Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lingerie Lessons in Jeddah

A group of 26 mostly Saudi women completed a course on how to fit, stock and sell underwear, in hopes that this type of training would help boost a campaign to lift the ban on women selling lingerie in the kingdom.

After 40 hours of instruction, using bras donated by Victoria's Secret, the women held a ceremony at Dar Al Hekma College in Jeddah on Tuesday. How did Victoria's Secret find out about this push in Saudi Arabia? Facebook. Once again, smart use of open-source tools can build networks that were previously near impossible to build.

The 10-day training course occured just three months after the launch of a campaign to boycott lingerie stores until they employ women. The aim of the boycott? Simply the implementation of an existing law (passed in 2006) which says only female staff can be employed in women's colthing stores.

According to Reem Asaad (a finance lecturer at the college and the main force behind the boycott campaign) the course was the idea of Dr. Suhair al-Qurashi, Dean of Dar al-Hekma College.

"She wanted the training to be a part of the solution because the industry was complaining that there's a lack of qualified (women) in the market who can run and manage lingerie stores," said Asaad. "So we covered fitting and technical issues, we covered selling and handling customer complaints."

British consul-general of Jeddah, Kate Rudd, attended the ceremony to show her support.

An interesting quote...


I love the art of business. Business gets a bad name because companies sometimes do unscrupulous things. Companies are not bad, people are bad. Long-lasting businesses are built around creating value for others. Real entrepreneurship is an art. It is creating something from nothing... Related to the first two passions, I value authenticity in people. Too many people try to impress others by faking sophistication, experience or skills. I want to connect with real people doing real things they believe in.

- John Bardos, JetsetCitizen:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Change the Way You Think... About Everything.

Michelle Obama on the National Health Care Day of Service

I wanted to share with everyone an email that I got from Michelle Obama's team about the National Health Care Day of Service:

Emily -

National and community service has been a cornerstone of my life, as I know it has been for many Americans. And with the daily struggles now confronting so many families, it's especially important for us to reach out to one another and offer a helping hand.

I've just launched United We Serve, a national initiative to tackle our toughest problems by working hand-in-hand in communities across the country. We aim to make a real difference right now and bring more and more Americans into a tradition of life-long service to make an even greater difference down the road.

I'd like to invite you to be a part of it by joining Organizing for America's National Health Care Day of Service this weekend. You can join up with other local OFA supporters to help improve health care services in your community and make a difference as we work to reform America's health care system.

Sign up now to participate in a National Health Care Day of Service event this Saturday, June 27th.

There's an old Thomas Edison quote I've always liked:
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."

It's no secret that our country faces some enormous challenges right now, and meeting them will take a lot of hard work. But in that work lies an equally great opportunity -- a chance to serve. And I do believe the chance to serve is a precious gift indeed.

Service has played a transformative role in my life -- bringing me tremendous joy and helping me find the path that led to where I am today. As a parent, I believe service is a great way to demonstrate values and to teach our children firsthand what it means to commit to a purpose beyond ourselves.

It should be a part of everyone's life. From the moment someone can walk to the day they leave this planet, service should be a part of how we give back, how we say thank you, how we express our gratitude for the lives that we've been given.

So I'm deeply honored for this chance to support our United We Serve initiative and Organizing for America, and I hope you'll be able to participate this weekend. Please sign up now to volunteer at a local event:

Thank you,
First Lady Michelle Obama

King Abdullah II Awards Youth Innovators for Community Projects

During the closing ceremony of the World Economic Forum on the Middle East (held at the Dead Sea from 15-17 May 2009), King Abdullah II of Jordan honored four winners out of ten outstanding Arab youth finalists for leading pioneering efforts in their communities to improve people’s lives.

The winners of the King Abdullah II Award for Youth Innovation and Achievement were:
  • Rabee Zureikat, 29, Jordan - Project aims to promote greater equality through volunteerism, cultural exchanges and micro-loans
  • Lana Hijazi, 27, Palestine - Launched a mobile-based service matching job seekers and employers
  • Abdelkareem Bedri, 22, Sudan - Works with the hearing impaired to increase learning and employment opportunities among this vulnerable group
  • Raghda El Ebrashy, 26, Egypt - A YouthActionNet ® Global Fellow, who addresses the economic needs of youth and women in Old Cairo by offering them vocational training and job placement support.

The awards program was launched by the King Abdullah II Fund for Development (KAFD) in partnership with the International Youth Foundation (IYF) to support young social entrepreneurs in the Arab World.

KAFD was supported throughout the award process by YouthActionNet®, which is the International Youth Foundation’s youth leadership initiative that has provided 140 young leaders from 55 countries with capacity building and leadership training through its global fellowship program.

To learn more about the finalists, click here
For more information on IYF’s YouthActionNet program, click here

Monday, June 15, 2009

Thoughts from Dr. Jan!

As we prepare for the quickly approaching Symposium at Babson, I wanted to share with you something Dr. Jan shared on the Women's Leadership blog:

So many of the things I thought I "knew" about that part of the world turned out to be either totally outdated, just plain myths, or often very Western interpretations of the reality.  

We hope that we will continue to learn from and about each other at the Symposium, and beyond. 

Sunday, June 14, 2009

True Hero

True Hero is a nonprofit that awards a total of $20,000 to public service projects carried out by high school and college students. Users generate most of the web-based organization’s content.

You can follow True Heroes on Facebook, too.

The organization was started by Mike Merriman, a former CEO of Royal Appliance Manufacturing in Cleveland, Ohio, after traveling to Honduras with his son’s high school class to build an orphanage.

Mr. Merriman’s True Hero organization enables student projects to receive votes, and awards funding annually to the projects that receive the most votes.

This voting cycle ends June 30, 2009, so check out the site, vote for the projects, and add your own community service project!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Middle East Regional Social Entrepreneurs 2009- Schwab Foundation

Two social entrepreneurs from the Middle East have been recognized by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship as winners of the Middle East Regional Social Entrepreneurs 2009.  The winners (listed below) were honored at an awards ceremony in Jordan at the end of May.  (information below from the Schwab Foundation website)

Naif Al MutawaTeshkeel Media Group (”THE 99”) –  Kuwait 


Teshkeel Media Group is focused on creating wholesome new children’s adventures 

through its proprietary superheroes, “THE 99”. Drawing upon global history, culture and traditions, its aim is to provide positive and inspirational role models for children that are inspired by Islam albeit on a global level. THE 99 are superheroes from 99 countries that work together to improve the world with story lines that promote diversity, multiculturalism, personal responsibility and personal accountability. THE 99 comics have been licensed in 8 languages with editions in Indonesia, Turkey, France, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal already, with other countries soon to be included. THE 99 Village theme park – the first of six – recently opened in Jahra, Kuwait and a global animation project co-Produced with media giant Endemol is poised to hit the airwaves by the end of 2009.  


Ziad Al RefaiTamweelcom  – Jordan 


Tamweelcom is the Middle East's leading Microfinance organization, ranked 8th best microfinance bank worldwide. It provides credit opportunities for micro-entrepreneurs, who cannot access the banking system due to a lack of collateral. It also provides business training and vocational services to the poorest communities in Jordan, women-led families and widows, through its loan offices. Through successful innovations such as the Souk Ayyadi markets that create sales channels for the products and services of its members, educational scholarship funding for performing member’s family, and “pay and renew” loan systems, Tamweelcom has continued to grow and serve client’s needs. Since inception, it has served more than 100,000 micro-entrepreneurs with more than $75 million (USD) in loans. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Obama's speech, in case you missed it...

On social entrepreneurship...

"On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries. And I will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world."

On women...

"Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity – men and women – to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Social Innovation Conversations

A channel of the Conversations Network, Social Innovation Conversations allows readers/viewers to view and/or listen to social change ideas through audio lectures, speaker series, and conference recordings. On the site you can download free podcasts on social entrepreneurship, environmental sustainability, philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, responsible investing, etc...

There are some pretty incredible tools on here- and perhaps some inspiration?  

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Not your average summer camp

At the Introductory Seminar we had a number of students who were interested in youth issues- please see below for an interesting initiative taking place this summer:

Since 2003, An-Najah National University has organized an annual summer work camp which has invited International Volunteers and Students to work with Palestinian students at the university, refugee camps, children and civil society organizations where they can truly experience the Palestinian community and the traditions.

At the same time, they encourage and support the local students and make them feel that they are a part of the larger global youth.

Corporate Matchmaker

VolunteerMatch Corporate is a web-based service designed to manage, maximize, and measure employee volunteer programs.

Created to meet the needs of leading corporations that recognize the business and social value of community involvement, VolunteerMatch Corporate helps fulfill business goals for community outreach; assists employees in searching and signing up for local volunteer opportunities; and measures volunteer participation from one centralized location.

Demand? ... Solution.