Inspirational talks from TED

TED is not a person.

Don’t worry I made the same mistake the first time too, thinking

Wow, this TED guy is really smart and gives some really thought provoking speeches. How come I haven’t heard of him before?

And even though the person giving the talk was always different, it never really occurred to me that TED was in fact not a person, but an organization.

One that is determined to create ideas worth spreading.

TED – the organization

Founded by Richard Saul Wurman and Harry Marks in 1984, TED started out as a conference bringing people together from three disciplines: Technology, Entertainment and Design.

Since 1990, the conference has been held annually in Long Beach and Palm Springs (USA) and has recently expanded to a TEDGlobal conference in Oxford, UK.

In these conferences, some of the most remarkable thinkers (scientists, professors, leaders, etc) in the world would get up on stage and give some of the Read more…

A kickstarter for your creative project

So let’s say you are an artist.

A film maker, musician, perhaps a designer, a writer, or an illustrator. Or maybe a performer, curator, promoter or even an explorer and you’re looking for a way to not only get your project funded but be motivated by others to get it off the ground and running.

What would you do? Where would you go for help?

How about if you’re a person who just enjoys supporting other people’s creative efforts.  You’d love to fund their ambitious, yet passionate endeavors and you like the thought that your contribution will actually help initiate their project. Since you’re not expecting anything, you consider it a bonus that you will actually receive something in return directly from the creator of the project for engaging your (financial) pledge.

Here’s a thought – How about looking at Kickstarter, website that allows people to fund and follow creativity.

This is how it works: Read more…

Get off your butt: DoSomething.org

They walk among us.

We all know one. We admire their tenacity, their determination and their leadership abilities. They amaze us with their capacity to make informed, mature decisions. Their passionate desire to make the world a better place to live is truly inspirational. The agents of change I am talking about are not heads of state, corporate CEO’s or even executive director’s multi-national charitable organizations.

They are teenagers.

I consider myself very lucky to have one such teenager in my family. My cousin Mallory and her friends believe that they can make a difference in their community and they aren’t letting anyone stop them from helping those in need. From organizing winter clothing drives to anti-bullying campaigns, these girls are taking charge and showing adults, including myself, just how it’s done. They shatter the stereotype of disengaged teenagers who are selfish and uncaring. And they are not alone. There are Read more…

Kiva: Loans that are changing lives

Buying a Car? A house? Starting up a business? Need money for college? I could go on but whatever the reason is, you’re in a situation where you need a loan. You’re looking for a bank to lend you a helping hand and in exchange you will pay them back (in installments) the full amount, plus interest.

Seems like a pretty normal situation.

However, what if that bank was you? What if poor students and entrepreneurs from across the world told you why they needed a loan, how it would help them and were willing to pay you back (with interest)?

Seems like an interesting concept?

Well, that’s exactly what Kiva.org is – a crowd-sourced micro-lending website/platform service that allows individuals (like you and I) to lend money to extremely low income students and entrepreneurs across the globe.

Crowd-sourced micro-lending?

This is the source of how Kiva operates and it’s basically a group of people contributing Read more…

Acumen Fund: Investments not Grants, Building Business Models to Solve the World’s Problems

This story begins with Jacqueline Novogratz’s favourite blue sweater…

Jacqueline Novogratz: Founder of Acumen Fund

And so this amazing tale inspired Jacqueline’s ambitious venture into social good with her creation of Acumen Fund: an organization dedicated to investing in social entrepreneurs and enterprises focused on providing critical goods to the world’s poor.

Investing Patient Capital in Social Entrepreneurs

By using the idea of patient capital (where investors are willing to make a financial investment in a business with no expectation of turning a quick profit) and investing this into people trying to solve vital problems for the poor in their region, this essentially creates a system that combines both businesses (whose bottom line is profit) and philanthropy (a focus on creating a positive impact on society), ultimately breaking the cycle of poverty.

Since a social entrepreneur’s model is based on not one but three bottom lines – People (society), Planet (the environment) & Profit Read more…

FiveByTwenty: Coca-Cola’s Pledge to Empower Women

When I say ‘Coca-Cola’s reputation’, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

Coca-Cola may not have the greatest reputation for its business practices around the world, but for thousands of women in many developing countries, the Company’s business decisions aren’t looking so unjust!

When It All Started

At the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative Meeting in New York City, Coca-Cola’s CEO Muhtar Kent announced the Company’s FiveByTwenty project – their pledge to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs in the developing world by 2020. The idea is to integrate profit-making with local community support, not through charity, but through innovative and inclusive business models. For women entrepreneurs around the world, this means access to the skills training, small-business loans and professional networks that are crucial to the prospect of a bright future for themselves and their families.

By 2020, The Coca-Cola Company aims to partner with civil society and other private sector actors Read more…

Krochet Kids: Knitting the Fabric of a Society

Quick question: “When you buy a winter hat, where does your money go?”

Hold on to that thought and feast on the countless possibilities while you read on.

Winter is coming.

You can just tell by breathing in the morning air. And I guess I am lucky enough to be able to say that, living in St. John’s, Newfoundland, by far one of the cleanest cities in Canada. Along with winter comes the obvious shift in fashion. Out with the shorts and in with the jackets. The bandanas make way for scarves and toques.

Speaking of which…

I reached into my closet and pulled out my hat bin. You see, I’m a cap/hat/toque lover. (For those of you who think I’m talking gibberish when I keep saying the word ‘toque’, a toque is the Canadian equivalent of a knit winter hat. A beanie if you may.)

As I pulled out the storied heroes of past winters Read more…

empowHer: Hope Through Empowerment

Nigeria is often a country that creates news because of its vast oil fields.  There have been countless negative effects from being one of the world’s largest oil producers.  Few Nigerians actually reap the benefits from being such an oil rich country while limitless violence and corruption haunts the Niger delta.

Last year I met Brittany Atchison in Rwanda.  After our human rights delegation in Kigali, she was going to Nigeria for nine months. I knew that she was going to learn and gain immeasurable life experiences but I didn’t know what a powerful impact she would have on the north-eastern community of Jalingo.

Brittany and her Nigerian counterparts, Hannatu Robinson and Yusuf Jatutu, with the assistance of a 20 year partnership between the Iowa United Methodist Church and the United Methodist Church of Nigeria, started EmpowHER – a microfinance initiative that supports women to start their own businesses.

A little hope Read more…