Over the past five months I’ve worked in Yangon and explored the city center, industrial zones, towns and villages. I’ve spoken with business owners, investors, and business intermediary organizations, government policy and aid agencies, and local and international nonprofits. You might think I’d have a clear sense of what is going on here, where opportunities are, and the path the country should take moving forward. I do have a more complete understanding of Myanmar than when I arrived, but I am also more aware of how many layers there are to any "truth" in this rapidly changing country.
What has happened to the American Dream – the idea that freedoms granted in the U.S. provide opportunities to prosper, succeed, and move up the socioeconomic ladder through hard work? The reality is that initiative and effort are often not enough to get Americans out of the traps of poverty, and that the gap between the haves and the have-nots continues to widen. In an interview with Steve Zuckerman, MBA ’87, and Managing Director of Self–Help’s California operations, he revealed insights specific to financial challenges and solutions for the poor and underserved.
It’s a fact: global temperatures are warmer than at any time in the past 4,000 years –– the result of human activities releasing large quantities of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Given existing technology to reduce our carbon footprint, why aren’t we seeing bolder action to remedy the issue at home and abroad?
Knight Management Center was eerily quiet and empty; not only was it Saturday morning, but it was the first day of a three-day weekend. Most of our friends were out of town, celebrating the mini-holiday. The five of us, meanwhile, had rendezvoused in front of Schwab Residential Center to carpool down the 101 to the Google campus. Our destination: The 2013 Intersection Event.
Greetings from Myanmar! After 50 years of isolation the country is now at a pivotal moment in time, entering a new era of international relations, development, and potential progress. In November 2010, Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest, laying the foundation for political changes. Following Parliament’s 2011 selection of U Thein Sein as president, the country has begun to open up and ushered in myriad reforms. In May 2012, the Obama administration lifted most prohibitions on Americans doing business in Myanmar, marking a new era of diplomatic relations with the United States.
In this quarter’s column, we explore giving the gift of our time to others. It’s a fact that most Americans are feeling more time-constrained than ever. With waking hours largely consumed by work, precious minutes remain for the daily list of to-dos, including exercise, cleaning, and socializing with friends and family. For some, time has become an even more valuable resource than money.
Where do the products we buy come from and how do we know that their production doesn’t leave a wake of environmental damage or exploited workers? Even brands we think we trust are often linked to suppliers with questionable or downright abusive practices, as exemplified in the November factory fire in Bangladesh, where 112 workers were killed at a factory that supplied Walmart, Sears and even the US Marine Corps, though all claim they had no idea that apparel produced there was destined for their stores.
As we enter 2013, I’ve reached out to a handful of my knowledgeable colleagues to hear their version of a New Year’s resolution in response to this prompt: If you had a magic wand and there was one thing you could change in the ecosystem for social impact, what would it be?
Thank you for being a part of our community of social innovators committed to building a better world for future generations. Imagination, experiences, and relationships spark innovation all around us every day. May you stay inspired in 2013.
This time of year offers the opportunity to express our care for friends and family through shared traditions and the exchange of gifts. Shopping can spin into a frenzy of purchases, but with a bit of thought it’s a great opportunity to put our money where it can make a difference. Last year’s “Shop and Give for a Better World” column was well-received, so I’m making it an annual tradition.