The Commons
  Synergos News | Fall 2010
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Top photo: Infant receiving treatment for jaundice in the newborn intensive care unit of the Katutura State Hospital in Windhoek, Namibia. Synergos supports efforts to improve health services in Namibia. (Dominic Chavez photo)


First Class of Arab World Social Innovators in Final Year of Program; Second Class Recruitment Beginning Soon

Rana Dajani teaching class
Rana Dajani, a Synergos Arab World Social Innovator who is creating neighborhood libraries in Jordan to foster a love of reading.

“Synergos has increased my social impact immensely -- from one neighborhood in Amman to 80 in ten different areas in Jordan, including villages and towns mostly from underprivileged areas. From one storyteller to 330 trained storytellers, from serving 100 children to serving 4,000 children. My idea has been put on TV, radio and newspapers. People are more aware of the importance of reading aloud. My model is known and implemented on an individual basis in UAE, Tunis, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.” --Rana Dajani

The first class of 22 Innovators from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Palestine are in their final year of the program. A closing evaluation of the program, which was supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development and other funders, indicates that it achieved our goals of enabling the Social Innovators to increase the scale of their initiatives (such as number of beneficiaries and/or geographic reach), strengthen their organizational capacity and sustainability, and spread the ideas and innovations each has developed.

For example, as a group the Social Innovators are now serving over 20% more beneficiaries than when they entered the program in 2008. Over 60% of the Innovators are serving a new segment of the population since entering the program, and women account for more than half of the new beneficiaries served.

Synergos provided a mixture of financial support, technical assistance (made possible in part through pro bono consultants from the Social Entrepreneurship Assistance Program of Booz Allen Hamilton), and networking opportunities. Two of the many examples of accomplishments the program helped our Innovators achieve are the creation of the first sign language dictionary in the Middle East for the hearing impaired and a new literacy program for artisan women in rural Morocco to accompany their handicraft training.

Innovators also benefited from connections to each other. For example, Ramzi Odah, who works on youth leadership development in Palestine, has engaged help from Souktel, the organization co-founded by Mohammed al-Kilany, another of our Palestinian Social Innovators. Souktel has developed technology that uses instant messaging to connect job seekers with potential employers, and that technology is being adapted to help Ramzi build connections among young leaders he works with.

Recruitment for a second class of Arab World Social Innovators will begin later in October. For more information, visit


Health Initiative in Namibia Receives Positive Evaluation; Moves into New Phase

Click to read summary evaluation of the African Public Health Leadership and Systems Innovation Initiative

The first phase of our African Public Health Leadership and Systems Innovation Initiative in Namibia has wrapped up, with an external evaluator’s examination of the overall program and eight prototype projects. The evaluation, which focused on outcomes of the initiative, was largely positive. The initiative was credited with helping health services reach more people in need, and contributing to increased trust at various the levels of the health system. For example, ten clinics, including one completely new facility, are bringing ante-natal services to women in previously underserved outlying areas of Windhoek.

Other successes include improvements in the skills of nurses and the sharing of health information with current and expecting mothers through a radio program by nurses about maternal and child health. That program, which is broadcast nationally in six languages, has become a big success, with listeners calling in with questions and comments.

At the same time, the evaluation identified areas for improvement in some projects, such as managing patient load at new clinics and ensuring consistent quality of care. Another challenge is collecting robust data to strengthen management of projects. Efforts to address these are underway as the effort moves into a new phase.

By the end of this year, the initiative will expand into four more regions of the country, and expand its focus beyond maternal and child health to also look at child nutrition. Nationwide reach is planned for the summer of 2011.

The evaluation stated that the initiative is “developing a platform to ensure sustained system transformation” and confirms our belief that improving trust and partnerships within Namibia’s health system is essential to improving the delivery of services.

A summary of the evaluation is available online.

McKinsey & Company is also involved in the initiative in Nambia. Below McKinsey’s Thokozile Lewanika gives a behind-the-scenes look at several of the efforts underway to improve maternal health care in Namibia


Imbeleko Partnership Expands Reach and Focus in Southern Africa

In South Africa and Mozambique, Synergos is part of the Imbeleko partnership to strengthen community capacity to address the needs of orphans and other children affected by the HIV/AIDS crisis. Our partners in this effort are the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (NMCF) in South Africa, the Foundation for Community Development (FDC) in Mozambique, Synergos Canada, and Synergos Global Philanthropists Circle member Kim Samuel Johnson,

Imbeleko is an African word meaning “carrying a baby on the back,” “giving birth” (ukubeleka) and “umbilical cord.” It is also a traditional ceremony for an infant that introduces them to life and the ancestors. The Imbeleko partnership is combining traditional and Western practices to enable communities to reduce the isolation and vulnerability of children in distress, and increase the social inclusion of both children and their caregivers.

The first phase of this effort, which began in early 2008, was focused on learning about African traditions of care. During the course of this inquiry, the FDC and NMCF provided holistic community-based services to almost 9,000 orphans and vulnerable children and strengthened the capacity of the organizations and communities that care for them.

Now the initiative is in its second phase, testing integrated approaches that build upon local traditions in six locations in Mozambique and six in South Africa. At the same time, the partnership has launched an advocacy and communications strategy to engage government agencies, donors, and other development practitioners in order to influence the adoption of effective strategies for overcoming the isolation and exclusion of vulnerable children in more integrated and community-rooted ways.


Bhavishya Alliance Completes Pilots in India

The Bhavishya Alliance (BA), the multi-sectoral partnership Synergos helped establish in India to develop systemic solutions to child under-nutrition, is moving into a second major phase of work in which it begins to replicate and expand a set of pilot projects.

The Bhavishya Alliance’s project completion reports are online at

Reports on the completion of the pilots -- including on food diversification, the provision of day care at construction sites, and computer-aided adult literacy, health and nutrition awareness -- are available online at Those reports include not only information about the specific projects, such as the importance of ensuring that food recommendations reflect seasonal variations, but also suggest broader lessons that might be used in other aspects of Bhavishya’s work, such as the value of written MOUs among participating agencies.

The evaluation also elicited statement from program participants and beneficiaries about how multi-sector partnerships are both difficult and essential. As the head of the Mumbai Mobile Creche put it “Without BA the project would never have happened or worked at all….It is essential to support this process for further scaling, which will come with new challenges.”


Synergos Services Expands Consulting with Global Corporations

Synergos Services, our consulting practice, is a partner for global companies seeking to build sustainable businesses and create meaningful social impact around the world. Innovative corporate leaders look to Synergos for its deep insight into developing country contexts, extraordinary network of contacts and ability to conceive and implement solutions with local partners in emerging markets.

For example, Synergos Services provided a Fortune Global 500 food and beverage company with an in-depth understanding of the market context for child malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa and India. As a result, the company was able to fine tune its market, demographic and product distribution strategies through critical insights such as focusing on young women and their families (versus focusing on infants). In addition, several pilot programs are in place adopting various business models to inform the development of future nutrition-related products across the continent.

In another case, Synergos Services worked with a prominent Brazilian cosmetics company that sought to significantly grow its sustainability business in Mexico. Synergos helped strengthen the alignment of the senior leadership team around its core strategy and objectives in sustainability in a new market and established connections to relevant Mexican academic, civic and other thought leaders and organizations with whom the company could collaborate.


Namibian Prime Minister, the Ackermans, Headline University for a Night in Africa in October

University for Night in Africa will be held on Monday, October 11 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Sponsorship Options
Changemaker:Seating for 8$13,500
Champion:Seating for 8$10,000
PartnerSeating for 8 $7,000
Collaborator:Seating for 8$3,500
Ticket:Per seat$200

Like the global University for a Night in New York, this event will bring together leaders from business, government and civil society to explore ways of working together to reduce poverty. The theme of the event is “Innovative Leadership for Equity in Africa,” and the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership in Africa Awards will be presented to Nahas Angula, Prime Minister of Namibia, Ray and Wendy Ackerman, celebrated South Africa philanthropists, and Alice Mogwe, Director of the Botswana Centre for Human Rights.

Proceeds from ticket sales and sponsorships go directly to funding Synergos programs in Africa, which emphasize health and nutrition, the wellbeing of children and women, and education. For more information, contact Lulekwa Gqiba at or visit


Senior Fellows Hold 2010 Global Meeting; Selection of 2011 Class Underway

Later this month 33 Synergos Senior Fellows from 20 countries will convene in Windhoek, Namibia for their annual Global Meeting. The theme of this year’s meeting is Developing Systemic Approaches to Poverty and Social Justice. The Global Meeting is preceded by a day-long meeting of Africa Senior Fellows in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Fellows and external resource people will share experiences from places including Argentina, Brazil, China, Namibia, Pakistan, South Africa and Turkey. The goal is to collect and share strategies and tools that Fellows use in working for systemic change in their own countries and regions and to provide Fellows with an opportunity to receive support on the challenges they are facing in their work.

This year’s recruiting for our 2011 class of Fellows produced a record number of applicants -- over 550 from more than 30 countries. Selection of Fellows is underway -- the new class will be announced at the beginning of January 2011.



Partnerships and Social Investment in Mexico

Earlier this month Adriana Cortes, Director of the Bajio Community Foundation in Mexico and a Synergos Senior Fellow, and Synergos’ Daniel Domagala, led a module within a course on corporate philanthropy and social investment held at ITAM, a leading university in Mexico. Course participants included corporate social responsibility staff of major Mexican companies. Mr. Domagala presented on our conceptual framework for how multi-sector partnerships can be built. Ms. Cortes shared experience building a partnership among the private sector, communities and local, state and federal government agencies for in the Mexican state of Guanajuato.


Global Giving Matters Examines Young Philanthropic Entrepreneurs

Issue 41 of Global Giving Matters looks at two “next generation” California philanthropists - Pamela Hawley and Ben Goldhirsh. Both are using entrepreneurial approaches to motivate others to donate and volunteer for worthy causes around the world. Both are innovators that rely on technology as a critical element in their work. And both are having remarkable impact.

Read more.

The next issue of Global Giving Matters will examine two philanthropic efforts in Europe.

Subscribe online.


Jeff Sachs and GPC Member Steve Killelea Call for Keeping Commitments on Development Assistance

A new report co-authored by Jeff Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, and Steve Killelea, Chairman and Founder of the Institute for Economics and Peace and a member of the Global Philanthropists Circle, holds the G8 to account for meeting its own development assistance delivery and monitoring goals. “The G8 keeps failing the tests it sets itself. In 2005, at the G8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, the G8 and major aid donors pledged to increase both the quality and quantity of their aid. Targets, first articulated in UN declarations in the 1970s, were agreed to 2010 and 2015...Yet as the medium-term deadlines near, it is clear that most of the G8 are not on course to meet the promises they made in 2005.”

Read report.



Events in New York in September Showcase Arab World Social Innovators; Explore Potential for Partnerships in Philippines

Synergos hosted two events in New York City in September. One was a panel discussion of three members of our Arab World Social Innovators and a Synergos Senior Fellow from Morocco with nonprofit and philanthropic leaders in the NYC area interested in social entrepreneurship and the Arab World. We helped bring the four panelists, who shared their experiences as social entrepreneurs with other guests, to New York to participate in the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and other related events. While at CGI, Senior Fellow M’hammed Abbad Andaloussi’s commitment to improve education in Morocco through partnership between 500 schools and the business community was recognized on stage with President Clinton. During the event, Rana Dajani’s organization We Love Reading made a commitment to establish 100 more libraries throughout Jordan over the next five years.

In talking about the CGI experience, Dajani said, “I met women from different areas of the world: from Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia, and we’ve actually set up partnerships with these different women, like they’re planning to copy our model in Indonesia, Peru and, hopefully, in other Middle Eastern countries.”

Above: President Bill Clinton and M'hammed Abbad Andaloussi
Below: Synergos-organized dialogue between President Benigno Aquino III of the Philippines and global civil society, philanthropic and business leaders
group around table

The other event was convened at the request of the Government of the Philippines. It brought together President Benigno Aquino III and four cabinet secretaries with a group of senior civil society, philanthropic and business leaders from organizations such as Ashoka, CIVICUS, Greenpeace, the Open Society Institute, and the Knowledge Channel of the Philippines. Moderated by Global Philanthropists Circle Member Rina Lopez Bautista, the discussion explored ways in which the Philippines government could work more effectively with civil society for sustainable development.


Raza Jafar, Hashoo Foundation Helping Response to Flooding in Pakistan

The recent floods that raged through Pakistan have caused devastation of enormous proportions in a country hit by a major earthquake in 2005. The human and economic toll has been massive - with an initial estimate of 15 million people directly affected. To give a sense of scale, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami affected about 2.5 million people and Hurricane Katrina in the United States approximately one half million. Global Philanthropist Circle Member Raza Jafar, a Pakistani citizen based in the United Arab Emirates, visited his home country recently and reported on the situation in Forbes online. He also shared with us some other information and ideas on how you can help.

Read Mr. Jafar’s Report and see how you can help.

The Hashoo Foundation, which was established by the Hashwani Family (members of the Global Philanthropists Circle) in 2007 through the merger of earlier philanthropic endeavors dating back over 100 years, is very active in response to the flooding. The Foundation is both providing direct aid to communities in which it has had a long-term presence and also working to mobilize support. For example, it launched a “donate an iftari “ campaign with partner hotel chains including Pearl Continental, Mariott and Hotel One to raise funding for evening meals during the month of Ramadan.

Visit the Hashoo Foundation website.


Elkanah Odembo Represents Kenya as Ambassador to the United States

photo of President Obama and Ambassador Odembo
Ambassador Elkanah Odembo (right) after presenting his credentials to U.S. President Obama.

Senior Fellow Elkanah Odembo has been appointed Kenya’s Ambassador to the United States. This follows his service as Kenya’s Ambassador to France. He told us that “...there is tremendous goodwill towards Kenya, especially after we voted peacefully for a new Constitution. I cannot imagine a better time to be Kenya’s Ambassador to the USA.”


GPC Members in Slate

Global Philanthropists Circle members Jon Stryker and Theodore and Vada Stanley count among the Slate 60, a list of the sixty largest American charitable contributions of 2009. In the accompanying article, Patty Stonesifer, former CEO of the Gates Foundation, makes a distinction between those are who are “merely wealthy and generous” and those who are “Great Givers:”

“[T]he best Great Givers don’t just give big, give now, and give for great social impact-they measure success as well as failure and they learn from their giving and continue to improve their investing year after year.”

Learn more.


Global Philanthropists Circle Member Gareth Ackerman Wins CSR Award for Leadership

The Social Enterprise Network of Young Presidents’ Organization announced the recipients of its annual Corporate Social Responsibility Awards. These awards are given to individuals believed to be “making a difference through their companies and charitable organizations.” Global Philanthropists Circle member and Chairman of Pick n Pay, Gareth Ackerman was the recipient of the CSR Award for Leadership. Ackerman was recognized for the numerous programs of the Pick n Pay Corporation that benefit the community. These programs included Pick n Pay’s efforts to create collaboration between communities, local food suppliers and retailer, green initiatives, and helping small farmers build to their capacity.


Michael Sonnenfeldt’s Company Provides Solar Technology to Disaster Response in Haiti

Sol Inc, a company providing trouble-free solar lighting for almost 20 years, recently donated solar lighting equipment to help in the earthquake disaster response and recovery in Haiti. Sol is headed by Michael Sonnenfeldt, a member of the Global Philanthropists Circle who has been a long-time leader in connecting the private sector to global humanitarian and development efforts.



Synergos thanks our donors, who help make our work possible. Listed below are donors who gave to Synergos from January through August 2010. We hope that you will join them in supporting our work.

Muna Abusalayman
Ackerman Family
Victor Alicea
Aramex International Limited
Loreen Arbus
José Ignacio and Verónica Ávalos and Family
Janet Averill
Alberto and Tere Baillères and Family
Roberto Baquerizo
Ian Benjamin and Deborah Karpatkin
Othman and Leila Benjelloun
Edward Bergman
Stanley and Marion Bergman
Michael R. Bloomberg
Bloomberg L.P.
David Bohnett Foundation
William Bohnett
Maria Matilde Bonetti
Boricua College
Ronald Bruder
Magalen O. Bryant
Carlos A. Bulgheroni
Charles C. Butt
John Buys
Raymond Chambers and the MCJ Amelior Foundation
Mark Chen
Petr Chitipakhovyan and Family
Noreen Clark and George Pitt
Elizabeth de Cuevas
Tony Custer
Richard A. Debs
Robert H. Dunn
Corinne Evens
Daniel Feffer
The Flora Family Foundation
Ford Foundation
Fortitech, Inc.
Mimi Frankel
GAIN - Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition
Garcés and Echavarría Family
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Nili Gilbert
Ben Goldhirsh
Dorian Goldman and Marvin Israelow
Dorian Goldman and Marvin Israelow
Goldman Sachs Foundation
Eileen Growald
Miriam Haas
Mimi & Peter Haas Fund
Heller Family Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Linda Hill
Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
Jerry Hirsch and Family
Barbara L. Hunt
The IDP Foundation, Inc.
Cynthia Jones
JPMorgan Chase
Elizabeth Kabler
Patricia Kahane
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Stephen Killelea
Larroc, Ltd.
John P. Lennon
Bobye List


Vincent and Anne Mai
Mannheim LLC
Strive and Heather Masiyiwa
Chris Matthews
Sally McDaniel
Mérieux Family
Cynthia and George Mitchell Family
The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation
Marcos de Moraes
Patrice and Precious Motsepe
The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
Kenneth F. Mountcastle
Elizabeth Munson
Natura Cosmeticos
NoVo Foundation
Cherie Nursalim and Enki Tan
Abby O'Neill
Open Society Institute
Ayşen and Hüsnü Özyeğin
PepsiCo Foundation/PepsiCo Corporate Giving Program
Fern Portnoy
Alejandro Ramírez Magaña
Marie Rautenberg
Tom Rautenberg
Dana Reiter
Michael and Brigitte Rennie
Jair Ribeiro da Silva Neto
Rockefeller Foundation
Rockefeller Trust Companies
David Rockefeller, Sr.
Carlos Rodríguez-Pastor and Gabriela Perez Rocchietti
Diana and Jonathan Rose
Mark Rubin
Shelley and Donald Rubin
Instituto Rukha
Cynthia A. Ryan
Güler Sabanci
Sana Sabbagh
Michael Sacks
Kim Samuel Johnson
Tsugiko and William Scullion
Sesame Workshop
Adele S. Simmons
Bruce Simpson
James S. Sligar
Gordon V. Smith
Katja Goldman and Michael Sonnenfeldt
Theodore and Vada Stanley and Family
Jon L. Stryker
Washington SyCip
Robert C. Timpson and Peregrine Whittlesey
Theo Tobé
John Tomlinson
Turney H. Tse
US Agency for International Development
United Nations Foundation
Hermine Warren
Curtis M. Webster
John C. Whitehead
Monica Winsor and Josh Mailman
Matthew Yap



The name The Commons comes from the English and early American term “commons,” which was an area of shared land, which the entire community could use for public discussions, local events or even grazing livestock.

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