The Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI) Shares Insights Based on 12 Years of Accelerating Over 360 Successful Enterprises
Santa Clara University’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship has released a white paper aimed at helping social-entrepreneurship accelerators and incubators succeed. The paper, “The GSBI(R) Methodology for Social Entrepreneurship,” is available at www.scu.edu/MillerCenter.
The white paper encapsulates lessons from 12 years of working with over 365 businesses that are tackling social problems around the world through the Miller Center’s Global Social Benefit Institute, or GSBI. The GSBI is internationally recognized for helping social entrepreneurs become investment-ready and prepared to “scale” — or reach exponentially more beneficiaries. GSBI’s well-honed methodology serves as a best-practices framework for incubating and accelerating these global social enterprises.
The Miller Center is offering this free white paper in response to the rapid rise of accelerators and incubators focused on helping social entrepreneurs scale their solutions to the world’s critical problems affecting the poor and the planet. It identifies key strategies so others can benefit from its successes and failures.
The paper describes three key success factors for a successful accelerator: social enterprise selection, stage-specific programs for social enterprises, and deep executive-level mentoring. It also shares mistakes to avoid, such as being unprepared for the due diligence process that potential funders require.
“Founded in 2003, the GSBI has led and changed the way accelerators help social entrepreneurs,” said Sally Osberg, CEO and President of the Skoll Foundation. “The social entrepreneurship movement is booming and there’s no need for newcomers to reinvent the wheel. This paper helps everyone in our ecosystem accomplish our shared goal of using innovation and sound business practices to solve problems that are keeping three billion people from living their full potential.”
The GSBI invites applications from businesses or organizations that are “impact first,” when true to the name, the intention is to create good environmental or social outcomes as a forethought, not an afterthought. Based on where the enterprises are in their lifecycles, they are matched to the appropriate programs within the GSBI — a “Boost” program consisting of three days of intensive, on-location training; a six-month online-only program for early-stage, developing ventures; or the 10-month GSBI Accelerator, which combines online and in-person mentoring for ventures on the cusp of robust growth.
“We have applied this stage-appropriate methodology in over 60 countries,” said Pamela Roussos, senior director of GSBI. “What sets us apart is our 80+ Silicon Valley executive mentors who accompany the social entrepreneurs on their journey through weekly meetings for entire duration of their program. More than 85% of our last cohort received funding. Our methodology contributes to this success record and we would like others to benefit from it.”
Photo credit goes to Victoria Yundt, a Santa Clara University student who visited the social enterprise Solar Sister in 2013.
Up to 40 percent of the population in Pakistan could have mental health issues, yet getting help isn’t easy. The stigma against mental illness is prevalent, and even for those who do want to get help, psychiatrists are in short supply. As part of the PBS NewsHour “Agents For Change” series, special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro looks at the efforts being made by BasicNeeds to change this situation.
Last night The Jefferson Awards Foundation, America’s most prestigious and longest standing organization dedicated to activating and celebrating public service, honored America’s most outstanding philanthropic achievers in 2015 at its annual gala in Washington, D.C.
Skoll Foundation founder and chairman Jeff Skoll was presented with the S. Roger Horchow Award for Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen. Other honorees included U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the Kid President team (Brad Montague and Robby Novak), Lauren Bush Lauren, and Laysha Ward. Learn more about the Jefferson Awards winners here.
Jeff closed out the ceremony by reflecting on the threads that ran throughout the evening, “themes of courage, of overcoming, of doing, of family and unsung heroes.” He reflected on a realization he had as a young man: “It seemed to me that the world of the future might not be as a pleasant a place for our kids… with new diseases and wars and more coming down the pike.”
And he shared three lessons he’s learned:
Lesson One: “There’s nothing like seeing how the rest of the world lives to make you realize how interconnected we all are. If anybody is suffering, if anybody is living in poverty, if anybody is sick, that affects our lives. And it’s in all of our best interests to make sure that everyone in society has the opportunity for a better life.”
Lesson Two: “Stories well told. Telling your story can advance your cause and it’s an important part of our common cause together.”
Lesson Three: “We’re all in this together. None of us can do it alone.” He concluded, “I’m so inspired by hearing your stories tonight and to be part of this. It’s an incredible organization that the Jefferson Awards has become.”
Click here for a full video of the ceremony. You can watch Jeff Skoll’s speech at the 1 hour 44 minute mark.
Velvetine, a local fisher from a village on the coast of Madagascar, reports: “Before we started doing octopus closures, we were only catching two or three octopus in a day, and some days we wouldn’t catch any at all… With the closures we make a small sacrifice, but we can still glean on other reefs, and after waiting we catch more octopus; the catch is good in the days after openings. I have more money for food and for my family.”
As Velvetine knows, marine management pays. An eight-year study by marine scientists from Skoll Awardee Blue Ventures puts facts behind Velvetine’s experience. During that time, coastal villagers used Blue Ventures’ approach of setting aside designated areas of their fishing grounds as temporary “closures” to octopus fishing. When closed sites were reopened to fishing after the 2-3 months of the closure, rapid growth rates of reef octopus resulted in a surge of catches.
The study, published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, shows that these temporary closures generate significant and recurring economic benefits for the communities. When comparing the 30 days before and after a temporary closure, the researchers found:
85% increase in catch per fisher per day.
81% return on investment. (On average, $1 worth of octopus left in the closure sites had grown to $1.81 by the end of the closure period.)
136% increase in village income.
Fisheries scientist and study co-author Daniel Raberinary explained the impact of these findings. “By demonstrating that effective fisheries management can reap dividends, this model is playing a powerful role in building local support for marine conservation.”
Dasra, a strategic philanthropy foundation in India, wrote a case study on Educate Girls affirming of the importance of investing in measurement. Here’s more from Dasra’s Divya Pamnani and Arjav Chakravarti:
“Dasra worked closely with EG’s leadership to assist in the development and execution of its expansion strategy. The case study demonstrates how the organization harnessed the potential of impact assessment as a learning tool to improve program design and delivery, strengthen its model, and grow effectively.
Within a decade, EG has grown from working in 50 schools to over 8,500 schools. By replicating its program in other gender-gap districts of Rajasthan, EG impacted the lives of nearly one million children. The effective use of measurement enabled EG to adapt quickly, better respond to beneficiaries, demonstrate continued impact, build partnerships with the government, and attract significant resources to scale.
An account of EG’s measurement journey, it offers valuable lessons for social organizations working across diverse sectors, at different stages of growth.”
“’Who cares about the Amazon? We have to worry about global warming and climate change.’ Well guess what, it’s all the same thing.”
In a beautiful new 2-minute film, ethnobotanist and Amazon Conservation Team co-founder Mark Plotkin explains the interconnectivity between many of today’s greatest global challenges and the Amazon rainforest.
“Whether you’re interested in changing climate, whether you’re interested in too many poor people, or whether you’re interested in drug resistant bacteria—which is a much greater threat to our species than climate change, deforestation, terrorism, nuclear weapons—you have an interest in the greatest expression of life on earth, which is the rainforest, which is home to most of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity.”
80% of our antibiotics come from nature, and the best antibiotics are waiting for us in today’s rainforests. It is, of course, crucial to protect those natural resources. The Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) works in partnership with indigenous people of tropical America to conserve the biodiversity of the Amazon Rainforest as well as the culture and land of its indigenous people.
ACT partners with the Trio Indians to create programs in which elder shamans pass their botanical healing wisdom to the next generation of healers within the tribe. Mark’s goal is to fully document the entire spectrum of Trio knowledge of animals and plants.
In honor of Mark’s 60th birthday this month, ACT seeks to raise $60,000 to create the first ever Shaman’s Encyclopedia of the Amazon. “The lasting importance of achieving these goals is the creation of a template that other tribal peoples throughout the Amazon can adapt to their own needs and – in so doing – have a positive impact on saving oral shamanic wisdom in all of lowland South America.”
GoodWeave honored with Nice Modernist Award for its campaign to end child labor
Since its founding in 1995, GoodWeave has worked to eliminate child labor from the rug industry with current operations in India, Nepal and Afghanistan. These efforts were recognized Saturday with the receipt of the inaugural Dwell on Design “Nice Modernist Award” by GoodWeave’s founding Executive Director, Nina Smith. Dwell Media President Michela O’Connor Abrams presented the award on Saturday at the LA Convention Center in conjunction with the Dwell on Design Awards ceremony. The event included a special screening of the GoodWeave film short Stand with Sanju.
“We’re always inspired by the caliber of talent on view at Dwell on Design,” says Dwell Media President Michela O’Connor Abrams, which includes 2015 exhibitors and GoodWeave licensed brands Ariana and notNeutral. “We established the Dwell on Design Awards to celebrate not only the quality and innovation of this work, but also the humanitarian side. By awarding Dwell’s first Nice Modernist Award to Nina, we are honoring the impact GoodWeave has had in reducing child labor in the carpet industry by 75% from 1 million to 250,000, and it is my hope the awareness raised by this award helps GoodWeave achieve its goal of zero child laborers by 2020.”
The National Service Awards Ceremony will be Held June 18 in Washington, D.C.
The Jefferson Awards Foundation, America’s most prestigious and longest standing organization dedicated to activating and celebrating public service, will honor America’s most outstanding philanthropic achievers in 2015 at its annual gala in Washington, D.C. Taking place in the Grand Ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on June 18, 2015, the organization will honor this year’s recipients for their exemplary achievements in service.
During the gala, which is sponsored by Target and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the Jefferson Awards Foundation will present awards to the top schools in its Students In Action program as well as award more than 50 local Jefferson Awards winners who have made a difference in their individual communities nationwide.
“Our mission at the Jefferson Awards Foundation is to recognize and celebrate outstanding achievement in public service. A testament to this mission, we are honored to recognize these amazing individuals and organizations for their incredible work in service,” said Hillary Schafer, Executive Director of The Jefferson Awards Foundation. “We continue to believe in, and activate their causes and look forward to sharing impact on a national level through our ceremony.”
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will receive the U.S. Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official at the ceremony for her continued dedication and concern for fair process in the criminal justice system, calls for reform of the criminal justice system and dissents on issues of race, gender and ethnic identity. Previous recipients of the award include: former Arizona politician Gabrielle Giffords, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and politician and sociologist Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
The Kid President team, consisting of Brad Montague and Robby Novak, will be awarded the award for Outstanding Service by an Individual 25 or Under. Through their work, Robby and Brad hope to foster creativity and compassion in young people while making the internet a more joyful place. Previous recipients of the 25 or Under award include 2015 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Patrick Ip and Vision For and From Kids founder Lillian Pravda.
Philanthropist and social entrepreneur Jeff Skoll will be presented with the S. Roger Horchow Award for Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen. Skoll created the Skoll Foundation in order to bring to life his vision of a sustainable world of peace and prosperity. He will join the ranks of previous recipients of this award including comedian Bob Hope, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and founder of DonorsChoose.org Charles Best.
Lauren Bush Lauren will be presented with the Samuel S. Beard Award for Greatest Public Service by an Individual 35 or Under for co-founding FEED, a social business which donates a portion of each sale to feed children around the world, through giving partners such as the United Nations World Food Programme, UNICEF and Feeding America. This award has been given to politician Bobby Jindal and football player Peyton Manning in past years.
Laysha Ward, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer of Target, will be present to accept the award for Outstanding Service by a Major Corporation for Target. The Jefferson Awards Foundation continues to recognize Target for its commitment to integrate corporate citizenship into its daily operations, with direct responsibility for sustainability, diversity and inclusion, service and philanthropy and other key reputational strategies.
About the Jefferson Awards The Jefferson Awards Foundation (JAF) is the country’s longest standing and most prestigious organization dedicated to activating and celebrating public service. Through its programs, JAF trains and empowers individuals to serve and lead in their communities, amplifying their impact through the organizations vast network of media partners, mentors and volunteers. To learn more about the Jefferson Awards Foundation, visit: JeffersonAwards.orgor engage on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Marc Freedman of Encore.org just penned “How to Make the Most of Longer Lives” in the Wall Street Journal. “As thousands of baby boomers each day surge into their 60s and 70s, it’s time to focus on enriching lives, not just lengthening them; on providing purpose and productivity, not just perpetuity,” he writes. He then goes into detail about six ways society can do this. My favorite? “Design schools for second half of life.”
“Nearly 50 years ago, we pioneered lifelong learning for seniors—a notable advance, but let’s face it: All too often these programs are great for mental stimulation but ill-suited to launching individuals into new life chapters,” Marc writes. “Catching up on the Renaissance masters or mapping your family’s genealogy can take you only so far.”
In today’s world, roughly half a billion people live on less than 75 cents a day. These are the ultrapoor—people who live in “a trap so deep, [they] can’t take advantage of ways to improve their lives.” A New York Times Fixes column, Upward Mobility for the World’s Destitute, explores programs that help the destitute “graduate” from poverty and features Skoll Awardee Fundación Capital’s innovative approach to addressing the needs of the ultrapoor.
“Even though graduation programs are a good investment, their expense is a major barrier to growth. Is there a low-touch version that succeeds? Fundación Capital, an organization based in Bogotá, Colombia, is testing just that. In several Latin American countries, Fundación Capital is giving participants cash instead of an animal or stock of goods… Tatiana Rincón, who directs the economic citizenship program, said that almost all clients make good use of the money. One client, she said, bought plastic chairs in the central market and sold them in her village at a 50 percent markup. In less than three months she had tripled the sum she was given. Another bought a portable washing machine and took it to people’s houses, renting it out for the day.
“The organization is also drastically cutting down on visits to participants. Instead, they give families digital tablets preloaded with lessons — for example, videos of program families talking about what saving money did for them, or interactive games that teach bookkeeping… Now, Fundación Capital is starting a test with no facilitators at all, only tablet instruction.
“…The other innovation is that Fundación Capital is working with governments. In Colombia, for example, a graduation program has been made a central part of the government’s strategy to fight rural poverty. This year 10,000 families are participating, and Colombia aims to include 40,000 by four years from now.”
Read more about what Fundación Capital and others are doing to address extreme poverty here.
Cecilia Flores-Oebanda and some of her children were jailed for four years for fighting against the Marcos regime of the Philippines. (Former President Ferdinand Marcos was removed from power in 1986). Her organization, which helps stop human trafficking in the Philippines, was “strained and challenged” two years ago.
But she made it through. And she learned a lot. And today, she’s sharing those lessons with other social entrepreneurs.
“I thought life was in prison was the worst life,” she shared during the “Down is not Defeated” panel at the 2015 Skoll World Forum. “But after I began working with women and children, I realized my life in prison was nothing compared to what they endure.”
Here are 5 learnings from Cecelia:
Don’t lose your endurance. “Fighting slave traders is a game of endurance. I am a very stubborn person and don’t run in a fight.”
Stay inspired. “The children that I serve are the air that I breathe. I am energized by them, and become more proactive and strategic because I need to ‘gather the troops’ to support our fight. Otherwise, I am alone, and traffickers can easily kill you.”
Know your weaknesses. “I am very honest with myself. I know what I am capable of—and not capable of—and that makes me more humble and grounded.
Don’t lose sight of the larger goal. “I am always focused on the big goal: freedom. That the day will come that Filipino women, men and children will be free to explore opportunity without the fear and risk of being sold and enslaved. That gives me hope.”
Your employees are not a family that you manage. “Sometimes my professional relationships suffer with my staff because I have personal relationships with them. I want everybody to be happy, but that also has a negative impact. Invest in a system within the organization. You need transparency and structure.”
In a new feature about 2015 Skoll Awardee and “China’s most well-known environmentalist” Ma Jun, he tells The Guardian:
After decades of growth at all costs, Ma says China is now at a tipping point. “The development and growth model of the last 35 years has been increasingly dependent on energy and pollution-intensive industries, but how can we go on growing all these sectors every year with double digits?
“I think its time to change and balance the environment and growth. If we don’t do that we’re going to suffer a hard landing one day very soon,” says Ma.
China’s leadership has promised a “war on pollution” to regain public trust, but it is the decisions of local government officials, says Ma, that dictate what action, if any, is taken against major polluters.
In a recent Huffington Post blog Skoll Awardee Jeremy Hockenstein—co-founder and CEO of Digital Divide Data (DDD)—posits, “Nowadays, almost every major company and institution outsources business processes offshore. Imagine the social impact if each of these companies directed just 5 percent of that spend toward socially targeted outsourcing?”
Impact sourcing is “outsourcing that benefits disadvantaged individuals in low employment areas.” Hockenstein explains that Impact Sourcing has come a long way since its humble beginnings only some years ago; now “an estimated 10 percent of the total BPO global employed workforce works in Impact Sourcing—and the number is growing.” He explores the many reasons why Impact Sourcing is becoming mainstream:
“Part of this development is driven by the growing demand for competitively priced outsourced service. As buyers search for new labor markets beyond traditional sourcing destinations such as India and the Philippines, there has been tremendous growth of outsourcing to non-traditional markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Most important, Impact Sourcing has demonstrated evidence of positive business and social impact.
“By accessing a qualified, trained, untapped talent pool with skill sets aligned to match client needs, Impact Sourcing performs on par with traditional BPO [business process outsourcing] companies. In addition, impact workers are stable and highly motivated. [Research] has shown that attrition among [Impact Sourcing Service Providers] are 15-40 percent lower compared to traditional BPOs. Impact workers stay because they feel loyal towards the employer that helped train, provide employment, and in the case of DDD, educate them. … The outcome is better quality work, especially over the long term.”
In the Spring issue of the Professional Outsourcing Magazine, DDD Marketing Manager Christina Gossmann describes the benefits of socially responsible outsourcing, which can leave a lasting effect on the communities in which suppliers work. “In recent years[,] Impact Sourcing has increased in scale and quality to become a commercially viable market solution,” she explains.
Gossman explores how the model of Impact Sourcing provides quality and cost at parity with traditional BPO services, but with enhancements that extend into both the business and social realms. In addition to the lower attrition rates, sourcing from new geographic markets increases resource flexibility and reduces risk, and Impact Sourcing’s local presence can serve as a gateway to strengthen companies’ brand image and ultimately increase sales in those geographies.
Looking through the lens of the social realm, Impact Sourcing is also an impactful way to leverage the $300 billion outsourcing industry for good. Youth unemployment is one of the most critical global development challenges of today, and Impact Sourcing “enables these young people to acquire valuable technical and soft skills that prepare them to succeed in professional environments – in the Impact Sourcing industry and others.”
Learn more about the benefits of Impact Sourcing, DDD’s incorporation of education, and the integration of impact sourcing here.
With all those benefits, it’s no wonder Impact Sourcing is transforming the BPO sector. And now, the front-page headline of PULSE Magazine from IAOP—the premiere industry association in the sector—declares: “Impact Sourcing is the New Norm.”
The equilibrium change that DDD has been working to create has started to become a new standard.
Read about this important systemic shift in the current PULSE Magazine issue, available here. You can learn more about DDD and impact sourcing in the video below.
Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth have together divested their fossil fuel investments. Employee retirement plans at both organizations are now free of fossil fuel holdings and previous holdings have been replaced with climate friendly investments. Read more here.
The Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI) released its 2014 Milestone Report, announcing the collective impact of nearly 1,000 hospitals across the country that reduced their environmental footprint, lowered costs and improved the health of patients and staff. Read the details here.
In India, a country with more than 3 million girls out of school, Skoll Awardee organization Educate Girls trains young people to go into villages to find girls who are not in school and help get them back into the classroom. These young volunteers — both young women and young men — engage village leaders and community members to increase appreciation of and demand for girls’ education.
Boys campaigning for girls’ education is not common in most parts of the world but in India’s Rajasthan state they are at the heart of a drive to get more girls into schools.
…Some 60 percent of Educate Girls’ 4,500 volunteers are boys, founder and executive director Safeena Husain told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“Having these boys as champions for the girls is absolutely at the core of what we’re trying to achieve,” Husain said in an interview.
…Educate Girls’ approach to is to define hotspots where many girls are out of school, often in remote rural or tribal areas, and then deploy its volunteers to bring them back into the classroom, said Husain.
At the recent Skoll World Forum, Jim sat down with Morgan Clendaniel, founding editor of Co.Exist (Fast Company’s innovation site), to share how to get media coverage. We covered excellent media-pitching tips from Morgan on the Skoll World Forum Online, which you can read here.
Today, we’re sharing nuggets from Jim’s experiences. We hope they inspire you!
“I’m a geek from Silicon Valley who writes software for disabled people and human rights groups,” Jim said at the start of the discussion, while introducing himself as moderator. “We’ve done press relations badly, and sometimes, well.”
Some insights from Jim:
Use different social media channels for different needs. “We run a web site that serves 350,000 students in the U.S. and we reach them through Facebook. When we are talking to journalists, we are doing it in Twitter. Our press releases are blog posts that we Tweet out and we reach narrow audiences. I will send a blog post to a congressional staffer or a donor.”
Share a story, not your model. “A lot of social entrepreneurs are proud of what we do, but the average person is very non-interested in our novel hybrid financing structure. They want to know, some young girl whose life was completely transformed by your intervention. That is the hook. Journalists want to know there is something real behind that, that this isn’t the one cherry-picked story that is the exception to all the rules.”
Ask your partners how they want to be portrayed. An audience member who works with an organization serving the homeless asked about sharing “non stereotypical” photos of homeless people. “The disability field is very sensitive to this,” Jim replied. “It’s called the ‘Jerry’s Kids Phenomenon, let’s show people photos of really obviously visually disabled kids and make people feel terrible about them.’ Most of us in the social enterprise field have the same attitude you do. We don’t do charity to the communities we work with. We work in partnership for social change. So what we do with our partners, is, how do you want to be portrayed in the media? We do walk away from stories that say things like, ‘This person’s life, benighted by blindness.’ Time out! We are talking about empowerment here. I want to hear a story about how this blind person volunteered to help other blind people and it’s great.'”
Think about small, specialty publications. “For example, we want to reach special education teachers. If we send a press release to Special Education Member Network, they will publish it. That’s not ‘real journalism’ that you just published a press release, but it is reaching the audience and taking advantage of the network.”
Jim also shared how media can help in more ways than one. In response to an audience question about motive, Jim gave four answers: “More social impact, policy change, reach more donors, and reach the people I want to help.”
“We don’t have an advertising budget, usually. So, often, the media is a cost-effective way to reach the community we want to help. We serve disabled kids; I can’t take an ad out in the New York Times. But if I get someone to write a story about a disabled kid who they never thought would graduate from high school but now got into college, then another parent will say, ‘why isn’t my kid getting that service? It’s free.’ But because it’s free, I can’t advertise.
…More of our mission is first. Yes, we want more donors, but …there are better ways to reach donors than to get most stories. But, a Fast Company, a New York Times, donors do read those outlets and they will share stories. A story in your local newspaper might help get a local philanthropist.
A lot of us are engaged in policy. Politicians care deeply about how interested the electorate is in an issue. When the Internet was shut down over bad laws in the U.S., we were 88 out of 90 organizations fighting it, but we had a story on how this kind of law was going to hurt disabled kids and human rights groups, as opposed to Google and the like, so our little voice was an important voice.”
In Nepal, where handwoven carpets are the No. 1 export, Skoll Awardee GoodWeave has been tremendously affected. In a new Nonprofit Chronicles story, reporter Marc Gunther writes,”…All of this is a work in progress, and the Nepal earthquake is a reminder that the best-laid plans can be rocked, literally, by forces beyond anyone’s control. A GoodWeave day care center and an office have crumbled. A staff member lost his immediate family. If, in the years ahead, Nepal’s carpet industry collapses, much of the progress made by GoodWeave will be undone. ‘This industry is going to have to be rebuilt, sustainability,’ GoodWeave founding executive director Nina Smith says. ‘Otherwise the buyers are going to go elsewhere.’ That would be terrible not just for the children of Nepal, but for the entire nation.”
Gunther quotes Skoll Foundation President and CEO Sally Osberg and her “Getting Beyond Better” book coauthor:
“As Sally Osberg and Roger Martin, a foundation director, write in the current issue of the Harvard Business Review: ‘When enough consumers vote with their wallets, retailers and suppliers get the message—and entire systems are forever altered.’ It’s far from an easy solution, though, because it relies on consumers, retailers, suppliers and NGOs to do what governments ought to do–protect children. Try marketing that.”
The article also mentions GoodWeave’s short video, Stand with Sanju, which was Winner of a Stories of Change award from Skoll Foundation and Sundance. The three-minute video depicts the real and triumphant journey of an 11-year-old girl named Sanju.
After 20 years of diligent work, conservationists, human rights activists and indigenous communities are celebrating a massive achievement in southwest Colombia: the expansion of the Inga people’s Yunguillo Indigenous Reserve—an area of extraordinary cultural and environmental importance—from 10,675 to 55,341 acres (more than 85 square miles).
The Yunguillo Indigenous Reserve is home to many sacred sites for the Inga people, as well as many threatened species including spectacled bears and jaguars. The expansion also protects the headwaters of the Caquetá River—a major tributary of the Amazon River whose watershed covers 250,000 square kilometers.
The Tilinguera River runs next to the Inga community of Yunguillo and connects to the Caquetá River—one of the major tributaries of the Amazon River. Click to enlarge
The Executive Board of INCODER (the Colombian Institute for Rural Development) approved the expansion today. The decision represents important progress in the implementation of Constitutional Court decision No. 004 of 2009, which safeguards at-risk indigenous communities’ claim to their traditional lands. The Inga tribe of the region will now have increased protection and additional rights to their territory—an area increasingly threatened by mining concessions and other development projects.
“This represents a huge victory, not only for the Inga communities, but for the protection of one of the world’s most biodiverse areas,” said Liliana Madrigal, co-founder of the Amazon Conservation Team in Arlington, Virginia. “The expansion connects Doña Juana National Park (162,741 acres) and Serranía de los Churumbelos National Park and secures an important piece of the Andes-Amazon-Atlantic Corridor proposed by President Santos.”
Nydia Becerra Jacanamejoy, the governor of Yunguillo, expressed how this land is intricately tied to Inga identity and how the Inga are equipped to protect it.
School kids and teachers in the Inga community of Yunguillo. Click to enlarge
“We consider Mother Earth to be both the reason for our existence and our reason for surviving,” she said. “To use the land and its resources properly and respectfully, we observe the traditions passed down over generations. We maintain our identity by maintaining these traditions, while adapting to new conditions in order to protect our territory. We do not believe that identity is possible without territory or that we can protect these lands without a strong sense of collective identity.”
This important achievement is the result of coordinated efforts by the Inga community of Yunguillo, its four communal councils (Osococha, San Carlos, Tandarido and Yunguillo), INCODER, regional indigenous organizations including OZIP, and the Amazon Conservation Team. Thanks to efforts by these groups, the Inga community preemptively developed a plan for territorial management in the expanded reserve. Yesterday, they put this plan into action.
The Guardian reports on Blue Ventures and its radical approach to conservationism. Al Harris, a 2015 Skoll Awardee, explains how creating closures can help revive local fish stocks. The story begins with the Vezo people of southwest Madagascar, whose coastal fishing villages were struggling to sustain themselves.
Unsurprisingly, the villagers [had] mixed feelings when Blue Ventures suggested closing one of their fishing grounds. Nevertheless, they agreed to a trial closure for a few months in 2004. “When we opened it they caught 1,200kg of octopus in one day,” recalls Gildas Andriamalala, who joined the project as a student researcher. “We invited people from 20 villages just to see it … to show the community that if they look after their resources they will benefit.”
…Blue Ventures has gone on to become a globally influential community conservation program. Coastal communities in Madagascar quickly took up the model and the country now boasts hundreds of these marine areas that are monitored and protected by local people. “Today you’ve got in excess of 11% of Madagascar’s coastline under local protection,” says Harris, “which is extraordinary for one of the poorest countries in the world.”
…Harris believes that marine conservation can only be sustainably enacted by working closely with those who depend on the sea, helping them to recognize the importance of conservation at a human level.
The model has since been replicated in neighboring countries and the local people of fishing villages in Madagascar have “set a humbling global example.”