Last Monday, avid traveller and social entrepreneur, Chris Ball, embarked on a 2,000-kilometre bike ride from Seattle to San Francisco, carrying a meagre daily budget of $3 – the amount that half the population of the developing world is currently surviving on. Ball is making several stops in his journey to present the story of Spark International – an Aussie non-for-profit founded by Aaron and Kaitlin Tait, that identifies, mentors and funds entrepreneurs in developing countries with social business ideas – and secure funds for its next round of changemakers in Papua New Guinea.
Ball, who is the founder and CEO of social enterprise AdventureHoney, has thus far presented to Microsoft, Buddy, and ImpactHub. His next presentation is in Eugene, Oregon for students at the University of Oregon and staff at RAIN, a local accelerator.
His presentations have a consistent call to action: visit www.seattle2sanfran.com and pledge your support to help end poverty. The aforementioned link navigates to Spark International’s latest crowdfunding campaign which ends on the 30th of September. A minimum of $15,000 needs to be raised for Spark International to accept its next intake of 15 changemakers in Papua New Guinea. Every extra $1,000 is another Changemaker enabled, and every $1.03 pledged to this campaign is another human life changed according to IRIS.
Spark International’s Changemaker Program aims to empower entrepreneurs living in dire poverty, rather than throw money at problems and create a cycle of reliance. All funds raised goes towards community empowerment and self-reliance, rather than simply soothing one’s conscience.
John Taka from Papua New Guinea is one example of what’s possible when local people with local solutions are empowered. With Spark’s mentoring, support and funding, Taka created a sustainable farming co-op that has put 20 kids through university. He has diversified into healthcare and banking services for his local village and also project-managed the construction of a road through 17 kilometres of jungle, connecting his village to the highway. His efforts have changed the lives of 10,000 locals.