Happy New Year!
We love you, Emzingo extended family! And we want to tell you why.
The end of the year and the start of a new one is always the natural time to reflect on the previous 365 days. In this version of our year-end/new year letter, we want you to know why we’re thankful for 2017 and optimistic about 2018.
First, we ask that you bear with us as we recognize and walk through a few things that made 2017 a particularly tough year. In most of the countries where Emzingo works, some really sh!%*y things went down. We don’t bring these up to dwell on them or be negative. We highlight them because it is motivation to keep fighting for change and demanding more responsible leadership across the globe.
To name a few, here is brief “sh!%*t stuff” list:
– In the U.S., the current administration has attacked the first amendment and free press, brought us to an unprecedented risk of [nuclear] war, and pulled the country out of the Paris Accord (among other things). – In Spain, we’ve witnessed a fracturing of the populous as Catalonia’s push for independence came to a head with the central government in Madrid. – In Brazil, Operation Car Wash and the associated corruption have economic and bureaucratic implications that continue to impact the country. We’ve witnessed a steady economic downturn and spurts of increased violence in some areas. – South Africa saw its credit rating downgraded and continues to be the center of corruption issues in the public and private sector.
In the midst of all of this, we thankful and optimistic.
For many reasons, in fact. We find inspiration at the country level, organizational level, and individual level. Despite the constant stream of negatively in the news, we know there is a lot to celebrate and build upon.
Let’s start with the big picture stuff.
– Private sector leaders are stepping up to address the gap the U.S. government is leaving behind related to climate change. Michael Bloomberg and others from Facebook to Fetzer are doing their part. – Scandinavian countries are setting the example with Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland 80% on their way to achieving 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
We’ve also seen individual leaders and companies take a stand.
Muhammad Yunus is still crushing it in the social impact space at age 77. The article is worth the read. Patagonia changed its homepage to create awareness and inspire action in opposition to the U.S. President’s move to reduce Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. And they have initiated legal action as well.
SalesForce raised the pay of 11% of its workforce in an effort to eliminate the employee gender pay gap.
While they might not be household names, there are countless of other companies doing great work. Beneficial State Bank is a great example. This company, with an incredible score on the B Corp Impact Assessment, allows its profits, when distributed, to only be distributed to Beneficial State Foundation to support local communities & the environment.
Our partners around the globe continue to work for the greater good – locally, nationally, and in this first example, continent wide. African Parks Network – a long-time Emzingo partner and subject of a Public-Private Partnership case study co-written by our own Drew Bonfiglio – has expanded its footprint in Africa and continues to do amazing conservation work in very challenging and complex geopolitical conditions. In Brazil, we are honored to support or collaborate with a number of the top 100 NGOs in Brazil, including TETO Brazil, Sitawi, and Saúde Criança. And there are many others we have highlighted throughout the year. And last, but not least, Greyston Bakery, who has pioneered the Open Hiring model and encourages us all to “Eat Brownies. Change Lives.”
At Emzingo, we’re proud to have had a record number of participants join our Global Impact Fellowship, Social Impact Lab, Impact Learning Treks, and Corporate programs. We are thankful to our university and corporate partners for their ongoing and increasing commitment to social impact and using “business as a force for good”. We continue to remain optimistic because these students and professionals are more focused than ever on creating an economy of the future where social justice and environmental impact are central and part of the measurement of success. There is growing interest – from the undergraduate community to the C Suite – to find or provide meaningful work and align their organizations with a higher purpose. We fully expect this trend to continue in the foreseeable future.
Lastly, we’d like to take a moment to recognize the Emzingo team members who work tirelessly to provide life-changing experiences for many students and professionals. We consider ourselves lucky to do work that we love, has a purpose, and helps our Field Partners and participants make the positive mark they want to leave on the world.
Wishing you all a wonderful New Year!!!