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Yoga Gives Back - Best Practice Management Magazine - August 2013

Yoga Gives Back - Best Practice Management Magazine - August 2013

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Published by clwaei5525
How I Grew a Grassroots Non-Prot From Los Angeles to the World

Founder and President of Yoga Gives Back Kayoko Mitsumatsu shares how a grassroots
organisation became a global campaign in six years.

By Kayoko Mitsumatsu
How I Grew a Grassroots Non-Prot From Los Angeles to the World

Founder and President of Yoga Gives Back Kayoko Mitsumatsu shares how a grassroots
organisation became a global campaign in six years.

By Kayoko Mitsumatsu

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Published by: clwaei5525 on Aug 27, 2013
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Issue 94, August 2013Best Practice Management
4746
How I Grew a GrassrootsNon-Prot From Los Angelesto the World
Founder and President of Yoga Gives Back Kayoko Mitsumatsu shares how a grassrootsorganisation became a global campaign in six years.
By Kayoko Mitsumatsu
Kayoko Mitsumatsu,Founder and President of Yoga Gives Back
Yoga Gives Back was born in my personal yoga practicein Los Angeles in 2007. While working on assignmentfor NHK, Japan’s National Public Television, on afeature documentary Social Entrepreneurship in theU.S.A., I learned about Nobel Peace Prize Recipient Dr.Muhammad Yunus’ micro financing and its impact onmillions of poor families in Bangladesh and manydeveloping countries.At home in Los Angeles, I was beginning to appreciatethe benefit of my daily yoga classes, and being deeplygrateful for feeling healthier physically and mentally. Icouldn’t help asking, "What is the purpose of becomingso healthy and joyful?"One ancient teaching from reading Indian philosophyand taking Sanskrit classes hit me hard: "The first half part of your life is to gain experience. The second half isto serve others." I was 47 years old.Yoga is a luxury, available only to those who can affordtime and leisure pursuits at US$15-20 per class. InAmerica alone US$6 billion a year is spent on yoga andyoga-related items and activities.The yoga community offered many donation classes, butnone that focused on giving back to India, the birthplaceof yoga, where poverty still afflicts 75 percent of thepopulation.Yoga classes and studies introduce practitioners toancient Indian philosophy but offer little or noconnection with contemporary Indian society and people.There is something wrong with the contrast betweenbillions of dollars spent on yoga and millions of peopleliving in poverty. I felt responsible for sharing thebenefits, for giving back to so many Indians in need.
The Power of a Simple Message
The Yoga Gives Back campaign was created first withmy yoga teacher, my brand-consultant husband and a fewsupportive friends, and the magical ingredients cametogether: micro financing + yoga.Even before we worked out our mission statement, wecame up with our campaign slogan, the mantra thatsparked an almost-immediate grassroots response: "Forthe cost of one yoga class, you can change a life."We talked to local yoga teachers and studios owners, andit was truly inspiring that yoga practitioners responded sopositively, as if they were waiting for something like thisfor a long time. Fund-raising classes quickly spread toother studios in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, London,Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore, Vancouver and Rio deJaneiro. Yoga Gives Back Netherlands & Belgium wasalso created by a very enthusiastic yoga teacher.In 2012, our global campaign "Thank You, Mother India"sponsored over 100 events in 17 countries and we aim todouble the number each year.The simplicity of the message was its power.
Partnering with a Reputable Organisation
One of the indispensable ingredients for YGB’s successfulgrowth has also been valuable introductions to peoplewho could boost YGB in various stages. At a very earlystage, I was fortunate to be introduced to the GrameenFoundation headquartered in Washington D.C., Dr.Yunus’ international organisation, whose mission is toreplicate micro financing throughout the world.Once we secured this relationship, more doors startedto open for YGB. I was soon introduced to GrameenFoundation’s partner, Grameen Koota in Bangalore,to learn more about how micro financing works inIndia.My first trip to India in 2007 was an eye-opener. Iencountered real people with real needs, and discovereda vital world another planet away from the serenity of theyoga studio. How could my personal practice bemeaningful if I could not reach out to these real peopleliving today in real need?
Using Your Unique Talent
It was fortunate that one of my best friends, an EmmyAward-winning editor, told me to take my video camera,as we’d never know how such footage could becomeuseful later. On that first trip to India, I filmed streetchildren in Delhi, shanty towns in Mumbai, as well asinspiring stories of women micro-financing lenders fromGrameen Koota in the villages I visited with my husband(who serves on the YGB board of directors). Footagefrom the first trip was far from being great, and duringmy last four visits there, I learned how to multitask —meet new people, interview, and learn about them whilefilming all on my own.One YGB story is about Jayashree, whom we met onmy first trip as we filmed her journey to get the firstmicro loan to escape sheer poverty. Last fall, we madeour fourth visit to her home outside Bangalore, fundingher business as well as her son Guruprasad’s education,who is now studying at a distant medical dental college.YGB is now providing tuition and committed to supporthis studies until he becomes a dentist, under the newSister Aid SHE (Scholarship for Higher Education)programme.
 A micro-finance lender in Bangalore, who started a toy-making businessGiving back to India — beneficiaries from West Bengal

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