Moving to Myanmar to work for Koe Koe Tech was not part of my post-college plan. As a 2015 Global Social Benefit Fellow (GSBF), I had the privilege of working for Operation ASHA – Cambodia, a social enterprise that works to eradicate tuberculosis worldwide. Having had an incredible experience with them, I planned to return to Cambodia to continue working with them in March 2017. However, shortly before I was expecting to leave, organizational changes made that an impossibility and I suddenly found myself without a job, any semblance of a plan, and a one-way ticket to SE Asia.
Archive for category: Social Entrepreneurship
“Guess it’s just us two females hanging out in a crowd of just males once again.” This common phrase was jokingly uttered between Maya and I multiple times throughout our field research in India. Gender inequality is not a new concept to me; it is something I have become very conscious of every summer spent in India. Even though gender inequality exists in America, it is more apparent here in India. Everywhere men dominate public spaces while most women stay inside their houses. When we arrived to the rural areas to conduct our interviews with the end-beneficiaries, the men would crowd around us while the women would be outside their houses looking at us from afar.
This July, in partnership with a local Jesuit social ministry center in Togo, Miller Center co-sponsored the largest ever GSBI Boost workshop, providing training for 30 West African social entrepreneurs. This was the first Boost ever delivered in French, and the largest ever set of participants. It fulfilled a multi-year dream for a Jesuit friend of mine, Fr. Bossou Constant SJ, and was made possible with the inspiring leadership of a fantastic GSBI mentor, Jose Flahaux. Although I had a trivial role at the workshop, I was blessed to witness the joy of these two good colleagues in the field.
How do we define replication at Miller Center? An analogy for social enterprise replication is to imagine a rock thrown into a pond. Where the rock hits the water is the splash of a pioneering social enterprise technology or business model tackling a social problem. The growth of the original social enterprise or the adoption of the enterprise model are the ripples in the water.
“If you pick fruit from a tree while menstruating, the tree will go barren.”
This notion is among many myths that primary school girls are taught in Uganda. Even as the girls advance to secondary school, they are shy to address beliefs that result in unsafe methods and that fail to protect them.
Land is a precious commodity, and land ownership holds significant value in all parts of the world. In Ghana, land is not only viewed as a monetary asset. Land holds more personal value and Ghanaians view it as part of their heritage and culture. They feel that their land is a piece of them, something they will pass down from generation to generation. With this strong attachment to land, land rights are a very sensitive and pertinent issue. But in Ghana, owning land and having proof of land ownership do not necessarily go hand in hand.
Yes, poverty eradication. That last point might seem off the table, but for social enterprises like Agro-Preneur Initiative, Farming Hope, Folia Water, and Vega Coffee, poverty, agriculture and water are more closely connected than one might first think.
In 2002, Malaysian native Stevens Chan was diagnosed with glaucoma. He didn’t know he had an eye disease, let alone one with no obvious symptoms, no cure, and which often leads to blindness. His vision loss occurred quickly. In just 5 years, he was blind. Stevens’ experience led him to establish a Malaysian branch of Dialogue in the Dark, a social enterprise that works to increase public awareness around preventable blindness and support individuals with visual impairments.
“A few things I’m grateful for: my team, air conditioning, Uber, bug bites that don’t itch, and hotels that have hot water” – Erika Francks.
Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship is committed to fighting global poverty to create a more just world. The center works towards this mission by supporting social enterprises around the world, through programs like the Global Social Benefit Fellowship.
My leadership clients, including those in nonprofit, often ask for advice regarding stress, expressing concerns about frustration, exhaustion or burnout. I have often seen executives “self-medicate,” binging on alcohol and comfort foods or engaging in risky behaviors. Even when leaders are “keeping it together,” their teams may feel a sense of impending crisis.