Celebrating the Graduation of the 2022 Goldin Global Fellows Spanish Cohort

Creating an accessible leadership program for Spanish-speaking grassroots leaders

On December 10th we celebrated the graduation of the first Goldin Global Fellows program in Spanish language, where 17 Spanish-speaking grassroots leaders from eight countries in Latin America and Europe came together to create a new community of practice.

Since 2018, we've held onto the dream of offering the Fellows program in Spanish. True to Goldin Institute’s principles of ensuring that resources and connections are accessible to as many grassroots communities around the world as possible, offering the program in Spanish has long a priority for our whole team. Removing language barriers -- which included translating the curriculum, readings and videos in the GATHER Platform from English to Spanish -- was not an easy process. But I can say the effort to offer this course in Spanish has been worthwhile, especially for me as a Spanish-speaking activist who has been able to find a community who speaks in my native tongue and who are also working on both similar and different issues.

“Gather is knowledge and collective construction.” -- Luis Alomia, Colombia

During the recruitment process we counted on our Alumni, friends and colleagues from Colombia and Latin American countries to help us share the news of the application and spread the word. We were delighted to receive applications from a diverse group of grassroots leaders from over 10 countries that crossed many divides in our society, bring together youth and elders, leaders from rural places and main cities, victims of violence and former combatants. Together, these individuals represented a wide range of sectors, including environment, law, education, technology, peace and reconciliation, arts, memory, sports, theater, and more.


“Gather is a before and after of my leadership. I am happy since they contributed to broaden my vision and knowledge that will help me to build solutions that can be lasting over time and see communities as a treasure of active resources and that will be an example of good practices for other communities that want to join the transformation”. -- Natasha Duque Torres, Venezuela

It was truly a very diverse group, each doing beautiful work individually, but tied together by the common bond of being leaders on the front lines where life revolves around changing their communities and finding solutions every day. From these applicants, we selected 17 individuals who became the first Spanish-speaking cohort.

As a facilitator I was impressed when talking with our Fellows about the learnings and concepts delivered in the program, and realized how their perspectives and ideas about their community and social-change work had begun to develop and adapt. Indeed, they became more aware that new solutions had to be based on all the assets they always had but may not have seen in their communities. It was also moving to see how they started imaging a new understanding of leadership which counts on the whole community, giving opportunities to those often left behind. I was further impressed at how sensitive they became; in our conversations we sometimes cried noticing the changes they were going through and how new concepts gave them a vision of collectiveness.

"Gather has allowed me to broaden my horizons as a social leader by identifying and valuing resources and assets that we have as a community, as well as empowering the leadership of my colleagues based on the recognition of their individual strengths and interests in community work." -- Diana Rocio Gomez Torres, Argentina

Fellows felt that the course on the GATHER Platform was different from other courses because they had a strong sense of support from the Goldin Institute team and meaningful relationships with their peers.

It’s like a family that we can always count on, no matter what.

In our roundtable “Reflections and Critical Moments” one of the most broadly shared reflection was that the Fellows felt like they were not alone in this program, knowing there were other leaders around the world doing the same and learning alongside them. For example, Ernst from Haiti would tell us about the challenging times facing the Haitian population due to the political situation in his country, or Eva in Argentina would share that she faced many struggles for raising her voice against state violence. We also exchanged positive and happy stories too, for example Manuella shared about her journey from Quibdo (Colombia) to Spain to talk about how successful her project about football was there, or Nuria from México who got to be involved in a project to protect underage pregnant girls. We also had Martha from Guapi (Colombia) who graduated from her specialization during the Fellows program and Arturo from Bogota (Colombia) and his “Picaditos” Football matches with youth when they launched their book “La Prisión que Jamás me Contuvo” written by a former combatant. All of us looked forward to meeting each Saturday where we shared beautiful moments with each other during our weekly GATHER Roundtables.

“Gather is a seedbed in which the strengths, abilities and natural gifts of leaderships are brought out.” -- Geiner Arrieta, Colombia

So when the Program came to an end, Fellows wanted their graduation to be like a party; a celebration of life, cultures, learnings, our individuality and how this makes sense in community. Fellows celebrated with drinks from their territories, showing off their typical customs or any other item that represented them. We also had a freestyle performance by Johnathan, and a video of some musicians and dancers from the region where one of our youngest fellows, Luis Alomia, is from.

“My Gather experience has helped me to see that the actor of change that I want to be requires the participation of everyone in my community. Having grown up in a society where exclusion is the norm, Goldin has given me the necessary tools to be a true agent of change by collaborating with others and identifying our resources to be able to dream big together”. -- Ernst Djeride, Haiti

I have to say the best part of the celebration was the desire of Fellows to talk about the future and their optimism for new collective projects. They want to move forward, grow, and build together. Fellows Manuela and Arturo proposed four lines of work for Fellows in 2023:

    • Creating a shared asset map with the purpose to realize a meeting of sharing vision. To have it real, we need a plan to know what we have, what can we do to meet us face to face together and develop our community visioning summit.
    • Monthly meetings where each person of this cohort can lead one of the meetings.
    • A directory of all the members of the Alumni network with their strengths and special topics and projects where they work.
    • Participate in all the workshops set up by the Goldin Institute so we can learn, meeting new people and collaborate in new projects.
    • We can share our networks, follow each other, and get to know what each one is doing, as well as and distribute what others are doing, including Goldin Institute’s social networks.
    • We need help from the Goldin Institute to present our projects in case we need representation.

    "Gather has given me the chance to meet my community again, open up to new listening, in order to collaborate on the paths we are charting together”. -- Nora Gabriela Fuentealba Rivas, Chile

    And now, Fellows faithful to the principles they learned during the Goldin Global Fellows program wanted to remove barriers of distance so some of them made the efforts to meet with each other in person!

    “As you may know this is the 20th birthday of Goldin Institute and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our 20th anniversary than by welcoming you into our Global Family, congratulations to all of our new graduates on behalf of the Goldin Institute, and especially, on behalf of Diane Goldin, the Founder and Board chair of the organization.” - Travis Rejman, Executive Director of the Goldin Institute

    Download the Graduation Book

Our 2022 Global Fellow graduates are stronger together

By Yusuph Masanja, Co-Facilitator of the Global Alumni Network

The 2022 Goldin Global Fellows from diverse backgrounds, representing 13 different countries

Since the inaugural cohort of the Goldin Global Fellows in 2018, the Goldin Institute has evolved the GATHER curriculum to remove barriers to access for grassroots leaders and to augment the pedagogy to work for the realities of our Fellows across the globe. One such development was the ability for Fellows to access the curriculum not only on iPads but on any internet-enabled device or smart phone which is most convenient for them. This change removes a significant barrier for Fellows who reside in remote places and lack reliable access to electricity, wifi and the latest gadget or repair services.

As a Facilitator of the program, our intentionality in removing barriers is why I am such an advocate of the GATHER approach. It is how our network of Alumni has grown to 150 Fellows from diverse backgrounds, including those leaders who are often left out of conferences or trainings, who now hail from over 40 countries. And we are confidently making space for more grassroots leaders to join us. The Community of Practice that Fellows continue to build, one cohort at a time, is proof that building change from the assets we have is a path to meaningful and inclusive progress.

This year we saw our third cohort of Fellows embark on the Global Fellows Program. The 2022 Goldin Global Fellows are 14 bold and wise grassroots leaders from across the globe, including Cote d'Ivoire, North Macedonia, the USA, Ghana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Nepal, Pakistan, Malawi, Bangladesh, Albania, Sierra Leone, and Kenya. Amidst our diversity, we are united by the desire to learn, reflect and implement proven ideas for community-driven social change in our respective countries.

At the graduation ceremony on 4th November, the 2022 Fellows demonstrated their achievements and shared their aspirations. The ceremony began with a message to all Fellows from the Founder and Board Chair of the institute, Diane Goldin who warmly welcomed the new Fellows to the network:

I could not be more honored to have the opportunity to know so many talented leaders and know the innovative results. My congratulations for all your work in achieving your goals and for being a part of our global family. You are appreciated and loved.” - Diane Goldin

At the graduation, Fellows shared moving testimonies of how their five months through the program transformed their worldviews, their grassroots activism, and brought new friends into their lives. As a Facilitator, this feedback is so rewarding, which keeps me motivated to expand the opportunity for even more community leaders around the world. Here are a few quotes from some Fellows captured from the graduation ceremony:

"The process of assets mapping where we identified people, institutions, connections -- and all things which give us life in our communities -- helped us to see the abundance of resources that can be tapped to make progress." - Abdul Rahman Kowa from Sierra Leone.

Examples of asset maps by Fellows in Malawi, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, and Cote d'Ivoire

Florence Adhiambo from Kenya shared a great insight from what she learned during the program:

"The GATHER curriculum reminded me that leadership is not a position, but rather a commitment to building partnerships and trust with our fellow community members where everyone is aware that everyone has something to contribute."

Examples of Community Visioning Summits which were held in Nepal, North Macedonia, and Zimbabwe.

A key element of the curriculum on the GATHER Platform is the hosting of Community Visioning Summits; these allowed Fellows to share assets they have identified with broader community members, and to use appreciative inquiry to discover aspirations and shared priorities with the community. Central to the GATHER curriculum is the capacity for grassroots leaders to involve the voices of those most often left out in regular community processes and actively remove barriers to full participation. 

In addition to sharing what they learned, Fellows shared key aspirations and next steps for how to collaborate with neighbors and global peers. In one example, Global Fellow Klementina Dobrevska from North Macedonia shared her next steps for addressing the issue of bullying and violence in schools:

Students who have disabilities are faced with a lot of pressure and bullying. Now we are working to promote children’s rights. So far, we have 500 students on board and in our second Community Visioning Summit we managed to leverage a new tool for youth participation which will allow us to get students’ opinions across the country.

As a final step in the Program, all Fellows partnered with their community members to develop a vision and outline next steps they will take to bring these aspirations to their respective countries. We will be sharing Fellows progress with you in the second edition of this article so that you can better understand and support their efforts. We believe everyone can make a difference no matter how small!

In addition to Fellows sharing their wisdom during the ceremony, they also performed poems, and songs, and led a candlelight ceremony. You can watch the entire recording of the graduation ceremony here.

Before closing, our Executive Director Travis Rejman, virtually presented the Graduation Certificates to each Fellow recognizing their successful completion of the GATHER curriculum and invited them to the Global Alumni Network. Staff members shared their messages of congratulations for the Fellows and Travis Rejman closed the ceremony with the following remarks:  

“It’s been an honor to learn together with you over these past 20 weeks. Over the last 20 years, we have been inspiring, connecting, and equipping grassroots leaders around the world so that they can learn from each other and work together to tackle really tough issues that all of our communities are facing. This celebration is a perfect example of what this work looks like in the real world. Thank you all for your dedication and hard work. We are very proud to stand with you and celebrate your accomplishments. We are very excited to welcome you into our global family.” — Travis Rejman.

Peace Day activities from South America

By Lissette Mateus Roa, Co-Facilitator, Goldin Global Fellows

In 1981, the United Nations declared that September 21 would be observed as the International Day of Peace, devoting the day to ‘commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace within and among all nations and peoples’. Now, the day is observed worldwide with many grassroots leaders and activists using it as a day to promote their activities and causes. Our 2022 Global Fellows (Spanish Edition) have been doing just that, by utilizing this opportunity to engage with their communities, peers, politicians, and civil society groups to further messages and actions around peace and healing. See what some of them have been up to below.

En 1981, las Naciones Unidas declararon que el 21 de septiembre sería señalado como el Día Internacional de la Paz, dedicando el día a “conmemorar y fortalecer los ideales de paz dentro y entre todas las naciones y pueblos”. Ahora, el día es celebrado en todo el mundo por muchos líderes y activistas de base que lo ven como un día para promover sus actividades y causas. Nuestros Global Fellows 2022 (edición en español) han estado haciendo exactamente eso, al utilizar esta oportunidad para interactuar con sus comunidades, pares, políticos y grupos de la sociedad civil para promover mensajes y acciones en torno a la paz y la sanación. Vea lo que algunos de ellos han estado haciendo a continuación.

Peace agreement progress in Colombia

By Geiner Alfonso Arrieta Hurtado, Goldin Global Fellow from Colombia

For the International Day of Peace, I participated in a discussion on the commemoration of the 5 years of Colombia’s Peace Agreement organised by ONU and Conversa Foundation at the National University of Colombia, in La Paz Cesar. The Peace Agreement in Colombia, signed by the FARC-EP and the national government, yielded great expectations for Colombians to make our dream of total peace come true once and for all. That hope was ongoing for six years, starting with the dialogues in 2012 until the sign off day on Nov 24th 2016. It gave us optimism for the new generations for whom we do not want to inherit the same fifty years of sadness which we endured due to the armed conflict. All those who signed off on the peace agreement believe in stopping the armed struggle and share a desire to see democracy within our politics. We strongly trust in peace in territories where the will of doing things better is present in governors, institutions, and population.

Therefore, it is necessary to stop systematic murders to affected population, social leaders, and peace agreement signatories. Peace is not just about the ceasefire and halting shooting, but it is about personal wellbeing too.

En el Día Internacional de la Paz, participé en un conversatorio sobre la conmemoración de los 5 años del acuerdo de paz en Colombia, organizado por la ONU y la Fundación Conversa, en la Universidad Nacional de Colombia, en La Paz Cesar. El Acuerdo de Paz en Colombia, firmado por las FARC-EP y el Gobierno Nacional, generó grandes expectativas en los colombianos de hacer realidad, de una vez por todas, nuestro sueño de tener una paz total. Esa esperanza duró seis años, desde los diálogos de paz que empezaron en el año 2012 hasta el día de la firma del acuerdo de paz el 24 de noviembre de 2016. Nos dió optimismo para las nuevas generaciones, a las que no queremos heredar los mismos cincuenta años de tristeza que sufrimos por el conflicto armado. Todos los que firmaron el acuerdo de paz creen en la necesidad de detener la lucha armada y comparten el deseo de ver una democracia verdadera dentro de nuestra política. Confiamos firmemente en la paz en los territorios donde la voluntad de hacer las cosas mejor esté presente en gobernantes, instituciones y la población civil.

Por ello, es necesario frenar los asesinatos sistemáticos a la población afectada, líderes sociales y firmantes del acuerdo de paz. La paz no se trata solo del alto al fuego y la interrupción de los disparos, sino también del bienestar personal.

Food, Culture, and Memory for facilitating Peace in Argentina

From Diana Rocio Gomez Torres, Goldin Global Fellow from Argentina

On September 22nd, Trenzar Memorias, Network of studies on memory and culture, carried out a workshop on "Cooking memories: What does what we eat tell us about our society and culture?" within the framework of the International Day of Peace at the Tecnópolis student fair in the city of Buenos Aires. Our objective was to ignite within the high school students the curiosity for cultural studies and about memory from their daily lives; as well as contributing to the construction of peace through the recognition and respect for cultural differences in Latin America".

"Self-recognition and that of cultural differences are fundamental factors to building peace."

Trenzar Memorias, Red de estudios sobre memoria y cultura llevará a cabo el taller “Cocinando memorias: ¿Qué nos dice lo que comemos sobre nuestra sociedad y cultura?” El 22 de septiembre en el marco del día Internacional de la Paz y de la feria estudiantil Tecnópolis en la ciudad de Buenos Aires. Nuestro objetivo es despertar en las y los estudiantes de secundaria de Buenos Aires la curiosidad por los estudios culturales y sobre la memoria a partir de sus cotidianidades; así como contribuir a la construcción de la paz a través del reconocimiento y respeto de las diferencias culturales en América Latina.

"El reconocimiento propio y el de las diferencias culturales son factores fundamentales en la construcción de la paz."

Promoting community dialogue between migrant populations and locals along the Venezuelan-Colombian border

From Natasha Duque Torres, Goldin Global Fellow from Venezuela

“Last week we carried out some activities in commemoration of the International Day of Peace. We visited a settlement in the rural area of Cúcuta, which is a Colombian city which borders Venezuela; here resides a large Venezuelan migrant population living alongside the Colombian population, where both groups have been welcomed and integrated. During the activity, we not only strengthened the construction of peace, mediation, and conflict resolution for the leaders of the community, but we also had a space for recreation with the children to create strategies for them to be the builders of peace in their communities. They called themselves the first brigade of "Guardians of Peace" of the Belén settlement.

The goal of the “Guardians of Peace” is for children to learn about peace and replicate what they have learned at home, so that during episodes of differences or conflicts that arise in their home and their communities they play an essential role to solve conflicts. Fulfilling their dream of being peacemakers.

“La semana pasada decidimos realizar una actividad en conmemoración del día internacional de la paz, visitamos un asentamiento del área rural de Cúcuta, Norte de Santander, el cual está integrado por población migrante venezolana y población colombiana que acogieron y apostaron a la integración.

Durante la actividad no solo realizamos ejercicios de fortalecimiento en construcción de paz, mediación y resolución de conflictos con las lideresas de la comunidad, sino que además tuvimos un espacio de esparcimiento con los niños; Esto con la finalidad de crear estrategias para que ellos mismos sean los constructores de paz de sus comunidades. Durante la jornada, los niños se autodenominaron como “La Primera Brigada de Guardianes de la Paz" del asentamiento Belén. El objetivo de los Guardianes de la Paz es que lo niños aprendan diferentes temas en materia de paz y que puedan a su vez replicar esto en sus casas; así, durante los episodios de diferencias o conflictos que surjan en su hogar y sus comunidades, ellos pueden jugar un papel fundamental para resolverlos. Ellos sueñan con ser forjadores de paz.”

Hands-On Peace: how youth leadership leads to peace 

By Jamal Alkirnawi, 2018 Goldin Global Fellow, Rahat, Israel

"We all feel that the violence in Israeli society is increasing and threatening to get out of control. To prevent this grim scenario, it is not enough to deploy police forces and create deterrence. We must deal with the unrestrained functioning of the social networks that intensify the conflict in general and among the younger generation in particular."

The availability of social networks and electronic devices has created echo-chambers that drastically reduce the amount of information that contradicts and challenges our accepted perceptions. This significant drop in exposure to reliable and critical sources of information affects the youth specifically, resulting in herd behavior of acting without critical and adequate thoughts. This phenomenon can be explained by the growing sense of individualization among the post-1980 generations. These generations are the Y, Millennials, Z, and A generations, which we understand as Gen Y refers to those born between 1980 and 1985;  Millennials were born between 1986 and 1995; Generation Z was born from 1996 until 2010; and the newest generation, generation alpha, are those born between 2010 and 2020s.

The culture of the internet interwoven with traditional beliefs oftentimes creates a contradiction between old and new values. Consequently, the tension we are observing in our Israeli communities in general, and particularly the Bedouin community, represents a period of transition from tradition to modernization. On one hand, our older generation Y group maintains their norms and practices; their traditions. On the other hand as the era of the internet permeates social networks, individualization has rapidly become a symbol of freedom and liberty. This, in turn, shapes the identity, language, and behavior of the members of Arab society. For instance, the usual norm in the Arab community is that families can make important decisions in determining the course of individuals’ lives. However, since the rise in internet usage the dynamic has become less and less reliant on the family and community. Everyone is occupied with his or her own virtual world and unable to create social contacts with outside environments, which is, in this case, their community.

In the recent escalation and the extreme cases of violence in the cities involved, we have seen the extreme consequences of this phenomenon. Teenagers got carried away by a wave of radicalization and instigation; they took to the streets to sow anarchy. Notable cases of this phenomenon are the events of “Operation Guardian of the Walls”, in which violent incidents and large-scale riots took place across Israel in May 2021. Hundreds were injured and three casualties were reported. This was overwhelming proof demonstrating the need to better educate teenage boys and girls to reduce the severe violence and incitement on digital networks.

To address the issue we initiated a new project in 2021. It is operated by the New Dawn Association in the Negev, a Bedouin-Jewish partnership located in the city of Rahat. So far, over 600 students in the Rahat area have been participating and benefiting from the series of educational sessions. We are currently looking into expanding the outreach to include the youth from nearby areas. The project promotes leadership programs and imparting skills to youth in the Bedouin society. Our long-term goal is to develop a generation of online activists who promote respectful democratic discourse and curb the violence and ranting therein.

To do this, we devote a lot of our resources to creating knowledge. We develop a wealth of expertise and tools that help the youth navigate the internet well. These include basic knowledge of principles of democracy, the difference between freedom of expression and incitement/hate speech, and how to create respectful discourses when engaging in online dialogues.

Our initiative of educating the Bedouin youth could not have been rolled out without the support from the partnerships, and foundations that sponsored in each and every capacity. We sincerely thank Eli Hurvitz and Foundation קרן שותפות for the generous and indispensable championship.


Crescent Collective Calls for Religious Freedom and Understanding

By Yusuph Masanja, Co-Facilitator, Global Alumni Network

Goldin Global Fellow Mahdar Tahir from Malaysia and founder of the Crescent Collective contributed as a panelist to an online discussion and celebration about Religious Freedom. This online event brought together contributors from India, Sri Lanka, Philippines, and Malaysia to share wisdom and knowledge about how religious freedom promotes social harmony. The event was hosted on 28 April 2022 by American corners and was moderated by William Robertson,  the U.S. Consulate General in Hyderabad, India.

At Crescent Collective, Mahdar works to guide Malaysian youth towards spiritual awareness and understanding by grounding moral values through talks, community projects, and volunteerism on arts and culture. Right after his participation in the Celebrating Religious Freedom event, I requested a brief interview with Mahdar to discuss his insights on the topic. We discussed tolerance, the role of religious leaders, and the problem of misunderstanding other people.

We started talking about tolerance where Mahdar argued for a more proactive approach in promoting freedom and harmony.

We must move beyond tolerance. I believe it is everybody’s duty to seek to understand others. We no longer live in villages without seeing other people. The world is global, and it is our job to promote understanding of different people and cultures. Even the Quran has a commandment about understanding each other. We would not need to know each other if we were the same!

In the face of today’s ongoing conflicts, Mahdar highlights the role of religious leaders in promoting peace. Their influence from spiritual teachings is a powerful force for Peace because they can speak to the hearts of people.

“It is not about the mind, it is about the heart. How do you understand others and begin to appreciate them if you do not even understand yourself?

He insisted that religious leaders must teach the core ethical values of understanding one another. That way we can effectively advance social harmony. In Mahdar’s perspective, failing to understand each other is evil, and the best way out of that is through complementing each other.

In this brief phone interview, Mahdar summed up his thoughts by reminding us that religion is a very powerful tool which can be used for good or for bad. And that the lack of understanding one’s own religious values is often a source of conflict.

Lack of religious freedom does not imply different religions fight against each other, but rather a tendency where certain individuals with evil motives use religions to divide people, exacerbate conflicts, and therefore limit freedom.

In a different but relevant update, this year’s Ramadan saw Mahdar working single handedly to collect food from Ramadan food bazaar and distribute it to those who needed it most. He sought to understand how the problem of food wastage during Ramadan could be solved. After walking and talking with community members to understand their concerns, he quickly took it up for himself to organize food that could otherwise be trashed as excess by vendors and delivered it to people who appreciated it!

He saw the value in understanding the predicament of local businesses in Malaysia with regards to freely distributing the food themselves which helped him realize a simple yet effective solution. His endeavor during this year’s Ramadhan reduced food wastage, created awareness and reminded everyone that the spirit of Ramadhan is to reduce consumption rather than increase them. “Reduced consumption will lead to zero waste.”

Building a Brighter Future for Survivor Entrepreneurs at Shyne

By Cynthia Luvlee, Goldin Global Fellow, President and Chief Visionary Officer, SHYNE SD

Shyne is growing exponentially this year! We started 2022 with 8 survivors on the Shyne Survivor Business Network™ and we are delighted to announce that a few weeks ago we enrolled our 50th survivor entrepreneur and launched our new website www.shynesd.org!

When I began Shyne in 2018, following completion of the Goldin Global Fellows Program, our funding was so limited; I didn’t know we were going to be able to grow and accomplish the Shyne mission of supporting survivors of human trafficking through professional development services and encouraging a community of survivors towards economic independence and entrepreneurship.

Getting to this point has not been easy. Even with our great team and successful graduates, it took funders a long time to understand and counteract the stigma placed on survivors of human trafficking, and fully see the innovative power of believing in them as entrepreneurs.

The approaches I learned as a Goldin Global Fellow have been instrumental to me in my journey with Shyne, especially the commitment to center the voices, insights, talents and assets of those directly impacted by human trafficking. As we have grown, we are happy to share three principles that continue to guide our work and facilitate our growth.

1. Really Listen to the Community You Serve

At Shyne, 93% of those we serve were involved in commercial sexual exploitation and the other 7% identify as survivors of domestic violence and labor trafficking. We are working with individuals who have come out of the sex industry, who were often lured into the sex trade for financial reasons and became trapped in it.

To recognize the importance of listening, we asked the 50 survivors in our network to complete a strengths assessment to better understand their inherent strengths, which would have been learned by confronting vulnerabilities and traumas from their trafficking experience, an area where data is severely lacking.

In addition, we are working in conjunction with other programs to provide survivors with employment or education, depending on what path they chose and what they need to advance their career. Some of the top strengths of survivors we have identified are social intelligence, perseverance, creativity, and their ability to put themselves in somebody else's shoes. They also have strong leadership skills and are risk takers, the kinds of things I look for in an entrepreneur.

Findings from the strengths assessment will be quantified by a data specialist outside of Shyne, to enrich the final report, and will be ready to be launched by the end of the year.

At Shyne, we focus on driving a solution to best support survivors because we truly believe in them. We consider they are fully capable of actualizing their dreams so that is where we start. That way we trust in building a brighter future for them, providing support, education, connections, and mentorship. From the survivors' perspective, they deeply desire a sense of belonging, a sense of community, a sense of being uplifted or having their cup filled. Indeed, they really do know what they need, and they really are quite adept at creating the solution.

2. Focus on What’s Working

We have been a part of the “Tech2Empower Program” that helped us to broaden our reach with developing Salesforce tools for our new business coaches. In the past I had been the only one providing coaching and so with the new business coaches, we created a Salesforce form that helps us to qualify our key performance indicators. It has been helpful to see the investment that Shyne has made into each survivors’ start-up during the year; an estimated $5,000 of pro-bono coaching and training is provided to each entrepreneur during our nine-month signature incubator.

Shyne recently hired its first program director, Kayla Bright, who herself is a survivor of human trafficking; building a network of survivors who have their own business and collaborate together is a key piece of her vision. Bringing Kayla on board will help to achieve our mission of supporting survivors’ economic independence, and having a survivor as our first program director is just a dream come true. Kayla also collaborates at Survivors Ventures in Virginia (survivorventures.org). Survivor Ventures is an incredible agency who cover a portion of the cost of that employee so that we can leverage time we need to grow our business and fill a new full-time position. We have also continued to partner with Varonis Systems. They are corporate sponsors who provide us direct funds as well as facilitators for our “Incubator” workshops. That corporation has directly connected with survivors in a very impactful way, helping to shift the stigma of lack of trust in the impact community. We also partnered this year with Victoria Washington, a wealth coach who is now guiding us on how wealth is generated, a key component to healing for survivors of sex trafficking.

The Survivor Business Network™ collaborate and partner with each other with their time, expertise, and perhaps complimentary power partners. We help to facilitate their connections through a survivor led networking group so that they can learn one another's businesses and be healthy referrals. Thereby, several innovative solutions were created in non-profits, for-profits, and social enterprises. Most inspiring is when Rachel Thomas, who is a nationally known survivor, called Shyne as she was looking to hire someone for her team and asked for a potential employee within our network who would be a good match. Of course, we were glad to recommend someone and make the connection! That individual got hired into a survivor-owned business. In essence, we envision a network of survivor owned businesses hiring each other, supporting each other's sales of goods and services, and investing in one another through mentorship and coaching.

We continue to collaborate with leaders in the community. Survivor Ventures, which places the survivors into employment opportunities, Empower Her Network (empowerhernetwork.org), which provides wrap-around support through empowerment plans and The Avery Center, a survivor-led multi-faceted research and direct service agency. All have been incredible referral sources for us as a lot of their participants want to start their own businesses. Empower Her Network provides an 18-month empowerment plan so survivors can mitigate some housing instability issues like building a savings account, or getting help to finance certifications, or even support an educational initiative which someone might need to get their license as a business owner. We also partner with The Avery Center, founded by Megan Lundstrom, who also wrote The Survivor's Guide to Money(theaverycenter.org). They all are leading the employment portion for survivors, meaning that they are eager to put together recommendations to employers on being inclusive with them and their application process, as well as assisting with preparing people to apply for jobs and careers within their desired career paths. Shyne sits at this interesting intersection with economic equity as its core mission.

3. Share the Table

I was invited to participate in the Uncharted Economic Inequity Co-Lab this year. It ran for 8 weeks and involved hearing lots of different approaches to economic equity and removing barriers to financial wealth. Shyne’s model is, I think, different and unique. As a result, we are building our own system as we invest directly into survivor's solutions. We know we do not have the solution; everyone can provide a unique approach to work with individuals who have come out of the commercial sex trade and that can even vary from gender identity to wealth identity to racial identity. That way we are shifting the stigma and showing the world, and essentially investors, bankers and community members, how capable and resilient survivors are.

The Road Ahead

We are grateful to now be engaging with leading banking institutions that are in partnership with the United Nations Finances Against Slavery and Trafficking Survivor Inclusion Initiative, to talk about credit repair, survivor businesses and banking solutions to help create access to products and services. Thus, with this “incubator”, Shyne has brought formation of new business entities, and we are very well positioned to work with lending institutions and banks, not only to repair credit through business loans but to open business banking accounts and start to foster those relationships with financial institutions. It is a fact that survivors can sometimes feel misinformed and uneducated, even excluded from those products and services due to their trafficked experience. Perhaps they have suffered financial abuse from their trafficker, or they were placed in a position that resulted in poor credit. It means they become sort of the unbanked.

Therefore, Shyne is providing new pathways through business for survivors to be engaged in understanding budgets, repairing their credit, having a healthy relationship with a bank, being able to access money while working with financial institutions, and to begin preparing their savings account to be able to become owners of homes and cars.

Finally, last month we celebrated the formation of three new businesses through this “incubator”. We have twenty people enrolled currently in the program this year and I expect many of them to be pitching their businesses to investors in November 2022. In that sense, we really want to ask our community to support and help us with growing the Survivor Start Up Fund. We allocate 100% of those funds to support survivor start-ups.


Promoting Peace Through the Arts in Mombasa

By Nicholas Songora Odoll, 2021 Goldin Global Fellow, Kenya

Manyatta Youth Entertainment (MAYE) is a community based organization active in the coastal counties of Kenya, which uses arts, sports and media to promote social change. Our team is led by youth for the youth and we are grounded in human rights principles. We have been involved in the areas of social accountability, civic education, and social justice using creative arts, innovation, and technology as a mode of communication while providing alternative livelihood and economic empowerment to young men and women. We are also active in addressing concerns revolving around gender-based violence, violent extremism, and armed juvenile crime.

Nicholas hosts development partners from the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund-GCERF, Act Kenya, and the Coast Interfaith Council of Clerics Trust-CICC.

In the first quarter of the year 2022, our team at Manyatta Youth Entertainment focused on expanding collaborations with like-minded organizations, strengthening our center’s library and capacitating our team. In February 2022, we hosted a delegation of development partners led by the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund-GCERF, Act Kenya, and the Coast Interfaith Council of Clerics Trust-CICC. Partners learned about our work and participated in the ongoing entertainment and dialogue activities which were happening at the center. In March, a team from Segal Family Foundation (SFF) visited us to learn about our programs and see the youth friendly space (Anika Community Hub). This month, April 2022, we were honored by a visit from the Ministry of Interior led by the Regional, County, and the Deputy county Commissioners. Along with this delegation, we got the chance to join meetings with the Kenya ports authority officials in discussions about the Dongo Kundu area free economic zone.

Our team learned as much as the visitors learned from us, it was an equal exchange of knowledge, experiences, and ideas for possible collaborations. We are grateful for these connection opportunities and are committed to partnerships in building peace. Our team continues to look forward to forming a sustainable working relationship with other like-minded organizations.

Nicholas hosting the the delegates from the Ministry of Interior.

In March one of our partners, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO), donated books to Anika Community Hub. The support furnished our small library with a whole new variety of readings for our youth. Our library fulfills the commitment to article 35 of our national constitution on the right to access of information. Young men and women can now visit our center to learn and grow from the wisdom contained in the books found at our library. In the same month, we organized a 3-day training on Human-Centered Design with the support from the Aga Khan Foundation. The training involved young mentors and grassroot facilitators who work with us and the Likoni Community Development Programme - Licodep who form part of our CSOs network members. After the training, youth involved worked closely with children (10 to 16 years), their teachers and parents in designing a solution for identified problems that affect students' academic performances.

Nicholas issuing the press brief regarding the upcoming elections in Kenya.

Lastly, as our country is gearing up towards the national elections next year, we joined hands with all the Civil Society Organizations along the coast to lead the process of issuing a joint press statement over the emerging insecurity concerns ahead of the elections. Joined by the network members, I issued the press statement on 7th April at Uhuru Gardens in Mombasa. You can read the full statement and/or watch us reading the statement through our YouTube Channel.

As this quarter closes, we are excited about the work and new collaborations we are going to realize in the next quarter of the year. We sincerely appreciate the support of ForumCiv Hub Eastern & Southern Africa, Embassy of Sweden in Nairobi, Coast Interfaith Council of Clerics Trust Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund, Accountability Lab, and the Goldin Institute for the technical support that has in one way or another seen the space sustainable and open to young people. 

Empowering Business Women in Zimbabwe Through Export Trade

By Munyaradzi Dzimunwe, 2021 Goldin Global Fellow, Zimbabwe

In my voluntary role as the national board member for COMESA Federation of Women in Business (COMFWB) Zimbabwe Chapter, I was involved in organizing a training event which took place on March 15th and 16th at Cresta Oasis, Harare. The training provided information and guidance for women entrepreneurs on the export market and trade processes. Women entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe are struggling to sell their products on international markets due to a lack of knowledge on these issues. The goods produced and processed by these women could benefit more people if they were made available internationally.

To ensure the training would be effective, we partnered with the International Trade Center’s “She Trades” platform who offered expert trainers. The sessions covered a broad range of topics, including but not limited to, product formulation, role and selection of distributors and agents, packaging, branding , and corporate governance. Furthermore, women completed a self-assessment tool of their businesses to identify areas of improvement.

Participants reported that the training had opened their eyes to the world of export trade and they were inspired to get started right away. Driven by the ambition to start in one year, they came together to start a public limited company! They had realized that running an export business would require extensive management and capital investment. So teaming up with each other was an obvious solution. They have chosen to consult with me on a regular basis to help guide them through the initial processes of the company formation. Additionally, I have also purchased shares in the company and will be serving as the company’s vice secretary.

Women entrepreneur participants at the training event

I am so impressed by the participants for having decided to stick together and move forward as one. Their diverse backgrounds, experiences and skills will become critical as they start operations. I am excited to see the dream of a female-led export company becoming a reality! I think their willingness not only to work together but also to own an equal number of shares in the company is a recipe for success. We contributed 5 USD each to raise funds for registration of the company which is already underway. I will lead the asset mapping exercise as we prepare to start operations. The event was featured in an article by the Sunday Mail news where you can learn more our work with the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA).