Social Entrepreneurship Makes a Difference in Our World

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With social entrepreneurship, you can make a change in the world. 

According to The Schwab Foundation: “Social entrepreneurs drive social innovation and transformation in various fields including education, health, environment and enterprise development. They pursue poverty alleviation goals with entrepreneurial zeal, business methods and the courage to innovate and overcome traditional practices.”

Most social entrepreneurs see a problem in the world and feel a need to fix it. They see something that tugs at their heart and feel the need to make it better. Whether it is shoe-less children or a village that has no safe water, a social entrepreneur sees that and feels a need to help.

If you have found yourself in this situation, you can help. Here are three tips to get you started.

  1. Build a community first, a business second. Talk to like-minded people who want to help too. Pool your ideas and make a plan.
  2. Consider how your experience and skills can contribute to making a situation better.
  3. Dream big, but start small. Start with people you know, tell them what you’re doing and why. Get their feedback and support.

An example of how social entrepreneurs can change the lives of impoverished villagers is Someone Somewhere. Someone Somewhere started with US college students selling embroidered shirts made by artisans in a poor Mexican village. Four years ago the shirts were sold by word of mouth. Today, Someone Somewhere works with artisans from six communities in Puebla, Oaxaca, and Chiapas, three of the poorest states in Mexico. The artists who create the shirts are now living above the poverty line for the first time. Imagine the difference this makes, not just to the artisans, but to the people in their villages.

If you want to make the world a better place, contact us and together we will.

 

Hospitality and Tourism in the Mountains of Tajikistan

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In Tajikistan, the snow-capped peaks of the Fann range stretch over 180 miles across the Pamir-Alay mountain system from the Fan Darya River on the east to the Archimaydan River on the west.  Although the range is home to thirty deep lakes with colors ranging from turquoise to teal, the most visited lakes are Iskanderkul and Alauddin.

 

A local guesthouse and tour operator well-known for their hospitality began because the founders wanted to promote environmental tourism.  That was twenty-two years ago.  The family business includes Nematov who currently conducts cultural sightseeing tours in Panjakent the regional capital of the ancient Sogdia civilization.  Joining him are his wife, Shoista and daughter Bibijon who introduce tourists to the customs and traditions of the Tajik people.  This includes cooking traditional Tajik dishes including plov which consists of rice with fried vegetables and meat; manti, a steamed dumpling stuffed with meat and a hardy stew called shurpa.

Nowadays, Nematov employs younger guides to lead the mountain treks which last from three to ten days.  Most of the approximately 100 tourists arriving in the summer are from Europe and Nematov tailors the tour to the age and abilities of the members.

 

Despite the young age of Tajikistan’s tourist industry, Nematov is optimistic about its future.  For him, it’s not about making big profits rather he prefers to grow his business for the future and help expand Tajik tourism.

 

With the collapse of the rouble, remittances from Tajiks working in Russia are dropping.  Returning migrants and lower prices for major export commodities are putting the country at financial risk.  Tajikistan’s hospitality and tourism industry will provide jobs to counteract this.

 

Please contact us to learn about our efforts to promote hospitality and tourism in Tajikistan.

Vocational Training for Social Workers in Kyrgyzstan Needs Support

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In 1994 Kyrgyzstan legally recognized social work as a profession.  Subsequently, universities formalized vocational training for social workers giving them a structured course in an accredited educational institution.  Now universities train about 400 social workers annually.

However, as a whole, social workers lack funding and education while quietly working in poor conditions for low wages ($150 per month for new entrants).  Yet, as Kyrgyzstan’s social disruption has intensified, social workers find themselves on the front line helping people at risk in areas of high migration and unemployment.

Social workers often have sole responsibility for evaluating and managing family issues including health, safety and social welfare of children and parents.  Often, social workers deal with mental health issues, drug and alcohol abuse and abused and neglected children.  Needless to say, working with insufficient training, low pay and emotional stress causes high burn-out and turnover.

To address the problem of insufficient training and faculty with limited field experience, the Kyrgyz Association of Social workers and leadership at Bishkek Humanities University started developing a social work program with a focus on at-risk families.  

Working with child protection specialist from the United States, BHU faculty adapted the Core Curriculum for Child Welfare Caseworkers for their program.  Child welfare organizations in Russian, Ukraine, Lithuania and Belarus use the internationally renowned practice curriculum.   The program aims to train students to such a level that they can assume responsibilities in NGO’s and child welfare organizations directly after graduating.

Students pursuing the profession do so because they want to help improve conditions for families in Kyrgyzstan.  They also desire to prove to family, government and NGO’s that they are well-educated professionals performing essential work in challenging social conditions who deserve their support and respect.

Such is the case for the social worker whom we will call Jypar.  Jypar pays the bus fare to get to her first case using her own money.  She is visiting a family where the alcoholic father passed out and froze to death.  Because the mother, who is also alcohol dependent, has no money for food, Jypar feeds the child.  On her next stop, she must find an orphanage to take two newborns whose teenage mom abandoned.

Please contact us to learn how our organization serves at-risk people in Central Asia.

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

   

Kazakhstan Aims to be Sustainable Development Leader

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Although Kazakhstan is richly blessed with energy resources, its current renewable energy electricity generation excluding hydropower is under 1%.  However, Kazakhstan’s goal is sustainable development of alternative energy sources and it will most likely become the regional leader in renewable energy production.  Despite being among the world’s top emitters per unit GDP, it has launched a national plan for a green economy with a carbon emission trading proposal.

Next year, Kazakhstan’s capital city, Astana, will host EXPO 2017, a worldwide event to educate the public, share innovations and best practices and promote progress and cooperation bringing together countries, international organizations, the private sector, companies, and the public.

Considering sustainable development of energy resources an ecological issue, Kazakhstan realizes that it is counterproductive to rely on large reserves of rare metals, minerals and oil and gas deposits without diversifying its economic base.  This is why the country chose the theme Future Energy for EXPO 2017.

To showcase the Future Energy theme, Kazakhstan is creating a mini-city site for the EXPO to serve as a permanent addition to Astana giving the country a foundation for its expanding business and technology community.  In addition to structures to attract international finance, the mini-city will contain an international Financial Center operating under English law.  The EXPO infrastructure construction is a collaboration between private sector sponsors and the state.

While there are post-Soviet governance issues still apparent in Kazakhstan, the government has progressed in democratic reform, election fairness, transparency, accountability, rule of law and judicial reform. 

Hosting EXPO 2017 speaks to Kazakhstan’s vision for the future as it rebrands and recreates itself as a viable participant in global sustainable development.  Please contact us for information on rewarding sustainable development initiatives in Kazakhstan and Central Asia.

 

 

 

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How Vocational Training Builds Stong Family and Economic Foundations

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Vocational training provides skills that open doors for individuals seeking a means to support themselves and their families. Far beyond that, it provides the opportunity for those individuals to pass on those skills and knowledge to future generations. This means not only immediate, but also and long-term benefits for families as well as communities and their economies.

Immediate

Learning valuable, workable skills is empowering for people with little opportunity. It allows the individuals to stand with dignity, provide support, and contribute to the health and wealth of their community. In order to function and thrive, communities need people who can actively participate in building, nurturing, and growing the economy using a variety of vocations. Not only does vocational training provide hope, it is a tool that can be put to immediate use in the fight against war, drugs, poverty, and lack of education.

Long-Term

Teaching beneficial vocational skills to a set of individuals sets down a foundation that can be built upon for generations to come. Learning those skills is not just immediately empowering. Individuals educated in necessary and valuable skills can proudly pass on their vocations well into the future. By sharing their own education with younger generations, creating long-standing family businesses, and handing down the appreciation for education, the growth potential is off the charts. This includes growth for both families and the economy.

In areas of the world where war, drugs trafficking, and poverty are standard, change is imperative. With vocational training, individuals, families, and communities are becoming stronger and healthier. If you would like to learn more about this movement, or if you would like to contribute to it, please contact us.

 

Forest Integrity and Sustainable Development

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One-fifth of the world’s population depends on forests for forest products, employment, supplementary income and livelihood support.  For some 350 million people including about 175 million indigenous living inside or near dense forests, the forest is critical to survival.  This is why several countries are using Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) to guide them in Sustainably Developing forestland.

In addition to directly depending on forest, millions of urban residents benefit from the resources that healthy forests provide, including food, energy and construction materials.

Since degradation, deforestation, agriculture and changes in land use have a major impact on greenhouse gas emissions in many developing countries, these countries will have to invest in projects that maintain resilient forests and landscapes.  

Besides mitigating climate change, sustainable forest management helps create jobs and wealth.  Moreover, as demand for forest products grows, there will be more gainful employment.  Currently, the forest sector provides employment for 13.2 million people and contributes almost 1% to global GDP per year.

In Kazakhstan, residents count on forests for fuel, beekeeping, livestock grazing, recreation and food like berries and mushrooms.  Forests also provide seasonal and permanent employment for many community members.

Unfortunately, certain areas in Kazakhstan are experiencing illegal logging and forest fires impeding community access to forests.  In addition, Kazakhstan lacks local and national capacity for fire-fighting and risk management.

In response, the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility have contributed a total of $35 million to fund the Kazakhstan Forest Protection and Reforestation Project. This projects aims to put close to a million hectares under participatory environmental management.

Now the Kazakhstan government spends less on forest planting and new equipment and technology has significantly improved fire-fighting response time.

Our organization promotes sustainable development in Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries.  Please contact us to see how you can help.

 

 

Wetland Restoration in Kazakhstan Promotes Hospitality and Tourism

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When the Soviet Union collapsed and no longer governed Kazakhstan, the region surrounding the country’s vast wetlands experienced significant economic decline and job loss.  With little paying work available, village residents resorted to illegal poaching in the wetlands.  Even worse, lower water levels from excessive water withdrawal for agricultural irrigation caused a decrease in the fish and migrating bird population upsetting the ecological balance.

In order to prevent further environmental degradation, a collaborative initiative between the Kazakhstan government, United Nations Development Program and the Global Environment Facility began to restore and protect the wetlands and provide villagers training in wetland conservation, Hospitality and Tourism, clothes manufacturing and other skills.

To begin the revitalization process, the UNDP facilitated Kazakhstan’s ratification of the Ramsar Convention, a global environmental treaty to preserve wetlands.  Since then, seven sites encompassing over 4 million acres have attained Ramsar-protected status and three reserves have become the first Central Asian sites on the UNESCO Natural Heritage List.

In addition, a revised water code has introduced robust restrictions on wetland water use including mandatory regulation for agriculture.  Illegal fishing has decreased with limitations on amateur fishing and hunting.  Wetland workers, government officials, key staff and decision makers received extensive training in wetland management, monitoring and conservation. 

Besides promoting institutional change, the initiative conducted media outreach campaigns and provided educational material and training to the public throughout Kazakhstan.  The project built three visitor centers including the innovative Korgalzhyn Visitor Center and developed wetland conservation courses for schools.

To increase employment and boost the economy in the wetland areas, UNDP provided over $1 million for microcredit programs to aid business start-ups in three pilot territories.  With support from a Kazakhstan national microcredit program, the initiative expanded into twenty-five protected areas spurning thirty-four projects and 150 new jobs.

Although project funding ended, businesses continue to profitably operate businesses including greenhouse construction, souvenir manufacturing, bottling plants for umys, fish pond development and other ecotourism ventures.  Over a year and a half, 6000 tourists visited the Korgalzhyn reserve providing $40,000 for the reserve and local infrastructure development.

Additional resources are necessary to sustain the successful initiative and provide comprehensive management for the country’s wetlands.  So far the UNDP’s Biodiversity Trust Fund and Kazakhstan businesses donors have given over $3.5 million.  Please contact us to learn how you can help sustainable development in Central Asia.

 

3 Ways to Enhance Social Entrepreneurship

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In today’s society, people of all ages care more deeply about creating fulfilling, meaningful careers for themselves more than they ever have before. That is why the popularity of social entrepreneurship is on the rise. But before just diving into it, aspiring entrepreneurs must equip themselves with some necessary tools. Check out three effective ways to enhance your path to successful social entrepreneurship.

  • Think of Your Business as a Community: If you are striving to build something meaningful, it cannot be a mechanical, money-making machine. A truly successful business is one that is a community at the core. Throughout the beginning stages and long into the operation of your entity, continuously find ways to strengthen the community aspect and workforce morale. You want a place that people (both your target audience and team) can identify as something they want to belong to.
  • Get Personal: You want to create an entity that isn’t cluttered with corporatism, logos, and lack of community. With that said, you must also keep in mind the image you give off. Be personal, open, and able to tell a really good, authentic story. Don’t hide behind a glossy image. To be something that attracts an audience, you have to be real with people. 
  • Be a Problem-Solver: A business without problems is as mythical as a unicorn. It isn’t going to be smooth sailings the whole way, but that doesn’t mean you give up. A social entrepreneur must master the art of solving problems. And at times, those problems might be public. When this happens, be ready to take it on with tact and tenacity and in a way that is admirable to the public.

For more ways to build your career as a social entrepreneur, please contact us.

Sustainable Rural Development in Tajikistan

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When Tajikistan was a member of the Soviet bloc, central management of rural land was the norm and decision makers exercised little concern about how agricultural and irrigation practices affected local environments.  Then, when the Soviet Union collapsed bringing civil war and poverty to communities, there was further environmental and infrastructure degradation causing landslides and flooding.  Although more than 14,000 resident of the sub-district of Jura Nazarov in Tajikistan’s Vakhsh River valley depend on farming for their livelihood, only 30% of the land is arable.

However, since 2007 Tajikistan, with international support, has transitioned from a Soviet style economy choosing policies and systems that promote sustainable economic and environmental development.  The United Nation Development Program (UNDP) has worked to empower local communities through local meetings, awareness campaigns, school events and theatrical productions that encourage residents to practice environmental stewardship.  Consequently, people have new confidence to manage challenging local issues independently with less reliance on international assistance.

For example, in a project to restore the tugai forests residents have reduced tree-cutting by 90% since 2008 and forest regeneration has resulted in a 50% increase in animal and bird populations.

In agricultural areas, farmer field schools have introduced farming techniques to replace what farmers learned on collective Soviet-controlled farms and the UNDP has helped communities form user associations for water resource management and irrigation system repair.

In addition micro-credit services associated with farm schools have aided farmers in obtaining low-cost loans for investing in new agriculture practices.  With their new knowledge and funding, farmers have made great strides:  two-thirds have brought in new crops and initiated new production methods more suitable to local conditions; farmers have dramatically reduced fertilizer applications and 75% of respondents to a survey averaged a 25% increase in income.

With the additional income, farmers have renovated family homes; hired additional workers to increase production; repaired irrigation systems and drainage networks and sent their children to school.  When farm schools helped farmers research traditional non-chemical and cheaper methods of pest control, others in the district began to adopt the safer practice.

Please contact us to learn how you can help our organization spread the seeds of sustainable development in Central Asian countries like Tajikistan.

The Importance of Central Asia Economic Development and How to Help

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Too often we may not have a working grasp of just how important economic development is across the globe, or simply don’t lend much thought to it with the hustle and bustle of daily life. Unfortunately, there are a vast number of countries and to break it down even smaller -individuals, that do not have those luxuries. For instance, Central Asia Economic Development is cited to be either stalling completely, or showing little to no growth at all as of last year, which is why it is so important to understand exactly what that means. To give a more in-depth look at this, an excerpt from The World Bank states the following regarding in large part, Central Asia:  

“These low growth prospects are driven in large part by those countries in the eastern part of the region that are highly dependent on oil exports, or on trade and remittances from oil exporting countries, which are experiencing a slowdown. This is compounded by ongoing geopolitical tensions due to the conflict in Ukraine. Poor households are hit either directly because they receive fewer remittances, or indirectly because of the macroeconomic consequences, including higher import prices, the disappearance of jobs in construction and other non-tradable sectors, and potentially lower government transfers because of induced fiscal pressures. As a result, poverty rates are expected to rise.”

Perhaps you’re wondering how you can help, or why you should. The first question is both difficult and easy to answer, and the latter is based solely upon your moral compass.  To help you may donate to the cause and help individuals gain education and vocational skill training which can help to increase income and lessen poverty, thereby stimulating growth in the bigger picture. It also gives these countries hope for their future. If you feel as if donating money isn’t enough and you want to do more, you can create your own fundraising campaign on this site via crowdfunding to give those donations to the cause and helping even more people gain the skill sets to improve their lives, thereby causing a positive trickle down effect. What are you waiting for? You can make a difference by clicking Here.  Why should you? Because we are all human beings that deserve a fair chance at living and not merely existing in inhumane circumstances, and sometimes people just need a helping hand in this journey called life. If you can create a positive impact, then why not? 

Do you have questions, comments or concerns? If so please feel free to contact us

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