We currently have international outreach efforts in China, India, Jordan, and Ukraine, with future partnerships in the planning phases.

China, the “Central Kingdom,” is the world’s most populous country. The Elfenworks Foundation announced in 2015 an historic effort to catalyze the nascent field of social entrepreneurship in the country, with an historic first-ever partnership to teach social entrepreneurship. The partnership with the College of Urban Economics and Public Administration / Capital University of Economics and Business in Beijing included an Elfenworks “Star of Hope” scholarship award to shine a light on the practice, encouraging aspiring young social entrepreneurs. The first recipient, Zhang Tiancheng, has as a goal no less than to cleanse the air of Beijing. [read more].  

India is the seventh largest country in the world, geographically. With a population of about 1.26b, second only to China, India has many areas for enterprising social entrepreneurs to tackle, including: gender, social mobility, pollution, groundwater issues, biodiversity concerns, soil degradation, to name just a few. Together, India and China comprise one third of the world’s population. The country’s most populous urban agglomeration, Delhi, has with 25 million people in 11 districts comprising the world’s 6th most populous city, and includes the country’s capital, New Delhi.  The Seven Pillar methodology is taught annually in Tiruchirappalli, in Tamil Nadu (Southern India) at YWAM Trichy, where there is a small demonstration project in response to India’s estimated 40 million widows: The Widows of India Status & Empowerment Project (WISE).

Our CEO and Executive Director traveled to Jordan in 2015, meeting with the Blessed Ones Society and hearing of their plans for a cutting-edge demonstration farm, and their work helping Syrian refugees (the UN estimates about 13.5 million refugees, and there are by some reports 1.4 million in Jordan, though not all are in refugee camps). Our CEO addressed students at the University of Jordan in Amman, and many others at the World Affairs Council. Our Executive Director worked with the Blessed Ones Society (Al-Mubarakoun As-Sighar Society) to help them navigate how to register as an international organization, locally with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Since the collapse in 2014 of the Russian-backed government after bitter protests made worldwide headlines, national anti-corruption steps have been taken, and great strides have been made by pro-Western reformers.   At present, nationalistic sentiment is palpable, and education is seen by many as a matter of civic duty and national pride. The Elfenworks Foundation has been working in partnership with Kiev Taras Shevchenko National University and Elfenworks Productions, LLC towards an Elfenworks scholarship opportunity in 2017 [read more].  

Future Partnership Possibilities

Members from The Elfenworks Foundation team and trustees have identified the following areas of interest for potential university partnerships. Some are being actively investigated this year, while others are slated for 2018 and beyond.

Russia is the world’s largest nation and home to 143.5 million people.  Few may remember the “duck and cover” exercises of the 1960s, in response to the cold war, or to have felt the joy when the Berlin wall fell. President Reagan actually thought he had ended hostilities between our two countries.  More recently, the director of the NSA, Admiral Michael Rogers, has spoken plainly of a “conscious effort by a nation-state to achieve a specific effect,” referring to an attempt to sway an election outcome.   As such, relations between the United States and Russia are at a very strange place. Our CEO’s late father, Dr. Sheridan Speeth, worked to keep the peace during the cold war, as a scientist working on detecting underground nuclear explosions[4] following the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty (NPT). She would enjoy carrying on the family tradition of waging peace with Russia.

Africa, with 1.1 billion people, covers 20% of the world’s land area. Some have argued that it is the most strategic and important continent on the world. It is certainly struggling and includes areas of deep poverty.  South Africa, along with Brazil, Russia, and China, is considered one of the world’s largest emerging markets.  Yet the continent is plagued by poverty, hunger, corruption, rapid population growth, illiteracy (2 in 5 adults), the world’s worst health outcomes, a high tolerance for domestic violence, and such stalled development that “only one in five workers in Africa has a job in the wage economy.”[1] Our Executive Director spent time in the Peace Corps in Africa, and would enjoy bringing our methodology to the continent.

Brazil, a country of 204.5 million, is the fifth most populous country in the world, occupying almost half of South America. [2]  Although hailed as a “major global player” by the Obama administration, their economy has been contracting, with a deep recession. This is a country in need of many more active, effective social entrepreneurs.  It once had the highest rate of deforestation in the world, and as a result has suffered some of the deepest droughts in its history, perhaps after altering the world’s climate,[3]  and still has many systemic problems. The flag promises order and progress, and the country is rich with opportunity for positive change. In addition, our methodology is already available in Portuguese translation.

North and South Korea have been an area of potential geopolitical concern since the 1953 truce ended the Korean war. Seul, the capital of North Korea, is considered a rising global city, though highly exposed to China’s economy. Seul has been ranked by Arcadis as Asia’s most livable city, but it still offers rich opportunities for social entrepreneurs.  The book on our methodology has already been translated into Korean and needs only minor updates before it can be scheduled for release. 

Mexico borders on California. With a population of 122.3 million, it is the most populous Spanish speaking country in the world, and the 2nd most populous country in Latin America (after Brazil). The second largest economy in Latin America, Mexico has a large and growing middle class, and some of the better universities in Latin America. We offer a Spanish-language Breathing Butterfly and are working with Elfenworks Productions to fast-track a translation of the book on our methodology, so Spanish-speaking social entrepreneurs can tackle the country’s poverty, environmental problems, governance and other issues.  We will begin to investigate educational partnership possibilities once the book is available in Spanish language translation.

[1] Strauss, Gideon. Six Challenges Facing Africa in 2016. Providence, A Journal of Christianity & American Foreign Policy. January 20, 2016. Online at https://providencemag.com/2016/01/six-challenges-facing-africa-2016/ and accessed November 20, 2016.

[2] Meyer, Peter. Congressional Research Service: Brazil: Background and U.S. Relations. Online at https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL33456.pdf and accessed November 20, 2016.

[3] Robbins, Jim. Deforestation and Drought. New York Times. October 9, 2015. Online at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/11/opinion/sunday/deforestation-and-drought.html and accessed November 20, 2016.

[4] Volmar, Axel. Listening to the Cold War. The Nuclear Test Ban Negotiations, Seismology, and Psychoacoustics, 1958-1963. OSIRIS 2013, 28: 80-102. Online at  http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdfplus/10.1086/671364  and accessed November 20, 2016.