There is no better way to open an Awards Ceremony than with the Soweto Gospel Choir dancing down the aisles.
So began the 2015 Skoll Awards Ceremony.
Yesterday, Skoll Foundation President and CEO Sally Osberg led the community on a journey, back 800 years, to the Magna Carta. This charter for personal liberties “stoked the early embers of freedom,” and the blaze caught around the world. As Sally said, “Then, as now, the driving force for change was the quintessentially human drive to set things right.” We saw this drive in each of the four 2015 Skoll Awardees.
Jagdeesh Rao Puppala demonstrated how the work of the Foundation for Ecological Security is about much more than simply helping people manage their forests, pastures, and water. Even skeptics within villages came to see the value of Commons—a farmer found that improved vegetation in the Commons led to better crop productivity in his own land; a widower’s daughter was able to use the fodder from the village pasture to feed the family bulls, freeing up hours of every day and allowing her to go back to school. “What we saw as a simple planting of trees was a larger story of how people connected economically, socially, and emotionally to the Commons,” he said.
Alasdair Harris introduced us to the “not-so-small-scale” fishers, the millions of people living along coasts who depend on fisheries for survival. With fish stocks collapsing and where people have no alternative to fishing, people are struggling to find enough to survive. Blue Ventures works with communities to show how taking less from the ocean can actually lead to more, catalyzing locals to protect their own seas. “When sustainable fisheries make real sense for this not-so-small-scale sector, we have a hope of putting conservation in the hands of those with the greatest interest in its success,” he told the crowd.
Safeena Husain shared the story of a Padma, a young woman whose life was transformed when, after escaping an abusive marriage as a girl, she returned to school and ultimately became one the most educated people in her village. Today, Padma works to get girls back to school.
“Padma is an Educate Girls Team Balika, a community volunteer who is shifting the equilibrium in favor of girls’ education,” she said. She is just one of the 4,600 Team Balika members throughout India, working to unlock the transformative power of girls’ education. These passionate catalysts enrolled 80,000 out-of-school girls last year alone, changing norms and convincing villages about the incredible merits of educating girls.
Ma Jun described how pollution in China has reached such a magnitude that it cannot be addressed without extensive public participation. The Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs works to provide citizens with tools to put pressure on major polluters.
IPE’s innovative Blue Map app enables users to access and tweet the records of emitters. This “micro-reporting” has motivated hundreds of major coal and industrial power plants to respond—and the app has now topped 3 million downloads. With such engagement and momentum, Ma Jun looks to expand IPE’s operations and amplify its impact.
The next recognition was for the Skoll Global Treasure Award. Jeff Skoll honored Graça Machel, “a hero to people all over the world, whose life story is a testament to the power of radical thinking.” Driven by the idea that all people have a right to dignity, Mrs. Machel is a renowned international advocate for women and children’s rights.
In a conversation with Camfed founder Ann Cotton, Mrs. Machel explained how justice and human dignity are the threads in her life. Upon seeing the suffering of children in Mozambique and around the world, the protection of children came as a call to amplify their voices. “No one is voiceless. The difference is not everyone has a platform where their voice can be heard.” She told a story about an experience in Tanzania, where after a meeting on FGM and child marriage in the community, a group of girls presented her with a gift. “I’m worried about them, and they come and give me a gift. These children are not giving up, so who am I to give up?”
Graca Machel captured a sentiment that underlies so much of the Skoll World Forum. As Sally Osberg closed, she reminded us that the choices we make and refuse to make will keep us accountable for years to come—and that is what drives us to make the world better.
The Skoll World Forum is coming up very soon (in fact, most of the Skoll Foundation staff is heading to Oxford this week!) so here are some highlights from 16 new articles inspired by sessions at the 2015 Forum:
Cecilia Flores-Oebanda is speaking on the April 16 panel, Down is Not Defeated, about how to overcome adversity. Flores-Oebanda, who is the founder of Visayan Forum Foundation, writes, “I gave birth in the mountains but had to be separated from my son. I saw my friends and colleagues brutally murdered while I was pregnant with my second child. My son, Kip, whose name means “captured”, spent his early childhood in prison. My daughter, who was also born in prison, is named Malaya, which means “freedom.”
Congratulations, Camfed! Last night in Paris, Camfed was recognized by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Here’s more, from their announcement:
Camfed is being recognized as a model of best practice in taking innovation to scale by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD.
“This is a tribute that we greatly value – to be recognized as having a model that can be successfully scaled,” said Lucy Lake, CEO of Camfed. “We are committed to ensuring that vulnerable girls across the globe secure their right to education in view of the huge benefits that this will unlock.”
Camfed’s programme currently extends across five African countries, 116 districts and 5,000 schools. Last year alone this programme benefitted 2.2 million children, including 105,000 girls receiving bursaries to complete their secondary education. read more
One of the most exciting announcements at today’s Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting was by Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Chelsea Clinton and Julia Gillard, who announced a collaboration of more than 30 groups to improve learning and leadership opportunities for young women and girls. Two of these organizations are Skoll Awardees Room to Read and Camfed.
This collective effort, CHARGE – Collaborative for Harnessing Ambition and Resources for Girls’ Education – has committed over $600 million dollars to reach 14 million girls over five years. Camfed will spend $100 million to help marginalized girls in sub-Saharan Africa complete secondary school and transition to secure livelihoods. And Room to Read will invest $12 million to serve an additional 15,000 girls in nine countries to ensure that girls transition to secondary school and then from school to the workforce or higher education.
Camfed today announced our goal to support one million girls through their secondary school education and into successful, secure livelihoods.
“Our goal is to reach marginalized and excluded girls in rural communities in sub Saharan Africa and support them to complete a full cycle of secondary education,” said Lucy Lake, CEO of Camfed. “Our commitment to these students doesn’t end with graduation. We will work with them and support them to move forward from school into economic independence and positions of leadership. We are excited to sign up for this Commitment,” said Lake. “This is an ambitious undertaking that will multiply opportunities for girls and young women in rural areas of Africa.”
In addition to Camfed’s own announcement, Pearson, in partnership with Camfed, committed to offering Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) qualifications to 5,000 Camfed Learner Guides in Ghana, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The 5,000 Learner Guides are young women school graduates who will return to school to teach and guide more than 150,000 girls to improve their attendance, retention and education in secondary school. Through the BTEC, a transferable vocational qualification, Learner Guides will acquire an important, internationally benchmarked qualification that provides a stepping stone into formal higher education and teacher training.
Camfed and the MasterCard Foundation Publish “When You Educate a Girl, Everything Changes”, Collection of Stories Charting the Journeys and Aspirations of Scholars in Ghana
Camfed (Campaign for Female Education), an international nonprofit organization that invests in the education of girls in rural Africa, announced that today, Founder and President Ann Cotton joined an esteemed panel of experts in Washington, D.C. to address the expansion of education, health and economic access in Africa. The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit was hosted by the White House, the George W. Bush Institute and the U.S. State Department.
First Ladies from nearly 30 countries joined Michelle Obama and Laura Bush to share success stories and identify actionable solutions to the challenges women and girls face in Africa.
“It is a great honor to participate in this Summit,” said Cotton. “For more than 20 years, Camfed has supported a generation of African girls and women with access to secondary and higher education, employment opportunities and, ultimately, into positions of leadership. I was asked to share our experiences and discuss ways to replicate Camfed’s success in rural Africa in many more locations.”
Camfed and The MasterCard Foundation are also excited to announce the publication of “When you educate a girl, everything changes”, a book which profiles MasterCard Foundation Scholars in Ghana supported by Camfed. The Scholars share the challenges they have faced in securing their education and their hopes for the future. read more
As part of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit today, the Office of the First Lady, the George W. Bush Institute, and the U.S. Department of State are hosting a day-long forum focused on the impact of investments in education, health, and public-private partnerships. Camfed Founder and President Ann Cotton was just on a panel called “Education: Creating Opportunities and Investing in the Next Generation of Women Leaders.”
Ruka Yaro De-Liman, a leader of the Camfed Alumnae in Ghana and an Innovation Bursary Scholar, has been awarded $25,000 at the Presidential Summit in Washington DC. This week’s Summit was the final highlight of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. Twenty-seven year old Ruka was one of the 500 Mandela Washington Fellows selected from 50,000 applicants in recognition of her entrepreneurship and community activism, and one of just 36 to receive an Award.
Through Camfed’s partnership with The MasterCard Foundation to support young female entrepreneurs in Ghana, Ruka launched her agriculture and poultry business. Ruka’s vision for Jamilullah Farm Enterprise is in her words, “to become the leading producer of wholesome meat and quality eggs in West Africa and create jobs for thousands of young people on the continent”.
At the Summit, President Obama, Michelle Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry paid tribute to the Fellows and their extraordinary promise as an emerging generation of African leaders. The First Lady spoke to them about major challenges, including girls’ education:….“across the globe, the statistics on this issue are heartbreaking. Right now, 62 million girls worldwide are not in school, including nearly 30 million girls in Sub-Saharan Africa…. And, as my husband said earlier this week, we know that when girls aren’t educated, that doesn’t just limit their prospects, leaving them more vulnerable to poverty, violence and disease, it limits the prospects of their families and their countries as well.” read more
Yesterday, the UK hosted the first Girl Summit, aimed at mobilizing domestic and international efforts to end female genital cutting (FGC) and child, early and forced marriage within a generation. UNICEF co-hosted the event and said prevalence of child marriage is decreasing “slightly” but that population growth means the number of young brides could remain stagnant.
A recent Nick Kristof column about the plight of the kidnapped Nigerian girls brought to light how readers can help support girls’ education there and around the world. First Lady Michelle Obama, like Kristof, mentioned Skoll Awardee Malala Yousafzai this weekend (listen to her Mother’s Day Address).
“…That’s when a nonprofit called the Campaign for Female Education, or Camfed, came along and helped pay for Angeline to stay in school. She did brilliantly in high school and is now the regional director for Camfed, in charge of helping impoverished girls get to school in four African countries. She’s paying it forward. Educating girls and empowering women are also tasks that are, by global standards, relatively doable. We spend billions of dollars on intelligence collection, counterterrorism and military interventions, even though they have a quite mixed record. By comparison, educating girls is an underfunded cause even though it’s more straightforward. Readers often feel helpless, unable to make a difference. But it was a grass-roots movement starting in Nigeria that grabbed attention and held leaders accountable to address it. Nigeria’s leaders perhaps now realize that they must protect not only oil wells but an even greater treasure: the nation’s students. Likewise, any of us can stick it to Boko Haram by helping to educate a girl. A $40 gift at Camfed.org buys a uniform so that a girl can go to school.”
CEO Sally Osberg mentions eight Skoll awardees as examples of how social entrepreneurs are delivering new solutions to global problems in her latest op-ed. An excerpt:
“Imagine that you are a mother living in a village in rural Gambia. At least one of your eight children will probably die before reaching the age of five. It doesn’t matter that there are vaccines or treatments for the disease that will take your child—measles, hepatitis, diarrhea, or perhaps HIV. What you know is that it’s a ten-kilometer walk to the health clinic. When you arrive, you’re likely to find a sign saying the nurse couldn’t get there that day.
Andrea and Barry Coleman, stars in the world of motorcycle racing, saw the problem when they went to Africa to support the work of children’s charities. It wasn’t lack of medicine or healthcare workers. Rather, what was missing were the parts, mechanics, and maintenance for vehicles taking workers and supplies to villages and clinics. The couple wept over wasted vehicles rusting behind health-ministry offices, then returned home and mortgaged their house to found Riders for Health, a reliable, scalable vehicle-maintenance system for healthcare delivery.
The story of Riders for Health is a story of social entrepreneurship.”
Many Skoll awardees work with women and girls, so we thought we’d share some of their public letters and videos today, International Women’s Day. Above, you can see Tostan’s video from Women’s Day last year, and they will soon post their new one from today.
“Social entrepreneurs see possibility where others see problems. They are unapologetically ambitious, setting their sights not just on incremental improvements but on systems-level transformation. And to achieve their audacious ends, social entrepreneurs enroll those most vested in that transformation — people oppressed, marginalised, or constrained by an existing reality.”
Those are Skoll Foundation CEO Sally Osberg’s words in This is Africa, a new publication from the Financial Times that “seeks to examine African business and politics in a global context and to make sense of the relationships that Africa is building with the rest of the world.” read more
I spent last week in Ghana with Camfed, learning more about the return on investment to girls’ education and young women’s economic empowerment. On a hot afternoon near Tamale, as both we and our food melted, our group joked about the fancy word deliquescent, which we collectively defined as the scrumptious state of your Oreo cookie turned to mush in milk (or an English digestive biscuit which has absorbed your afternoon tea, said our British contingent!).
What happens, though, when WORDS deliquesce? Answer: the same thing. Original meaning dissolves into watered-down mush. Sustainability, anyone? Choose your meaning. In the environment sphere, we criticize how “greenwashing” and nominal CSR activities undermine genuine sustainability efforts of corporate leaders, such as those engaged in Ceres’company network. Well Greenwashing, meet your new friend: Powerwashing.
In international development, phrases associated with tenets of sustainable development, such as “community empowerment” and “stakeholder engagement,” have joined the list of jargon. Recent research funded by donors such as DFID is confirming that What Works in Girls Education in Ghana is a model that holds true to these principles. But not the watered-down, deliquescent version of these terms. To reclaim meaning from jargon, these words must define evidence of genuine power transfer.
Which is why visiting Ghana was energizing last week. Camfed believes that successfully supporting an individual girl means investing in the structures—community, school, government– that support her, and I saw power in communities. How do you see a new vector of power that centers on investing in girls’ education? I saw it as I thanked a Ghanian chief for permission to visit his village, and he shared a guinea fowl and yams with the Camfed team. It may seem simple, but support from a traditional leader for girls’ education is anything but in a culture where development firm Coffey reports “massive inequalities in educational outcomes remain, especially between rich and poor, north and south, and girls and boys… By the time children reach secondary school, inequalities are particularly apparent. For example, only 3% of girls from the poorest 20% of the population complete Senior High School, compared to 88% of girls from the richest 20%.”
Too often, development practitioners have an agenda to impose on communities, and convenings center on informing rather than listening to citizens. Camfed approaches development as a social change process. And it works. Because for Camfed, “community empowerment” is not an afternoon workshop to check the box on “stakeholder engagement.” Communities have decision making power (which girls are neediest in this village? Who should represent the community at the District level?) over their own investment in girls and young women. Men don’t have to lose power for women to gain it; real development is accretive and advances the interests of both men and women or it will not be sustainable.
But it can’t ignore differences. I was grateful to a young woman for sharing her perspective with me about why Camfed’s financial literacy curriculum in Ghana should include a module on reproductive health. Again, as she explained it, it seemed obvious that money and sex are related—that truth is not limited to geographies of rural poverty! Girls often need to negotiate control of their own bodies, and talking about topics from family planning to HIV/AIDS in the context of financial literacy can be powerful: “You can manage your finances, but if you don’t manage your family size it will in the long run affect your finances. So we talk about family planning,” she shared. In fact, girls expressed desire for more access to information on reproductive health.
Camfed’s approach represents an alternative development paradigm. And, thanks to amazing research and documentation of key principles by Linklaters, it’s open source. From traditional tribal leaders to elected officials, from mothers to fathers, from teachers to alumni: power is shared. Camfed is a conduit for resources and sees itself accountable, together with the community, to the client they jointly serve: the girl. There’s nothing mushy about that.
Read more about Camfed’s work in Ghana and learn about similar results in Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe here.
A powerful story in The Guardian shows the impact of Skoll Awardee Camfed in Ghana. The piece focuses on the poor education that many children get, leading them no closer to great careers – and how Camfed solves that. An excerpt:
“Camfed – which has provided funding for more than 66,000 children to attend primary and secondary school in Ghana since 1998 – believes it has found a way to supplement the poor quality education on offer in state-run schools. In 2002 it created a Ghana ‘Cama network’ of Camfed alumni, which brings together young women who have graduated with its support.”
Skoll Foundation CEO Sally Osberg just spoke powerfully at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual meeting. Acumen Fund’s Jacqueline Novogratz said afterward: “Sally, that really was spectacular.” Afteward, Sally was swarmed with accolades from people.
So what did she say?
Here are some of the most favorite quotes (based on the wide applause in the room!)
“If we are going to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems, we need social entrepreneurs. We need their disruption.” [She then gave a detailed example of this in Riders for Health‘s work].”
“We need the discipline of social entrepreneurs. They are accountable to those they serve and to those who are making a difference.” [She gave the example of Camfed and its governance model].
“We need the drive of social entrepreneurs.” [She shared how the Marine Stewardship Council only grew to scale when they hired a social entrepreneur to run it].
“It’s not that we don’t need business. It’s not that we don’t need governments. It’s not that we don’t need big NGOs. We need the disruption, discipline, and drive of social entrepreneurs.”
Her second loud applause was when she mentioned the The Global Social Progress Initiative, or GSPI, which will create and widely disseminate measurement tools that encourage countries to assess their social performance over time and focus the attention of leaders and social investors on those areas that will most effectively improve well-being. “There is a lot that can be measured in this world,” Osberg said, “and if we want to be making a difference, we need this information in a readily transparent way. We hope this will be a powerful tool for us all.”
We are loving this piece on Camfed, which says what the organization does — investing in girls education– is not unusual. But, “it is how it does it that makes the difference – and after 20 years working in rural Africa it can show that its unique model prompts transformational changes even in the most disadvantaged areas on earth.”
For starters, Mr. Brooks cites coffee shops, universities and “a certain sort of conference” as fertile ground for bumping into “some of these wonderful young people who are doing good.” Big note to self: be sure to invite him to the Forum next year. Not only would this global community of 900 delegates welcome his savvy perspectives, he’d discover just how many social entrepreneurs are actually doing what he thinks they aren’t.
In his provocative piece, “Sam Spade at Starbucks,” Mr. Brooks attests to the appeal of the “refreshingly uncynical” women and men he considers social entrepreneurs. But they’re missing a big beat, he believes, by shunning government, and by thinking “they can evade politics” in their pursuit of social progress. Our experience at the Skoll Foundation suggests otherwise.
So, with all due respect, allow me to take up Mr. Brooks’ gauntlets.
Contrary to his concern that “you can cram all the nongovernmental organizations you want into a country, but if there is no rule of law… your achievements won’t add up to much,” in fact, many social entrepreneurs are directly and indirectly supporting the rule of law. Landesa, for example, a new addition to the Skoll Foundation portfolio, works with governments in 40 countries to transfer property rights, which ultimately bring food, income, and the opportunity to transcend poverty. In India, for example, a local state government worked with Landesa to educate women about their land rights and help them through the land-application process. Already, 100 women in that small area have their land titles. They are counted among the 105 million families who have received land rights because of Landesa’s government partnerships.
Mr. Brooks is concerned that social entrepreneurs have “little faith in the political process.” But a number of organizations work with a “healthy political process.” Camfed (the Campaign for Female Education) partners with the Zambian government to enforce child protection as a cornerstone of its education plan. (In Africa, it’s common for teachers to pressure their female students to have sex with them). Now, 1,500 schools have these plans in place. The real social progress? Experts agree the best way to bring lasting social benefits to a country is to expand educational and economic opportunities for girls. In total, Camfed has given grants to 60,000 girls to complete secondary school.
While Mr. Brooks thinks young activists are “not as good at thinking nationally and regionally,” Partners in Health (PIH) is doing just that, by partnering with the governments of Haiti and Rwanda to ensure sustainable access to first-class medical care. In Rwanda, the year-old Butaro Hospital is a collaboration between PIH and the Ministry of Health. It provides salary incentives and extensive training to healthcare workers. In Haiti, PIH will soon open Mirebalais Hospital, which former President Bill Clinton recently visited. PIH is also helping the Haitian Ministry of Health develop an immunization program to protect all Haitians against cholera, which has already killed more than 7,000 people. read more
$3.25 Million Grant Supports Hands-On, Expanded Learning Programs
Citizen Schools, a national non-profit that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for low-income students, today announced a $3.25 million dollar grant from Google.org to support its programs in 17 communities. More than 350 Google employees have volunteered with Citizen Schools since 2006, teaching nearly 100 hands-on courses called apprenticeships. Citizen Schools is one of several dozen organizations receiving grants from Google.org at the end of 2011. Other Skoll Awardees getting grants include GoodWeave, CAMFED, Afghan Institute of Learning and Free the Children.
Today at 2 p.m. GMT, Skoll Foundation CEO Sally Osberg answered questions in a live chat on the Bellagio Initiative web site. An excerpt:
Q: ‘Can bottom-up entrepreneurs help major international top-down corporations become more startup friendly?’ SO: Great question! Happily, social entrepreneurs are the answer…I want to underscore that social entrepreneurs partner with their stakeholders and communities; it’s their MO in fact…lots of folks think that social entrepreneurs are lone rangers, but they are anything but. Think of the “social” in social entrepreneur as not just describing the why and what–a status quo that leads to oppression, marginalization and victimization of human beings, communities and populations, the goal of social benefit and value, but also the “how,” a way of working with those served.