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Global Social Event: East & Southeast Asia

Jackie Peterson reports on our August 19th event

wokaiThis month’s Global Social focused on East and Southeast Asia as well as China.  Ketty Loeb from Wokai was invited to present briefly on Wokai’s micro-credit work and poverty in China.

Currently the poverty rate is 8-10%, Loeb notes, and there is a growing divide between rural and urban populations.  According to Loeb 75% of the people in China do not have access to credit.  In China, it is not legal to loan to individuals so micro-finance organizations serve as brokers or intermediaries in that process, using a model somewhat similar to what KIVA does.  The micro-finance organizations in China are the entities to which outsiders can loan money and the organization matches funding with individuals.  The microfinance organizations also determine the loan rate.

The process has a number of challenges.  Those who loan will not be repaid in the traditional sense of recouping their money.  The loans are repaid to the micro-finance organization but the principle amount is then re-invested so the loans should be considered more as a donation rather than a traditional loan.  It is also a challenge to find reputable micro-financing organizations using sound training practices, transparency in lending and solid risk analysis measures.  Wokai has, to-date, found about 100 reputable organizations and continues to look for more.

There is also a general lack of a philanthropic culture directed toward those outside the family in China. Donations or giving in the way thought normal in the US is illegal in China but there appears to be some shifts beginning in cultural norms around that philosophy.  There is also some hope for banking reforms and that the high demand for credit may encourage opportunities.

As is true in many areas, the greatest poverty is in the rural areas and Read More “Global Social Event: East & Southeast Asia”

Global Social Event: Convening Central & South Asia

Global Washington intern Lindsay Jackson reports on our July 15th event

This month’s Global Social event focused on Central & South Asia, confronting the issues of environment, poverty, education & health. The event consisted of a large variety of representatives from various global development organizations, which included; individual representatives, The National Council for Eurasian & East European Research, EarthCorps, “Journey with an Afghan School” Ayni Education International, Jackson School of International Studies of University of Washington, International Organization of Folk Art, University of Washington (Bothell & Seattle), Health Leadership, Wokai, Seattle International Foundation, and Global Washington.

The event opened up and began with an introduction from Bookda Ghesiar, the Executive Director of Global Washington. She introduced herself and explained what Global Washington was all about, its background and future goals. Prologues then led to the Bookda introducing Ethan Casey, the event’s primary speaker on Pakistan.

Ethan Casey is the most well known for his works & authorship of the book Alive and Well in Pakistan: A Human Journey in a Dangerous Time (2004). Ethan is also a frequent speaker on Pakistan at venues ranging from universities, The Pakistan High Commission in London, and locally around Seattle where he is from. Ethan has continued to use his position as an American traveler and author with 15 years’ exposure to Pakistan to help foster historical and geographic perspectives, human connections, and conversation between Americans and Pakistanis. Ethan gave a brief explanation of how he became so connected and interested in Pakistan through his early travels, he then brought the Pakistani situations alive by reading quotes and passages from Pakistanis that he had come across in regards to the American mistreatment and unawareness of Pakistanis. Ethan’s future plans consist of a second book to be published in 2010 that will be a follow Read More “Global Social Event: Convening Central & South Asia”

Screening: Beyond Good Intentions with Tori Hogan

Critique the current system of international aid and you are bound to make some people angry. This is something that Tori Hogan has gotten use to as she’s taken her recently completed film “Beyond Good Intentions” on the road for a series of screenings that involve conversations revolving around each of the short, webisode-style videos that comprise the work. Under the banner headline “What Works In International Aid?” each vignette examines a different aspect of the do-good game in developing countries  including microfinance, disaster relief, faith-based aid and more. The Field sent Tori some interview questions after attending her recent screening in Seattle, where the conversations following each episode ranged from inspiring to downright contemptuous. Whatever your opinions are regarding the state of international giving there is one thing that’s clear: conversations like this are a vital component of improving how countless NGOs, governments, and foundations do their work. Here are some of Teri’s thoughts.
TF: In all of your travels and work in international aid, what do you think are some key elements of the system that are just plain broken?
TH: I’ve been working in the field of international aid for nearly a decade now and some of the most serious problems that I’ve continued to witness include: the challenges associated with current donor structures, the lack of accountability to the people being served, an absence of real innovation, and a shortage of truly critical assessments of what works and what doesn’t.
TF: On the flip side, what are some parts of aid that work really well?
TH: One of the greatest things that the field of international aid has going for it is that it is typically motivated by true compassion. There is no shortage of well-intentioned people around the world who are eager to help those
Read More “Screening: Beyond Good Intentions with Tori Hogan”