Thursday, May 21, 2009


Since our beginning in 2006, TOMS Shoes has given 140,000 pairs of shoes to children in Argentina, Ethiopia, and South Africa. With the help of generous people TOMS plans to give 300,000 pairs of shoes to children in need in 2009. The story of TOMS follows -


One for One

TOMS Shoes was founded on a simple premise: For every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of shoes to a child in need. One for One. Using the purchasing power of individuals to benefit the greater good is what we're all about.

Our Story

In 2006 an American traveler, Blake Mycoskie, befriended children in Argentina
and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created a company that would match every pair of shoes sold with a pair given to a child in need. One for One. Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by caring TOMS customers.

Since our beginning, TOMS has given over 140,000* pairs of shoes to children in need through the One for One model. Because of your support, TOMS plans to give over 300,000 pairs of shoes to children in need around the world in 2009.

Our ongoing community events and Shoe Drop Tours allow TOMS supporters and enthusiasts to be part of our One for One movement. Join us.
Why shoes?

Most children in developing countries grow up barefoot. Whether at play, doing
chores or just getting around, these children are at risk.

Walking is often the primary mode of transportation in developing countries. Children can walk for miles to get food, water, shelter and medical help. Wearing shoes literally enables them to walk distances that aren't possible barefoot.

Wearing shoes prevents feet from getting cuts and sores on unsafe roads and from contaminated soil. Not only are these injuries painful, they also are dangerous when wounds become infected. The leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted parasites which penetrate the skin through open sores. Wearing shoes can prevent this and the risk of amputation.

Many times children can't attend school barefoot because shoes are a required part of their uniform. If they don't have shoes, they don't go to school. If they don't receive an education, they don't have the opportunity to realize their potential.

There is one simple solution...SHOES.

Of the planet's six billion people, four billion live in conditions inconceivable to many. Lets take a step towards a better tomorrow.

This past February, Blake Mycoskie, who is now not only known as TOMS Founder, but also as its Chief Shoe Giver, spoke at the annual TED conference in Long Beach, CA. TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, began in 1984 as a conference to bring together people from those three worlds. As Blake stated in his blog, "I have been given the opportunity to give a TED talk before a crowd of the most intelligent and innovative people in the world, including people like Bill Gates, JJ Abrams, Jeff Bezos and Seth Godin. I usually do not get nervous speaking in front of people, but today is a little different."

In March of 2009 Blake visited the White House for meetings with President Obama's Senior Administration. Along with other top young business leaders, Blake presented viable solutions and ideas regarding US economic policies. Blake specifically spoke to the potential in the economic plan to support small businesses in their difficult first years.

On May 15th, the Spring 2009 TOMS Vagabonds returned to TOMS Santa Monica headquarters after a 13-week tour across the United States. “The Vagabonds traveled in 5 regional teams to share the TOMS story and ignite passion for the One for One movement. Teaming up with TOMS Campus Reps across 37 states the Vagabonds invited communities to purchase and decorate their own pair of TOMS and watch the TOMS documentary film “For Tomorrow”. TOMS wants to let the public know that anyone interested in hosting a Fall 2009 Vagabond Event can click this link to contact them.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Small Enterprise Education and Promotion (SEEP)

Begun in 1985, SEEP was founded with the belief that "sharing practical experiences within a trusting environment would result in improved microenterprise development practices."

Operating in over 180 countries today, SEEP reaches more than 23 million micro-entrepreneurs and their families.

While SEEP has many initiatives, time will only permit a brief examination of one program below. After a brief paragraph on How SEEP Works there is an examination of an outline for a program in Africa that reveals an excellent planning strategy to acheive sought after outcomes.

The information below is taken from the SEEP website.

Practitioner-led Learning and Impact

The primary way SEEP undertakes practitioner-driven research, learning, and product development is through member-driven learning initiatives. Working groups, task forces, initiatives as well as the grant-funded practitioner learning programs (PLP) comprise a comprehensive learning agenda within three communities of practice: Finance, Enterprise Development, and Associations & Networks. To learn more about these communities of practice, visit our SEEP Initiatives.

Microenterprise development practitioners from SEEP member organizations have contributed to action research and best practices in a range of areas, including financial services, social performance, consumer protection, and market development. They have developed tools and resources such as standardized financial statements and reporting, market research tools, poverty assessment tools, and HIV & AIDS and microenterprise development integrated programming guidelines.

SEEP learning initiatives generate practitioner-oriented products, tools, and training materials. SEEP publications are widely recognized for being prepared by practitioners, field tested for accuracy, and accepted as the industry standard. SEEP’s manual and training course on standardized financial statements for microfinance institutions (FRAME: A Framework for Reporting, Analysis, Monitoring, and Evaluation) is one of the best examples of the quality, usefulness, longevity, and influence of our practitioner-oriented products. SEEP’s lateral learning approach is key to translating knowledge into practice and yielding such products.

SEEP’s global membership results in a broad international community of practice. Our strategic relationships with partners in the NGO, philanthropic, and socially responsible corporate community further support and strengthen member impact.

SEEP Learning Initiatives

The SEEP Network supports a range of member-led initiatives, including several thematic working groups and Practitioner Learning Programs (PLPs). To see a current list of active working groups and PLPs, visit our SEEP Initiatives page.


PLP in Building Alliances to Serve HIV/AIDS Impacted Communities in Sub-Saharan Africa (BASICS)

Purpose: to identify and promote successful strategies for microfinance and enterprise development programs to partner with local community-based organizations to better serve clients affected by HIV/AIDs.

Membership: Public

Contact: Laura Meissner (

Timeframe: February 2008 - February 2009

This initiative assemble(d) the following participants:

· CHF International (CHF) in Rwanda, an implementer of the USAID/PEPFAR-funded Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Program (CHAMP), and African Evangelistic Enterprise, one of CHF’s local partners, which is building its capacity to better deliver services to HIV/AIDS-affected persons.

· Emerging Markets Group, which implements USAID’s OVC-COPE Project in Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique and Rwanda. Its local partners for this PLP are CBOs in Uganda that serve the income generation needs of caregivers of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). EMG works with caregiver associations to promote access to higher-value markets.

· Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Rwanda, the lead for AIDSRelief, a consortium funded through PEPFAR that supports nine countries in delivering HIV care and treatment to poor and underserved populations. CRS implements programs with its local partner, Caritas.

· Fantsuam Foundation, a holistic NGO in Nigeria offering microfinance and other services to HIV/AIDS-affected clients, and its local partners, including Hope for the Blind, volunteer groups and community development councils.

· Mercy Corps (Ethiopia) and its local partner, WISE (Organization for Women in Self-Employment), an Ethiopian NGO that facilitates and provides capacity building to savings and credit cooperatives, as well as training to women.

· Sinapi Aba Trust, an MFI in Ghana and part of the Opportunity International Network, is building a partnership with Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana to provide HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention education to Sinapi Aba’s microfinance clients.

These organizations will seek to identify, document and disseminate the most effective models for developing strategic alliances between MF/ED programs and CBOs and for improving the impact of MF/ED programs in such alliances.

From March 2008 to February 2009, participating organizations will return to the field for collaborative action research. All participants will begin to document their learning in one of two ways:

1) Alliance Strengthening: the participants have identified areas in which they want to work with their partners to strengthen the alliance; and

2) Learning Products: the participants are working in teams (not necessarily with their alliance partners) and focusing on about 5 issues around strategic partnering and will produce various learning products on the selected areas. Final products (case studies, tools, etc.) will be available early in 2009.

In order to achieve its goals and its desired impact, the PLP will address the following kinds of questions:

1. What programs and services are appropriate to offer through a strategic alliance, and which are most appropriate for HIV/AIDS affected clients? Why do successful models work? Who benefits from the activities, products and/or services? What makes these programs sustainable? Are there successful programs that can be documented?

2. Are strategic alliances indeed a successful model for reaching HIV/AIDS-affected clients?

3. Given their complementary strengths and weaknesses, how can community-based organizations (CBOs) and microfinance/enterprise development (MF/ED) programs and organizations work collaboratively to expand outreach and increase impact?

4. How can institutions form appropriate private/public partnerships (e.g. ED programs fostering market integration) and public/public partnerships (e.g. between a range of CBOs, NGOs, and government agencies) to deliver integrated programs that address people’s needs through both community-level and large-scale ventures?

5. How can the development community support CBOs in their holistic approaches to dealing with the pandemic? For example, support might include cross-training between MF/ED programs and CBOs, networking between community-based groups to share strategies and generate joint projects, capacity building of community implementers, or financial support for grassroots initiatives.

6. What constitutes appropriate capacity building for MF/ED development practitioners and agencies involved in larger-scale economic development initiatives? Is there training and support that would enable them to improve their reach to affected individuals and households, to effectively collaborate with CBOs, and to advance the integration of youth and the elderly into programs?

7. What enables successful strategic alliances to work? That is, how do MF/ED organizations and CBOs overcome differences in their structures, operations, values, and cultures to work well together? What motivates them to work together? What are the main “dos and don’ts” for these alliances?


Monday, May 11, 2009

STAFF BENDA BILILI: Making Music and Doing Good

They are called: Staff Benda Bilili and they are a musical sensation that is known for their unique personal stories as well as their captivating music. I can (and will) point to stories and articles found in the UK Guardian and The Independent (and let us not forget their My Space page) to give you a very good idea of who Staff Benda Bilili are but I would like to preface the remainder of this post by saying that both their message and their music is uplifting.

The names of the musicians are: Theo Nsituvuidi, Coco Ngambali (vocals, guitar); Cubain Kabeya (vocals, drums); Roger Landu, Ricky Likabu, Kabamba Kabose Kasungo, Djuana Tanga-Suele, Zadis Mbulu Nzungu (vocals); Paulin Kiara-Maigi (bass guitar); Randy Buda (percussion).

Staff Benda Bilili are paraplegic street musicians who live in Kinshasa, Congo in the vicinity of that city’s zoo. A description of the group, found on their My Space page puts it this way:

“The band's mesmerising rumba-rooted grooves, overlaid with vibrant vocals, remind you at times of Cuban nonchalance, at other times of the Godfather of Soul himself. You can hear echoes of old-school rhythm and blues, then reggae, then no-holds barred funk. Four senior singer/guitarists sitting on spectacularly customized tricycles, occasionally dancing on the floor of the stage, arms raised in joyful supplication, are the core of the band, backed by a younger, all-acoustic, rhythm section pounding out tight beats. Over the top of this are weird, infectious guitar-like solos performed by young Roger Landu, (an ex-street kid the band took under their wing), who plays a one-string electric lute he designed and built himself out of a tin can.”

Their first album is entitled: "Très Très Fort" for 'Very Very Strong' or 'Very Very Loud'. A review of Très Très Fort in the U.K. Guardian can be found online.

The U.K. newspaper The Independent has this to say about Staff Benda Bilili:

“Disabled by polio, a group of homeless Congolese buskers called Staff Benda Bilili are attracting Western film-makers, musicians and internet fans with their sweet and funky music. Andy Morgan reports from Kinshasa”

“The band who are weaving spells about our ears with their dulcet rolling rumba and keening vocals are the unrecognised geniuses of Article 15, the masters of survival. They call themselves Staff Benda Bilili, which, in Lingala, the lingua franca of this vast and variegated country, means something like "the people who see beyond..."Beyond prejudice, corruption, the lies of priests and politicians, the grimy veneer of daily life."

Ricky Likabu, described as the “backbone” of Staff Benda Bilili hopes that the group will be able to use some of the proceeds from their musical success to open opening a centre for the disabled and homeless people of Kinshasa. “He also dreams of touring Africa with Staff Benda Bilili, spreading the message of communal resilience and self-help.”


Friday, May 08, 2009

MCDI - Making a Difference in Health Care


MCDI is a division of Medical Care Development Inc, Augusta, Maine. As an international NGO, MCDI has been accorded consultative status (Roster) with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. MCDI is a founding member of the CORE Group of PVO's.


The mission of MCDI is stated as follows:

"The mission of MCDI is to enhance the well-being of peoples and communities in developing nations through superior technical assistance in health and socio-economic development. We will seek to empower families with the knowledge and behavior needed to improve infant and child survival and maternal health and care.

"We develop and disseminate tools, mechanisms and strategies that improve access and management of sustainable levels of health care services. We work with a full spectrum of organizations, from grassroots community groups to multi-lateral donor institutions, to enable continuing and progressive improvement in the quantity and quality of care available and affordable to the neediest people on earth, and seek to enhance their financial ability to benefit from these improvements."


MCDI operates in the following African nations:

Burkina Faso
Cape Verde
Central Africa Republic
Chad, Comoros
Equatorial Guinea
The Gambia
Guinea Bissau
Sierra Leone
South Africa
Uganda and


MCDI has a wide range of interests and functions and they are listed below:


Child Survival

- Immunization
- Combating diarrheal diseases
- Acute respiratory infection
- Integrated management of childhood illnesses
- HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment
- Maternal and newborn care
- Pneumonia case management
- Malaria
- BCC interventions
- M & E


- HIV prevention care and treatment
- Prevention of mother to child transmission
- Promotion of anti-retroviral therapy
- Stigma reduction
- Home-based care
- co-infection
- School-based peer-to-peer education / outreach

Malaria Treatment & Control

- Reduction in malaria transmission through indoor residual spraying
- Intermittent presumptive treatment of pregnant women
- Proper case management of uncomplicated malaria using ACT
- Insecticide and drug resistance monitoring
- Improved diagnostic capacity
- BCC/IEC to promote compliance and bed net utilization
- M & E

Architecture & Engineering

- Health facility surveys
- Preparation of design and tender documents for facility construction/ renovation
- Equipment specifications
- Construction management
- Equipment and plant maintenance training

Orthopedic & Rehabilitation Services

- Provide disabled war victims with prosthetic and orthotic appliances
- Provide physical therapy services
- Support the social and economic reintegration of the disabled in Sudan
- M & E

Health Sector Reform

- Design of health manpower rationalization / development strategies
- Health facility demand and location modeling
- Implementation of decentralization strategies

Water Supply & Sanitation

- Construction of water supply and sanitation infrastruction, e.g., wells and latrines to reduce morbidity and mortality among children and women of reproductive age
- Improve knowledge and promote behavioral change regarding basic sanitation and disease prevention among school children and communitie
- Introduce home-based management of water quality

Health Care Financing

- Evaluation and reform of national health care financing strategies
- Health sector expenditure reviews and national accounts
- Health system and program cost assessments
- Evaluation, design, and implementation of community financing, including risk-sharing and credit schemes
- Demand for care and pricing analyses


These folks are doing a lot of good work, so if you get the chance, please drop by and take a look at the
MCDI website .