Earlier this summer, I was selected to participate in the Ariane de Rothschild Fellowship program. The fellowship brings together 25 leaders from North America and Europe to Cambridge University for two weeks to learn about social entrepreneurship, cross-cultural dialogue, and the humanities.

Having left graduate school at the University for Peace eight years ago, it has been a great opportunity to go “back to school” without having to take off a substantial amount of time; two weeks is just enough.

Here are some reflections on the experience, one week into the fellowship:

  • The interdisciplinary nature of the program is truly unique – it combines lectures and interactive sessions from some of the top professors in the business school and humanities department and includes a cross-cultural dialogue component.

  • The other fellows are truly amazing and inspiring people who come from all kinds of backgrounds. One started a social business that builds empathy through toys, another is working to improve nutrition in nursery schools across Europe. Read about all the fellows here.

  • As part of business training component of the program, we’ve been assigned mentors from the Cambridge business school who are extremely sharp and work with us individually to grow our enterprises while keeping our social mission central. The lectures focus on topics like Financial Sustainability from Mixed Income Streams, and Impact Investing in Developing Countries

  • As part of the business program we’ve also taken field trips to three different social enterprises based in the UK. My group went to a place called the Brigade, an old fire station converted into a restaurant and cooking school for unemployed and marginalized persons.

  • Through the humanities component, we’ve had lectures on topics like “Varying Concepts of the Jihad”, “Israel-Palestine: The Anatomy of Geopolitics”, “Media and Global Imagination”, and more. We’ve also had the opportunity to visit synagogues and mosques in London as well as attend a shabbat dinner.  Read the full program agenda.

Magdalene College Team Dinner

  • Finally, the food has also been amazing. The above picture was taken at our dinner at Magdalene College. It felt just like a scene from Harry Potter! After dinner Tristram Hunt, a member of Parliament, shared his thoughts on education and immigration in the UK.

All in all, similar to my PopTech fellowship experience last year, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some truly brilliant minds who share a passion for creating sustainable businesses with social impact. I’ll be coming home inspired with a number of new ideas to help take TechChange to the next level.

TechChange Founder and CEO, Nick Martin, has been selected as a 2014 Ariane de Rothschild Fellow! The AdR Fellowship program connects social entrepreneurs with a well-connected network across sectors aimed at conflict resolution through cross-cultural discourse.

Nick is one of 28 competitively selected, visionary fellows who have demonstrate early achievements of a social good organization with a commitment to facilitating cross-cultural dialogue.

As part of the fellowship, Nick will be participating in an intensive series of Rothschild Fellow trainings at the end of August at the University of Cambridge, UK. There, the AdR program will focus on business training, unconventional social science approaches, and workshops to extend the impact of these selected social leaders.

To learn more about the Ariane de Rothschild Fellowship, please click here.

Please join us in congratulating Nick!

Did you know that prior to founding an e-learning social enterprise, TechChange President Nick Martin did his undergraduate degree in Modern Poetry?

Nick recently returned to his alma mater, Swarthmore College, where he participated in a panel discussion on “What I Learned From Trying to Change the World” during the school’s alumni weekend. To an audience of approximately 150 people, Nick spoke with three fellow alumni representing the Peace Corps, Princeton University, and Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia on the lessons they learned in their respective social change industries.

United with the common threads of a liberal arts education at Swarthmore and careers driven by the desire to change the world, here are the pearls of wisdom they shared based on their social change careers so far:

Lesson 1:

“You learn the most and you learn the quickest when you get yourself out there.” -F.F. Quigley, Country Director, Thailand, Peace Corps

We often learn and gain the most from doing what we are afraid of. The impact of this lesson could not be truer and is something we always need to be urging ourselves to do.

Lesson 2:

“Be careful not to be too righteous” -Lourdes Rosado, Associate Director of Juvenile Law Center (Philadelphia, PA)

Be able to disagree with others while maintaining respect for them and their opinions. Sometimes the only way to achieve progress is by working with, and not against, those who challenge us.

Lesson 3:

“We need to take time to ask better questions.” -Carolyn Rouse, Professor of Anthropology, Princeton University

While Carolyn Rouse worked to establish a high school in the outskirts of Accra, Ghana, she learned that sometimes stability matters more than change. When looking to make the world a better place, we need to challenge assumptions, as not everything aligns clearly to a cut-and-dry cost-benefit analysis. With anything life, do not be afraid to ask questions and challenge the status quo.

Lesson 4:

“Community matters.” -Nick Martin, President & CEO, TechChange

We are shaped by the people we surround ourselves with. Whether hiring people to join your start-up or choosing your friends, the values and attitudes of those we associate ourselves with have a strong impact on the people we become.

To check out the entire talk, click here and fast forward to 32:30 to catch Nick’s segment.

Do you have a liberal arts education that you have applied to try to change the world? What lessons have you learned along the way? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @TechChange.

At TechChange, we are always excited to support the work of young social entrepreneurs across the world from Pakistan, Tunisia, to Kosovo. TechChange is proud to welcome three participants representing the winning teams of the latest round of Social Innovation Camp Kosovo to participate in our Social Intrapreneurship online course we’re offering in partnership with Ashoka Changemakers this February 24 – March 21, 2014.

Photo credit: UNICEF Innovations Lab

Photo credit: UNICEF Innovations Lab

UNICEF Innovations Lab Kosovo has localized the UK’s Social Innovation Camp experience for Kosovo for the third time this last December 6-8, 2013. During that 48-hour event held in Prishtina, aspiring young social entrepreneurs with first-hand knowledge of Kosovo’s social challenges connected with leading local and international experts in marketing and software development including Dr. Dan McQuillan (former Global Web Manager for Amnesty International and winner of Global Ideas Bank Social Innovations Award), Fisnik Ismajli (winner of Cannes Gold Lion and Silver Clio), and Chris Fabian, (UNICEF Innovation co-lead and one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2013). Together, the young Kosovo participants age 18 – 29 worked in self-organized teams to create prototypes for viable market products that promote positive social change in their local Kosovo communities.

Photo credit: UNICEF Innovations Lab

Photo credit: UNICEF Innovations Lab


The winning teams of the 3rd edition of Social Innovation Camp Kosovo were:
1st prize: Lokalizo
Lokalizo is an online platform that promotes civic engagement and activism in Prishtina with digital mapping. Through its partnership with UNICEF-GIS, Lokalizo will provide a smartphone application that is used by young people of Prishtina to generate automated reports that map out key and urgent issues. The members of Team Lokalizo expressed,  “We are very happy about receiving the opportunity to participate in TechChange and Ashoka Changemakers’ Social Intrapreneurship course. We believe that it will be an invaluable experience for us.”

Photo credit: UNICEF Innovations Lab

Photo credit: UNICEF Innovations Lab


2nd prize: Shoku me bisht (translates to “friend with tail” in Albanian)
The number of stray animals has reached thousands in Kosovo – posing health and safety concerns not just for the animals themselves, but for children and the elderly who are too frequently the victims of attacks by stray animals. This team aims to manage the stray animal population with programs such as animal adoption services, veterinary services, and forming a pet-owners community.

Photo credit: UNICEF Innovations Lab

Photo credit: UNICEF Innovations Lab


3rd prize: Alfa 
The Alfa team will develop an interactive mobile phone app for young children to learn the Albanian alphabet to address illiteracy. The team expects the app will be widely successful among the Albanian diaspora who are always eager to teach young children the Albanian language. We can’t wait to discuss this app when we cover mEducation in our upcoming Mobiles for International Development course!

Photo credit: UNICEF Innovations Lab

Photo credit: UNICEF Innovations Lab


Along with receiving TechChange training, these competition winners will receive support to launch their SI Camp Kosovo project in the form of seed funding, pro bono marketing exposure on Kosovo’s most popular online portals, and also access to mentors, office space and equipment at the Innovations Lab.

Bravo to the social entrepreneurs in Kosovo and beyond that are creating innovative solutions to improve their communities! We’re excited to welcome Kosovo youth to our courses!

To get an idea of what Social Innovation Camp Kosovo is all about, check out this video recap of the session in 2012 here:

Social Intrapreneurship SocInt online course Ashoka Changemakers TechChangeWe’re excited to partner with Ashoka Changemakers to launch an online course on Social Intrapreneurship this February 25 – March 21, 2014! This four-week online certificate course on “Entrepreneurial Strategies for Social Innovation Within Institutions” aims to empower employees at private, public, and nonprofit institutions across the world with the tools and mindset of a lean startup entrepreneur looking to change the world by implementing socially innovative ideas within their organizations. For employers of these institutions, it discusses ways to foster a culture of innovation and staff engagement that drives social change.

What do you need to become an intrapreneur? How can employees of organizations promote social good?
TC108 will give participants experience with pitching, planning, advancing, and executing innovative and socially conscious programs within large organizations. Activities are geared to assist and inform organizations and individuals that want to cultivate and promote innovative, lean start-up, entrepreneurial approaches within their workforce to promote social good and provide an opportunity to engage with like-minded professionals. The course creates a global network of individuals who can expect an interactive learning experience to share ideas and strategies.

Social Intrapreneurship bootcamp: Changemaker competition and takeaways
Course participants will go through a customized Ashoka Changemakers concept formation and evaluation process and engage with accomplished guest experts who are leading social intrapreneurs at their companies, providing an insider’s view of what makes a good social intrapreneurial project proposal and what it takes for these ideas to stand out. By the end of the course, participants will have a two-page concept note, one page budget and powerpoint pitch for an innovative social change idea to be targeted to a specific organization. The TechChange/Ashoka Changemaker committee will review each concept note and once considered viable under the course principles, the approval will result in a TechChange Intrapreneurship Certification.

Join our learning community of Intrapreneurs
We couldn’t be more excited to be working with Ashoka, who has supported social intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship through programs such as the Ashoka Changemakers, the League of Intrapreneurs, and more for over three decades.

We’re also excited that Joe Agoada will be back to facilitate this course in February. He’s honing his intrapreneurial chops as a featured speaker at the 2013 Intrapreneurship Conference in Barcelona this week. Follow his live tweets from the conference @joeagoada and also from Jennifer Estevez @socialqgroup to follow the latest on Intrapreneurship.

Check out the syllabus and register now for the course to lock in early bird rates. Contact nancy [at] techchange [dot] org if your organization is interested in booking a group discount rate. Any questions on the course itself? Please email Jennifer [at] techchange [dot] org.


About Ashoka Changemakers:
Changemakers convenes and connects high-potential changemakers, their ideas and resources, through the power of collaborative competitions and partner networks.
Changemakers builds on Ashoka’s three-decade history to engage a global network that embodies the Ashoka vision where “Everyone is a Changemaker”. In order to realize this vision, the world needs people to gain the skills and resources to collaborate on solving complex social problems. Visit changemakers.com to learn more.

About the Facilitator
Joseph Agoada is the Resource Mobilization Coordinator for the UNICEF New York headquarters’ Social and Civic Media Section, and founder of the mobile mapping project, UNICEF-GIS. He also implemented UNICEF’s 2010 World Cup in My Village initiative in Rwanda and Zambia. Joe is a recipient of several awards for his activism including: 2008 International Youth Foundation a Global YouthActionNet Fellow, 2009 Starbucks Shared Planet Grant Honoree, and 2012 Google Personal Democracy Forum Fellow. Joe has spearheaded the Intrapreneurship courses at TechChange, and is a featured speaker at the 2013 Intrapreneurship Conference in Barcelona. He graduated the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

One of the most difficult things as an entrepreneur is transitioning from a single person with an idea to a team of colleagues with a shared creative vision. Such a transition involves trust, time, and a certain degree of terror. But finding these fellow travelers who bring new skills, perspectives, and outlooks to bear on the original idea is without question the key to everything.

Over the past three years at TechChange, I’ve had the privilege working with hundreds of inspiring individuals: staff, advisory board members, and partners. Given the incessant pace of start-up life, it is sometimes easy to neglect the distance already traveled, the road already taken. Today, I’d like to to reflect on that journey and the contributions of one amazing individual: Chris Neu.

I first met Chris in the spring of 2010 while he was still working at the US Institute of Peace (USIP). I got a call from Dominic, my colleague and co-founder, saying “Chris Neu one of the smartest people I’ve ever met – he’s interested in coming over to work with us.” I remember thinking to myself, “One of the smartest people – huh? We’ll see.”

Three years later, I can confirm that Dominic was right.

Chris Neu is a firestorm of creativity, intelligence, and hard work. He is hardwired for start-up culture and possesses a rare unbridled energy for everything he does. He is the chief operations officer, the chief of staff, the photographer, the bookkeeper, the proposal writer, the facilitator, the blogger, the project manager, and so much more.  He wears a TechChange t-shirt to every event and can be found enthusiastically sharing our story and message late into the night. And while he’s a frequent contributor to the many hilarious conversations that emerge in our tiny 3rd floor loft, he’s not afraid to take the hard line or unpopular stance in the interest of keeping the organization on track. He’s also the one hassling to me write more blog posts, so here you go, Chris!

Every leadership team is different but I believe the successful ones have people with complementary skill sets and fundamentally different personalities at the helm. To those sitting on great idea, I can confidently say: find someone who challenges you and disagrees with you, someone who pushes you to work harder and do more. Chris Neu is that person for me.

While in some sense the journey for TechChange is still just beginning, so much of our current success is a direct consequence of Chris’s tireless efforts over the past three years.

So today please join me in saying: Happy Birthday Mr. Neu and thank you for all you do for TechChange!

(Stay tuned as a I profile other staff members in weeks to come. Next up: Will Chester)

Vittana: No, it’s not a posture in yoga. Although, the social change it’s growing may surely prove something on which to meditate.