The United Nations’ Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, tells a poignant story of his childhood. “I grew up in a society ravaged by war and mired in poverty. Schools had been destroyed. My classes were held in the open under a tree. We had no desks, chairs or other basic necessities. The Republic of Korea was on its knees, but education enabled the country to stand tall again.”

“Even in the worst circumstances, education helps to give children confidence to face the future… I want every child, without exception, to have the same opportunity that I had. The power of education to transform lives is universal.”

In 2012, Ban Ki-moon called together a coalition of UN personnel, NGOs, politicians and corporations to fight together for the educational needs of the planet. The UN approached our Global Hand team, asking if we could  support this by tailoring the software we developed for business.un.org so that all these groups could make formally commit to seeing education reach children around the world.

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Recent years have seen intolerable suffering for women in the conflict-ridden country of Sudan where they have, systematically, been victim to violence and rape.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) sought ways to empower women in this troubled country. They looked at ways of creating employment opportunities, since women would be less vulnerable with greater independence, self-sufficiency, control of their lives and, of course, dignity.

As they sought ideas for women in business, they discussed the growing of hibiscus. This is plentiful in Sudan and is an ingredient used in tea products of fruit tea blends.

There was a problem with hibiscus business initiatives, however. While Sudan is renowned for producing high quality hibiscus for teas, around 18,000 tons a year, many Sudanese hibiscus farmers have remained caught in the poverty trap.  As hibiscus growers put it, “We produce the crop, then the traders come and take it on their terms.”

UNDP Sudan (3)It was a situation calling out for a Fair Trade overhaul.

A staff member from UNDP therefore posted a request on business.un.org. She asked for interested companies, dealing in hibiscus, to come together and discuss how to make trading practices fairer for the farmers. Some of the world’s leading businesses responded and the result was phenomenal. People from different levels of the hibiscus industry came together and brought significant change. This will impact the futures of at least 5,000 vulnerable women and girls in Sudan by, for example, seeing factories in Sudan becoming Fair Trade certified to ensure sustainable income for those involved.

This is a story that truly illustrates the power of partnerships!

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Global Hand Chinese translation team receive Online Volunteering Award To mark International Volunteers Day on 4th December, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme announced the winners of the “Online Volunteering Award 2010”, honouring the ‘outstanding’ contributions of volunteers who work entirely over the Internet to contribute to peace and development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Global Hand’s Chinese translation team of four online volunteers was one of the recipients of the Award, for their work translating business.un.org into Chinese. An excerpt, below, from the UNV website, outlines their work. Read the full story or the Online Volunteering press release.

Within three months, a team of four online volunteers translated more than 150 documents of the UN-Business partnership gateway www.business.un.org into Chinese. The portal, developed for the UN by the Hong-Kong-based NGO Global Hand, matches the needs of UN organizations with the resources and capacities of the private sector to address global challenges. The launch of the Chinese version together with the other official UN languages at the 2010 Global Compact Leaders’ Summit in New York was a key step towards the portal’s global outreach.

The Chinese website will enhance the brokerage of partnerships between Chinese companies and the UN in support of critical humanitarian needs and long-term development goals. Through approximately 110 partnership stories translated by the online volunteers, Chinese companies can find inspiration on how they can engage with the UN.

Olivia Cho, who coordinated Global Hand’s collaboration with the volunteers, states that “the online volunteers showed an exceptional level of team work that really astounded us, as well as a high-level of expertise and commitment. They were extremely thorough and brilliant at communicating, always responding promptly to questions and new instructions. We encouraged the team to discuss their challenges and work together on addressing difficult words or phrases. This added an additional layer of consistency across the project, helped the team move forward faster, and enhanced motivation for the whole team”. 

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