Acumen

154, Vijaya Pastala, Under the Mango Tree | A Hybrid Social Enterprise that Creates Livelihood from Bees

Under the Mango Tree increases agricultural yields by teaching rural farmers to keep bees. Vijaya Pastala and Under the Mango Tree are a good illustration of something that I believe which is, miracles find you while you’re in motion. Vijaya started experimenting with her business idea in January 2009. By January, 2010, Vijaya had 8,000 rupees in the bank. That’s less than $120 USD. At the time, the monthly cost of running Under the Mango Tree was around 34,000 rupees. Under the Mango Tree was gaining positive press, but beneath the surface, Vijay’s personal savings, which she was using to fund the company, were running out. During this crisis, Vijaya…

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154, Vijaya Pastala, Under the Mango Tree | A Hybrid Social Enterprise that Creates Livelihood from Bees

152, Marion Atieno Moon, Wanda Organic | Food Security through Soil Health

Wanda Organic is a for-profit social enterprise that works with farmers to improve their productivity and profitability by improving their soil. At the age of 28, Marion Atieno Moon quit her job. She wasn’t quite sure what she was going to do next, but she knew there had to be more to life than work and a paycheck. When she returned home to Kenya, she noticed a pattern. As she visited the villages of her childhood, she was expected to bring food. This was a sharp contrast when compared to her travel to other regions where strangers often offered food to her. As she considered the causes of food insecurity,…

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150, Ken Oloo, Filamujuani | Using Film to Fight Youth Unemployment

Ken Oloo works to end youth unemployment for young people from informal housing such Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya. Ken Oloo grew up surrounded by abject poverty. And yet, he was ambitious. At an early age, he vowed that by the time he was 25 years-old, he would be on the cover of Fortune or Time magazines. When he was nine years-old, he began to use his father’s camera to take pictures. Soon, he met other photographers who taught him the craft of photography and film. After high school, Ken took up photography full time, earning money by filming weddings and events. As he tried to escape from poverty, he took…

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146, Gayathri Vasudevan, LabourNet | Sustainable Livelihoods through Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship

LabourNet is a social enterprise that enables sustainable livelihoods by bridging the gap between education, employment and entrepreneurship. Gayathri Vasudevan worked in crisis situations. She provided humanitarian aid during a riot. She provided aid in the aftermath of an earthquake. But she found the work depressing. “I wanted to do more solutioning,” she told me. After completing her PhD, she worked for the United Nations, International Labor Organization for eight years. There, she saw a disconnect between the policies she was helping to draft and the results on the ground. She remarked, “In India, we’re very good at white papers. We can write very well. We define everything well. But…

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140, Benje Williams, Amal Academy | Continuous Action Creates a Path Out of Poverty

Through continuous action, Benje Williams helps Pakistani youth find a path out of poverty. Benje Williams’ parents wanted to make an impact with their lives. They did so by adopting eight children. As Benje grew up, his parents pressed him to ask himself what his contribution to the world would be. While Benje was in university, he had a chance to accompany his dad to Kenya. There, he met people that, except for circumstances of birth, were not too different from him and his family at home. “Perhaps family for me was much more global than I had previously thought.” A belief began to cement itself inside of him. “We’re…

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128, Steph Speirs and Steve Moilanen, Solstice | Solar for All

Solstice provides access to clean, affordable solar energy for those who have been locked out of the solar market. Today’s conversation with Steph Speirs and Steve Moilanen of Solstice is the fifth in a series on clean energy around the world. We spoke with Sam Goldman of d.light, a pioneer in solar energy for the developing world. We also spoke with Allison Archambault of EarthSpark International. They provide pre-pay electricity through a mini-grid in Haiti. We spoke to Harrison Leaf of Steama.co who helps mini-grid operators utilize “the internet of things,” wireless connectivity and a platform, primarily in Africa. We heard from Clementine Chambon, Amit Saraogi of Oorja. They are…

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