Category Archives: International Development

Globalizing the Crisis Response

As Director of the Keep a Child Alive
College Program, and simply as a young woman who considers herself a
global citizen, I find myself subconsiously reconfiguring
headlines and reading articles in terms of the AIDS pandemic.  You can
imagine that the countless recent headlines of “world leaders coming
together to solve crisis” have me furious — knowing that leaders are CAPABLE of solving global crises, but prioritize immensely, for some, dishearteningly.

I am always looking for new, innovative ways to engage my generation in
MEANINGFUL AIDS work — that does NOT mean raising fists and shouting in
anger about poverty, but actually doing something to assist those living with HIV or prevent the disease from further spreading. With Keep a
Child Alive, I am privileged to coordinate a network of 227 campuses,
and growing everyday, in the work of fundraising for lifesaving
antiretroviral drugs that are delivered directly to those in most dire

I think it is immensely important for students to realize where their
potential lies.  Most of the time, just shouting about an issue will make no progress – so why, when, how do we speak up effectively?  Some thoughts to consider, that I recently blogged about for a foreign policy course:

I choose one article in particular to sub-in AIDS for Finance, and conclude:

“I invite you to pick up a newspaper and try this exercise for
yourself.  Replace the crisis and you will see that our world
leadership is capable of coming together to take immediate and united
action.  The difference to me is not that our leaders don’t want to end
AIDS, it’s that there are no “jittery investors” who are pushing them
to do so.  We are all affected by the health of global populations and
like issues of climate change or education or human rights, we will not
see the negative effects of failures to invest until the long run, and
we therefore don’t identify ourselves as investors now.  Which means
politicians have no pressure to move in the direction of solving the
foreign crises that already surround us.  If we want an end to AIDS
that’s up to us as investors in global public health, citizens who want
to live in a healthy world.  It’s totally possible to achieve, but the
choice is ours!””

How many socially entrepreneurial acts make a social entrepreneur?

By David Russell 

There are as many questions raised, as answers I have found,
in social entrepreneurship.

As a Reynolds Fellow at NYU, I am fortunate to have the opportunity
to explore some of these questions as they pertain to the projects on which I am
presently engaged.

How does one optimally prioritise scarce resources? What are
the most effective means to secure support for a cause? Where can greatest
value be added?

Such questions are not unique to social entrepreneurship,
but they are just some of the issues that I am addressing on work with the Rwandan
Survivors Fund (SURF) and HelpAge International (HAI).

With the 15th Anniversary commemoration of the
Rwandan genocide next year, the needs of the estimated 400,000 survivors in
Rwanda are still great. SURF’s approach to the support it delivers to survivors,
through raising awareness and funds internationally, is defined by a holistic
philosophy. It recognises that it cannot address any need in isolation –
whether that be shelter, healthcare, education, employment. There is a
necessity to develop programmes that are integrated to provide the
comprehensive support that many survivors still require.

For SURF, how does one optimally prioritise scarce resources?
By listening to the needs of the survivors, and prioritising resources
dependent on the issues that are most pressing as determined by them. What is
most effective to secure support? Giving a voice to the survivors, empowering
them in the process to speak out for themselves. Where can greatest value be
added? Through channelling funding through local grassroots survivor’s
organisations, to enable them to own and deliver the programmes.

With the UN International Day of Older Persons approaching
on October 1st, the challenge for HAI is how to engage the international
community to address
our aging society. The approach I helped to develop is an adaptation of
community organising, to
older persons across countries to empower them to meet with their respective
Governments and call for improvements in national policies on aging – through a
programme called Age Demands Action.

For HAI, how does one optimally prioritise scarce resources?
By developing a programme of direct action, which for a minimal cost can
deliver a maximum impact. What is most effective to secure support? By
identifying and engaging those in policymaking positions, and empowering the
older persons to demand action directly from them. Where can greatest value be
added? By leveraging the Government to deliver services that otherwise would
not be met by the private sector.

But often answers lead back to further questions. And when
the questions relate to social entrepreneurship, they ultimately lead back to
how the work is sustainable; scalable; pattern breaking?

And therein lies another question: How many socially
entrepreneurial acts make a social entrepreneur? And another: Does it matter what the work is called, as long as it doing good?