Asia Initiatives held its annual gala on Monday October 14th at the modernistic Starrett Lehigh Building in Chelsea, New York City. With captivating speeches by Dr. Swaminathan, Dan Morrison and Kathy Sreedhar, two exciting auctions and the launch of SoCCs (our novel concept for poverty eradication), the gala was a night to remember!
Extravagant Indian saris and flowers encircled the contemporary room, creating a perfect mix between East and West and representing the wide presence of Asia Initiatives members, supporters and beneficiaries. Lines of petals illuminated the way from the elevator to the event room, where Asia Initiatives members in colorful Indian clothing greeted guests. After a few cocktails and conversations, Saad Haroon, the MC of the night, welcomed guests inside the dining room.
The gala began with a speech by Dr. Swaminathan, thanking the guests for their ongoing support and highlighting the power that Asia Initiatives has to positively influence the lives of many across Asia. The honorees, including Jeffrey Sachs (represented by his daughter Lisa Sachs), Kathy Sreedhar, and Dan Morrison, also gave brief speeches following the acceptance of their awards. They all emphasized the importance of the persistence and continuation of organizations like Asia Initiatives and expressed excitement of the new project that Geeta Mehta was scheduled to present later in the evening.
The new project called SoCCs, or Social Capital Credits has already been tested and launched in Ghana and Kenya. SoCCs is an innovative new system of market exchange, in which individuals can earn or trade “SoCCs” within their local communities. Earning a SoCC could result from sending a child to school, while trading SoCCs includes things such as public transport tickets or telephone talk—time. This system has the potential to be cost-effective while also having a positive influence on poverty-ridden communities, effectively incentivizing communities to do ‘social good’.
The presentation was followed by a thrilling auction and delicious Indian food from a local Indian restaurant “Devi”. Auctioned items included a dinner with former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright, a day to race Ferraris and incredible jewelry by Roni Blanshay, which all created immense competition between auctioneers.
Our goal this year is to “help a woman rise” and with the generosity and support of the gala attendants we are one step closer to doing so. Take a peek at our pictures from the event this year here and do join us next year!
Maya Daver-Massion, Junior Board Member.