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Mondays@Tantric - TIE Social Entrepreneurs Partner With Tantric

Raj Melville

Nearly 30 people from diverse backgrounds, but with a common interest in supporting organizations making significant social impact, gathered at Tantric India Bistro in Boston for the first monthly meeting jointly hosted by Tantric, TIE Social Entrepreneurs Group and NetSAP Boston. The theme of the meeting was “Bringing hope to areas of Conflict” and, in keeping with the theme, four innovative organizations working in different areas around the world presented their work.  

Mary Sen, proprietor of Tantric and a staunch supporter of social causes, welcomed the gathered crowd and spoke of her vision of creating a hub for social activists and social entrepreneurs to congregate, to meet and to network at Tantric. Ranjani Saigal, co-chair of the TIE Social Entrepreneurs group spoke of the group’s activities in encouraging connections between business professionals and social entrepreneurs and the mentoring and coaching the group does. She too expressed the hope that this venue would become the hub for networking about social entrepreneurship in Boston. She introduced her fellow co-chairs, Vithal Deshpande and Manu Gosain.  

Ted Barber, co-founder of Prosperity Candle, led off with a short description of their work in bringing marketable skills to women entrepreneurs in areas of conflict. They chose to teach candle making as it is a simple craft, can be easily packaged as a kit and taught as a business skill, and can be marketed in the developing world to an appreciative audience. Prosperity Candle is currently training a pilot of women in Iraq through their partner Women for Women International. Both Ted Barber and his co-founder, Amber Chand, bring years of experience working with retail, international fair trade, and non-profits in developing countries. Their website is at http://www.prosperitycandle.com

Ruha Devanesan and Valerie Schenkman spoke of their work with Peacetones, an initiative of the Internet Bar Organization. Working around the world in areas of conflict, the group helps local artistes to setup their own businesses, publish their work and make it available online for purchase. Throughout the process, they also help reinforce the principles of international contract law, intellectual property rights and help build respect for the rule of law. Over 90 percent of the funds raised through the sales go to the artistes and their community. Their website is http://www.peacetones.org/

Kyle Dietrich and Kate Fedosova, two of the founders of Peace in Focus, described their work helping teach critical life skills and healthy relationships to kids who have grown up in areas of conflict. Through the medium of photography, they help kids visualize  a different future and become creative peace builders and leaders for social change. They showed several beautiful photographs taken by kids in places as different as Burundi and inner city Boston that had evocative content reflecting their yearning for a different world. You can see some of these photos and their work at http://www.peaceinfocus.org

Finally Gerry Frank presented the work of EDWON, Empower Dalit Women of Nepal, where the organization has been working with communities in the remote reaches of the mountainous country that are generally considered to be ‘untouchable’ or Dalit. They have helped raise the status of women by providing them with education and support through microfinance programs. With over 2000 women participating in dozens of self help groups, they have been able to grow their collective collateral. In some villages the women’s cooperatives are now the largest source of capital and have taken an active role in local governance and other cooperative activities. Many of the groups have undertaken community projects like building community centers that serve as meeting places for the women as well as an educational facility. The women in turn, with support from scholarships from EDWON, are encouraging their children to stay in school thereby breaking the cycle of poverty and illiteracy. Their great work can be viewed at http://www.edwon.org/

The meeting continued long after the presentations with people lingering on for intense conversations and discussions with the presenting groups. Several participants made connections across to other organizations when they realized they were doing similar work or were operating in the same region. This is the very purpose of these monthly events where we hope to create the networking hub for greater Boston social entrepreneurs to meet and exchange ideas and connections. We hope you can join us at one of the upcoming events which will always be on the First Monday of the month at Tantric, 123 Stuart Street, Boston.  The next one is scheduled for April 5th.  


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