Information and news about success stories

artisans
Etsy
is an online marketplace for consumers to purchase art and handmade crafts from global artisans. It is also a Certified B Corporation, meaning that the company operates as more than a profit-seeking business; it is a company that uses its power to solve social and environmental problems.

Etsy is not the only company focused on improving the lives of global artists. GlobeIn launched in 2013 to help connect local artisans to the global economy. Many artists featured on GlobeIn’s online marketplace may not even be familiar with the idea of the Internet, but they now have a way to expand sales of their crafts.

GlobeIn focuses its efforts in nine countries with regional managers, who oversee shipping and money transfers to the artisans. The website presents the story of the artists along with their products. The artisans decide the price of the items and they receive the full amount. GlobeIn’s local infrastructures are managed by regional directors, who help artists get their product listed on the online marketplace.

In contrast, Etsy users rely on the online marketplace to sell their crafts. Etsy was established in 2005 and continues to grow. The website hosts 875,000 sellers from all over the world, and the company is working on creating more international websites that operate in more languages to reflect the 147 countries of the sellers.

GlobeIn is a newer company—it was established in 2013—and caters to those who may not be able to use Etsy because of language barriers or lack of access to the Internet. Both companies are fighting global poverty by giving access to those who otherwise would not have access to the global online marketplace.

Both companies share a mission to connect local artists to the global community through an online marketplace. By giving these artists a platform on which to sell their crafts and goods, Etsy and GlobeIn help bring income to the artists and to make their stories known.

– Haley Sklut

Sources: Etsy, GlobeIn, Mashable, Venture Beat

Photo: WordPress

Israeli Entrepreneurs
In recent years, Israel has often been dubbed “Startup Nation” – a hub for entrepreneurship and innovation. Tel Aviv is ranked the world’s second startup ecosystem behind California’s Silicon Valley, and Israeli entrepreneurs set up around 600 to 700 million new tech companies each year. These entrepreneurs are extraordinary when it comes to implementing creative ideas and raising early stage funding, contributing to Israel’s record of having the largest venture capital industry per capita in the world.

There are certainly explanations for the success of Israel’s startup scene; a well-educated entrepreneurial population, long work hours, strong funding and high employment for new startups can all be seen as contributing factors. But while Israeli citizens are doing an incredible job of setting up their companies, they have not yet established a history of building long-lasting ones. Instead, it is common for Israeli startups to sell out to larger firms after a few years. These larger firms are almost always foreign companies, who quickly acquire the startups and convert them into research and development centers.

Lately, however, the trend appears to be shifting. Israeli entrepreneurs are making efforts to build lasting, full-fledged businesses. Additionally, more Israeli companies are striving to go public in the United States. Around 70 companies listed on the NASDAQ are Israeli or affiliated with Israel in some way – the most out of any other country, with the exceptions of only the United States and China.

Israel is also looking to use its booming startup scene to contribute to global development. A Devex article noted that new companies should focus on pressing issues like poverty and child mortality, emphasizing the need to concentrate “not only on creating the next Waze to help people navigate around traffic, but also to find solutions for some of the world’s most pressing development challenges.”

Currently, 1.2 million people live in extreme poverty, and 19,000 children under the age of five die each day. Many of those deaths are preventable, and Israel’s track record of startup victories could be the answer. Recently, 70 young entrepreneurs, innovators and international development professionals met at the 2014 Israeli Designed International Development (ID2) to discuss entrepreneurship for global development. These 70 people are at the vanguard of social entrepreneurship – designing medical devices to fight cervical cancer, developing online platforms to address high unemployment in rural areas, providing a way for the poor to design and pursue their own community impact projects.

Helen Clark, the head of the United Nations Development Program, was reportedly “blown away” by the entrepreneurial strength of the ID2 participants. And ID2’s venue of choice – Israel – was well-chosen. Israeli entrepreneurs are already making great strides toward development challenges and social betterment. For example, the Chilean government successfully alerted millions of citizens to an approaching tsunami in early April with the help of eVigilo, an Israeli startup that serves as a mass notification and emergency communication platform. With its innovative spirit and entrepreneurial clout, Israel is capable of producing many more social enterprises like this. In time, “Startup Nation” could truly make its mark in global development.

– Kristy Liao

Sources: Devex, Forbes, Wharton, JNS
Photo: Baruch College

immunization_global_poverty_improvements
In recent decades, the war on poverty has made quite a bit of progress. There has been success in all areas of global poverty including global health, global education, and world hunger. Below are some of the most astounding improvements in global poverty.

Smallpox is a contagious and sometimes fatal infectious disease in which the infected suffer more often than not from an extreme rash and high fever. Smallpox outbreaks have occurred periodically for thousands of years. There is no specific treatment for smallpox and the only prevention is through vaccination. Through the efforts of a worldwide vaccination program, smallpox has successfully been eradicated. The last case of smallpox in the world was in Somalia in 1977. Per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), routine vaccinations against smallpox for the general public have been stopped because it was no longer necessary for prevention.

Through USAID’s immunization programs, more than 3 million lives are saved each year. Life expectancy in the developing world has also increased by 33 percent. Mortality rates for infants and children have also dropped by 50 percent.

With primary school enrollment tripling in the past 25 years, there are more children going to school today than ever in human history.

Of the top 50 consumer countries of American agricultural products, 43 percent were once U.S. foreign aid recipients. This illustrates how beneficial foreign aid can be not only for countries needing aid, but also for those lending a helping hand. It proves how much of an untapped market developing countries truly are.

USAID reported over the past two decades, investments by the U.S. and other donors in better seeds and agricultural techniques made it possible to feed an extra billion people in the world.

Every success story reaffirms that the world is moving in the right direction. It is proof that every small success has the potential to help millions of people in a short amount of time. With global philanthropic work on the rise, one can only imagine where the state of global poverty will be in another five to ten years. Only time will tell.

– Janelle Mills

Sources: The Borgen Project, CDC, USAID
Photo: Flickr

NGO_Tostan
Education is one of the key weapons to combatting poverty around the 
world. Several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have come up with unique programs and solutions to allow greater access to education in developing countries.

1. Barefoot College was founded in 1972 in India and works to build skills in rural villages. The founders of Barefoot College wanted to apply traditional knowledge to modern day problems by teaching locals specialized skills. They believe that literacy is learned in school, but education is gained from “family, culture, environment and personal experiences, and both are important for individual growth.” Their entire campus is powered by solar energy, teaching the local community about sustainable energy. Barefoot College teaches the local community about modern technologies and women’s empowerment, to help them grow as human beings.

2. Room to Read was founded in 2002 to increase literacy and gender equality in Africa and Asia. This organization aims to improve the habit of reading among elementary school children and increase the number of girls who stay in school beyond elementary school. It has become one of the most well known international education programs, with 50 chapters in 16 countries. The organization relies on a model that creates programs to support girls financially and mentally, building new schools and libraries, and providing books. Since 2002, Room to Read has encouraged around 7.8 million children to read more.

3. Tostan was founded in 1991 and is dedicated to community development education and ending female genital cutting. Located in 8 African countries, this organization combines education and development goals in a “three year nonformal education program.” Instead of conforming to a standardized model of development, local communities can create own programs that suit their own needs. A facilitator is appointed to live and work with each rural community for three years, teaching them human rights concepts, health habits, reading and mathematics, project management and income generation ideas. Out of the democratically elected 17 members Community Management Committee, who carry out development projects, women must hold 9 of the positions. This ensures that the women in their community have their voices and problems heard. Since 1991, over 200,000 individuals have directly participated in Tostan.

– Sarah Yan

Sources: International Relations Online, Tostan
Photo: Tostan

History of UN Peacekeeping
The United Nations began during the 1940s and progressed through the height of the Cold War. The United Nations was coined by Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was also the first to use the Declaration of the United Nations during World War II. Consequently, the end of the Cold War changed the United Nations forever. Since then thousands of UN member from 120 countries have been working together in UN peacekeeping operations.

The first operation was known as the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO). This operation was the first deployed to keep problems from escalating within the Middle East. Also, the UNTSO monitors ceasefire and peacekeeping within Arab and Jewish citizens in Jerusalem. Accordingly, the UN’s peace keeping stretches across Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic.

The second deployed UN unit was the Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) which oversees the ceasefire in Jammu protecting India and Pakistan from dispute and to resolve fights that break out to due conflict over land.

The first UN peacekeeping involved military force, but now the backbone of the United Nations peacekeeping include everything from administration and economist to police officers to human right’s monitors and humanitarian workers.

After the Cold War, the peacekeeping operations increased immensely. In fact, from the years 1989-1994, the United Nation’s security council authorized peacekeeping operations, rising the number from 11,000 to 75,000.

Currently, The United Nations is leading 16 peacekeeping missions and 1 special mission in Afghanistan. Furthermore, the UNTSO and UNMOGIP are still in progress today. Therefore, leading other peacekeeping missions, like the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFI) which was created to keep peace between Israel and Lebanon should come as no surprise. This is especially the case since, during the 1970s, Israel invaded Lebanon over heated border control issues causing the United Nations to move in to restore peace.

Not only does the United Nations work in the Middle East but also in areas of Africa, Europe, as well as Haiti to help insure safety for humanitarians and civilians.

The United State is a top contributor to help fund the United Nations followed by: Japan, France, Germany, United Kingdom, China, Italy, Russian, Canada and Spain. These nations all work together to fund these operations in order to keep peace in all areas of the world.

The United Nations continues to work to keep peace in areas with high security risks for the people who travel to and live in those areas. This indeed benefits all countries, especially the specific extra border security in those countries that are at risk.

– Rachel Cannon

Sources: Forward, United Nations
Photo: The Gaurdian

human_trafficking_israel
In the span of about five years Israel has seen monumental changes in its country’s reputation as being sympathetic to human trafficking.

As of 2005 Israel was listed on Tier 3 by the U.S. State Department in its efforts to fight and prevent human trafficking. As the bottom in the scale Tier 3 is reserved for those shame-faced countries whose governments “do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.” Israel at this time was still considered one of the main destinations for the trafficking in woman – primarily those from the former Soviet Union.

The U.S. State Department’s harsh labeling of Israel as being on the same Tier as non-democratic countries such as Sudan and Somalia shamed Israel into action. Knesset member David Tsur of the HaTenua Party and chairman of the Subcommittee on Trafficking in Women and Prostitution stated, “If I were a seasoned and professional politician, I would say that the decision to act was not related to the Americans, but the reality was that without the whip of the State Department, we would not have taken serious steps. We understood that if we didn’t address the problem, aid funds would be stalled, and very quickly we would have a new center of criminal activity on our hands.”

As the law stood, victims of human trafficking were treated as criminals, making it very difficult and unlikely for them to come forward and report their abuse. This was one of the first things to be changed as Israel began to make anti-human-trafficking a priority. Government-funded shelters were set up for trafficked women who’d filed complaints where they received medical treatment and underwent rehabilitation.

Congruent to decriminalizing the victims, starting in 2006 perpetrators were given 20 year sentences for human trafficking violations. As of the U.S. State Department’s 2013 report on Trafficking in Persons, they declared that this still wasn’t a sentence that “Commensurate[d] with the gravity of the offence.”

The addition to Israel’s pre-existing barrier in 2005 was monumental in preventing the trafficking of people from Egypt, which at one time was the post popular through-country and entrance into Israel for traffickers.

Since prostitution is legal in Israel there are still issues of sexual exploitation and cases of trafficking within the country, but Israel has been hugely successful in abolishing human trafficking across its borders. In a statement to Israel’s Daniel Shapiro a U.S. Ambassador said, “I applaud the Government of Israel for continuing to focus on eliminating the scourge of modern day slavery. Israel has taken an all-of-government approach to tackling this global phenomenon, including legislative action in the Knesset, police training, and providing shelters and services for trafficking victims.”

Other countries stand to learn a lot from Israel’s example. Human trafficking has been reported in nearly every Western country, including each state within the U.S. As Israel has demonstrated, governments must recognize trafficking as a threat and allocate a full-on attack to stand a chance in eliminating it.

– Lydia Caswell

Sources: The Times of Israel, Al-Monitor, Atzum, U.S. Department of State
Photo: Jerusalem Post

herz-sommer
At 110 years of age, Alice Herz-Sommer lived longer than most and had experienced something that a diminishing number of people living the world today may claim: surviving the Holocaust.

As the oldest known survivor of the Holocaust, for the past 70 years Herz-Sommer has served as a living reminder of the perils of hubris and inaction — specifically, for the nations who failed to act when reports of Adolf Hilter’s ethnic cleansing plans first came to light.

Alongside her husband and son, Herz-Sommer was imprisoned in 1943 at Theresiendstadt, a concentration camp in Terezin, Czech Republic. Two years later, she and her son were among those released from the camp after the Soviet army liberated the camp.

Of the estimated 140,000 sent there, fewer than 20,000 remained alive by the war’s end.

These numbers don’t inform the reader of Herz-Sommer’s accomplished piano skills nor do they tell us about Herz-Sommer staged concerts at the concentration camp, an activity that enlivened both herself and her fellow inmates.

We have all learned about World War II. We have studied how Adolf Hitler warred against the allied forces and nearly conquered Europe. We have listened to lectures about his efforts to cleanse his empire of Jews, homosexuals, the Roma and Sinti, the disabled, blacks, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other targeted groups.

Herz-Sommer’s reminded us of the human experience behind a man-made tragedy. History may be compressed into facts and statistics, but she, herself, could not.

Since WWII, more genocides have occurred, some more publicly than others. The Bosnian and Rwandan genocides occurred within the past 3o years while the more recent burning of Kiev, the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in the Central African Republic, and the millions of Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war, all illustrate conflicts plaguing the world today.

The death of one of the few remaining Holocaust survivors should serve as a stark warning that even the most horrific crimes against humanity will eventually fade away into the annals of history.

While the irreparable erosion of memory and experience is inevitable, preserving an international consciousness of these crimes is an inalienable human obligation. By doing so, such an effort will both memorialize the victims and survivors of the past and help to safeguard potential victims in the future.

 – Emily Bajet 

Sources: New York Times, oas.org, Al Jazeera
Photo: Daily Mail

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

Ishmael_Beah_child_soldiers
These three African men have used their horrific childhoods as fuel for activism to heal and prevent the abuse of future children.

Ishmael Beah – Author and UN Ambassador

During Sierra Leone’s civil war, which lasted from 1991 to 2002, 12-year-old Beah became separated from his family and wandered the country with a group of other children. The group stumbled across a battalion of anti-rebel soldiers and the children were taken in and taught to kill.

Beah was rescued by UNICEF after living as a soldier for two years, and was taken to a rehab center where he struggled for eight months to remember who he was before the war. When he was 17, Beah was adopted by a member of UNICEF as a means to get out of Sierra Leone and attend school.

It was during his time at Oberlin College in Ohio that he wrote “A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier,” which Beah claims he never meant to publish, but wrote to “find a way to give the human context that was missing in the way the issue of child soldiers were discussed.” His book has become a best-seller, and Beah has recently released his second book, “Radiance of Tomorrow.”

Beah is now a UN ambassador for children affected by war, and he travels with UNICEF to work with former-child soldiers. He remembers what it was like to suddenly find himself expected to be a kid again, and he wants former child-soldiers to know that they have options – that they can choose to live a life devoid of war.

Ricky Anywar Richard – Founder of Friends of Orphans (FRO)

At 14, Ricky was forced to watch as his entire family was corralled into their house, locked in, and burned alive. He was then bound into a service of slavery for the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) of northern Uganda where he regularly witnessed torture, rape, and murder.

He was one of the few who managed to escape and, after obtaining his degree, he set up Friends of Orphans (FRO), an organization that works to reintegrate former child-soldiers back into village life and provide them with the therapy and education necessary to become peaceful members of society. So far, the organization has helped 25,000 children attend school and learn a trade.

The organization also educates those with HIV/AIDs on how to deal with their disease and prevent further transmission. They have distributed over 100,000 condoms since beginning the program.

FRO has been awarded the John Templeton Foundation ‘Freedom Award’ and Ricky was awarded the ‘World of Children Humanitarian Award’ for his tireless work to provide a life for those who’ve had theirs stolen by war.

Emmanuel Jal – Musician, Activist & Founder of Gua Africa

Growing up in south Sudan, Jal was 7 when his father left to join the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), his mother was killed by soldiers and he saw his aunt raped. He was promised an education in Ethiopia as part of a group of kids, but upon arrival they were forced to become soldiers of the SPLA.

After nearly five years living as a soldier, Jal was rescued by British aid worker Emma McCune, who smuggled him into Kenya. When McCune was killed, Jal completed his education and now makes it his life’s work to share his story and is an advocate for the Make Poverty History campaign, the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers and the Control Arms campaign.

Jal has made a name for himself as a recording artist, releasing the album ‘War Child’ as well as a film and autobiographical book both under the same name. He travels the world speaking on the global issues that have played a hand in his life, and he’s most recently appeared at the TED Global Conference in Oxford.

Jal stresses that education is the only way to move forward and prevent further genocides, and has founded Gua Africa, a foundation to educate children. After being disappointed with the level of donations he recently embarked to eat only one meal a day, something he says is regular for the people in his country, and he donates the unspent money to his own organization.

-Lydia Caswell

Sources: CNN, Gariwo , Friends of Orphans , Huffington Post , Emmanuel Jal, Gua Africa
Photo: Tallawah Magazine

Ethiopia_education_Africa_poverty_kids_teacher
In September 2012, Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon launched the Global Education First Initiative (GEFI.) Operating under the principle that access to education is the number one factor for promoting global development, the Initiative strives to represent the 250 million children worldwide who struggle with some form of illiteracy. The initiative fights for three priorities: placing every child in school, improving the quality of learning and fostering global citizenship.

A key component of achieving these initiatives is appointing “Champion Countries” to spearhead global education.  And, on January 29, the GEFI welcomed its newest Champion Country: Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s progress in promoting education is tremendous.  In 1994, roughly three million children were enrolled in primary school throughout the country.  By 2009, that number had risen to an astounding 15.5 million.  And, as of 2011, 87 percent of children were enrolled in school.

Crucial to the impressive strides made for education is the nation’s financial investment in schooling.  Over the past decade, the Ethiopian government has doubled the allotted funds for education in the budget while allowing for more local control over school administration.  This combination of financial stability and autonomy has also increased educational opportunities for young girls.  As of 2009, 90 percent of school-age girls were enrolled in school.

“The movement to get more children into school is unstoppable,” says Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia. “Now our big challenge is to give those children the best teaching possible.”  With governmental support of education at an all time high in Ethiopia, incentives for teaching are increasing.  Although there are still roadblocks to hurdle, Ethiopia’s role as a Champion Country ensures education will continue to be a priority for the nation.

Taylor Diamond

Sources: ONE, Global Education First
Photo: nationsencyclopedia