pedal (3), Worldwide Cycling Atlas
Photo: World Cycling Atlas

Corporations that make a difference
When reading up on global poverty and matters of social justice, it’s easy to find articles that vilify corporations for their detrimental effects on society. While those businesses certainly do exist, there are also many corporations that make a difference by working for the greater good rather than just their shareholders.

Ranging from the omnipotent Coca-Cola Company to the Swedish powerhouse IKEA, here are a list of corporations that make a difference by using their power and influence to shape a more egalitarian society.

Muhtar Kent of Coca-Cola

Since 2008, Kent has held the role of Chief Executive Officer of Coca-Cola. In his tenure, he has committed the company to achieving water neutrality by 2020, in which “total water use after a development does not exceed the total water use before developing.” Meaning, if new businesses were to spring up where none had existed before, the new tenants would need to employ extreme water efficiency to ensure the same amount of water is being used as prior to the development.

For Coca-Cola, this means recycling and reducing the water its facilities use, as well as harvesting rain water to replenish any diminished supply.

They also hope to distribute the Slingshot, a vapor compression water purification machine which purportedly creates 850 liters of safe drinking water from contaminated sources and uses less power than a hairdryer to operate.

As for why they’re doing it, Kent believes that, “when there’s healthy communities, we have a healthy, sustainable business.” While not the most altruistic of intentions, Kent’s argument echoes the belief that helping developing countries will only increase business for the rest of the United States.

Peter Agnefjäll of IKEA

As the most recently appointed CEO of IKEA, Agnefjäll will continue the furniture company’s race toward high levels of sustainability, both as a means of protecting its future as well as gearing up for the millions of people in poverty they hope to help usher into the middle class.

Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard outlined IKEA’s plans to Forbes contributor Peter Kelly-Detwiler, stressing the importance of addressing all areas of sustainability as key to the company’s success.

“We’ve got emissions that have to peak by 2020, and then we need a rapid decline in order to stabilize the climate. And we are building cities like never before “said Howard. “We have resource scarcity and climate change. So you have to say ‘this has to be a transformative agenda.’  Sustainability used to be a ‘nice to do,’ like planting trees, or doing incrementally less bad.  It’s about a mindset.  If you’re trying to reduce impacts here and there, that won’t do –it’s when you go all in that matters.”

Again, while these may not be extremely altruistic goals, the truly philanthropic branch of the company, the IKEA Foundation, created easily assembled shelters for Syrian refugees. Five people may live in each 17.5 square meter house, which include a solar-powered USB port and built-in lamp.

Michael Kowalski of Tiffany & Co.

Michael Kowalski has been CEO of Tiffany & Co. since 1999. As the leader of an influential and high-end jewelry business for fifteen years, Kowalksi considers the power of the Tiffany brand both an “opportunity and responsibility.”

Some of that responsibility takes place in the store, where Kowalksi believes it’s the brand’s duty to deliver ethically sourced jewelry to its patrons, regardless if theythink to ask about the jewelry’s background.

“That promise begins with an assurance that the materials were sourced and crafted responsibly, including the use of recycled precious metals and a focus on mines that minimize impact on the environment and respect human rights,” said Kowalski to Forbes contributor Rahim Kanani. “It also includes an effort to provide economic opportunities beyond mining in developing countries that host mining operations.”

Among those initiatives include IRMA, the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance. The project would protect the environment, communities and workers by establishing rigorous standards evaluated by an outside, independent source.

For Kowalksi, Tiffany’s future depends upon a “healthy mining industry.” Like the previous two CEOs, he understands that the continued success of his company and the world depends on greater equality between workers and socially just business practices.

– Emily Bajet

Sources: Forbes, “Muhtar Kent”, Forbes, “IKEA”, Forbes, “CEA of Tiffany & Co.”, The Wall Street Journal, The Telegraph
Photo: Truist

True strength can be found beyond the confines of its traditional definition, which focuses primarily on the physical. Strength of mind, instead, is the crucial virtue for any successful activist.

In the fight for social justice, activists are pitched into a wide array of situations that require them to serve as leaders, amplifying the voices of those most in need.  Activists must be prepared to take on a variety of roles that require a mix of strong leadership, writing, and organizing skills.

They must also have strong communication skills and be prepared to gracefully face the gamut of reactions and opponents that accompany the plethora of people they will meet along their journey to justice.

The skills required for a life of activism all thrive on one’s mental strength.  Such strength is developed through the way we allow our minds to perceive the world around us. In order to strengthen your mind, you must consciously change and adapt your thought process in a positive manner.

Research abounds correlating positive psychological principles with behaviors that lead to success and the strength to pursue one’s goals.  It has been discovered that positivity is associated with “increased success, better relationships, better jobs, more altruism, improved health, being more open-minded, and many other personality traits and behaviors that help us to achieve goals and meet the kind of people that are positive and influential in our lives.”

People often turn to quotes for motivation or inspiration to influence their mindset and gain the strength to pursue a certain path. Below is a list of ten quotes about strength and success, which both rest upon the underlying principle of having a positive attitude:

  1. “People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves, they have the first secret of success.” – Norman Vincent Peale
  2. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”- Thomas A. Edison
  3. “Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.” – Robert Kiyosaki
  4. “Pessimists may be right in the end, but an optimist has a much better time getting there.” – Samuel R Allen, CEO of Deere
  5. “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” – Henry Ford
  6. “You don’t have to hold a position in order to be a leader.” – Henry Ford
  7. “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” – David Brinkley
  8. “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Anonymous
  9. “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no help at all.” – Dale Carnegie
  10. “Go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.” – Jimmy Carter

Becoming an advocate for social justice rests upon a strong conviction in the cause you are fighting for.  Such conviction is transformed into successful action through maintaining a positive outlook, which is the foundation of mental strength.  The fight against world poverty, in particular, takes enormous mental strength to work through the difficult economic, social, and political factors that all play a role in perpetuating the problem.

It is easy for activists to get discouraged by the many uphill battles they will face along their journey, but the above quotes about strength should help to serve as inspiration and a reminder that maintaining strength of mind and a positive outlook are the keys to success.

– Rifk Ebeid

Sources: Epreneur TV, Addicted2Success, Forbes, HuffPost “100 Motivational Quotes”, HuffPost “GPS Guide”, HuffPost “50 Awesome Quotes on Risk Taking”, Psychology Today
Photo: Chattablogs

Hot Bread Kitchen
Foreign-born and low-income workers have the opportunity to become financially independent through a culinary career at Hot Bread Kitchen (HBK) in New York City’s Spanish Harlem.

Due to a lack of English fluency or professional networks, immigrants are often forced to the periphery of society. HBK works to build a world where immigrants are accepted into mainstream culture and honored for their work. In the kitchen, the foreign-born workers are not only improving their English language skills, but learning about commercial baking and management.

Since its launch, HBK has trained 22 women from 11 different countries, and it has incubated 15 small businesses.

The bakery offers Project Launch, a paid on-the-job training program, and HBK Incubates, a small business incubation program. Most of the workers grew up learning how to bake traditional breads from family recipes, and the training programs are funded by the sale of multi-ethnic breads made by the bakers using local and organic ingredients.

Project Launch is an intensive workforce training program in artisanal baking and English fluency for foreign-born and low-income minority women. Participants in the program receive up to 35 hours per week of on-the-job bakery training, 16 hours of customer service training and three hours of English fluency classes.

After an average of nine months, the women are placed in management track positions in the culinary industry or advanced to the HBK Incubates, which helps them launch their own businesses. For those transitioning into professional positions, household wealth is improved, with salaries increasing an average of 106%.

Nancy Mendez started making tortillas by hand when she was 10 years old, but she could not afford professional cooking school in Mexico because of the cost. She now makes Mexican corn tortillas for HBK based on her grandmother’s recipe. Mendez, who moved to the U.S. almost 14 years ago, now runs the entire tortilla production process at HBK. The tortillas are sold at weekly farmer’s markets in New York and at small shops. The breads sold at HBK vary, from foccacia to rye and challah to lavash crackers; the bakery also sells granola. The tortillas are one of the bakery’s most popular items.

HBK is not the only non-profit kitchen that doubles as a training center — La Cocina in San Francisco and Hope & Main in Rhode Island are also kitchen training centers in addition to commercial enterprises. However, HBK is unique in that is pays its bakers for class time.
HBK products are sold at retailers all over Manhattan, Brooklyn and online.

– Haley Sklut

Sources: Hot Bread Kitchen, National Public Radio, Changemakers
Photo: Arbor Brothers

Possibly the most globally conscious conference in the world, the Justice Conference brings together hundreds of equality minded people, humanitarian organizations, peace workers and charities alike.

This year, the speakers gather at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles in February to reach out to tens of thousands of viewers. Entrepreneurs, artists and speakers discuss issues of poverty, education, hunger, government policies and more. Inspiring and moving, viewers can learn about all of the issues facing the world today and how they can help to solve them.

The 2014 Justice Conference covers everything from organizations benefiting refugees of national disaster and war crimes to societies suffering from hunger and disease.

Entrepreneurs are popular at this conference especially now that business is currently being considered as a real solution to ending poverty. Mutually beneficial business practices that supply a market of poor people with a way to increase their income could increase the quality of life of billions of people.

Guests can participate in both the conference and the accompanying film festival taking place at a hotel nearby. Documentaries about those suffering from poverty and oppression are featured as well as films about the people who help them.

The conference is slightly religious and has a base in theological justice. Their values and mission are to promote global justice and bring together like minded organizations to better the societies both in the United States and all over the world. Educating and collaborating with artists, businesses, charities and other foundations to help solve the world’s problems are the main issues discussed at the conference.

Ideas are generated and complex concepts of hunger, health, and equality are discussed in depth.

The Justice Conference Twitter shares tweets, articles and videos from appearing artists and more. Inspiring articles and videos filled with facts about social inequality are common among the Twitter feed. Anyone with a desire to learn about problems facing the world today, including causes and effects as well as potential solutions, should tune into the Justice Conference of 2014.

The next generation can eradicate poverty for good. Knowledge is power, and the more people know and understand about what works and what doesn’t in the fight against suffering and corruption, the more help they can lend and the quicker things can get done.

Talking only does so much, it is the actions of everyone involved that truly matter.

– Kaitlin Sutherby

Sources: The Justice Conference, Facebook, Twitter
Photo: The Justice Foundation

What had once been a course on music production and entrepreneurship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has now become one of the most innovative global outreach programs in current times. Founded by Stephen Levitin, Doctor Mark Katz and Pierce Freelon in 2011, awareness and support for Beat Making Lab was originally gleaned through crowd-sourcing.

However, Levitin, Katz and Freelon gleaned more than just funds–they also attracted the attention of PBS Digital Studios, which agreed to document the efforts of Beat Making Lab in places such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Panama and Ethiopia.

Beat Making Lab collaborates with global communities in order to achieve cultural exchange, innovation and inspiration. Beat Making Lab, an enterprise of the production company ARTVSM LLC also partners with PBS Digital Studios in order to donate equipment such as laptops and software to global communities. The studio also shoots music videos with the selected community in order to create a weekly web-series with PBS.

For example of how Beat Making Lab has spread its message of global collaboration and peace through art is evident in Ethiopia, last summer, Beat Making Lab trained a group of 18-25 year old students in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The group was taught how to blend modern hip-hop beats with traditional Ethiopian rhythms in order to convey messages regarding pressing political and health issues in their homeland.

One of the many goals of Beat Making Lab is to provide youth around the globe with the tools and information necessary to become entrepreneurs of their own. In order to ensure that the knowledge provided during the two week session is not lost, students are requested to keep training other members of their community.

A former Beat Making Lab student, DJ Couler, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, stated that ““when the instructors return to the United States, for us that will not be the end. It will be more like a continuation, or even a beginning for us because we will be able to teach others how to create their own beats.”

– Phoebe Pradhan

Sources: Beat Making Lab, Beat Making Lab- 2, PRI
Photo: Okay Player

According to scholars, poverty is just not what it used to be.

With approximately 1.4 billion people living at the poverty line or below, policymakers are reevaluating what the definition of poverty truly comes down to.

“The incidence of poverty in the world is higher than past estimates have suggested. The main reason is that [previous data] had implicitly underestimated the cost of living in most developing countries,” according to The World Bank.

The data fails to reflect the recent global food crisis and increasing costs of energy. These two factors alone are predicted to bring another 100 million people into poverty.

Previously, the label of “poverty” was defined in the terms of income, in reference to the “minimum flow of cash needed to pay for recurring expenses.” Recently, individuals are arguing that these definitions of poverty “fail to measure what it really takes to get by.”

Ending poverty, however, is now seen as not enough to move families beyond “the outskirts of hope.”

The average single mother who has an income of $15,500 is considered to be in the spectrum of poverty. Studies show, that even if that persons income increases to $15,600 and she is moved out of poverty, the financial stability is still minimal.

According to an article by The Huffington Post, “escaping the perpetual financial insecurity of low-wage work requires more than incrementally higher wages, it requires savings and investments for the future. Income helps families get by, but savings and investments help them get ahead.”

The key to overcoming poverty begins with access to a bank account and the proper knowledge of how to use it to sustain funds. The savings are necessary in times of emergency, while the investments build stability for an endured period of time.

Although the overall poverty rate has declined in the last 10 years, keeping individuals out of poverty and preventing others from delving into it is another task entirely.

In addition to savings and investments, reducing inequality and reducing income differences are also key to reducing poverty. The road to ending global poverty is an enduring one, but each great journey begins with a single step.

Samaria Garrett

Sources: Huffington Post, Global Issues