Tag Archives: social entrepreneurs

Reflections: Spark’s Philanthropic Mentorship Series Launch

Reflections by Spark Member, David Scatterday

It was a distinct pleasure to participate in the inaugural installment of Spark’s Philanthropic Mentorship Series. Worthy of a truly notable launch, we were joined by philanthropic innovators Yann Borgstedt and Antonela Notari Vischer from the Womanity Foundation.


Auspiciously, everything about the launch event of such a promising series was seamless.

First, a little about our guests: Womanity is an entrepreneurial foundation that thinks creatively to find solutions to today’s women’s empowerment challenges. Key topical areas of action include giving women and girls a voice, advancing education and opportunities, providing fellowships to emerging female social entrepreneurs.  As a man, Womanity’s founder Yann Borgstedt does not fit the traditional model of a woman’s empowerment pioneer. However, Yann understands that solving for women’s issues is a key part of solving every development issue around the globe.

Back to our scene: we were hosted in the headquarters of the Cordes Foundation, whose work is focused on alleviating global poverty and empowering women and girls to fully participate in the development of their communities.

In my mind, the event crystallized everything that is so great about Spark.

First, reinforcing its mission of empowering tomorrow’s philanthropic leaders, the event was custom-designed to engage millennials in real dialogue with real practitioners. Speaking with leading social entrepreneurs in the field triggered valuable dialogue about real solutions to pain points encountered by the aspiring millennial philanthropists and activists in the room.

Second, the event was infused by a deep sense of shared mission. While Spark and Womanity take relatively different approaches to programming and fundraising for women’s issues – it was very evident the two organizations share a deeply held common cause of empowering women around the world. This shared sense of mission added a tangible sense of relevance and urgency to the entire session’s dialogue.

Finally, over several years of involvement with Spark, I’ve realized that solving for women’s issues requires an ‘all-hands’ approach. In our increasingly globalized and resource-constrained world, every pressing social issue is a woman’s issue. Whether climate change, health care access or hunger, women are disproportionately impacted. Bringing about real change will require large-scale collective action – women and men working together to solve truly global problems.  Both Womanity and Spark are organizations that understand this and practice a large-tent approach to addressing social problems every day.

Last week’s mentorship session made me prouder than ever to be an active male, millennial philanthropist and Spark member, confirming that I, and everyone at Spark, are taking the right steps to meaningfully improve the welfare of women in this generation – and the next.

Talk it out, Brit Love Fest & Afghanistan’s Sheryl Sandberg

Talk it out, Brit Love Fest & Afghanistan’s Sheryl Sandberg . This is your Spark News Digest.

Read, Discuss, Share.

Authored By Spark Fellow: Linn Hellerstrom


Roya Mahboob Afghan Citadel Software Co

ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Afghanistan’s Sheryl Sandberg

Roya Mahboob, Afghan tech entrepreneur, is shattering the concrete ceiling. Her company, Afghan Citadel Software Co., has become the foundation for social change. In a country, where women’s literacy hovers at 15%, this business leader is using her acumen to change the state of education in her country. You can see why Time Magazine calls her one of their 100 Most Influential People.

Read The Full Story


POLITICS: Love is legal in England and Wales

The royal baby isn’t the only thing to celebrate. Same-sex couples will be able to get married in England and Wales after a new measure became law. Tally Ho!

Read The Full Story


U.S NEWS:  Violation of women’s rights within prison walls

Shockingly, 150 female inmates were sterilized in California prisons between 2006 to 2010. Hundreds more have been sterilized since 2000. This outrageous act is an unwanted reminder of the 70’s brutally forced sterilizations.

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POLITICS: Q: What do Boris Johnson and the Princeton Mom have in common?

A: Both are sexist and ridiculous. First, the Princeton Mom pens an open letter about the importance of finding a husband during college, then, Boris Johnson makes the same irresponsible suggestion. Boris and the Princeton mom should be sent to the Principle’s office to think about their comments.

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GLOBAL:  Communication Never Gets Old

Let’s talk it out. In deeply rooted cultural practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM), change making is difficult. When determined to do something about the widespread problem, a pro-women group in an Ethiopian village made remarkable achievements. Read about how their strategy of  “community conversations” led to effectively ending female genital cutting in their home village.

 Read the full story 

Closing the Gap: Spark News Digest

An internet gender gap, gender wage gap, human right’s gap and a cabinate- appointment diversity gap. Spark news digest is here to help fill in the gap, plus discussion on a new approach to film making.


Women wearing colourful Saris Rajasthan India Photo: ALAMY

Women wearing colourful Saris Rajasthan India Photo: ALAMY

GLOBAL: Fifth of women in India and Egypt think internet use is ‘inappropriate’

Can you imagine feeling guilty and ashamed by your family for connecting to the digital world? A new Intel report stated that one in five women in Egypt and India feel the internet is not appropriate for them to use, increasing an internet gender gap.  However, if these women were empowered to connect, they could move mountains. It is estimated that the transformative power of the web in business and educational opportunities for women could increase GDP by billions in 144 developing countries.

Read the full story 


LOCAL: Equal Education, Unequal Pay. The Gender Wage Gap in the USA

This beautifully designed infographic illustrates that while women are paying the same for tuition, doing equally as good or even better than their male counterparts in college, the gender wage gap post graduation is still very present in the good ‘ol USA. Similar to the internet gender gap, if women’s salaries matched men’s, the GDP would increase by billions of dollars. That’s the kind of math that really adds up.

Read the full story


GLOBAL: North Korea’s Human Rights Abuses Have ‘No Parallel’

While the attention on North Korea recently has been on stopping their development of nuclear weapons and missiles, human abuses have been overlooked. Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Right stated that  “torture, summary executions, rape, slave labor, and forms of collective punishment that may amount to crimes against humanity” are affecting almost the entire population of North Korea, in and out of prison camps.

Read the full story


LOCAL: Obama’s Women Problem Is a Problem of His Own Making

A debate has been sparked by the lack of women appointments, to date, in Obama’s second-term cabinate. Given the criticism the President has received around roles of senior women within his circle, let’s see what’s to come.

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FILM: A New Approach to Making Films That Matter

Films are one of the most powerful mediums of our time. The number of documentary films have grown rapidly within the last few years while funding has increased at a pace less than half the rate of production. Funders want to understand the investment’s social impact in a more direct way. To help, social scientists are looking at ways of compiling data to understand how the framing of social issues spreads within social networks and potentially shifts public discourse. While this approach is new, it has the potential to give film makers and funders the data necessary to create stories that influence, educate and engage the intended audience.

Read the full story

Got 3 Minutes? – Flexing Resources Round 2


Turn 3 minutes of attention into a $5,000 grant by voting for Spark’s grantee Sweet Dreams in the “Give Back” Challenge! Yesterday, Shannon Farley wrote about Anna, a Spark member, who turned $7 of unused flex spending into 3 months of medical supplies for a women’s shelter. With just 3 minutes, you, too, can have an exponential impact!

Sweet Dreams is a contestant in the GOOD + Brookside Foods “Give Back” Challenge. The winner of this challenge receives a whopping $5,000 grant to implement their programs. The winner is dictated by the number of votes received, so your vote really counts! Voting is easy; it just takes a few minutes of your time.  Let’s all take a quick break from our Tuesday routines to make a difference in these young women’s lives.

The Details:

1. Voting is open NOW through December 9th, 12pm PST at http://brooksidefoods.maker.good.is/

2. Follow the link above, search for Sweet Dreams (currently #47 out of 120 applicants) and vote though Facebook or by email.

3. Each person can vote once during the voting period, so alert your network about the challenge!

The $5,000 grant would make a significant impact on the 12 young women entrepreneurs, ages 14-21, by supporting their business development and training.

Rally your networks and VOTE Sweet Dreams to the top!

D.I.Y Inspiration by Jenn Wilcox

On November 24, Nick Kristof published a powerful article about “Do it Yourself” philatnthropists in the New York Times Magazine. Kristof profiles courageous women who have given up lives of comfort in the US to develop low-cost sanitary pads in Rwanda, fundraise for women in Congo by running races, and run a school for Nepalese children.

Elizabeth Scharpf – Founder of She: Sustainable Health Enterprises

This article and the stories shared about the women serve as an important reminder why grassroots organizations make a difference. Biology shouldn’t be destiny—we all have the capacity to try and make the world a better place.

At Spark, we often discuss how some of the women’s greatest barriers to education or employment are often issues you don’t think about – transportation, meals away from home, sanitary supplies during menstruation. By brining a fresh perspective to many of the daunting issues facing women around the world, young entrepreneurs are able to enact real change that breaks the mold of what traditional aid workers envisioned.

While change and progress often take three steps forward and two steps back, this article serves as an important reminder of how simply engaging in these issues is both noble and adds to the greater good. As Kristof writes, “anybody wrestling with poverty at home or abroad learns that good intentions and hard work aren’t enough. Helping people is hard.” But any progress, even incremental, is exciting and deserves to be celebrated.

Today, my spark is Elizabeth Scharpf – a 33 year old entrepreneur working to create a low-cost sanitary napkin solution that may help keep Rwandan women in school and at work. She may not succeed, but her business-based approach to tackling gender inequality and working to enhance productivity in the developing world is truly admirable.


Jenn Wilcox is a founding member of Spark NYC.