SIGEF2014

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Congo Chance Congo Chance is an active non-governmental organization in the Democratic Republic of Congo supporting abandoned and orphaned children. Its mission is to further their integration into society.

Abandoned children are those whose parents cannot care for them; most of these children grow up on the streets. Orphaned children are those whose parents may have passed on or are in prison. Congo Chance tries to communicate with these children, find out why and how they ended up either on the streets or in an orphanage. They also try to visit the children’s families and figure out how they can help and get the family exactly what they need to take care of their children.

Kudiya Diengani, her sister Kamona and some of her friends helped start this organization in 2012. Its main source of funding is from volunteers, but it also has a paid-membership option. Kudiya, Kamona and their friends also donate whatever time and money they can in order to support the organization.

Congo Chance has a shelter where there are 5 people who look after the children in the orphanage. The organization works with the government to give these children some sort of internship so they can learn how to work.

Unfortunately, in 2014, it was unable to raise enough money to send those orphaned and abandoned children to school. Regardless, Congo Chance continued to work closely with them, getting them involved in sports and other outdoor activities. School children playing This year Congo Chance will focus on integrating single mothers into the labor market and becoming a subject of their own creation. The project will include qualified mothers, professionals or unemployed with a degree, and non-qualified mothers, those without degrees, to engage in agricultural development in their area. These women will focus mainly on agriculture, learning how to farm, grow and live off their work. “Then we will work together on how to sell it, and how to organize together to get a return from this project,” Kudiya said.

Those single mothers without higher education will get help from Congo Chance to get some sort of internship so that they can learn how to work. The group will also be incorporating journalists this year to work with children teaching them English, as well as how to use Microsoft Word and Excel.

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Projects on the Horyou platform are a key component in the promotion of social good. By starting an individual or group Project on Horyou, you can gain exposure, recognition, support and much more.

We recently interviewed Hector Alvarez from beyondBeanie, the winner of the SIGEF 2014 Call for Projects People’s Choice Award. Horyou believes in bringing visibility to projects that positively affect their communities. This is the case with beyondBeanie.

*Let’s first talk about this idea. How did it happen?

It all started during a trip to Bolivia in summer of 2013 in which I went to visit Paty, a friend whom I had gotten to know some years earlier in California. While traveling, my friend and I were talking about the hardships faced by the women artisans of Bolivia who struggle to make a living through selling their creations to tourists and passersby in the streets of La Paz and Uyuni. I really liked their knitted creations, especially the beanies! I went ahead and got myself a few of my favorite ones back to Europe. Once winter started to set in Switzerland, I showed around my Bolivian beanies to my friends to get their feedback. I was very pleased to see that they liked them too, and even more once I showed them the pictures of my trip as well as pictures of the artisans and local people whom I had met. What happened next was that I told my Bolivian friend to send me some products that I would try to sell through my friends. Paty went back to La Paz from her hometown Cochabamba (a six-hour drive), organized a few artisans and made some sample products for me. It was important for us to let my friends know who made their products. Therefore, every product includes the name of the artisan who made it, whom my friends could meet through photos. While talking to Paty, we also realized that there was a great need to help street and orphan children in Bolivia, and that is how the idea to have every product attached to a help of children came to be. Our project finally came life in March 2014 and I said to myself: “I’m ready for this!”

How is bB making a difference?

We are making a difference by creating sustainable local jobs for women artisans so that they no longer have to go out on the streets and leave their children unattended, as well as continuing to help children in need with every item sold (one beanie = five meals, one bag = one set of school supplies, one poncho = one school uniform).

Something we find very interesting is your approach to bB: “BeyondBeanie is a lifestyle brand.” Can you give us your insight on this?

What we mean by lifestyle is that we do not just want to be a brand which sells products but which also educates people about how their everyday life choices can make a positive impact to the world. We believe that by combining fashion with solidarity, we can create a brand that can create sustainable change – a brand which conscious-minded consumers not just appreciate but also “live,” as opposed to just “wear.”

There are many people involved in this process: artisans, local organizations and communities, the bB team, among others. How does the entire process work?

Yes, it is indeed a very large and complex process in which there are lots of parts and people involved.

First of all, it all starts with the idea that even though we do charitable work, it is our goal to position ourselves as a fashion brand so that we can make our social enterprise sustainable over the long run (the idea is to have people want to shop our products first and foremost because they are catchy and cool while having the added value of giving back, instead of simply buying because they feel sorry about street children and shop simply to support, but just wear our products once or maybe twice in their whole lives).

In order to come up with great looking and trendy products, we spend a whole lot of time studying and following fashion trends, which is mostly done by Paty and her assistant, Renee. In addition, we do also work in close collaboration with top fashion bloggers and bloggers such as Depeches Mode in France, or Braided Bliss, Victoria Moronta and Lisa Marie Prang in the USA, who all evaluate and try our products and submit feedback to us.

Once the products’ prototypes are approved and OK’d by our sample population, Paty will indicate to the artisans their specifications, such as required texture and wool, lengths and diameters, etc. This process is not always easy, as the product making can have some variations from person to person (our items are not industrially made but rather individually crafted, knitted, weaved and sewn by our talented artisans.

Even though most of our artisans whom we support already have good knowledge and experience in knitting and weaving, they still require training to understand how to master the making and specifications of our products. Therefore, we have learned that it is important to prepare everything several months in advance.

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Fortunately, the part of forming collaboration with children centers to support has been relatively easy since Paty already had some connections with children’s centers that needed help and were eager to accept our support. The main problem was mainly in the beginning to try to understand what are the centers’ greatest needs, but once we understood them, the rest has been relatively easy.

Then the process that relates to the team, interns and volunteers helping in the project, we have a global team, which is divided, in two continents (Bolivia in Latin America and Switzerland, Germany and the UK in Europe, and most recently in the USA). The first few months when we got established were definitely difficult. In short, we all had to put lots of effort to deal with time differences, learn each other’s tasks, etc. Anyhow, everyone who has gotten on board has always felt a strong commitment and interest in the success of the project. Therefore, this has been a very powerful ingredient that has kept us together, even when things have gotten rough along the way.

I hope this gives a good overview about how everything works and flows. 🙂

What is your vision for bB? What do you think it can become?

It’s my dream to become a brand of choice for people who care about social good, as well as to hopefully serve as an example to other projects.
In the future, we would like to continue to expand our presence into other countries and online presence, as well as to continue to form collaborations with other awesome organizations that promote and “live” social good, such as Horyou.

Finally: What is your Dream? What is you Inspiration? What does the word “Action” mean for bB?

My dream for bB is to continue to develop our social brand, to keep establishing partnerships with similar-minded organizations, to keep promoting social good, all while educating consumers and impacting lives. Our inspiration here at bB is the happy faces and see how lives get changed to the about 80 children in two centers and 17 artisans that we support. The word “action” means to go out of one’s box and dare to do things in a different way to create positive change not just for oneself but to those around us too.

Thank you to Hector and all of the people from the beyondBeanie team for taking the time to share their vision with Horyou and for the video bB dedicated to us! We wish your 2015 to be full of many more accomplishments in the promotion of arts and education by strengthening the communities you directly support.

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By Vincent Magnenat

Organizing a forum usually means a chain of plenaries, workshops, master classes and so on. Therefore, it’s mandatory to set moments for participants to have an occasion to exchange in another dynamic – a more human one, let’s say.

In that perspective and in the line of its goal, the Horyou Foundation hosted an event in one of the more active area of Geneva: the Paquis’ Place de la Navigation. This extension of SIGEF spirit aimed to combine local and non-local to create a unique moment of sharing with free food and music. The music collaboration was made with world Wide connects, an international NGO based in Geneva that produces hip-hop-related music in a independent way. The food was provided by the local restaurants, with some of their cultural specialities, and by the Horyou Foundation, with a great load of raclette. Raclette is one of the national plates in Switzerland: melted mountain cheese on boiled potatoes. Try it whenever you can!

Speakers, neighbors of the area and members of NGOs both old and young mixed in a very warm and positive atmosphere.

The first night, Oct. 22nd, wWc drived an open-mic night where absolutely every category of people present took an active part. We especially enjoyed the massive flow of Chad Harper, representing NYC’s NGO Hip Hop Saves Lives, among others.

On the second night, the stage had a more structured program. First there was some spoken word accompagnied by a piano. Then the members of Danseurs Citoyens from Tunisia presented their vision of freedom of speech – quite conceptual and voluntary show. Half an hour later, the NGO Poussière d’Etoiles showcased its zumba performance, galvanizing the audience with this as a popular and physical dance. A lot of people felt free enough to join the show! The conceptual striked again right after with a performance of butoh, a theatrical dance created in Japan in the ’50s. The audience joined in again (including the author). Finally, the international jazz/hip-hop band Cauliflower took the floor until the end of the amazing show.

Stay tuned, and let’s do this again at SIGEF 2015!

Breaking News!

The Horyou Team is happy to announce that the final deadline for “Call for Projects” is October 10, 2014. Spread the word! We welcome all social entrepreneurs with positive projects to participate.

If you are interested, register your project at Horyou and apply online at: SIGEF 2014 Projects

Once the application is complete, share your project with your friends, family, supporters and the whole world.

Two awards will be granted:

  • Prix du Public will be chosen by SIGEF 2014 attendees and participants. The selected project will receive CHF 8,000.
  • Coup d’Coeur will be chosen by the SIGEF 2014 organizing team. The selected project will receive CHF 2,500.

Let us know if you have any questions. See you at SIGEF 2014!

Cheers. The Horyou Team

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Countdown: Part 3

Dear Members of Horyou,

Firstly, please allow the Horyou team to congratulate Association Nahda Pour La Citoyenneté et Le Développement for reaching 1,000 Lights in the past month!

Lights enable you to interact, connect and share with the Horyou community – all with one click. We are immensely proud and grateful to all the Foundations, Organizations, Personalities and sponsors for contributing to the growth of Horyou and the community of internet users set on a path to a more humane world.

With days quickly passing by, the Horyou team is working hard to bring you the first edition of the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum (SIGEF 2014), which will take place in October at the global center of peacekeeping – Geneva. We cannot stress our excitement about the forum enough! SIGEF 2014 is set to bring together a collective group of Personalities, speakers, and Organizations who champion solidarity, ethics and the service of humanity. In addition, any Organization, foundation or an individual can join and contribute to SIGEF 2014.

The requirements to participate at the forum are simple. You need a profile on Horyou in which you frequently engage with other Members, Personalities and Organizations. Organizations that wish to participate have to have earned 1,000 Lights on their Horyou page. Additionally, for those that will be arriving at SIGEF 2014 from outside of Geneva, we have reserved over 250 affordable accommodations for NGO participants.

There is more to come, so stay connected for news and updates. Together we can work in solidarity toward prosperity.

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