Dear Asia Initiatives Supporters,
As the year draws to a close, I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of you who contributed to Asia Initiatives in many ways. It is with great pleasure that I share with you the accomplishments of Asia Initiatives in 2014 and our ambitious plans for 2015 – all made possible with your support!
A highlight this year for AI-New York was the coming of Prof. Swaminathan from India to confer the M.S. Swaminathan Award on Ms. Indra Nooyi, CEO and Chair of PepsiCo at our annual gala. AI team members and friends also visited our project sites in January, July, August and November, and invite you to join us next year.
Our SoCCesses in 2014
Our flagship program SoCCs (Social Capital Credits) has continued to bring hope, dignity, empowerment and a “can do” spirit amongst the under-served communities in five sites of India, as well as in Kumasi (Ghana) this year. SoCC projects in Curridabat (Costa Rica) and Kisumu (Kenya) are poised for rollout this Spring. Each site is using locale specific SoCC-Earning and SoCC-Spending menus created in close consultation with our local partners and communities. People are earning SoCCs for community activities such as planting trees, vaccinating children, tutoring and mentoring young minds, and managing waste better. SoCCs thus earned are traded for healthcare, education, skill training, micro-credit and much more.
The lives we touched
This year, we would like to highlight six specific lives that AI has impacted through SoCCs. First comes Agnes Nti in Kumasi, who has expanded her small shop with a microcredit loan she got based upon the SoCCs she accumulated. Moving on to students in Kotputli (India), who decided to give their SoCCs to their school, which were then traded for a sound system to use at morning assemblies and speech/ song contests. Another group of young girls there decided to plant trees in a manner that will make a shaded park as they and the trees grow up. Further along in the year, women leaders of Dhan Foundation’s self-help groups in Madurai are innovating ways to earn SoCCs while helping restore the polluted Vaigai River, and build toilets with the SoCCs thus earned. Another story includes Bhaglakshmi, the SoCC Manager in Tamil Nadu, who is ensuring that all girls in her village complete high school. Furthermore, young girls in Kolkata are paying for their training as nursing assistants with SoCCs they earn in a project run by AI-Tokyo. Lastly, AI-Singapore is planning urban improvements in Kolkata’s Old Chinatown using SoCCs. This is user-generated community building. Every dollar you give has a measurable multiplier effect through SoCCs, and more.
Our vision for 2015
We are in conversation with Mayor Edgar Altamirano to expand SoCCs to Mexico, and with WomenStrong International to start a project for under-served women in Washington D.C. While all our projects currently use paper SoCC books, we have just finished designing our MVP (minimum viable product) for the technology platform that will enable communities to record and transact SoCCs using voice on basic phones, as well as web interface. Please stay tuned for its launch this spring, and the larger platform that will help us serve more projects in 2015.
Above all, I send my best wishes and pray that 2015 brings more social justice around the world to make it a better place for all of us.
Professor M.S. Swaminathan with AI volunteers and board members at our October Galq
A wave of change: Farmers in Tamil Nadu, India, earn SoCCs for adopting smart agricultural methods
Helping young minds blossom: SoCCs are redeemable for paying school fees and school supplies.
President, Asia Initiatives