Today’s post is from UniversalGiving’s Founder and CEO, Pamela Hawley.
I recently attended the Synergos Conference in New York, where we were invited amongst 100 global donors. I wanted to share some exciting insights with you!
We’ve been honored now to be invited for our 6th year in a row, as part of Synergos. Synergos is a group that brings together global leaders who want to give effectively in developing nations all over the world. At the same time, it also supports social innovators in more than 40 countries through their Senior Fellows program. They are social leaders who sincerely and effectively serve our communities in diverse ways, in healthcare for children in Zimbabwe, gender equality in Bangladesh and Uganda, poverty alleviation in Thailand, an environmental protection in the Philippines.
This meeting concerned a group of international philanthropists from more than 100 countries. During this meeting, we heard from Peggy Delaney and from Bill Clinton. Former President Clinton was quite formidable in the high calling he set for himself regarding philanthropy. The Clinton Global Initiative is involved in numerous philanthropic projects. Many of them revolve around renewable energy in hydro and electric policy and implementation. He is focused on supporting both forprofit and nonprofit groups in this endeavor. He’s watchful of emerging projects that are successful abroad, which can be utilized here in the United States.
Many professors from Harvard and Dartmouth are covering emerging markets in a new way. What’s called Frugal Innovation or Reverse Innovation looks at low-cost, effective projects that are working abroad, and brings them back to the United States. Instead of the U.S. always being the pioneer — international countries, and often developing ones, are the initiators. Product include everything from low-cost medical services to shaving razors, which are now undercutting the market here.
However, U.S. companies are also taking the lead. For example, PG&E is undercutting itself, by introducing these products back in the United States. If they don’t, they are concerned that another country will do so. So they are pre-empting this move, but offering both types of products, low and high end, low cost, high cost. Fascinating!
For example, the razors are indeed different. In India, the U.S. razors are re-crafted to take into consideration a local country’s situation. Indian men often don’t have mirrors, operate off a small bowl, have limited water, and also need sharp razors that can outlast dullness.
As a tangent, there are so many innovations from abroad… The UK is coming up with more unique versions of philanthropy. I just read that their cultural minister is trying to allow people to make a donation when they are at ATMs. I am so heartened to see such good exploding across the world… in so many ways, that affect our lives practically!
Back to Synergos. :) Then we went on to a dinner session. The session was 20 tables related to CSR, health, innovation and education, and then all different country areas. I was put at the Middle East table, and it was amazingly fascinating. I wanted to see how UniversalGiving could support more projects in philanthropy in the Middle East, in this burgeoning area.
Many of the forprofit people felt, interestingly enough, that an authoritarian government structure was better than a democracy. They felt these countries were living in anarchy with no government, and it would be better to have their lives ruled by some sort of government structure. That may be partially true for the short-term stability, but I hope we would all argue on the side of freedom for all people from any type of oppression, any time, anywhere.
However, transition from authoritarianism is a transition. I’ve long known that just because a dictator is toppled, that doesn’t mean democracy will immediately exist. We have to be conscious of the fact that when America was created, it was called a “grand experiment.” No one had had this type of structure before, and we were fighting tooth and nail to prove it could work. I’m grateful that its structure, no matter how many “dents” it has, is still in place. It preserves so many freedoms for us, in the way that we operate, both in our personal lives and businesses.
Here’s an example of just one individual who is most certainly making his mark in the Middle East and won’t be held back by anything. Ron Bruder is a global leader working on providing employment opportunities for unemployed youth in the Middle East. (He’s formerly built shopping centers all over the U.S., and is now devoting himself full time to this effort.) It’s incredible. He’s giving hope to so many in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia and Yemen. Tunisia, he says, is the easiest… they just get it and in many locations, in-country supporters (important) provide significant financial backing, with positive government support, too.
I love sharing with you about these philanthropic insights in different areas across the world! Continue to make your mark on our world as well. No action is too small.
With highest regards,