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Sustainable Development

Quotes + Thoughts | On redefining poverty

If we stop thinking of the poor as victims or as a burden and start recognizing them as resilient and creative entrepreneurs and value conscious consumers, a whole new world of opportunity will open up. ~ C.K. Prahalad

Inspiration: Exela Ventures, Ideas Inspiring Innovation


Discarded 2 Desired | Empowering trash collectors through bags

By Dian Hasan | November 3, 2010

What separates us from designers or anyone with a good eye for design, is their ability to look beyond the obvious and turn a daily object into a work of art! And when you combine this knack with an eco-consciousness, the result is amazing. Creations that soar as far as the imagination.

What others consider as trash, waste, garbage or simply junk, they see as a palette of design potential!

Here’s a look at what happens to trash in Jakarta, Indonesia, and how it’s transformed functional bags.

XS Project has such brilliant idea to help reduce waste and overcome poverty in Jakarta. They buy unused plastics from the trash pickers, develop the plastics into bags, wallets, trash bins, lunch boxes, etc. More information on their website and their catalog. I bought the large handbag and it’s so useful, long lasting and unique. I use it for when we go to the beach or the swimming pool. It’s great cause you could just wipe it if it ever gets wet. The one thing I remember when I first bought the bag was the wonderful smell! Because the plastics are mostly from detergents or floor cleaners.

Inspiration: Jakarta Daily Photo Blog

Good Cause 2.0 ~ how social media empowers giving [2]

In the advent of web 2.0 technology (that’s all the Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Crowdrise, and a plethora of other social media networks), it was just a matter of time when online communities started to use it to promote social causes. Ranging from searching for blood donors in the neighborhood, to more serious causes of helping keep young African girls in school, to empower them as solid foundation of communities to alleviate poverty, break the cycle of injustice and gender inequality, and reduce the spreading HIV/AIDS.

So how exactly does it work? Here are some excellent examples from around the world (written by Fred Stutzman from AOL Developer Network), among which the most notable is probably

You will note that the story is from 2007, and in internet (read: social media network) technology is “eons” ago, in the dinosaur age. As social media has proliferated in the last 3 years… beyond recognition:

Web 2.0 technologies are impacting many of our lives in interesting ways. Whether it be the broadening or deepening of friend relationships with social networks, or the sharing of our thoughts and opinions with blogs, many of us have been impacted by the Web’s social revolution. The Web is evolving into a tool that fundamentally feels right to humans, and many people are taking note.

One of the more interesting areas where we see the impact of Web 2.0 tools and methodologies is in the online philanthropy space. Of course, organizations dedicated to doing good have been involved with the Web since their earliest days–the Web’s unique ability as an outreach and fund raising tool has proved very attractive to these organizations. With the advent of the social web, however, we are seeing new and interesting developments in this space, which I’ll explore in this article.

Using Networks To Do Good

Forward-thinking philanthropic organizations have long relied on networks to sustain their missions and accomplish their goals. Networks are required to mobilize, to spread information, and to raise the funds necessary to move organizations forward. The Web has long fostered the creation and maintenance of networks; even before Web 2.0, our web communities were inherently network-centric. With the advent of Web 2.0, the notion of the Web as a set of connected networks became more prevalent; as a result, philanthropic organizations are using the Web in new ways to organize those looking to do good.

Browsing the home page of, I am asked “What do you want to change in the world?” and presented a search box. Below, a list of issues is displayed as a tag cloud–issues such as universal health care, stopping child abuse, and protecting civil rights appear prominently. The purpose of is to bring together individuals who share a common issue or interest, and then provide them all the tools necessary to go forth and work on their cause. From the Save Public Broadcastingpage on, I can find out about fellow supporters of the issue, explore educational resources, find politicians friendly to my issue, and find organizations to which I can donate. (more…)

Good Cause 2.0 ~ how social media empowers giving [1]

Hollywood A-lister, actor Edward Norton, creator of Crowdrise

In the advent of web 2.0 technology (that’s all the Facebook, Twitter,Foursquare, and a plethora of other social media networks), it was just a matter of time when online communities started to use it to promote social causes. Ranging from searching for blood donors in the neighborhood, to more serious causes of helping keep young African girls in school, to empower them as solid foundation of communities to alleviate poverty, break the cycle of injustice and gender inequality, and reduce the spreading HIV/AIDS.

So how exactly does it work? Here is another example from the newly created Crowdrise (please also see my previous post on the same subject), as appeared in Social ROI.

Crowdrise was founded by Hollywood actor Edward Norton and three partners, who saw a powerful link between social media and giving back.

Crowdrise aims to make raising money for a cause not just easy, but also fun. Setting up a page to support something you care about takes less than a minute. Then, friends and family can be invited to be sponsors by donating any amount of money, large or small. You don’t have to run a marathon. You can volunteer at a soup kitchen or do whatever strikes your fancy. But Ms. Wittenberg, who has already sent her e-mail to 33,000 runners based in the United States and will soon send one to the 27,000 or so based elsewhere, hopes that anyone running in New York on Nov. 7 will use Crowdrise to do it for charity.

Inspiration: Social ROI and Endangered Eden

How philanthropy, innovation and entrepreneurship are transforming the social ecosystem

Willy Cheng, Chairman, The Lien Centre for Social Innovation

The social ecosystem comprises a broad range of players that have come together for the common mission of changing the world for the better. But as much as the social ecosystem is about change, it is also beset by the forces of change.

Neo-philanthropists entering the social space bring along new market and business practices, some of which appear to be at odds with the values of the social world. From within the sector, new heroes — the social entrepreneurs — are emerging to create social change on an unprecedented scale in new pattern-changing ways.

Meanwhile, the power of technology and innovation to foment disruptive change is enabling new possibilities and outcomes. The demands of accountability placed by civil society players on corporations and governments are also rebounding on them. All these factors, and more, are transforming the social ecosystem even as it seeks to transform the larger world.

Inspiration: The Lien Centre for Social Innovation

And you thought Sustainability & Green Thinking was a passing fancy… NOT!

By Dian Hasan | September 15, 2009

For all the skeptics out there who are convinced that “the green movement” was just loads of hubris, and a fad that will soon evaporate… think again! A recent recent survey of CEO conducted by Accenture shows that sustainability is here to stay, the following are just some of the findings:

93% of CEOs believe sustainability will be critical to the future success of their companies.

88% of CEOs believe it is important that business schools develop the mindsets and skills for future leaders to address sustainability, overall citing this as the second most important change that needs to accelerate for the tipping point to be reached, broadly equal in importance to the actions of customers, investors and government regulation.

1 in 4 CEOs say that lack of skills and knowledge among senior and middle management is one of the top three barriers to them as a CEO implementing an integrated and strategic company-wide approach to sustainability, and 86% say their organisation should invest in enhanced training of managers to integrate sustainability into strategy and operations.

Most CEO’s surveyed said that by 2015 sustainability will be fully incorporated into their company’s footprint. And any such move will of course also impact positively the company’s brand positioning. Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross as appeared in Reputation Exchange blog:

Accenture just completed an impressive research study among global CEOs and other influentials around the world for the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit in 2010.  They say that it is the largest survey ever among CEOs on sustainability. Some of the key findings are worth thinking about as sustainability defines the corporate reputation landscape in a few short years to come:

  1. Brand/trust/reputation is the strongest reason why CEOs say they are taking action on sustainability (72% say so). The next best reason lags fairly far behind at 44% –  potential for revenue growth and cost reduction. Reputation seems to be behind the motivation for many CEO and corporate actions these days.
  2. CEOs recognize that the consumer is the most influential stakeholder on the issues of sustainability in the years ahead — 58% of CEOs say so and it is a perception that ranks even higher than employees (45%).  They believe that consumers are King despite the mixed evidence on whether consumers are demanding products that are sustainability-true (a word I just made up). (more…)

BOP ~ the other 90% of world population…

By Dian Hasan | September 15, 2009

If the abbreviation BOP sounds greek to you, the meaning should not, and should be crystal clear:

BOP (bottom of pyramid): 4 billion poor that are excluded from our formal economy and do not have access to goods and services like most of us. ~ “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid”, C.K. Pralahad

The late author CK Prahalad‘s book “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid” (published in 2004), provided the impetus for Social Businesses that focus on specific areas across the world. Social Entrepreneurs are a breed apart, motivated by achieving a balance between – Profit, People and Planet – a concept previously ridiculed by the business world and considered impossible.

Prahalad, Professor of Corporate Strategy and International Business at the University of Michigan, was one of the most influential management thought leaders of this generation, and his book offered groundbreaking ideas and foresight into the rise of emerging markets.

This was of course before the likes of Blake Mycoskie (TOMS Shoes), John Wood (Room to Read)Bunker Roy (Barefoot College), Ann Cotton (Camfed), Theresa Wilson (The Blessing Basket) arrived at the scene.

And who could forget Muhammad Yunus, father of micro-financing and recipient of Nobel Peace Prize 2006, and the late Anita Roddick of The Body Shop for paving the way to this new paradigm of possibilities

This is a special group of people who are  each doing their part – through their work, words, compassion and thinking – in truly making a difference in the world. There are of course countless other, who we’ll discover and highlight as we go forward.

For these are the true Eco Heroes!!

Jakarta and Plastic Bag Waste ~ a nightmarish pairing!

Plastic bags (yes, those ubiquitous items we use in our daily lives) are widely known to be among the most destructive to the environment. I’m of course talking about the non-biodegradable kind.

Jakarta, capital of the world’s fourth most populous nation is grappling with plastic waste problem like never before. As the economy steams ahead – now for the first time recognized by the global finance and business communities as the “new bright star” of economic growth and resilience.

As the world’s largest archipelago, Indonesia is blessed with abundant natural resources, a large domestic market (220 million potential consumers), a stable government, and one of the world’s best-performing Stock Markets, Indonesia has emerged out of the recent global recession faster than expected. It is a solid foundation that is expected to see Indonesia’s continued growth, for which the country is now identified as part of Chindonesia(China, India and Indonesia), Asia’s next growth triangle.

A scavenger collecting plastic bags at the Bantar Gebang dump in Bekasi. Every year, Indonesians generate about 5.4 million tons of plastic waste that can take hundreds of years to biodegrade. (EPA Photo/Weda)

Naturally all the new consumers are bringing with them waste, a growing problem across the country’s urban areas. The most dire is Jakarta (greater metro area population: approx 20 million), among the world’s largest cities, which faces not only a waste management challenge, but also its nightmarish traffic, considered by many to be the world’s worst! Many foreign business visitors have mocked it for: “There is no traffic in Jakarta, because it’s just a giant parking lot! Everything is at a standstill”.

Jakarta’s waste problem as reported in Jakarta Globe, and the effort of a small group of environmentalists who see a solution: (more…)

From Manila Trash to London Fashion Chic

By Dian Hasan | September 14, 2010

Here’s proof that not only is the green movement here to stay, but it’s impact reverberates from a desolate place to a glamorous one, where the plight of the downtrodden can be brought to light. Such is the terrible circumstance that afflicts millions of urban trash scavengers that barely scrape a living collecting trash in city dumps.

This story in Jakarta Globe illustrates it perfectly:

At a warehouse near Manila’s infamous Smokey Mountain dump, slum-dwellers working for a British-led charity are turning rubbish into fashion items that are proving a hit in top-end London shops.

Under a dim fluorescent lamp, amid the constant humming of sewing machines, about 20 women cut pieces of cloth and other materials found in the garbage to make teddy bears.

Others are busy putting finishing touches to handbags and purses made from discarded toothpaste tubes, while glossy magazines are turned into colorful bracelets.

“This bag costs about £100 [US$166] or more in London,” said Jane Walker, a former publishing executive from Southampton, who gave up her lavish lifestyle in 1996 to set up the Philippine Christian Foundation in Manila after seeing the plight of the poor there.

Walker said about 200 bags were currently being shipped to boutiques in London and the foundation was unable to meet demand.

“I had to turn down three shops in London ordering our products because we keep running out.”

Walker said a deal to supply a major luxury chain was also in the works, while negotiations were underway with an American firm to produce shoes and slippers using discarded car tires.

Known in the local press as Manila’s “angel of the dumps” for her work among the scavengers of Smokey Mountain, the 45-year-old single mother’s tireless efforts have helped entire families rise above crushing poverty.

Last year, she was made a Member of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in honor of her work.

Relying mainly on corporate donations, the nonprofit foundation provides livelihood projects, health services and free education to children of families living on the dump site.