What’s happening to Xiao Deng’s (小灯) light? Is it shutting down?


Xiao Deng

Xiao Deng: Little shining light

“It’s already 5:30 in the afternoon. I was hoping to go to my room and have a relaxing weekend, watching my favorite t.v. series. But we just got a rush order and I’ll have to stay until maybe 9 o’clock tonight. Since a client of us has promised a new line of clothes in Spain by next week, we have to be real quick. But hey!, more hours mean more money, so I’m cool with that.

These past days have been a little hard though. I tripped on a pile of clothes last week and hurt my knee. Besides, my lower back and shoulders hurt so much! These 3 years in this factory have taken their toll on my body. I haven’t been to the doctor because I don’t have an insurance. In times like these, I wish I had become the elementary school teacher I always wanted to be. But after my graduation from high school, I figured I better start working to support my family. I’m sad and feel down. I’m not living up to what my name means: Little shining light. I better go back to work now. My 2,5 hours during lunch break is over, and we still have so many blouses to sow today.



In between the sowing, I heard some colleagues commenting about our salary. They find it too low. I really don’t know what to think about that. I wonder if it’s true. But I’m afraid to ask. They wanted to complain about this. To who, they have no idea.

I’m tired, but happy. After reaching the factory this morning at 7:40, and being here for more than 14 hours, I can finally go back to the dorm, to my 4 roommates. I’m looking forward to playing Candy Crush and Angry Bird on my phone. Oh, I just remember. I can try out Tian Tian Fuweng, the new game I downloaded yesterday. Tian Tian Fuweng means Everyday Millionaire.


Tian Tian Fuweng. www.appgame.com

That’s what I’ll be one day, hahaha. But before that, I want to start a family. 22 years; the perfect      age for that! Today, I ran across Yinda, from Pingyao, my hometown. He works at the packaging department. He’s so nice, and kind. The two of us could make a better future together.”


A better future includes good working conditions too! What Xiao Deng doesn’t know yet is that she has the power to change and improve these working conditions. By knowing her rights and raising her voice she can have the real future she deserves!

Could playing games possibly help her in this quest?!

Stay tuned!

“Heroines of the Supply Chain”

Juan Juan Chen

Eva Capellán

Rocío Dañino

Esther Sedney

The Era of Collaboration: A Powerful Revolution

There are many good things happening in the World. Even if we see the Television news or read the traditional news papers and end up totally depressed, we just have to open our eyes a little bit to discover that there are actually a lot of good things to celebrate and be happy about.

One of my favorite “good news” is that we are shifting from an era of competition to an era of collaboration.

Share. That is the key word. We just have to open Facebook and look at that small, yet powerful, blue button that allows us to share information, knowledge and fun stuff with other people.


Younger generations see sharing as a natural thing. It is very simple; if you read something useful, you share it with other, so that everyone who is interested in the topic, can increase their knowledge about it. However, I don’t think is crazy to say that this sharing mentality was not always common, and that one of the most predominant behaviors of the last century was Competition. From biology, to business to politics and nations, everything was conceived as “a war” where only one wins.

On the contrary, nowadays Collaboration is starting to become a predominant behavior. Words that hardly existed 2 decades ago, such as Cross Sector Partnerships, Multi stakeholder alliances, Business coalitions, Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding, Coworking Spaces, or Co design, are now being more and more used, and are becoming trends. These transformational collaboration patterns are now shaping our reality.

This new philosophy has led to the creation of organizations that are designed around a culture of generosity. Big companies [1]are starting to have co creative and crowd sourcing initiatives in order to engage with costumers and society and gain access to creative ideas for them and for the world. And more important, small enterprises and social enterprises are being born with this philosophy, through collaboration and for collaboration, working together with others to tackle local and global problems. These initiatives will play a key role in solving the world’s future challenges.


[1] IBM, Unilever, Nike, etc.


Collaboration = New Revolution

Collaboration and technology have allowed our ideas to travel around the world and “have sex” like never before. But, why is this relevant?

As Matt Ridley said in a TED conference[1], the “meeting and mating of ideas” is what contributed to the evolution and progress of the human race.[2]  Interconnection of people, communication, sharing of ideas and collaboration, are the base of technological progress.

If we want to solve the world’s problems, we must collaborate and share, so ideas can combine and solutions can be found.

Conversation bubbles

Conversation bubbles

The potential of Crowd sourcing

Crowdsourcing is the process of obtaining ideas (or content) by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, especially from an online community. [1]

Today’s technology (internet, mobile phones) have showed us that we human beings are more than just passive consumers; we like to be proactive, to create, to apply our talents, to engage with a task and a purpose, to enter into “a state of flow”[2], do something and share it with the world for others to enjoy. The spectrum of collaboration is wide: From people that create “memes”, to people that participate actively in platforms of solutions for global challenges (civic value).

As Clay Shirky states, [3], the combination of technology, collaboration and human generosity (motivation to share our talent and free time) is making possible that ideas that contribute to solve social problems, travel very fast around the world, in order to be replicated. People are willing to engage and help. He calls this magical mix “cognitive surplus”, which has a huge potential since there are more than 1 trillion hours a year of participatory value to be used.

Can you imagine what could happen in the world if every person dedicated 1 hour a week to contribute to solve a global problem just by giving ideas??

So, to summarize, we are at the beginning of an era based on collaboration (instead of competition); this is great for sharing and combining ideas; technology is on our side and we have a lot of spare hours to use. If you Google “crowdsourcing” you can clearly see that is next to problems, community and solutions. Let us use those hours in a positive way through collaboration, for collaboration; to find the solutions we need to create a better world.



[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowdsourcing

[2] Martin Seligman, founder of Positive Psychology movement talks about “flow” in his books “Authentic Happiness” and “Flourish”.

[3] http://www.ted.com/talks/clay_shirky_how_cognitive_surplus_will_change_the_world


[1] http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_ridley_when_ideas_have_sex

[2] Labor specialization and trade gave us more time to do other things, think about other matters and have more ideas, which led us to prosperity. The exchange of ideas between different cultures, are at the base of innovation.


A Journey for Nothing ?


Migration Picture 1

Source: The Guardian 


As most of you have probably noticed, the media these days is full of headlines talking about the migration problem we are facing in Europe, the recent tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea being one of the biggest migration tragedies to date. The continent is confronted by a rapidly escalating migration crisis – governments both National and Regional (EU) are struggling to cope with this problem and have difficulties finding a general consensus over the shared responsibilities and actions to be taken.




                   Source: BBC


But have you ever questioned yourself why this is happening? Do you know why millions of people are deciding to take this deadly journey? Do you have any idea how they are treated once they survive they journey? Is migration really a problem…..or is it an opportunity?


immigrant women

                     Source: http://goo.gl/nnhZ6u


With these questions at the back of our minds we embarked on our own journey to get answers. Throughout the research we have done, some of the stories have left emotional scars and some have been sources of inspiration and this has encouraged us to dig deeper and get a better understanding from the perspective of those who have undertaken it, what circumstances the migrants live in, how they are treated throughout the journey and also what their life looks like after finally receiving the “golden ticket.”

Our aim is to develop a tool to assist migrants as they embark on their new life. We do not just want to help them thrive but also want to be part of their journey towards a better life – the life they were initially aiming for.


written by Anna, Annette, Lucia and Nada

Reflection: Is CSR 3.0 in SMEs simply common sense?



In the recent evolution of CSR towards the 3.0 approach we seem to be learning that SMEs (small medium enterprises) that have integrated this modus operandi into their way of doing business are achieving better results than those that have kept the traditional model. An example of these could be Unilever or Lush, which have improved their public image and performance in the market.

As customers, people are increasingly concerned about the practices of the companies that provide goods and services to them, giving a competitive advantage to those who carry out the best practices in an increasingly competitive market, where not only price and quality weigh any more.

As potential employees of SMEs, we look to work at businesses that provide not only the basic rights to their workers, but those which take a step or two further to guarantee their wellbeing. This of course benefits the company: the more candidates willing to work for them, the greater their possibilities to hire the best ones. And as employees we will be far more productive if the environment helps, thus benefiting the company.

As stakeholders in general we will support the companies that do well to our community, values such as transparency and stakeholder participation are increasingly appreciated amongst society. So why are not all companies making this change? Why is the transition towards CSR 3.0 being so slow? Will the companies that are not adapting survive? Companies should realise once and for all that nobler economical development is a win-win for themselves and their stakeholders.

Or maybe the people from our sector are being utopic and idealising this method?

As integrants of a growingly globalised world we should look for the common and greater good.

So, does it simply not make sense to embrace it if it proves beneficial for most?

IMSD into practice!

Today I can proudly announce that I am the owner of my first sustainable sandals. Why sustainable? Because besides the fact that they are mostly made out of natural materials, the packaging is super small. This company keeps its craftsmen in mind by ensuring they get a fair pay, medical cover, 13th salary (all things that may seem logical to us, but sometimes the reality is different. Especially with the demands of the Western World being met by people in Asia…..). The Ethical commitments are among others, visiting the production site often and making sure part of the profits made are destined for improving the life of the workers and negotiating raw materials directly with suppliers. No middle men! I actually feel good. I’ve bought my first responsible, sustainable sandals. And they were not even expensive!


What are you wearing today?

What are you wearing today? Do you know the brand? Do you know where your clothes have been manufactured? Do you know who made it and under what conditions?

After the Rana Plaza disaster on April 2013, where 1,127 workers were killed, the textile industry has been on the spot.

This is not really new. Since the 90´s, when the large clothing brands started outsourcing their production to developing countries with cheaper costs, the textile industry has been seriously questioned. We all probably remember the Nike and GAP scandals in the 90´s and early 2000, which affected the companies’ credibility and reputation.

Labor Conditions

                                                   Source: Team Creation 

The textile global picture has changed a lot in the last 10 years. The countries that manufacture and export clothes, and the ones that import, are now different.

China is the main player of the game, with 32% of the total global share of exports, followed by the EU. However, other players are increasing their global presence significantly, such as India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand, accounting for more than 20% of global share.

Source: World Trade Organization


Source: World Trade Organization 

More than 10 years after the mentioned scandals, the textile industry still has to deal with serious supply chain challenges and global concerns about labor rights and workplace conditions.

The Rana Plaza event was, of course, really extreme. However, labor rights are being violated in different levels, from forced labor, child labor and health and safety, to hour of work and freedom of association and collective bargaining.

So, what are you wearing today? This question adressed to consumers is one that needs to be raised higher up in the supply chain of the garment industry: What is your Brand doing to ensure your peace of mind?? 




Sources of data:


— Inspired by Grigoriy Oster —

And if different ideas

Enter head without knock –

Close all your doors and windows

Because they should be well-locked!

Grigoriy Oster

1. World is cruel. Think only about the “I”.

2. Focus on yourself. Family and friends are weakness. Neighbors are rubbish.

3. Grab all you see. You will need it all after. And even if not… all these silly little people don’t know what to do with their lives. Save them from doubts – keep everything for yourself.

4. Keep climbing the career ladder walking over corpses – they all deserve this. Become powerful and rich.

5. When the heart-warming number of zeros in your bank account filled with saved/earned/stolen/deducted/inherited/………. (underline appropriate) money will start perturbing your bank or investment manager – hide the money to an offshore account. Better to several.

6. And the important never become a social entrepreneur. The reasons are simple to explain:

7. When made the right choice in favor of money, power and jacuzzi keep in mind the last hint: spend all the money you can during your life. Do not leave a penny after your death. Just imagine – someone could invest it in something as horrible as social entrepreneurship!

***      ***      ***

* Hopefully my humor with a portion of nonsense all the way through this post is understandable.

**For those who took the post seriously – please, leave a comment. I am simply curious.

The Importance of Motivation in Social Enterprises


First of all, I would like to quickly explain what exactly a social enterprise (SE) is. This company is addressing a social problem by using entrepreneurial issues. That way it is trying to make a change and have a successful impact on the society.

Motivation1One would think that a social enterprise is self-motivating? It addresses a social issue so the employees should be highly motivated to reach the goal, solve the problem and help. However, at the end of the day, the way a social enterprise works is the same way a “normal” company works. This means, that there is work that one might not like to do and all sorts of problems can occur. This is the reason why motivation in a SE is just as important as in every other company.

According to different studies, unmotivated employees:

Furthermore, the studies evaluated that:

These facts demonstrate that motivation should definitely be addressed in every company.

How to motivate employees?

There are different aspects that have to be taken care of but in general every SE and employee has to be looked at individually regarding their circumstances. However, there are some common motivational aspects that should be considered in every SE.

business-motivationFirst of all, it is passion that is the basis for every success. Only if enthusiasm and emotions are involved, employees get involved and can be addressed by incentive programs of companies. According to statistics, companies using incentive programs reported a 79% success rate in achieving their established goals when the correct reward was offered.

Financial incentive is not the way to retain employees and motivate them to work hard. If a company cares about retention, they should strive to provide a good company culture in which employees feel valued with the flexibility to contribute meaningful work regardless of their role.

Employees need to feel like they are a part of a community. Social enterprises must show that management is looking to solicit ideas and provide a working environment in which people are comfortable working in. For instance, the SE can decide about the design of the office itself or the offer of working from home. It can also include social outings and events that should take place regularly to build a good team spirit. If this is done successfully, employees work harder offering smart ideas as well as critical feedback for continuous improvement.

Furthermore, every employee should have a clear idea about the purpose of the social enterprise, an individual goal as well as well-defined tasks. Therefore, I would like to compare that work to a sports team. In a sports team, the goal is clear: to win – to shoot one more goal than the other team, be faster or have more points at the end. Apart from that everyone should have their individual goals, where the different tasks are well organized. Some do have to defend, others shoot goals etc. but everyone has to enjoy it and be committed. At the end, the team usually succeeds that is most motivated and has the strongest will. Hence, the concept on a SE should be similar to ensure a success and impact on the society.

Moreover, the employees have to receive appraisal. That way it can be ensured that the tasks are clear and achieved and it can be agreed on an aim. It does not mean just giving positive feedback but might also know what they have to improve. The employee should get the feeling that he is having responsibility and that his work is appreciated. Once a work is done very well, it should than be highlighted and celebrated.

Overall, the more motivated the employees of the SE are, the more successful is the enterprise. Statistics have proven, that properly structured incentive programs can increase employee performance up to 44%.

So, keep you and your employees inspired and motivated at any time! Therefore, care has to be taken of every single employee because “one shoe does not fit all”!


Social Entreprenuers = 21st Century Activists

The Activists of the 1960’s and 70’s saw groups of individuals taking to the streets demonstrating against the establishment, the government. They picketed and destroyed property to make their voice heard that they were not happy with the status quo of the time.

Fast forward to 2015 – social activists are still present taking to the streets, boycotting and occupying but there is a new face in the playing field: “In less than a generation, we have witnessed a tectonic shift in the way people think about and work toward social change. And this new social phenomenon is SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP  –  these are innovative change makers who create new solutions to entrenched social, economic, and environmental problems.” (Keohane 2013)


Some may argue that social entrepreneurs aren’t really activists but I disagree. They take risks, they go against the grain, they rarely take no for an answer, they’ve got the same drive and tenacity as all entrepreneurs but at the heart of all their activities they use their influence and their innovation to make an impact for society as a whole.

As a result of the positive impacts social entrepreneurs are having, barriers to finance and legal restrictions are bring brought down allowing the industry to thrive. The social entrepreneur model is different from the traditional entrepreneur business or social change agency. They sit on the realms of the 2 worlds, collaborate with non traditional partners and are often happy to share their victories. The most famous Mohammed Yunus, a Nobel Prize winner, brought about a revolution in the finance market through the Grameen Bank, providing microcredit and microfinance to the unbankable – those too poor to have a bank account in Bangladesh.

For me one of the highlights in social entrepreneurship are the innovations coming out of Africa. For too long Africa has been forced to look outside for ideas to solving their problems when maybe the solutions had been inside the continent. Africans tend to already have the entrepreneurial spirit within them coupled with various social needs equals endless opportunities. Kenya for example is often described as the silicon savannah with entrepreneurs jetting in from all over the world creating social enterprises using primarily mobile technology addressing issues ranging from health, to education, agriculture and financing, making a direct and beneficial impact to the communities they interact with.

Social entrepreneurs see opportunities where others don’t. And they bring innovation to situations where others have tried and failed. And because of that I believe they have the power to change the world.






Keohane, Georgia Levenson (2013) Social Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century: Innovation across the non-profit, private and public sectors , McGRaw Hill Companies, e-ISBN 978-0-07-180168-3

The Beauty of Purpose

What is life all about again? Is it really only about reaching the next goal, becoming successful, earning loads of money and meeting the expectations of our parents, friends and superiors? Shouldn’t we aim for a greater meaning in our lives, perhaps to find something that aligns with our values, passion and that has a purpose?

In the economical and bureaucratic society we live in today, the most important thing is to find a job. But for many other people it has to be more than that and are therfore looking for new ways to do business.

The new change-makers recognise a particular social deficit in areas such as poverty reduction, integration, education, environmental protection and human rights and try to provide scalable solutions or efficient approaches to meet the needs of the vulnerable and to improve the quality of life of individuals around the world. They choose to see opportunities where others see intangible problems and create a change through market-based solutions that enable the disadvantaged to become economic citizens. The goal of these change agents is to transform communities for the better so that they can thrive and address their challenges themselves without being dependent on a third party.

The major driver of social enterprises is not the pursuit of profit, but purpose and the wish to create an impact that makes the world a little better. To create added value, meet a societal challenge to empower and creatively re-imagine how business and individuals can create a positive impact and lasting value. The profit concept, compared to business as usual, stands in the background.

However, good will, a clever idea and an entrepreneurial spirit are not enough to meet the complex situation of a social justice issue. It is about finding a cure, rather than just treating the symptoms. This is why the main focus of the entrepreneurs is to combine the private and public sector of the economy to create innovative concepts that are later on transformed into an economic activity to develop universal and sustainable solutions to the current problems.

While moving away from philanthropic donations, fundraising and dependency – social entrepreneurs want people to solve problems on their own and therefore provide them with the right tools to scale the innovation. The beauty of it is that it really brings everybody`s assets to the table and everyone is acting as servants of their passion and interest. Not only to promote ownership but to create something meaningful.


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