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The Shin Fujiyama Podcast | Social Entrepreneurship | Nonprofit Organizations | International Development Aid | NGOs

Shin Fujiyama is a CNN Hero and the Executive Director of Students Helping Honduras. He lives with 30 former street children in Honduras where he runs a school and international NGO out of a tree house. In each episode Shin will be interviewing a proven social entrepreneur or NGO leader in the nonprofit or international development aid industry-- including several CNN Heroes and bestselling authors. They’re going to deconstruct their journey to explain HOW they built up their organizations. They’ll also tell us about their greatest failures, lessons, regrets, and behind-the-scenes realities. We’ll talk about their tactics, philosophies, principles, tools, and motivations to give you inspiration and actionable advice. 1) Subscribe to this podcast. 2) Turn on automatic downloads. 3) Leave me a review. 4.) Enjoy every new interview for FREE during your commute or workout.
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The Shin Fujiyama Podcast | Social Entrepreneurship | Nonprofit Organizations | International Development Aid | NGOs
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Now displaying: April, 2017
Apr 27, 2017

While volunteering in India as an undergraduate student, Annie Ryu fell in love at first sight. What she saw at the market wasn't tall, dark, and handsome. It was a spiky, green fruit she had never seen. The huge fruit she was looking at was the jackfruit, the largest tree born fruit in the world. 

Fascinated, she researched the fruit and ate them. Many of them. So much so that she'd soon be known "The Jackfruit Lady." The jackfruit, which tastes different in its various stages, has many nutritional benefits. It's high in vitamin E, magnesium, fiber, potassium, and manganese.

It also tastes great! The jackfruit is incredibly fibrous and has a meaty texture similar to pulled pork. When ripe, Annie describes it as, "a combination of pineapple, banana, and mango." That sounds delicious!

The meat industry is the second largest contributor to global warming. The problem is, many meat alternatives don't taste too great. But what if someone could create something that did?

Annie Ryu had an epiphany shortly after: by marketing the jackfruit all over the US as a meat-alternative main dish, she could create jobs, fight global warming, and improve human health. When she returned to campus, she said no to a Fulbright scholarship and no to medical school. Instead, Annie created The Jackfruit Company

She figured out how to start a company in India, though she had zero knowledge of the food industry. She contacted farmers, local providers, and vendors to create a supply chain for the jackfruit. She bootstrapped the operation for years, concocting flavors in her own kitchen. The flavors that Annie now offers includes: Teriyaki, Curry, Tex-Mex, and BBQ. More are on their way.

But it hasn't been easy for Annie. "I was working all hours of the day,” she said, describing her early days. "Initially, you're doing everything," she expressed. Her first three shipments were disastrous and had to be dumped. As she hired people, she realized how little experience she had as a manager. “Becoming a good manager was a whole new learning curve,” she said.

Yet Annie Ryu kept pushing her limits. “I had the conviction that what I was doing was the right thing to do, even though there was so much more to learn," she said as she thought about all the benefits the jackfruit would bring to the world.

The company grew and grew, and they now run a factory in India and is generating jobs for 50+ locals.

Annie was recently named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 List for social entrepreneurship. In this episode, she also talks about her relationship with her Korean father, her aspirations, personal struggles, personality test results, and why she decided to start a social enterprise instead of a traditional nonprofit organization.

You can buy The Jackfruit Company's products online or near the tofu and meat-alternative sections in Whole Foods, Wegmans, Safeway, and other supermarkets.

This episode is sponsored by Tikker, the death watch that counts down your life (and tells the time). Use the promo code SHIN at the checkout to get a 10% discount on your purchase.
Apr 17, 2017

When Robbie was 12 and his sister Brittany was 13, they heard the story of a soldier returning from Iraq with a near $8,000 phone bill. They couldn’t believe that a man serving his country was unable to call his family for free. So they decided to do something about it. In 2004 with just $21 and some help from their parents, Cell Phones for Soldiers was born.

Today the nonprofit organization provides cost-free communication services and emergency funding to active-duty military members and veterans. They've provided more than 300 million minutes of free talk time and have recycled 15 million cell phones for the cause. Robbie, now age 25, is the recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service and was recently named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 List. 

Donate your used cell phone to Cell Phones for Soldiers here

This episode is sponsored by the Tikker, the death watch that counts down your life (and tells the time). Use the promo code SHIN at the checkout to get a 10% discount on your purchase.

Robbie Bergquist's Reading List

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Robbie Bergquist Show Notes

Robbie Bergquist and his sister heard about a soldier who had an $8,000 phone bill he racked up while calling home while deployed.

They had two cousins in the armed services and so the issue touched their young hearts

Back in 2004-05, Cell Phones for Soldiers raised money to pay off cell phone bills for soldiers. One bill was $15,000!

Shortly after, Cell Phones for Soldiers began to raise awareness within the armed forces in Afghanistan about the different cell phone towers and the different costs associated with them

When Robbie and Brittany got distracted, their parents encouraged them to keep going

Robbie and Brittany missed a lot of school. They missed out on soccer and cheerleading practices because of all their traveling on behalf of Cell Phones for Soldiers

They were getting a lot of media coverage and attention and were going on speaking tours at age 12 and 13.

By 2006, they had collected tens of thousands of old cell phones and they didn’t know what to do with them

They wanted to send the cell phones overseas to the soldiers but after a media appearance announcing the plan, they were asked to cease and desist by the State Department because insurgents could triangulate the calls

“The Department of State told us to cease and desist our original plan. We were very discouraged.”

Instead, they decided to recycle and sell the cell phones to purchase calling cards that they could send to soldiers

Calling from landlines using calling cards is better for security purposes

Cell Phones for Soldiers has a facility in Alpharetta, Georgia where they collect and refurbish used cell phones

They determine the value of the used phones and resell them

Unusable phones will be scrapped for basic materials and recycled properly to reduce the impact on landfills

An ex-Verizon executive came on board to work for the charity.

Five volunteers work at the facility

“You’re supposed to create a business plan, a roadmap, and benchmarks. But for us, it was a lot of trial and error.”

Robbie’s uncles were in the telecommunications business and came to help, providing the idea to recycle and sell cell phones

“Our meetings took place at the kitchen table.”

“You don’t need a board room or wear suits and ties.”

“My parents were a little naive as to how much traction we were going to get. They did not know we would be in all 50 states, collecting millions of phones.”

Cell Phones for Soldiers has 4,000 dropoff locations

Supporters hold collection drives where they spread awareness

Lake Orion High School in Michigan has a dropoff location and the student body turned in used cell phones and the SGA donated $1 per cell phone collected. They raised a total of $5,000 total!

Most of Robbie Bergquist’s arguments happened with his mother over the direction of the nonprofit organization

During one interview, his sister Brittany answered a question for Robbie and the rest of the interview went poorly. Robbie got upset at his sister and they started arguing in front of other people

“We were your average college students.”

Robbie was a NCAA D1 soccer player so he hired a PR company to support Cell Phones for Soldiers

His parents were full-time teachers

“We realized we couldn’t do everything. We were burning candles at both ends.”

They researched 5-6 different PR companies to pick the best one possible. The company specialized in nonprofit public relations and handling daily donor requests

Aspire Communications from North Carolina was the boutique PR agency that helped

36creative created the website for Cell Phones for Soldiers which has a zip code locator feature for drop off locations

“I worked on Cell Phones for Soldiers in between classes, after classes, before classes. There were a lot of weekends I spent in the library working on the charity. I missed a lot of classes in college because of the work.”

After Robbie Bergquist graduated from college, he started to handle the PR and marketing initiatives himself

Robbie reaches out to military news outlets because he wants to get in front of an audience associated with the military

Cell Phones for Soldiers became a full-time endeavor for Robbie Bergquist after college because he wanted to continue the momentum and the family’s legacy

“I was not as confident as I am today.”

Robbie Bergquist still wants to get into the sports industry one day

Veterans come home with many challenges, especially with assimilating, paying bills, or getting jobs

Cell Phones for Soldiers gives emergency funding or cell phones to those veterans in need

It’s important to make the cause valuable to the supporter

Cell Phones for Soldiers has to compete with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and other cell phone companies that buy back old cell phones. They also have to compete with online marketplaces like eBay

Robbie Bergquist went into his work with the understanding that he was going to make less financially going into the nonprofit world, compared with investment banking for example

“It was more valuable for me to support the military than have more money in my pocket.”

Sometimes Robbie forgets to tell a story because he’s told the story so many times he gets them all mixed up in his head

It’s important to stay passionate about telling the story. He stays motivated by calling the soldiers that his nonprofit organization benefits

Robbie Bergquist stayed in touch with a sailor who received a calling card from Cell Phones for Soldiers. The sailor called Robbie in the middle of the night. He told Robbie that he had heard about where the phone cards came from watching one of Robbie’s interview on TV. He had to remove himself from the room to go outside onto the deck to cry from gratitude. There were three other guys who were also crying. Robbie was a senior in high school then.

Forbes was quiet about naming Robbie in the 30 Under 30 List until the big announcement

“We don’t do this for the recognition. But when we get it, it brings so much value to our mission.”

Robbie Bergquist is starting an initiative that will give handsets and cell phones to low-income veterans. Cell phones are important for employment and medical reasons

Robbie Bergquist is passionate about self improvement. He stays in touch with the news

He tries to stay physically active at least one hour each day

Robbie says a heartfelt thanks to his family at the end of the interview

Apr 11, 2017

Most foreigners who visit Indonesia end up at the beaches of Bali. But not Adam Miller, a young conservationist from St. Louis. While volunteering at a pet shop at age 10, he came up with the vision of one day working in Indonesia to help the animals there. His vision quickly became an obsession. Many years later, Adam found himself in a remote village in Borneo, Indonesia. It’s a part of southeast Asia facing the fastest rate of deforestation in the world and the second highest number of endangered species in the world.

He lived there for six months on a total budget of $1,000 and built up a nonprofit organization called Planet Indonesia.

In this podcast episode, Adam discusses the challenges of working in a country with a culture that is vastly different. When he goes running, random fathers in the community might stop to offer their daughters as wives. And you will find out what Adam means when he says that in Indonesia, "host families will love you so much they might kill you in the process."

Adam also talks about grant writing, donor relations, using behavioral economics and incentives to promote conversation, and overcoming serious differences in the way people communicate in Indonesia.

This episode is sponsored by the Tikker, the death watch that counts down your life (and tells the time). Use the promo code SHIN at the checkout to get a 10% discount on your purchase.

Show Links for Adam Miller

The Franciscan Sisters of Mary

Mulago Foundation

Dan Pallotta’s TED talk: The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong

Poverty Inc. Documentary

Show Summary for Adam Miller

Adam was volunteering at a pet shop at age 10 in St. Louis, Missouri

He saw a bird from Indonesia that sparked his interest

Adam Miller was known as a “bird nerd” growing up

Adam Miller’s dream was to become a conservationist researcher

He began to feel inadequate just doing research, as just publishing articles didn’t feel like it was making enough of an impact

Adam Miller had an early life crisis and so jumped on a plane  to Indonesia

He ended up in Indonesia teaching English as a Fulbright Scholar

Learning about the culture, language, and the people led to him starting Planet Indonesia

Indonesian culture is very difficult to adapt to for a westerner

Conversations are much more indirect, longer-winded, and unclear in Indonesia

A donor foundation had a very strict reporting requirement and the finance team for Planet Indonesia kept assuring Adam that things were being done properly. Adam later found out that the team wasn’t doing the job as required by the foundation. They were not being honest and direct about their inadequacy

The Indonesian government is very unclear about requirements and permits for NGOs

When Adam first moved to Indonesia, there were very few foreign NGOs present

The Indonesians watch western TV and movies and romanticize the culture

The local Indonesians love to follow and take photos of foreigners

When Adam goes for jogs, fathers in the area ask him to marry their daughters

Indonesian cuisine is one of the best in the world. Especially lactose intolerant people like Adam and me!

Host families in Indonesia won’t let their guests do anything or go anywhere alone, especially for female guests

“Indonesians will love you so much that they’ll kill you in the process.” - Adam Miller

People live with their families and don’t go off to live independently as much as in the western culture

Now there are more nonprofit organizations in Indonesia

There are more than 85 nonprofit organizations in the area in Borneo where Adam Miller works

Indonesia food is usually rice, tempeh, chicken, vegetables, curries

Sambal is Indonesia’s popular hot chili sauce

Adam had dinner with a good expat friend in Borneo and in the conversation realized that it has been so hard for him to have long-term friends because expats come and go so frequently

Working for an NGO in Indonesia is not for everyone, according to Adam Miller

Meals in Indonesia cost $1.50-$2.00

Adam once lived for six months in Indonesia on a total budget of $1,000

Adam is a minimalist kind of guy and lived in a remote village

In Jakarta you can find anything you can do and buy in Europe

Very few cities have a bar or alcohol scene

Karaoke is a popular weekend activity

Men play a lot of indoor soccer (futsal) in Indonesia, Adam plays 3 times per week

Much of Planet Indonesia’s work is done on the weekends because that’s when community members (farmers and fishermen) are finally home

Dating in Indonesia is difficult and intense. By week two, marriage is already on the table. People have a lot of lovers on the side in Indonesia, before marriage.

Adam’s Fulbright proposal did not feel realistic on the ground

Adam met Novia Sagita, the co-founder of Planet Indonesia

Before starting Planet Indonesia, Adam had been offered other job options

A lot of the nonprofit work being done was not making a real impact because there was a disconnect between the NGO offices and the on the ground communities

Novia Sagita has worked in the NGO industry for 15 years and studied in Denver, Colorado. She has lived extensively abroad and can juggle different cultures

Novia Sagita started this weaving cooperative to empower village women

The weaving cooperative started with 21 weavers and now has 1,500 weavers

With four people (a conservationist, an NGO worker, a teacher, a fiction writer), Planet Indonesia began

A lot of people criticized Adam Miller for starting an NGO with people who didn’t necessarily have the “right” experience or resumes

Planet Indonesia starts communal business groups and trains them and invests in assets to kickstart the businesses of the business groups

For people to join the business groups, they are required to sign and follow conservation policies

Planet Indonesia provides the services and loans to encourage conservation practices by their nearly 24,000 participants

Another organization provides healthcare in exchange for the community members cutting back on their logging. The less loggers a community has, the bigger discounts the community gets in the health clinic

It’s important to listen to the communities

Planet Indonesia uses behavioral economics and incentives to change community behaviors

During year one when funding was low, Adam Miller had to spend $600 getting the 501 c 3 IRS status and then $1,200 to get the equivalent in Indonesia

Adam Miller only had a $500 limit on his credit card so he couldn’t even use it

Adam’s Fulbright cohort organized a secret fundraiser and raised $3,000 to help Adam start Planet Indonesia!!!

Novia Sagita said they needed $12,000 for the first year. Adam went back to the US and raised nearly $30,000!!

The help from The Franciscan Sisters of Mary has been critical for Planet Indonesia

The Franciscan Sisters of Mary was involved in stopping the Dakota pipeline case. They were the first Catholic organization to completely divest in fossil fuel

Adam was giving a talk at a Rotary Club and someone in the audience put him in touch with the Franciscan Sisters of Mary

The Franciscan Sisters of Mary causes little hassle for Planet Indonesia in terms of reporting requirements. Not every foundation is the same!

Mulago Foundation

Running a nonprofit organization in the developing world is VERY challenging and when a donor is trying to control you on top of everything, it can be heartbreaking for the staff

Out of the last four years, the past month has been the HARDEST, all time low for Adam…!

Novia Sagita and Adam kept fighting together despite all of the hard moments. They are so united.

They all work 20 hour days sometimes

The energy level of the staff dropped when the donor tried to control them so much

Adam and Novia gave a speech to the staff during that all time low to give them inspiration and to stay true to their vision despite the periodic lows

Adam hopes that other NGOs can one day adopt Planet Indonesia’s model in other countries

The Franciscan Sisters of Mary sent 90 personal letters thanking the Planet Indonesia staff, miraculously when they were at their all time moral low

The people in Adam’s office go through ups and downs in their morale. They are humans!

1-2 staff members move in to live in the communities Planet Indonesia begins to work with

Adam Miller encourages nonprofit organizations to be honest with their donors, with their successes and failures

80% of Planet Indonesia’s funding comes from foundation grants. 20% comes from peer to peer

Adam Miller is the primary grant writer for Planet Indonesia, especially because he is the only English speaker in his staff

Many people in the nonprofit and development aid industry is scared to talk about their failures

Once, the seedlings that Planet Indonesia bought were bad and a bunch of trees died

At first, they didn’t understand why the locals were capturing and selling the threatened and endangered animals

Dan Pallotta’s TED talk: The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong

An expat could live comfortably in Indonesia for $15,000 and $25,000 for a family

Many of the best people in the grassroots nonprofit industry get poached by the larger organizations because of the better pay

Poverty Inc. Documentary

It took Novia Sagita 2-3 years just to convince the women to start weaving again, a tradition that had largely disappeared in the area

Novia Sagita identified a local market to sell the textile to. 70-80% of the sales are domestic

Novia Sagita built a textile museum in the area to explain the cultural importance of the textile

There were many risks involved, going for an unexpected market and building a museum, etc.

Now they are starting the textile products in Australia

There are many unexpected challenges in the NGO nonprofit world

Adam Miller gets stage fright before his public speeches and almost went down cold recently

Planet Indonesia offers internship positions to college students

Adam gives out a heartfelt shoutout to Novia Sagita and then to his family

Apr 3, 2017

How did Rachel Sumekh (founder and CEO of Swipe Out Hunger) respond when she was told "you're just too nice to be a leader"? In this episode, Rachel Sumekh talks openly about her inner doubts, challenges as a Persian-American social entrepreneur, how she responded to opposition from campus administrators.

Swipe Out Hunger is a nonprofit organization that is working to end hunger by activating college students to donate their unused meal points. Since Swipe Out Hunger began in 2009 as a college pet project, the NGO has served 1.3 million meals. Rachel Sumekh was recently awarded Champion of Change by The White House and named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 List for Social Entrepreneurship.

This episode is sponsored by the Tikker, the death watch that counts down your life (and tells the time). Use the promo code SHIN at the checkout to get a 10% discount on your purchase.

Memorable Quotes:

“When you have opposition, you grow stronger.”

“Every college student is insecure. We believe that food shouldn’t be one of the things they are insecure about.”

“I didn’t go on a single date in a year. In L.A..”

“How do I progress this conversation or better understand the other person?”

“Have people who will keep you accountable for a BIG vision.”

Rachel Sumekh Reading List

The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen Covey

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality by Scott Belsky

Rachel Sumekh Show Notes

Students were accumulating hundreds of dollars of meal credits by the end of each semester and they were expiring

Instead of letting the meal dollars expire, Rachel convinced her classmates to buy food to-go at the end of the semester using the leftover meal credits and gave them out to the hungry in the city

Before Swipeout Hunger, students were using the extra dollars to buy a bunch of water bottles they didn’t need

“When you have opposition, you grow stronger.”

The administration didn’t like the initiative at first, due to liability issues and losing control

Instead of giving up, Swipe Out Hunger got the SGA and key faculty members involved

Swipe Out Hunger provides food closets for students who are hungry and are at risk of dropping out

Many students that Swipe Out Hunger serves are homeless

Swipe Out Hunger gives out dining vouchers to students and also supplies food pantries on 400 campuses

Swipe Out Hunger is operating chapters in 26 universities

Sometimes they work with the universities to get them to buy and donate food to a local homeless shelter or food bank. Universities get bulk prices

Swipe Out Hunger relies on the honor code, given the fact that students can abuse the system and take more food than they need

“Every college student is insecure. We believe that food shouldn’t be one of the things they are insecure about.”

14% of students in community colleges are homeless. In California, 1 in 10 students are homeless in the state school system.

33% of college students skip meals because of finances

These students were likely getting free or subsidized breakfasts/lunches during grade school

Many of the beneficiaries are former foster youth, undocumented students, immigrants, students who don’t have access to financial aid

When Rachel Sumekh graduated in 2012, she felt like she wanted to change the world

She spent a year working in the trenches with the homeless through AmeriCorps

At nighttime, she worked on Swipe Out Hunger

“What gets you excited? What gives you energy in life?”

Because Rachel is Persian-American, everyone in her ethnic community asked her what the heck she was doing as they expected her to become a doctor, lawyer, or get married

Minority or immigrant communities usually don’t see social entrepreneurship as a career option

“It takes a lot of explaining to do. Especially to grandma.”

The opposition gives Rachel Sumekh more motivation

The chapters maintain relationships with the dining company, administration, and beneficiaries. Students donate their swipes to the chapter at the Swipe Out Hunger tables

A freshman, Shannon, started a chapter at UC-Santa Barbara and became an outstanding leader for the organization, getting 3,000 meals donated per year

It’s challenging to work with college students that are so busy. Building personal relationships is key

Addressing turnover is key when seniors graduate

4-5 universities reach out to Swipe Out Hunger each month organically

Rachel Sumekh is always speaking at conferences to get the word out

The effort to start a chapter at a particular campus doesn’t always work out

The university bureaucracy is a big challenge

At age 21, Rachel Sumekh was told by her colleagues, “You are too nice to be a leader” because she was very appeasing, submissive, passive, and a crowd pleaser

She changed her leadership style

“I don’t care what title you give me. I’m going to focus on this full time.”

Rachel Sumekh moved back in with her parents in California and started her first day as Executive Director at a Starbucks

She worked 60-80 hours per week, networking with as many people as possible and even learning to code websites

She had believed in the myth that entrepreneurs have to slave away their lives to succeed

“You don’t need to work ALL the time.”

Rachel Sumekh participated in every pitch contest there was

“I didn’t go on a single date in a year. In L.A..”

Rachel Sumekh listens to The Tim Ferriss Show :)

Tim Ferriss sayid that we often mas fear as stress. Being stressed out usually means we’re fearful of something. That resonated with Rachel

She works on accomplishing just 2-3 important tasks each day that she writes down

Rachel’s biggest fear is disappointing her supporters and Board members

Rachel read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People back in high school and listens to the audiobook in the car even today

She uses the techniques in the book to prioritize her tasks

Reacting vs. Responding. Reacting usually comes from ego or wanting to be defensive

“How do I progress this conversation or better understand the other person?”

Rachel Sumekh has to juggle herself between her startup community and nonprofit community

Rachel met with a friend’s uncle and met up at the local Cheesecake Factory. At the end, he wrote a check out for $10,000 because he believed in Rachel’s vision.

“Have people who will keep you accountable for a BIG vision.”

Swipe Out Hunger won several online voting competitions early on for funding

Grant writing became a big part of the fundraising strategy

“Call the foundation and introduce yourself.” The person on the other end will remember you and you will gain insight as to what they are looking for?

The state of California will have a bill presented on the floor soon that will allow Swipe Out Hunger to scale their program

Rachel Sumekh learned to say no thanks to the book, Essentialism

Look for people who will give you critical questions to your ideas instead of empty praise

Listening to critical feedback and being coachable are difficult

Rachel reminds herself that she is valuable and that her work matters during her moments of doubt.

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