While Organizations or businesses have traditionally been large groups with vast networks and resources, technology has empowered everyday people to form not-for-profits with little more than a laptop and an idea. It’s enabling people from anywhere in the world to access free world-class education; it’s helping to deliver clean water and improved sanitation in developing countries; it’s bringing modern healthcare to people who would otherwise not have access to it.
Current technologies are connecting people that in the past would have not been able to connect. As such, the number of not-for-profit organizations is now virtually uncountable, meaning more people doing more positive things for those in need. The advances made in mobile and computing technologies are enriching the lives of those who really need it.
Here are 10 organizations, businesses and individuals around the world leveraging today’s technological tools to bring health, education, and empowerment to communities in need.
Working in failing states, conflict zones, and countries recovering from natural disaster, they address issues ranging from agricultural development to food response to women’s empowerment.
Addressing a declining fishing industry, this organization uses “innovative approaches to design, implementation, and training” to help entrepreneurs develop and maintain fish farms.
Profiled by Matador last year, this program looks to improve sanitary conditions for coastal communities in Papua New Guinea. They provide support for locals to find their own solutions and to implement them using local labor and resources.
EDUCATION AND EMPOWERMENT
The BOMA Project
Their Rural Entrepreneur Access Project (REAP) trains and mentors Kenyans in establishing and sustaining business initiatives.
Child Empowerment International
They provide schooling for 6800+ underprivileged children. Near the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, they care for and provide leadership development for 400 orphans.
Co-founded by Matador staffer Leigh Shulman. They are an art and education organization that brings people and resources together via social media and technology, teaching art and design programs to students in at-risk communities with the goal of helping them develop sustainable sources of income in their home communities. They share their art, design, and other media internationally, connecting people who, in another time and place, would not have met. Their current project includes putting digital cameras into the hands of Wichi children from villages all around the Salta province of Northwest Argentina.
The Dhaka Project
Educating adults and children in low-income families in Bangladesh, their goal is to help them overcome poverty and become self-sufficient, while giving the children opportunities for the future.
Geotourism Development Foundation
They work with local partners in any given destination to help fund and build sustainable tourism projects, creating infrastructure that enables travelers to visit and build up the economy.
This nonprofit leverages the Internet to educate travelers on issues facing local communities. It then puts forth a theme-based challenge to inspire ideas from travelers on how to address any given issue. Winning ideas are rewarded with a free trip for the traveler to visit and be involved in making the idea reality.
Passports With Purpose
This annual travel bloggers’ fundraiser selects projects to support. In 2010 they raised $64,128 (25% more than their $50,000 goal) to help build an entire village in India (construction is under way). For 2011 they are looking to raise $80,000 to help build two children’s’ libraries in Zambia, in partnership with Room to Read.
Clean the World
They collect and recycle unwanted soap and shampoo products from the hospitality industry, and also donated products from manufacturers and the general public. Once processed, the soap and shampoos are delivered to homeless shelters and impoverished countries in an effort to prevent deaths due to hygiene-related illnesses.
These basic health clinics are run by Health Services India and provide rural communities with clean drinking water, medicines, diagnostic tools, and advanced tele-medical services.
The Roberto Clemente Santa Ana Health Clinic
This clinic in southwest Nicaragua services isolated villages providing health education, curing viral infections, and treating injuries and chronic health issues. They are also capable of stabilizing patients in life-threatening situations for transport to the main hospital in Rivas.
Valle La Paz
Their philosophy: “there can be no healthy man on a sick planet.” In addition to educating children in how to respect the health of the earth, they create biodiversity in agriculture in efforts to increase soil fertility, and also promote overall health improvement, as opposed to just responding to and treating illnesses and disease.
International Rescue Committee
One aspect of this org is an Emergency Response team of 17 specialists that can be readily deployed within 72 hours to respond to a crisis, such as the flooding in Pakistan in 2010 and the tsunami in Japan earlier this year.
Projects in countries like Afghanistan, DR Congo, Israel, and Kosovo focus on protecting children from the consequences of war, as well as enabling access to education and justice when rights are violated.
FOOD AND WATER
Produces ready-to-use foods to fight hunger and malnutrition. Their revolutionary Plumpy’nut paste is endorsed by the WHO and UNICEF as a treatment for acute malnutrition with a high rate of success.
Ryan’s Well Foundation
Began in 1999 when a 7-year old child raised $70 doing extra household chores that helped build a well for a school in a Ugandan village. The well still serves the community. Since its inception, Ryan’s Well has “helped build over 680 wells and 820 latrines bringing safe water and improved sanitation to over 723,000 people.”
INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY
“Solving everyday problems with African ingenuity” is their tagline. The blog reports on how people are using and reusing everyday materials to create solutions like recycling billboard posters to waterproof a house. The stories shared are meant to inspire creativity to help overcome life’s challenges.
Computer Aid International
The London-based charity professionally refurbishes computers for use in education, health, agriculture, and by other nonprofit orgs in developing countries.
They’ve “developed a Wi-Fi solution that leverages low cost components, the latest advancements in solar power technologies, open source software and Java to deliver a self-sustaining, self-healing, Wi-Fi grid network solution that is cost effective and easy to deploy.”
With efficient healthcare in rural areas being difficult to achieve, their developments using open-source platforms (FrontlineSMS, Google Apps, HealthMap, etc.) aid health workers in delivering timely healthcare to isolated patients.
WE CARE Solar
Innovation led to the creation of suitcase-sized portable solar energy generators. They are being used to power lights, headlamps, and walkie-talkies in off-grid medical clinics, “reducing maternal and infant morbidity and mortality and improving the quality of care in Africa, Haiti and other regions.”
Global Fund for Women
They support women’s human rights by providing funding to women-led movements around the world, addressing issues like gender-based violence, sexual/reproductive rights, political participation, and access to education.
This org fights against injustices towards Nepali girls and women, protecting them from domestic violence, human trafficking, child labor, and torture. Their main focus is preventing trafficking in the sex trade and also rescuing those forced into prostitution and helping them find alternative sources of income.
Surfing for Peace
This community of concerned surfers and supporters has the goal of bridging cultural and political barriers between surfers in the Middle East. Their current project is to bring surfer delegates from both Israel and Palestine to Hawaii to “declare their vision for peace in the capital of surfing.”
Their Global Colors project leverages social networking platforms for its web-based community to source ideas, experiences, and support from its volunteers, who have built schools in Haiti, provided books to libraries in Laos, and facilitated getting 120 students back to school in Cambodia, among other projects.
WAVES for Development International
Through surf tourism, this org focuses on promoting cultural exchange, environmental conservation, and sustainable tourism. In addition to volunteers working in their education programs, they also run beach cleanups, photography and computer classes, and health clinics.
Developing World Connections
Volunteers work alongside locals on poverty-alleviating projects, such as building a dispensary and home in Tanzania, building community infrastructure in Rwanda, and teaching children how to use computers in Guatemala.
World Children’s Choir
Heading into its 25th year, the World Children’s Choir exists to give children a voice that celebrates cultural diversity and positive international relations. It brings people together through the goal of creating a healthy and peaceful world for children. The proceeds that are raised are funneled back into support networks for kids. The performances and benefit concerts of the World Children’s Choir have been captured on national and international broadcasts, and their audiences have included U.S. Presidents Bush and Clinton, Queen Noor of Jordan, Queen Sofia of Spain, as well as the United States Supreme Court, to name a few.
The NAMM Foundation
The NAMM Foundation has sprouted in several different positive directions, with initiatives supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving, as well as public service programs like the Support Music Coalition, which provides tools and resources for music education in communities.