Connect for Good

A year ago, Sophie Gray was a very successful fitness influencer – her Instagram account @wayofgray was a plethora of selfies, abs and workouts which inspired many in the pursuit of the perfect body. Yet, in spite of all the praise and hundreds of thousands of followers, she felt she was not being honest with herself in promoting the unreachable idea of perfection. After a nervous breakdown, she decided to explore a new path – one that leads to self-acceptance. Today, Sophie advocates self-acceptance and aims to foster women empowerment on social media. In this interview, she talks about her inspirations, plans for the future and the responsibility of being a role model for the next generations.

Sophie Gray

Why did you decide to advocate self-love and acceptance?

We live in a world where we are at war internally. We have become so disconnected from ourselves and I experienced this personally. For me, I decided to advocate self-love and acceptance because I didn’t have any other choice. I needed it in my own world, and through my inner work, it flowed over to my professional work through my channels.

Was there a moment when you felt you could do something different from other health and fitness influencers?

I had a panic attack on an airplane that had me step back and evaluate my personal life. From there, I connected with how I truly felt and realized I didn’t want to show up through my accounts in the ways that I had been. From there I decided to completely step away from fitness and have refocused on inspiring others to connect with themselves through introspection.

How important is it for you to empower girls and women?

I struggled with self-harm in my youth, and this was before social media really took off. I couldn’t imagine going through what I went through with the added pressures brought on by social media. I actually am establishing a nonprofit that works with youth in school creating space for them to show up and dive into their relationship with themselves.

I believe women have such an important role in our society. Often, we are the ones who raise the next generations and when we have a mother who is strong, confident and feels at home within herself, we are able to teach the younger generations to feel the same.

This isn’t to say all women are going to have children. And regardless of whether they are or not, they are, in some way, a role model to those growing up. I know for myself personally, I want my self-acceptance to inspire others that they’re deserving of their own acceptance.

Sophie now advocates for self-acceptance

Tell us about the self-love challenge – when and why did you come up with the idea and what does it consist of?

I hosted a challenge from Jan 1st to 5th 2018. It was about having my followers commit to coming home to themselves. There is a stillness that exists within all of us – this stillness, rooted in love, also exists within everyone. I want those who follow me to make 2018 the year they come home to themselves by diving through what they go through. This involves sitting with themselves, working through their experiences and feeling at peace with themselves. This challenge was a fun way to start the new year committing to coming home to yourself.

What are your goals for 2018?

In 2018, I am launching an app that will help men and women start conversations with themselves that will lead to greater self-awareness, emotional resilience and help develop a better love and appreciation for yourself and others. This will be launching in April.

I also plan to have my new name changed account, @sophiegray (formly @wayofgray), focus more on my passion for writing – while focusing on encouraging others to take time to turn within.

Changemakers is an Horyou initiative which aims to highlight remarkable people & projects related to the Sustainable Development Goals. In this article, we shed a light over #SDG5 / Gender Equality.


From June 30 to July 2, European Youth Awards invite creative minds to join a game marathon at the Technical University of Graz, in Austria.

EYA Game Jam
EYA Game Jam

Why not use technology to discuss social and environmental changes? That’s the challenge presented by the European Youth Awards to the young, creative minds that will be part of EYA Game Jam. The programming competition takes place at the Technical University of Graz, in Austria, and will use tools like virtual reality and 360° to discuss topics like water and family.

The goal is to create game prototypes to address both topics, that are intrinsically connected to the Sustainable Development Goals. Says Kathrin Quatember, EYA spokesperson: “Two of the UN SDGs focus on the topic of water; Goal 6 – Clean water and sanitation and Goal 14 – Life below the sea. By establishing a special category, EYA wants to contribute to the international awareness of treating the “source of life“. Secondly, we try to motivate young innovators and entrepreneurs to develop smart solutions for water related problems and apply for European Youth Awards 2017”. Water should also be the topics of the EYA 2017, she added.

The idea of using virtual reality and tech gadgets in the event stems from the fact that EYA wanted to bring digital technologies to the center of social innovation discussions within the EYA community. “The combination of the Game Jam topics ‘water’ and ‘family’ with VR and 360° technology is thrilling. It enriches the possibilities for the Game Jammers to reach the peak of creativity and opens new possibilities to approach the topics”, said Kathrin.

The competition is open to everyone interested in game and development. EYA partnered with VRCORE, the organizer of the “Global VR Hackathon“ – a worldwide event with regional competitions and a Championship Final in Shanghai at the end of August. Three Winners of the Jam will be invited to the Championship Final – a unique opportunity for the participants to expand their network and learn!

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

Being a social entrepreneur requires more than good intentions and resilience. Like any company, social enterprises need planning, a solid business model and cooperative networks. Through initiatives like The Global Good Fund and its support, social entrepreneurs are empowered and have access to tools to develop their businesses and become global leaders, bringing positive changes to the world. Carrie Rich, GGF’s CEO spoke to Horyou Blog and announced that applications are open for the 2018 Fellowship.

Global Good Fund fellows
Global Good Fund fellows

What is the scope of The Global Good Fund’s work?

The Global Good Fund develops social entrepreneurs into impactful global leaders through its Fellowship Program. Each Fellow is paired with a c-suite executive who serves as mentor, and is provided proprietary leadership assessment resources, a network of peers, sector expertise, and targeted financial capital. The result is confident leaders who scale their social enterprises and deliver sustainable positive social impact. We believe growing leaders is the most effective strategy for solving complex social problems and achieving global good. The Global Good Fund is currently seeking social entrepreneurs for its 2018 Fellowship Program -Apply Now.

As a social entrepreneurship supporter and accelerator, what would you say are the biggest challenges to be a social entrepreneur?

The two responsibilities that I focus most on as a social entrepreneur are similar to how a traditional entrepreneur spends her time. I focus on our people internally and growing our revenue model. We are fortunate to have an incredible team of dedicated professionals who consistently go above and beyond to support each other while serving the social entrepreneurs we are privileged to support. That culture does not happen by accident, rather our people are a core component of The Global Good Fund that require attention and nurturing over the long haul. Second, we are committed to growing our earned income so that we are financially viable long term. It’s exciting to find mission aligned methods to sustain our organization in addition to philanthropy.

The Global Good Fund focus in leadership development
The Global Good Fund focus in leadership development

What are the main aspects of a social business you evaluate in order to give it support?

We focus on the leadership development of individuals as the vehicle for growing social businesses. We look for social entrepreneurs who are full-time committed to their work, have enough “ego-strength” to stand by their convictions, and enough humility to be coachable.

Are you committed to the Sustainable Development Goals or do you address some of the SDGs with your projects?

We are not explicit in our commitment to the SDGs. We are philosophically aligned in that several of the social entrepreneurs we support lead enterprises that address the SDGs by focusing on health, poverty alleviation, gender equality, education, energy and water sanitation.

Global Good Fund
Global Good Fund

How do you see the future of social entrepreneurship?

Many of my peers (millennials) aim to work for companies that have strong social values. Others are creating their own businesses when employers don’t meet social enterprise standards. I imagine a rich future wherein social values permeate business culture as millennials assume leadership roles.

On its social platform, Horyou connects thousands of social entrepreneurs, philanthropists and organizations around the world. In your opinion, what’s the importance of social networks for social entrepreneurship and, particularly, for The Global Good Fund’s work?

The Global Good Fund brand and community is largely built on social networks. We thrive as an organization when we connect with partners around the globe who share our commitment to growing high potential young leaders who are using business for social good.

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

As the social entrepreneurship landscape gets more promising, it also becomes more challenging and complex – there are many different types of ventures and business models to develop, while many youngsters crave for help and guidance through this process. The Social Venturer Anika Horn has been working for years supporting young social entrepreneurs, through advisory, acceleration programs and community building. Anika gave this interview to our blog about the biggest challenges and trends for social entrepreneurship.

Anika Horn and a team of social entrepreneurs
Anika Horn and a team of social entrepreneurs

What is the scope of your work?

I work with purpose-driven entrepreneurs from inception to established businesses through one-on-one advisory, programming and community building. I spend a lot of time supporting mission-driven entrepreneurs in building up their companies, and curating the community around certified B Corps, social entrepreneurs and socially responsible companies.

What are the biggest challenges for social entrepreneurs?

At first sight, the challenges that social entrepreneurs face are not that different from the ones that “regular” entrepreneurs face: Defining your niche, validating the market, building a financially sustainable business model, pricing, finding investment, marketing on a startup budget, building the model to scale. It’s the commitment to a double or even triple-bottom line that adds nuance to each of these challenges. Pricing is not just a question of willingness but ability to pay, any cost structure is likely to reflect not only financial expenses but the social or environmental impacts.

A second challenge I foresee for social entrepreneurs is standing out from the noise. Unfortunately, I see a lot of self-declared social entrepreneurs who might have a good story but lack substance in terms of real business stamina, actual outputs and success metrics. These so called social entrepreneurs muddy the waters of what real social entrepreneurship can do and achieve, and make it harder for those who are serious about creating lasting change through business to be taken seriously.

Anika assesses and helps to build social enterprises and communities
Anika assesses and helps to build social enterprises and communities

Can you share some social enterprise success stories you have assessed?

One challenge in the world of social entrepreneurship is how success is defined. Is it creating market access for a marginalized community? Is it lifting three individuals out of poverty, or three thousand? In that sense, defining success becomes a challenge in and of itself. Two entrepreneurs I have been impressed with over the last year are Rupa Singh of Love this RVA, and Jeff Beck and Adam Dreyfus of Answers Now.

Love This RVA is a platform for socially responsible shopping and conscious consumerism. Rupa started out with a co-founder with whom she ended up parting ways, is now running the online and airstream shop by herself, has growing number of speaking engagements, and is figuring out her financial model. She might never scale nationally, but she is successful in making a deep impact in the mindsets of the community she lives and operates in.

Jeff and Adam are developing a mobile app to support parents of children with autism. As first-time founders, I met them when they had little more than the idea. It is unimaginable for an outsider how much time the backend tech development takes, how many sprints and delays and iterations they have gone through. Adam and Jeff are successful because they are designing their service through constant conversations with their target customers. I celebrate their learning process in the lean startup sense over any potential revenue they currently generate and I see great potential in their ability to scale and expand the application to other underserved communities.

Anika Horn
Anika Horn

How do you see the future of social entrepreneurship?

I personally hope that we come to understand that social entrepreneurship is just that: entrepreneurship that leverages hard-to-crack opportunities in the market. With all the Ubers, Instagrams and nutrition bars in the world, real opportunities for disruption lie in areas of social and environmental injustice: lack of equal access to education and healthcare, large-scale upcycling of ocean plastic waste, reintegration of ex-convicts – these are the kinds of untapped opportunities that will impact millions of lives and therefore have a promising future. But they are nuts to crack.

Horyou is the social network for social good. How important are social networks for social entrepreneurs?

Launching and running a social enterprise can be a very isolating, frustrating, lonesome experience. Not every social entrepreneur qualifies as a Schwab or Ashoka Fellow. Social networks can provide accountability, connectedness and as trivial as it may sound: inspiration. Sometimes knowing that others are just as crazy trying to change the world around them is what it takes to get back on the horse. Besides, entrepreneurs have so much to learn from each other; why not use social networks to steepen that learning curve by creating a space for meaningful conversations and knowledge exchange?

What is your main lesson from working with social entrepreneurs?

Don’t be a heropreneur. I have met too many self-acclaimed social entrepreneurs who want to save the world in some way and would figure out what issue they were passionate about along the way. I understand that we as Millennials look for purpose in our careers but the answer isn’t always to become a social entrepreneur. In fact, most social entrepreneurs who are doing great work don’t refer themselves as such, and certainly didn’t start out by wanting to become one. While I commend everyone who knows they don’t want to work for the man but go change the world, there are a million and one ways – or at least five – to make a meaningful contribution that do not involve “become a social entrepreneur”.

I believe that real social entrepreneurs are in a position to redefine the impact of entrepreneurship by creating meaningful systemic change. Let’s not call everyone with good intentions a social entrepreneur and focus our resources on the founders who have the right intentions, the potential, and the tenacity to change the world.

Horyou is a supporter of social entrepreneurship and social ventures around the world

Do you know that, in 2010, Syria was a peaceful and wealthy country, the land of several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with a steadily growing tourism industry? Damascus, the capital, and Aleppo, were beautiful and lively places, with a strong traditon od trade and flourishing businesses. That was only seven years ago; today, whenever Syria is mentioned, it is war and refugees that first come to mind.

Aleppo residents internally displaced have begun to return.  Photos UNHCR
Aleppo residents internally displaced have begun to return. Photos UNHCR

Last month, the UNHCR launched a multimedia platform, developed in partnership with Google, that uses technology, data visualization, videos, maps and photos to reach to a global audience about the real situation in Syria. Using the latest trends in content marketing, the Searching for Syria website is more than a journalistic project – it’s an educational tool that answers the most asked questions put through to Google worldwide.

. What was Syria like before the war?

. What is happening in Syria?

. Who is a refugee?

. Where are Syrian refugees going?

. How can I help Syrian refugees?

A family walks across the desert terrain towards the Al Hol camp for refugees and displaced persons. Photos UNHCR
A family walks across the desert terrain towards the Al Hol camp for refugees and displaced persons. Photos UNHCR

“Searching for Syria aims to dispel myths and misconceptions about Syria and refugees and provide an entirely fresh look at the biggest humanitarian tragedy of today,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “This is a fantastic project with Google that allows us to pinpoint and answer the five key questions about Syrian refugees and displaced that audiences most want to know and help us rally much needed support and funding for our humanitarian effort.”

“We’re proud to work with the UNHCR to develop Searching for Syria to help raise awareness and inform the world on the human cost of the ongoing conflict and the refugee crisis,” said Jacquelline Fuller, Vice President of Google.org. “The scale of the Syrian refugee crisis is difficult for most of us to fathom, but the questions on Searching for Syria are a reflection of many a people’s desire to understand. Among the top searches in Germany, France, and the UK last year was: What is happening in Syria?”

Jankidar, a 31 years old Syrian student who fled to Lebanon. Photo UNHCR
Jankidar, a 31 years old Syrian student who fled to Lebanon. Photo UNHCR

Through the platform, the audience learns interesting facts like the actual number of Syrian refugees and where they are fleeing to – mostly neighbouring countries like Iraq and Lebanon. The vast majority doesn’t go to Western Countries. The content is presented through short editorial passages, refugee profiles, photographs and videos. Users can also share content via social networks, donate or sign up to UNHCR’s #WithRefugees global petition asking the world leaders to ensure education for refugee children, adequate shelter and livelihoods for refugee families.

The “Searching for Syria” website is available in English, French, German and Spanish with an Arabic version soon to follow.

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

The city of Katowice, in Poland, was chosen by the UNFCCC as a venue for the 2018 UN Climate Change Conference, the “COP 24”.

Katowice, Poland
Katowice, Poland

It will be the third time the country hosts a UN Climate Change conference – the two previous ones were held in 2008 (COP 14 in Poznań) and in 2013 (COP 19 in Warsaw).

Patricia Espinosa, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said: “I would to like to thank the Government of Poland for agreeing to host COP 24 as part of the Eastern European Group and look forward to working with Minister Jan Szysko and his team to make the conference a success on all fronts.”

“2018 will be another important year for international climate diplomacy as nations move forward to implement the Paris Climate Change Agreement – indeed 2018 is when governments are expected to reach some key milestones,” she said.

“These range from finalizing the guidelines for fully operationalizing the agreement to taking stock of how countries are doing collectively in terms of being on track to realize Paris’s aims and ambitions over the coming years and decades,” added Ms. Espinosa.

Ms. Espinosa was shown a research centre in Toruń where the Government of Poland is scientifically monitoring how forests absorb carbon. Forest protection is a key part of efforts to address climate change. Ms. Espinosa said she looked forward to joining with the people of Poland to realize a successful conference that pushes forward the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

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