Grassroots Movements

SummaryAcknowledgementIntroductionWhy Should We Help?The BenefitsThe Venture ItselfHow to Avoid the Marie Antoinette SyndromeThe Action PlanConclusionSelected Bibliography


Time and time again, it is the grassroots movements that change the world. For example, the (persons case) in Canada, which ultimately resulted in women being considered persons under the law, was not instituted by the government, but by five brave women who were willing to challenge the status quo (Famous Five, 2006). Here are some current and applicable examples:

— The microcredit movement (described earlier), which lends money to the very poorest people on the planet to help lift themselves out of poverty, was not started by the IMF, or the World Bank, or any other bank for that matter, but by Muhammad Yunus, the lone economics professor at Chittagong University in Bangladesh (Yunus, 2003).

— A program to bring AIDS treatments directly to those in need in Arua, Uganda, was not started by any government or large bureaucratic organization but by Doctors without Borders (Medicins sans frontiers), an independent non-government organization (NGO). (Lewis, 2005, pp. 67-68)

— A movement to use citizen diplomacy to resolve national and international conflicts was started by John McDonald, a former UN diplomat and international consultant. McDonald spoke at BCIT in November 2006 about the need to go beyond government-to-government diplomacy to the individual people involved. His peace institute has helped mediate and resolve many conflict situations. (Bramham, 2006, December 1)

— Research on tropical diseases, especially malaria, has been funded by the private Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which gave $500 million in August 2006 to the newly founded Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The UN has not been able to do much in this area, and no pharmaceutical company has yet taken up this challenge. (Branswell, 2006)

— A program to get AIDS antiviral drugs directly to pregnant women in Africa was started by none other than Bono, lead singer of the Irish rock group U2. He convinced a number of companies, including The Gap, Apple, Motorola, and Armani, to sell (RED products), of which up to 50 percent of the profits is used for the program. This (RED) campaign was launched in North America on The Oprah Winfrey Show in Thursday, October 12, 2006. Within hours, The Gap’s RED T-shirts were sold out, and by the beginning of November, enough money had been raised to get drugs to 15 million women. No government or international bureaucratic institution was at all involved. (Oprah, 2006)

Figure 10 shows Bono and Oprah kicking off the (Shop (RED) campaign for Africa).


Figure 10: Rock star Bono and Oprah Winfrey shopping in Chicago

(Oprah and Bono, 2006)

The publicity generated by Bono and Oprah’s shopping spree, shown in the photograph above, resulted in extraordinary and unprecedented action at the grassroots level.

Obviously, we cannot leave the initiative and the work to the UN, the World Bank, the IMF, or the world’s governments. We need to become part of the grassroots movements.


Read More: It’s Their Own Fault If They Are PoorJared Diamond and Western (Cargo)Ineffective AidMuhammad Yunus and MicrocreditUnscrupulous PeopleThe SystemGrameen BankIt Doesn’t Affect Us, So Why Should We Care?The Poor Will Always Be With UsThere Is No Point In Giving AidWhere Does All The Money Go?Africa’s Onerous ChallengesAfrica’s Extreme PovertyCorruption and Poor GovernanceLack of Modern Values and Free Market EconomiesA Population Explosion?Why Not Leave It to the United Nations and the World’s Governments?The UNThe Governments of the WorldGrassroots Movements