Event Recap: How to be a Changemaker

Post written by Jolkona intern Almudena Rodriguez

Mechai Viravaidya at Seattle Town Hall
Mechai Viravaidya at Seattle Town Hall. Photo by Tom Paulson of Humanosphere Blog.

I had the pleasure to represent Jolkona at How To Be A Changemaker: Combating HIV/AIDS and Eradicating Poverty through Social Enterprise, A Conversation with Thailand’s “Mr. Condom” on June 9, an event hosted by the World Affairs Council.

Known as Mr. Condom for his humorous and unorthodox approach to family planning, Mechai Viravaidya founded the Population and Community Development Association (PDA) in 1974 to address unsustainable population growth in Thailand. The talk he gave at TEDxChange explains some of the innovative methods PDA used to promote family planning and condom use in Thailand — efforts that helped reduce Thai family size from 7 children per family in 1974 to only 1.5 children per family in 2003.

Mechai’s World Affairs Council talk focused on the Village Development Partnership (VDP), a rural anti-poverty project in Thailand for which he won the 2007 Gates Global Health Award and the 2008 Skoll Foundation Award for Social Entrepreneurship. The VDP model empowers local communities to improve their quality of life by articulating their needs and aspirations and creating a tailored development plan. Sponsoring companies and organizations provide funds for communities’ development projects in exchange for tree planting. This unique partnership between the private sector and the communities they sponsor has proven successful and sustainable for more than 22 years.

Lesson of VDP’s success that can be applied to Jolkona are summarized in the following diagram:

Even though this model was designed for the Thai population that VDP worked with, it can be applied to other countries and modified accordingly. Portions of this model are already part of Jolkona’s vision.

For example, we support grassroots organizations that collaborate with the communities they serve to develop solutions to local problems. In Sudan, Jolkona partner MADRE works with a local organization to provide seeds, supplies and training to women farmers who have traditionally been denied access to farm aid and credit. Our donors can also support several projects that help low-income people become entrepreneurs, such as a program to teach business skills to low-income people in the US and an initiative to prepare the most disadvantaged Haitian women to receive microcredit. Similar to the VDP model, our donors are empowering the communities served by our nonprofit partners to determine their own destiny.

Jolkona at World Affairs Council
Laura Kimball, Emily Williamson, and Almudena Rodriguez of Jolkona tabling at the World Affairs Council Global Leadership Series with Mechai Viravaidya. Photo by Alabastro Photography.

Almudena Rodriguez is Jolkona’s 
Marketing Coordinator Intern. Originally from Spain, Almu is a firm believer in the need for marketing and communications for any business or nonprofit to reach its full potential. She has an MBA from La Coruña in Spain and a degree in Marketing from the marketing Institute of Ireland. In October 2010, she relocated to Seattle. In her free time she likes skiing, hiking, cycling and staying in touch with her friends spread all over the world. Follow Almudena on Twitter @Mayona80.


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One Comment

  1. Ivan / July 7, 2011

    Great job at Jolkona, Almudena!! Hope that solutions like this will help to change a bit this world we´re living in.

    Keep this way!

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