Europe

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Flickr/CC/Jennifer at sweetonvegcom

By Maria Bennici

As the world becomes increasingly connected, it gets easier to try foods from around the world, many of which have a plethora of health benefits and provide a ton of variety for your palate. However, the rise of the popularity of superfoods, especially with regards to quinoa, has wreaked havoc on the original ecosystems that produced the foods. As an example, quinoa, which was standard fare for poor Bolivian farmers, now costs more per pound than chicken, in part due to skyrocketing demand around the globe.

Eating local has started to take off as a trend as well, but there’s no reason why your meals can’t take inspiration from around the world while using local produce with less food miles. Check out this list for healthy and local alternatives to popular superfoods as well as recipes to try!

  1.       Instead of quinoa, try millet, lentils, or oatmeal.

Millet is native to the Great Plains territory in the United States and boasts being gluten-free and high in protein, according to NPR. Lentils are popular around the world, and they are full of dietary fiber and lean protein. Finally, oatmeal doesn’t have to just be for breakfast for kids—considering its fiber content, oats are well worth an appearance in bread, cake and cookies.

Recipe to try: you can use lentils to make mujaddara, an easy and popular dish in the Middle East.

 

Flickr/CC/Daniella Segura
Flickr/CC/Daniella Segura

 

  1.       Go nuts with peanuts rather than almonds.

It takes a gallon of water to grow a single almond, according to Mother Jones, and although there are certainly arguments to be made about the high value of almond production despite high water consumption, there are other alternatives. Try using peanuts, which are certainly cheaper and provide a lot of Vitamin E.

Recipe to try: You can use peanut butter outside of sandwiches—try this South American Peanut Pork recipe!

 

  1.       Eat your greens by avoiding asparagus and going for broccoli or green beans.

Peru is a major asparagus producer, but unfortunately, water resources in the country’s Ica Valley have become extremely depleted due to the industry, according to The Guardian. Broccoli (rich in Vitamins K and C) and green beans (full of Vitamin K and copper) can typically be used as a substitute in recipes.

Recipe to try: Toss some green beans with this Asian-inspired stir fry!

 

Flickr/CC/Brendan DeBrincat
Flickr/CC/Brendan DeBrincat

 

  1.       Use blueberries instead of acai berries.

Acai berries, grown in the Amazon rainforest, have become very popular through health smoothies and snacks; however, harvesting the berries can be dangerous since workers have to climb trees and chop the berries off with machetes, and the cost can be prohibitive to consumers as well. Try blueberries instead, and even out of season, frozen blueberries have the advantage of having fewer pesticides.

Recipe to try: These mini galettes are the perfect addition to your next garden party (or breakfast, if we’re being completely honest).

 

Of course, no food is entirely perfect in its production, marketing and harvesting, which is why it is essential to research the foods that you are interested in and determine what you are willing to support with your dollar. Furthermore, it is possible to enjoy the superfoods as well—just take some time to look up providers of the product that do it through environmentally and economically sustainable ways. Bon appétit!

 

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Flickr/CC/Procsilas Moscas

By Pia Chatterjee

Be it for a birthday, dinner you’re invited to, Christmas or some other happy occasion, you’ll always find someone, somewhere, to give a gift to. Why not use this massive proliferation of chronic gift-giving for a good cause? There now exists a social enterprise for just about every gift on the market, and some products even more creative than the conventional kind. You could much too easily kill two birds with one stone by buying your presents to benefit a social or environmental purpose. Here are 5 socially conscious presents you could make people in your life happy with:

  1. Divine Chocolate: Divine chocolate is co-owned by 85,000 farmers, members of the cooperative Kuapa Kokoo in Ghana. You can find a number of mouthwatering recipes for desserts, cookies and cocktails on their site, and even order some delicious looking bars of chocolate for less than 5$. Keeping the producers of the product remunerated for their hard work (perhaps) a long way from you are, you would also be able to allow someone to enjoy some fantastic fair trade chocolate
  2. Rocking Ur Teens: Don’t let the name fool you, this isn’t some run of the mill band camp for your kids. Rocking Ur Teens is Community Interest Company (CIC) based in the UK that aims to bring teenagers together for them to connect with each other and look towards a positive future. Intending to globalize within 5 years, the firm intends to organize teen conferences annually with different themes every year. The conferences give teens between 12 and 14 years of age (usually years 8 and 9 at school) the opportunity to meet each other and create the support system they need to flourish. This year, they focused on providing girls in the UK this opportunity. With the next set of conferences on March 17th, 2016 to include conferences for boys as well, try to pay the 10 pounds to send your kid to participate in this incomparable experience.
  3. Scarves by Counting Flowers: Counting Flowers produces unique, handmade scarves and shawls, fruit of the hard work of many talented artisans from a number of developing countries such as Afghanistan, Bolivia, Ethiopia, India, Laos, Madagascar and many more. In competition with more large-scale modes of production in their own countries, these artisans who are often members of cooperatives managed by women are given the opportunity to survive in their craft. The quality of their work is also impressive: you can choose between alpaca wool, cashmere, cotton, mohair, pashmina, sheep wool and many more materials to customize your scarf and even filter your gift by the country you would like your purchase to benefit. Purchases currently help 33 artisans and cooperatives in 18 countries. What’s more, everyone can wear scarves – that means you’ve found the dream generic gift!
  4. Belgravia House of Gifts’ Gourmet Gift Box: This is the perfect present for that one foodie friend. BHG is another CIC that supports and funds local initiatives that try to empower disadvantaged groups. They primarily work with 4Wings, a non-profit that aids women at risk by providing them with employment opportunities and creative therapy to raise self esteem. Their Gourmet Gift Boxes contain only the finest ingredients of the region are packed in a beautifully designed package. Extremely portable, the gift box could even serve for a flawless romantic picnic with your significant other. Each box also comes stocked with a specially designed postcard ready to be stamped with your handwritten and personal touch.
  5. Global Seesaw’s bags, jewellery and accessories: Give in to the temptation of buying this awesome belt made of recycled tyre. It was made by Global Seesaw, a fairtrade business that functions ethically on all fronts: it creates sustainable employment for women who have been victims of human trafficking, all their profits are re-invested into the cause and they also look into the most modern designs and the possibilities of creation available with recycled materials. When their materials aren’t recycled, they’re perfectly environmentally friendly and organic. You can buy just about anything from Global Seesaw – from bags, jewellery and accessories to bath and body products and homeware. You could redecorate someone’s entire life with things produced by them, and have them feel great about it!

 

Now you know of top quality socially conscious gifts that will leave both sender and receiver in the highest of spirits, and the world just a step further in the right direction. Happy shopping!

 

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Flickr/CC/Will Folsom

By Pia Chatterjee

The hybridity of the social entrepreneurial form demands experience and knowledge not only in business and social issues, but also just how to manage the combination of the two. This new line of work brings with it important questions that can’t always be answered using what you know of businesses in general. The specificity of social enterprise has spurred the creation of different programmes and opportunities at the university level that specialize in the field. If you know it’s your calling, then here are 5 universities where you know you’ll find what you’re looking for:

Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Oxford Said Business School (Oxford): The Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship falls under the umbrella of the Said Business School at the University of Oxford. The Center’s mission is to provide world-class business education at the graduate level to contribute to the theory of social entrepreneurship and its application. It also connects researchers and social entrepreneurs with key figures in business, government, philanthropy and other crucial fields to create a strong network that pushes social impact forward. Founded in 2003 thanks to a 4.4-million-pound investment courtesy of the Skoll Foundation, the center became the most largely funded business international programme to be focused on social entrepreneurship. It also awards 5 MBA scholarships annually to individuals who show promise of a commitment to social innovation. Once admitted to the Said Business School, the courses of the Center should be accessible to you. Find out more on their site.

University of Northampton (Northampton): The University of Northampton was awarded the international accolade of “Changemaker Campus” in 2013 by Ashoka U, an eminent network of social entrepreneurs, for being exemplary in its commitment to social enterprise. Its social enterprise programme gives its students a strong educational base in the theory and concepts of the subject and connects its students to contexts in which their knowledge can be put to practice. Be it the Enterprise Club, their social enterprise support service Inspire2Enterprise, the University Center for Employability and Engagement for placement opportunities, or the Dialogue Café for you to meet social entrepreneurs face-to-face, you will undoubtedly find an opening to get involved in the programme and reap the most benefits from all the resources offered.

Glasgow Caledonian University (Glasgow, Lanarkshire): The first university in Scotland to launch a postgraduate degree in social enterprise, GCU was also named a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U. It has put into place the first Social Business and Microfinance programme in the world, putting at its students’ disposal top quality education in social entrepreneurship, contemporary issues in business and society, management strategy and developing creative and critical thinking to formulate realistic solutions to social problems. The course is designed to target international students working in social businesses, governmental employees hoping to further their knowledge of social enterprise, and even NGO workers hoping to understand the changing landscape of international aid and microfinance from a critical perspective. Look for more information on their website.

Hult International Business School (London): Considered one of the top 100 business schools in the whole world, Hult International Business School offers a promising one-year Master degree at their London campus in social entrepreneurship. It provides its graduates with the requisite experience to join prestigious institutions such as the UN, national governments and renowned nonprofits. Along with obtaining the business skills needed to work in a commercial professional setting, the course also provides its students with the capacities to tackle social and political issues of the 21st century. The only admission requirements for this programme are a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, to be 21 years of age, and to be sufficiently proficient in English. Check their website for more details concerning fees, electives offered and the possibilities of campus rotation.

University of Stirling (Stirling): Stirling is another great university to offer a postgraduate course in social enterprise that specifically proposes services in building and maintaining stakeholder support and securing investment. Once more, this course is structured to suit professionals already working in social enterprises, NGOs, developmental organizations or governments, but could also cater to students fresh out of lower-level degrees. With possibilities to specialize in health, social care, education, sports, culture, and environment, whilst studying finance, marketing, HR or operational management, the school allows each individual student to find precisely the right combination to cater to their needs. What’s more, the course ends with a supervised project to conduct research and development within the social enterprise sector. Don’t hesitate to check out their promotional video on their website.

As a recent graduate, these postgraduate opportunities will do wonders for your CV and resume, not to mention open up a whole new world of expertise for a job sector that is growing to be one of the most prominent and promising of our century. All of them being open to international students, don’t hesitate to look them up whether you’re in the neighborhood or not!”

 

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Flickr/CC/Quinn Dombrowski

By Pia Chatterjee

 

On Monday August 3rd, Southside Social will be bringing you another way to have one more drink and not feel too guilty about it. Setting up in the former premises of Meadow Bar on Buccleuch Street, Edinburgh, this neat little bar will effectively be increasing the number of social enterprise pubs in Scotland to two, and be the first in the city.

The bar, while providing its customers with just the right spirits to put them in good ones, will also be training its employees in hospitality and giving them the experience required to work in the business. All the pub’s profits are intended to be re-invested in the enterprise and directed towards social causes. The operators of the pub have affiliations with a larger organization that works across Scotland called Camphill Scotland. The Camphill community strives to support adults with learning disabilities, and it is primarily towards this group that Southside Social aims to focus its donations.

Around nine to ten employees will be employed at a time to undergo the programme that ultimately offers its trainees qualifications like food hygiene, first aid at work, fire marshaling and the Scottish Certificate for Personal License Holders (SCPLH). The programme lasts 19 weeks of which 5 will involve learning the skills required to work in the industry in a classroom-like setting, and the rest will be centred around giving the workers a more hands-on experience in the actual work environment of a bar. During this time, people active in the industry will be able to come in and be served by these waiters and waitresses with the possibility to recruit them in the future. The bar gives its employees just the platform they need to learn, hone and showcase their skills and be immersed in the network they need for the future.

Southside Social applied for grants, fundraised, and managed to gather a hefty following of people wanting to support a place like this. This isn’t simply thanks to the fact that the idea behind the work is a great one, but also that the work is done well. It is a fantastic and innovative use of the venue and provides the people of Edinburgh with a unique example of social enterprise and a great social venue. Opening this summer, the bar will also have an official launch party on August 7th, 2015.

If you’re ever in town, don’t hesitate to stop by, grab a beer, a gourmet burger, and do some good at the same time.

 

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Flickr/CC/Freedom House | A Syrian refugee boy is pictured on March 27, 2012 as people fleeing violence in Syria continue to enter Turkey near Reyhanli in Hatay province.

By Pia Chatterjee

2015 has been a particularly trying year for migrants in Europe, now dealing with its worst refugee crisis since the second world war. The rise of anti-immigration political sentiment continent-wide, exponential rise in pressure on resources and public facilities, as well as the increase in reasons compelling people to migrate or seek refuge in the first place have made it so that migrants now lead very precarious and unstable lives. The most recent debate concerning the acceptance of Syrian refugees into the EU has made newer sparks fly and made this already sensitive subject come to the forefront of everything political, social and economic. There are currently thousands of migrants crossing borders from both within the EU and out of it, be it seeking refuge from political persecution or fleeing extenuating economic circumstances. We can be grateful that there are some social enterprises working tirelessly to accommodate this huge influx of people when all other recourses seem inadequate. Here are 3 in particular that are doing amazing things to help those in need:

  1. Refugee Hero, The Netherlands: Based in the Netherlands, Refugee Hero is a kind of AirBnB for refugees. It gives regular people all over Europe the opportunity to volunteer to open their homes to refugees for them to have temporary homes while they get back up on their feet. It is the founders Germaine Statia, Jamal Oulel and Ayoub Aouragh themselves who made the comparison with the website that helps people find apartments to rent around the globe, with one crucial difference: Refugee Hero is completely free of cost. Anyone can choose to offer access to their property to be briefly occupied by refugees struggling to find a roof over their heads, including schools, churches, offices and just about any other kind of private property. The site is funded by Dutch municipalities, which isn’t incredibly surprising given that Dutch governmental institutions spent 495 million euros trying to help refugees in 2014 alone. Refugee Hero is hoping to expand its reach to include helping people for all kinds of migration-related problems like applying for social security, citizenship, finding work and enrolling children in schools. Until then, it’s still doing a pretty great job. If you’re looking to make a difference and get involved in helping with the refugee crisis, check out their website and host someone yourself today!
  1. Dentist Study Buddy, United Kingdom: Based in the UK, the Dentist Study Buddy Programme is a more targeted project managed by the Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum (MRCF) that helps migrant and refugee dentists connect with each other and obtain the requisite verification and permissions to practice dentistry in the UK. Having created an impressive overseas network of doctors, the programme has been in place for about a decade and is the only source of support for these gifted practitioners who are prevented from using their skills due to administrative barriers. The process to have degrees and qualifications verified and validated in the UK can take up to two years. For the first 8 years MRCF received local and national funding, but the steady stream of funds gradually dissipated with the onslaught of the economic crisis. MRCF now charges a 50-pound fee to maintain the programme that still substantially helps over 3,000 dentists, which has only made its members more active since they are now financially invested in the project. If you thought the issue was too remote to have an entire project dedicated to it, you were wrong! If you’re having problems dealing with British bureaucracy, you now know where to look.
  1. Magdas Hotel, Austria: Magdas Hotel is a recently set up hotel in the stunning Austrian capital of Vienna. Of its currently mere 28 employees, 20 are refugees who have been given work in the hotel serving people from all over the world in the highly touristic city. Given their background, over 21 international languages are spoken here and can cater to just about any nationality. For many of these receptionists, bartenders, housekeepers and other service personnel, working at Magdas is their first job in this kind of service industry. They are supervised and guided by 5 very capable industry professionals and a job coach to ensure that they are able to adapt to this new work environment and provide the best possible quality service. The project was launched by the Austrian organization Caritas which handed the management baton to Dutchman Sebastiaan de Vos, an active and enthusiastic 28-year-old proud of the hotel having already been at full capacity despite how recently it opened. Since it isn’t publicly funded at all, the hotel was obliged to be set up and renovated from what was previously an old-age home with a 1.5 million euro loan from Caritas. 57,000 euros were also able to be gathered through crowdfunding, and business for the 78-room location is flourishing. Aside from providing their guests with a fantastic experience, employees here are also able to share their stories and be more than just meaningless statistics. 20 portraits hang in the lobby of the building to remind people that the awful stories you hear are all very real and that the people in each one of them could easily be someone you know. Magdas’ work is symbolic for the cause, and you should definitely stop by on your next stop to the City of Music.

There are tons of other enterprises bringing people like you and me to be involved at the forefront of the gargantuan immigration issue pressing Europe. While most tend to cater to refugees, the impact is starting to expand to include other migrants who may not be seeking asylum as well. As is often the case, social enterprise serves to do good when there aren’t enough resources for other institutions to do so adequately. We can definitely be grateful to enterprises like these that are using their creativity and good will to ease the tension currently plaguing the continent.

 

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Flickr/CC/Freedom House

By Maria Bennici 

The Syrian Civil War has stretched for more than four and a half years with no end in sight, and one of the unfortunate consequences of this war has been the displacement of more than 7.6 million Syrians. More than 4 million Syrians are refugees in neighboring countries, and an increasing number are now heading to Europe, often through means as dangerous as they are desperate, in order to find sanctuary. With the death of Aylan Kurdi, the little Syrian boy who drowned as his family tried to reach Greece, more attention has been brought to the refugee crisis, with pleas for help from governments and people around the world.

Eager to help refugees but don’t have the money, time, or expertise to help in the field? Check out these ways to support refugees without even needing to own a passport.

Flickr/CC/EU Commission | Domiz refugee camp, northern Iraq
Flickr/CC/EU Commission | Domiz refugee camp, northern Iraq
  1.       Volunteer in Your Community: Research small grassroots NGOs and nonprofitsnon-profits in your area to see if they offer help to refugees. For instance, the International Rescue Committee operates in 22 cities throughout the United States.
  1.       Donate money: Cash donations are an efficient way to give to organizations that are able to work immediately with refugees. With cash, the organizations are able to allocate the money to the greatest needs, plus cash doesn’t come with shipping and handling fees. You can donate to large organizations like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees or with smaller organizations with a more specific focus that appeals to you personally. UNHCR also has partnerships with a variety of organizations, including IKEA and UNIQLO so you can support refugees through shopping with these partners. If your company or organization is also interested in supporting refugees, plenty of refugee NGOs form private-sector partnerships as well.
Flickr/CC/Freedom House | Syrian boys 2012
Flickr/CC/Freedom House | Syrian boys 2012
  1.       Educate yourself: The Syrian refugee crisis is a complex and nuanced situation, with plenty of challenges to understand, including the difference between “refugee” and “migrant,” government obligations to provide asylum and why Syrians can’t just “go back home.” Read this article, which describes how the situation has gotten out of hand, watch this Last Week Tonight with John Oliver episode, and explore this section of Human Rights Watch.  
  1.       Speak out: Unfortunately, the lives of refugees are not magically fixed once they reach sanctuary; often, they are faced with truly staggering amounts of xenophobia and racism. With the new knowledge you’ll have gained through step three, speak out for refugees when you hear ignorant, bigoted comments being made about them.
  1.       Donate items with care: Many people are moved to donate items they no longer need to those in need. While this generosity is admirable, sometimes donating items can be detrimental to the rebuilding process (this editorial, published after the Nepal earthquake in April 2014, explains more). If you absolutely must donate items, research organizations in your area and find out what items they actually need in order to avoid inundating their space and ability to organize.

 

Bonus: Refugees Welcome, an AirBNB-like website that allows Germans and Austrians to open their homes to refugees, is currently in the process of opening in other countries. Get involved here!

 

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Flickr/CC/Sara Spaedy

 

By Pia Chatterjee

Europe has witnessed the growing popularity of social enterprise with the recent reduction in public spending and services. Still, the proportion of social enterprises within the business sector in the continent is minimal – less than 1 per cent. Social enterprises are relatively new entities and thus face countless legal challenges. One of the main challenges to its proper functioning are the problems caused by the legal definitions of social enterprise that differ from country to country.

Social enterprise is particular in that it falls somewhere between for-profit companies and charities or public benefit organizations on the legal spectrum.

As a result, when choosing their corporate forms, social enterprises have tended to have the following options:

 

  1.    Choosing an existing legal form and having the concept of social enterprise be adapted to it. This type would include structures such as associations, foundations, cooperatives and share companies.
  2.     Choosing new types of legal forms created specifically to suit social entrepreneurship by tweaking certain characteristics of pre-existing legal forms. This option is exemplified by the social cooperatives in Italy, the Société Coopérative d’Intérêt Collectifs (SCICs) in France and Community Interest Companies in the UK.
  3.     Obtaining a legal status from selected or all existing legal forms that comply with a defined set of criteria, as is common in the case of social enterprise legal status in Italy, or the Social Purpose Company in Belgium.
  4.    Adopting the structure of non-profit organizations that are exceptionally permitted to perform economic activity, as is the case of Non-Profit Institutes in Slovenia.

The fact that the law surrounding social entrepreneurship is so malleable and still evolving makes it a lot more likely for entrepreneurs to work outside of the law and not be aware of it themselves. Questions of whether profit-making, capital investment, social missions, corporation certification and tax relief are permitted are extremely relevant to the illegality of the company, and can be inadvertently overlooked simply because the intricacies of each corporate form are not made clear enough. This makes choosing one of the options leaning towards older, more conventional legal forms tricky.

On the other hand, newer forms more adapted to social enterprise have their flaws as well. Since their position in the business world is still a little ambiguous, investment into social enterprise is sometimes deterred for fear of the companies with this structure being unstable, and therefore risky. Moreover, while it is extremely advisable to keep a lawyer or some such expert on the board of your company, few lawyers are familiar enough with the newer corporate forms and thus not exploitable to their full potential.

For businesses to function properly, knowledge of how to hire employees, protect intellectual property, protect unpaid volunteers, obtain funding from the right sources and correctly follow protocol needs to be readily accessible. Unfortunately, given the hybrid nature of the social enterprise, the lack of clarity in the legislative framework surrounding this type is making it difficult for these businesses to fully carry out their activities. There needs to be an elaboration of the best business practices available, clarification of the different corporate forms that could come to exist and could be refined, and the models that have succeeded in the past and are likely to succeed in the future for this type of economic activity.

 

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Flickr/CC/Jason Howie

By Beatrice Loh

 

With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat changing the way we communicate, social media has been reshaping our world in recent years. The advent of technology and the Internet has made connecting with people across international borders a breeze. Social media has impacted not just the communication between individuals but also the relationship between corporations, the government, and the general public. Social media has not only changed the way we communicate, but also the way we give. Non-profit organisations have adjusted the way they operate with the influx of social media avenues to raise awareness and funds for their causes.

Here are 5 ways that social media has changed the non-profit world:

  1. Reduced Cost of Advertising

Although setting up a Facebook page or Twitter account might be free, social media accounts for non-profit organisations still require staff to run them. However, compared to more traditional methods such as television and print campaigns, social media is a new low cost avenue that non-profit organisations can take advantage of. Apart from reducing cost, social media campaigns allow non-profit organisations to monitor and mine these campaigns for data to better plan budgets, cut costs, and ultimately make more money available to the actual cause itself.

  1. Increasing Awareness for Social Causes

Social media has given non-profit organisations an avenue to raise awareness for social causes through posts that generate ‘likes’ on Facebook and videos and posters that can be shared on numerous platforms.

The ALS Challenge was a viral campaign by The ALS Association, which fights Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. People would either donate $100 to the charity or take a video of having a bucket of ice water dumped on themselves. They would then nominate others to do the same in the video before posting it online. This led to an explosion of videos and donations for the organisation, with celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Chris Evans and Benedict Cumberbatch participating. Matt Damon also joined in and used the opportunity to promote awareness about the water sanitation crisis and Water.org, the organisation he co-founded to combat the problem. Although a significant portion of the Internet audience was more interested in watching funny videos of their friends and favourite celebrities than they were about ALS research, the campaign succeeded in generating a large amount of awareness and funding. Since July 2014, The ALS Association has received more than $115 million in donations.  In comparison, in the fiscal year ending January 2014, revenue from all sources totalled only slightly over $29 million.

A Mashable survey on the link between charity donations and social media has shown that 68.8% of respondents felt that social media was “extremely effective” or “very effective” for spreading information about social initiatives, with the vast majority of the survey audience claiming to learn about new social initiatives through social media.

  1. Increasing Speed of Response

Whilst social media has a wide reach, it also allows the quick transfer of information. The speed of social media has changed the way we learn about and respond to events, especially natural disasters. Ease of accessibility has resulted in unprecedented numbers of people being reached in real time. In the wake of devastation, charities can create a status, page, Tweet, or post elsewhere to inform their followers of a situation requiring urgent help and donations, which can be shared and spread in seconds. In the past, charities had to rely on hastily thrown together television commercials and getting hundreds of people to call others and hope for donations.

After a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, non-profit organisations used social media to mobilise rescue efforts and to support the community. The earthquake also saw the deployment of one of the most successful text-to-donate campaigns seen at the time. Similarly, when Japan was rocked by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011, millions around the globe used social media to receive updates on the situation and contribute to rescue efforts and donate money for medical and basic supplies for survivors. During the recent 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal in April 2015, Crisis Relief Singapore used Facebook to rally its volunteers and managed to create 5 medical teams that were deployed to Nepal within the next month.   

  1. Rallying of Individuals and Small Groups Around Non-Profit Causes

Social media is enabling individuals to create, join and grow groups around issues they care about outside of the direct control of non-profit organizations. Crowd funding websites such as as GoFundMe and CrowdRise have made it easy for individuals to raise funds for social causes special to them.

Social software design is also accelerating this trend. Facebook Causes is an in-app feature that allows users to discover, support and organize campaigns, fundraisers, and petitions around the issues that impact users and their communities. DonorsChoose launched a feature called “Birthday Give Back” that allows individuals to use their birthdays to champion a social cause – instead of a birthday gift, they can share their page and ask friends to donate to their special cause instead.

The rise of social media has led to a more socially conscious population with the right tools to promote awareness and raise funds for social causes that affect their community.

  1. Ease of Donating

Social media has emboldened people to donate time and money not only by making them aware of issues and needs, but also by providing them with solutions to help. Websites like Just Giving, a charity platform that has so far enabled over 21 million people to raise £1.5 billion for over 13, 000 different charities, has made it easier for social media users to share causes and encourage their friends to donate, even to organisations headquartered abroad. Providing a number of ways to donate online and via text, Just Giving makes donating quick and easy, encouraging more users to do so.

Another way that social media has increased donations is through increased transparency. Donors are becoming increasingly selective of the charities they want to help, and prefer to see where the money they are donating is going. Social media offers non-profit organisations a platform through which they can share project updates and successes with status updates, reports and photographs. Donors expect updates on funds raised through special events for a specific cause, and the increased transparency on the use of funds have encouraged previously sceptical people to donate.

 

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Flickr/CC/Vladimir Pustovit

By Pia Chatterjee

A substantial number of social enterprises aimed at helping women are concentrated in countries in the Indian subcontinent, the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) and Latin America. However, with women’s employment rate at 62.5% compared to men’s 74.3%, their wages 16% less than men’s on average, pensions similarly 39% lower, and the fact that 1 in 3 women in the European Union alone experiences physical or sexual violence at some point in her life, Europe still has some way to go to achieve equality between the sexes. Social enterprise provides a particularly appropriate avenue for women to be helped and assume leading roles in business at the same time. Read on to find out more about 5 organizations helping women move up in Europe:

  1. Generando Igualdad, Spain: Generando Igualdad (Generating Equality) is an association that was formed in 2000 and works tirelessly to provide opportunities for women to enter the labour market and fight against gender-based violence. They manage a handful of projects that hope to eradicate gender-based inequality artistically, with psychiatric help and consults, and through campaigns to sensitize people to gender issues. Their project “Generando Tiempo, Amadrinando Vidas” (Creating Time, Sponsoring Lives) is particularly striking from an entrepreneurial standpoint as it aims to create an enterprise providing victims of violence with sustainable income. The endeavour works on the premise that these women tend not to have access to the support and therapy needed to enter the labour market and become economically autonomous, a vital step in the kind of recovery concerned. The organization is funded thanks to crowdfunding methods and tax concessions for groups working towards gender equality provided by the government. Check out their website for more information. (Note: Website is in Spanish.) 
  2. Why-Not Women, France: Why-Not Women is a financed project that aims to support women working in social enterprise worldwide, or social enterprises helping women. It was launched by a group of French students interested in women’s social enterprise and brings together students of the like worldwide to support and encourage small enterprises in the field. Through this project, the students not only find ways to connect directly with people working in the area they’re interested in, but also helps these small enterprises receive the aid that is crucial to correctly manage their work and expand, all the while making it clear to the world that supporting social enterprise for women is incredibly important. If you’re interested in contributing, take a look at their blog here. 
  3. B-fit, Turkey: b-Fit is an original project that seeks to promote gender equality, education and entrepreneurship of women and girls in Turkey through sports. Launched by Bedriye Hulya in 2006, b-Fit provides women with the physical and mental space to be free from traditional gender roles and societal pressures. Structured around daily 30-minute workout sessions, it puts women in the appropriate social setting to be able to embrace their independence outside of their traditional roles, raise their self esteem and put themselves in control of their own bodies. Their mission is also concerned with promoting female entrepreneurship and creating professional opportunities for women. Their centers are located nationwide and are open to women of all ages and backgrounds. They are founded and managed entirely by women, which itself is empowering and helps them acquire a very useful set of entrepreneurial skills, not to mention that it makes them great role models for the women constantly surrounding them. A monthly membership costs between 12 and 48 euros depending on location and type. Most members are housewives (40%) with the rest comprising students, teachers, health and legal sector workers, and retirees. You can easily find the b-Fit center nearest to you on their official page, so don’t wait any longer to take control of yourself and your environment and go for a good workout!
  1. Bosnian Handicrafts (BHcrafts), Bosnia and Herzegovina: BHcrafts is a retail business that employs refugee women displaced by the Bosnian war. Many of these women, though illiterate, were extremely proficient in knitting when they were recruited. The firm gave them a source of sustainable income in the wake of economic and social devastation that tore them from their families and homes. It produces handwoven clothing and decorative items, having started out as a humanitarian enterprise and evolved into an impressively successful export-oriented venture. These goods, popular in Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, the US, Spain, Italy, Japan and Kuwait, not only serve to rehabilitate these refugees but also keep them in touch with cultural traditions they hold dear. All products are made in consideration for the environment and using domestic raw materials to support the local economy to the furthest possible extent. It’s e-commerce facilities has eased its trajectory onto the international stage and made it possible for 89% of BHcrafts’ operations to be financed by its sales today. Take a look at their beautiful work on their website if you’re interested!  
  1. Network of Mother Centers, Czech Republic: A business that has been around for almost 15 years now, Network of Mother Centers’ work is focused on alleviating the grave issue of discrimination against the mothers of small children in the Czech Republic. With unarguably low allowances for maternity leave and obvious adverse social and professional consequences for mothers that do take time off to raise their children, the strong network of centers that this practice provide is essential to achieve gender equality in the Czech context. The 335 existent centers help women and their children to meet each other in a setting that presents a large selection of activities including crafts, sports, educational programmes and requalification workshops. Open to all, counting minorities, refugees and the disabled, these sessions also provide the platform to discuss important issues of xenophobia and racism. The centers ultimately furnishes these women with the perfect amalgamation of support, professional maintenance, exchange of ideas and involvement in public issues. To learn more about this fascinating work, have a quick browse on their website. (Note: Website is in Czech.)

 

If you were wondering where all the women’s empowerment social enterprises were hiding in Europe, here is just the tip of the iceberg! Be sure to support the ones you find have a real social impact to nudge Europe in the right direction – towards a brighter, more equal future.

 

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Flickr/CC/Kheel Center

By Timothy Jahl

No company wants to be seen as violating human rights in their factories. Several horrific and high-profile disasters abroad in the garment and clothing industries have led many companies to highlight their “ethical” sourcing of labor and their excellent systems for accountability. And yet, such disasters keep happening year after year.     

No matter how good your intentions are, low-cost clothing comes at a price, a price that abused foreign workers often pay. By manufacturing products within the European Union, companies can ensure that workers enjoy better protections of their rights that are better enforced. Check out these 6 companies that go the extra mile to protect human dignity by manufacturing in the EU.

  1. Vegetarian Shoes

Vegetarian Shoes makes footwear and other normally leather-based products using only its own patented vegan leather-replacement recipe. Manufacturing in England, Germany, Portugal, and Poland, they got on the vegan train before most, as they have been making cruelty-free products since 1990.

  1. Jill Milan

Another cruelty-free producer, Jill Milan is a designer of fashion accessories, including bags and wallets. Jill Milan’s bags are family-made in Italy, while they carry out some other manufacturing in the United States under the supervision of a Jill Milan representative. Jill Milan’s mission is to bring faux-leather into the luxury market.

  1. Story Mfg.

The most hipster company on this list, Story Mfg. carries a quirky variety of both fashion basics and unusual accessories. If you want a broad selection, don’t look here, but if you’re looking for something to set you apart, Story Mfg. is the place for you. All of their products are made in England.

  1. Little Shrimp

Little Shrimp sells exclusively clothing for infants and young children, all made from eco-friendly cotton. While it has a limited number of products, this restraint allows Little Shrimp to offer a number of different designs for each item in its catalogue. So if you’re looking to get just the right first outfit for your child, Little Shrimp can help you find it. All Little Shrimp products are made in the UK.

  1. Taylor Stitch

While based in California, Taylor Stich? makes most of its products for the European market within the EU. Taylor Stich? has a reputation for producing comfortable and long-lasting clothes that don’t sacrifice any style. Their European manufacturing capabilities include facilities in Portugal, Italy, and Scotland.

  1. Bourgeois Boheme

Bourgeois Boheme is a maker of elegant footwear for men and women. They have a special line of boots called the BBK-9, for which a portion of the profits are donated to animal rescue charities. Based and manufactured in London, Bourgeois Boheme also takes advantage of the long tradition of fine Portuguese cobblers with a factory in that country.

 

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