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Coffee Grounds into Fuel for RefugeesDozens of student teams at the University of Toronto (UoT) recently participated in the Clinton Global Initiative’s 2017 Hult Prize competition. Given today’s global context, the theme of this year’s competition was “Refugees – Reawakening Human Potential and Restoring the Dignity of 10 Million People by 2022.” Several students from UoT impressed the judges with their initiative to turn coffee grounds into fuel that can be easily implemented in refugee camps across the world.

The Hult Prize is one of the largest and most competitive student contests in the world. The competition focuses on improving social good, specifically reinstating the rights and dignity of communities affected by social injustice, politics, economic, climate change and war. The winners of the contest receive $1 million in start-up funds and mentorship from international business and humanitarian leaders.

The competition is run by the Hult Prize Foundation. The foundation has stated that it believes the number of refugees worldwide far exceeds the number estimated by the United Nations, which is partially what inspired this year’s theme. “Rather than focus on aid and charitable approaches to refugee migration, we focus this challenge on the reawakening of human aid,” says the foundation’s website.

In Canada, the government resettled more than 25,000 Syrian refugees between November 2015 and February 2016, so the theme of the competition is relevant for UoT students. Canada’s private sponsorship program continues to facilitate the relocation of even more refugee families from Syria.

Five students from UoT, Lucy Yang, Matthew Frehlich, Gotham Rakmachandran, Sam Bennett and Lucas Siow, have advanced to the regional semi-finals of the competition. They have designed a substitute for firewood, called Moto, made from coffee grounds, sugar and paraffin wax. The mixture is put into a loaf pan and baked. The product is easily produced and gets rid of waste from used coffee grounds.

A 2014 survey from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees found that 90 percent of refugees in Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda rely on firewood to cook and keep themselves warm. Moto will prevent the dangers that come along with searching for firewood outside of the camps.

The creators of Moto have used the log substitute to boil water and cook lentils, successfully turning the coffee grounds into fuel. The log can burn for up to 90 minutes.

The goal for Moto is to connect the idea with businesses in Africa and refugees living in Toronto in order to tweak the design to best meet the needs of refugees living in camps across the world.

The design is simple so that people living in developing countries can eventually learn to utilize the technique themselves. The idea of turning coffee grounds into fuel is a revolutionary one that has the potential to make lives easier for refugees all over the world.

Peyton Jacobsen

Photo: Flickr

hult prizeWhat would you do if you were awarded one million dollars? Winners of the Hult Prize use the money to help alleviate global poverty. College students compete for the prize by coming up with innovative ways to solve the world’s biggest problems. A student at Hult International Business School, Ahmad Ashkar, came up with the idea to have teams of students from around the globe attempt to come up with a solution for particular issues. For 2015, the issue is “early childhood education.”

Hult International Business School, having partnered with former President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative, held the first competition in 2010. The competition starts on a local/regional level with competitions being held in Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai and Shanghai. Winners then go on to a six-week program packed with seminars on innovation and entrepreneurship called “The Hult Prize Accelerator.” Afterward, six teams go on to the Global Finals, where one team with an impactful idea is decided on as the best. The winning team then gets the opportunity to put their plans into action.

Last year, the issue to focus on was “non-communicable diseases in urban slums” such as diabetes or heart disease. A team of students from the Indian School of Business were declared the winners for their business concept “NanoHealth,” where a group of doctors receive a “Dox-in-Box,” a diagnostic tool that will help identify those at risk of disease. The goal is for NanoHealth to help up to 25 million people currently living in slums. Other finalists came from the University of Pennsylvania, MIT, HEC Paris, ESADE Business School and York University, and many of them are known to continue going forward with implanting their idea despite not winning.

The Hult Prize has been referred to as the “Nobel prize for students” by Muhammad Yunus, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

“If you can create a real business, the beginning of a prototype, you can change the world,” he said.

This year’s winner will be decided on at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in the fall.

– Melissa Binns

Sources: Huffington Post, Hult Prize, New York Times
Photo: NPR

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In September 2013, the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting, with the Batey Relief Alliance, introduced a commitment to improving malnutrition and maternal health in Lima, Peru. The meeting brings together leaders from all around the world to help brainstorm, create, and implement innovative solutions for some of the world’s most concerning challenges.

According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 3 of deaths, of children ages five and under, is caused by malnutrition. Micronutrients, therefore, are essential for good health. Lacking proper amounts of micronutrients, specifically during pregnancy, can result in serious health issues.

Working with the Peruvian Ministry of Health, Caritas-Lima, and Vitamin Angels, the Batey Relief Alliance will train and send  150 Community Health Promoters to dispense multivitamins, Vitamin A, and anti-worm medicines on a quarterly basis for two years to schools, medical clinics, and community centers alike.

“This is a serious issue we are committed to addressing in Peru, where 34.8% of Peruvians live below the poverty line and maternal mortality death is 98 deaths per every 100,000 births, the majority of which are due to micronutrient deficiency,” said Ulrick Gillard, founder and CEO of the Batey Relief Alliance.

Batey Relief Alliance’s Health Promoters will also educate entire communities about health crises and further prevention techniques. Hopefully, in two years, the Alliance will improve the health and lives of about 2,000 children and 450 pregnant or nursing women.

– Sonia Aviv

Sources: Reuters, World News
Photo: World Bank

hillary_clinton_global_initiative
Hillary Clinton, former U.S. Secretary of State, painted the global picture of the extensive progress that governments, partners, and organizations have made in working together for the “full and equal participation of women in political, civil, economic, social and cultural life” at the highly anticipated 2013 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). She noted that as more women hold jobs and serve in public office around the world, their economic, political and social contributions have multiplied.

Pat Mitchell, president and CEO of the Paley Center for Media was the moderator for the plenary session on empowering women decision-makers in a global economy. The impressive panel of participants included notables such as Her Excellency, Sheikha Luhna Al Qasimi (Minister of International Cooperation and Development in the U.A.E.), Dr. Irwin Jacobs (founding chairman and emeritus CEO of Qualcomm), Arne Sorenson (President and CEO of Marriot International Inc.), and Halla Tormasdottir (founder and chair of Sisters Capital).

Clinton said, “The call for action for the global community, to work for laws, reforms and social changes necessary to ensure women and girls everywhere finally have the opportunity they deserve to live up to their God-given potentials and to contribute fully to the progress and prosperity of their societies.”

Clinton accentuated that the importance of “full and equal participation of women” as economic prosperity for all sectors is connected to the economic equality for women. She announced three new CGI commitments promoting the same spirit.

Firstly, 24 partners have committed to advance women in business and new markets. Their aim is to mobilize $1.5 billion over the next five years on “women-owned businesses to help create a sustainable pipeline of women around the world.” In addition, they will provide “15,000 women entrepreneurs with supplier readiness initiatives, including training and mentorship opportunities, so that they can have skills, tools and relationships necessary to achieve greater access to markets and capital.”

Secondly, focus on removing barriers with regards to women’s access to technology. Five partners have committed to invest $10 million for programs in India, Africa, and the U.S. to encourage parents and schools to teach technology subjects to women. The investment will also extend mentoring, small grants and professional opportunities for women targeted at “creating employee pipelines of 2,000 girls and women for the technology sector.” There are plans to expand this program to other countries over the next three years.

Thirdly, Intel is partnering with Care, World Vision, World Pulse, ChangeCorp Inc., and Telecenter.org to connect women in six sub-Saharan African countries. The objective is to bring 5 million African young women online by merging digital learning into existing gender and development programming, and to create an educational gaming online platform so that learning can continue anywhere, regardless of location or distance.

Clinton closed the women’s plenary session with updates of two existing CGI commitments. She reported the results of Digital Democracy’s efforts in deploying new technology to address the issue of domestic violence of women in Haiti.

In 2010, Digital Democracy provided tools and training to augment the technical skills of 120 low-income women in Haiti. In addition, a 24-hour emergency response hotline was set up and connected women survivors to necessary support. The hotline received more than 8,000 calls and connected more than 300 survivors to help. Survivors could tell their stories on a free anonymous digital platform, and more than 1,100-documented gender based violence has been mapped through this comprehensive system.

Clinton also recognized Landesa’s accomplishments in strengthening the land rights of poor rural girls in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia since 2010. Landesa’s initiative in India has established 299-girl groups with more than 7,000 girls. They plan to reach out to 35,000 girls this year. In Northern Uganda, Landesa controlled a participatory model where girls decide their goals for land rights and a plan to achieve them. Landesa intends to extend this pilot project to other communities, as well.

These inspiring results of CGI partnerships around the world serve as a catalyst in encouraging the “full and equal participation of women” and mobilizing them into a powerful force for change.

– Flora Khoo

Sources: Clinton Global Initiative – Wednesday Plenary Session Video 1, Clinton Global Initiative – Wednesday Plenary Session Video 2
Photo: LA Times

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Last Thursday, in a session aptly named “Creating Business at the Base of the Pyramid,” leaders in world of business, academe and activism convened at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) to discuss issues faced by those at the base of the  so-called human pyramid. The base consists of over half of the world’s population; those who live on less than five dollars a day.

CGI effectively demonstrated that a business’s profits are not in conflict with investment in the lives of those at the bottom of the pyramid, but rather are in line with them. With companies such as Barclays, the Western Union and the Ooredoo Group (formerly known as Qtel Group) on the frontlines fighting against global poverty, the paradigm has shifted from the base of the pyramid being viewed as an isolated market, to seeing their potential as consumers and active participants in a globalized economy. Though one may be weary of profit-driven corporations exploiting the vulnerable, all three companies exemplified creating shared value with a sustainable and mutually beneficial approach.

For example, Barclays’ partnership program with Plan UK and CARE International called “Banking on Change,” provides rural villages the ability to start businesses and save money through village savings and loans associations or VSLA’s. This “savings-led micro-financing” started in 2009 with a ten million pound grant from Barclays, and has reached 513,000 individuals with 25,000 VSLA’s in eleven different countries. Moreover, recognizing the disproportionate amount of women at the base of the pyramid, out of the 513,000 members which comprise these VLSA’s, eighty percent of them are women who are now economically empowered and financially liberated.

Group Chief Executive of Barclays, Antony Jenkins, recounted the story of a woman in Uganda, who as a member of a VSLA used a loan to buy cows, sell their milk, purchase a small hotel and eventually send her children to college. While 600 VSLA’s have linked back to Barclays with formal bank accounts, the story above along with countless others shows how business can help break the cycle of poverty and create new jobs while maintaining profitability. Both Western Union and the Ooredoo Group represented at the CGI presented similar examples of how their business models could effectively be customized to fit the needs of the base of the pyramid, provide shared benefits to all sides and increase economic activity for the poor.

With a clarity only those with an outside perspective could give, the only two non-business members of the session warned of touting business as a cure-all for poverty. Both Esther Duflou, a Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development at MIT, and Bunker Roy, the founder and director of a NGO that works to establish sustainable growth and solutions to poverty from within rural communities, called the Barefoot College, emphasized that without the right environment and approach real progress will not be made. Esther advised that the correct policy framework is essential to the alleviation of poverty, while Bunker Roy declared that the only true way to integrate and lift the base of the pyramid out of poverty is to acknowledge, value and utilize the inherent traditional knowledge within each rural community.

While business may provide a way to combat global poverty, it is only one piece of a complex puzzle. By harmonizing public, private and charitable entities with the interests and abilities of the people at the base of the pyramid, the full potential of each individual can be realized in the global economy. The models of success CGI presented will hopefully inspire and convince other key players in the world of business that the potential inherent at the bottom of the economic pyramid is enough to mutually benefit all sides. Regardless of professional affiliation or motivation, the improvement of half of the world’s living conditions is simultaneously an improvement to the global economy as well as an endorsement of the belief that as equal human beings, we all deserve a level of human dignity and economic security.

– Jacob Ruiz

Sources: Barefoot College, Clinton Global Initiative, Barclays, Plan UK, Care International

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Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, spoke about Health Leads during a panel discussion on non-communicable diseases (NCD) at the Clinton Global Initiative on 24 September. Ms. Lavizzo-Mourey noted that important preventative measures for NCDs should include analyzing the living environments outside hospital walls in order to improve the quality of overall care people receive, which is what Health Leads specifically advocates and executes.

Health Leads’s mission statement reads, “to catalyze this health care system by connecting patients with the basic resources they need to be healthy…to champion quality care for all patients.” An example of this model is enabling doctors to prescribe basic resources like food and heat to their patients the same way the doctors would prescribe medicine or provide referrals. This whole-patient approach requires healthcare professionals to learn about the community environment and the living conditions of their patients when they leave their doctors’ offices.

The results of these inquiries enter the patient’s electronic record, which partner-hospitals can use to refer patients who lack basic resources to Health Leads. Through a systematic set of steps, the patient can carry the prescription to a Health Leads desk at the partner-hospital.

A Health Leads Advocate then works with the patient to connect her to the necessary community services that will help provide the basic resources the patient requires. Aid programs for basic resources may include additional health insurance coverage, access to food pantries and food assistance programs, discounts on gas and electric costs, job training, and childcare subsidies.

The last two steps require a follow-up from the Health Leads Advocate and updates to the clinic team from the patient. This symbiotic relationship is necessary to navigate any further challenges that may arise as a result of the previous steps. These challenges may include tracking down phone numbers, creating maps, finding transportation, and completing applications. Health Leads launched in 2010 and has since served over 23,000 patients.

In 2012, the program identified the top seven patient needs: education, utilities, housing, food, employment, income and benefits, and legal. To address these needs Health Leads trains a dedicated staff of program managers and Advocates whose sole design is to connect patients with the basic resources they require to get healthy.

– Yuliya Shokh

Sources: Health Leads, CGI 2013 Annual Meeting
Photo: Bloomberg

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Women from rural and marginalized communities can play a key role in ending corruption. Developing countries often have the reputation for corrupt governments which in turn prolong their impoverished condition. It is usually grassroots women, the vulnerable and least empowered in these countries, who suffer the most. The irony is that it is women who are the key to ending poverty in these countries. Decision makers should not neglect to involve women when forming anti-corruption strategies – it would be counter-productive to their development not to.

On June 13th, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at her husband’s Global Initiative activism event. Her speech advocated for the advancement of women and girls, and improving the economic condition in developing countries. “When women participate in politics, the effects ripple out across society,” said Clinton. She explained that when women are educated and economically empowered, her family benefits and more get educated, grow healthier, and become even more empowered. Further, when women are involved in decision-making, the world becomes a safer place. Women are the primary caretakers of their households and communities, and as such, enabling women empowerment is a key strategy for lifting a majority out of poverty. Similarly, when women participate in politics, the world becomes a safer place.

Between 2011 and 2012, the UNDP–along with other development groups–conducted a research study on the gendered impact of corruption in poor communities. The research covered 11 communities across 8 countries – interviewing 392 women and 79 men about the grassroots women’s perceptions and lived experiences of corruption in developing countries. The findings and recommendations were published in a 2012 UNDP document titled, “Seeing Beyond the State: Grassroots Women’s Perspectives on Corruption and Anti-Corruption.”

The results?

Comprehensive anti-corruption efforts require the combined efforts of international agencies, national and local governments, and–more importantly–the women and communities who are directly affected. The state has an instrumental role to play in the creation of an enabling environment in the form of gender-sensitive policies, legislations and mechanisms to combat corruption. International agencies should focus on facilitating a supportive environment for women and men to organize around and fight corruption, including the gender dimensions of corruption. To ensure that programming and policies are relevant and effective for poor communities and women especially, grassroots women should be involved at all stages of anti-corruption interventions, including design, implementation, and evaluation.

Specific strategies that were recommended include (but are not limited to):

  • Establishing anonymous and safe spaces for women to report corruption with clear channels for redressing incidents
  • Forming women-led community monitoring groups
  • Raising awareness about bribery’s different impact on men’s and women’s everyday lives by using media, public hearings, theatre and art, and other communication vehicles
  • Hosting public, but safe, dialogue forums with local government so women can discuss and report corruption, thus ensuring that elected leaders understand local contexts and develop constituencies among grassroots groups
  • Organizing public registration days for births, marriage certificates, etc., a strategy that increases the openness and transparency of what were previously private transactions vulnerable to briberies
  • Allowing a free and independent press that is enabled to investigate, report, and publish on corruption.

– Maria Caluag

Sources: CGI, UNDP
Photo: Guardian

Clinton Advocates for Clean Drinking Water
Effective collaboration between corporations, nongovernmental organizations, governments and individuals can help eliminate mortality caused by unclean drinking water, according to Chelsea Clinton.

Through her work with the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), the daughter of the former US president has visited communities to witness the benefits of work being done to fight water-borne diseases. The tremendous strides made in recent years inspire hope that an end to deaths caused by public health scourges like water-borne illnesses and AIDS is possible, Clinton says.

“From reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS to providing clean drinking water to rural communities, these programs are examples of how, when corporations, NGOs, governments, and people work together, incredible strides can be made to [overcome] challenges that were once thought intractable. These achievements give me hope that other countries will be able to replicate these models and provide similar health care access to individuals — and that, in my lifetime, we’ll achieve an AIDS-free generation and eliminate mortality caused by unclean water,” Clinton wrote in a recent Huffington Post column about her travels in Asia.

Unclean water is responsible for thousands of deaths annually from cholera, diarrhea and other water-borne illnesses.  Globally, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), 2,000 children die every day from diarrheal diseases caused by unsafe water. That is more than HIV/AIDS and malaria combined.

The Clinton Global Initiative is currently in a partnership with Procter & Gamble (P&G) to deliver clean water in Myanmar (also known as Burma). Clinton visited a village there where P&G had been working for a couple of months. P&G has made a  commitment to CGI to deliver more than two billion liters of clean drinking water every year by 2020, the goal being to save one life every hour of every day of every week of every year.

P&G also recently announced a partnership with USAID focused on child and maternal health in Myanmar, which will provide 200 million more liters of clean drinking water in the next two years. The initiative will provide villages with P&G Purifier of Water packets. The investment will be about $2 million over the first two years of the partnership, according to USAID. This is not the first time USAID has partnered with P&G to provide clean drinking water. The two organizations have previously partnered in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Malawi, Nicaragua, Pakistan and other countries.

– Liza Casabona

Sources: Huffington Post, USAID
Photo: NY Magazine