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29 Students Raised $18,000 for Rural India via Social Media

Great job to all the 29 students who have done such an excellent job. We’re glad that our coverage did help a little and thank you for going this far to help rural India. – By SAHIEL SHAH

Read it on Penn Olson

29 Students Raised $18,000 for Rural India via Social Media

by Sahiel Shah on March 15, 2011 in Tech

We previously wrote that a group of 29 students went on a social media quest to raise $10,000 for rural India. A pleasant surprise: The students ended up raising 79% more than their target as we receive news about their great achievement:

“Penn Olson’s support and coverage of our initiative is indispensable to our success. We have finally raised a total of $17,900 after closing our campaign yesterday night,” Yeo told us through an email.

A total of $17,900 was raised by students.The trip which lasted from Feb. 18 – 27, relied solely on social media — the blogs, tweets, and status updates of the students who hail from cities across the world — to capture an audience that donated generously in exchange for their content.

“Watching the experiences of these young people immersing in another culture and listening to their heartfelt opinions, moved me – and I too wanted to help,” says Kristian Ayre, one donor who logged onto the donation site daily. He donated $100.00. The amount donated was matched by charitable corporate sponsors such as Bombardier Aerospace, Hamilton Sundstrand, and Astral Media.

Professor Karl Moore, who lectures the 5 Hot Cities course at McGill said, “This innovative fundraising enterprise captures this generation’s ability to use the power of social media to spread a positive message and to make a difference.”

He went on to add, “Too often people of my generation flew business class, lectured emerging economies about the theory of markets and then flew back home. This generation is doing it better; they fly in the back of the plane with only their knapsacks, show up in the country they want to learn about, roll up their sleeves and plunge right in and they ask: How can WE help?”

For the students, this was also an opportunity to experience first-hand the economics, culture and situation in India. As planned the fund will be used for the education of impoverished girls at K.C. Mahindra Foundation’s Nanhi Kali Project.

Charles Bern, a participating MBA student said, “Meeting the girls was an eye-opening experience. Going into the classrooms of students who may not have much materially but have ample will and determination to learn was very inspiring.”

Without a doubt, this achievement would certainly be one of best examples to showcase how social media could help in promoting a social cause. Great job to all the 29 students who have done such an excellent job. We’re glad that our coverage did help a little and thank you for going this far to help rural India.

Read it at Penn Olson here

A huge thank you to Sahiel Shah for the dedicated Penn Olson coverage!

About Sahiel Shah
Sahiel is a South Bombay living and train-travel hating person. A proud owner of the Google Nexus One and the Apple MacBook Pro; Yes he enjoys the trade-off between the two. He writes about all-things-tech, typically in the Indian market. Currently an Account Manager (Social Media) at WAT Consult, he has diverse experience managing brands in India. His purpose of existence is simple: “Have Fun and Everything Else shall Follow”.

1 more day left to donate!

With 1 more day left to finally and officially closing our campaign, we have received so far a total of $15,800 for all our efforts. We would like to thank everyone who have contributed to our fund, all proceeds of which will go to the Nanhi Kali Project to sponsor the education of underprivileged girl children in India.

While in India for 10 days, we have religiously posted videos everyday, and blogged daily from where we were. If you love what you saw, donate to our cause (1 day left!) and share our videos and blogs on the net. We call it: Pay It Forward. 🙂

Watch all our videos here, and read all our blog entries here.

Spread the love! Pay it forward now. Help us help these girls.

Facebook is King

Join our Facebook page and spread the love! Here are some interesting statistics for you, thanks to Google Analytics:

Between February 11 and March 7, we registered the highest percentage of our site visitors from Facebook referrals (38%), followed by 32% of you entering our site directly through the link http://PayItForward.mcgill.ca. In our opinion – Facebook still reigns as THE medium to communicate messages!

@5HotCities: Our initiative has been covered by @TimesofIndia, Bloomberg@businessweek, @GlobeAndMail, @CBCRadio, @CJADonair w/ Dan Delmar, & more! Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/5HotCities

5 Hot Cities on Bloomberg BusinessWeek

More news on our Media page here

“B-School: Active Lessons in Sustainability” — Bloomberg BusinessWeek | When it comes to teaching sustainability and corporate social responsibility in business school, a blend of theory and action may succeed best.

Our initiative receives a shout-out on Bloomberg BusinessWeek, read on now!

B-School: Active Lessons in Sustainability
When it comes to teaching sustainability and corporate social responsibility in business school, a blend of theory and action may succeed best

By Matt Symonds

There will always be a few adherents of old-fashioned, “robber baron” capitalism with the view that sustainability—not to mention the whole concept of corporate social responsibility—has no place in the cutthroat world of business. Most of us have come to accept its value, not just as a good thing to do, but as a commercial imperative. One of the latest pieces of research on the subject, for example, by C.B. Bhattacharya of Germany’s European School of Management and Technology (ESMT Full-Time MBA Profile) and Xueming Luo of the University of Texas at Arlington seems to conclusively prove that even a modest improvement in CSR ratings can deliver increase annual profits.

It’s not surprising, therefore, that the teaching of sustainable and responsible approaches to corporate management is now as commonplace as the teaching of entrepreneurship on business school campuses around the world. But what is the best way to get the message across in MBA programs? Should schools focus on making the academic case for doing the right thing, or will students only get the point if they are prompted by their teachers to put theory into immediate practice? The problem with the former is that it risks turning CSR into something of a classroom debate, easily forgotten once back in the workplace. The problem with the latter is that it can become an extension of a student charity that seems to have no relevance to the challenges faced by front-line business managers.

Off-campus in the real world, one high-profile individual who has had to face up to the “teach or do” question on a dauntingly massive scale is Irish musician, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Bob Geldof, who came up with two answers. The Live Aid approach of 1985 was all about tackling an immediate challenge, namely the Ethiopian famine. The Live 8 solution of 2005 was designed not to get us to send in our money (to bowdlerise Mr. Geldof), but to raise awareness and educate the public.

Which was more effective? Judge for yourself. While the first is etched in my memory—and Geldof’s infamous exhortation to contribute certainly got everyone I knew straight on the phone with a credit card—all I can really remember of the second event was watching Pink Floyd put their differences aside for half an hour—and seeing just how bad Pete Doherty , lead singer of the Libertines, could be.


Business schools seem to be taking the view that the practical element is essential if CSR lessons are to be rammed home. The Desautels faculty (Desautel Full-Time MBA Profile) at Canada’s McGill University, for example, has packed students off to India on a field trip this month to get a first-hand view of what’s going on in one of the world’ s newer economic superpowers. The school is making sure that participants get some hands on CSR experience as part of the deal. Everyone taking part has been charged with contributing to an online business model that will raise funds via social media to help educate girls in some of India’s most-disadvantaged areas.

The organization Net Impact, which brings together a network of students and professionals who believe that a more socially and environmentally sustainable world is created through business, now counts 95 MBA programs from around the world as members. School chapters, such as one at UCLA Anderson School of Management (Anderson Full-Time MBA Profile), are attracting a new breed of students that wants to put business skills to use in a positive way, whether by incorporating environmental management practices into a large corporation, bringing microfinance to developing countries, working for a small nonprofit, or launching into the world of social entrepreneurship. At the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School (Kenan-Flagler Full-Time MBA Profile), students take part in a Habitat for Humanity project that involves raising funds for the construction of low-cost housing, then taking part in physical building work.

The most effective approach to creating a new generation of more responsible business leaders seems to lie not in one extreme or the other, but in a hybrid that embraces policy and theory on one side and rolled-up shirtsleeves on the other. As Nick Barniville of Germany’s ESMT puts it: “While we teach the value of sustainability, responsible leadership and the role of business in society, that’s simply not enough for today’s students. They want to take their newly acquired knowledge and put it into practice, not at some ill-defined point in the future, but right now. Teaching and action have to go hand in hand.”

Bob Geldof yelling for cash in a business school lecture room? We might just be onto something very big here.

Matt Symonds is co-founder and former director of the QS World MBA Tour and is co-author of ABC of Getting the MBA Admissions Edge.

BNN speaks to Karl Moore about India

Find out what 29 students and a professor from McGill University learned from their “5 Hot Cities Tour” which included Abu Dhabi, Dubai, New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, when BNN speaks to Karl Moore, Professor of Business Strategy, McGill University.

Watch now!

Day 10 Blog: Phir Milenge!

Day: 10 of 10 (Last day!)
Date: 27 February 2011
Day: Sunday

India, what an enriching, eye-opening experience. More than any of us could have hoped for. As we pack our bags and head for the Bangalore airport, sighing at the thought of leaving this fascinating place (and perhaps also at the 36 hours of traveling ahead…and at the weather that awaits us in Montreal), we struggle to sum up this trip in only a few words. If we must though, we would start by highlighting how remarkably well rounded it was. We spoke to some of the great leaders of Indian business, whether it was about providing IT solutions, building skyscrapers, or even delivering lunches. We learned about their strategies, their markets, their financing, their economic outlooks, and all of that serious management stuff. But beyond that, we began to shape our understanding of Indian culture and society by talking to people from as wide-ranging backgrounds as one can imagine. Being there, speaking to them, hearing their stories, and seeing the issues they face upfront, we started to gain a perspective. The learning process also involved simply walking the streets of Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore – seeing, listening… There is so much to India – a long and rich history, a vibrant culture, and incredible diversity. And so understanding business and economic development in India is not just about reading annual reports and looking at charts; it’s requires one to live India, something we are all now dying to do more of.

India is a place of phenomenal growth – the type of growth people salivate over in the West. Towers rising, IT companies booming, universities achieving world class, middle-class growing (cars being sold in the millions), all form a reality. However, what we cannot ignore is that this reality is parallel to another, much more pervasive reality, that of severe poverty – affecting around three quarters of the population. We are often numbed by statistics in the West, especially with regard to issues such as poverty. Before the trip, poverty in India for many of us, as sad as it may sound, was just another news clip or article – you turn the page or you change the channel and somehow as the minutes pass it begins to disappear from your consciousness. Being in India gave poverty a meaning; it gave it faces, old and young, and it is now part of us.

Despite such issues, once thing is certain: there’s this energy in India. You feel it everywhere, and it’s inspiring. The energy of a people striving to fulfill their incredible potential. To participate, albeit modestly and hopefully humbly, in what we believe is the cornerstone of such achievement, that is education, we got involved with Project Nanhi Kali and surpassed our goal of raising ten thousand dollars in ten days to send underprivileged girls to school. Besides benefiting the girls, this project was an experiment in social media. The idea was to test the ability of people to leverage social networks via social media to mobilize support for a cause; and it certainly worked. We see social media, a product of our generation, as having tremendous potential for causes like these.

We would like to close by sending out a huge thanks to our hosts in India for showing us such generosity and hospitality and sharing with us such remarkable insight, to all the organizers of the trip thanks to whom we were able to share this incredible experience, and of course to you all for all your support, interest, and enthusiasm!

It’s now time to say phir milenge!

Submitted by Team 3:

5 Hot Cities Team 3

5 Hot Cities Team 3

Day 10 Video (Theme: Last Impressions)

So, we have made it! This is our LAST video of our 10-day 5 Hot Cities India Tour, presented by Team 5. Describe India in only ONE word! Watch now!

(alphabetical order)

Team 5

5 Hot Cities Team 5

5 Hot Cities Team 5

Produced and Directed by:
Jun Yeo
Charlie Bern


Thank you so much for following us on our incredible trip to India! More photos to come as we settle ourselves back into Montreal.

We are excited to share that we have two corporate donors onboard with us, each pledging a fixed amount of money. We are not able to reveal how much yet, but we assure you that it’s GOOD NEWS.

We are still collecting donations from you – help us spread the word and the link to our website!

We have so far an incredible collection of travel videos and blogs just for you. If you like what you see, then donate to our cause! We have painstakingly filmed every single day that we are here so we can share our experiences with you, so you can feel like you were right there with us. In exchange, we only ask that you help us spread awareness of our cause to your network.

We have ONE DAY LEFT for donations – DONATE NOW!

Day 9 Video (Theme: Sustainability)

Team 4 enters a discussion about Sustainability within Indian companies, fresh from their visits to two of India’s largest IT service companies: to Infosys on Day 9, and to Wipro the day before. Watch now!

(alphabetical order)

5 Hot Cities Team 4

5 Hot Cities Team 4

Day 9 Blog: Sustainability (Global What?)

Day: 9 of 10
Date: 26 February 2011
Day: Saturday

Global What?

Chimneys are fuming. People are on buses and taxis rushing to work. India is getting more and more industrialized. Scary statistics are thrown at us: most people do not have access to power, or only have access to it for only a few hours a day. With the increased need for energy from a growing population, there are more and more coal plants being built. The carbon footprint of citizens keeps increasing.

“You are destroying the planet,” yells North America, pointing the finger at India. In response, they hear: “You are the ones who polluting in the first place, clean up your mess first”.

This debate, however, has not led to positive outcomes. Many get pessimistic about the future and start believing  the ancient Mayans that the world may, in fact, end in 2012. However, on our trip, visiting leading Indian firms, we see a glimmer of light at the end of this depressing view.

For instance, Lanco, despite its coal plants, is taking serious initiatives to create employment, educate people, and build cleaner plants. Another, a high-tech company, Infosys, has gone so far as  to build a university to increase education in their area of operations. The foundation we are raising funds for, Nanhi Kali, works on providing education to the poorest of India. Of course, results are not instantaneous. Change will not be as apparent as quarterly dividends seen on financial statements. But it is there nevertheless, and we now know that we have a choice.

We can choose to ignore global issues. However, we have seen that we have the power, as individuals, to make a difference and preserve our planet. Despite criticism, we are optimistic about the future of business. Acting together, we will have the necessery support to be the agents of slow, yet sustainable, change.

Submitted by Team 2:

5 Hot Cities Team 2

5 Hot Cities Team 2

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