Even 3,000 miles away, Dini’s voice practically bubbles over the phone with enthusiasm and ideas, telling me about life as a student at Boston University, running her Indonesia-based company from afar, and how she manages to do it all.

It’s been a busy 18 months since Dini Hajarrahmah finished the Jolkona Social Entrepreneurship Catalyst Program in Seattle WA. She said that those 2 weeks passed in an intense blur of classes, presentations and sleep deprivation, but two important components remained: an Indonesian community of social entrepreneurs, and lasting Seattle contacts who are helping her reshape and grow her company.

Dini founded and runs an eco-tourism company named “Wanderlust Indonesia” that offers packages for travelers to live and interact with local Indonesian families and villages, with a mission to enhance awareness, develop understanding of local issues and empower the participating families and communities. Before the Jolkona program she said that she had been aware of other social entrepreneurs, but she rarely knew them personally. Now she has a lasting community of other like-minded people who are committed to solving major social issues with new ideas.


Currently Dini is working to expand her company internationally and beyond eco-tourism. During her Jolkona training she met Brandon Fleming, PhD a University of Washington professor in the school of business. A few months later they collaborated, creating the “Global Study Tour to Indonesia” for his students to travel to Indonesia to learn about start-up, social entrepreneur and NGO companies, as well as visiting slum areas in Jakarta. After the trip, one student contacted Dini and said that she wanted to organize a water project in collaboration with Wanderlust and, with that, a new idea was born. Now Dr. Fleming is going to make this an annual trek for his students and it may have created a new purpose for the company: partnering with schools so students can come from 2-4 weeks, work on a business project, and learn cross-culturally.

I asked her how she juggled being a full-time student with running a company located across the globe and she admitted it has been challenging: the time difference is the big one. Day and night are almost switched so she has to make her calls at night and her staff can only reach her in the mornings. “Things don’t move as fast,” she admitted. And she still has to deal with the normal challenges of being an Indonesian social entrepreneur, from government corruption (“I can deal with that, though”) to her biggest challenge: “It’s a totally new idea in Indonesian society. People don’t know or understand it. Sometimes you have to manage locals’ expectations because they think you’re going to make them rich or that there will be instant results. So it can be a struggle to explain how it works in simple language and get on the same page.”


Given her experience at Jolkona and now her education in the Economic Development and Tourism Management at Boston University, she has several plans for Wanderlust. Besides expanding internationally, she would like to move more towards an on-line marketplace so her company can move faster, offer more options and partner more easily with others. She is also considering expanding to focus more on connecting travelers with locals by, for example, offering local culinary experiences or home stays.

Although the subject never naturally came up, I couldn’t resist asking what it’s like being a female social entrepreneur – running her own company in a Muslim-based, developing country. There was a puzzled pause before she finally answered, “It’s not a problem,” she assured me. “Women in Indonesia can do more than people think. There’s a saying,” she went on, ‘Like a mother in a village – don’t underestimate them!’ So don’t underestimate them – or the power of women in Indonesia. There are no problems with women being in charge.” With that, I had to smile. Perhaps people in the US could learn something from them.

Dini Hajarrahmah is a Jolkona Catalyst alum from 2014. Come meet Dini at the showcase!

by Casey Luce, freelance writer & Jolkona Volunteer

On every cohort, Jolkona aims to introduce our catalysts to mentors and other established industry leaders so that they can learn about new opportunities, and industry tips to empower their own projects. On May 20th, we drove our catalysts to visit Microsoft’s HQ in Redmond, WA. We all made it to the Visitor’s Center foyer, and got a chance to learn more about Josh Holmes’ experience as a Microsoft employee in his various roles at the company.


Josh started off by introducing himself, and the roles he has played at Microsoft. Josh has worked as product evangelist, and now he is part of Microsoft Ventures Accelerator program. He has also worked from various locations, including Dublin and of course Seattle.


Holo Lens and other Microsoft tools for entrepreneurs

It wasn’t long before Josh started talking a little bit about what Microsoft has been up to lately, especially when it comes to the Holo Lens. One of the catalysts’ projects is in fact about augmented and virtual reality as a means of education. She was quick to ask about how her project could leverage Microsoft’s Holo Lens or other products.

Josh not only mentioned how the Holo Lens is still in the works, and it will take some time for it goes to market, but he also mentioned other tools that social entrepreneurs can leverage, including Microsoft’s Azure. Social entrepreneurs can enjoy Azure for free.

Microsoft Ventures

Other catalysts were also very interested on how Microsoft Ventures is accelerating startups around the world. Josh mentioned there are 7 Microsoft accelerators around the globe, located in Seattle, Bangalore, London, Berlin, Beijing, Tel Aviv, and Paris. Each accelerator has a particular focus; John mentioned Beijing’s accelerator has a clear focus on hardware.

All accelerators accept international entrepreneurs and projects, and they offer a 3-6 month program, $25k on average per project, all equity free. Microsoft aims to make these projects successful, because the more successful you are, the more likely you are to use Microsoft’s products in the long run.

Corporate Culture

Jolkona’s executive director, Monica Mendoza, wanted the catalysts to learn more about Microsoft’s corporate culture, prompting Josh to speak a little bit more about it.

Josh responded that although Microsoft is a 200,000 employee behemoth where there is quite the number of processes to get things done, there is complete freedom to achieve goals, and cooperate with one another.

Josh recalled the times when Microsoft was more about competition and getting things done. However, Satya Nadella has been promoting more of a cooperative environment, one in which results aren’t the only things that matter, but how employees feel about their jobs and teams.

Tips on how to be more productive

Linked to this corporate culture, is the way you can break down your day and feel more productive. In Josh’s case, he mentioned how he is an early riser, and how his best and most creative work is done between the hours of 5:30am and 8:30am. After that, he answers all emails, and burns through his daily to-do list. In the evenings, he is very active, exercises, and wears himself down to get a good night sleep, and do it all over again the next day.

Josh also recommended the book “Career Superpowers” by James Whitaker to learn more on the subject.

Time for some fun!

After a hearty talk about all things Microsoft, the catalysts went on to have some fun with several of Microsoft’s best products, including: Skype, Xbox Kinect, Windows Phone, Emotion detectors, and giant screens.

The world is faced with a great deal of social challenges. As you read this article, the latest reported figure by the World Bank of global population living under the poverty line is 902 million people, and it is projected to fall to 702 million during early 2016. There are a number of factors that contribute to the progress in these numbers; one largely being the sum of efforts among countries committed to the Millennial Development Goals and Beyond. Nevertheless, not only is public policy accountable for laying the groundwork for a better future, there is another very important factor: social entrepreneurship.

This fact has not gone unnoticed by the UN. In 2011, the UN created the Global Entrepreneurs Council, which is responsible for promoting social entrepreneurship programs around the world. The Council partners with global influencers and leaders in order to promote, and support sustainable social entrepreneurship.

With the UN as an inspirational trail blazer, smaller programs have popped up all over the globe. Jolkona is one of these programs. Located in Seattle, Washington, Jolkona invites social entrepreneurs from developing nations to come to Seattle for a three-week catalyst program. These entrepreneurs are solving some of the most challenging societal issues in their communities. Jolkona helps shape & develop these founders into leaders by providing business & leadership training and mentorship by some of Seattle’s best talent who prepare these founders to scale & engage with investors at home & abroad.

Social Entrepreneurship: The Power of Collaboration & Technology

Small and large programs from around the planet help educate local entrepreneurs to make a difference in their community. Take our Fall 2014 Catalyst Program members‘ projects for example. One of them, Bedah Campus pioneered by Candra Cahyani Gani from Indonesia, aims to bring higher online education programs to remote areas of the country. Candra is in fact empowering children and youth through technology. The key to her success, and that of all other entrepreneurs wanting to make a dent, is to leverage both technology and collaboration.

Through technology programs and people can reach far beyond their geographical region. In addition, if they partner with one another, their impact will not only be greater, but also sustainable. In fact, these two factors are part of the 5 powerful ideas for global impact promoted by the World Economic Forum.

With these two key factors, programs such as Friends-International from Cambodia, have found cooperation in 11 countries. The program’s collaborators have turned the program into social businesses that now sustain 40% of the program’s expenses. In other words, the program is almost sustainable on its own, and it is getting to full sustainability.

Social entrepreneurs build sustainable ventures

It’s not just about helping the people in need. It is also about empowering them and giving them a fighting chance to develop their own personal, local and national economies.

“Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime”

By: Rocío del Moral

2015-11-06 17.17.40


Support Social Entrepreneurship Around The World!

Join Jolkona in our mission to enable and accelerate social entrepreneurs from developing countries. Today we count on the generous support of the U.S. State Department in partnership with the U.S. Embassies in Jakarta, Dhaka and Kuala Lumpur. The grants we receive allow us to bring in social entrepreneurs to Seattle for three weeks, and coach them on how to get their projects off the ground or escalate them.

With your donations, we can take this program a step further. Donate to the Jolkona Catalyst program and you can be part of our program’s global impact.


What your donation will accomplish

Jolkona is currently inviting entrepreneurs from Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia. You donations will allow Jolkona to expand our program to other countries and to invite more social entrepreneurs from other parts of the world. This will increase the global impact we seek to catalyze.

Your donations can help us expand to countries like Mongolia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Philippines as well as Cuba, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and many more. Imagine the difference you can make across the world!

How you can donate

You can contribute with $10, $20 or whatever amount you’d like. We have a DONATE button that makes the donation process very easy via PayPal. There are so many ways to give:

  • You can mentor our entrepreneurs during our three-week program
  • You can host one of our entrepreneurs in your home during the program’s duration
  • You can volunteer to help us organize, set up and launch our Catalyst Showcase Event
  • You can spread the word about Jolkona in your local community and support our cause
  • You can make a cash donation today!


by Kymberly Tindall, Jolkona Volunteer


Monday of the second week, the Catalyst participants visited Cambia IMG_4294Grove and learned about how their space works to bring together individuals who are solving problems in healthcare. The Catalyst participants toured the 9000 square feet and got a sense for how a space free to people working on solutions to a fractured healthcare system.  Check out the board that is on the wall in the office area! A focus on the customer and innovating the customer experience in healthcare.  Healthcare innovators use this space to work, interact, support, and learn.

After the tour, the Catalyst participants convened in the conference room.  Avtar Varma, from Elevar, learned a bit about the projects in the room and got the group on a skype call with Anisha Sood, Investor-in-Residence at the Cambia Grove.  The Catalyst participants were aIMG_4300ble to learn about investing from the perspective of a Venture Capital expert.  Some of the take away points were that VCs are looking for focus and even in social projects, the return and outcome projections will be looked at the same from a financial stand point.   Also that advisors are great so long as they regularly and actively advise and how the process of gaining funding goes from introduction to receiving funding.

You can register for our Jolkona Catalyst Showcase on November 11th to see our entrepreneurs give their final pitches for the program.  Click here to RSVP!

Jolkona Catalyst brings high potential social entrepreneurs from emerging countries to Seattle for an intensive 3-week mentor-driven accelerator. These entrepreneurs are solving some of the most challenging societal issues in their communities. Our mentors include some of Seattle’s best startup talent who prepare these founders to scale and engage with investors at home and abroad.

Be sure to like Jolkona on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

During the first week of the Fall’15 Jolkona Catalyst program, the Jolkona Team is excited to welcome a group of five South Asian nationals for the first Jolkona Boost program. 

The Jolkona Boost team is a group of energetic, young founders representing Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Brunei. They are the winning team from an entrepreneurship workshop and pitch competition that took place on August 4-6 in Kuala Lumpur and was funded by the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.  The event — “Young Southeast Asia Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Generation: Startup Weekend ASEAN” ( — brought together 110 young aspiring Southeast Asian entrepreneurs to develop strategies on growing their local startup communities.  The group also had the opportunity to meet Secretary Kerry during his visit to Kuala Lumpur.

The five teammates came together to created a green energy start-up called APOLLO. Their start-up aims to provide energy efficiency and battery charging convenience to all of its users. APOLLO will allow users to charge cellular batteries from both solar and kinetic energy with a wireless charging feature.

Jolkona has arranged a one-week visit to Seattle for the five team members to help them develop the startup idea they presented in Kuala Lumpur.  They will learn skills needed to develop business plans and will get exposure to other entrepreneurs, potential partners, and mentors.

APOLLO is still in the early stages of their venture, but their vision is to make a revolutionary contribution to their countries’ power crises.

Please join us in welcoming the Fall’15 Jolkona Boost Team! 


Debbie Ang, Malaysia Debbie, Headshot

Debbie graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Education and Master of Languages & Linguistics. A serial multi-tasker; she works across multiple disciplines (law, psychology, semantics) to publish an ISI-impact journal article for her alma mater and is also an avid reader and writer, where she also contributes to a local website and blog as a columnist/ blogger. Her appreciation for literature and reading eventually landed her insatiable thirst for knowledge in business management and tech start-ups with focus on marketing, media and branding for Apollo.

An ardent believer that knowledge should be autodidactic, she is currently learning to code. Her experience as a trainer/educator has also groomed her to be analytical, critical, communicative and empathetic towards handling people from different backgrounds. Debbie believes that users’ experience and the product is the core success of APOLLO and together with her partners, they collaborate with one another to realize the very mission and vision they had when they first met during Startup Weekend, ASEAN.


Louise Ivan Valencia Payawal, Philippines IMG_4518

Louise Ivan Valencia Payawal is a 21-year-old software developer from the Philippines. Ivan was an active student leader and a consistent academic scholar whose hard work and perseverance bore fruit as he graduated with Latin honors from Wesleyan University-Philippines. He has also shared had his fair share of losses and failures. He has encountered countless hurdles, however these hurdles have fueled his passion for innovation and his commitment to the environment.

Ivan now anchors APOLLO, a company committed to technological advancements that utilize renewable energy resources. From this, APOLLO aims to provide energy efficiency and battery charging convenience to all its users. It possesses two renewable energy features that enable APOLLO to charge the battery from both solar and kinetic energy; and a wireless charging feature that enable its users to share its power wirelessly.


Tomy Arden Phang, Indonesia2013-06-21 2015-04-15 001 020

Tomy has always been enthusiastic about learning something new, especially in the field of sciences and technology. He loves to be able to apply what he learned into tangible projects that can be used to achieve a greater purpose. Being young has not stopped Tomy from looking for opportunities to build himself up as an entrepreneur.

Having found himself with like minded people in Startup Weekend ASEAN, His team has decided to create a green tech venture together. Tomy was born and raised in Indonesia, but has been studying in Singapore for the past seven years. He is currently studying in Singapore University of Technology and Design, pursuing Engineering and Product Design.


Suriatizah A. Rani (Shuu), Brunei Shuu Rani, Headshot

Suriatizah A. Rani (Shuu), has been teaching herself to design for the past 5 years. A person who has always been taking the high road in life, she has been building her career in the Design Industry by freelancing for different companies. Decidedly quirky and attentive, she values the symbiosis in the design world, from the Digital Design, to Visual Strategy and Industrial Design. Within those years, she has worked and established good rapport with both local and international clients such as Disney, GQ Magazine, and Insider Magazine.

As a design advocate, she believes the importance of design being not just an aesthetic, but functionality.

She resonates with APOLLO’s ideal to revolutionize product design, thus encouraged her to be the Lead Designer for the team. To her, brand and product design goes in tandem to any business’ foundation.


Aecil Trinidad, Philippines Aecil Trinidad

Aecil M. Trinidad graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electronics Engineering. She was granted a scholarship by Korea’s “Scranton Women’s Leadership.”

She also represented Wesleyan University in the recently concluded CISCO CCENT Netrid- ers Philippines 2014 where she was recognized as an award recipient. She also has a passion for network engineering and design. In her spare time, Aecil loves to travel, watch movies, and spend time hanging out with awesome people.


“My experience as a host for [Jolkona] Catalyst has been incredibly rewarding! I’ve not only made two wonderful new friends, but I enjoyed learning about their social good endeavors and feel confident the impact they will have in the world will be profound. In addition to learning so much about their cultures and traditions, we often spent the evening discussing topics that affect women and girls across the world. Every evening was an opportunity to experience the global community and I learned so much from both of my guests. I felt a meaningful connection to all of the changemakers in the program and it was truly an honor to be a part of their time here in Seattle. I stay in touch with both Dini and Mirah and feel so fortunate that they are now a part of my life. My homestay weeks were truly one of the most memorable moments at home in 2014.” – Kim Wright, homestay host 2014

Atuar with homestay friends II

 We’re looking for individuals and families to host our Jolkona Catalyst entrepreneurs this fall!

Jolkona Catalyst is a three-week intensive social business accelerator brings social entrepreneurs from emerging countries to Seattle, where they can hone their business plans, gain valuable insights, and work one on one with experts in their field.

These social leaders are dedicated and engaged students and professionals between the ages of 22 and 35, who are all eager to stay with local hosts and experience Seattle culture. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about other cultures and share a little of our own Pacific Northwest culture and hospitality.

Adnan with homestay parents


Here are a few helpful details:
  • The time and effort commitment to the host family is minimal
  • Hosts provide a room, are close to bus transportation and provide food for breakfast and dinner
  • The entrepreneurs have a full schedule and will spend much of their free time working on their projects or attending workshops
  • As long as there is access to the bus, these entrepreneurs will have an ORCA card for their commuting needs
  • We will grant a stipend to the host family to cover expenses incurred while hosting

“Hosting two social entrepreneurs from Bangladesh was great. They were warm, responsible, smart and fascinating people. Although I was a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa, I felt like I had a unique understanding of the work they were doing and the issues they faced from my own volunteer service, and we had many wonderful conversations. I highly recommend it!” – Casey Luce, homestay host 2015

If you’d like to host one of our Jolkona Catalyst entrepreneurs, please fill out our Homestay Interest Form.

Jolkona brings social entrepreneurs to Seattle, where they can hone their business plans, gain valuable insights, and work one on one with experts in their field.

Catalyst 2 at Microsoft


These social leaders are dedicated and engaged students and professionals, who are all eager to stay with local hosts and experience Seattle culture. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about other cultures and share a little of our own Pacific Northwest culture and hospitality.

Here are a few helpful details:

  • The time and effort commitment to the host family is minimal
  • Hosts provide a room, are close to bus transportation and provide food for breakfast and dinner
  • The entrepreneurs have a full schedule and will spend much of their free time working on their projects or attending workshops
  • As long as there is access to the bus, these entrepreneurs will have an ORCA card for their commuting needs
  • We will grant a stipend to the host family to cover expenses incurred while hosting

What makes our program unique?

Nancy Margried from Indonesia is an excellent example of the types of social leaders we bring through the Jolkona Catalyst Program. Nancy and her team use mathematical algorithms to create unique Batik cloth patterns. At TedxUbud, Nancy talks about combining new technology with traditional practices. 

  • Our participants are self-sufficient adults who have started companies at an early age. Participants typically come from mega-cities in the developing world. This gives our homestay hosts the rare opportunity to make meaningful friendships with their Catalyst! 
  • Jolkona Catalyst participants have been vetted by the U.S. Embassy in their home country. Participants have frequently received awards and grants from the Embassies and represented their countries abroad. In 2015, Jolkona Catalysts from Bangladesh represented their country at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Jolkona Catalyst participants have frequently completed their Master’s and Bachelor’s at home or abroad. Our Catalysts are highly motivated individuals! They have made a commitment to use their skills and talents to improve their home country for the better! 


“My experience as a host for [Jolkona] Catalyst has been incredibly rewarding! I’ve not only made two wonderful new friends, but I enjoyed learning about their social good endeavors and feel confident the impact they will have in the world will be profound. In addition to learning so much about their cultures and traditions, we often spent the evening discussing topics that affect women and girls across the world. Every evening was an opportunity to experience the global community and I learned so much from both of my guests. I felt a meaningful connection to all of the changemakers in the program and it was truly an honor to be a part of their time here in Seattle. I stay in touch with both Dini and Mirah and feel so fortunate that they are now a part of my life. My homestay weeks were truly one of the most memorable moments at home in 2014.”Kim Wright, Seattle International Foundation, homestay host 2014 
Jolkona Catalyst Alum and Bangladeshi participants at the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka.

Jolkona Catalyst Alum and Bangladeshi representatives at the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka.

“We learned so much from each other…. We certainly made a new friend and were sad to see her go!” – Chelsea Snodgrass, McMillen Jacobs Associates


If you’d like to host one of our Jolkona Catalyst entrepreneurs, please fill out our

Homestay Host Interest Form



Frequently Asked Questions


Jolkona is a nonprofit that brings high potential social entrepreneurs from emerging countries to Seattle for intensive, mentor-driven accelerator programs. These entrepreneurs are solving some of the most challenging social and environmental issues in their communities. Jolkona helps shape and develop these founders into leaders by providing training and mentorship from some of Seattle’s best talent.


To meet new people and learn about other cultures! Hosting an international guest in your home is a bit like bringing the world to you. Your gracious and warm welcome provides a level of comfort and cultural exchange that can’t be matched by other accommodations. In return, Jolkona participants share their traditions, meals, ambitions, and beliefs with you.


Our participants are self-sufficient leaders who have started their own ventures. Participants typically come from mega-cities around the world. Our homestay hosts have the rare opportunity to make meaningful friendships in far-away countries!

Jolkona participants have been vetted by the U.S. Embassy in their home country. They have frequently received awards and grants from the Embassies and represented their countries abroad. They have usually completed at least an undergraduate degree. Our participants are highly motivated individuals! They have made a commitment to use their skills and talents to improve their home country and the world.

Jolkona has invited social entrepreneurs to the US from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Our participants have ranged in age from 20-35, may be male or female, and of course, come from different cultures, nationalities, and religious backgrounds.


Yes, all of our participants speak excellent English. The chance to immerse themselves in the language in your home will also help them improve their skills.


We expect you to welcome our guest into your home. Provide a safe, caring environment, much as you would for any member of your family. Be prepared to spend time with your guest and display a friendly, flexible attitude.

Each guest requires their own bedroom, bed, closet, and ideally a desk. Accommodation offered to guests must be clean, orderly and in good repair. It must comply with current council building regulations, be properly furnished, be located within the family living area, and private. Bathrooms may be shared with the family or be private.

Our homestay hosts also provide food for up to two meals per day (breakfast and dinner); meals may be self-serve or prepared by the host.


Yes! Our host families come in all shapes and sizes. We have families with young children, individuals, empty-nesters, and retirees. As long as you have an extra room and want to open your home to an international participant, we will consider you.


Our participants commute via public transportation and work very long days, so we need our hosts to be within a 60-minute bus ride to the Jolkona office in Pioneer Square.


We typically run two 3-week programs (Spring and Fall) per year, as well as one or two 1-week programs in the late summer and/or winter. You can host whenever the scheduling is convenient for you.


Jolkona offers a stipend to offset food and living expenses. Our stipends make it comfortable for your family to enjoy hosting.

The benefits to you depend on the thought, effort, and commitment you invest. You will have the unique opportunity to build a lifelong relationship with an inspiring and motivated entrepreneur!


You can find our homestay application here: Homestay Host Interest Form

Frequently Asked Questions for the Jolkona Catalyst program

How much does this program cost?

We charge a $100 program fee for the virtual program upon acceptance into the program. The fee will be collected via PayPal or check. We can make other arrangements if those payment options do not work for you. If you are selected to participate in the Seattle-based program, Jolkona will cover program fees, lodging, meals, and transportation in Seattle to all program-related activities. You will need to cover any other expenses.

What do you mean by social entrepreneurship?

By social entrepreneurship we mean a unique solution to a social problem in your country that is effective, efficient, and sustainable. Your venture should be providing a product or service that adds social value to your community and can be scaled throughout your country.

Who is the ideal candidate for Jolkona Catalyst?

The ideal candidate for Jolkona Catalyst is a founder who has spent 2-3 years building a small to medium size social venture (for-profit or non-profit) and has proven track record. The ideal candidate is committed to his/her venture and does not see it as a side business or a hobby.

Do you assist in the visa process if I am chosen?

If you are selected to the program, we will work with our partner, US Embassy, to facilitate your visa process.

When can I expect to hear back about my application status?

You can expect to hear back from us within one month of application deadline.

What are my commitments if I get selected?

We expect you to fully participate in this program. This includes working with your assigned mentor(s) and committing to complete your Business Plan, Pitch Deck and Pitch Video.

If you are accepted to the Seattle program, you will need to set goals for what you hope to accomplish while you are in Seattle before you arrive so that you can capitalize on the few weeks you will be here. At the end of the program, we also ask you to reiterate your action plans for the next few years and require impact reports from you periodically after you get back home. Please note: We realize that you may need to manage work-related projects for your venture from a distance. You will need to use time outside of the program to do this. This may influence who you send to represent your team. You may also consider applying for a different cohort if there is a significant upcoming work-related project that would influence your ability to fully commit to the program.

What can I expect from the Jolkona Catalyst program?

Jolkona Catalyst is designed as an intensive accelerator program to help you think through every aspect of your business. You will also get exposure to a large network of mentors, coaches, social business, and impact investors. You will also get increased exposure in your home country upon your return.

Can I get advice on my business idea, if I am not selected to be part of Jolkona Catalyst?

We focus all of our resources on our cohorts. Unfortunately, that does not leave us with enough resources to provide advice to other businesses. However, there are many resources on the Internet that can help you to review different aspects of your business. You can also reach out to our past participants.

Why Seattle?

Seattle is quickly being recognized as a hub for social innovation and entrepreneurship. We are home to innovative companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Costco, Boeing etc. who pay great attention to social causes as well. Seattle is also the headquarters of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which has helped fund and drive much of the social innovation in this region.

Will I get funding by participating in this program?

No, we do not provide any funding at this time. However, you will be pitching to a room full of entrepreneurs, business community, and impact investors who may become interested in investing. In addition, through our partnership with the U.S. Embassy, you will be introduced to local investors and business community in your country who can guide you on ways to secure funds.

 Still have questions?

Contact us at!

We’re celebrating Jolkona’s first 5 years at our Corks & Forks dinner/auction next Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013 — and we’re especially thrilled that a table of representatives from Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, our original corporate sponsor, will be there to share the excitement!

The communications agency first partnered with us in 2010 for a matching grant campaign called MatchED, which doubled up to $5,000 of donations to educational projects showcased on our website. We’ve partnered together several times since then, and several WE employees are among our most dedicated volunteers.

Waggener EdstromA little trip down memory lane:

As we prepare to celebrate Jolkona’s 5th birthday together and look ahead to another 5 years of inspiring and empowering a new generation of philanthropists, the WE team in Seattle shared these thoughts with us this week:

What is your organization’s mission?

Through communications, we aim to be the voice of innovation and the catalyst of its impact.  Our vision is to be the pre-eminent leader in giving a powerful voice to innovations that influence markets, inspire people and improve lives.

How do you define “philanthropist?”

Simply put, philanthropy is giving back. Or more specifically, being generous by the way of your time, money or influence to help good causes.

At Waggener Edstrom we have closely examined how philanthropy has evolved over the years. In the past, the majority of so-called “philanthropists” were typically older, far along in their careers and would support by writing large checks to well-established foundations and charities. But we are seeing that model shifting drastically. Today’s philanthropists also include young professionals and digital-natives who are passionate about a myriad number of social causes from clean water to universal education to girl’s empowerment. They tend to give smaller amounts and expect organizations to show directly where their money is going. And money is not the only way young people give – the new generation of philanthropists also tend to donate their time, skills and even their influence on social media properties (read more about what WE considers “Social Citizens” here). Similarly, WE have evolved our approach from giving money to focusing on strategically using our time, treasures and talents to work together to drive impactful change in the communities where we live and work.

What does cooking together and sharing a meal mean to you?

The act of cooking and sharing a meal together is so human and universal. We are excited to participate in Corks & Forks to share this bonding experience with our colleagues and others passionate about making a difference in the world.

Why are you supporting Jolkona?

WE are passionate about supporting the new generation of philanthropists and appreciate the dynamic digital platform that Jolkona has built to create big impact through small donations. WE believes in the power of partnerships between the public and private sector and the budding social entrepreneurship sector. The company is also committed to supporting causes that our employees care about and engaged with. Three of our colleagues even sit on Jolkona’s leadership team: Seema Bhende, Director of Strategy; Melinda Moseler, Marketing Advisor for Brand; and Megan Fleming, Social Media Advisor. Through the MatchED and Good Deeds campaigns, numerous donations and volunteer hours, Waggener Edstrom has been supporting Jolkona for over 4 years and will continue to support as long as our employees are engaged in this kind of work.

Anything else you’d like to add?

WE love learning about new causes and projects through Jolkona’s monthly GiveTogether program. Keep inspiring and empowering people to give!

Thank you, Waggener Edstrom!

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Postpartum Depression

Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women’s Mental Health reports that upwards of 85% of mothers experience postpartum baby blues in the days immediately following birth. Yet, postpartum depression often goes unaddressed in communities. For the majority of women, feelings of tearfulness and exhaustion dissipate within a week or so; it is the continuation and escalation of these symptoms and more that pose a lasting threat to the mother’s well-being.

Women suffering from postpartum depression may experience severe agitation, guilt, or fear, loss of concentration, appetite, and sleep, and thoughts of suicide or harm to the child. Disturbingly, despite the deluge of health resources available in the world today, the pervasiveness of postpartum depression is often overlooked. One admirable organization looking to right this cultural oversight is Madre Bonita, a non-profit based in Japan. Started by Maco Yoshioka, Madre Bonita offers postpartum fitness classes for women to provide a healthy community in which they can improve their mental, physical, and emotional well-being.

World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day is today, October 10th, an appropriate catalyst for highlighting Jolkona’s project Prevent Postpartum Depression for Mothers in Japan. According to the World Health Organization, this year’s theme is Depression: A Global Crisis. The day is intended to encourage and promote awareness, discussion, and activism on behalf of mental health issues. The WHO reports that over 350 million people suffer from depression, a disease which is not always easily diagnosed by the victim or those in the victim’s life.

Present research states that nearly 100,000 women in Japan experience postpartum depression in a pronounced way. Its detrimental effects wear heavily on mothers as well as adversely affecting their baby’s well-being. Madre Bonita’s dedication speaks to what every new mother truly deserves: rest, empathy, and professional resources that will augment the health of their whole person. Over 2,000 women took classes with Madre Bonita’s staff in 2010 alone; they hope to extend their cultural reach every year.

Photo Source: Madre Bonita

Healthy Mothers

By supporting the organization’s mission, you give struggling mothers the chance to move on with their lives in a positive manner. Those who benefit from Jolkona’s project are typically young or single mothers, or mothers of premature babies or those with significant disabilities. $50 covers the cost of one class for a mother to rehabilitate her mental health and stability. For only $15, important booklet materials are given to a woman to supplement her recovery concerning postpartum depression. It is a small amount to give to register such an unquantifiable impact on a mother, her child, and their lives together.

If you or someone in your life is suffering from depression, know that there is help and hope for you. Call to speak with a professional free of charge, day or night, and reach someone willing to listen unconditionally. Stand in solidarity with people suffering around the world and celebrate World Mental Health Day as a means towards greater healing.

Prevent Postpartum Depression for Mothers in Japan and promote the healthy empowerment of women today.

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This post is a reflection of Saman Nizami’s experiences and observations during her internship for BRAC’s “Targeting the Ultra-Poor” program in Bangladesh.

To recap on my previous post, BRAC’s “Targeting the Ultra-Poor” (TUP) program takes an integrated approach towards empowering women at the bottom of the poverty ladder. In addition to providing income generating assets and enterprise development training, the other four components of the program play a subtle but vital role in lifting these women out of poverty as well. In this post, I’ll discuss two of these powerful catalysts (i.e. healthcare support and social development) and the other two (i.e. financial discipline and subsistence allowance) in my next post.

Preliminary Healthcare Services and Education


Meet Tasmeena (above). She is a domestic servant, who was recently recruited into the TUP program. Tasmeena suffers from fever frequently, which hinders her from working. Even when I met her, she had a high fever – which I had to diagnose by touching her forehead and wrist because she couldn’t afford basic healthcare essentials like a thermometer. In the past, she has met physicians who suggested she get blood tests, but she never followed through because, again, she could not afford it.

Her weak livelihood and poor health condition were inter-dependent. Her meager income would not allow to her seek formal medical care for treatment or purchase medication. Similarly, her poor health condition was pushing her into further destitution by limiting the manual labor she could perform or making her take days off from work. For Tasmeena and her family, not going to work for a day meant forgoing a day’s income which had dire consequences. Her family may have to starve for the day or she may have to resort to begging for cash and food. Fortunately, BRAC will provide her healthcare services to improve her health condition which will ultimately strengthen her livelihood.

Another strategy of the program is health education. I sat in on one of BRAC’s health education sessions with the TUP members where BRAC’s health volunteers were discussing the importance of feminine hygiene and family planning. See my picture below.

BRAC health education session

These women are also given hygiene education and essential items like sanitary latrines and tube-wells for safe drinking water to protect them from communicable diseases.

BRAC’s integrated health services aim to improve the nutritional and health statuses of these women and their families. As a result, this improvement in their families’ health plays a key role in stimulating any improvements in the households’ economic conditions.

Madhu Bi, wearing sandals and using a tube-well, BRAC, TUP Program
Above: TUP member, Madhu Bi, wearing sandals and using a tube-well she received from BRAC for safe drinking water. She explained that in the past, her children have suffered from diseases like jaundice and diarrhea, but now they have been much healthier as a result of changing simple practices and receiving key facilities (i.e. sanitary latrine and tube-well).

Social Development

Another important mechanism propelling the program’s success is mobilizing the community and building the human social capital of the rural poor (particularly women). The first time I went to a Gram Daridro Bimochon Committee (GDBC) meeting, a local rural elite committee formed to protect these vulnerable families, the leadership proudly described their responsibilities including information dissemination on health issues, protection of the women’s assets , and advocacy of their rights to the local government. At the meeting, the TUP members were closely following the meeting’s agenda and openly expressing their thoughts on how to address their communities’ needs. Towards the end, the women and the GDBC gifted a tin house roof to an ill widow purchased through collective donations from the community.  I was amazed to see this strong affinity and urge to help others among these women, despite the difficult conditions they’re in themselves.

Here is a short video I took from one of the GDBC meetings:
[youtube] As an additional effort in socially empowering women, BRAC’s field staff trains them on social issues that plague their communities. This includes teaching them how to write their name, the importance of marriage and birth certificates, and laws on early child marriage, dowry, etc. These women are then encouraged to uphold their rights, play a more active role in their communities, and strongly resist abuse and exploitation.

BRAC's field staff teaching Rukhsana
Above: BRAC’s field staff teaching Rukhsana how to write her name as part of the social development training.

I met a TUP graduate (2006) named Masooda who has progressed significantly in terms of social development.  When she was recruited to the TUP program, Masooda felt alienated as a poor widow living on her own. Further, she had no time or energy to interact with people because of her arduous manual labor as a domestic servant. However, after graduating from the TUP program, she plays an active role in her community. She frequently gives her community members advice, and even stopped two early child marriages among her relatives by vehemently protesting against it. She is approaching local government representatives to secure her entitlements (i.e. widow allowance) as well.

Another TUP graduate, Afreena, used to be physically tortured by her husband, but she felt like she had no one to turn to. However, now that she generates income and has assets in her ownership, she has authority within the household and her husband treats her with respect. Now, the question that arises is if her husband is treating her well because he considers her to be a source of income, or have his fundamental beliefs about women changed? Will this change be sustained unconditionally in the long term even if Afreena decides to sell her assets and stop contributing to the household? A little too soon to tell…

Nevertheless, it’s clear that lifting these women out of poverty requires the need to intrinsically empower them, where they learn how to protect themselves from marginalization and control their own lives. It also involves instilling perception changes among men and women and dismantling the entrenched ideology of gender inequality.

And it doesn’t stop here…more to come in my next post!

Saman Nizami graduated from UCSD with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and History. She is currently working for a Pakistan-based NGO, HOPE (Health Oriented Preventive Education), primarily in disaster response projects aimed to help the victims of the recent 2010 floods. She’s also a Project Team Lead for ADP (Association for the Development of Pakistan). During her spare time, Saman enjoys trying new restaurants (particularly sushi), learning North Indian classical singing, watching Bollywood movies, and most recently – tweeting. You can follow her @saman_nizami.

This post was written by Tysen Gannon, the Director of Corporate Partnerships here at Jolkona Foundation.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Pacific Northwest Global Donors Conference. One of the central themes that emerged was importance of and benefits associated with giving to projects that empower women. This resonates greatly with the work Jolkona Foundation is doing with our partner organizations around the world, and coincides with women’s history month and Jolkona Foundation’s highlighting women-focused projects.

In her opening address to the international development focused conference, Kavita Ramdas, President and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, delivered a direct and inspired call-to-action for philanthropists. Ms. Ramdas highlighted the sweeping changes many grassroots women’s organizations have been able to achieve by connecting with grantmakers willing to take risks in funding small projects and organizations. It is often these grassroots groups organizing around simple needs and injustices that offer the clearest and most efficient path to making a measurable difference. Small projects–such as the Global Fund for Women’s contribution to the EcoWomen group in China which fund education and safer handling of pesticides–have achieved remarkable results for women, their health, and, by extension, their families and entire communities.

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