Friday, July 20, 2007

Success at the AMR Innovation Fair

Visit of the Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon to the Civil Society Pavilion at the AMR Innovation Fair

The NGO Section of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the UN-NGO-IRENE and their respective partners wish to extend their sincere appreciation for your participation in the Information Sessions of the Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) - Innovation Fair that was held on 2-5 July 2007 at the Palais des Nations. The Innovation Fair ran parallel to the High-level Segment that included the first Annual Ministerial Review organized by ECOSOC focused on “Strengthening efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger, including through the global partenership for development”.This event was undertaken on the initiative of the NGO Section in New-York which helped to organize similar national efforts in India, China and Morroco. We were extremely grateful for the efficient and strong support, of the Office of the United Nations in Geneva and especially, the NGO Liaison Office of the Director General.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, visited the areas where non-governmental organizations were exhibiting. NGO representatives took the opportunity to have a personal discussion with the Secretary General to explain their activities. We were all gratified to see such a high level of NGO involvement in this project. In this respect, we are pleased to attach a descriptive and detailed list of NGOs exhibiting at the Innovation Fair. The film of this event is now posted on our website. And last but not least, you can find attached the link where you can see all the success stories presented by NGO’s around the world.

Succès de la Foire de l’innovation

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Media Center of the Annual Ministerial Review Innovation Fair, Geneva: Updated Daily



More pictures...

click here for a larger view

The First Draft of the Charter for a World Without Violence was signed at the Cocktail hosted by the Permanent Secretariat of the Nobel Peace Laureates Summit.

Click here to read a report on the event.

Click here to view the charter, complete with an introduction by Ms. Mairead Corrigan Maguire and the names of the Signatories of the Charter.

World Sports Alliance: Education and Training for the MDG's Luncheon Event

Ministerial Declaration of the 2007 high-level segment of ECOSOC

"Enchancing UN-Business Collaboration," A UN Breakfast hosted by Global Compact
- Meeting Report

Virtual Art Gallery:

Guidelines for Submission of Art to the Virtual Art Gallery

Concept Paper

1. Legion of Good Will

2. Foundation for Subjective Experience and Research S.E.R.

3. Didier Strauss

- Reflections, Summary and About the Artist

Click here to view impressions, comments and suggestions on the Civil Society Pavilion at the AMR Innovation Fair, Geneva. Please send your own comments to

Monday, July 9, 2007

Annual Ministerial Review Innovation Fair, The Americas

Please visit to watch a video about the AMR Innovation Fair in the Americas.

1st Solidary Society Network Innovation Fair- Brazil, March 2007

Legion of Good Will's publication for the participants of the United Nations ECOSOC High-Level Segment 2007

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Success Stories received from ECOSOC accredited NGOs

If your NGO would like apply for ECOSOC status, then please visit our website for further information and to download the application:

Success Stories received from ECOSOC accredited NGOs:

1. African Action on AIDS Sucess Story

2. ATD Fourth World Success Story

3. Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Develo...

4. Christian Children's Fund (Success Story)


6. Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Council Success Story

7. Help Handicapped International- India, A Success S...

8. Institute of International Social Development (IIS...

9. International Eurasia Press Fund, A Success Story

10. International Multiracial Shared Cultural organiza...

11. International Network of Street Papers, A Success Story

12. International Ontopsychology Association, A Succes...

13. Mann Land Women's Cooperative Bank

14. People's Decade for Human Rights Education, Succes...

15. Recycled Computers in Africa

16. Rotary International Success Story

17. Sinha Institute of Medical Science and Technology,...

18. Sulabh International Social Service Organization, A Success Story

19. Tamana, A Success Story

20.The All-African Conference: Sister to Sister, A Su...

21. The Inter Press Service News Agency, a Success Sto...

22. The International Council of Management Consulting...

23. The Korean Foundation for World Aid, A Success Sto...

24. The Legion of Good Will, A Success Story

25. The Social Promotion of the Culture Foundation, A ...

26. Vikas Samiti, Success Story

27. Women's Federation for World Peace, Succes...

28. Women's World Summit Foundation, A Success Story

29. World Child, A Success Story

30. Yachay Wasi, A Success Story

31. Young Women's Christian Association (Success Story...

32. Zenab For Women In Development (Success Story)

Friday, June 29, 2007

Exhibitor's List and Synopses

In preparation for the 2007 AMR Innovation Fair the NGO Section held regional AMR fairs in Brazil, India and Morocco. Best practices from the innovation fairs were requested to present their successes in accordance with the theme of AMR which is dedicated to strengthening efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger, including through the global partnership for development. The best practices exhibited by these NGOs held an impact on the reduction of poverty through strengthening healthcare, empowering women, development of practical skills to reach economic growth, encouraging active participation and cooperation within all levels of society etc. The organizations exhibit their best practice in a synopsis listed below.

Name of Organization
1. Action Aid
Description of Project
Action Aid is an international anti-poverty agency, which support the poorest family to end poverty and injustice together. They work to promote the education and formation of young professionals, especially young girls. They also help to promote and develop the initiatives of those at the grass root level. Action Aid provides support to the physically, mentally, and spiritually challenge. They encourage the spirit of brotherhood and promote voluntary work. They aim to reduce poverty in all its forms, permitting rural populations to easily access basic health care and pharmaceutical products at a lower price. At the Innovation Fair, they promoted the disavantaged family at the grass root level.

Name of Organization
2. Association Droit à l’Énergie SOS Futur (France)
Description of Project
Droit à l’energie was founded in 2000 and is an international Non-Governmental Organization with its head office in France. It has the consultative status with ECOSOC and United Nations DPI accreditation. It represents 50 to 60 million people. Our objectives are to bring together all those who wish to act to obtain recognition of the right to energy as fundamental right, to mobilise support for extreme situations of energy destitutions in the world, to launch concrete, constructive proposals in partnership with major international institutions, governments and civil society.

Name of Organization
3. Foundation for Subjective Experience and Research, S.E.R
Description of Project
The S.E.R. Foundation supports the development and education of children and youth in settings, which promote and establish the practice of tolerance and mutual understanding. The Foundation spirit’s is to build bridges of understanding among men and for Global Reconciliation. The Foundation promotes art, which transmits a spiritual message. The S.E.R. Foundation, also, supports projects, which work towards a caring treatment of the environment and research projects which have, as their goal, the sensible and sensitive association with the earth and it’s natural resources. It seeks to assist people find ways to live in dignity, with opportunity for personal growth and development. They established the “Ethical Reconciliation Plan” which explains that the richest one hundred companies or private men in/of every country should be asked to invest a certain percentage of their fortune in educational and climate change programs (win-win situations). Examples were given for: “Teatro La Luna, in Cordoba - Argentina, children and youths are educated through Art and, Best Practice of the very poor; and "St. Martin" as model of Sharing a world vision to eradicate extreme poverty.

Name of Organization
4. Institute of International Social Development
Description of Project
The Institute of International Social Development, headquartered in Kolkata (India), contributes to the eradication of poverty and hunger. The Institute aims to help the artisans reach markets through global partnerships for sustainable livelihood. The Institute launched the Self Help Group module in the tribal belt of Birbhum district in India, for grassroots level poverty-stricken families to overcome their poverty collectively. These skilled artisans have adhered to group-activities by contributing small savings individually and pooling them to create a bigger fund for the group to do business based on their handicraft-making skills. The Institute has provided capacity building and skill-enhancement trainings. These trainings are given through global networking with trainers. The module has reaped benefits already.

Name of Organization
5. International Ontopsychology Association
Description of Project
The International Ontopsychology Association in order to implement educational projects chose unattended areas in developing countries or difficult regions and build educational centers. To foster the development of extremely poor areas, it created a model enabling the co-operation between the public institutions, the private sector and the investment with responsibility of local people. This way of co-operating has been being applied for twenty years, and it has always proved to be successful in the eradication of poverty, as well as in the improvement and development of the areas in which the intervention was carried out. These “Ecobiological projects” created a new model of environmental education, able to conjugate urbanization interventions with human development. The success stories are taking place in Lazari (Latvia) and Recanto Maestro (Brazil).

Name of Organization
6. International Organization for Migration (Switzerland)
Description of Project
IOM’s Migration Initiatives provides projects already developed – complete with Information on Background and Justification, Objectives, Purpose, Results, Activities, Monitoring and Evaluation and Budget – in specific countries/regions around the world.
Further these pre-packaged programs can provide examples of in-the-field, real-life projects for targeted discussions on projects for the future, of immediate development in different locales (when appropriate).

Name of Organization
7. International Eurasia Press Fund
Description of Project
The International Eurasia Press Fund mainly works in three directions: Media and Civil Society Development; Peacemaking Actions and Conflictology; Refugees/IDPs and Community problems. They established the Project “Establishing and Functioning of Mine Victims Association” in Azerbaijan which is implemented in one of the regions of the country with high war impact by the International Eurasia Press Fund (IEPF) with the financial support of U.S. Department of State, PM/WRA. The main beneficiaries of the project – the mine victims lost their main sphere of income that caused the lowest life circumstances. Establishing the mine victims’ association IEPF aimed to support them to eradicate the poverty, strengthen the process of their reintegration into society, ensure their active participation in civil society building processes, and through their organizing to settle their problems by their own efforts.

Name of Organization
8. Ius Primi Viri (IPV)
Description of Project
Ius Primi Viri was established by the will of some fifty founders (they were scholars and representatives of the juridical, scientific and political world) who had recognized the "Declaration of Intents for a joint Strategy" as the main operational tool for a true Human Rights Education, regardless of peoples’ race, colour and culture., They decided to intervene with a multidisciplinary approach to give scientific value to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and thus foster the quality of life at every level. This new IPV initiative is aimed at improving public functions and local agencies staff to help solving the chaos generated by incoming information. The first intervention ”The power of dignity within human resources” was made on November 22, 2006, upon invitation by Riano Flaminio Mayor, for borough council clerks and municipal employees.

Name of Organization
9. Legion of Good Will
Description of Project
The Legion of Good Will established, in the educational sector, a platform of action to engage concrete initiatives in partnership with other actors of civil society, private sector and government to accomplish the 8 Millennium Development Goals. It promoted, during four years consecutively, multistakeholder meetings with the participation of the Latin-American civil society, stimulating the integration of the various social actors. In its schools, community centers and educational campaigns through the media the LGW strengths a coherent framework and a solitary movement to benefit particularly the sector of children affected by poverty and hunger. This work achieved last year 5.7 million services rendered to underprivileged people and families around the country. In the last two decades, the LGW has exported social technologies to Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia, Portugal and the USA. The organizations exhibited at the Innovation Fair in a very creative and dynamic manner, several paintings to express their commitment to the MDG’

Name of Organization
10. The Mulchand and Parpati Thadhani Foundation
Description of Project
The Mulchand and Parpati Thadhani Foundation is an international organization based in the United States, dedicated to women’s empowerment, education, rural development, watershed management, and sustainable development in Maharashtra (India). In keeping with the AMR aim to accelerate implementation of the agreed upon development agenda/goals and, NGOs as active partners in development, they stated objectives, which aims at empowering marginalized slum girls in the city of Calcutta—thus opening up avenues for them to come out of poverty & capacity deprivation through Education, Health and Hunan Rights’ Education and Vocational Training. The multilevel partnerships involve entire communities by way of participation in achieving the results in a cost effective manner.

Name of Organization
11. Mumbai Educational Trust
Description of Project The MET League of Colleges seeks to develop and deliver Indian ethos in education. The learning here are therefore enriched with an induction and competency development programme. These are offered by interactive and participative exchanges with eminent personalities, experts, gurus and practitioners offering an insight into the rich heritage of Indian culture. Since the NGOs are the bedrock and the chosen vehicle for achieving the Millennium Development Goals through direct action as well as public/ private partnerships, it is critical that their work worldwide and lessons generated by them are shared on a universal basis. The MET Interns played role in installing webs based management systems for real time appraisal, assessment and coordination of the NGOs working worldwide thereby facilitating networking on a global scale.

Name of Organization
12. Osservatorio Per La Comunicazione Culturale E Audiovisiva Nel Mediterraneo E Nel Mondo (OCCAM)
Description of Project
The Observatory for Cultural and Audiovisual Communication – established by UNESCO as a Project, which arises from the notion that communication is a fundamental factor for social, economic and cultural development – has regarded the Euro Mediterranean area as a strategic focal point of its actions. OCCAM, acting agency of the Infopoverty Programme, is responsible for the achievements coming from the application of the ICT Village model realized in Sambaina, Madagascar, (as well as in Honduras, Tunisia, Navaho Nations, Lebanon) fitted to bring broadband connectivity, e-health and e-learning services and solar-fuelcell technology. A specific panel will illustrates the 7 past editions of the Infopoverty World Conference held in the UN seat of New York that have permitted to share continuously the best practices in using new technology in order to fight poverty.

Name of Organization
13. Peace Boat
Description of Project
Peace Boat seeks to create awareness and action based on effecting positive social and political change in the world. Peace Boat carries out its main activities through a chartered passenger ship that travels the world on peace voyages. Peace Boat’s Global University, the world’s first floating peace studies program, has developed a unique method for delivering education on development issues, including the Millennium Development Goals, by learning through experience and action. Students travel around the world on Peace Boat’s ship, taking part in workshops onboard and exposure programs with partner NGOs in our ports of call, empowering them with the skills and awareness to work on projects for peace and development on their return to their own communities.

Name of Organization
14. Petrobras / Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Brazil)
Description of Project
Petrobrás has launched in 2003 ‘Petrobras zero hunger program’, a social program with 3 main lines of actions:
- Guaranteeing of youth and adolescents rights
- Income and job generation
- Educational and professional qualification
In the last three years the program has reached 3 million people (directly) and more than 7 million people (indirectly). More than 2000 project has been implemented in partnership with civil society, local and state governments, NGO’s and other institutions. Exemple of projects: Recycling cooperatives, training in cultural activities and handicrafts, digital inclusion, agriculture cooperatives, entrepreneur courses, incubator for professionals and entrepreneurs, indigenous food security, woman’s handicraft cooperatives in the amazon, art courser for disable.

Name of Organization
15. Rotary International
Description of Project
Rotary International is present in 200 countries and geographic regions to help alleviate poverty and hunger. Rotarians establish microcredit banks to help residents start their own small businesses. They provide seeds and training to help impoverished families grow their own gardens. They work toward empowering women and girls, and they provide low-cost shelter to the homeless. In Niger, Rotary members contribute to numerous projects aimed at eliminating poverty and hunger. Rotary matching grant projects in Niger increase education for girls, establish microcredit programs for women, and establish grain banks to ensure food reserves. A team of Rotarians from England set up the West Africa Trust to support projects in Niger.

Name of Organization
16. Sulabh International Social Service Organisation
Description of Project
Sulabh International Social Service Organization has developed the eco-friendly, twin-pit, pour-flush, water-seal, and compost latrine for on-site disposal of human excreta. Sanitation in India has been given low priority on account of social, cultural, economic and technological factors. Sulabh’s technology was a new approach to solve the two problems viz of defecation in the open and scavenging. The scavengers thus liberated from their work are imparted training in various vocations for earning their livelihood, leading to securing employment and gaining self-respect and human dignity. Sulabh’s work has acquired international dimensions with toilet construction work done in Afganistan and Bhutan and training programmes for representatives from numerous African countries.

Name of Organization
17. The International Network of Street Papers
Description of Project
Street papers provide employment opportunities and social programs for marginalized people around the world. Since 1994, INSP’s projects have assisted tens of thousands of vulnerable people, by selling a quality street paper. INSP represents a powerful international social media movement, with 80 members in 34 countries worldwide, and with a combined annual circulation of over 30 million readers. INSP provides an effective lobbying platform for disenfranchised people throughout the world. Street paper initiatives usually start out at the grassroots level with local individuals or organizations working with vulnerable people. Street papers can be efficient in any urban area in the world where there is both poverty and a critical mass of socially conscious people with disposable income willing and able to purchase a street paper.

Name of Organization
18. Korean Foundation for World Aid (KFWA)
Description of Project
The initiative of the Korean Foundation for World Aid (KFWA) is providing food to the North Koreans who are in extreme poverty and hunger. It is not just a massive food aid but let the residents learn new agricultural technology named molding and direct-sowing technology, which improves agricultural productivity and saves cost and labor. Provided with the land, labor, and seed from the North Korea, the KFWA has supplied molding and direct-sowing technology, machineries, and fertilizer. That’s why; this project has improved the relationship between all the parties concerned.

Name of Organization
19. The Social Promotion of the Cultural Foundation
Description of Project
The Social Promotion of the Culture Foundation is a private institution, which works for the human development and the promotion of the culture. Through its programs and projects, it tries to promote a human, social and economic development according to the dignity of the person and respectfully with the cultural identity of the peoples and social groups. They established the MEDWA Project, which combines socio-economic and technical approaches to the multi-level problems of the Jordan and Palestine water management sectors and thus aims at a holistic and sustainable approach to regional development. MEDWA Project is a consortium formed by the Spanish Foundation for the Social Promotion of Culture (FPSC), Hilfswerk Austria, Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC), and the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development (JOHUD).

Name of Organization
20. Vikas Samiti
Description of Project
Vikas Samiti’s goal is to strengthening efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger, including through the global partnership for development. The activities employed to achieve this are as follows: employment generation activities, treatment to soil conservation and water preservation, community mobilization work, as well as microfinance activities. Vikas Samiti has participated, for watershed development activity, as Project Implementation Agency, under Rajeev Gandhi Mission for Water Shed Development of Chhindwara (M.P.), Through District Rural. The results are increase in crop area and production, employment generation, and 768 families upgraded from below the poverty line. Although these successes are encouraging but on the other hand many villages in the area are untouched where basic needs for water and food still persist and poverty and hunger are a way of life.

Name of Organization
21. Women’s Federation for World Peace
Description of Project
Women’s Federation for World Peace is focused on peace-building world wide through a special project, the “Bridge of Peace” Sisterhood movement and poverty eradication through the International Service Projects (ISP). WFWPI considers the Millennium Development Goals, a key focus of global network of activities and programs and appreciates the opportunity to highlight several of these. By networking with local governments, institutions and extended families, WFWPI is providing the means for a “home” and educational needs for 30 orphans in Kenya. Cultivating local leadership and reinforcing and personalization of bonds between host and receiving countries and involving youth have achieved program sustainability, a high priority. In December 98, the WFWP-UK project, Interfaith Children’s Home in Hyderbad, India is home to Dalit “untouchable” orphans, creating the possibility for them to receive an education.

Name of Organization
22. World Sports Alliance
Description of Project
Low family income leads to lower investments in a children’s education and lower levels of education in turn translate into lower family incomes. This is a vicious circle which needs to be arrested.

The World Sports Alliance (WSA) through Sports Education Empowerment Program (SEEP) seeks to address this issue and help the children have access to good quality supplementary education. It has therefore partnered with the Montessori Initiative to help develop a sport based curriculum for children aged 7-14.

The UN MDGs present the world’s reality. And in so far as preparing the decision makers for tomorrow, the curriculum of the teaching institutions needs to reflect the MDGs. In response to this concern, the WSA in partnership with UN NGO IRENE and AICESIS shall promote a global network of the MDG Centers of Excellence. The curriculum for these centers is being designed under the Sports and Physical Education Training (SPET) for MDGs program.

Through its participation at the AMR Innovation Fair, and in keeping with the theme, WSA hopes to highlight the importance of quality education in breaking the vicious circle of poverty and showcase its Alliance Partnerships that strengthen its promise to help achieve the MDGs.

Name of Organization
23. Zenab for Women in Development
Description of Project
The Zenab for Women in Development project is build upon the idea of converting poor and displaced women whom are used to work as casual labors in the irrigated agricultural scheme, to handle their own business in the same field of cultivation and farming providing all the inputs.All this effort are connected with the concept of capacity building in order to raise the level of awareness and to train the different stockholder in order to allow them to apply the project goals according to prescribed working plan, also Capacity building cover building organizational, management and administrative capacities of beneficiaries in different fields.

Name of Organization
24. Women’s World Summit Foundation Fondation Sommet Mondial des Femmes
Description of Project
As an international empowerment network, the Women’s World Summit Foundation is dedicated to serve with its global initiatives, World Days and Prize Awards the implementation of rural women and children’s rights and the UN Millenium Development Goals. WWSF contributions to strengthening efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger are fourfold.1) Annual Prize for women’s creativity in rural life to award contributions to development and household food security.2) World Rural Women’s Day – 15 October to raise awareness and empower local and national actors.3) Mali micro credit sheep project for economic empowerment of rural women.4) World Day for Circles of Compassion – 2 November to increase support for the Millenium Development Goals via community dialogues that inspire compassionate solutions to eradicate poverty and hunger.

Name of Organization
25. CIBJO (World Jewellery Confederation) Description of Project CIBJO is an international confederation of national jewellery trade organizations. They contribute to the Kimberly process, which are a joint government, international diamond industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds. This initiative allowed the end of the Liberia conflict. CIBJO’s annual Congress in 2007 held in Cape Town provides an opportunity to share views and experiences about social responsibility, fair trade and industry ethics, leading to consumer confidence. The participants voiced their strong commitment through the adoption of a Statement to deliver a corporate, responsible and sustainable jewellery industry. One of the best examples of their commitment to MDG’s is the recent establishment in Dubai of a jewellery school that is training students from Tanzania, Mozambique and the Arabian Gulf. At the Innovation Fair, they choose to express their concern to the developpement of education and skills training courses and programme, through Art, with 8 MDG’s paintings, illustrated by Didier Strauss.

Name of Organization 26. Mohammed V Foundation for Solidarity Description of Project The Foundation’s main objectives are to fight against all forms of poverty and social marginalization and to endeavor to provide relief to the destitute and to those living in precarious conditions. The foundation has educational programs designed for children and young people in order to prevent delinquency, and contribute to their physical and mental development through cultural and sports events as well as training in various field. The Mohammed V Foundation joined the International Governmental Organization, World Sports Alliance (WSA) in order to create the first national center dedicated to sport in Rabat. They organized an International Seminar for Experimentation and Validation of Pedagogical modules in Physical Education and Sports on the Millennium Development Goals last may in that city. The WSA, through Sports Education Empowerment Program (SEEP) seeks to address this issue and help the children have access to good quality supplementary education. The vision of the World Sports Alliance is to use the medium of Sport to contribute towards achieving the MDG’s in partnership with the UN-NGO IRENE.

Name of Organization 27. ATD Fourth World Description of Project The International Movement ATD Fourth World is a non-governmental organization which is engaged with individuals and institutions to find solutions to eradicate extreme poverty. Working in partnership with people in poverty, ATD Fourth World’s human rights-based approach focuses on supporting families and individuals through its grass-roots presence and involvement in disadvantaged communities, in both urban and rural areas. It launches every year, on the occcasion of the 20th anniversary of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, a campaign entitled “Call to Action – Ending Extreme Poverty, a Road to Peace” which ends with a meeting in Paris on October 17th. This campaign is intented to provide visibility to those who are normally unseen and unheard by the rest of the society.

Name of Organization

28. China NGO Network for International Exchanges (CNIE) Description of Project The China NGO Network for International Exchanges is composed of 28 national NGOs and entities from various social fields related to peace and development, poverty alleviation. CNIE conducts its activities in many forms such as organizing seminars, forums and lecture meetings, participating in conferences, networking with competent organizations for exchanges and cooperation, providing information to related NGOs. They organized as focal point of UN- IRENE NGO Asia to the 2nd Conference of the Regional Network in Asia and Pacific Region. The conference produced with other participants a sound recommendation paper on the topic of “Eliminating Poverty and Hunger- Responsibility and Role of the Civil Society” in accordance with the theme of this year’s Substantive Session of the ECOSOC and its Annual Ministerial Review.

Name of Organization 29. Right to EnergySOS Future Description of Project SOS Future is composed of active members: 250 organizations (NGOs, national and international union organizations) from 70 countries distributed among four continents and representing close to 40 million members. Its Objectives are, to assemble all those wishing to act for the recognition of the right to energy as a basic human right, for the sharing of energy resources and for the protection of the global environment, to mobilize around extreme situations of energy destitution in the world, to initiate specific and constructive proposals in partnership with major international institutions, governments, and the key actors of global civil society. It intends to work for the integration of this right into the basic texts and activities of the European and international institutions. They presented at the Innovation Fair, a project of electrification in the Niger district of Arlit which should generate a better economy, promote economic growth and improve the educational system.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007



NGO associated with the DPI of the United Nations in Consultative Status with ECOSOC

Contributing with the Millennium Goals of the United Nations.


The thinking of mankind gets enlightened with the beginning of a new era, where the empire of telecommunications is qualitatively transforming the new generations almost everywhere in the world. There is the utopia of universal space, based in similarities in the way to appreciate life and in a common civilization.

Therefore, we could share affinities which do not attack the dignity of men, starting with human misery, an unconceivable thing, based on the enormous wealth that the economic system produces. Every day there is a greater gap between those who have and those who do not, and every day as well the pain of those in need is felt more.

Poverty is not just the lack of food and housing, but also the daily abuse that those with the power inflict on those who are weak, with no consideration whatsoever, and overseeing the human essence . Due to this, the poor lack a purpose in life, as well as health and education. Let us work together, so that this disadvantaged groups stop being human servants and satisfaction providers to those who hold the power.

Fundación Cultural Baur open educational spaces which – through social, cultural and artistic activities – allow children and youngsters to develop sensibility towards Human Rights, creating a commitment to the eight Millennium Goals formulated by the United Nations.
A transforming education allows the child and youngster to acquire a sense of social awareness and commitment to those in need.

After deep research, we found a number of educative assistance institutions in need of permanent help, demanding permanent help to meet the most urgent needs of these communities where poverty prevails, causing greater damage and creating groups of children and youngsters addicted to toxic substances as ways of survival, where aggressiveness is a mechanism of self defense.

Commitment to the new generations gains strength through the activities that keep them in touch with the disadvantaged communities.
The logistics to achieve education in children with a sensitization demands tasks that will make them committed to a social sense of awareness.

It is extremely important to promote awareness among teachers, through congresses and a conference which will give a didactic message of respect, equality and tolerance, under the spirit of justice, fundamental value of any society of the XXI century.

The Carol Baur Foundation organized the FIRST INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS’ CONGRESS ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN LATIN AMERICA:“Educating on Human Rights to contribute with the UN for the Millennium Goals”

This important event had the attendance of teachers from various international educational institutions: Adelphi University, N.Y., GEM, Washington, Mount Laurel, N.J., St. Lawrence Parochial School, N.J., Sterling HS, Somerdale N.Y.,Upper Dublin, P.A. White Plains Middle School, N.Y., Collegiate School, Richmond, V.A., Temple University, PH., Chesnut Hill College, PH., Senegal, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Escuela Margarita Maza de Juárez, Cd. de México and the Carol Baur School.


Indigenous communities of “SIERRA GORDA”, in Tolimán, Querétaro.

The Carol Baur Foundation works with 4 institutions: FAE(Foundation for educative assistance for children with different capacities and for children who live by the garbage dumpsite of Xochiaca, Orphanage Benito Cottolengo, Fundación Familiar Infantil IAP, Sons of Female prisoners and Grupo Nezahualcóyotl. We have managed to send food supplies, toys and clothes to these organizations for the last 15 years. Through human contact, profound life experiences have been twisted together.

The responsibility of FCB is to create pupils who love life, with the capacity of taking action in projects which come up with viable and intelligent solutions, fighting the terrible problem of famine.

In order to perform successful activities, realistic objectives have to be set, with adequate resources and a work program being followed up.


The Baur International Model United Nations is a model that through debate among students, allows them to face the academic knowledge with the reality of the problems of man, environment and society, thereby meeting the agenda of the UN.


By the time these sensitization activities, the students feel the need to take their experiences and proposals to the UNITED NATIONS STUDENT CONFERENCE ON HUMAN RIGHTS, which is held every year, coordinated by the Department of Public Information (DPI) of the United Nations, in New York City.

It is thereby important that the Non governmental Organizations work together in various disciplines, to cooperate with UN and then gather strength to comply with the goals of this new millennium.

Mtra. Sandra M.B. Rivero Borrell

Friday, June 15, 2007

Women's Federation for World Peace, Success Stories

ECOSOC, The AMR Innovation Fair
Success Story
Women’s Federation for World Peace

Women's Federation for World Peace Kenya
By Helen T. Rotich, UN Representative of WFWPI for Africa

The Kenya chapter of WFWP is proud to share two distinct success stories that positively impact efforts for the eradication of poverty and hunger. These cases were initiated at the grassroots local level in the Bomet district of Kenya.

Women’s Federation for World Peace members in Bomet sponsor and support thirty orphans. These orphans receive school uniforms, blankets, beans and cooking fat. The orphan’s guardian families also are given maize seeds, beans and fertilizer on an annual basis to help these families with food security. This family support has made it easier on the guardian families to continue to sustain and care for the orphans in their homes. The guardian families are typically extended family of the orphans.

WFWP continues to network with local people, institutions and government to further the cause of caring for these children. We are planning a fundraising walk-a-thon to raise funds later in 2007.

Our second success story is our Anti-Feminine Genital Mutilation program, also in the Bomet district of Kenya. This is such an important matter to be faced because this practice supports a tradition of early marriage of young girls (13 to 15 years old). Early marriage means that the girls discontinue their educations, which affects so many aspects of their lives. The other serious matter about female circumcision is the potential negative impact to girls’ physical and emotional health and the potential spread of HIV/AIDS and other infections through the procedure due to poor hygiene methods.

Overcoming this tradition is a complex matter; consequently our program uses many approaches. We hold trainings for young girls to inform them of the potential health consequences of undergoing FGM. We also discuss the problems related to marrying very young, and encourage them to continue their education.

FGM is used as a rite of passage to adulthood. So we have created alternative rites of passage such as conducting a weeklong workshop to help the girls understand the value and meaning of life. This helps them understand how they are maturing, not just physically, but psychologically and spiritually. This program has helped children stay in school. These workshops are held during school holidays (three times a year).

In March 2004, we began conducting programs to educate the traditional surgeons who perform FGM about the dangers of the practice to both the girls and the surgeon. When the surgeons came to understand this, they have surrendered the practice willingly. Initially eight women surgeons stopped the practice. Now, twenty-four women have stopped. The numbers are growing. Those who surrender the practice are invited to join an income-generating project to help replace the income they lost. We have a machine that manufactures building blocks. The former FGM surgeons are given the opportunity to sell the building blocks to make money to support themselves. Through these programs, girl children come to understand why it is better not to undergo FGM, for the sake of health, education and their future. They have alternate rite of passage experiences that are constructive. The practitioners have learned and are learning the problems with the practice and are given an alternative means of income. This type of complex cultural issue must be addressed from many angles. We have done this successfully. Discontinuing the practice of FGM allows girls to protect their health and wellbeing, continue in school and postpone marriage. All are factors that enhance their chances of increased prosperity and future success.

ECOSOC, the AMR Innovation Fair
Success Story
Women’s Federation for World peace International (WFWPI)
By Motoko Sugiyama, VP and Director of UN Office, WFWPI

As an NGO in General Consultative Status accredited with ECOSOC in 1997, WFWPI is committed to being a good partner to the United Nations by focusing on peace-building world wide through our unique and special signature project, the “Bridge of Peace” Sisterhood movement and poverty eradication through our International Service Projects (ISP) in fifty developing nations. (For further reference please visit:

Since the MDGs were introduced in the year 2000, our focus has been on achievement of Goal 1. Our International Service Projects (I.S.P.s) are also impacting achievement of Goal 2, Goal 3, Goal 6, and Goal 7. WFWPI’s I.S.P.s were instigated in 1994. At that time, we initiated International Volunteer Service activities in over 100 countries. During fact finding trips, women volunteers from developed nations witnessed the consequences of war, conflict and poverty firsthand. They saw how women and children suffered tremendously without husbands, fathers, sons and became impassioned to start projects to help and support those in need. Their determination and compassion was the inspiration behind people-to-people grass roots activities that is making a real and positive impact. Volunteers, primarily from Japan, brought ideas and proposals for projects back to their home country. Support systems were developed in Japan, initially and later in other national chapters of developed countries. As a result, currently WFWPI is operating twelve kinds of service projects in fifty countries. It has been a priority since their inception for the projects to be sustainable once they were created, built and set up. One aspect of sustainability has been to choose and train project managers from within the communities where projects are located whenever possible. Cultivating local leadership for projects allows the initial volunteers to continue in the capacity of consultants as well as direct their energy to developing an ongoing support system in their home country for the projects.

Therefore, WFWPI’s success story is the method we have been using to support and maintain our projects to keep them successful. The key word for our success story is: “Seeing is believing.” There are two excellent programs carried out annually to involve people from developed nations in WFWPI service projects. The first program is geared toward project supporters (donors). The second program focuses on engaging youth who are interested in international cooperation.

The first program that is offered is STUDY TOURS to ten developing countries each year. The ten groups have three to ten people each. The study tour groups travel to countries where WFWPI has service projects. In Africa, the tours go to Kenya, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda, Guinea, or Ethiopia. In Asia, the countries are Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, and Thailand. In Latin America: Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, or Dominican Republic receive tour groups. In CIS: Belarus. Activities of the tour include visiting WFWP supported schools, meeting with children who are supported by the foster parents program (foster parents meet with their foster child), sisterhood ceremonies between participants and local people, bringing and donating medical materials, stationary, schools supplies, toys, and more for underserved people and public institutions. Tour participants also offer teaching skills and exchange knowledge and friendship with representatives of governments and NGOs. Visiting the countries and seeing the projects and foster children as well as working together with local people give great impact to the program participants. Supporters witness the difference they have made in people’s lives and how much they are appreciated.

Study Tours (Photos)

The second program is YOUTH VOLUNTEERS FOR INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION. This program operates in two developing countries each year. Ten high school and university students per group travel from Japan to provide short-term service work. So far, programs have taken place in Bangladesh, Thailand, Mongolia, Paraguay, Cambodia, and Philippines. The projects undertaken were school construction, renovation work in schools, temples and public facilities, reconstruction work in the disaster area of the giant tsunami, agricultural work to foster financial independence for disabled people and cultural and friendship exchange experiences. Youth learn how to live and thrive in situations very different from their daily lives. They enjoy working together for mutual understanding and cooperation. Most important, the youth come to understand a sense of responsibility toward people in much more difficult circumstances than their own.

Youth Volunteers For International Cooperation (Photos)

The precious, inspiring and lively experiences that participants have through these programs make great stories to be shared when they return home. The sharing of these stories generates more support and cooperation for further development of the International Service Projects and ultimately more success in achieving the MDGs.

ECOSOC, the AMR Innovation Fair
Success Story
Women’s Federation for World Peace United Kingdom(UK)
By Martina Coombs, Vice President of WFWPI for Europe


The story of the Interfaith Children’s Home began in early 1998 when Mrs Patricia Earle, Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP) representative for the Midlands region of the United Kingdom, was invited to visit the state of Andhra Pradesh in South India. There she witnessed the desperate plight of some Dalit (‘untouchable’) communities, encountering a large number of orphaned children whose parents had committed suicide. The main reason for this was crop failure, in the cotton farming industry, and the resulting burden of debt. Most of the orphaned children could not receive any education, due to their having to go out to work, or beg on the streets, or the lack of schools in remote rural areas.

Developing an idea.

Back in Birmingham, UK, Patricia put the idea of building a Children’s Home to care for some of the Dalit children, creating the possibility for them to receive an education, to the ladies of her Women’s Peace Group. The group comprises women from all faiths, races and ethnic backgrounds who have been meeting together each month since 1993. The ladies embraced the idea and began raising money individually, as well as in their temples, mosques, churches and gurudwaras, etc. WFWP groups in other parts of the UK also held fundraising events to support the project.


By December 1998, sufficient funds had been raised to begin building what was to become ‘The Interfaith Children’s Home of Hyderabad’. An associated organisation, the Religious Youth Service, brought 36 young people, again representing all the world’s faith traditions, to lay the foundations for the Home. Additional support came from the International Relief Friendship Foundation. The young people spent two weeks together in the rural community of Uppal, 15km from Hyderabad, both constructing the foundations and also spreading the message of interreligious cooperation and Communal Harmony in schools and to the local population.
Completion. Local builders completed work on the Home during the year 1999, and it was officially opened in 2000 by a member of the ruling Telegu Desam Party, Hon Vijaya Rama Rao, Minister for Roads, Buildings and Ports, and formerly responsible for the national CBI, together with Mrs Della Godfrey MLA, nominated representative in the State Government of Andhra Pradesh for the Anglo-Indian community. More than thirty Dalit children have been cared for at the Home during the past eight years, a mixture of boys and girls of various ages, enabling them to attend a local village school and receive an education which would otherwise be denied them. So far, 8 children have graduated from the Home and all have done well enough in state exams to continue their education at Intermediate Colleges.

Maintaining the Home.

Although the ultimate aim is to find support for the Children’s Home within India, rather than it being an Aid-type of project, the majority of funding to maintain the Home has so far come from the UK. The WFWP has made substantial contributions towards maintaining the Home during the years 2000 – 2007, both from specific fundraising events and through individual child sponsorship.
In Birmingham, in addition to donations from numerous churches, temples and other places of worship, financial support has come from the Mother’s Union, Soroptimists International, Sikh Nari Manch, the Asian Women’s Network, the Hindu Women’s Club and the Indian Consulate. In April 2003, the wife of the Consul General of India in Birmingham brought together a number of voluntary organisations and NGO’s in a day of fundraising, raising £18,000 (US$ 35,000) of which £7,000 was donated to the Interfaith Children’s Home.

Future Development.

In India, the Children’s Home has become well recognised for its realistic contribution to Communal Harmony and good relations between people of different faiths, receiving the national Samaj Vikas Peace Award and, in January 2003, the international Hind Ratan (Jewel of India) Award, presented by Former President of India Shri K R Narayan.
Consequently, the state government of Andhra Pradesh is in the process of granting new land for the project’s expansion and development. A new home is to be built, with better and separate facilities for boys and girls, staff and guest accommodation and a clinic to provide Mother and Baby healthcare for the local community. The latter will be sponsored by a matched funding arrangement between Birmingham and Hyderabad Rotary Clubs, who wish to assist in the overall development of the project. Other funding partners who wish to support the development are Muslim Aid and Sikh Aid.


First orphans arrive at the Children’s Home May 2000

First days at school

Six of the eight children who have now gone to College

Interfaith Children’s Home near Hyderabad India

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Women's World Summit Foundation, A Success Story

WWSF Women’s World Summit Foundation
Women’s section -

Promoting Women’s rights • Lobby governments at the UN • Direct Support for rural women and children to help eradicate poverty in rural communities around the world

Created in 1991 in Geneva, Switzerland, in response to the urgent call for action launched at the first UN World Summit for Children (New York, 1990), WWSF serves as an international, non-profit,non-confessional, humanitarian NGO and enjoys UN consultative status (ECOSOC, UNFPA and DPI). WWSF is totally independent of any religious, political or philosophical affiliation.

As an international empowerment network, WWSF is dedicated to serve with its annual global initiatives, campaigns, world days and prize awards the implementation of women and children’s rights and the UN Millennium Development Goals. It provides international visibility, recognition and support for women’s development projects and for innovative child abuse prevention programs.

WWSF Prize for women’s creativity in rural life
By honoring a woman we honor a whole nation

Created in 1994, the Prize awards women and women’s groups around the world who exhibit exceptional creativity, courage and commitment in improving the quality of life in rural communities. Awarded annually, the Prize draws international attention to Laureates' contributions to sustainable development, household food security and peace and increases recognition and support for their work. 317 Laureates from more than 100 countries have received the Prize over the past 13 years (US$500 per Laureate and US$ 3000 for African women's associations). A Traveling Exposition of all the laureates is presented at strategic venues and at national and international events. The 2007 lauretaes are presently being selected and will be announced on 1 September 2007 and awarded on 15 October-World Rural Women’s Day. All laureates and their work are featured on Internet.

Laureate 2006- A. Mugwendere

Laureate 2005- G. Heredea

World Rural Women's Day – 15 October
Annual global awareness campaign to increase knowledge and empowerment

Created in 1995 during the UN Conference on Women (Beijing) by several INGOs, the World Day aims to place rural women's role center stage and sensitizes governments and the world community to the importance of grassroots initiatives contributing to the eradication of poverty. Since 1997, WWSF annually disseminates via its network a global poster and an “Open Letter to rural women of the world” which generate hundreds of local initiatives and national events.

Benin- 1999, India – 2002

Micro-credit Mali Sheep Project
A different way of making your gifts

The aim of micro credit is to deliver financial services to the most marginalized, especially rural women, of the world.
By offering a rural women a sheep to raise, you enable a rural family in Mali to have two meals per day. A WWSF project to help implement the United Nations Millennium Development Goals MDGs. More than 300 sheep could be sponsored in 2006.

World Day for Circles of Compassion - 2 November
and Capacity training workshops on “How to create community circles for implementation of the UN Millennium Development Goals MDGs”

Launched in 2003 by WWSF in partnership with the Millionth Circle Initiative, the World Day serves as a rallying call to action, and the training workshops aim to develop a new dialogue in civil society and NGOs. Circles encourage cooperation among their members and inspire compassionate solutions to individual, community and world problems, including for the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals ( WWSF organizes regular circle training workshops to introduce the circle methodology and the MDGs for the emergence of compassionate societies around the world.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sulabh International Social Service Organization, A Success Story

United Nations Economic and Social Council
AMR Innovation Fair

“Innovation and transformation for Eradication of Poverty and Hunger”
Geneva, Switzerland
2-5 July, 2007

1. Name of the approach/tool/project
Liberation and Rehabilitation of Scavengers through Innovative Technology and Capacity Building : A Success Story.

2. Description of the approach/tool//project description (methodology, techniques and strategies used);
Sanitation in India has continued to be a matter of low priority on account of several factors – social, cultural, economic and technological. Nearly 65% of the population lacks basic sanitation facilities. One major cause of concern is the existence of 13 million bucket and dry privies and the wide-spread prevalence of open defecation. A particular class of people called “scavengers” clean these bucket privies or dry latrines and make house to house collection of human excreta in buckets and carry it on their heads for disposal. Since generations, they have been relegated to the lowest of the low in society, the majority of them being women. Though regulation prohibits scavenging, it required technological back-up and its implementation, to create conditions which eliminate the need of employing scavengers.
After years of research, Sulabh International Social Service Organisation developed the eco-friendly, pour-flush, water-seal, compost latrine with two leach pits for on-site disposal of human excreta, popularly known as Sulabh Shauchalaya, meaning a convenient toilet. Sulabh’s technology of two-pit composting toilet was a new idea and an altogether new approach to solve the problem of open defecation as well as to free scavengers from the highly demeaning and dehumanizing vocation, which was hereditary and also the only way for their survival and sustenance. This approach revolutionized the sanitation scenario in India. The scavengers thus liberated from this work were imparted training in various vocations for earning their livelihood, thus providing them self-respect, human dignity and bringing them in the mainstream of society in India. They were able to eke out a living in a more humane way, earning much more and freed from the trap of acute poverty and hunger.

3. Implementation Methodologies
Householders in urban and peri-urban areas were motivated to convert their existing dry or bucket privies into pour-flush (where water is used for flushing) by the Sulabh volunteers, who went door-to-door to motivate them. The technology of Sulabh two-pit was applied and construction done in their houses, thus liberating scavengers and weaning them from the job of manually cleaning dry toilets and carrying human excreta as head-load. A large number of towns have been made scavenging-free by Sulabh.
Vocational Training Centres were set up by Sulabh where training was imparted to these scavengers in various market-oriented trades such as - electrician’s job, carpentry, sewing and tailoring, dress designing, computer repair, driving, preparation of various edible items, etc. Their capacity building enabled them to earn a better livelihood and they found other better avenues of employment. Health and hygiene education was imparted to them simultaneously.

4. What is Innovative about this approach/tool/project?
The application of the break-through technology by Sulabh not only showed the way on how to discourage defecation in the open, but also, how millions of bucket toilets could be converted into the Sulabh model to eliminate manual scavenging by 700,000 scavengers in India. The unique combination of scientific methodology matched step-by-step with the human endeavour of abolishing scavenging has been a novel approach to meet the challenge of defecation in the open and scavenging, thereby showing a way of meeting the problem of poverty and resultant hunger.

5. Evidence of results and impact
It has transformed the lives of thousands of people from a life of degradation, social discrimination, untouchability, misery, hunger and poverty to a healthier life with dignity, basic human rights, respect and social justice. More than 6,000 scavengers have been trained at various vocational centers.
The Human Development Report 2003, while mentioning about Sulabh Sanitation Movement observed “The Sulabh latrine can promote environmental sanitation in most densely populated urban areas. But to do so, it must be adopted by international agencies as a model for widespread promotion in developing countries.” The work and achievements of Sulabh also finds mention in The Human Development Report 2006. The organisation has developed its linkages and partnerships with relevant governmental organisations and agencies, both at the central, state and local levels as also with various international organisations like WHO, UNDP, UNICEF, UNEP, UN-Habitat, UN-ECOSOC and several civil society organizations in India and abroad.

6. Costs associated with the development of the approach/tool/project
The cost associated with the development of the approach and its implementation is miniscule compared to the impact it has had on the lives of thousands of people who are the lowest of the low in Indian society and the technological breakthrough of providing a safe and hygienic human waste disposal system for on-site sanitation, which has the potential to be replicated world-wide and save millions of people globally, enabling them to live healthier, more dignified and productive lives.

7. Contact information
Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak
Sulabh International Social Service Organisation
Sulabh Gram, Mahavir Enclave
Palam-Dabri Marg, New Delhi- 110045, INDIA
Tel: +91 11 25031518, 25031519
Fax: +91 11 25034014, 25055952

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Mann Land Women's Cooperative Bank, A Success Story

September 2002 Years of hardship and backbreaking labor in the drought-stricken agricultural fields of Mhaswad village in west central India have worn 64- year-old Sumantai Limbrao Gaekwad to the bone. A single woman by choice, she walked out on her husband two decades ago and survived as a daily wage laborer earning a miserable 2.10 rupees per day.
Sumantai and her grand-daughter (Photo credit - Pritha Sen)

Yet Sumantai's eyes sparkle today with a new zest for life. Perfectly turned out in a traditional silk sari, her jewelry-laden daughter in tow, the sexagenarian says: "All that's in the past now. I have built my own house and have my own flowers and condiments shop in the temple complex."

Sumantai's story captures in a nutshell how a group of asset-less, rural women have created, and now operate, a bank for themselves. The Mann Deshi Mahila Sahakari Bank (Mann Land Women's Cooperative Bank) of Mhaswad village is unique in the fact that it is the country's first rural cooperative bank of its kind � for and by women.

The absence of a formal education has not deterred these women from managing a system of microcredit that is suited to their needs when the big nationalized banks have failed to see any value in serving them. In the process, they have changed the quality of life in their villages by empowering themselves economically, educationally and politically. Now, even the big nationalized banks want them as clients.

Passport to a Better Future

Today, Sumantai earns 25 rupees per day, and she can make up to 300 rupees on weekends. "I have been able to pay back both my loans of 5000 and 20,000 rupees, borrowed from the local Mahila Bank (Women's Bank) for the shop and the house," she notes with pride.

Although she is illiterate, Sumantai's thumb impression serves as her passport to a better future when banking at the Mann Deshi Mahila Sahakari Bank (MDMSB). It is the first such rural Mahila Bank in all of Maharashtra, the Indian state that includes Mumbai (formerly Bombay).

Eighty percent of the MDMSB's customers are from the marginalized classes. India's other rural cooperative banks are operated by the government and are dominated by the upper caste. Unlike the MDMSB, they do not extend microcredit tailored to women's needs.

Sumantai's rising fortune is a story that has been repeated hundreds of times in the lives of women who live in the hamlets surrounding the one-horse village of Mhaswad, located 250 miles from Mumbai in the Mann subdivision (group of villages) of Maharashtra state's Satara district. In less than five years, since it was founded in August 1997, the MDMSB has transformed the Mann subdivision, enabling women to emerge as powerful catalysts of change.

A goat show organized by the Mann Deshi Mahila Sahakari Bank (Photocredit - MVSS)

The MDMSB was founded by illiterate, rural women who won a hard-fought battle for a banking license from the Reserve Bank of India (the top regulatory bank in India). Since then, it has grown from having an initial shareholder capitalization of 600,000 rupees to a bank with total assets that reached 30 million rupees this year, with 2.4 million shares outstanding. At the end of the current financial year (March 31), MDMSB posted a net profit of 400,000 rupees, signifying that it has produced a surplus after recapturing all of its initial and current operating costs.

The MDMSB's customers are drawn from the region's unorganized sector of women who are small producers � vegetable vendors, milk vendors, nomadic goat and sheep farmers, cottage industry entrepreneurs, casual laborers and daily wage earners � a multihued, essentially asset-less, and uneducated client base.

By the late 1970s, Mhaswad village was stricken by drought, and the entire Mann subdivision was reduced to one of the most poverty-stricken areas of Maharashtra state. It was during this period, in the mid-1980s, that Chetna Gala Sinha, a 42-year-old firebrand activist who was born and raised in Mumbai, arrived in Mhaswad after falling in love with a well-known Mhaswadi farmer-activist who is now her husband.

Mhaswad was once a prosperous village with a thriving handloom weaving industry and productive cotton fields. By the time Sinha had arrived, it had shrunk to a community of primarily goat farmers, shepherds and daily wage earners.

The number of men who were migrating out of the village during the dry season was soaring. They left in droves to go to towns where they could work as casual workers in sugarcane factories, or to Mumbai to work in construction, or to simply move with their cattle to other states.

"Women were the worst hit by the migrations," Sinha said. "It left them holding the baby and the bathwater as well!"

Forging Links and Building Political Clout

Sinha began working in Mhaswad as an activist in the late '80s, tackling immediate problems such as the water shortage, wage-related issues, and government relief schemes offered during periods of drought. Having earned a degree in business, Sinha soon realized there was an urgent need for a sustained effort to help the local people develop assets and slow the rate of out-migration.

She created the Mann Vikas Samajik Sanstha (Mann Social Welfare Organization). In 1992 she used the organization to launch a general credit cooperative society that provided a weekly savings scheme for women from the marginalized classes. The women pooled their savings from one week and went as a group to the weekly market where one of them bought a goat.

"We started with a minimum contribution of 5 rupees per person, but the women came up with at least 10 rupees weekly," Sinha said. "The recovery rate was excellent � almost 100 percent," she beams.

The women were now doing business, and their groups spawned Self Help Groups (SHGs) that consisted of at least 20 women each. The SHGs expanded and concretized the concept of inter-credit facilities, allowing the women's collectives to go beyond generating capital and assets � forging linkages in the market and developed a bargaining clout that they could use to their advantage.

A Self Help Group (Photocredit - MVSS)

As women assumed the role of managers of their family finances, they began to realize their potential. Women emerged from the SHGs as leaders and they soon created a federation.

Today, the SHGs have spread to 126 villages in the Mann subdivision, covering an area with a population of 250,000. The federation acts as a pressure group that influences market forces and supports expansion of income-generating activities. Federation members are emerging as local political leaders.

By 1996, the federated women's cooperatives recognized they needed the services of a bank. Unfortunately, the loan and credit facilities of India's nationalized and private banks are mired in red tape. They immediately disqualify illiterate women, especially when they lack assets that would serve as solid collateral, and the paperwork and processing is beyond their comprehension.

In any case, no bank would be interested in extending a loan to buy a goat or a garden umbrella, Sinha notes. So Sinha approached the Reserve Bank of India for a license to start a women's bank. She was initially met with a firm refusal.

Inculcating a New Culture of Savings

Sinha persisted. Her argument was simple: women traditionally have handled the finances of the family, and have done an excellent job of it. Why was it so difficult to believe that they could handle a bank? After two years of persistent effort, the Reserve Bank of India relented and the MDMSB became a reality. In retrospect, Sinha says, "You just need to have shareholders come together and create a capital. Even poor people can create such collectives and improve their lives without outside interference. We started with 500 women who put in, on an average, 500 rupees each and managed to come up with the initial 600,000 rupees."

Organizing the bank was no cakewalk. "I realized as I was inculcating a culture of savings among these women that one has to train them through their habits, their lifestyle," Sinha said. "One cannot impose anything new from above."

Making the MDMSB profitable, and ensuring that the women had money to save, required understanding, creating and developing the market, Sinha said. It also was vital to create a discipline of saving and planning for the future within the community, she said.

The SHGs gave Sinha the platform she needed to campaign for and inculcate these habits. The MDMSB has reinforced these efforts by continuously offering new products to its customers. Its plans to offer an old age social security scheme and link-ups with insurance companies for subsidized policies have been well received. "An accident insurance policy which we had introduced has worked very well, and there haven't even been claims," Sinha noted.

Understanding the market, identifying income generation niches and developing them was not so difficult, Sinha said. Because raising animals is entirely a woman's responsibility in India, as is the job of selling produce at the weekly markets, the MDMSB team visited the weekly markets in the area to discover how women could work there, and what they wanted.

The exercise uncovered some interesting information. The MSMSB team found that women work with the smaller goats and sheep in the animal markets, and sometimes even buffaloes, while men work with the bullocks that are used to till land. But bullocks have lost their market value with the decline in agriculture.

Most women felt it was better to have two buffaloes and a couple of goats in the house than bullocks that cost nearly 25,000 rupees each. With men migrating out of the villages in droves, the women were left to tend the bullocks � a labor-intensive job that is pointless in times of drought. Thus the MDMSB decided to emphasize animals that women can control as an asset and that generate income, such as milk cows, goats and buffaloes.

Before women began participating in the MDMSB, the income earned from milk sales was controlled by the men, Sinha said. But now that the MDMSB is extending loans to women only, and has launched an effort to create nine Mahila dairies (women's dairies), women are selecting the type of cattle that is best suited to them. The women supply milk to the Mahila dairies, which ensure that they receive a fair price and that proceeds are disbursed in their name.

Vegetables: A New Repertoire

The MDMSB identified the growing and vending of vegetables as a second area of income generation for women, and many women have opted to grow and sell, or buy and sell vegetables. Now, a whole new repertoire of vegetables has emerged � apart from the traditional leafy vegetables, brinjals, and onions � such as tomatoes, varieties of cucumber and gourds, and okra, and even grapes are being cultivated.

Today, there are hundreds of success stories. Sindhutai Vilas Dhaure, 42, of Mhaswad village was married to a tailor with hardly any earnings. "But I had to survive and provide an education for my son as well," she said.

Dhaure took a loan of 30,000 rupees from the MDMSB to start a business of selling sprouted lentils and beans, which are considered cheap yet highly nutritious food items in India, and are consumed liberally. Beginning with an initial investment of 9-11 pounds of vegetables per day, which she soaked overnight so they would sprout, she supplied them in packets to local households, small vendors, tea stalls, hotels and restaurants.

Sindhutai Vilas Dhaure (Photocredit - MVSS)

Sindhutai now sells an average of 110 pounds daily and her net income has jumped from the initial 600 rupees to 2,500 rupees per month. "I save 50 rupees daily at the bank," Sindhutai said. She has slowly built up her assets, including a color TV, a Godrej steel almirah (cupboard) that is a premium brand in India, and some gold.

"I spent 85,000 rupees on my son's wedding," she says proudly.

Kamal Jaisinh Gore, a vegetable and milk vendor, is a widow with two children. She took a loan of 5,000 rupees from the MDMSB to buy a buffalo. She managed to return the money before the expiry date of repayment.

Gore saves 10 rupees a day at the MDMSB. "Earlier, we were at the mercy of the local moneylenders who charged an interest rate of 5 - 6 percent," she said. "The bank charges only 1.5 percent, and it has made life so much easier for us."

Although vegetable patches are relatively easy to maintain, the area's agriculture has been in a sorry state, primarily due to drought. The MDMSB decided to try encouraging animal feed and fodder as a cash crop.

"We invited an agricultural expert to come and train us in fodder cultivation and in recognizing what makes good fodder," Sinha said. One of the lessons learned was that goats eat a certain kind of cactus during the summer months, so this was adopted as one of the fodder crops.

Discovering New Possibilities

The MDMSB identified selling bangles as a third promising area for women. While banglemaking is not a major industry in these parts, bangle selling has great potential because bangles are considered to be auspicious and daily wear for women, specially married women. They are considered mandatory on auspicious days and festive occasions.

Other ideas followed. The MDMSB extended loans for sewing machines because they are portable. Women could even sit in the marketplace with their machines and get ready customers.

These women are discovering new possibilities for generating income generation with the provision of small loans for making packaged powdered spices, potato and lentil wafers, buying chutney-making machines, etc. The MDMSB is considering financing a Mahila Bazar (women's bazar) that would be run exclusively by women.

"You'd be surprised," Sinha said. "There are four computer institutes in Mhaswad. Three of them are run by local women today who have started them with loans from the bank."

By custom, the majority of women who have developed businesses were not entrepreneurs, and their incomes were way below the poverty line. Those who had an income typically were earning about 180 rupees per month. Today, Sinha says with obvious pride, their income averages at least 1,200 rupees per month.

Despite the MDMSB's successes, it's activities have not halted the problem of out-migration thus far. During the past four years, "we have been able to control only about 30 percent," Sinha said.

Men continue to leave, primarily due to a lack of drinking water in certain areas during the dry months, the need for additional income, Sinha said. "But," she adds, optimistically, "we foresee a steady decline as our schemes lay down roots."

Nevertheless, there has been a visible change in attitudes, adds Sumantai, the sexagenarian seller of flowers and condiments. "Earlier, women did not have access to extra money," she said. "Now with the bank and the SHGs, they have a new confidence in their abilities. Women are also counseling each other on future security for their families and children. Girl children are encouraged to study and not just do housework."

Sinha agrees. "We have definitely been able to influence two things: education and awareness of basic rights. Once women are economically independent, they are empowered and have decision-making powers."

Loan transactions in progress (Photocredit - Pritha Sen)

Sinha is aware that there is a risk of saturating the market. Thus, she is determined to begin involving government agencies to help look for ways to ensure that all these entrepreneurial activities do not cancel each other out. India's recently enacted import-export policy opens new horizons in this regard: it aims to bring small producers under its fold and to give them an opportunity to connect with the global economy.

Partner as Collateral

The success of the bank raised concerns about whether whether the women would be intimidated by calculations of interest, the minimal yet mandatory paperwork, collaterals, and other such issues that arise when dealing with a licensed institution. "Paperwork is kept very simple and all calculations are done in rounded figures � 10, 15, 20," Sinha said. "We have also tried to keep to the local usages � we never say something like '58'; we always say 'two less than 60'"

When making large loans, the MDMSB cleverly uses a husband as collateral. In case of default, he is held as much responsible as the wife. Beyond this, the husband must sign a document that declares his wife is equal owner of any property they own. "This is a part of our empowerment program," Sinha said.

One reason for the MDMSB's profitability is that its spread is higher than nationalized banks-the client base that is-and therefore profits have risen quickly. Even though interest are as low as 1.5 per cent to 4 per cent. " Starting in mid 1997, it took us just four years to come out of our primary expenses and this year we have posted a net earning of Rs 4 lakh," says Sinha.

The secret of the MDMSB's success lies in the various products and services it offers, and the manner in which credit is extended with an eye to income generation and sustainable development, Sinha said. "We are focused on the fact that whatever we are doing is to strengthen and empower the people, and on asset building. When this realization strikes, the collective moves and grows."

The MDMSB's future plans include financing a mobile veterinary service, developing a federation of the Mahila dairies, distributing thermometers to milk vendors to assess quality of milk, issuing identity cards to MDMSB customers to make them socially and economically visible, and working closely with the government to raise awareness about the value of this type developmental finance.

One major breakthrough has already occurred at the policy level where some nationalized banks now approach women served by the MDMSB, offering credit with for animal husbandry. The MDMSB's success made them realize that these women are also quality customers.

Sinha smiles when asked whether it was difficult to establish her credentials and credibilty when she first started to work here. "You don't need to work hard to earn trust and credibility," says the woman, who is affectionately referred to as Bhabi (brother's wife) throughout the area. "In villages, everyone knows what you are up to and how � whether inside the house or outside. If your efforts are genuine, you are a winner all the way."

Pritha Sen
September 2002

Contact Chetna Gala Sinha at Mann Vikas Samajik Sanstha, Taluka Mann, District Satara, Maharashtra-415509. Tel: +91-2373-70119/70141. Pritha Sen is a Delhi-based freelance journalist. She was formerly with the the Indian news-weekly Outlook. Currently she is also a consultant to Ashoka, as Media strategist and chief editor of the soon-to-be launched Ashoka India Web site.