Recent stories

Developing Peace: Social Entrepreneurship in Troubled Regions

Starting a social enterprise in a region that has experienced genocide may be considered crazy by some and selfless by others. But few recognize that these regions can offer sound business opportunities that can benefit communities and catalyze positive development. Zachary Kaufman, author of Social Entrepreneurship in the Age of Atrocities, shares his experiences in helping found the first public library in Kigali, Rwanda.

Get Out in the Dusty Streets to Find Your Inner Super Hero

By seeing firsthand the problems caused by lack of access to electricity in rural Africa, Sameer Hajee has found the drive and empathy to take action. This unlocking of passion through real-life experience is common among many social entrepreneurs, quickly becoming a model that is being embraced by university programs. His story has helped me find my inner drive – can he help you to find yours?

Youth for Technology Foundation: Reinvigorating Rural Communities through Reverse Migration & Youth Empowerment

When Njideka Harry answers the phone, her voice is warm and smooth. As she begins to tell me about the foundation she started twelve years ago, her tone conveys both humility and confidence. Before long, it becomes clear that these qualities are a trademark; something embedded in the very fabric of her organization and passed on to the youth who come through the Youth for Technology Foundation’s programs in six developing countries across Africa and Latin America. (more…)

African Safari: Could China’s Hunt for Resources Possibly be a Boon?

“As my mother said, it’s important for a girl to have more than one suitor.”

Dambisa Moyo, economist and author of multiple New York Times Best-seller books, applies her mother’s maxim to Africa’s economic situation. For Moyo, the girl in the saying represents Africa. And amongst the many suitors clamouring for hand, is China. However, while China’s financial engagement in (sub-Saharan) Africa has strongly increased in the last few years, it has also become subject to widespread criticism, mostly by Western countries. For China, economic relations with Africa are of great significance.

iHub: Experiencing the Energy at Nairobi’s Innovative ICT Facility

20 doctoral researchers from around the world and faculty from renowned business schools  paid a visit to iHub, the innovative ICT hot spot located outside the city center of Nairobi, to discuss Kenya’s booming ICT sector. The visit was part of the oikos UNDP Young Scholars Academy in Nairobi. Opened in March 2010, iHub was a response to the post-election turmoil that rocked the country. Techies were using less than adequate Internet connections at cafes, on their phones, and wherever else they could connect. A need for space to share, network, and incubate was widely recognized, and iHub, a facility for the tech community that focuses on young entrepreneurs, Web and mobile phone programmers, designers, and researchers, was born. iHub currently connects to more than 8,500 members through a weekly newsletter and events that include Start-up Pitch Night, Fireside Chats, and Hack-a-Thons. A tiered membership scheme gives select members daily access to the facility, including the 20MB Internet connection and space for meetings, Internet use, networking, and collaborative projects.

Menstrual Cups and Impact Investments – The Experiences of a Social Entrepreneur

The SOCAP – conference works as a annual meeting for investors and social entrepreneurs from all over the world. Coming together and listening to examples from both worlds is a great start to understand and co-create solid business models with a positive social and environmental impact. I was excited to explore how it is to come to an event like this as a social entrepreneur prepared to get funding? I grabbed Veronica D’Souza after a panel session to get an answer to my question. D’Souza represents the start-up Ruby Cup, a venture selling menstrual cups to women in developing countries.

An Interview with Ms. Abby Onencan of the Nile Basin Discourse

The Nile Basin Discourse (NBD) is a civil society network with a membership of more than 750 organizations from 11 countries within the Nile Basin Region. It provides knowledge and builds capacity to strengthen the voice of civil society organizations within the Nile Basin Region. The NBD has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nile Basin Initiative, a coalition of  ten countries’ governments along the Nile, and participates in high level meetings. The NBD has developed a unique voice in the Initiative’s goal to advance  benefit sharing. “Benefit sharing,” as described by the NBD, aims to divert attention from contentious issues such as water allocation, thereby preventing futile competition in the region.

Roll On, Nile, Roll On!

The Nile is the world’s longest river. It is shared between Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (See map below). Except for South Sudan, all of the above countries are members of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) – a cooperative partnership formed in 1999. Six upstream members of the NBI signed a “Cooperative Framework Agreement” that includes Articles addressing issues such as water allocation. One can imagine that such a framework is needed to assist water management efforts between so many nations.

An Interview with South Africa’s Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs: “Water Knows No Boundaries”

I interviewed Her Excellency Ms. Edna Molewa, the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs of the Republic of South Africa, at the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille. South Africa is unique — as a nation as it has a higher financial water budget than defense budget. This is a remarkable achievement for any nation irrespective of its economic status. Thanks to this investment in and prioritization of water, South Africa has made tremendous progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). It has met its goals for water but it lags on its sanitation targets and service deliveries. In this interview, Ms. Molewa and I discussed the challenges to achieving the sanitation MDG target, possible fudging of numbers by some countries in their MDG reporting, South Africa’s stance on climate change and its position on Sustainable Development Goals.

Sharing West African Water: An Interview with the Executive Director of the Volta Basin Authority

Student Reporters Heidi Travis and Arjun Bhargava contributed equally to this post. The Volta River is spread over parts of six West African countries. The percentage of basin area in each of the six countries is as follows: 2.48% in Cote d’Ivoire, 42.9% in Burkina Faso, 3.41% in Benin, 41.6% in Ghana, 3.12% in Mali, and 6.41% in Togo.  The river flows for a total distance of 1850km. With population in this area estimated to increase rapidly, (about 55% for Burkina and 57% for Ghana) water use will rise rapidly. Therefore, the necessity to sustainably and equitably manage water resources in the river basin is very important.

The Hopes of an NGO Coordinator from Niger for the WWF

Abdoulkader Issoufou is working with Reseau Projection, with a group of 26 other young water professionals, to edit and translate the daily newsletter of the World Water Forum. Abdoulkader is from Niger, is otherwise employed by Save the Children, and runs the NGO (non-governmental organization) Ong Tassa. His story is different from many of his Reseau Projection colleagues, who are Americans, Europeans, and others from around the world. His reasons for engaging in the World Water Forum are hard-hitting and have affected his family for his whole life. He has come to the Forum to help create real solutions to water crises in the world.

Veolia’s Social Connection Program in Morocco

Have you ever engaged in political debate or taught an informational session IN A SLUM? That’s what some were doing at the World Water Forum last week in the Village of Solutions’ make-shift demonstration slum. Veolia, the largest private water service company in the world, presented the stand pictured above as a ‘solution’ to the water crisis. On Tuesday morning, I had the opportunity to interview Thomas Hascoet, Project Manager for Veolia in Paris, about it. He began working with Veolia’s Social Connection Program in Morocco in 2006.