Sam Taylor

Conscious Commerce Trends for 2019: Ecosystem Resilience: ‘Ground Control to Major Tom’

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Our turbulent political climate, daunting outcomes of climate change and world disasters continues to mobilize businesses, individuals to collaborate on saving lives and tackle environmental issues.

Yet, billions remain in poverty, increasing numbers of people displaced by unprecedented natural disasters causing them to lose their homes, and complex patterns of people migration seeking a better life for their families.

While progress has been made in support of the Sustainability Development (SDG’s) goals, gaps ensue mitigating climate change, gender equality, and devising concrete solutions for people displaced by wars and natural disasters. 

 ‘All in all it’s just another brick in the wall’ 

Building a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico is not the sole answer to our problems and merely filters what you don’t want to see, emphasizing the spotlight on the realities of life, similarities with other international borders, peoples pain and suffering.

The nearly 2000 miles of U.S./Mexican border traversing desert, river, mountain and sea, is a place of heritage, ethnic diversity, diverse terrain, a legacy of land ownership and agriculture, hope and survival of mankind in pursuit of a better way of life. 

The political views represented among the 7.5 million residents in U.S. border counties span supporters of Trump’s wall, those who see their future - and the future of America - as being inextricably linked to that of their neighbors to the South, North, East and West. 

To be sure, Indigenous populations were there long before us and before their land was divided. 

 It is a global problem that is not unique to the U.S. and no one-size ‘brick’ or ‘wall’ to fit all.

 A recap of the top realities we face:

Women in Poverty: More than one in eight women in the U.S., 16.9 million lived in poverty last year. Poverty rates were particularly high for families headed by single mothers - 1 in 3 (36.5 percent) lived in poverty.  14.5 million poor children, more than half, live in families headed by women.  

Forced People Displacement: Wars, violence and persecution uprooted record numbers of men, women and children worldwide, making a new global deal on refugees more critical than ever.  The UN Refugee Agency’s annual Global Trends study found 68.5 million people had been driven from their homes across the world at the end of 2017.

Climate Change:  A recent IPCC report has underscored we only have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe and urgent need to cut risk of extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty. The world is currently 1C warmer than preindustrial levels. Following devastating hurricanes in the US, record droughts in Cape Town and forest fires in the Arctic, the IPCC makes clear that climate change is already happening, upgraded its risk warning from previous reports, and warned that every fraction of additional warming would worsen the impact.

Threatened Wildlife Species: African elephants remain under severe threat from poaching, habitat loss, and human-wildlife conflict.  In the 1970s, Africa was home to more than 1.3 million elephants. Today, 415,000 remain. 

Lack of Education in Africa: In sub-Saharan Africa, 9 million girls between the ages of about 6 and 11 will never go to school at all, compared to 6 million boys, according to UIS data. Their disadvantage starts early: 23% of girls are out of primary school compared to 19% of boys. 

Reputation Dynamics Predictions for 2019: 

What will be key to success for building resilience communities for the long-term will be ‘inclusiveness’ towards devising holistic approaches and solutions for restoring ecosystems that include multiple stakeholders including indigenous populations, women and refugees.   Specifically for:

Empowerment of Women and Girls:  Empowering women to participate fully in economic life is essential to build stronger economies and improve the quality of life for women, men, families and communities, including raising the bar on sector expertise and programs that enable economic security, mitigate domestic violence, close gender gaps in the workplace and communities at large.

Preservation of Forests:  Forests are a stabilizing force for mitigating climate change. They regulate ecosystems, protect biodiversity, play an integral part in the carbon cycle, support livelihoods, and supply goods and services that can drive sustainable growth. Approximately 2.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, one-third of the CO2 released from burning fossil fuels, is absorbed by forests every year. Estimates show that nearly two billion hectares of degraded land across the world – an area the size of South America – offer opportunities for restoration. 

Refugees in Protracted Exile Need Education: Refugee camps and villages show characteristics of short-term settlements, children are born, families are finding ways to survive, and communities hosting refugees are struggling with how to live, work and go to school together. Education plays a particularly vital role for those who are displaced and rebuilding their communities. 

Urban and Rural Development: With the increasing number of natural disasters, corporations, emergence of mission-critical foundations and nonprofits are re-thinking approaches to disaster relief and recovery efforts. While many organizations will continue to provide immediate relief to victims of natural disasters through cash grants and product donations, companies are taking a more pro-active approach to restoring and building resilient communities for the long-term. 

Tapping the Next Generation: Today, employees, particularly millennials, are passionate about social causes that benefit the greater good and expects to work for a company that supports causes they care about. Millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025 and they are looking for socially responsible employers.  Companies must improve how they advocate, market and align with their philanthropic commitments via experiential digital and mobile network communications.

Conclusion:  For the SDGs to be successfulthe co-creation of programs at the local and global level with businesses, academia, civil society/nonprofits will continue to be essential for restoring and building resilient communities for underserved populations. However, what is fundamental to success is to convene more alliances, break down silos, enforce dialogue and action on a more inclusive front.  

By: Samantha Taylor - Founder of Reputation Dynamics

Since 2005, Reputation Dynamics (RD) has been committed to addressing social, environmental and human justice issues. RD mobiizes corporations, NGOs/civil society and academia to devise share-valued approaches and develop inclusive partnerships.

I look forward to connecting with peers who are making the world a better place, advancing the Sustainable Development Goals. Please contact me at:  

sam@reputation-dynamics.com

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Reputation Dynamics and #GivingTuesday

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Reputation Dynamics is proud to support #GivingTuesday by forming inclusive partnerships and mobilizing collective action between the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. We are committed to building resilient communities and focus areas include forest and wildlife protection, women’s economic security and youth education.

Reputation Dynamics is excited to highlight the following client initiatives:

American Forests: Protecting and restoring threatened forest ecosystems.

http://www.americanforests.org 

Women’s Funding Network: Mobilizing the financial power and collective action of more than 100 foundations on the front lines of gender equality.

http://www.womensfundingnetwork.org

TCU’s Discovering Global Citizenship Program: African Rhino Community Centre (ARCC) for enhanced rhino protection and human development in South Africa.

https://planetrhino.tcu.edu

Reputation Dynamics - Elephant Art Shop:  Protection of the endangered African elephant species.

https://www.facebook.com/ElephantArtShop/

As we celebrate our national day of giving in support of nonprofit organizations, it is important to work together collectively to address our pressing world issues. Reputation Dynamics welcomes the opportunity to learn more about your #GivingTuesday initiatives, exchange knowledge and explore opportunities to collaborate.

We look forward to hearing from you and providing information about how to support these terrific initiatives.

Harambee.

Sam Taylor, Founder of Reputation Dynamics

#ReputationDynam

#GivingTuesday

Narrowing the Divide between the Rich and Poor: Field Trip Report with TCU in Panama

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Upon arrival into Panama City, one is struck by the new skyscrapers, architectural wonders and causeways in celebration of the prosperous trade traffic navigating the Canal, reporting fiscal revenues of $2.61 billion in 2015.

Panama is booming, with an average economic growth of 9 percent in the past five years, the highest in Latin America. Financial services and projects like the subway and multibillion-dollar expansion of the canal have contributed to this growth with the canal accounting for 10% of the country’s GDP.

However, Panama illustrates the starkest disparities of wealth in Latin America.  Poverty in Panama, according to the World Bank, is a rural and indigenous territories phenomenon, as can be seen in the once vibrant town of Colon, an hour’s drive from Panama City.

Despite the nation’s great wealth, we are reminded of the divide between the rich and poor, inequality that keeps almost 40 percent of its population in poverty – threatening to turn ‘The Boom to Bust’.  Furthermore, half of the country’s children are poor with nearly a fifth suffering from malnutrition.

I invite you to read more about my visit to Colon, Panama with staff/faculty members from TCU’s Discovering Global Citizenship Program and reflections about poverty. 

We took a very scenic train ride to Colon via the Panama railway fringing the edge of the canal and diverse, lush biodiversity with the occasional crocodile popping its head around passing ships.   The city of Colon sits by the Caribbean, wedged between a port and a cruise ship terminal. 


Our day began with breakfast at Hotel Washington, once a popular venue with its marble lobby and majestic pillars, commanding a view of the water and an abandoned ship.  The crumbling and neglected hotel with wires sticking out of walls in precarious places, is in desperate need of repair.

Today, Colon is where potable water, electricity, structurally sound buildings, and employment are all in short supply for the city’s 220,000 residents.

Yet in the early 1900s, during and after the construction of the canal, Colon blossomed with theaters, clubs, restaurants and finely manicured boulevards, hailing distinguished visitors like Albert Einstein.

The Lost Colon:

'The 98 cent tour’ with Sister Barbara who runs MUCEC, a non-profit charity supporting distressed women in Colon, provided a whole other perspective on poverty in a span of a mere 4/5 blocks.  We were told to leave our bags and not have any cameras exposed. Following closely on Sister Barbara’s earnest heels of conviction through the mess and stench of unsanitary conditions, she takes the hands of the children to ask if they had any food or water that day.  Sister Barbara, originally from Brooklyn, has committed her life to this community to help these families see hope of a future.

The visuals entailed rotting buildings with weeds sprouting from the cracks, a steady stream of sewage in the alleyways, jury-rigged water services, abandoned yellow taxis resting on deflated tires, while malnutritioned locals hang out in the streets.

As Panama City grew and modernized in the post-World War II era, Colon’s vibrance wore off. The ultimate closing of American military bases with the canal’s transfer to Panama in 1999 accelerated Colon’s deterioration. Crime and poverty grew, and the middle-class relocated to the suburbs, Panama City or out of the country.

Colon is the city that Panama forgot, in spite of vigorous development meant to court Caribbean cruise ships. Prior to 1869, the railroad connecting Panama City and Colon was the main transit across the continental Western Hemisphere. A last whiff of prosperity was seen during the construction of the Panama Canal.

Meanwhile, just around the corner from Colon is a $5 billion canal upgrade, a so you would think hub for economic development, skills development, creation of jobs and opportunity to improve livelihoods, including the 27,000 people that continue to live in condemned housing.

Colon’s duty-free trade zone, the largest in the Western Hemisphere, has done little to improve the town’s fortunes. Recent developments, including a hotel, an airport upgrade, a cruise ship dock enabling visitors to shop without entering the city’s squalor, have benefited mostly the businesses in the zone, a source of friction. Home to the zone’s 30,000 employees, Colon got lost in the middle of the free zone, and has become a challenge for the government, residents, businesses to revive what was once a thriving town.  Yet, it has been argued that projects like a new highway connecting Panama and Colon, the expansion of the canal, construction of a new hospital and other public works have reduced unemployment and poverty, yet these families continue to live in this squalor with no immediate way out.

Plans are now in place for the revitalization of Colon but with a lot of skeptism about how to realistically save and restore some of the crumbling buildings and historical assets, recently attracting preservation experts to write a plan with the help of organizations like the World Monuments Fund.  This will entail moving families out and securing the provision of basic human needs.  But how and to where?

In 2015 UN-Habitat reported signing two cooperation agreements with the cities of Colon and Panama to promote urban renewal and revitalization. These agreements, directly related to the issue of urban land use, planning and revitalization, seek to encourage public and private investment.

To be sure, such disparities are growing starker in rising economies like Peru, Brazil and Ecuador where communities are excluded in urban development and renovation plans, keeping the divide firmly intact between the rich and the poor. Fundamental to any progress will be addressing the racial discrimination that has stagnated Colon, getting people out of poverty, creating jobs and improving livelihoods.

This cannot be solved by government alone and will require other leaders from civil society, academia and international development partners to step in.  This is an opportunity to develop new models and approaches for mitigating poverty in the midst of social, cultural and political circumstances – scale and replication for ‘Boom to Bust’ scenarios such as Colon.

In conclusion, I share Sister Barbara’s powerful perspective, hope for Colon and communities trapped in poverty around the world:  Change does, however, occur. We have witnessed repeatedly violated, humiliated and oppressed women find shreds of human dignity from which to build new lives and to grow. We have seen the malnourished children of these women learn to read or just to say “thank you”. Once launched, the empowering search for self-respect and human dignity is not easily lost.  Hence, after years of slow, painful struggle, and almost constant evaluation, our prospects are stronger than ever, and our motto remains “Si podemos” – “Yes we can”.

By Sam Taylor, Founder of Reputation Dynamics.

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Sam Taylor is Senior Advisor to TCU’s Discovering Global Citizenship Program and accompanied Dr. Jane Kucko and John Singleton to learn more about the Universities work and community development partners.  TCU’s mission is to “educate individuals to think and act as ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the global community.”  The University transforms life and learning by infusing international perspectives and skills throughout the teaching, research and service missions with a focus on developing markets.

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About MUCEC: MUCEC began in 1985 with efforts to help some of the poorest of Colon’s impoverished inhabitants -- the abused women and their children with little or no income.  Unlike other programs, MUCEC seeks a permanent solution rather than a temporary fix of the problem via a handout. For more information: http://mucec.org/english/nosotros.html

 

 

 

Reputation Dynamics and #GivingTuesday

Reputation Dynamics is proud to support #GivingTuesday by building awareness, forming inclusive partnerships and mobilizing action between the for- and nonprofit sectors to protect the planet and improve livelihoods.  Specific focus areas include forest and wildlife protection, youth education and empowering women’s owned businesses. Reputation Dynamics is excited to highlight the following initiatives:

American Forests: Restore forests, create wildlife habitat and improve the health of the planet – www.americanforests.org.

Indego Africa:  A leadership Academy in Kigali, Rwanda to provide artisan partners with free advanced business training, equip these talented women with the tools they need to succeed as independent businesswomen and drive sustainable change in their communities – www.indegoafrica.org

As we celebrate our national day of giving in support of nonprofit organizations, it is important to work together collectively to address our pressing world issues. Reputation Dynamics welcomes the opportunity to learn more about your #GivingTuesday initiatives, exchange knowledge and explore opportunities to collaborate.

We look forward to hearing from you and providing information about how to support these terrific initiatives.

Harambee.

Sam Taylor, Founder of Reputation Dynamics

#ReputationDynam

 

 

 

Conscious Commerce: Realities of “Years of Living Dangerously”

images Protection of Forests: Critical For Future Generations

Deforestation is an increasing contributor to global warming and environmental change impacting the health and well-being of the most rural communities. To be sure, the transformation of forested lands by human actions and the removal of trees without sufficient reforestation is one of the greatest drivers of biodiversity destruction, conflict, loss of habitat and wildlife species, and poverty.

‘Realities at a Glance’

  • We are losing 137 plant, animal and insect species every single day due to rainforest deforestation, which equates to 50,000 species a year.
  • Regions such as Indonesia lost more than 6 million hectares of its primary forest -- an area the size of England -- from 2000 to 2012.*
  • About one half of the forests that covered the Earth are gone with only 40 billion hectares remaining today.
  • There are fewer than 300,000 chimpanzees remaining in the wild.
  • Only about 22% of the world's original forest cover remains "intact" – contained in three areas: the Canadian and Alaskan boreal forest, the boreal forest of Russia, and the tropical forest of the northwestern Amazon Basin and the Guyana Shield.**

In addition to the sourcing of paper and palm oil from forests, the impact of human behaviors continues to be profound. Forests are cleared, degraded and fragmented by timber harvest, conversion to agriculture, road-building, fires and in a myriad of other ways. The effort to use and subdue the forest has been a constant theme in the transformation of the earth, across societies and cultures, and is a major source of humanitarian conflict.

‘The Wake Up Call’

Deforestation has important implications for life on this planet. Forests are the foundation of the global ecological system, the lungs of our planet and crucial for the future sustainability and survival of generations.

Increasing population growth combined with poverty forces local communities to use forest resources in unsustainable ways in order to meet their basic needs such as food and water, as well as income generation for farmers and their families.

Meanwhile, with the quest for Africa’s natural resources at an all-time high including palm oil production, competition is rising for the global demand for forest and extractive industry products. Africa also lost 3.4 million hectares of its forested area between 2000 and 2010.***

Moving Beyond ‘Profits with Purpose’

The protection of forests, ecosystems and wildlife species can no longer be solved in isolation and requires more integrated approaches to address the complex challenges and interrelated links with poverty. This includes protecting farmers and their communities to ensure provision of food, shelter, health and skills training.

With the quest for new markets and customers, experts from multiple sectors – corporations, NGOs, fair trade and forestry experts - need to convene on shared value approaches for future ‘Years of Living in Prosperity’ in a globalized economy.

While an increasing number of corporations have committed to using sustainable palm oil and protecting forests, at the most fundamental level, consumers need to be educated about responsible purchasing options, integrity of ingredients and be included into the ‘Call to Action’ to preserve the planet’s natural resources. With the acceptance of corporate responsibility continuing to drive brand reputation and purchasing habits among consumers, behavior changes are needed to influence more responsible purchasing decisions.

Breaking down the systemic barriers to poverty is essential to preserving forests and protecting ecosystems to ensure the provision of basics human needs such as food and water, while developing responsible goods and services in the marketplace.

Traditional models of giving are continuing to evolve with the new sustainability imperative. This will ensure integration across multiple disciplines in the supply chain, while creating programs and product development strategies. These models will align giving at the heart of ‘People Connection’ while protecting families and communities.

In Conclusion: Corporations, supported by NGOs and governments, have profound shared values and our society cannot mitigate pressing social, economic and environmental issues without adapting to the realities of our planet and enlisting support from conscious-driven consumers.

By: Samantha Taylor – Founder of Reputation Dynamics.

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Sources:

  • Years of Living Dangerously: Showtime documentary series about the human impact on climate change
  • *Scientists: Belinda Arunarwati Margono, Fred Stolle: Nature Climate Change
  • **World Resources Institute
  • ***FAO Global Resources Assessment 2010

Conscious Commerce: Business and Social Innovation Trends for 2014

Rwanda

*Eradicating Poverty and Protection of Farming Communities Imperative for Improving Livelihoods*

The integration of ‘Doing Good in Society,’ new approaches and practices continues to evolve, becoming further embedded in business and throughout the supply chain,  raising the bar on industry performance and consumer loyalty.

In fact, according to a recent study, Profile of the Practice 2013, by the Carroll School of Management Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College, above-average industry performers are more likely to have a formal corporate citizenship department, led at the executive level, with higher budgets for corporate citizenship and charitable giving.  Today, almost 60% of companies now have an executive leading corporate citizenship - a 74% increase over 2010.

However, the companies that will be the most successful industry performers and maintain consumer loyalty will be those who have a hybrid approach to protecting the planet providing benefits to business and improving the lives of people in rural communities.

With increasing volatility of climate change, world disasters and emerging markets, fueling radical change in business and community response models, it is imperative to close the gap between consumer expectations and perceptions about corporate responsibility impacts to transform brands, manage reputations and motivate talent.

A recap of the top issues and realities we face:

Widening Gap between Poverty and Inequality:  Rates are high in the US and around the world with 46.5 million in the US and approximately 413 million in Africa.   These populations fail to meet their most basic needs with shortages of food, clean water and lack of access to proper education.     

 Vulnerable Children: There are more than 151 million orphans and vulnerable youth worldwide who are in need of a loving family and a prosperous future.

Climate Change: Increasing drought, flooding, and changing climatic patterns are at the route of hunger and poverty.  Deforestation is undermining the livelihoods of millions of people, requiring radical changes in farming practices and crop management.

Food Security and Agriculture:  The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that nearly 870 million people of the 7.1 billion people in the world, mostly living in developing countries, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012. This is due to not having enough land to grow, or income to purchase enough food.

Key predictions for 2014: Our ‘Knowledge-Driven’ Economy is Driving Market-Sector Relevance

Despite contributions from the private and public sectors, the social, cultural and environmental circumstances of populations in under-served markets remain complex and unsustainable requiring new approaches and investments to address poverty at the fundamental level.

Breaking down the systemic challenges of poverty is essential to protecting ecosystems to ensure the consistent provision of human needs such as food, health, shelter and education, while developing responsible goods and services in the marketplace.

The New Dynamics of Philanthropy:  Traditional models of giving are changing to motivate innovative change, ensure integration across multiple disciplines, supply chain, new market access and product development strategies. These models will increasingly align giving at the heart of ‘People Connection’ and protecting families.

Investment in Rural Communities: More correlation and alignment between trade, new and existing market access is the focus of community investment.  The co-creation of programs at the community-level with businesses, government and nonprofits aligned based on the market-sector needs of the economy is essential for growth and development:

  • Public-Private Partnerships: Community approaches are raising the bar on more inclusive partnerships to improve livelihoods and represents considerable benefits including co-creation of  community-driven and locally-owned models, provision of education, human needs, skills training and job creation;
  • Focus on Farming Communities and Agriculture:  A million ton cocoa shortage is anticipated by 2020 so supporting cocoa farmers in Africa and small-holder farming communities is key especially during times of drought;
  • Creating Jobs in the Supply Chain:  Investing in small- to mid- size companies in the supply chain to create jobs in rural communities;
  • NGOs: Aligning with NGOs to develop new standards for community measurement and impact.  Non-profits need help diversifying funding sources beyond individual donors, become less reliant on government funding, and seeking long-term partnerships and higher funding ranges with corporations.

Spotlight on Africa: More than 220 million Africans will join the middle class as consumers within five years, presenting opportunities to develop and sell more products and services.  Africa is the world’s fastest growing region after emerging Asia and fostering new approaches for development challenges, while providing opportunities to life millions out of poverty.

Story Telling: Companies must improve how they share, advocate and demonstrate their CSR commitments, inform and enlist participation from the public at large with authenticity and transparency.

In Conclusion: Corporations, supported by NGOs and governments, have profound shared values and our society cannot mitigate pressing social, economic and environmental issues without adapting to our knowledge-driven economy and increasing demands from conscious-driven consumers.

By: Samantha Taylor - Founder of Reputation Dynamics

It takes a Village to Raise A Child: A field report from Rwanda

DSCN1329In memory of Anne Heyman and acknowledgement of her contributions providing a future for Rwanda's children. May the legacy of her work continue to help orphans and vulnerable youth around the world. During the summer, I was fortunate enough to visit a community youth village in Rwanda on assignment for a client – Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village.  Not only an inspirational experience, it was educational and underscores the value of ‘Seeing is Believing’ as we tackle our complex global social, economic and humanitarian issues.

It was also no coincidence that I was preparing for new beginnings in my own life. I realized that nothing compares to what orphaned and vulnerable children have to suffer.  The reality is that there are still more than 151 million orphans and vulnerable youth worldwide who are in need of a loving family and prosperous future.

I invite you to read about my trip and learn more about Agahazo Shalom Youth Village (ASYV), a unique residential community and high school located in Rwanda, which is home to 500 vulnerable youth, many of whom were orphaned during and in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide.

DSCN1306Upon arrival at Agahazo-Shalom’s magnificent 144-acre campus with commanding views of a vast, lush green valley, one of the students who greeted me looked me straight in the eyes.

Piercing my heart and soul. I was struck by the confidence and vitality of these youth going about their activities around the village.

Founded and mostly funded by Anne Heyman and Seth Merrin in 2008, this remarkable community model has been developed based on ‘Restoring the Rhythm of Life,’ by providing a safe, structured environment in which they can heal and thrive.

Agahozo-Shalom means ‘a place to dry one’s tears in peace.’ It is indeed a place of peace and tranquility along with more than 100 species of birds.

The mission of the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village is to enable orphaned and vulnerable youth to realize their maximum potential by providing them with a safe and secure living environment, health care, education and necessary life skills.

Anne and her Founders built everything from scratch. They bought the land, they built the houses and dining room, imported vehicles and equipment, established a health clinic, installed a water pump and IT services, hired local staff, built a farm – all major accomplishments in less than five years.   This is marked by the famous mango tree which is home to many visitors and meetings.

DSCN1284My visit coincided with the first ASYV Alumni event and celebration for the 103 of 118 students, just six months after graduating from Agahozo-Shalom, who journeyed from all parts of Rwanda to gather, present art, music and words of reflection in anticipation of their future and jobs.

Rwanda, home to the famous silverback gorillas, is an attractive destination for future economic and social investment in Africa.  However, out of Rwanda’s total population of 11.5 million people, 25% are orphaned and vulnerable children. The lingering trauma of the 1994 genocide, which took nearly 1 million lives, still leaves many youth with little hope for a prosperous future.

DSCN1410Rwandan citizens struggle to achieve an adequate quality of life with 76% living on less than a dollar a day and 70% of university graduates are unemployed.

The village includes a state-of-the-art school, residential facilities, a health clinic, a farm, sports fields, an art and science center and Amphitheatre.  The vast dining hall serves these kids and staff three meals a day from the kitchen.  DSCN1336Interacting with these kids in the dining hall signifies community, camaraderie and celebration.  They have discos on Friday nights and on Sunday mornings you can join them in Gospel singing and worship.  Music is everywhere in the village and if not in dining hall, the students listen to radios.  Where ever I went with Anne around the campus, the students flock to ‘Grandma’ full of thanks, hope and praise for a chance of a future.  And ‘Village Time’ always brought special surprises and talents of the youth in performance art under the magical African sky in the Lily Safra Amphitheatre.

We are reminded of the power of art and music to help with trauma and healing.

At 5.30 am, amongst the shrilling birds, I wake to hear the kids playing the drums to start another day in the rhythm of life.

These kids, selected from districts around Rwanda, come from challenging circumstances, living on or making a living from the street, had no food or shelter, suffer abuse and conflict.

DSCN1433DSCN1296After a full day of school, meals, sports and electives the day concludes with reflection and family time in one of the communal houses of 16 students headed by nurturing family mums.  I heard a moving story from one of the students and his personal circumstances.

I took drugs to forget about my problems, spent nights crying because I did not have money for clothes, did not love anyone and had no hope. When I came to ASYV, I thought it was a dream. I started to reconstruct myself and over time I gained respect, helped others, developed hope, and envisioned my future’

Kigali Genocide Memorial Museum

A trip to the museum tells the history of Rwanda leading up to the genocide and catalogues the 1994 massacre with personal testimonials, photographs and videos.  There is also a small room dedicated to children, innocent victims of the genocide which are just heart wrenching.

I hung out with the kids one night at the art center to do some beading on a pen.  I was not able to complete it as the electricity went out and left to retrieve my torch light.  Towards the end of my trip, a select group of students wanted to see me before I left, they presented me with a couple of gifts…the finished beaded pen and a bracelet.

Anne Hayman’s belief in and commitment to these youth is summed up in a remark she made at the Alumni event.

“We wanted to teach you how to be thinkers. You have already exceeded our expectations and I know that for all of you it is just going to continue to get better”

The Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village represents a model that can be replicated to enable vulnerable youth around the world to become responsible citizens and have a prosperous future.

We invite your support of ASYV’s upcoming end of year campaign to ensure the provision of food, health, shelter and education programs for the 500 youth.

To support this terrific nonprofit, further information can be found at – www.asyv.org.

A video link of Reputation Dynamics journey with Anne Heyman  to Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village can be found at - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg3KP4SZk0s

Posted by Sam Taylor

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Employee Engagement 2.0: Business and Social Purpose

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Date: Thursday, December 12, 2013: 1.00 – 2.00 ET   Format: Webinar presented by Sam Taylor

The most successful organizations now must be driven by purpose as much as by profit. They also recognize that increasingly social purpose is becoming a critical component in terms of motivating, recruiting and retaining talent.

In this presentation, Sam Taylor, Founder and CEO of Reputation Dynamics, provides perspectives on how to align “Doing Good in Society” with business strategy, competitive edge and employee engagement. Topics covered include:

  • Why companies with a social purpose perform better
  • The role of social purpose in employee engagement
  • Case studies of how to drive a company with social purpose
  • Practical advice on how to seek out “do good” companies to work for, and more

This presentation is for any business leader who wants to gain insight into the far-reaching benefits of corporate social responsibility; for company Chief Talent Officers who care about retaining their best workers; and for any executive seeking a new opportunity with a company that has a strong social commitment.

We hope that you will be able to join us, for further information and to sign up, please visit – www.execunet.com

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A Salute to Women of Vision: Gloria Awards

MSFoundationGloriaMsFoundationDebCox Last night was a celebration of women and their contributions to fight for global justice at the Ms. Foundation for Women's 40th Anniversary co-hosted by Gloria Steinem and Anika Rahman. 

An inspiring list of honorees included:

  • Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton - champion of economic justice for women
  • Saru Jayaraman - co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Center United -workers rights and standards of equality
  • Kierra Johnson - Executive Director of  Choice USA - reproductive justice activist
  • Sunny Clifford - an Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota - access to emergency contraception
  • Lauren Embre - The Embrey Family Foundation - improving her community and the lives of women and girls worldwide
  • Diane von Furstenberg, founder of DVF Studio - mentor to women leaders and entreprenuers
  • Melinda Wolfe - Bloomberg L.P., diversity and professional development

The event hailed attendees from a variety of sectors including nonprofit, academic, foundations and representatives from the entertainment world including Canadian R&B singer-songwriter - Deborah Cox, American actor, dancer and singer - Ben Vereen and television host - Tom Murro.

There is still so much more to be done mobilizing the collective power of women to mitigate pressing world issues:

-American women still earn an average of 25% less than men

-Birth control and basic services are still controversial

-Every day, at least 800 women die while giving life and, unlike other global health challenges, most pregnancy and childbirth complicatoins can be prevented

The Ms.Foundation for Women fights to eliminate barriers for all women.  More information - www.forwomen.org.

Posted by Sam Taylor

Jeff Corwin’s Wild Adventures Launches at the Franklin Park and Stone Zoos, Boston

JCCWe are excited to announce the launch of ‘Jeff Corwin’s Wild Adventures' for families and their kids. JeffCorwinConnect, Inc. (JCC) co-founder, Emmy Award-wining TV host and wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin has launched his pioneering interactive audio tours - ‘Jeff Corwin’s Wild Adventures’ - at two of the most prestigious zoos in New England – Franklin Park and Stone Zoos. Over 680,000 visitors of all ages will have the opportunity to go on a “Wild Adventure” with Jeff as their personal guide and to learn about the different animals residing at the Zoos. The audio tours will focus on the challenges these endangered species face today, and encourage visitors to get involved with conservation programs at the Zoos.

JeffCorwinConnect has partnered with French company Orpheo Inc to develop and provide the latest cutting edge technology for this program which was designed for visitors of all ages. The audio tours are offered on iPod Touch devices that have a custom app, which is interactive and allows visitors to plot their own trails while being able to track which exhibits they have already seen. The app also greatly reduces the need for using paper maps and is eco-friendly by design. Visitors also get to hear the calls (sounds) and see images with close ups of the animals on the devices. This ensures that visitors experience beyond what is visible or heard when at the Zoos.

JeffCorwinConnect is a wildlife-nature focused, global trans-media edutainment company that develops branded mobile, digital and consumer products, creating online and onsite experiences, for kids and families.

Please contact us regarding partnership and sponsorship opportunities to advocate for and protect our endangered species.

Conscious Commerce: Business and Social Innovation Trends for 2013: 'Raising the Bar on Private-Public Partnerships'

Earth boy - AfricaWhile corporate responsibility and sustainability (CR) continues to fuel radical change in business and philanthropic models, reputation management and employee engagement, CR alone is not enough to mitigate pressing social issues and consequences of climate change. Despite contributions from the private and public sector, the social, cultural and environmental circumstances of populations in under-developed markets remain complex and unsustainable.   A recap of the daunting realities we face include:

  • Water: Nearly 800 million people lack dependable access to clean water and about 2.5 billion people lack access to modern sanitation, putting them at risk of disease;
  • Hunger: About 1 billion people across the globe go to bed hungry every night, 200 million of them are children;
  • Education: 60 million children are deprived of access to education;
  • Blindness: 45 million blind and 135 million visually impaired people live around the world, of which 90 percent live in under-developed countries; 
  • Poverty: 61 percent of Africa’s one billion people live on less than $2 a day;  
  • Climate Change: Driven by fossil fuel use and deforestation, is undermining the livelihoods of millions of people.

Meanwhile, corporations are continuing to explore growth, investment and social impact opportunities overseas including China, Asia and now Africa is the new spotlight. These markets represent the four billion people who live in poverty and potential customers for new products and services.

Africa is Rising: Africa is the world’s fastest growing region after emerging Asia with Africans expected to number 2 billion by 2050.  By 2020, more than half of African households are projected to have discretionary income: 85m-130m. This economic expansion is fostering new approaches for development challenges while providing the opportunity to lift millions out of poverty. The Obama administration recently launched a ‘Doing Business in Africa’ initiative to promote economic growth, trade and investment in Africa.

The Power of NGOs: NGOs have become increasingly influential in world affairs, and the World Bank estimates that more than 15 percent of total overseas development aid is channeled through NGOs.  They are the new leaders for the conscious movement representing broad public interest, expertise in the field, tackling complex social and environmental issues.  NGOs are developing new standards for community change and impact, have the connections with local governments and businesses to change policies.  Non-profits are diversifying funding sources, becoming less reliant on government funding, and seeking long-term partnerships with corporations.

The Role of Public-Private Partnerships: Corporations continue to be challenged by developing solutions for sustainable, long term change to scale.  Further dedication of resources toward more inclusive private and public partnerships is critical for improving livelihoods and represents considerable benefits for both parties including co-designing community-driven and owned models, building quality programs, skills training and job creation.

The collective power of partnerships’ are fundamental to properly understanding and navigating the economic, social and political circumstances of our most vulnerable communities in need.

Corporations, supported by NGOs and governments, have profound shared values and our society cannot progress, break new ground, or mitigate our pressing world issues without greater collaboration.

By Samantha Taylor

Helen Keller International - Preventing Blindness and Reducing Malnutrition

HKIReputation Dynamics is excited to work with Helen Keller International on corporate development.  Founded in 1915 by Helen Keller and George Kessler, Helen Keller International (HKI) is among the oldest international NGOs (non-governmental organizations) devoted to preventing blindness and reducing malnutrition in the world. HKI currently work in 22 countries: 13 in Africa, 8 in Asia-Pacific, and the United States.  HKI's mission is to save the sight and lives of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.  HKI combats the causes and consequences of blindness and malnutrition by establishing programs based on evidence and research in vision, health and nutrition.  For example, HKI's Vitamin A supplementation programs have helped save the sight and lives of nearly 100 million children in Africa.

For more information - www.hki.org - and please contact me if you would like further information about this terrific nonprofits work led by CEO, Kathy Spahn.

Reputation Dynamics Charity: Give The Gift of Water: Samburu Trust

A community of up to 2,000 can benefit from a single waterhole, built by local labor for $25,000. Help us reach our $25,000 fund raising goal to construct one reservoir. We have raised $10,000 so far.

Please Give Now:

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Key Issues In Northwestern Kenya: 70% of children will remain illiterate without access to school 51% of the population suffer from blinding trachoma 82% of women walk over 30 minutes for drinking and household water  In Kenya only 38% of the rural population has easy access to safe water
The Water Challenge
The Water Challenge Video
Ol Malo Lodge www.olmalo.com

Samburu trust

www.samburutrust.org

On January 16, 2012 our group climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the highest peak on the continent of Africa, and the tallest free standing mountain on earth to fundraise for a water reservoir for the Samburu people and wildlife in Northern Kenya. We then visited the Ol Malo project and founding director of the Samburu Trust, Julia Francombe, to learn more about her incredible work for the Samburu people who have been severely impacted by Kenya's drought. I invite you to read more about a nonprofit dedicated to working with the Samburu people to secure their land, its wildlife and shared future.

I was extremely fortunate to spend an impressionable part of my childhood growing up in Kenya, East Africa which continues to have a profound impact on my life, work and spiritual journey. At the age of 10, I remember staring at the magnificent ice cap of Kilimanjaro while on regular family safaris in the Amboselli Game Reserve and longing to climb it. It had a lot more snow then and, due to climate change, today its ice cap is forecast to disappear entirely within 20 years.

With the increasing spotlight on Africa for business and community development, I longed to return to Kenya despite fear and trepidation that my treasured memories would be shattered. I decided that it was important to go back with a social purpose which is how "Climb Kilimanjaro for Water" was created.

Along with fellow trip organizer Christine Barker, it was important to select a cause that was tangible and could have impact among a plethora of initiatives addressing social and humanitarian issues in Africa. We selected water as a priority concern.

My associate Dominique Callimanopulos at Elevate Destinations introduced us to Julia Francombe, daughter of Colin and Rocky Francombe, who own a private ranch called Ol Malo in the North Western region of Kenya. Julia created the Samburu Trust in 2000, in response to Kenya experiencing the worst drought in living memory which has impacted the health and livelihoods of the Samburu people.

The Samburu, quite distinct from the Masai, are semi-nomadic pastoralists who herd mainly cattle but also keep sheep, goats and camels. The name they use for themselves is Lokop or Loikop, a term that implies to them as "owners of the land" ("lo" refers to ownership, "nkop" is land). The Samburu move with their herds of cattle, sheep and goats in search of pasture and water.

After a fairly smooth flight from Nairobi to Liosaba we embarked on an extremely rocky and bumpy hour and a half road trip to Ol Malo.  We were greeted by Rocky Francombe and an absolutely breath taking view of Kenya's Northern Frontier District from the edge of a rugged escarpment where Ol Malo sits on the end of the Laipikia Plateau.

Built, owned and managed by Colin and Rocky Francombe, with the help of the Samburu people, Ol Malo is built out of natural local materials sculpted into a luxury lodge along the edge of a rocky hillside. Slated pathways wind down to four private rock and olive wood cottages. Every attention has been paid to detail, privacy and value of self reflection in the dreamy backdrop of the African plains. About 20 or so elephant were taking water from a reservoir in the distance while the adopted family pet Kudu strolled in to join us for our buffet lunch.

While Julia was in transit from Nanyuki, Colin had arranged for us to visit a local Samburu settlement known as a manyatta. A manyatta may consist of only one family, a man and his wife/wives. Each woman has her own house, which she builds with the help of other women out of local materials, such as sticks, mud and cow dung. Large ritual settlements, known as lorora, may consist of 20 or more families. Settlements comprise housing two or three families, with 5-6 houses built in a circle with an open space in the middle. The circle is surrounded by an acacia thorn bush fence and the center of the village keeps animal pens safe from predators.

They are people both proud and protective of their culture and the ancestral lands to which it binds them. Their settlements are positioned in areas of beauty, while they also give great attention to their physical appearance, color and adornment.The Samburu, wearing Shukkas wrapped around their waists, arrange their hair into elaborate plaits and wear hand crafted beaded jewelry which is produced by the women.

We were in for a treat as the male Samburu warriors performed their traditional dance with considerable vertical leaps, encouraged by the cries of other warriors, while the young Samburu women watched from the side lines joining in with their rhythmic chanting as appropriate. The chants and dances signify the blessing of cattle, preparation for war and victory in a hunt.

When I was living in Kenya, it was very difficult and oftentimes not allowed to take pictures or video of the Masai or Samburu. We were careful to ask permission and they were absolutely fascinated by the cameras often giggling at pictures of themselves and actually encouraging us to take more.

We were invited inside into a dark and smoky manyatta and sat next to a fire, while our guide Luya explained the process for preparing a staple diet of milk and blood which was being mixed in a gourd by one of the Samburu wives.  Curious children would pop in bringing more sticks for the fire and reach out to hold our hands, accompanied by chickens.

Sitting in the warmth of the fire of the Francombe's intimate living room, Julia arrived with her daughter and dogs, Cindy and Foxy right behind her.  A courageous, fearless leader and visionary, it is of course no co-incidence that Julia climbed Kilimanjaro at the age of 14 and spent the nights in caves.

Julia and her family have developed a remarkable charity, the Samburu Trust, working in an area of approximately 1 million acres whose path follows the migratory people and wildlife within the Waso ecosystem, representing a troubled community of 26,400 people with considerable issues to address.

The 2000 drought resulted in the Samburu people of Northern Kenya losing 80% of their livestock. As herds recovered, they were hit by successive droughts in 2006 and 2009. Changing weather patterns, over-saturation of livestock and land mismanagement have triggered repeated emergencies of food security, poverty and tribal conflict.

Woken by a most dazzling sun rise and three rare Stone Partridge birds on the window sill, Julia took us on a tour to show us the priority project areas, reservoirs and school settlements. Little did we know that we would be put to a water challenge later on in the day.

As we drove into the trust area, several Samburu women were sitting around the property making jewelry out of the beadwork - another business set up under the Samburu Trust. Ol Malo designs produces beadwork that supports the Samburu directly.

Today, the trust runs several programs including educating children through a network of nomadic schools, eradicating trachoma, improving general health, protecting wildlife and providing sustainable water for the livestock, wildlife and people who are an integral part of the ecosystem.

Julia took us to the first ever location for a reservoir - Matasia.

"This was the first group of Samburu women I got to know, Cheeky Dermaris, Mama Biaso. I spent days with them at home and was shocked by the distance they had walked to get water. The women would walk 3-4 hours every two days to get unclean, polluted water," said Julia.

Julia took action and built the first reservoir - Matasia Reservoir - which has been a great success, providing water for more than 10,000 head of cattle during the drought. The water lasts for up to 3 months.

Julia's close association with the Samburu has enabled the Trust make a continuous and accurate assessment of theneeds of the people, its culture, wildlife and the environment through the creation of dedicated programs.  She has also been able to achieve this with the help of her Samburu Manager - Munytaki Liokitop.

"I have made some mistakes and tried to push projects. My vision is that the projects are designed by the Samburu for the Samburu - we work hand in hand with them. Our plan for 100 years and beyond our lifetime" said Julia.

We had the honor of being invited to have tea in her managers Manyatta, meet one of his wives, Kiliwas, who just had a baby girl and mingled with children who have trachoma. Julia is spending a lot of time providing education about trachoma and how to prevent it which continues to be a great challenge.

We were then escorted to another dam next to a water troff surrounded by cattle, where Christine and I were tasked with our water challenge - carrying water from the reservoir to the car and over a brick wall.  Despite our mountain fitness, it was a challenge to say the least.  After about 10 minutes, we could not carry the potable container any further and were humbled by how heavy a container of water was - 20 litres. It is Julia's goal to reduce the time carrying water from 3 hours to half an hour.

In addition to the reservoirs, Julia has created two schools, Ol Malo and Kalwalash, with two teachers per school where 50 children attend per school and plans to build more. These schools are very unique in that they are owned and run by the tribal elders - following the Kenyan curriculum - they also include song and dance, are earthy and organic.

"Our vision was to have a Naitengen - translated means an area where knowledge is passed - knowledge to read, knowledge of the land and water, the cattle, culture and wildlife in which the Samburu people live," said Julia.

On an early morning horseback ride, I got to see the children participate in a dance before start of school. These lucky children get to go to school and learn the value of water, including washing their hands and faces.

Julia had a little surprise for us at the the end of the day, she showed us the exact location for the new reservoir that we are fund raising for - to be built to the left of the big rock.

"New Site: Ol Donyo Lotim"

Julia has a very aggressive 10 year plan and many compelling programs to support her dream and vision. The provision of water is essential for success. There are plans to build 120 open water reservoirs over a ten year period, thereby providing clean water within a 30 minute walk of every Samburu homestead. Open water reservoirs are a sustainable water supply, preventing erosion and providing people, their livestock and wildlife access to safe, clean water.

Now that's an added incentive and satisfaction that my memories of Kenya were not shattered but sharpened by its beauty, cultural diversity and soul that has something to teach us all.

By Sam Taylor

sam@reputation-dynamics.com

212 979 6092

Long way to go: Banks slow to embrace CSR for reputation recovery

CSR Best Logo The financial services sector has undoubtedly had much to contend with in recent years. Following the collapse of Goldman Sachs in September 2008, growth stumbled to a halt and the banks became whipping boys for the media and politicians - perhaps not totally undeservedly - for their role in the financial crisis.

Today, rebuilding stakeholder trust combined with enforcing stricter financial regulations are top priorities for all banks.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has emerged as a critical tool for organizations to protect reputation, empower employees and rebuild trust with its stakeholders. Multiple industries are continuing to embrace the benefits of CSR, but the financial services sector is still lagging behind.

A committed CSR policy acts as a self-regulating mechanism enabling a business to monitor and ensure it is compliant with the rule of law, adopting ethical standards and ensuring transparency.

The 2012 100 Best Corporate Citizens List (http://www.thecro.com), recently published by Corporate Responsibility Magazine, provides an index of top corporate citizens ranked on seven categories to determine the annual ranking – employee relations, human rights, climate change, philanthropy, governance, environmental and financial performance.

This year's list was topped by global pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb, while the technology sector was well represented with IBM, Microsoft and Intel taking the next three spots. The top ten also included companies as diverse as Accenture, Campbell Soup and Nike.

However, not only were there no banks in the top ten, there were none in the top 50. The highest ranked financial services company, ranked 56, was JP Morgan Chase & Co. Only two others made the top 100, Wells Fargo (80) and State Street Corp (83).

This illustrates how the financial services industry has been slow to embrace CSR and recognize the benefits it can bring. Banks have traditionally placed greater emphasis on compliance and issues posing a 'direct risk' including being held liable for polluting the environment.

The industry has only recently begun to appreciate the importance of more 'indirect risks', such as reputation and the responsibility of banks related to lending activities (client's solvency/continuity or collateral). Risk management is no longer just about the potential financial risks, but increasingly the environmental and social consequences of lending money to clients with dubious sustainability performances. With everything that the financial services sector has endured in recent years perhaps it isn't surprising that CSR hasn't been top of mind in the boardrooms of many financial institutions but that is a mistake that banks simply can't afford to continue to make.

A notable company is Bank of America, which updated it core values and operating principals after adopting a CSR approach. The company published it first CSR report last year and its progress was recently recognized with a PR News award. The report details its socially responsible initiatives, which are now part of the bank's overall strategy. These include:

  • Funding solar power and energy efficiency programs
  • Supporting the revitalization of neighborhoods across the US
  • Lending and investing in small businesses that are the backbone of the economy
  • Encouraging employees to volunteer over a million hours in nonprofits and community organizations
  • Funding innovative arts and culture organizations

"The progress reflected in this report demonstrates our commitment to creating opportunities that help the economy move forward through responsible business practices, lending, investing and charitable giving," said Anne Finucane, Bank of America's global strategy and marketing officer.

While Bank of America represents how CSR is starting to make an impact in the financial services sector, the Best Corporate Citizens List demonstrates how the industry as a whole needs to step up to the plate. CSR is an important opportunity for banks to take responsibility for their actions and positively impact stakeholder groups.

If the banking sector is to truly succeed in rebuilding its battered reputation there needs to be a more serious commitment to becoming socially responsible and engaging with the key issues that stakeholders demand. Is your company doing enough?

Posted by Sam Taylor.

Emerging Market Spotlight: Improving Health and Livelihoods in Africa

A recent Wall Street Journal article titled, U.S. Companies Race to Catch Up in Africa, addressed the issues American companies are facing expanding and selling more products in Africa, a market predicted to grow in the coming decade. According to McKinsey & Co, 220 million Africans will join the middle class as consumers within five years. The Wall Street Journal article states:

“U.S. companies' game of catch-up shows the perils of waking up late to the next big frontier market, Africa. The continent's economy is forecast to grow to $2.6 trillion in 2020 from $1.6 trillion in 2008, fueled by booms in mining, agriculture and development of ports, roads and other infrastructure, according to McKinsey Global Institute. The middle class is growing and total household spending now exceeds that of India.”

While the article features many of the challenges Africa presents, (a multitude of regional logistics and laws, changing governments and difficult environment for supply chain development) the article does not address solutions towards aligning profits with purpose.

Often termed base-of-the-pyramid (BOP) markets, these markets represent the 4 billion people who live in poverty and a potential customer base for corporations. However, approaches are fragmented and vulnerable communities are too often considered ‘problem children.’ Corporations continue to be challenged by how to properly access, invest and operate in these untapped markets.

No matter how large the company or brand, the lack of on-the-ground relationships, understanding about local laws and customs, implications of a weak governance system, and limited local capacity for building partnerships, can undermine authenticity of business and social engagement.

To succeed in Africa, companies need to adopt different approaches and properly navigate the economic, social and political circumstances of these communities.

Social intelligence is at the nexus where companies can look to make up for “waking up late” to the African market. While China may have a better financial foothold on Africa, this is in large part due to U.S. hesitation to grant trade terms to countries that are failing to adequately support human rights, market-based economies, and the rule of law - scruples which China has notably lacked in doing countries in Africa. By demonstrating long-term corporate social responsibility programs and investment in their African stakeholders, U.S. companies can win over the competition and prosper in the continent.

Companies also have the opportunity to extend current social purpose initiatives to improve the health and livelihoods of populations impacted by poor health and malnutrition, lack of access to safe, drinking water:

  • Nearly 1 billion people lack access to safe water
  • Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease
  • Maternal Health: More than 350,000 women die annually from complications during pregnancy or childbirth, almost all of them — 99 per cent — in developing countries.

Companies can learn from their peers, exchange best practices and knowledge sharing in the interests of collaborative action. For example:

P&G created the Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program aligned with their products to solve the problems facing many communities due to the lack of access to clean drinking water. The program works with more than 100 partners in 60 countries (many in Africa) to hand out PUR packets, a water purifying technology developed by P&G and the Center for Disease Control – the product has saved more than 16,000 lives.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters ensures a healthy and prosperous supply chain, from coffee-growing communities in Latin America, Indonesia, and Africa, to manufacturing operations in China. GMCR focuses on the food security for farmers and their families especially during times of drought. GMCR and The Coffee Trust debuted, After the Harvest: Fighting Hunger in the Coffeelands, a documentary about food insecurity in coffee communities.

The Power of Nonprofits

Properly align with nonprofits/NGOs that specialize in key sectors such as healthcare, education, nutrition and economic development. They have the expertise and knowledge in the field, understand the local customs and social intelligence. A couple of non-profit examples include:

InterAction, the largest alliance of more than 190 US-based international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), is leading a collaborative dialogue between U.S. businesses and its members. The new InterAction Business Councils’ mission is to decrease poverty, promote social and economic development via inclusive partnership development between the corporate and NGO sectors.

Indego Africa attacks systemic poverty by delivering access to export markets and job skills to African women in Rwanda by partnering with artistic cooperatives to produce contemporary crafts for export around the world. that poverty in Africa. So far, Indego has partnered with more than 250 women in Rwanda working for five for profit cooperatives.

Not a ‘One size fits all’ Approach

If U.S. Corporations want sustainable results in Africa, they need to ensure their policies and programs include the following considerations:

  • Align the local market community assets and benefits with their business – rather than business interpreting the interests of the community;
  • Recognize the social value and considerable assets such as the people, local customs and resources;
  • Promote more ethical, responsible and sustainable business policies;
  • Change traditional norms and behavior by influencing the development of new lifestyles among poor consumers including new products and services;
  • Expand on the networks and usability of the goods/services already owned;
  • Design and co-create models from within the communities to include leadership, capacity and infrastructure development.

Disaster Relief Employee Volunteering - Field Report from Haiti and Update on Japan Plans

We are taking this opportunity to provide you with an update on the significant progress being made by Elevate Destinations Disaster Relief Programs.  In addition to completing another successful Haiti trip, Elevate Destinations won a prestigious honor from National Geographic Traveler and is planning a volunteer relief initiative in Japan.

Haiti – Report from the Field: In March 2011, the Elevate Haiti trip was an unequivocal success.  Volunteers from all over the United States were able to:

  • Raise over $10,000 for the St. Joseph’s Family and the rebuilding of their homes for orphaned and ex-slave children.
  • Bond and play with the kids, sharing extraordinary moments filled with laughter and music.
  • Contribute to amazing progress on the construction of both the Port-au-Prince Home and the Jacmel Community Center extension.
  • Show solidarity with Haitians during their rebuilding phase.
  • Support the employment of over 20 Haitian workers hired for the rebuilding process.

We invite you to review the report and “Before & After” pictures from Urgent Service Travel Director, Andrea Atkinson. “The first time I was in Haiti was in May 2010. It was 4 months after the earthquake. It had been 4 months since St. Joseph's School for Boys had been ravaged and Bill, the director, had fallen from the 7th story to the ground below, saved from being crushed by the rubble only by the strength of a sturdy tree that held it back”. Read the full report from Haiti here.

However, there is still more to be done.  Ongoing funding, volunteers, and support are crucial to the completion of the new orphanage – which will benefit more children than in the 28 years prior combined. The building will be completed in 2013.  Until then, we have a monumental but achievable task ahead.

Disaster Response in the Gulf: Our trip to the Gulf to help with restoring marine habitats after the BP Oil Spill is being planned for next year. Our partnership with non-profit, Ocean Foundation, is developing and expanding as we learn of additional needs in the region caused by the recent tornadoes. A custom trip is possible upon request.

Disaster Relief Plans for Japan: Elevate Destinations is saddened by the tragedy that continues to grip Japan and is moved by the amazing interest in volunteering in the country. Elevate Destinations is working to secure effective partnerships with non-profits in Japan, so that when the country is ready for second response disaster relief, we are ready to mobilize. We are focusing again on the needs of the many children orphaned by the earthquake and tsunami to help them rebuild their lives.  We expect to offer a volunteer trip late this year or early in 2012.

National Geographic Traveler Award: The trip "Elevate Haiti: Jacmel Community School Volunteer Build-Out," has been selected as one of National Geographic Traveler magazine’s 2011 “50 Tours of a Lifetime,” and is featured in the May/June 2011 issue - Read the article online

About Elevate Destinations Disaster Relief Programs: Elevate Destinations is a social enterprise with expertise in travel organizing and humanitarian issues. Elevate’s staff has extensive knowledge of international sustainability development issues to ensure that each service opportunity is economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable for the long-term. Elevate Destinations custom designs extraordinary individual, group, and family trips, donating a percentage of profits to the protection of natural resources and community development in destination countries. These programs provide communities with funding, resources, and human capital, enabling concerned citizens to engage in urgent service and life-changing experiential learning. Additional information about the sponsorship benefits and costs is available at http://www.elevatedestinations.com/urgentservicesponsor.html

Elevate Destinations and Reputation Dynamics has partnered together to help corporations combine corporate contributions with first hand employee participation, maximizing positive impact for employee engagement and the communities that are most affected.  Please contact us to explore how we can help you design signature programs worldwide, tailored to your company's strategic giving interests.

Sam Taylor

Disaster Relief Employee Volunteering and Sponsorship Opportunities - Haiti and the Gulf

Commitment to disaster response and relief programs is an increasing priority for corporate responsibility and community development programs. This is due to the frequency and severity of natural disasters that have occurred in the United States and around the world. In just the past five years, we have witnessed catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti Earthquake and the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill.  In addition to donating money and resources, employee volunteer programs represent significant benefits and opportunities for corporations.  In addition to providing financial donations and in-kind support, employee volunteer programs enable companies to cultivate more personal links to the community by sharing human talent with organizations in need.

Elevate Destinations is offering disaster relief employee volunteering and/or sponsorship opportunities in Haiti and the Gulf.  Their programs provide communities with funding, resources and human capital, enabling concerned citizens to engage in urgent service and life-changing experiential learning.

Upcoming Trips:

Elevate Haiti: Jacmel Community School Volunteer Build-out March 20 - April 3, 2011; 
August 14 - 28, 2011; and November 20December 4, 2011.

Port-au-Prince Boy’s Home Rebuild March 20 - 28, 2011; August 14 - 22, 2011; and November 2027, 2011 Non-profit Partner: St. Joseph’s Family

Elevate the Gulf: April 22 - April 30, 2011 Non-profit Partner: The Ocean Foundation

There are opportunities to be involved in several ways:

  • Sponsor a volunteer trip. By supporting a volunteer trip as a Single Trip SponsorSeries Sponsor or a Top Sponsor, you support a local community project as well as a group of volunteers already committed to hands-on disaster relief. You commit to the recovery of a community in need by providing needed resources to the project and offsetting the costs that devoted volunteers take on to participate.
  • Send employee volunteers. When you support your employees’ desires to engage in volunteer experiences, you not only commit to disaster relief, but also commit to building a team of loyal and dedicated employees. You have the opportunity to send one or more of your employees on the trip of the lifetime as a Single Trip SponsorSeries Sponsor or a Top Sponsor.

Additional information about the sponsorship benefits and costs is attached, along with a linkhttp://www.elevatedestinations.com/urgentservicesponsor.html.

Elevate Destinations is a social enterprise with expertise in travel organizing and humanitarian issues. Elevate’s staff have extensive knowledge of international sustainability development issues to ensure that each service opportunity is economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable for the long-term. Elevate Destinations custom designs extraordinary individual, group,and family trips, donating a percentage of profits to the protection of natural resources and community development in destination countries (www.elevatedestinations.com).

Elevate Destinations Press and Recognition:

Travel + Leisure – November 2010 “Best Life-changing Trips” Haiti: Help Heal A Nation Los Angeles Times – June 2010  “Haiti: Volunteer vacations to help rebuild quake areas”

For further information, please contact me at sam@reputation-dynamics.com

elevatechildren

Conscious Commerce: Business and Social Innovation Trends for 2011

Despite a difficult economic environment and companies cutting costs throughout their businesses, corporate responsibility (CR) remained a priority in 2010, and in fact, corporations are expanding their commitments - especially aligning business with social innovation in emerging markets around the world.

CR is continuing to add a new dimension to the business strategy providing market, product and community growth opportunities. CEOs and boardrooms are recognizing the benefits of being a responsible citizen including enhanced reputation, stakeholder engagement, business performance, as well as restoring trust.

However, there's a need for a more holistic approach toward mitigating pressing issues, such as, inclusive partnership development that further aligns and mobilizes action among businesses, governments and civil society - for deeper community impact.

Topline trends and considerations for 2011...

CR spending on the rise: According to a poll conducted by Business for Social Responsibility among 377 professionals among BSR member companies, nearly all (94 percent) of the respondents said that their companies plan to maintain or increase their budgets for CSR/sustainability programs 2011.Source: "BSR/GlobeScan State of Sustainable Business Poll 2010"

Top social concerns: Top issues include disaster relief, agriculture and food security, workers rights, healthcare, nutrition and climate change. Women and youth are a key focus. A couple of interesting initiatives include:

  • 1000 Days: Change a Life, Change the Future supports international experts and advocates working to improve early nutrition. Each year, 3.5 million mothers and children under five die as a result of malnutrition. Several organizations have come together to ensure that children and families get a healthy start to life including InterAction, Bread of the World, Concern, Save the Children, World Vision and the Hunger Project. For more information -http://www.thousanddays.org/
  • International Year of the Youth: In an effort to harness the energy and initiative of our next generation in overcoming the challenges facing humankind, the United Nations proclaimed an International Year of Youth which started on 12 August 2010. Under the theme 'Dialogue and Mutual Understanding,' the Year aims to encourage understanding across generations and promote the ideals of peace and respect for human rights. For more information: http://social.un.org/youthyear/index.htm

Emerging markets spotlight: There is increasing investor interest in Africa, one of the world's largest emerging markets with one billion consumers. Consumer spending rose at a compounded annual rate of 16% to 2008 from 2005, according to McKinsey & Co. The firm estimates that about 220 million Africans will join the middle class as consumers within five years. Business-driven partnerships are addressing Africa's development challenges in new and innovative ways.

Inclusive partnerships: Forge deeper partnerships with non-profit social and environmental actors - NGOs, (UN Agencies, development agencies and civil society organizations). Proper evaluation, alignment and collaboration within the NGO community is critical for business and social impact, and represents considerable benefits for both parties. These include building quality programs and capacity, access to new markets/talent, donor acquisition and product innovation. For a vetted list of NGOs that adhere to a set of ethics and compliance standards, check out - www.interaction.org.

Employee volunteering: Employee volunteer programs continue to be on the rise and represent significant benefits for corporations.  In addition to providing financial donations and in-kind support, employee volunteer programs enable companies to motivate employees and cultivate more personal associations to communities. For further information about opportunities in Haiti and The Gulf, please contact Sam at sam@reputation-dynamics.com.

Demonstration and accountability: Measurement is becoming increasingly important to corporate boards and shareholders who expect to be educated about the value of CSR in advancing ROI. Corporations need to share more information about their initiatives to key stakeholders and demonstrate impact. A growing roster of companies are participating in the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Social Accountability International (SAI), and other networks with accountability and transparency standards.

Corporations have the opportunity to 'Turn it up a notch' by continuing to align business strategy for future development and growth - creating solutions that benefit communities and corporate bottom lines. In conclusion, it is critical to:

  • Ensure that social issues are embedded into the business strategy and throughout the supply chain
  • Understand the marketplace context, customs, culture and social issues
  • Properly identify and align with competent non-profits/NGOs that specialize in key sectors such as healthcare, education and nutrition
  • Develop grass-roots programs in their local communities
  • Further retain and attract talent via development of employee engagement and volunteering programs
  • Mobilize action among businesses, government and civil society
  • Report and demonstrate social progress

By Sam Taylor

8th Annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations

friendshipThe MDG Executive Sessions for Young Professionals -Thursday & Friday, January 20 & 21, 2011 Location: United Nations Headquarters, New York City

The MDG Executive Sessions is a two-day forum providing an opportunity to network with young working professionals, UN representatives, and corporate leaders at the United Nations.  Young Professionals from around the world will participate in panel discussions and case study think tanks about corporate social responsibility, social enterprise development, and capacity building strategies to realize the 8 United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  The Annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations demonstrates what committed, global youth leaders can and have accomplished in support of the MDGs.

Friendship Ambassadors Foundation has partnered with the International Youth Council on the Youth Assembly at the United Nations

Sam Taylor of Reputation Dynamics will be moderating a panel on behalf of The Friendship Ambassadors Foundation on Friday, January 21st.

A Corporate Perspective on Social Responsibility

The Global Compact and PepsiCo: A Report from the Field

Daniel Bena, Director of Sustainable Development for PepsiCo

Samantha Taylor, In Conversation                 

Program Highlights: 

  • Opening & Closing Ceremonies featuring Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Enterprise Leaders and UN Agency Officials
  • A presentation about a major new, masters’ level social enterprise scholarship program at NYU, by the Reynolds Foundation
  • The announcement of 15 scholarships to Tangshan University in China. The dissemination of these scholarships will be to the world’s poorest and most talented youth. A plan to identify and adjudicate these scholarships will be a subject for discussion and development during the YA
  • An overview of MDG successes and challenges by UNDP staff
  • Two days of intensive meetings and workshops featuring Harvard case study method reviews of actual MDG programming by corporate CSR and SE leaders, NGO field workers, and UN staff
  • Special Conference Reception and optional networking Weekend in New York City: Attend the Executive Sessions – and then stay on to enjoy the City with other YA delegates, all weekend long

Delegate Profile:

  • Young professionals, ages 22-26, interested in achieving MDG success
  • Youth leaders engaged in UN studies, ages 16-21
  • Members of the International Youth Council and other youth organizations focused on the Millennium Development Goals
  • Faculty and media seeking an active role in mentoring or chronicling youth led development toward the success of the MDGs
  • University-age youth seeking a leadership position during the Youth Assembly next August, especially prospective YA summer interns

Friendship Ambassadors Foundation (FAF) is a nonprofit, tax exempt, 501(c)3 organization that provides meaningful cultural exchange opportunities by promoting peace through the performing arts. It directs and organizes the Youth Assembly at the United Nations on an annual basis. This year, FAF will finance the Youth Assembly and present a special performing arts event as well as offer general background support.  For more information -  http://faf.org/