technology

Insight from Kiva on Meaningful Partnerships

Justin Renfro, our phenomenal guest speaker from Kiva Zip, shared his organization's innovative approach to micro-loans and entrepreneurship:

  • What does it mean to transform entrepreneurship into a community effort and democratize capital?
  • Risk tolerance enables us to go downstream and support MORE amazing start-ups and entrepreneurs that would otherwise be marginalized....

Peace in the Digital Age

On November 17, the Millennium Campus Network hosted a webinar with AsylumConnect on Peace in the Digital Age. I am the Secretary for the AsylumConnect team, which is a part of the Millennium Campus Network’s Peace Campaign. We had two fantastic speakers for the webinar, both of whom are attuned to social media.

First, Mackenzie Thomas spoke to us about getting people engaged to your cause online. Thomas is an Associate Product Manager in Search and Civics at Google. She advised to make media content easily “digest-able” and easily “share-able...”

Millennium Fellow Spotlight

By Beth He 

“Gear up and Make Change”

Wali Sabuhi is a junior at Boston University (BU) studying Biomedical Engineering. Like millions of freshmen across the United States, Wali entered university wanting to make a local difference, and eagerly sought opportunities to expand and develop his skills and interest. As a freshman at BU, he joined Engineers Without Borders (EWB) as it seemed like the perfect opportunity to apply the skills of the classroom to real world issues. Wali did not anticipate how much EWB would impact his undergraduate experience and understanding of global development. Throughout his time at BU, Wali has become more involved in the leadership of EWB-BU, as he, after serving as a Hygiene & Sanitation Team Technical Lead, now serves as the Networking & Social Chair. Driven by student initiatives and inspired by the complexity of global development, Wali is committed to contributing to the UN’s Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Through support from BU College of Engineering and corporate sponsors, EWB-BU is able to employ small teams of students to travel to their community partners abroad and help implement the project designs. For the past four years, EWB-BU has been working closely with Naluja, a community in Zambia, on developing projects that have recently begun focusing on water sustainability. Wali was a member of the team last summer and spent three weeks in rural Zambia. He speaks of Zambia with such fondness, genuine joy and respect.

“It is beautiful,” a way Wali describes not only the scenery, but also the people and culture. It was in Zambia, traveling through the rural communities, that Wali discovered more to EWB than being a great engineer. It is of equal importance that partnerships and locally driven motivation are fostered to ensure sustainability and long-term efficacy.

EWB-BU students work throughout the calendar year to create, plan, and design successful projects for their partnering community in Zambia. During the twelve months in Boston, there is a major emphasis on building leadership, broadening student’s horizons, working across disciplines, and sharing resources throughout the project development process. Through the stress and chaos of college life, it is often difficult to see the bigger picture of their organization.  In Zambia, Wali notes: “Everything you have worked toward is right there in front of you.” It is a moment of reflection, appreciation, and tremendous purpose that can be brought back to BU’s campus.

Community ownership is very important to EWB-BU. They are committed to ensuring that their projects are not only wanted by the community, but also feasible in rural Zambia. As such, EWB-BU is dedicated to valuing projects as a shared initiative and collaboration between its students and the members of Naluja.

Cultural Exchange: During Wali’s time in Zambia, he was able to interact with the chapter’s partners is Zambia. He remembers a nurse at the maternal health clinic who is the most “inspirational person [he’s] met.” Wali is always excited and passionate to share his experience in Zambia with other MCN fellows and his peers at EWB-BU. Experiences in Zambia have not only created inspiration but have also educated the EWB community on the importance of its projects and how they can be optimized for positive impact.

Sustainability of projects is significant to EWB-BU. After EWB-BU’s recently receiving a corporate sponsorship from Boeing (the second corporate grant awarded to the chapter), Wali is excited to work on growing EWB-BU by expanding water-related projects, solidifying local contacts, and empowering local change-makers to monitor projects. Wali and EWB-BU have set no ceiling to the chapter’s goals and continue to create bigger impact plans.

EWB-BU and time in Zambia have encouraged Wali to pursue a career in global development. He is in particular interested in global health and progress toward achieving the SDGs. For now, Wali is a key member of the ground network of university students dedicated to international development. As Wali eloquently put, “in 15 years, we [university students] will be the professionals playing pivotal parts in global development, whether it be through technology, advocacy, or policy.” Wali and MCN share the belief that investment in college students is the future for creating a more equitable world. 

For more information about BU EWB, and how to donate: http://www.ewbbu.com/

Delegate Spotlight

Delegate Spotlight | LEGO® and the House it Built: Netia and Mbadika, Fostering Youth Empowerment Pt. II

by Zachary Thomas

I recently had the opportunity to sit down again with Netia McCray. This time, Netia asked me if she could discuss more about her company Mbadika and her journey to get where she is now. Naturally I agreed and was met with an amazing and inspiring story of one person’s experiences with the Millennium Campus Network and all the opportunities it placed in her path.

"I'm a recent graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  I could have gone to a big firm like Google or Facebook, but I'm trying something innovative.  It all started back on campus...As a recent graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), my path could have led me to the prestigious halls of Oxford University pursuing a doctorate degree in International Studies or building the future of technology at Google HQ. However, I decided to travel the less beaten path of becoming a social entrepreneur. My unique journey began a few years ago on MIT campus, when I was struggling to decide whether I would take a chance on my idea for a youth-focused NGO. "

"In Fall 2011, I've just returned from implementing a pilot workshop in Brazil in which participants designed and developed hardware solutions for challenges facing their communities. During the semester, I was unsure if I should continue to develop and expand the program, despite the positive results of the program. This changed upon attending the Millennium Campus Conference 2011 at Harvard University, where I was inspired by the experiences of my peers launching impactful initiatives around the world and realized there was no reason why I shouldn't take a chance. The cherry on top was when one of the MCC 2011 speakers, Saran Kaba Jones (Founder and Executive Director of FACE Africa) agreed to become my mentor and help me develop my organization: Mbadika."

 

My visit to the U.S. State Department as a 2013 Millennium Campus Network Fellow; May 2014

My visit to the U.S. State Department as a 2013 Millennium Campus Network Fellow; May 2014

Fast forward to Fall 2013, I've been accepted into the inaugural class of Millennium Fellows as the leader of the student organization, Mbadika. Mbadika provides aspiring young innovators and entrepreneurs a platform to obtain the knowledge, skills, and resources necessary to develop impactful solutions for themselves and their communities. One of our initiatives, a line of DIY (do-it-yourself) kits which includes a Solar USB Charger for Mobile Devices, is presently being used in Sub-Saharan Africa as a tool to teach design thinking and tap into teens' entrepreneurial abilities. However, at the time, our organization was struggling with the diminishing impact of our initiatives in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa as a result of the turbulence and disorganization inherent in the majority of student-led organizations. Our Millennium Fellowship allowed for us to properly re-structure our organization, develop a sustainable business model to support our workshops, and gain knowledge regarding tapping into off-campus funding sources. As a result, Mbadika was able to leverage $7,000 in funding from MCN's partner, The Jenzabar Foundation in order to conduct customer trials of our Solar USB Charger Kit in South Africa. On behalf of MCN, Mbadika was invited to the State Department in Washington D.C. in order to share our progress."

"Upon graduation last September, I made the decision to become a social entrepreneur and manage Mbadika full-time. Since then, Mbadika has held workshops for over 450 youth around the world and launched its regional manufacturing center in Cape Town, South Africa in order to locally manufacture our product line of DIY kits while providing local youth skillful employment opportunities. Our network of local and international partnerships have expanded to include the City of Boston, the U.S. State Department, Microsoft, the Fab Lab Foundation, Empower Peace, and many more. These partnerships, including our current programming partner EduGreen have allowed for Mbadika to have a year along presence in South Africa and increase our social impact on South African youth and youth around the world. However, none of this would have been possible without the assistance and guidance our team obtained from the Millennium Campus Network through the Fellowship program. "

"As a result of the Millennium Campus Network Fellowship program, I've grown from a timid leader of a university international development organization on the brink of chaos to an aspiring social entrepreneur whose social venture has made a tangible impact on the lives of her fellow aspiring young innovators and entrepreneurs. Since our participation in the inaugural Fellowship program, to develop and implement a sustainable leadership and operation model that allows for our team (on and off campus) to operate across the globe towards our mission. As a result, we have been able to reach 4 times as many youth as virtually three years of our previous workshops and efforts in the past year. Mbadika is currently positioned to expand its reach throughout Sub-Saharan Africa through our local and international partnerships to impact over 1,500 youth in the next 12 months. The credit for our breathtaking progress belongs to MCN and this incredible community that we are all investing in together. We know that by 2017 there will be over 360 Millennium Fellows like me across 12 cities; I'm truly honored to be one of the first in this growing student movement for global development. Together, we can ensure that every aspiring young innovator and entrepreneur with a revolutionary idea to tackle global poverty and adversity has the tools to bring their idea to reality. As John F. Kennedy says, "Things do not happen. Things are made to happen."

"Let's make things happen, join us in tackling the Millennium Development Goals for 2015 and beyond. "

Posing with one of our local partners, Charles Sonnenberg of EduGreen, at the official opening of our regional manufacturing hub for our product line of DIY Kits.

Posing with one of our local partners, Charles Sonnenberg of EduGreen, at the official opening of our regional manufacturing hub for our product line of DIY Kits.

A young girl in at our partner, WoeLabs, in Togo (Lome) building our inaugural DIY Solar USB Charger Kit.

A young girl in at our partner, WoeLabs, in Togo (Lome) building our inaugural DIY Solar USB Charger Kit.

Assisting some eager young hands in assembling our DIY Solar USB Charger Kit in Cape Town, South Africa

Assisting some eager young hands in assembling our DIY Solar USB Charger Kit in Cape Town, South Africa

The Mbadika DIY Solar USB Charger Kit for Mobile Devices 

The Mbadika DIY Solar USB Charger Kit for Mobile Devices 

The Mbadika DIY Solar USB Charger Kit, Acrylic and Plywood Versions.

The Mbadika DIY Solar USB Charger Kit, Acrylic and Plywood Versions.

If visitors to this blog post would like to build their very own, our instructions are now available online; http://www.wfeo.org/build-solar-powered-usb-charger-phones-small-devices/

 

Delegate Spotlight

Delegate Spotlight | Chris Apple from Engineers without Borders-USA in California

by Zachary Thomas

Chris Apple is the chapter president at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo (SLO)  and will be attending the 7th Annual Millennium Campus Conference.  Cal Poly SLO is one of Engineers without Borders-USA that has received the Regional Premier Chapter Award last year and with over 150 chapter members. They currently have programs in 4 countries - Nicaragua, Malawi, Thailand, and India - and all are very active. They are also hosting our West Coast regional conference this fall which is a huge undertaking.

Chris’ passions are what brought him to apply to this conference. “I have strong passion for helping people. I love helping others think about how they want to impact the world and then helping them take action. I am also very passionate about helping youth understand global issues and empathize with people different than themselves. Helping people find freedom from repressive situations is also a great passion of mine.”

Chris is excited to attend the 7th Millennium Campus Conference and can’t wait to meet all of the other amazing delegates. “The people who will attend this conference especially excite me! I love meeting others who take initiative toward their passions and strive to live meaningful lives through global development. I am so excited to make new friends from around the world, learn of great things students are doing, and possibly find an organization or cause to focus on in the future.” But beyond that, he is so thrilled to be attending this conference for all of the opportunities it holds. “MCC is an amazing opportunity to meet leaders of both today and tomorrow who are already taking action to build a better world. Through my work with Engineers Without Borders – USA, I have learned how to lead a team to work toward a vision above our own lives. I highly value opportunities like MCC15 where I can share my passions with others and learn about other people’s excitement for the world. The opportunity to learn more about global issues from people directly dealing with those issues also inspires me to attend MCC this year. I greatly look forward to the rich ideas, discussions, and people the conference will bring!”

 

Chris is just one of the many amazing delegates already registered for the 7th annual Millennium Campus Conference the United Nations from August 11-15th where he, along with others from around the world, will come together to think, connect, and act to challenge the paradigms that perpetuate inequality and to redefine the world around us. Apply at mcc15.org/delegateapplication to join the movement and promote social change!