Asia Initiatives: 2006 – 2010, Listening and Learning


We continue Asia Initiatives’ journey between the years 2006 and 2010.

The group known as Friends of MSSRF Tokyo formally became Asia Initiatives (AI) in 2007 when the Japanese authorities stopped allowing personal names to be used to designate NGOs. “India Initiatives” was considered as another possibility but was discarded for its too narrow focus. The group felt that the widespread problems relating to poverty and the marginalization of women plagued all of South Asia, not just India, and should be reflected in our new name.

Renaming the group “Asia Initiatives” was propitious. The more ambitious name foretold a broadening, and strengthening, of the group’s efforts, in terms of global presence, program direction, and funding. The quiet cultivation in the first few years in Tokyo, of target populations, international partners, and a donor base, enabled the group to expand: to build coalitions of like-minded individuals and organizations around the world, thus insuring the efficient and effective use of resources; to determine best practices for combatting poverty in South Asia; and to secure funding.

The organization set down roots in Australia (Friends of Swaminathan Australia, 2006); in Singapore (AI Singapore, 2010); and in New York (AI New York, 2010), which received its designation as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit corporation from the IRS that same year.

Between 2006 and 2010, people emerged as the powerful driving force behind Asia Initiatives: their hard work, dedication, generosity, good will, ingenuity, and, above all, time. AI volunteers identified problems, developed solutions, worked with local populations, raised the needed funds, oversaw the results, and reported back. Without them, Asia Initiatives’ portfolio for 2006 to 2010 could never have looked like this:

2006 - 2010 Portfolio

So what began in 2000 as Friends of MSSRF Tokyo, by 2010 evolved into a more mature organization, Asia Initiatives. In the third chapter of our 15-year history, 2010 to 2015, we will show how AI has been positioning itself as a self-sustaining institution, expanding its programs, generating funds on a more assured basis, identifying areas of need in specific geographical locations, and quantifying results. And, yes, we believe that in so doing, we are changing the world and benefitting all humanity in a small but significant way.

If you want to become a part of our story, join us. We’re celebrating our 15th anniversary this year on, Monday, October 12, at the New York Athletic Club, and invite you to join us for an evening of inspiration, purpose, and fun. For tickets, please visit

-Anne Papantonio is a Board Member at Asia Initiatives

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