Jean-Luc Nguyen

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Which innovative projects with a social impact inspire you the most?

I have been travelling around the world for 9 months now, making documentaries about unusual things I see.

From now, I'd like to start a mini serie of videos about social entrepreneurship, focusing on innovative and original projects that have an impact on the world.
Whether it's a social business, a NGO, a local group, which project do you think people should know about, that inspires you, are fascinating, innovative or simply fun?

I'd like to make a list of 25-50 organizations that I will go visit and make a documentary about.

Here are a few initiatives I like:

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    Nov 14 2011: 'Do Something Different' is all about behaviour change. It inspired me enough to get fully involved. Our goal is to get people (in companies and in communities) to do something different rather than think something different because doing can change the world but thinking can't. We help people move away from auto-pilot.

    It's also lots of fun! - for more info

    Good luck with your quest

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      Nov 15 2011: I agree with that philosophy of "Stop thinking, start doing". I have checked out the website, but can you give me an example of how you motivate people to act exactly?
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        Nov 17 2011: We provide them with three do's a week - three seemingly insignificant tasks that are different, that gradually ease them out of their comfort zone. Things like 'Walk a different way to work' , 'Talk to a neighbour you've never talked to before', 'Ask a teenager for advice' - They enjoy doing the tasks, they get something back, something different.

        The do's become increasingly challenging and in the latter stages of the programme are tailored to their individual behavioural repertoire e.g. if they are not an assertive person we challenge them to try out being more assertive.

        Eventually breaking habits becomes easy because the autopilot switch is off. Hope this helps
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          Nov 18 2011: OK, I see. It would be interesting to follow a few people for a few weeks to see the evolution in their behavior. The method kindsof remind me some courses to pick-up girls. "Go talk to the waitress", "Try to make a girl you have never met before laugh", etc...
  • Nov 9 2011: Hi Jean-Luc! One of the projects I admire is the Skateistan project. It started out as a skate boarding school for the kids in Kabul, a project meant to at least in part turn their focus away from the conflicts, engage the children in skating as a hobby and it has now evolved into much more than that, they are not only teaching kids how to skate, but also hold art, journalism and photography classes for them, it has received a tremendous amount of support and has expanded a lot, I believe they are opening a Skate Park in Cambodia now as well. Have a look at their website
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      Nov 10 2011: Amazing Andreea ! That's exactly the kind of projects I'm looking for ! If you think of others like this, please let me know !
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    • Nov 14 2011: I love charity-water as well. I believe them to be the best administered charity on the planet.
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      Nov 15 2011: Hey Carl, I don't understand what is the concept of mapmagazine?
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        Nov 15 2011: Hi Jean

        I was being a bit cheeky in placing it as an answer to your question. map magazine believes in the power of positive media. It celebrates dreamers from around the planet and presents people who are chasing their dreams in life. We do this to inspire others towards chasing their dreams and hopefully dreams that will impact on their own being and the planet positively.

        We feature many of the people who start up social businesses that inspire.

        So many great stories do not get read in the mainstream press so we are doing our bit to help change the language of what pop culture media can be.

        Hope this helps ... a little :)


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    Nov 9 2011: I'm very excited and inspired by the social innovation space, particularly in poverty, health care, and education. Here are a couple projects which are particularly inspiring to me:

    Crowdsourcing Solutions to Social Problems (ie crowdsourcing social innovation)

    Scientifically Evaluating Social Innovation in the Development Context

    IDEO & Acumen fund's collaboration with the Ripple Effect Project looks look:

    Design for the Other 90 Percent

    Interesting ideas. One Laptop sounded interesting when I first learned about it, but it doesn't quite understand the situation and context of the developing world. Social innovation has to consider context.
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      Nov 16 2011: Thanks for sharing these inspiring projects!
  • Nov 7 2011: I find projects that involve any form of art very interesting, especially when their target is to benefit children, especially children that have to deal with certain illnesses and have to quickly become too old for their age.
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      Nov 9 2011: Hi Andreea, I'm very interested in projects targeting children that involves art too. I'd love to meet some initiatives going in that direction. Do you remember one or two that inspired you?
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    Dec 4 2011: In my travels , it has come to my attention that the broom is a universal househlod tool. however it seems not all brooms are created equal. I have noticed within developed nations and societies of the world the broom has a full handle alllowing the user to stand upright. While in most of the rest of the underdeveloped nations and societies the broom has a very short handle requiring the user to bend over at the waist to use it.This is not due to a lack of resorces.
    I have often wondered has this simple act of sweeping with different lengths of broom handles led to the development or underdevelopment of a nation or society through some sort of collective consciousness .As a habit or tradition or is there something else behind it. what do you think.
    Would the act of simply replacing the short handle for a longer handle advance these societies.Could something so simple be the answer to improving the lives of so many in underdeveloped countries. considering it is women in these societies who mostly take care of the sweeping in the household.
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    Dec 4 2011: Recently I saw a video of a solar light made form a soda bottle which was changing the lives of many people in Manila Philippines . This simple technology I believe will profoundly change these peoples lives . Having spent a little time there myself , both in Manilla and in the provinces I have seen first hand the living conditions for some people .especially for the poor. Not having the finances to afford electricity and often no electricity. they live in their homes even in daylight in perpetual darkness. This is a very simple and inexpensive technology. This technology would improve their lives immensely. This idea needs to be explored and further developed for all countries where this could benefit the poor and less fortunate. Where electricity is not readily available . However sunlight is owned and operated by no one. it is free. From villagers in myanmar to vietnam, philippines rural as well as urban centres. Anywhere in the world where this can be used. It would have profound benefits to these people I believe.
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    Dec 4 2011: I would like to say, I am new to TED, and I am quite inspired by it. I think TED is a great idea, and one which ought to be spread.

    Thanks for your patience in me testing the coding limitations! Just be thankful I don't know bbcode or css! :)
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    Dec 3 2011: Not to toot our own horn, but has done 750 projects in over 70 nations around the world for a tiny fraction of what any other organization spends.

    We have no paid employees, and have literally spent more than 100% of the donations we receive on actual, tangible, and pragmatic hydrophilanthropic projects. (We are not only all-volunteer, but we actually donate our personal monies to fund projects immediately when there are no donations yet.)

    Our Appropriate Projects Initiative is a model of cheap and efficient charity.

    This model of working directly with the Peace Corp volunteers eliminates all travel and admin expenses. Villagers nearly always contribute their own labor... and we can drill a well for $500 where others spend literally $10,000 to $50,000.

    I don't ask you to believe me (I am clearly partial). Just check out the websites. Every project is online for you to peruse, just poke around.
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    Nov 29 2011: Epitome of an epic. An epiphany starting an epidemic of epiphenomena. My idea is to spread HOPE using a fictional story as a guide.

    Please keep an open mind. The idea is to write a book that inspires people to do what the book says. The book is the fictional story of The Second Foundation bringing these ideas (H2OPE, The A.R.C., and S.O.R.O.S.) to reality. Think of the book as a screenplay or business plan for the world. It would use computer modeling to get as close as possible to what could happen. It would sprinkle planned events through the book, that will happen after the book is out. For example, in chapter 2, there could be this charity ball where Oprah buys a bottle of H2OPE for a million dollars, this would then take place in real life (right on cue). This kind of thing, would be spread all through the book. The roll of a lifetime, an appearance in the book that aims to change the world. The book should be as accurate as possible as to be the manual. Showing people what to do and what will happen when they do. The book will show that by purchasing the H2OPE all that will happen. H2OPE (message in a bottle) is the unifier. It has many attributes, it can be quantified, by being distinctive it allows people to see others following the plan, this is a critical component for generating faith. It is easy to market; 1) buy one and someone in the world gets one for free; 2) start a collection (messages are infinite) your collection shows your contribution and can be used during an emergency; 3) use to teach another language, show duck in multiple languages; 4) use code or rfid to link to web sites generating traffic i.e. get Linden Dollars in Second Life; many marketing strategies are available. The idea is to release H2OPE at the same time as the book. Reality starts to mirror the book and the ball is rolling. This is by no means the whole plan.

    Please visit my photos to get a little better understanding of the H2OPE, The ARC, and the SOROS. I look forward to A
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    Nov 16 2011: Thanks Jean-Luc for starting this interesting conversation. I've discovered a lot of interesting projects thanks to you and everyone else replying.
    My favorite projects would be
    Both projects have a larger scale then most of the suggestions here but provide a huge amount of inspiring ideas. Worldchanging actually combines a lot of writers about a myriad of social projects and is my starting point for discovering new ideas to make the world a more sustainably and happier place.
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    Nov 15 2011: I think you should check one this one:

    Its called "Yedid" (Friend in Hebrew) and its based on the empowerment principle.
  • Nov 14 2011: I think its a great idea I have a list of over 100 or more such enterprises If you'd like to collaborate with upcoming film makers this side of the pond to do this Let me know.
    Grameen phone and others like that MXshare in Africa etc. allows people to share cellphone time which could be unaffordable. It has also become a business for many people who rent out phone time (Very lucrative)
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      Nov 15 2011: It would be awesome. I would need some help for sure. My idea in the end is to start an inspirational TV Channel so I will definitely need some talented film makers. I will probably start by myself to see if I can get people interested in that project. You can send me the list through the contact form on my website: (don't like to leave my email address on forums in order to avoid spam).
      Thanks a lot !
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    Nov 13 2011: I am trying to create an intentional community for people who have no family, or families who would like to spread their love. I am trying to get families to join together in groups of six and live together in specially desgined six-family dwellings where everyone shares transportation (several cars), a master kitchen, a dining room, a day care center, a home-office-study, an exercise room, a workshop, and a large screen tv room. This would encourage group activities, group interaction. It would enable people to enjoy a higher standard of living while cosuming less resources. It is a more efficient way of living. Each family would have their own private living quarters.
  • Nov 13 2011: Your question is a good one. But there are many "socially inspired" projects based on indiviudal background and community spirit taht are important for that person or the small group quarterback. Due to my community service activiits as a community tv prducer for many years, I came to know the wonderful work many non-profits, 501-c-3 organizations are doing, mostly with volunteers in their own community and region. My "Project Ideas" under my "Conversation" highlights those that are inspiring to me and others I know on a personal basis with whom I share common apsirations for pursuit of "healthier community" and prosperity on a community and region basis.
  • Nov 13 2011: Here is one very inspiaring from me:
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      Nov 13 2011: Amazing project ! Looking forward to see how it evolves
  • Nov 11 2011: apparently.. I didn't know about Kiva
  • Nov 10 2011: Thank you for such a great topic and good luck with your inspiring project !

    I am aware of the following projects that seem to have a great impact abroad: - loan people small amount of money so they can start have their store or small business to survive - provides student loans

    The great aspect of the two organizations above is that the donor can "re-invest" their money to help other people after the original loan has been repaid.

    I think Khan Academy has also big social impact to students abroad:

    Finally Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan: and

  • Nov 10 2011:
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    Nov 8 2011: Hi there,

    My best friend recently introduced me to the Homeless World Cup project ( which may be something of interest to you as it covers a wide range of countries and I believe it is a great example of a NGO which interactively attempts to bridge social gaps for youngsters. The method of sport as a social activity also puts a positive spin on sometimes the dark corners of reality. I hope this helps.
  • Nov 8 2011: The sixth sense by Pranav Mistry... i could nt believe that a guy in his age would do something like that !!!
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    Nov 8 2011: Showing people how they can have a higher standerd of living by joining together with five other families, and sharing most everything they own.
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      Nov 9 2011: Hi Michael, that looks very interesting. What is the name/website of that project?
  • Nov 8 2011: m Pesa in Kenya is amazing; Grameen phone in Bangladesh; check any of the KIVA stuff; Khan academy in California;
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      Nov 9 2011: I didn't know about m pesa, it looks interesting, I'll dig into it. Thanks.
      I knew about the Grameen bank, but not the Grameen phone. From what I understand, it's a phone network that is affordable. Is there anything I missed from the concept?