Ashoka Focuses on Agricultural and Sustainable Development in India

Last week, Ashoka announced that the organization will use a US$15 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support the placement of Ashoka fellows in Africa and India.  The grant money will specifically target social innovation and entrepreneurship in agriculture and sustainable development.  According to their press release,

Agricultural and rural sustainable development initiatives supported by Ashoka will be oriented around key issues such as new technologies, farmer productivity, key agricultural policies, and connections between smallholder farmers and markets. Ashoka’s network already includes many Fellows working on agriculture and rural development related issues— whether developing markets for small farmers in Kenya, or using local knowledge to regenerate arid land through natural farming and permaculture in India.

The most promising aspect of this partnership is the approach that Ashoka espouses in ensuring that their social innovations become sustainable – a community based approach:

Ashoka realizes that innovations alone do not create sustainable large-scale solutions in agriculture and sustainable rural development. These new solutions endure only when social entrepreneurs have a community-level understanding, build a broad citizen base of support, introduce incentives for participation, and topple traditional barriers to entry or involvement. This partnership will allow Ashoka to launch 90 social entrepreneurs and their powerful, pattern- changing ideas that are built on this bottom up approach. Additionally, as a product of the increased number of entrepreneurs in this area and their broad base of supporters, Ashoka will be able to identify transformative universal principles that will ultimately revolutionize the field.

Looks like this is a great time to become an Ashoka fellow in India.  I’m looking forward to seeing what developments Ashoka comes up with in 2009.

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[TC-I Call to Action]: SEED Awards for Sustainable Development

InfoDev helps announce the SEED Awards for Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Development, an award recognizing partnerships in developing countries that are working on environmental and social issues.   The approach to the award is interesting, however, because winners do not receive the normal cash prize; instead, they will receive something that many enterprises need: support services, catered for the specific need.

Note that eligibility means that at least three partner organizations are involved – a great way to encourage collaboration for social impact.

The SEED Awards for Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Development is an annual international competition, designed to support locally-led, innovative, entrepreneurial partnerships in developing countries, which have the potential to make real improvements in poverty eradication and environmental sustainability.

The SEED Initiative assists young and promising initiatives in strengthening and scaling up the impact of their activities. This is not a cash award. Instead, a comprehensive package of tailor-made support services, with a value of US$25,000, will be provided to Winners.

Applications will be available online soon, so be sure to keep your eye on the SEED website.

Harvard International Development Conference – April 3rd-6th

Harvard’s annual International Development Conference will be taking place this upcoming week from Thursday, April 3rd to Sunday, April 6th at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.  Details follow:

The Annual International Development Conference is a student-run event providing a world-class inter-disciplinary forum on global sustainable development for practitioners and academics.  Each year the conference attracts over 600 participants from every corner of the world.

Specifically, the objectives of the Conference are to:
• Explore and emphasize multi-disciplinary approaches to sustainable development.
• Agree on relevant methods and key strategies in sustainable development.
• Identify existing best practices, lessons learned, and gaps.
• Define the way forward for the delivery of sustainable development. 

This year’s conference includes 7 tracks consisting of 4 panels each, with topics ranging from “Rethinking Foreign Aid” to “Development Private Sector Solutions.”  Notable panels follow after the jump. Continue reading

UNDP Equator Prize Opens Nominations

The Equator Initiative has recently opened nominations for the biennial Equator Prize, which “recognizes outstanding local efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.”  According to iGovernment, the prize “showcases some of the most innovative community work of the present generation and is critical in emphasizing the strong connection between local solutions and international environmental policy-making.” 

In each cycle, prizes are awarded to community organizations from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America, and the Caribbean.  In prior years, Equator Prize finalists/winners have included the following organizations from India (more after the jump): Continue reading

2008 SEED Awards for Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Development

The SEED Initiative is currently accepting applications from individuals with innovative or entrepreneurial ideas in the realm of sustainable development, specifically in the context of developing countries. The deadline for submission is March 16, 2008. Click here for more details regarding the application process. A brief description of the award follows from OneWorld South Asia:

The SEED awards is an annual international competition, designed to support locally-led, innovative, entrepreneurial partnerships in developing countries, which have the potential to make real improvements in poverty eradication and environmental sustainability. The SEED Initiative assists young and promising endeavours in strengthening and scaling up the impact of their activities. The winners receive a tailored package of support services, worth US $25,000, including access to relevant expertise and technical assistance, developing business plans and identifying sources of finance. Fifteen finalists will be chosen from developing countries in each of the four UN regional groups: Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia. There will be three finalists from each region except Asia, from which six finalists will be selected. Out of these 15 finalists, five winners will be announced in June 2008.

2008 Global Development Marketplace Competition (DM2008)

The competition’s focus is Sustainable Agriculture for Development. This was brought to our attention by PSD Blog.

Here is the information provided on the competition’s website:

Applications are accepted through March 21, 2008 and will undergo rigorous review by more than 200 development experts. About 100 finalists will be announced in June and will be invited to World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC in late September to vie for grants in person at the DM2008 Marketplace event.

This competition offers a unique opportunity to turn your innovative idea for sustainable agriculture in developing countries into reality. If selected, your idea could receive up to US$200,000 in grant funding for implementation over two years.

Key Dates:

March 21, 2008: Deadline for all proposals

June 23, 2008: Finalists announced

July 28, 2008: Finalists’ proposals due

September 24-25, 2008: Marketplace & Knowledge Exchange

The proposals must address one of three sub-themes, which are after the jump.

Continue reading