Friday, August 26, 2011

Project Inspire 2011 :) Social Entrepreneurship :)

Dearies! Much apologies for MIA-ing for quite some time from the blogosphere.
Was away on a trip to Yunnan- till date have only managed to blog about Dali gonna blog about the rest on the weekend :) here's the link

Upon return, I was invited to Project Inspire by UN Women UNIFEM which I am a member of, to view the top ten finalists who were shortlisted from hundreds of submissions where their entries were uploaded onto the Project Inspire website for public voting.
That day was the ‘live’ pitch.
It was a forum full of passionate social entrepreneurs - who aims to make a difference in many underdeveloped countries.
Date: Wednesday 24th August 2011 845am to 215pm at INSEAD Auditorium.

What then is Project Inspire about? It presents 18-35 year olds with a 5-minute platform via a video or a written pitch to articulate their inspired idea to the world and win a US$25,000 grant to make their idea a reality. The grant will be used to bring to life the winning idea and empower disadvantaged women or children in Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa through education, skills training, financial inclusion or social entrepreneurship.

It is a joint initiative by UN Women Singapore and MasterCard, Project Inspire was launched in March to commemorate the 100th year of International Women’s Day and to celebrate MasterCard’s 25th year in the region.The 10 finalists – from Australia (2), Ghana, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore (2), India and the Philippines (2) – were selected out of 450 youth teams worldwide who submitted their life-changing ideas to empower women and girls across Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa.


‘The Hapinoy Program’ from the Philippines.

The Singapore National Committee for UN Women (UN Women Singapore) and MasterCard Worldwide awarded the USD25,000 Women’s Empowerment grant to them

Their winning project aims to support 1,000 women ‘sari-sari’ (or neighborhood convenience store) owners in Luzon in the southern Philippines through micro-finance. Hapinoy trains the women micro-entrepreneurs in personal and business development, management systems, and better priced goods, and introduces additional revenue channels.

The Hapinoy Program


Team: Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Michelle Pabalan, Mark Ruiz (Philippines)
Who the project helps: Women micro-entrepreneurs in Southern Luzon, Philippines

Get to know the team behind The Hapinoy Program

What or who is your greatest source of inspiration?

Our greatest sources of inspiration are our nanays (mothers). They are the most important collaborators of Hapinoy as they co-create the components of the program with us. We’ve witnessed the transformation of their mindsets, self-image and belief systems. We take inspiration from them as they transform into empowered entrepreneurs, mothers and wives. And most of all, our nanays have found a larger purpose than just to grow one’s business - it is also to help their local communities. Hapinoy is a distribution platform made up of the poor, in order to help the poor.

Why do you think women’s empowerment is important?

Here in the Philippines, we have a saying: "Ang ina ang ilaw ng tahanan," which translated means “The mother is the light of the household.�? Our belief in women’s empowerment is also embedded in our culture. There also have been studies that show women are good entrepreneurs because the bulk of their revenue goes to their families and towards good investments. We are confident that the empowerment of women will create sustainable communities.

How will you change the world for women and girls?

Hapinoy believes that given the right access to goods and opportunities, the poor will be able to lift themselves out of poverty. We work towards the economic and social growth of the communities we engage. We believe we are changing the world for women as we help develop them into successful micro entrepreneurs and leaders of their communities.

What can other people do to help disadvantaged women and girls?

Collaboration is key for the Hapinoy program as it is made to be a platform for like-minded individuals, institutions and corporations. They not only provide another perspective to what we’re trying to achieve, but they’re stakeholders on board with the program.

Women have the power to lift themselves out of poverty. All they need are opportunities to take. With the co-creation of programs between different groups and individuals, we believe we all can create big opportunities for women to change their lives for good.

What is your favorite inspirational quote?

"Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."
-Apple Inc.

The judges also awarded a special grant of US$10,000 to Mark Cox, who represented his team from Thailand for the Best Financial Literacy/Livelihood proposal.

Their project, ‘UPLift Initiative’will empower Burmese women migrants living in landfills at the border of Thailand and Myanmar by building a women’s resource centre that provides financial literacy training and skills for income generation activities.

Team: Jennifer Jones, Nobel, Mark Cox (Thailand)
Who the project helps: Oppressed Burmese women migrants and their families in Thailand

What or who is your greatest source of inspiration?

All of us have been profoundly affected and inspired by our mothers. Nobel says, "My greatest source of inspiration is my mother. Even though she is uneducated, poor and lives hundreds of miles from me, she has spent her life struggling for our education and survival. Her mind is noble and her encouragements have kept me traveling towards my goals. She is the strongest woman I have ever seen in my life and she has always been my role model. Because of her encouragement and guidance, I am an educated, independent woman who helps others in our community."

Why do you think women’s empowerment is important

All humans on this planet have equal rights to live their lives with dignity. There are far too many examples all over the world which indicate that this is currently not the case. Women face domestic abuse and rape in every country of the world. A disproportionate number of people living in poverty are women. Women’s empowerment helps women take up the struggle to attain those basic, equal rights, and to live in a world with the dignity and respect they deserve. Women’s empowerment is important for everyone, male or female, in helping to create a world that is fair and just for all.

How will you change the world for women and girls?

Currently, in the Mae Sot area, we are working with women from Burma so that they have the capacity to improve their own livelihoods under difficult circumstances. Women who increase their income will be able to afford an education for their children, which will improve their chances of a better life in the future. Our livelihood projects not only educate and improve the lives of women participants, but also enable girls, who sometimes cannot attend school with their brothers due to financial constraints, to stop working alongside their mothers and to start attending school.

What can other people do to help disadvantaged women and girls?

Every single person has the ability to make an impact on the lives of women and girls no matter where they live. Disadvantaged women and girls often take daring risks and make small gains in difficult conditions. Sometimes just recognizing their success can make a difference. Volunteering to mentor a young girl as a Big Sister can change a life. Teaching a girl to read can have a lifelong impact. Encouraging girls in their work and study and recognizing women’s work as work is something that everyone can do everywhere. Anyone can speak out against domestic violence. Everyone can make a difference.

What is your favorite inspirational quote?

Mark: Mother Theresa said, "We can do no great things; only small things with great love." To me, this means that sharing skills and knowledge (small things), which most people see as less important than money (a very big thing indeed), is the best way for me to spend my time.

Nobel: My mother's quote gives me the most strength and energy and drives me to work harder and improve my life. She says, "Women are stronger than men."

Jennifer: Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

In a surprise development at the Grand Finals, MasterCard also put forward a US$10,000 special prize for the Most Creative Community Outreach proposal, which the judges awarded to Madhura Dutta for ‘Painting the Road to Empowerment’ from India.

Her team’s program benefits abused and discriminated women from Pingla, East India, who have a unique culture of earning a living by singing and painting. Her winning project aims to replicate the successful Pingla model in the nearby village of Chandipur, bringing this artistic talent to the production of diversified products including decorative scrolls and other artworks.

Painting the Road to Empowerment

Team: Madhura Dutta, Moyna Chitrakar, Imran Chitrakar (India)
Who the project helps: Women and girls in Chandipur Village, IndiaWhat or who is your greatest source of inspiration?

There is a huge challenge and potential of bringing about social empowerment in India through folk tradition targeting an equitable society and better livelihood especially for women. The success of using creative talent embedded in Patachitra art of indigenous women communities to develop alternative avenues for their socio-economic development is a great source of inspiration for us. The women artists of Pingla have been greatly inspired by their own paintings and the opportunities they get to display their art to the wider world. They feel great to engage in Patachitra painting professionally alongside their household work.

Why do you think women’s empowerment is important?

India's progress has been slow in attaining the MDG [Millennium Development Goals] of achieving gender equality and women empowerment by 2015. Participation of women in employment and decision making remains far less than that of men. There is a severe lack of priority of women development in terms of health, education, livelihood and equitable share within the family due to a strong culture of patriarchal society. Though the socio cultural stereotypes pose a serious challenge to the cause, Patachitra women of Pingla have their own income sources leading to recognition and an identity based on their rich cultural capital.

How will you change the world for women and girls?

It is essential that the women of Chandipur village who are painting Patachitra art believe that their inherent traditional skills can give them a life of respect, dignity and financial independence. Today women artists at Pingla have acquired an identity of their own, attending exhibitions and fairs across the world with an income rise from an average of 10 USD per month in 2004 to 250-300 USD in 2011. Upholding and replicating such successes that rural marginalized women have achieved for themselves under's initiative of “Making Art a Source of Livelihood�? will be the key to mobilize and empower women of Naya village.

What can other people do to help disadvantaged women and girls?

People need to work for enabling action led by disadvantaged girls and women to usher change. Exposure helps people to grow. When women come forward and join the development process, then their vulnerability decreases and they themselves can develop solutions to the daily issues. Attaining MDGs like poverty alleviation and women’s empowerment essentially requires multiple stakeholders to contribute towards the same. People need to come forward with their knowledge, skills and ideas to strengthen such initiatives supporting livelihood generation for women and facilitating access of the disadvantaged women to all the available services and resources for a holistic development.

What is your favorite inspirational quote?

"When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."
-Paolo Coelho

To follow them: click here
The three winning teams will blog about the progress of their projects on the Project Inspire website from September 2011 and commence fieldwork by 1 December 2011.

Formerly known as UNIFEM Singapore, the Singapore National Committee for UN Women is a non-profit organisation working towards women's empowerment and gender equality. Established in 1999, the organisation functions as a National Committee of the UN Women, headquartered in New York. UN Women Singapore supports education and awareness programs that provide women and girls with access to education, healthcare, economic independence and a life free from violence and abuse in Singapore and the region. For more information, click here

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