Alltop répertorie de nombreux articles sur l'entrepreneuriat social à travers le monde.

31.07.2015 Top Tips for Small Business Website Design [Infographic]

The following post is copyrighted by Return On Now - Austin Internet Marketing Consulting Services

Small businesses are often guilty of neglecting or rushing their website design in order to get it running as soon as possible. But the fact is – a wrong website design with substandard images and cluttered navigation can easily drive a lot of your customers away, leading to losses of thousands of dollars in terms of potential revenue. So no… read more →

The post Top Tips for Small Business Website Design [Infographic] appeared first on Return On Now.

31.07.2015 How to improve social enterprises so they can scale? eLearning

Earlier this year, we launched our eLearning course for social enterprises in January with a second installment in May. Social enterprises from across the globe – from places we didn’t even think we could reach – applied. So we began to wonder, who are these social enterprises? What are their models? What do they need most to reach the most marginalized populations? So I sat down with Charles Njemo Batumani and Arun Kumar Das, two social entrepreneurs who finished the first installment of our eLearning course in January to see what they’ve done, where they see their enterprises going and why eLearning was a way for them to improve their social enterprise. Charles is building affordable housing for low and middle income earners in Limbe, Cameroon while Arun is developing a natural plant product to combat malnutrition in Odisha, India.

31.07.2015 Urban Farming

From the African Slum Journal:

Urban farming brings food, money and life in Kibera. With a fast rising population in Nairobi, the demand for more and better food is growing tremendously. Still, many people from rural areas come to the city because they don’t want to farm. They think farming is something for old people, but there’s money in farming. Knowledge is the key, especially about good agricultural practices, knowledge about the market and knowledge about the fun of farming. Only if people enjoy farming, the image of farming will change...[more]

30.07.2015 Building the Makerspace of Your Students' Dreams

"There's a huge gap between the needs and requirements of the job market of the 21st century and what the education system is delivering," said Vishal Talreja, founder and CEO of Dream A Dream, a Bangalore-based organization that prepares young people from vulnerable backgrounds to succeed in a changing world.

Talreja is right—neither employers nor education leaders (not to mention some students themselves) would argue otherwise. But it is the second point Talreja made before the 2015 LEGO Foundation IDEA Conference that educator-innovators should pay the most attention to: "Learning spaces, which could be physical spaces of learning or just safe environments for learning, are extremely critical."

learning space differs in both look and feel from the traditional classroom. In the past year, we've met social entrepreneurs with an eye on education who are creating cost-effective methods to infuse schools with the type of culture and design that students need to better develop their curiosity, creativity, and imagination, and better achieve desired learning outcomes.

An Inclusive, Colorful School Environment

Kabir Vajpeyi, the founder of the Vinyas Centre for Architectural Research and Design, has helped modify the physical infrastructure in thousands of Indian schools—even in the poorest districts—so that young students can actively learn from the classroom space. The driving principle is that no two children learn at the same pace, so Vinyas allows students to train their brain wherever they are.

Pieces of furniture are labeled with their weight. Chalkboards are installed at a child's level. Doors open to reveal protractors printed on the floor. A window security grill doubles as an abacus. Staircases are painted in every color and labeled with whole numbers, ascending and descending, so that children can intuitively practice and build upon concepts in mathematics.

"The moment you have playful settings, there is more constructive engagement," Vajpeyi said. "You don't have to restrict children for doing this or that because they are engaging themselves on their own. A lot of activities are now self-directed, so you don't have to have somebody looking after each and every thing."

Although no adult supervision is required, adults are an important part of the learning process. The Vinyas team has created a guide, Building as a Learning Aid (BaLA), approved and spread by India's Ministry of Education, which prepares any educator to be the type of leader that children in any grade need. It covers roles and objectives, and is designed to fit neatly into the National Curriculum Framework used by schools across India, so while the instruction is more playful, the timetable remains fixed.

"Even before interventions are made, we hold an orientation session with teachers, led by pedagogues, where they begin to understand that space is a resource in the learning process," Vajpeyi said. "We offer a framework, which they can adapt and modify."

Vajpeyi recommends making every stakeholder part of the solution, responsible for championing reimagined learning spaces. "If they own the solution, they will take it forward," he said.

The Real Power in Prototyping

There is no one answer to what, exactly, makes a learning environment creative. In the U.S., the Betaversity team has built an easily replicable space that allows the design thinking process to happen in any environment.

They've created the BetaBox, "a prototyping lab in a shipping container, a makerspace in a box," as described by founder Blake Margraff. The inside of the BetaBox, which can comfortably fit a dozen students, looks "like an Apple store," except that in addition to iPads and laptops (loaded with computer-aided design, or CAD, software), there are also 3D printers and laser cutters. Additionally, these spaces are home to a huge array of soft prototyping supplies that Margraff calls "speed-of-thought materials."

"The closest comparison is what you'd find in any corner of a kindergarten room—arts and crafts supplies, pipe cleaners, Play-Doh," he said. "That means you don't have to be an engineer with extensive understanding of CAD modeling to get hands-on, to build something that matters from the get-go."

Perhaps that's the most surprising thing about designing truly captivating and inspiring learning spaces, along with an entrepreneurial culture that thrives in them: it doesn't have to be expensive. According to Margraff, there's a good chance that the cost per square foot of constructing a futuristic makerspace, including high-tech equipment, is less than installing bamboo flooring.

For K-12 schools, BetaBox offers basic blueprints for more than 50 products that cost less than $20 each, including an Altoid mint radio, which push students to iterate, redesign, and come up with fast fixes. At the university level, the end products can be truly revolutionary.

"One student, Gregory Poore, a biomedical engineer, walked in, looked around, and, as usual, walked out," Margraff said. "He can back an hour later with a couple of engineering friends and one design friend. Over the course of just seven hours, they designed and 3D-printed infant asthma inhaler that allows for a more ergonomic distribution, which is a huge medical need. The fact that they, in less than a work day, pulled it off, blew their professors away."

Here’s Margraff's advice to educators or administrators looking to bring this sort of attitude and activity to their classroom:

  • Let students walk away with something "real." They need to learn more than just theory.
  • Don't underestimate interdisciplinary collaboration. When people from different backgrounds are put in a space conducive to iteration (non-intimidating tools help), that's when sparks begin to fly. That's where innovation begins to occur.
  • Find the student networks which focus less on class instruction and more on launching a business, or making a real-world impact. Those are the same changemakers who are already on your campus and who can drive this type of culture forward.
  • Get teachers into the game. Allow them to draw up a proposal with a list of all the classroom materials they'll need—and how often they must be fixed, replaced, or restocked. Challenge them to cut their budget in half and let the rest fall into place.

Editor’s Note: This post, written by ​John Converse Townsend and originally published on, is inspired by one of the eight patterns appearing in educators' innovative approaches in the Future of Learning report, "Equipping Adults to be Changemakers in Learning," by Ashoka and the LEGO Foundation.

30.07.2015 Educators Innovating Learning From the Inside Out

Teacher-researchers, design-thinkers, teacherpreneurs. . . Educators of all types have the potential to exercise their creativity, collaboration, and playfulness to improve education.

When devising strategies to make education work for the 21st century, it's natural to think first about students. How do we prepare children for a rapidly changing world? For jobs that don't exist yet? For the creative problem solving required to tackle emerging global challenges?

Tempting as it is to put children at the center of all our education decisions, we must not start there. Instead, we must begin with their teachers. Schools that enable teachers to build their own empathy skills, think creatively, and work collaboratively will be best equipped to build these same skills in students. Fortunately, any school can nurture an instructive, human-centered learning environment. Administrators can encourage teachers to identify themselves as leaders who are re-imagining learning, giving them the freedom to innovate.

Here are some examples of identities that teachers have assumed in Ashoka Changemaker Schools that empower them to restructure learning.


The Opal School of the Portland (Oregon) Children's Museum honors the challenge of re-imagining teaching and learning by considering all teachers to be teacher-researchers. Inspired by Reggio Emilia pre-primary schools in Italy, Opal's teacher-researchers challenge themselves and each other to hold a strong image of children as competent, creative, collaborative, and capable team players, gifts that the world needs now, rather than future resources (like cheap labor). With great attention, they explore questions with children whose answers are not predetermined, and they pay attention to the children's responses.

Opal School teacher-researchers strive to maintain a curiosity that keeps their learning community vital. By documenting classroom learning, they investigate the relationship between and among the children and adults at work, the ideas they are working with, how they use of the tools of art and science, and their physical and relational learning environments.

The documentation serves as an ongoing catalyst in their search for understanding. It supports emerging curricula in the classroom. It drives conversations (both electronic and in person) among classroom collaborators, grade-band teams, and whole-staff meetings spanning preschool through grade five.

Opal School teacher-researchers make this learning visible through workshop presentationsvideosprint and online publications, and a blog. They also share their work with visitors from far and wide, including public schools and districts from New Zealand, California, and British Columbia, in addition to ongoing partnerships with local elementary and preschools.

Design Thinkers

Mount Vernon Presbyterian School in Atlanta, Georgia, is another school redefining the teacher's role, in this case to teacher and design thinker. Mount Vernon developed DEEP design thinking (DEEPdt) six years ago and is infusing its people-centered problem solving with K-12 curricula.

Teachers learn to develop the skills of a design thinker—including curiosity, empathy, creativity, and rapid prototyping—through the Center for Design Thinking at the Mount Vernon Institute of Innovation. Teachers in one instance practiced design thinking skills by leading the redesign of the Lower School campus, creating prototypes of ideal learning spaces after interviewing colleagues and students to understand their perspectives.

Then they tested these ideas by prototyping the changes in their own classrooms, cobbling together furniture and making adjustments to gain a better understanding of practices that work well for their classes. The most successful campus redesign ideas were implemented across the Lower School. Writable surfaces, flexible seating, and mobile furniture have been game changers, said Mount Vernon Center for Design Thinking Director Mary Cantwell.

In addition, Mount Vernon teachers have applied their design thinking skills to innovations in their teaching and education systems. After interviews and experimentation with student innovators, these educators recently created the Innovation Diploma, which enables students to design and work on ongoing projects that impact their local, national, and global communities as part of their course of study.

Teacher Changemakers

Sun Valley Primary School in Cape Town, South Africa, goes to great lengths to train its teachers to innovate from a place of empathy. A public school in a town formerly known for its all-white, conservative community, Sun Valley's educators transformed their school into a place of applied empathy and social change by first educating themselves. Every Friday afternoon, all staff at Sun Valley participate in professional development sessions using the "Discipline for Peace" approach, which explores how to use restorative justice practices instead of punitive and negative communication.

With this foundation of empathy and social justice knowledge, Sun Valley teachers are free to initiate and lead school initiatives, such as the year-long social justice projects they design in collaboration with students. Sun Valley also has a committee of teachers dedicated to implementing social innovation among other staff members and building a culture that supports creativity and initiative.

Sun Valley extends this focus on empathy and social justice-based leadership to new teachers, equipping every adult in the school to be a changemaker. Using their Guided Approach to Pedagogy Program, staff trains student teachers to be emotionally intelligent educators with appreciation for whole-child education. Student teachers learn to use daily check-ins and design student family groups that support each other. This approach has made Sun Valley one of the most sought-after student teaching placements in the region.

Additionally, Sun Valley invites parents to re-imagine their children's learning processes. For example, the Teacher Assistant Program includes training in emotional intelligence targeted specifically for parents who volunteer to support children in the classroom. They learn about student social and emotional needs, including children's need for leadership, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness.


Organizations like the Center for Teaching Quality recognize and support teacherpreneurs: expert teachers who devote part of their workweek to entrepreneurially re-imagining education in their schools, districts, or state systems.

Through the teacherpreneur selection and support process, teachers are able to continue to lead within their classrooms and design innovations that improve teaching and learning. The Center for Teaching Quality's teacherpreneurs have played many innovative roles in their communities, including redesigning student and teacher assessments, building connections between university and K-12 systems, and developing ways to help teachers improve their ability to learn from each other.

Ali Wright teaches math at Lafayette High School in Fayette County, Kentucky. As a teacherpreneur, her position was created in a collaboration between the Center for Teaching Quality, the Kentucky Department of Education, and the Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky. While continuing to serve her students, Wright has also founded a statewide professional learning network and collaborated with universities and the Kentucky Education Association to reform teacher education.

The Next Step

Whether they identify as teacher-researchers, design thinkers, or teacherpreneurs, all of these educators have the abilities and opportunities to improve education by exercising their playfulness, creativity, and collaboration skills.

If you are a teacher who wants to play a bigger role in re-imagining learning, or if you know a teacher who would appreciate the opportunity, here are some ideas and resources you can use to take the next steps:

  • Ask children questions that you can't answer yourself, note their responses, and share those responses with colleagues, all while maintaining a disposition of inquiry and curiosity.
  • Arts integration allows both children and adults to access ideas that would otherwise be abstract and impenetrable, so support your collaborative investigations through a range of studio materials.
  • Reflect, reflect, reflect!
  • For administrators: teachers identify isolation and fear of being judged as significant inhibitors to growth as teacher-researchers. Encourage collaboration rooted in core values, as well as experimentation, risk taking, and understanding that mistakes are part of the learning process.

Editor’s Note: This post, written by ​Laura White and Matt Karlsen and originally published on, is inspired by one of the eight patterns appearing in educators' innovative approaches in the Future of Learning report, "Equipping Adults to be Changemakers in Learning," by Ashoka and the LEGO Foundation.

30.07.2015 Children in Charge: Self-Directed Learning Programs

In the ever-changing demands of today's economy, even children with a solid knowledge base in reading, writing, math, and science are not guaranteed a stable career for the rest of their lives. In addition, an increasing number of graduates will have to create their own jobs.

How can teachers foster the creativity, entrepreneurialism, and lifelong curiosity necessary for young people to thrive?

Tools in the Hands of Children

Brent Hutcheson and his team at Hands On Technologies wanted to see if putting tools into the hands of children could make a difference under adverse conditions in the township of Atteridgeville, South Africa. They used colorful manipulatives to come up with different exercises that allowed children to take the lead in exploring ideas and concepts both individually or in small groups.

Children were far more engaged when they had hands-on tools that helped them develop their own understanding of the concepts being taught in both science and language subjects. It's more than just fun -- teachers were consistently surprised by the much higher levels of language and vocabulary children used in these settings. And not only did the children love those colorful bricks, but they also demanded to use them in other classes.

Over time, teachers felt comfortable moderating games that put children in charge, allowed for more student problem solving with manipulatives (today, bricks are used to build bar charts, complete memory games, and visualize math or physics problems), and gave them space to explore on their own with great success.

The Radical Model

Villa Monte is a government-approved "school" in Switzerland that is just reviewing its 30-year history. It has no teachers, no exams, and no report cards. Children from 4-18 years of age arrive every morning and decide entirely for themselves what they want to do during the day, whether they prefer to roam the woods, cook, practice for a theater play, or program a robot.

Children learn at their own pace. Some are able to read by age five, others by age ten. The differences are fully accepted, and children are not forced to learn a concept they might not be ready for. As a result, the children of Villa Monte have historically exhibited far lower levels of distress and anxiety compared to children in the regular school system.

The adults—paid staff and sometimes parents—are there to answer questions and provide emotional support, but otherwise do not interfere with the children's self-driven learning process. They minimize any praise or criticism. But there is one rule: "You should not do anything to other children that they do not like." There is no pedagogical concept, just the individual path of each child that determines the daily routine.

It is not surprising that children who have gone through Villa Monte report having had a very happy childhood. But are they able to survive the pressure in today's society? The alumni surveyed in a recent study reported that they did face a knowledge deficit when pursuing apprenticeships or college studies, but that "content deficit" is typically made up within six months. Every student learns social competencies, self-esteem, and how to learn independently—three important 21st-century skills—and graduates have gone on to become artists, engineers, and IT entrepreneurs.

The Villa Monte model cannot be easily replicated, but it does point to the fact that children can be trusted much more to take charge of their own learning.

Children as Entrepreneurs

A number of social enterprises have been set up to foster the spirit of entrepreneurship in children. The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), for example, was founded in 1987 in the Bronx, New York, to teach entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial mindset to high school students from low-income areas. How do they do it?

At first glance, NFTE's semester-long classroom program seems to function like any high-achieving school-based environment—rigorous academics, math and literacy curriculum, and a problem-solving approach. But here's the difference. Every lesson is tied back to starting a business. Students have the opportunity to meet with business leaders, visit community-based businesses, and compete for seed capital through a series of business plan competitions.

Wish you could bring some of NFTE's instruction to your classroom? They offer five tips:

1. Push collaboration.

Working in teams on a shared goal is an important skill with diverse applications in business and the workforce.

2. Get students speaking and presenting.

Students make verbal presentations to their classmates on the very first day in most NFTE classes. And they repeatedly make individual and team presentations and pitches, which dramatically boost confidence.

3. Focus on an end goal or competition.

This outcome serves to motivate students and tie lessons together. Almost all of NFTE's programs end with a business plan pitch competition for valuable awards—$25,000 or more for the national winner.

4. Underscore persistence.

Grit is a key component of entrepreneurship and success in general. Pushing students to keep trying, especially when they don't succeed at first, is essential.

5. Diversify the instruction.

NFTE uses an experiential learning model which places leaning-by-doing over lectures and book-centered learning. Guest speakers and team activities also help students learn through experience.

Catalysts of Change

More recently, in 2005, Ashoka Fellow Jeroo Billimoria founded Aflatoun, which is working with over 150 partner organizations in more than 100 countries to provide social and financial skills to children. Equipped with these skills, children as young as six years old start saving and developing their own ideas for social or financial enterprises. More than 15,000 such children-led enterprises have been started since 2008, including ventures where children produce snacks, rent out bikes, and distribute ID cards.

As Irene Mutumba, founder of the Young Entrepreneurs Clubs and Aflatoun's partner in Uganda, says, "Young people can be catalysts of change within their own schools, within their families and communities, and of course the country at large."

She's right. And, sometimes, all it takes is putting them in charge of their own learning, their own destinies. Hands-on activities, experiential learning, and a freedom to innovate can only help.

Editor’s Note: This post, written by ​Mirjam Schöning and originally published on, is inspired by one of the eight patterns appearing in educators' innovative approaches in the Future of Learning report, "Equipping Adults to be Changemakers in Learning," by Ashoka and the LEGO Foundation.

30.07.2015 Whole Child Development Is Undervalued

Child development should inspire lifelong learning across different spaces and communities.

Research suggests that "whole child development," not routine or standardized classroom-based learning, empowers children as creative and engaged citizens who can strengthen the wellbeing of a whole society. It is crucial, then, to nurture their creative abilities to express themselves, understand others, and navigate complex amounts of information so that they can confidently solve the problems of a world that's changing faster than ever.

The question is how to make such an approach both systemic and sustainable.

Whole Person

Socio-emotional, physical, creative, and cognitive capacities are deeply intertwined and equally important in ensuring a child's wellbeing, learning, and growth. (That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone studying or supporting children's learning.)

Nobel laureate James Heckman, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, has shown that the non-cognitive skills emerging in early childhood are among the strongest predictors of adult outcomes. And Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed, has continued to emphasize the crucial role that soft skills play in character formation and building on persistence, curiosity, and even grit -- the "passion and perseverance for very long-term goals," according to psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth.

The development of these qualities, which rely on an individual's self-worth and self-control, critically outperform any other positive measures of children's long-term outcomes, whether academically or intellectually.

The most impactful way of supporting such skills is associated with helping children feel in control of their learning process. This can be done by talking with children about the best approach to a particular task and having them describe the strategy they intend to test, for example, or asking the child to consider what could go wrong and how they might improve a task if completing it again.

Using relevant playful and experimental activities in the classroom require the teacher not only to encourage the learner to plan, monitor, and evaluate his or her own processes, but also to support the learner with tools like storyboarding, mind maps, and narrative structures.

Whole Communities

Institutions like Reggio Emilia in Italy, or High Tech High in San Diego, California, are grounding their pedagogy in approaches that integrate the resources of a strong, local community. They remind us that healthy human development is often achieved through a child's interactions and experiences in a stimulating environment.

The schools that are most effective take children to museums and art galleries, use the local environment, including local parks, and invite members of local business, sports, or arts communities to play active roles in children's experiences.

Harvard Professor Jack Shonkoff pulled together evidence a decade ago describing that a child's interaction with communities strongly influences cognitive development, and in particular, that the most significant influences on healthy growth and psychological wellbeing stem from attachment to parents and caregivers, the role of early exploration, and the transmission of beliefs and values from caring others.

The three most effective ways for educators to respond to children's need and support their connection to the surrounding environment are:

  1. Applying flexible use of time and space, as children need sufficient time to dive into an activity and work at their own pace without pressure;
  2. Ensuring strong opportunities for peer collaboration by, for example, using meaningful group projects to build teamwork skills;
  3. Building a respectful relationship between teachers and learners, where dialogue and inquiries are encouraged.

New technologies and project-based activities greatly enhance these opportunities, like the Scratch platform from the MIT Media Lab, which allows for a safe community of peers to actively comment, support. and hack each other's creations. Also, a more radical shift toward the use of new digital communities for learning is illustrated by Michael Wesch. He says that there is no longer any real reason why young people shouldn't experiment with technologies as if they were researchers diving into the world of information, document what they do, and use social media as a pedagogical tool to receive feedback from peers and encourage critical thinking.

Whole Societies

At a societal level, these changes seem radical, but they fundamentally rely on how adults imagine the purpose of children in society. Phillipe Aries retraced the history of childhood, from the European medieval to the 20th century, and found that it was not until the industrial revolution that the idea of "childhood as we know it" settled in. Children were seen as fragile beings (to be protected and safeguarded), as unruly spirits (to be disciplined), as empty vessels (to be filled), or as incomplete adults (to be trained).

In modern society, we have to pay attention to children's own thoughts, needs, and rights as individuals. Children are eager to learn and participate, and should be considered citizens at the moment of birth—they are born curious and competent, connected to the world with ethical thinking, and in a perpetual state of active learning. Maintaining early childhood's playfulness, curiosity, and experimentation throughout schooling is critical in developing the collaborative culture, problem-solving skills, and independent goal-setting that we expect from adults.

Educators and adults can support lifelong learning environments by following practical suggestions found in the recent Cultures of Creativity study:

  • Novel solutions should be encouraged, praised, and rewarded, and teachers and adults play a key role in modeling creative behavior.
  • Experts are key to learning but are less powerful than a learner's own desire to learn, and the ability to succeed in difficult circumstances; thus even experts need to remain open to new ideas and see things from the perspective of children.
  • Positive attitudes toward experimentation, risk-taking, and curiosity are key to opening an environment to new experiences that support the fundamental interest in learning new things.
  • Provide opportunities for children to express themselves—and promote tools to document and present what they are doing.

Nurturing both desire to learn and effective ways of experimenting with things and ideas are at the heart of a whole child approach, but require a whole culture around the child to extend this into schooling and adult life.

Editor’s Note: This post, written by ​Bo Stjerne Thomsen and Edith Ackermann and originally published on, is inspired by one of the eight patterns appearing in educators' innovative approaches in the Future of Learning report, "Equipping Adults to be Changemakers in Learning," by Ashoka and the LEGO Foundation.

30.07.2015 The Science (and Practice) of Creativity

"Creativity isn't about music and art; it is an attitude to life, one that everybody needs," wrote the University of Winchester's Professor Guy Claxton in the lead-up to the 2014 World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) dedicated to creativity and education. "It is a composite of habits of mind which include curiosity, skepticism, imagination, determination, craftsmanship, collaboration, and self-evaluation."

Sounds like the perfect skill set for equipping young people to navigate an increasingly complex and unpredictable world. Encouragingly, there's plenty of evidence—from both research and practice—that most of the above can be taught in the classroom. In fact, innovation and education experts agree that creativity can fit perfectly into any learning system.

But before it can be incorporated broadly in curriculum, it must first be understood.

Creativity Starts in the Brain

Recent research in cognitive science, often with education in mind, suggests that creativity is an ability that we all have and can cultivate with practice.

Complex cognitive mechanisms are required to produce creative ideas.

Dr. Ron A. Beghetto, co-creator of the Four C Model of Creativity (PDF, 332KB), says, "I have a real problem with 'thinking outside the box' because in reality we need to think creatively inside many boxes." In Explorations of Creativity: a Review for Educators and Policy Making (PDF, 5.6MB), Dr. Helen Abadzi explains that, in a nutshell, two sets of cerebral functions are involved in creativity. One is the ability to use our memory networks efficiently and rapidly, propelled by our ability to plan and execute. The other is the brain's resting state (mostly active when we are at rest or daydreaming) that helps us make unusual connections.

Creativity needs space and time to flourish at school.

Creativity doesn't come on demand. It also benefits from constraint. A subtle mix of pressure and time to come up with creative ideas is needed. School—a "creativity-killing machine"—can in fact become an opportune framework to set the required constraints and stretch the learners to face challenging tasks.

Nurturing Creativity at School

1. Memorization is a necessity.

Content matters, according to Dr. Abadzi. It's the fuel for future creative ideas. An education that fosters creativity should build automatized basic skills in reading, math, and reasoning. Educators must exercise the students' ability to retrieve and use knowledge in order to generate ideas, as unusual as they may seem, and to do so with sufficient speed to reach higher levels of complexity. This requires practice. So it matters to spend time on task and repetition until the mental operations become effortless (i.e. automatized). If you've learned to drive or play a musical instrument, you can easily relate to how much must be automatized in order to perform.

2. Enrichment experiences make flexible thinkers.

Exposure to different cultures, settings, languages, and other non-familiar experiences stimulate open-mindedness and hone divergent thinking abilities. Such experiences allow young minds to "change domains quickly and flexibly."

3. Creative problem solving should be promoted across all disciplines.

Children should be encouraged "to treat a task as a problem for which one invents an answer," said Jerome Bruner in his 1966 paper "The Growth of Mind." Fifty years on, the OECD recognizes the crucial importance of incorporating this skill into curricula: "All of life is problem solving."

And creative problem solving can be guided in just about any setting, as Prof. Claxton suggests:

"If you are teaching younger children the colours of the rainbow, get them to look intently at a picture of a real rainbow and argue about how many colours they can see. (There aren't seven colors in a rainbow; that’s just a convention.) Get them to cut it up in new ways, and think up beautiful names for the new color-bands they have chosen. This stretches their ability to look carefully, discuss accurately, and think imaginatively."

In this talk, Dr. Beghetto offers further compelling examples for the classroom, like encouraging creative answers to math equations.

4. Recognize the power of persistence, focus, and so much more in creative endeavors.

Music and the arts get learners to discover new languages with new rules, opening them up to new forms of expression, leading them to observe and focus, and engaging their emotions—an important factor in the learning process. In Australia, The Song Room project provides innovative, art-based workshops for schools serving the most disadvantaged children.

External evaluations show that participating in those workshops (for a minimum of six months) impacts the children's overall academic performance (including the ability to concentrate on tasks and to problem solve) as well as their school attendance (65 percent less absenteeism). It also improves their wellbeing, which reinforces their ability to learn.

5. Creativity fosters engagement in learning.

Creativity, Culture and Education (CCE), a U.K.-based organization, has developed an approach ensuring that pupils are challenged rather than directed, and that they are physically, emotionally, and socially engaged in the learning. In Lithuania, for example, they invited primary school pupils to listen to their local environment (at school and around the city) and take notes, inventing words to describe what they were perceiving. The intention was to help them hear the letters they were having difficulty learning in literacy class.

The approach was designed to operate within the existing curriculum, based on a language of creativity which teachers understand. And CCE's High-Functioning Classroom is used to train teachers around the world to engage their pupils in learning through creativity (like in these schools in Pakistan). The keys to creative habits of mind are:

  • Inquisitiveness
  • Persistence
  • Imagination
  • Discipline
  • Collaboration.

Forging these habits leads to evidenced improvements in classroom behavior, motivation, attendance, and academic attainment.

Reminder: Creativity and learning work hand in glove.

With the learners' self-esteem fueled and sense of agency encouraged, they are often eager to learn more as they realize how much they can do with what they know.

It's never too late to start.

Additional Resources

Editor’s Note: This post, written by ​Diane Cadiergue and originally published on, is inspired by one of the eight patterns appearing in educators' innovative approaches in the Future of Learning report, "Equipping Adults to be Changemakers in Learning," by Ashoka and the LEGO Foundation.

30.07.2015 Empower the Slum Woman for Sustainable livelihood

project picture
$999 — will cater for administration cost
$1000 — will mobilize and sensitize both men and women
$2000 — provide follow up/monitoring and administration

give now

Institute for Development Welfare Services (IDEWES) main goal is to develop and empower the women in the slum areas for sustainable livelihood. We create sustainable solutions to economically empower the women to have a healthy livelihood to support their families and communities as a whole. Bridging the gap to solve the issues of inequality amongst the men and women who have been constrained by the customs and traditional norms holding them back from economic stability.

Project Needs and Beneficiaries
Poverty has grown rapidly leaving women in a state of depression not knowing what to do. Men are busy toiling working to make ends meet yet they don't allow their women to participated in house provision. Life in the slum areas has become straining to the women and children in the society which has turn to hinder the economic growth of our country. The impact is so huge and only a few initiatives has been put in place to bridge the gap. traditional norms and cultures are also a hindrance

Sensitize and train the women on their rights and values Provide business and life skill training to enable them establish themselves Create awareness and sensitize men on women rights and why they should allow women to participate in economic development. Provide and support them with possible resources to enable them start business. Guide the women to form support groups and group savings and loans.

Potential Long Term Impact
Increased knowledge and understanding of economic development. Community trained on business and life skills. Women understand their roles in the country's economy 200 men and women set up businesses, engaged in income generating activities and others linked to the job market. Women and men saving groups formed Both husband and wife participate in providing for the family. Improved livelihood of women, men and children. 1000 people will be affected by this program

Project Sponsor: Institute for Development and Welfare Services
Theme: Economic Development | Location: Kenya
Funding to Date: $0 | Need:$19,481
Project #21160 on

30.07.2015 Empowering mayan woman through ancient textiles

project picture
$10 — will provide for transportation costs to train an artisan in her community
$20 — will provide for the development of an ad-hoc curricula including tool kits to train artisans
$25 — will train 1 artisan in product design and commercial practices for 1 year

give now

impacto textil worked with 60 Mayan women to improve the production of textile handicrafts; we are now starting to replicate and scale methodologies and tools as to serve 500 artisans in a two-year timeframe. Our work helps women to expand on their craft, teaching them advanced design principles and technical skills. With improved products, artisans gain increased access to ethical and fair trade markets and a secure income to support their families, mainly children and their community.

Project Needs and Beneficiaries
Indigenous women in Mexico's highlands are suffering by the lack of economic opportunities. They are isolated geographically, culturally and linguistically. Through improving their traditional techniques, and developing business skills, artisans can create a premium product to ethical and fair trade markets, the understanding of global market demand, and the know-how to administer their business affairs that would allow them to earn a sustainable livelihood.

impacto textil works with groups of Mayan woman artisans to build new weaving, design and business skills. By linking designers and artisans, impacto trains indigenous women in innovative, market-ready product development. While artisans learn new skills, impacto facilitates market access for their products so they can earn a sustainable income to support their families, their children and their community.

Potential Long Term Impact
Women invest income directly into their children and their communities. Economic opportunity, skills and education empower women to transform not only themselves but also lifting their families out of poverty. Women artisans that partner with impacto increase their income by selling higher-demand products to global markets. Also they develop the professional, leadership skills and self-confidece needed for long-term economic success and social transformation.

Project Sponsor: Proyecto Impacto Consultores, AC
Theme: Women and Girls | Location: Mexico
Funding to Date: $0 | Need:$25,000
Project #21078 on

30.07.2015 Give education & training to Zimbabwean girls

project picture
$10 — will train 1 girl in computing
$11 — enables 1 girl to attend a HIV/AIDS awareness workshop
$18 — will teach 1 girl how to cook

give now

Based in Harare, the Rafiki Girls' Centre provide vocational training to some of Harare's most disadvantaged and vulnerable young women. In addition to academic training, they provide emotional, psychological and social support - empowering disadvantaged women and promote gender equality. Rafiki has supported over 700 young women since the turn of the century, 90% of whom are now in employment or have continued on into further education, this is a remarkable achievement.

Project Needs and Beneficiaries
Currently, girls comprise only 35% of the pupils in upper secondary education. This is largely down to a history of gender imbalance, in which cultural ideologies have resulted in the preference of boy children over girl children in education. Young women, often orphaned, struggle to afford their education and therefore face a bleak future in a country where unemployment is at 80%. Many of these girls are also HIV positive and face discrimination due to the stigma attached to their virus.

The girls take a range of introductory courses including cookery, computer skills, sewing, health and hygiene and time management - giving them life skills needed to be independent. They then take specialized training e.g. pre-school teaching, nurse aid, dress making, hotel and catering - with every effort taken to find them long term employment after their course. The girls are also educated about HIV and urged to get tested to know their status, so they can get help early.

Potential Long Term Impact
Rafiki Girls Centre will give hope and a sustainable future to 62 of these vulnerable young women, who live in extreme poverty, by providing education and vocational training. 90% of Rafiki's graduates have continued into further education or found work as a result of their training, empowering the most vulnerable to rise out of poverty. The project is bridging the gender gap in education and promoting economic opportunity for young women, their families and local community.

Project Sponsor: Zimbabwe Educational Trust (ZET)
Theme: Women and Girls | Location: Zimbabwe
Funding to Date: $0 | Need:$2,000
Project #21150 on

30.07.2015 Renewable energy to rebuild villages in Nepal

project picture
$16 — provides a portable solar lantern that delivers up to 70 hours of light and serves as phone charging station thanks to a USB port
$45 — buys a solar home system consisting of a solar panel, battery and 2 or 3 LED lamps that provide light for an entire room and serves as phone charger
$65 — buys a cook stove for a family in a temporary shelter: to cook a warm meal and to significantly reduce the use of firewood and smoke emission compared to traditional open fireplaces

give now

The NGO atmosfair will provide families, schools and health centres in two earthquake struck villages northeast of Kathmandu with solar lanterns, solar home systems and efficient cookstoves. Being forced to live and work in temporary shelters until the end of the monsoon season, those energy devices will improve the earthquake victims' living conditions, study opportunities and health treatment.

Project Needs and Beneficiaries
Nepal, classified as least developed country already before the earthquakes hit the country, has suffered tremendously due to the natural catastrophe: around 600,000 houses were completely destroyed and around 280,000 were damaged. Only a few of the people affected found refuge in emergency shelters set up by international organisations. Most people built themselves simple huts from tents or metal sheets in their villages. Light, electricity and heat are usually not available in these shelters.

atmosfair and its local partners in Nepal distribute solar lanterns, solar home systems and efficient cook stoves to earthquake affected communities, especially to those currently living in temporary shelters. The systems will provide light at night as well as electricity to charge people's mobile phones - indispensable means of communication with the outside world for people living in hardly accessible regions. Efficient cook stoves allow to cook hot meals with up to 80% less fuel intake.

Potential Long Term Impact
The project improves the quality of life of people in need due to the earthquake. The support will provide long-term resilient energy supply for households, schools and health centres for about 150 people living in two villages northeast of Kathmandu. While this means positive changes for Nepalis affected by the earthquake, it also is a contribution to a more sustainable resource use.

Project Sponsor: atmosfair gGmbH
Theme: Climate Change | Location: Nepal
Funding to Date: $0 | Need:$6,300
Project #21149 on

30.07.2015 The 2015 Audience Project Tour!

project picture
$10 — Study guides for 5 students
$25 — Space for rehearsing the production for two hours.
$50 — Zipcar to transport sound equipment to a school.

give now

AFA is thrilled to present "Voice Power!" written & performed by Darian Dauchan, as our 2015 Audience Project Tour. We will bring this exciting production, free of charge, to over 2,500 under-served NYC children this fall, many of whom have never seen professional theater. Poet/musician Darian Dauchan guides young audiences on a vocal odyssey through rhymes, beat-boxing, & acapella melodies in search of one of civilization's most valued treasures - the power of the voice!

Project Needs and Beneficiaries
Though New York City is home to Broadway and numerous museums, cultural centers, music venues, and other arts spaces, many children do not have access to these artistic institutions in or out of school due to the cost. In addition to the fiscal cost, the time necessary to engage deeply with art is often prohibitive. The Audience Project Tour provides 2,500 students the opportunity to experience professional theater.

Arts For All offers accessible artistic opportunities to children in the New York City area who face socio-economic, physical, or emotional barriers to exploring the arts. Through Arts For All, professional artists work with youth organizations to build self-confidence, self-expression, teamwork, resilience, and creativity in children. The annual Audience Project tour presents a professional production free of charge, with an accompanying Study Guide and follow-up workshops at selected sites.

Potential Long Term Impact
Through "Voice Power!," dynamic poet/musician Darian Dauchan, leads students on an exciting exploration of themes such as self-expression, confidence, & creativity while promoting language & literacy skills. Teachers will revisit themes using Arts For All study guides provided, designed to encourage children to apply lessons learned from the play to their own lives. The opportunity to experience live theater not only inspires students but helps build self-expression skills & creativity.

Project Sponsor: Arts for All
Theme: Arts and Culture | Location: United States
Funding to Date: $0 | Need:$6,500
Project #21152 on

30.07.2015 #EGFellows Making Headlines July 2015

Echoing Green Fellows have the gall to think big.  For decades, these committed entrepreneurs have applied smart but untested ideas to address challenges in their communities across the globe. That committment to thinking big - and doing something about it - is what sets leaders of social innovation apart from the rest. As Cheryl Dorsey reflected about our newest class of Fellows, “where some investors look at all the negatives associated with doing business in these areas, others see it as an opportunity to fill a void.” Read on to see where in the world the 2015 Fellows are creating possibility out of the obstacles facing their communities.

Making It Easier for People Living in Slums to Own Their Land
An estimated 1.1 billion slum dwellers live in fear of eviction every day, but 2015 Global Fellow Matt Alexander, co-founder of Suyo, is changing that.
Using Social Incubation to Drive Local Innovation
African Entrepreneur Collective, founded by 2015 Global Fellows Julienne Oyler and Sara Leedom, incubates community entrepreneurs, driving home-grown social innovation to create jobs and boost local economies. 
Health Ideas for Poorer Countries
Kidogo, founded by 2015 Global Fellows Afzal Habib and Sabrina Premji, is an early childhood care and education solution for slum communities in East Africa that's scalable and culturally appropriate - and it's simple.
An Innovative Project to Bring Electricity to Rural India
2015 Climate Fellows Clementine Chambon and Amit Saraogi are transforming rural off-grid communities in India where only 44 percent of households have electrical access by providing clean energy solutions.
A Smart Tractor for African Farmers and Their Tiny Farms
Dubbed the “Zipcar of tractors,” Hello Tractor, founded by 2015 Global Fellow Jehiel Oliver, produces affordable “Smart Tractors” to increase food and income security in sub-Saharan Africa.
Meet BetaBoston’s ’25 Under 25′ winners for 2015
Daquan Oliver, a 2015 Black Male Achievement Fellow and founder of Recesspreneurs, is  named one of the 25 Most Innovative People Under 25 for his innovative and entrepreneurial approach to addressing the opportunity gap among U.S. students of low-income. 


Related Posts 

#EGFellows Making Headlines May 2015

From Fast Company to Forbes, Echoing Green Fellows are recognized as innovators and leaders. Go »

We Are the 2015 Fellows

Individually, our ideas and commitment can change lives and communities. But what happens when we go all in together? Go »

Summary Image 

30.07.2015 "Make your own liquid fertiliser" from SoilCares

Anja Weber of SoilCares writes in Daily Nation:
To make a liquid fertiliser rich in phosphorus, you should use tithonia, a shrub that grows as a weed or hedge in most parts of the country.

Another very useful plant is comfrey (symphytum), which is especially rich in potassium and provides Vitamin B12, which stimulates rapid root growth at transplanting.

To start, you need a bucket, water, machete (panga) and a stirring stick. Collect the leaves of stinging nettle, comfrey, tithonia or any kind of weeds. Chop them and put the cuttings in the bucket. Add crushed eggshells to provide calcium. Fill the bucket with water so that the material is completely covered...[more]

29.07.2015 Novatech Construction Systems

Pauline Mujawamariya, director of the IPA writes:
...African innovators are already creating solutions that respond to real needs in Africa. Whilst in Yaoundé last week, I was privileged to spend a few hours with a past Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) nominee, Mr Faustinus Njokikang. He is working hard to provide affordable environmental housing solutions to all Africans. Faustinus is concerned about the current housing boom we are witnessing in Africa which is far from environmentally friendly. This is why he established Novatech Construction Systems, a company that focuses on innovativeness in the use of local human and material resources for more affordable and eco-friendly housing. Novatech does not deal with a single product or technology, but is a synthesis of numerous elements involved in the construction process.

According to Faustinus, “the housing deficit in Cameroon stands at one million homes and is rising faster than the purchasing power of the population”. He also indicates that the needs across Africa are immense. He established Novatech to address this challenge by making affordable and environmentally friendly interlocking bricks. The Novatech flagship product is a manual brick press that has the capacity to produce 3000 interlocking bricks per day (see images). This machine produces hollow interlocking soil blocks with the ability to maintain a balanced room temperature despite it being hot or cold outside. This means there is no need for an air conditioner or heater when using Novatech’s blocks.
More here

Images via IPA

29.07.2015 Food For Thought: School Garden Initiatives


Every day, Fatouma walked six kilometers to her school in Senegal knowing lunch would not be waiting. Her family could not afford it. By the time she arrived, she was too tired to learn. At eight years old, undernutrition had left Fatouma with the stunted figure of a five-year-old.

Free school lunches could change her life.

School-aged children, hungry for both the knowledge and nutrition they need to become healthy, successful adults, are at a mentally and physically pivotal developmental stage. However, if one of these hungers is left unsatisfied, the other suffers as well. Without proper nutrition, children cannot focus on learning, and without education, children are often limited to a life of poverty.

The developing world is abound with diet-related health and nutrition issues, both due to a general lack of food and to the increasing accessibility of fast food. The World Health Organization estimates that undernutrition leads to 3.1 million child deaths annually, and caused 45 percent of all child deaths in 2011. Undernutrition also magnifies the effect of diseases such as diarrhea, malaria, and pneumonia by over 50 percent.

But solutions exist. Governments and partner organizations have become increasingly interested in the potential of school gardens to help overcome this nutritional crisis. With their benefits extending beyond the classroom, a school garden is a holistic investment in a child’s future:

  • Nutrition: By raising awareness of healthy eating, gardens can combat the hunger and micronutrient deficiencies that so frequently cause irreversible damage to children's growing bodies.
  • Culture: The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization recognizes that a variety of beliefs and attitudes can negatively affect health. For example, in some cultures meat is reserved for men and people aspire to eat “luxury items” like fried chicken and chips. Where processed or fast food is sought after, nutritious indigenous vegetables and fruits are seen as “poor people’s food.” Dispelling these assumptions can both deepen nutritional and cultural understanding.
  • Education: A school meal provides strong incentive to send a child to school. Once in school, a well-fed child is both less likely to drop out and more likely to focus on lessons.
  • Local Market: Locally produced food can benefit the local economy while revenues sustain the school garden program.
  • Community Hunger: Children who learn creative agricultural techniques can handle situations that might have caused community-wide food shortages in the past.
  • Environment: Garden activities have been shown to improve children’s attitudes towards the environment, especially when these activities generate a practical understanding of the ecosystem.

As the deadline for the United Nations’ 2015 Millennium Development Goals nears, concerns surrounding its top two priorities--halving hunger and universalizing primary education--have broadened. Although dramatic progress has been made towards both goals since the turn of the century, Sub-Saharan Africa still lags behind the rest of the world on both fronts.

In Ghana, school lunch fees rank high on the list of financial obstacles to education. In Kenya, the Ministry of Planning and National Development estimates that 50 percent of children in pre-primary, 10 percent in primary and 5 percent in secondary schools rely completely on school lunches. With most schools unable to supply these lunches affordably, however, nutritional stunting continues to affect about one-third of Kenya’s children.

Successful school gardens can be an important tool to providing much-needed food, while combating costly fees. They also align perfectly with the U.N.’s “Quick Wins”--actions that can be taken immediately to produce dramatic results within three to five years. One “quick win” urges schools to provide free, locally grown meals. This is exactly what school garden projects aim to accomplish.

Although some garden initiatives fail due to a lack of resources, motivation or expertise, a number of flourishing programs provide excellent examples for others:

  • Belize’s GATE programme, organized by Plenty Belize, has a long-term program to help schools develop organic school gardens. Some of its schools, which have grown by over 40 since the program began in 2002, are now processing food with solar dryers and canning equipment, installing solar pumps and see-saw pumps. The Telefood Report 2005 described the program as “a working model worthy of replication.”
  • South Africa’s EduPlant program supports schools with new gardens for two years until they can manage on their own. EduPlant also organizes workshops for educators, produces education materials, and runs an annual competition for learners’ projects.
  • Uganda’s garden-based education, a large part of the country’s school curriculums, is already producing tangible benefits such as practical agricultural skills, reduced school tuition, and improved health.
  • Kenya’s School Garden Initiative has established 11 school gardens. While working in the gardens, children learn fine arts, math, science, history, language and nutrition. The program’s health-conscious children also perform very well on national examinations.

School gardens can be the seed for a community’s physical health and security, but they can give more. For Marita Wyson, a 14-year-old student from Malawi, working in the garden and eating its produce made her feel strong. “I am able to understand what my teachers are telling me,” she said. “My grandmother doesn’t have to worry so much about how she will provide food for me and my sister."

The gardens instill strength and confidence by demonstrating the possibility of immediate self-reliance, empowering children in the way all schools should strive to do.

29.07.2015 From Finalist to Fellow

What does it take to become and Echoing Green Fellow? We look for individuals who have both a great idea and the leadership qualities to put that idea into action. Only 3 percent of our applicants make it the Finalist round, and the hard work doesn’t stop there. The road from Finalist to Fellow is full of challenges and opportunities – see what it takes to for these applicants to bring their whole selves to the rigorous final steps of the selection process:

May 13: Pitch Perfection 105 Finalists from forty-four countries convene in New York City to practice their pitches, connect with other entrepreneurs, and face a panel of expert judges who will scrutinize their dedication and their business plan. Pictured: Rohit Malhotra.


May 14: Going All In A selection of Finalists vying for the Echoing Green Global, Climate, and Black Male Achievement Fellowships find their positions and receive last-minute feedback on their presentations just hours before pitching to the crowd at the Big Bold Benefit.


May 14: Can I Get Your Card? Benefit sponsors and guests have the opportunity to mingle and meet the Finalists at the reception before the gala begins. With judges, investors, and competitors in the room, Finalists must be "on" at all times.


May 14: Show Time Sam Pressler and Sara Minkara present their bold ideas for positive social change to 400 guests, supporters, and members of the Echoing Green community before being grilled by Robert Herjavec, star of ABC's Emmy Award-winning hit show Shark Tank.


July 12: New Fellows Relief The newly minted 2015 Echoing Green Fellows reconvene in New York, this time to spend a week focusing on building strong bonds with the other Fellows in their cohorts, and with the Echoing Green staff. These connections will support the Fellows long after their initial two-year funding period. Pictured: Sara Leedom and Lam Ho.


July 13: Been There Three Echoing Green Fellows who were in their seat once, Laurie Parise (2006), Gemma Bulos (2007), and Michael Carter (2011) talk to the newest cohort about remaining focused on organizational priorities, even when they might feel tugged in several directions. 


July 17: Global Community New Fellows Benje Williams and Jordyn Lexton return to their work across the globe as friends and collaborators. The next time many will see each other is at the All Fellows Conference in Johannesburg in November of this year.


Related Posts 

Finalists for the 2015 Fellowships

Meet the Finalists and congratulate them—not just for making it this far, but for holding such deep commitment for driving social change. Go »

We Are the 2015 Fellows

Individually, our ideas and commitment can change lives and communities. But what happens when we go all in together? Go »

Summary Image 

29.07.2015 Farming for Oysters in the Gambia

In Gambia, from Worldwatch:
image via TRY
In 2007, a group of oyster harvesters organized themselves into a producer association called TRY Women's Oyster Harvesting Association. The founding members decided to call the organization TRY because it was an effort to do just that-try to improve the situation for oyster harvesters without much certainty that their work would pay off. After some initial success raising funds to buy boats, membership in TRY grew rapidly from 14 women in just one village to 500 oyster harvesters from 15 communities across the Greater Banjul Area.

This growth was no small feat. Although the women are all Jola, a minority ethnic group in Gambia, they are divided into different sects with distinct languages and heritages. Through TRY, the harvesters have been able to put aside these differences and work as a cohesive community, making decisions by consensus and collectively prioritizing needs.

Two years after its founding, TRY became linked with the USAID-funded Sustainable Fisheries Project, Ba Nafaa. Ba Nafaa has helped TRY expand the scope of its mission and has worked to create a sustainable co-management plan for the oyster fishery that respects the needs of harvesters, consumers, and the environment...[more]
Furthermore the Daily Observer reports on the resourcefulness of its founder:
Through the skillful fundraising the Association has been transformed from a single community organisation of 50 women into a model of coastal co-management in West Africa that includes over 700 members from 15 communities.

In describing the challenges they faced in developing the Association, Fatou Janha pointed to the difficulty of organising women from different backgrounds and often marginalised communities to work together. But she also credits those women with having the vision to organise the Association and the dedication to make it work. “Although they lack formal schooling, these women are very intelligent and receptive to new ideas and technologies,” she said.

“When given the opportunity to participate in the Ba Nafaa project, they should quickly embrace it with conviction and dedication. Now they are realising the economic and social benefits from their activities.”
More via All Africa

28.07.2015 Africa's Next-Generation Social Entrepreneurs Are Ready. Are We?

2014 Climate Fellow Tom Osborn, founder of Greenchar, showing charcoal briquettes to prospective clients. 

By Cheryl Dorsey
This article originally appeared on

Last week, I joined President Obama and leaders from around the world to shine a spotlight on the importance of entrepreneurship to global development at the sixth Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) held in Nairobi, Kenya. This year’s Summit in Kenya was poised to showcase the vibrancy of innovation across Africa, and call for greater investment in the region. While it is exciting to see the growing interest and investment in entrepreneurship more broadly, there is a specific need to emphasize the possibility and promise around supporting entrepreneurs who have a social mission.

We know that entrepreneurship can have a huge impact on reducing unemployment and growing economies. But, at Echoing Green, where we have helped launch nearly 700 social entrepreneurs around the world, we know that supporting emerging leaders who are driven by a strong sense of purpose, and are ready to challenge the status quo, can have a truly transformative impact on communities and countries.

The good news is that momentum is growing. President Obama elevated entrepreneurship to the forefront of the United States’ agenda during his historic speech in Cairo in 2009, and at last year’s Summit, the Obama Administration announced the SPARK initiative to generate “more than $1 billion dollars in new investments in the next generation of entrepreneurs around the world—to help them open a new business, expand into new markets and ignite the next era of innovation and growth.” The Summit also comes on the heels of a “bootcamp” for 1,000 emerging African entrepreneurs from 51 African countries, hosted and supported by the Tony Elumelu Foundation who committed $100 million to empowering African entrepreneurs.

Over the last few years, at Echoing Green, we have also seen this momentum and a significant increase in innovative enterprises focused specifically on social change throughout Africa. About a third of the more than 3,000 applications we received this year for our Fellowship program proposed work in Africa, and, since 2010, social entrepreneurs working in Africa have made up a third of our funded Fellow portfolio. Behind the U.S. and India, the top three countries for applications were from Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria. What we’re seeing is that these countries are becoming social innovation hubs – with social entrepreneurs connecting, coming together at events and co-working spaces, and learning from each other.

Through our almost 30-year history, we’ve learned that it’s not enough to just provide seed funding to these emerging entrepreneurs to create lasting change. Our perspective on how to have the biggest impact is to invest in people, particularly at key inflection points in their lives and careers. Even more important than providing funding to spur entrepreneurship, it is essential to pair that investment with leadership development and a network of support.

To see what happens when we invest, funding and support, in promising, emerging leaders, just look at a few examples of Echoing Green Fellows.

  • Tom Osborn: Tom was 18-years-old when he received an Echoing Green Fellowship in 2014. Now, he’s running GreenChar, an organization that provides affordable, safe and eco-friendly fuel cooking alternatives in his home country, Kenya. His project aims to reduce the devastating effects of deforestation (trees are cut down to provide fuel for cooking) and improve the health of women and children who combat harmful effects of indoor smoke during cooking. To date, GreenChar has produced 20 tonnes of briquettes from their one factory in Migori County.
  • Misan Rewane: Misan is a 2014 Echoing Green Fellow who was born and raised in Nigeria. After completing secondary school, she had the opportunity to pursue her higher education in the U.K. and the U.S. Compelled by the contrast between her educational opportunities and the untapped potential of millions of young people in Africa, Misan returned to Nigeria, moving to Lagos to launch West Africa Vocational Education (WAVE). WAVE bridges the opportunity divide between unemployed West African youth and stable jobs in the high-growth industries, including the hospitality and retail sectors, changing the paradigm of youth employability in West Africa.
  • Chris Ategeka: Chris, a 2013 Fellow, is a perfect example of an emerging leader who shows a key characteristic of entrepreneurs: resilience. When Chris was about 7-years-old, he lost both of his parents to HIV/AIDS, and took on the responsibility of looking after his siblings. But Chris persevered, and received funding to attend UC Berkley, later getting his master’s in mechanical engineering. In 2013 he created Rides for Lives, an organization that builds and brings mobile hospitals to those in need of medical aid in Uganda.

At Echoing Green, we’ve definitely made progress in supporting local leaders like Tom, Misan and Chris, but we’re not there yet. As a global community invested in social entrepreneurs, we need to improve our ability to identify, develop and connect talented individuals, particularly from across sub-Saharan Africa. In partnership with USAID, we’ve increased our efforts to support more social entrepreneurs in developing countries, and over the next few years, we hope to continue to build our partnerships in Africa so that we are able to attract more promising leaders who have the experience to solve the unique challenges facing their communities. We also hope to leverage these partnerships to provide the tailored support and networks that will not only launch these innovative organizations, but help these organizations and leaders thrive.

At the Global Entrepreneurship Summit last week,  governments and organizations pledged to support entrepreneurs. But more than pledges of funding, I hope there are pledges of partnership.  By not only investing in entrepreneurs, but by building and nurturing a community of social entrepreneurs living and working across Africa, we can unleash the next-generation of innovators and be ready to support them to have the biggest impact.

Related Posts 

Home Is Where The Solutions Are: How Local Leaders Can Drive Change

One clear way to drive change is to invest in leaders who have a direct connection to the communities they serve. Go »

Breaking Boundaries to Solve Global Development Problems

While global funding structures tend to be siloed – focused on specific issues or target countries – we know that social entrepreneurs are best-in-class at breaking down silos. Go »

Summary Image 

27.07.2015 RECODE Aims to Redesign Institutions from the Inside Out

“We used to invest in bricks and mortar,” says Chad Lubelsky, program lead for RECODE at the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation. “Now, we also invest in ideas that can transform society.” The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation is located in Montreal, Canada. Launched in 2014, RECODE is a collaborative hub for social innovation, social enterprise, social […]

27.07.2015 ORS Is a Magic Elixir That Saves Lives

As the world rallies behind the soon-to-be finalized Sustainable Development Goals, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation continues to stay focused on our bottom line – saving lives. We are especially focused on increasing access to proven interventions that save children’s lives – a lot of lives. And interventions that have the potential to save […]

27.07.2015 USAID Seeds Innovation: 15 Social Entrepreneurs Making a Difference

Faith, 11 years old, carries baby Richard to a Kidogo Center, enabling her to go to school. Photo courtesy of Kidogo.

By Tahalia Barrett, Global Partnerships Advisor, U.S. Global Development Lab, USAID

Picture this: A farmer in Nigeria needs to plow her field, but does not have the labor to do it. Using her mobile phone, she sends an SMS message, and within days, a tractor arrives. She can now plow her field 40 times faster than manual labor, and at one third of the cost. And, the tractor owner earns a profit as well. This innovative shared economy platform is more than a great idea; it is a startup called Hello Tractor, founded by Jehiel Oliver – just one recipient of a Global Fellowship award from Echoing Green, sponsored by USAID’s U.S. Global Development Lab.

Through our “Priming the Pump” partnership, the Lab has funded two classes of Echoing Green’s Global Fellows. The goal is to prime the pump for global social entrepreneurship by supporting individual entrepreneurs, fostering the growth of social entrepreneurship ecosystems, and increasing awareness and support for social innovators in developing countries.

With interests that range from the “Uber for tractors” to rights for the visually impaired, the 2015 Echoing Green Global Fellows’ innovations are tangible examples of potentially transformative solutions that provide essential services, create jobs and reduce poverty often through market-based solutions.

I recently spent time with a number of Fellows at Echoing Green’s New Fellows Retreat –referred to as “the boot camp for new Fellows” – listening to their stories, and learning more about the inspiring work they engage in around the world.

Wendell and Etienne
Global Fellows Etienne Mashuli and Wendell Adjetety used their personal experiences as motivation to help post-conflict African youth through the Tujenge Africa Foundation they established in Burundi.

“I remember the first time I did really well in school,” Etienne shared. “My father was so proud, he gave me a loaf of bread…I did well in school until my uncle was shot.” Having survived the Rwandan civil war and genocide, Etienne escaped a cycle of poverty through quality education later in life.

Wendell and Etienne began the Tujenge Africa Foundation to catapult post-conflict African youth upward through quality education, leadership and peace-building.

Afzal and Sabrina
Afzal Habib is motivated by solving complex challenges, and particularly by applying business strategy to address big global issues. His partner, Sabrina Premji, is driven by a desire to provide high-quality and affordable early childhood care. After seeing the dire conditions in the informal baby care centers of Nairobi’s slums, Afzal and Sabrina established Kidogo.

“The smell was the first thing I noticed,” said Sabrina. “As I walked forward into a dark room, I felt something brush my foot, and when I reached down, I saw it was an infant. There were at least a dozen infants in one small room…”

Afzal and Sabrina launched Kidogo in 2014 as a sustainable and scalable social enterprise that is working to transform the trajectory of children living in urban slums by providing care and education.

USAID is funding 15 2015 Global Fellows that are creating catalytic change. In addition to those mentioned above, they include

  • Aleem AhmedLove Grain—connects Ethiopian teff farmers with international markets by building partnerships with farmer cooperatives and supporting the supply.
  • Katy Ashe and Edith ElliottNoora Health—shift the health paradigm by training at-risk patients and their families in India with high-impact health skills to improve outcomes and save lives.
  • Sara Leedom and Julienne OylerAfrican Entrepreneur Collective—work with incubators, accelerators and investment funds to support young entrepreneurs in Africa by providing capacity building, mentorship and direct financing to grow their enterprises.
  • Mohammed Dalwai and Yaseen KhanThe Open Medicine Project—save lives in under-resourced communities in South Africa, India and Pakistan by providing healthcare workers with free and open access to relevant guidelines and clinical support tools using mobile technology.
  • Sara MinkaraEmpowerment Through Integration—empowers blind youth in Lebanon and Nicaragua by providing life skills and emotional support through inclusive education and recreational programs.
  • Matt AlexanderSuyo—unlocks the transformational impact of secure property rights by making it easier and more affordable for low-income families in Latin America to formalize their property.
  • Pranav BudhathokiLocal Interventions Group—solves last mile governance problems by creating efficient feedback loops between governments and affected citizens of South Asia. 

Within the Lab, we believe that good ideas can come from anywhere, but entrepreneurs and innovators need the resources and opportunities to thrive. There is no doubt that social entrepreneurs will continue to change societies, communities, economies and nations for the better, and we are committed to enabling promising ideas and fostering strong social entrepreneurship ecosystems worldwide.


Priming the Pump is a global development alliance with General Atlantic, Newman’s Own Foundation, The Pershing Square Foundation, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, and Echoing Green. This four-year, $4 million public-private partnership invests in early-stage social innovators pioneering new models and solutions for global development challenges. The partnership’s goal is to “prime the pump” for global social entrepreneurship by supporting more global entrepreneurs, and by fostering the growth of entrepreneurial ecosystems that support social innovators in developing countries.

Fellows receive up to $90,000 in funding over a two-year period to realize and advance their innovations. Additionally, Fellows participate in leadership development events, receive mentorship from leading business professionals and become part of a global network of leaders. To date, the Lab has supported more than 29 Global Fellows from 20 organizations working in the developing world.

About the U.S. Global Development Lab: The U.S. Global Development Lab’s mission is to produce breakthrough development innovations by sourcing, testing, and scaling proven solutions to reach hundreds of millions of people, and to accelerate the transformation of the development enterprise by opening development to people everywhere with good ideas, promoting new and deepening existing partnerships, bringing data and evidence to bear, and harnessing scientific and technological advances. The Lab proactively seeks to build partnerships which leverage the combined skills, assets, technologies, and resources of the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to deliver sustainable development impact.


Related Posts 

Breaking Boundaries to Solve Global Development Problems

While global funding structures tend to be siloed – focused on specific issues or target countries – we know that social entrepreneurs are best-in-class at breaking down silos. Go »

We Are the 2015 Fellows

Individually, our ideas and commitment can change lives and communities. But what happens when we go all in together? Go »

Summary Image 

24.07.2015 When what was new becomes old

Alliance Magazine published my article,  From the Edge to the Middle, a few months ago and has now made it available for free to everyone.


24.07.2015 B Corp Amavida Runs Across Congo in Support of Gender Equality

(3BL Media and Just Means) - Seven days, seven marathons. The Run Across Congo has created huge awareness for gender equality in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Women runners from around the U.S. gathered together along the shores of Lake Kivu to partner with and encourage female farmers. Run Across Congo was organized by On the Ground, a nonprofit committed to supporting sustainable community development in farming regions across the world. Awareness and funds raised from Run Across Congo will create programs to increase access to knowledge, land, income and health care that enables Congolese women to run their own businesses. It will also support Lemera Hospital, a hub for women who are the victims of sexual aggression.

Amavida Coffee & Tea, one of the founding B Corps in Florida, supported the effort by sending their Director of Public Relations, Marketing and Outreach, Casey Tindell-Trejo, as a marathoner. Tindell-Trejo says the gender equality was very evident.

“We ran through many towns where women were hunched over, carrying 150 pounds of wood on their backs while the men sat around drinking beer. Women are treated like workhorses,” says Tindell-Trejo.

Though the men operate and administer the fair trade cooperatives, Congolese women are responsible for working in the fields.  They often have children on their backs as they pick the coffee cherries. Women are also responsible for raising the children, cleaning and cooking. And, their voices are silenced.

“Any time we spoke to a woman, a man would come up behind her and whisper in her ear. But the room would get quiet any time a man spoke,” says Tindell-Trejo.

Through their direct trade relationship with coffee cooperatives in the DRC, Amavida helps to fund a gender equality, education program called the Gender Action Learning System. Tindell-Trejo says there was a very noticeable difference in the interactions between men and women who participated in this program.

“The men would move aside and allow their wives to speak for themselves. The women were more relaxed,” she says.

So what would compel a team of women to run through a nation where women are marginalized and oppressed?

“A women-only team of marathoners taking the risk of running through the DRC demonstrates that Congolese women desperately need our support. We took on this huge, crazy feat to show how much we care,” says Tindell-Trejo.

An immediate need is for supplies at the Lemera hospital. Rape victims walk several days through mountainous terrain with their children to receive medical attention. On the Ground is working to provide $5,000 in funding for the hospital. To raise ongoing support, Amavida implemented a wooden coin campaign in their cafes. Every time a customer brings in a reusable mug, they are given a wooden coin that represents a 20-cent donation from Amavida to Project Congo. Last month, Amavida donated $300.  For them, it’s a win-win for both their environmental and social goals. They continually look for ways to deepen their impact.

“We meet every Monday morning as a team to discuss how we can improve our social and environmental impact. Our Benefit Director is constantly trying to partner with other B Corps and grow a stronger network of them in Florida,” says Tindell-Trejo.

Giving back to the local community of Santa Rosa Beach and to their coffee cooperatives is part of Amavida’s DNA. They were founded on the circular model of coffee buying.

“We buy at fair trade prices, continue improving our knowledge and craft to be able to provide the best coffee in the industry, give back to our community and then complete the circle by finding more ways to support our farmers. The cycle should never end, and should create partnerships that always build upon each other,” described Tindell-Trejo in an April interview.

Amavida Coffee and Tea is leading the B Corp movement in Florida’s panhandle. Their dedication to local and global impact is impressive. It’s also the B Corp way. I, for one, can’t wait to get my favorite mug filled up with their freshly roasted coffee from their Congo cooperative. And of course, drop my wooden coin into their donation bucket. Cheers to you Amavida for “loving life with every cup.”

Source Amavida coffee by the pound or wholesale. Donate to Project Congo via On the Ground.

Friday, July 24, 2015 - 12:00pm

23.07.2015 Envisioning a World With Sanitation For All

Safe drinking water and basic sanitation are essential to human health. While the two are often lumped together under the acronym WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), we here at the Skoll Foundation see them as distinct, though closely related issues. The world achieved the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of the population […]