What the US election means for a Pakistani living with drones

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Today the United States votes to elect its next president. For Americans, the choice is about which candidate will improve the economy, healthcare, the employment rate and ensure better living standards.

However, for Pakistani citizens living in the country’s northwest, especially for the 800,000 people in the tribal region of Waziristan, the American election is a question of life and death.

Malik Jalal Khan is an elder of the Mada Khel tribe. He told [the interviewer] that more than 200 people from his tribe have been killed through the CIA-run clandestine drone program in the last seven years. Just like America’s presidential candidates, Malik Jalal is also responsible for the wellbeing of his people. He has to ensure that his tribe’s young have stable jobs, children can go to school and sick people are treated in the best possible way.

When it came to matters concerning Malik Jalal and his tribe’s people, … both Obama and Romney if elected promised to continue with drone warfare that has targeted northwest Pakistan. This means that Malik Jalal still has to live with the fear that any of his tribe’s women, children or men like him are all potential targets, as reports suggest the CIA considers every male of able military age a potential terrorist in North Waziristan. It means his 9-year-old will still not go to school due to fear that his school might be targeted by a drone. It means people will still not attend funerals, have large weddings or conduct their fruit export or mining businesses openly.

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, more than 3,300 people have been killed in more than 350 drone strikes during the last nine years.

So far, according to our estimates, these strikes have only killed 41 of the Al Qaeda-linked individuals who were meant to be the real targets of the drone program.

These killings help extremists recruit more discontented youth. A person in tribal society who has lost his family members in this manner is bound by the Pashtun honor code — Pashtunwali — to retaliate and opt for “badal” (revenge or justice). There is growing anti-American sentiment in regions affected by drone attacks and some people are tempted to resort to illegal means when the system does not deliver justice to them. This discontent is spreading among Muslims.

[The above consists of excerpts of an article by Mirza Shahzad Akbar, a legal fellow in Pakistan, director and founder of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, and a practicing human rights lawyer]

Samsung undertaking solar-powered Internet schools in Africa

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Old shipping containers repurposed into solar-powered classrooms are giving students in the most remote parts of Africa access to education and innovation.

Samsung’s Solar-Powered Internet Schools Initiative brings mobile classrooms filled with gadgets to rural towns. By outfitting a mobile shipping container with desks, a 50-inch electronic board, Internet-enabled solar-powered notebooks, Samsung Galaxy tablet computers and Wi-Fi cameras, children can receive a technology-rich education without traveling far.

“I have this motivation in me. It’s this need to just grow up and become something better in life and help others to become a success so that in South Africa, or in the whole continent of Africa, we can have a better life,” a Secondary School student named Lefa told us in a video by the Samsung Corporate Social Responsibility team.

For her, the computer lab presents an opportunity to “learn all the things” she’s ever wanted to learn.

Each 12-meter portable classroom has space for up to 21 students to learn how to use computers and how to surf the Internet, many for the first time. The pilot program will bring mobile classrooms to K-12 graders in five African countries including South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan. The project will expand in upcoming years. The technology giant hopes to reach 2.5 million students in Africa by 2015.


Music telethon raises $23 million for Hurricane Sandy relief

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Friday’s Hurricane Sandy telethon, presented by the Red Cross and NBC Universal, and featuring performances by Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Christina Aguilera and others, raised $23 million to support victims impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

“We are incredibly grateful and humbled by this outpouring of support for those who are suffering as a result of Superstorm Sandy,” American Red Cross Chief Marketing Officer Peggy Dyer said in a statement. “Our preliminary results of nearly $23 million raised are an extraordinary example of how the American people pull together in times of disaster. Their generous donations will go directly to those in need, and we urge the public to continue to give.”

Hosted by Today show anchor Matt Lauer, the telethon also featured performances by Billy Joel, Sting, Aerosmith and Mary J. Blige. Kevin Bacon, Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Whoopi Goldberg, Jon Stewart, Brian Williams and Danny DeVito dropped by to lend support.

Spreading corporate social responsibility globally

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It is now essential for U.S. companies that expand overseas to manage their global workforces, and respect other cultures and other workforce environments, and start forming a global profile and consciousness. Part of this connects to corporate social responsibility (CSR).

The rapidly expanding global workplace is driving the implementation of sound corporate human resources practices that should focus on three key areas for CSR to help create a cohesive map for the present and the future. The three main ways to bridge the gap between corporations and their employees are:
• Proactive community relations
• Strong training and development
• A cohesive global HR platform

Ensuring that an organization maximizes the impact of its CSR efforts begins with encouraging community relations. This can be done through your HR department by implementing reward programs and charitable contributions, and encouraging community involvement and practices. What you can do as part of your corporate responsibility plan:

1. Recognize, via corporate email, websites, and newsletters, the social-type work done by employees.
2. Institute a rewards program to promote other employees to join these activities.
3. Recycle paper and bottles in offices and recognize departmental efforts to do so.
4. Collect food and donations for victims of floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters around the globe.
5. Encourage reduced energy consumption – subsidize transit passes, make it easy for employees to carpool, encourage staggered staffing to allow for after rush-hour transit, and permit telecommuting to some degree.
6. Encourage shutting off lights, computers, and printers after hours.
7. Work with the information technology team to switch to laptops over desktop computers. Laptops consume up to 90 percent less power.

8. Increase the use of teleconferencing in addition to on-site meetings and trips.

9. Promote “brown bagging” lunch in the office to help employees stay healthy.

–Shafiq Lokhandwala

Gates Foundation, USAID Award African Women Scientists $19 Million

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African Women in Agricultural Research and Development has announced $19 million in joint funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in support of a fellowship program for women scientists.

Grants of $14 million from the Gates Foundation and up to $5 million from USAID will support the second five-year phase of AWARD’s efforts to bolster the research and leadership skills of female agricultural scientists in eleven sub-Saharan African countries. Since 2008, more than two thousand women have applied for two hundred and fifty fellowships, and more than a thousand are competing for seventy places in the next round, which will be announced in December.

According to a 2008 benchmarking study by AWARD, while the majority of those who produce, process, and market food in Africa are women, only one in four agricultural researchers is a woman and only one in seven holds a leadership position in African agricultural research institutions.

“Cultivating a new generation of African leaders in food and agriculture is strategically important,” said AWARD director Vicki Wilde. “That leadership will be all the more effective when women are highly represented, especially by those technically competent and strategically positioned to generate and promote the innovations needed by rural women and other smallholder farmers.”

Millennials search for career opportunities to create social impact

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Social entrepreneurship is the new black. The idea of not choosing between profit and purpose seems to be gaining traction as America continues to cultivate a new sense of philanthropic virtue.

And the growing emphasis on social good is empowering millennials (ages 16-29) to balance their career goals with karma. One question keeps coming up. Will social entrepreneurship drive a paradigm shift in the hiring procedures of corporate America?

There is a growing trend in business school students searching for opportunities to create social impact. A recent study from the Stanford Graduate School of Business showed that ninety percent of MBAs were willing to sacrifice financial benefits to work for a company that demonstrates a strong commitment to social good (i.e. positive ethics, community reputation etc.)

From the corporate perspective, more potential employees sourced from top learning institutions ask specifically about volunteering and community service, indicating that it is one of the criteria for an “employer of choice.”

It’s clear that in this day and age of blogging and information sharing, companies that don’t consider magnifying their community footprint will be held accountable by future potential employees. With volunteerism and social entrepreneurship becoming a bigger part of college applications, curriculums and media, it seems the trend is here to stay.

Dedicated Funding for Leadership Development

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The Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund … believe strongly in the critical importance of unrestricted general operating support because it provides nonprofit leaders with the flexibility to direct spending toward strategic priorities facing their organizations.

However, the Haas, Jr. Fund also believes there are times when general operating support may not be the most effective capacity-building strategy. Over the past seven years of the Haas Leadership Initiative, our experience has been that executive directors are often reluctant to allocate unrestricted funds to strengthening organizational leadership for a variety of reasons:

  • Executive directors almost always find it difficult to prioritize longer-term staff and leadership development work when confronted with short-term programmatic needs and tight budgets.
  • The “selfless” culture of nonprofit leadership discourages leaders from dedicating resources to their own development.
  • Some executive directors fear that choosing to invest general support funds in leadership development could be perceived as a sign of weakness—a sign that a leader, or the board, isn’t up to the task of managing an organization and “needs help.”

John Harvey, Managing Director of Global Philanthropy with the Council on Foundations, recalled his own time as a nonprofit ED and the struggles he went through as he sought to convince himself and his board of the value of investing discretionary funds in leadership development. “A restricted grant would mean that no one—not a frugal board nor a prudent (or un-self-aware) nonprofit leader—could say no to professional development,” Harvey wrote.

The bottom line: many in philanthropy, including the Center for Effective Philanthropy, agree that large, multi-year operating support grants are critically important for nonprofits. But it seems that an increasing number also see that there are times when dedicated funding is an important complementary strategy for strengthening organizational leadership.

Excerpt of article by Linda Wood

The nonprofit outlook on donor fatigue

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To make up for funding gaps, many nonprofit organizations are working harder than ever before to reach donors through Facebook, Twitter and chain emails.

Often, however, the reality is that multiple charities are trying to reach the same donors, creating a potentially annoying situation.

“There’s a lot of great organizations,” said Travis DiNicola, executive director of Indy Reads, a nonprofit that works to improve literacy skills of adults. “But at some point, there’s only so many donors and so many dollars.”

Many leaders of nonprofits say it has allowed them to maximize the resources they have and cut out unnecessary ones. It also has taught them how to weather future economic downturns.

“There’s not a doom-and-gloom. I think that’s wrong,” says one director. “It’s just changed. So you rise up. You move on.”


Microsoft has given $1 billion to 31,000 non-profits

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Microsoft is celebrating 30 years of giving, a huge milestone for the Redmond-based software company. And at a press conference, the company also announced that it has given $1 billion in donations to more than 31,000 non-profit groups during that time.

“We stood up in times of crisis and helped the people in Japan, in Pakistan, in Haiti,” said CEO Steve Ballmer.

Needless to say, Microsoft has given time and money that has had a huge impact around the world.

It’s a culture of generosity that was started by co-founder Bill Gates, who credits his parents for setting an example of philanthropy and encouraged him to start a giving program.

Doing what you love as a social entrepreneur

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Social entrepreneurship heals one of the world’s most common ailments: hating work.

While too many people see their job as a necessary burden on the path to a paycheck, the social entrepreneur’s journey is a reward, in and of itself. Work is a vehicle to translate passion into action, and action into social change. There is no divide between personal values and professional aspirations because they are aligned in the social venture.

Nevertheless, there will be times in every social entrepreneur’s life that make her wonder whether the return justifies the investment. Lack of resources, physical and mental exhaustion, disappointing results – these factors, and others – spell doubt and fatigue. While the highs of social entrepreneurship are deeply satisfying, the lows can be crippling because so much is at stake around the cause.

This emotional rollercoaster makes social entrepreneurship a psychological battle. In the face of agony and chaos, Inspiration Capital provides the edge to succeed.

Inspiration capital is the motivational force created by your greatest source of inspiration. It is necessary because, without hope, financial capital is an incomplete resource. During inevitable periods of adversity, the most valuable currency is inspiration. Inspiration capital reinvigorates your purpose and revitalizes your confidence to pursue it.

The value of inspiration capital is freely exchanged: not only do you leverage it for support, but also you share it through your positive actions. Whether you are a social entrepreneur who is just getting started, getting going, or getting over a setback, you have to stay focused, motivated and optimistic. Only the most tenacious succeed in this war of attrition. As a founder, your attitude – positive or negative – is contagious to all your stakeholders. When you experience moments of despair or frustration, remember your greater purpose and tap your inspiration capital. The exercise will refresh you and your commitment to the mission.

Read full article by Ashok Kamal