Providing opportunities to developing countries

Something that not many people think about with developing countries – and the people in it – is financial opportunities.

If, for example, someone wants to buy a house, the bank may deny loans thus limiting the opportunity for people to grow and improve their financial security. 

Kola Global wanted to fill in that gap. They help turn investors’ money into opportunities for people in developing countries, practicing what they call ‘business-centric philanthropy’.

“In the entire continent of Africa, all 54 countries, home financing is simply not available at any measurable level,” Ameet Dhillon, a co-founder of Kola Global, tells Smiley News.

Without a home financing option, he explains, buying a home can be near impossible, especially in developing countries where resources can come and go. Kola Global helps provide secure options for people wanting to buy a home. 

“We’re essentially trying to jumpstart or create that environment within at least certain countries, and our ambition is to go across the entire continent so that you can actually have that kind of economic growth,” Ameet says.

“Because if you have housing activity, well, what do you get with that from a social and economic perspective?”

Find out more.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partners of the Goals.

Equality Uncategorized Wellbeing

11-year-old helps give gifts to foster children

The holidays are a time for giving, love, and sharing. No matter what you celebrate the entire season is a time for togetherness and joy, but some people don’t have the resources or opportunities to celebrate the holidays usually as the result of financial constraints. 

Some people see that happening and want to help. This particular person was just 11 years old. 

Jonathan or ‘J.J.’ Werner is 11 years old and a Scout and was inspired to help kids in foster care in his area. Through popcorn sales with the Scouts, he raised money to buy hundreds of gifts for kids in foster care. 

To see his vision through he sold $46,194 worth of popcorn, $5,800 of which he could use to buy presents for the kids in need. 

Jonathan was inspired by his dad’s upbringing in foster care, hoping to provide something to kids that it sounded like his dad didn’t have.

“My dad spent 14 years in foster care and based upon stories that he had being in foster care, it doesn’t really sound like they had much of a Christmas,” he said.

His mother helped him see the vision through, helping him shop for and wrap the presents as well as using her van to deliver the presents in Kanabec County and Isanti County. All in all, he helped provide presents for 120 kids. 

“I adopted all the foster care kids in Kanabec County and Isanti County for Christmas,” Jonathan said.

This article aligns with the UN SDG No Poverty.

Uncategorized Wellbeing

Airport has largest therapy animal program in the world

The airport can be an incredibly stressful place. Trying to keep pace with your takeoff time, making sure you’re prepared for your travels, and maybe wrangling in young children overwhelmed by everything happening around them. 

To alleviate that stress, some airports have taken to having therapy animal units roam the halls of the airport to provide flyers some reprieve. The Denver International Airport just happens to hold the record for the largest airport therapy animal program in the world called the CATS (Canine Airport Therapy Squad) ironically. 

“Animals reduce stress, that’s been proven by studies over the years,” Karla Grahn, the Denver Airport Volunteer manager tells Smiley News.

“Airports are pretty stressful places. People are traveling for hundreds of reasons. It could be happy, it could be sad. And we all know that sometimes getting from the terminal to the concourse can be stressful. So providing that surprise and delight and those therapy animals to just expand that experience and make it really welcoming out in the concourses is kind of the goal, what we shoot for.”

According to OAG, a travel analytics organization, the Denver Airport is the fifth busiest airport in the world, with about 3.7 million people coming through the airport each year. Known for endless conspiracies around the art displayed or how and why the airport was built, the place is full of intrigue and interest, leading directly into such a large therapy animal program. 

To add to the appeal, each of the airport’s 87 animals (86 dogs and one cat) has personalized trading cards with a professional headshot, what year they join, social media, and some facts about them. According to Karla, the cards end up being incredibly collectible among the staff of the airport.

Even though they already hold the record for their animal program, the airport is still far short of its peak, which was cut when Covid-19 hit its peak. 

“At our height, we had 120,” Karla says. “During the pandemic, we lost a lot because we had to suspend our program for about 15 months. 

“But we continue to grow we continue to ask for more teams onboard more teams, or almost a 24/7 365-day operation and three concourses and a terminal, and we only have 86 teams and most people are like ‘oh we’ve never seen them.’” 

With that in mind, they’re always taking in new volunteers, with the goal of having a minimum of three animals each for a few hours a day. 

As far as the visits are concerned it’s up to the volunteers handling the animals to decide the plan of action and travel. The visit is announced on Twitter, and depending on the reaction of the people in the airport the dog may not make it more than 20 feet before being swarmed with love and affection from passersby. 

Now, as they continue to expand their own program, other airports have reached out for advice on how to start their own programs. 

“There are over 50 airports in the nation that currently host therapy and meal programs,” Karla says. “We get contacted quite frequently by airports looking to start this type of a program.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing.


Crisis searches for Christmas helpers

Homelessness charity Crisis has put a call out for volunteers this Christmas.

Tell me more.

Crisis at Christmas has become a fixture of not only Crisis, but of the festive season in the UK. This year, Crisis estimates they will be providing hotel accommodation to more than 400 people in London alone who would be otherwise sleeping rough.

What else do they offer?

Crisis also runs day centres for people in temporary accommodation which provide everything from health checks to hot food and drink to friendship. But all these things wouldn’t be possible without the thousands of people who volunteer their time every year.

What does Crisis need from us?

Crisis are looking for volunteers to assist at hotels, to cook meals, and give advice. People in certain professions who would be willing to volunteer their skills, for example hairdressers, doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, opticians, podiatrists, are also sorely needed.

Sign up to volunteer with Crisis at Christmas this year.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partnership for the Goals.


A brief history of Loving Day

June is marked by a lot of things in the United States. Some of the first things that come to mind are school coming to an end, summer beginning, Pride Month, and Juneteenth. Other things that happen in June are Father’s Day, Flag Day, Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, as well as a handful of observances. 

One of the most impactful days though is Loving Day.

[Get a daily dose of positive news on our homepage]

Loving Day is named for Richard and Mildred Loving, who in June 1958 awoke to policemen in their bedroom who were there to arrest them.

“They asked Richard who was that woman he was sleeping with? I say, I’m his wife, and the sheriff said, not here you’re not. And they said, come on, let’s go,” Mildred Loving recalled that night in the HBO documentary The Loving Story.

The police were at their home because Mildred and Richard were a mixed-race couple. Mildred was Black and Native American, and Richard was white. In 1958 Virginia law called this unlawful cohabitation. They were to be arrested and imprisoned for a year but a judge offered them a choice: banishment from the state or prison. They chose the former for a few years until they returned a few years later, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union in court.

This event led to the Supreme Court case called Loving v. Virginia.

The verdict of the case, coming on June 12, 1957, led to interracial marriage becoming legal across the United States.

Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote the opinion for the court; he wrote that marriage is a basic civil right and to deny this right on a basis of color is “directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment” and seizes all citizens “liberty without due process of law.”

Inspired to Act?

DONATE: The ACLU is still around today and helped the Loving’s with their case. Consider donating them to support cases they cover today. 

SUPPORT: Look into supporting civil rights across all forms, like same-sex marriage today. Not everyone has equal rights across the United States.



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MacKenzie Scott donates $3.8 billion

MacKenzie Scott, American novelist and philanthropist, recently announced she’s donated nearly $4 billion to over 400 nonprofits across the country.

Sharing the news in a post on Medium, MacKenzie wrote: “We are all human. And we all have enormous energy to devote to helping and protecting those we love.”

Sharing the list of 465 nonprofits, to which she has gifted $3,863,125,000, she added: “Our aim has been to support the needs of underrepresented people from groups of all kinds. The cause of equity has no sides.”

“Equity can only be realized when all people involved have an opportunity to help shape it,” she wrote. “Each non-profit it will list was selected through a rigorous process, and has a strong track record of serving under-supported needs.”

[Follow us on LinkedIn for more news about people giving back to the greater good]

The causes she has donated to have a diverse range of missions and causes, with everything from those protecting women’s health, to those working to solve the climate crisis, as well as those in education. 

MacKenzie, the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is known for her philanthropic efforts. In total, she has donated to 1,257 organisations. 

She added: “This belief in a diversity of voices also inspires our commitment to a vital category of leaders. The leadership of people directly experiencing inequities is essential, both because it is informed by insights no one else can contribute, and because it seeds power and opportunity within the community itself. 

“Approximately 60% of the organizations listed below are led by women, and 75% by people with lived experience in the regions they support and the issues they seek to address.”

You can find a list of all the nonprofits MacKenzie donated to on her Medium page

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Solutions-focused festival offers youths hope

In 2020 when the pandemic hit, economist Henry Leveson-Gower realised young people would be some of the worst affected in terms of life opportunities and mental health. This only added to the increasing anxiety among youths over climate change. To offer them hope in lockdown, he decided to launch an interactive online event, Festival for Change, which returns to the digital world this November.

The international gathering is entirely free, it lasts one month starting 14 November, and is aimed at 18 to 30-year-olds. Each week, a diverse range of speakers will inspire attendees with talks and workshops about solutions to climate change. This is followed by discussions every Saturday, where the young people have the chance to meet one another, share experiences and build connections.

[Read more positive news about people taking climate action around the world]

Drawing on his work for Economic Pluralism, for which he promotes socially-beneficial economics, Henry said: “Young people are often brought up with a very narrow view of how society should be, constrained by dominant ideas. So the festival is partly aimed at helping them understand the causes of the challenges we face today, and allowing them the chance to explore a much broader array of ideas, which is key to driving the changes we need to see.”

Addressing complex topics in comprehensible ways, the talks are aimed at building understanding among young people on fundamental systems shaping our society. 

One attendee at last year’s event, Jayne Ashely reassured: “[The] amazing speakers showed economics is nothing to be scared of – and we all need to engage in these macro and micro discussions.” 

The organisers have yet to finalise the lineup of speakers for this year. But, based on the groundbreaking thinkers who spoke at the first event, they are set to offer up some of the most provocative and progressive ideas, with a special focus on young innovators.

Building networks for change

Another key part of the festival involves creating relationships between young people from entirely different backgrounds and parts of the world. Youth ambassadors from Hong Kong, Pakistan, India, Qatar, and the Netherlands helped design the festival and whoever joins this year’s event can take part in a buddying scheme to bring together young people from different countries.

[Read more good news stories about the individuals and organisations making the world a better place]

To facilitate discussion they’ve created a virtual world that’s something like Habbo Hotel, where participants can drag their avatar from place to place to join different discussions. Once they’ve chosen where they’d like to go, the system allows them to join a video call where they can speak to others face-to-face. 

Register for Festival for Change here.

Find more information at


Elton John aims to end AIDS by 2030

In 1990 Elton John became friends with Ryan White, a teenager from Indiana who died from AIDS.

Ryan’s life inspired the singer to take action, and he set up the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

Fast forward three decades, and Elton is one of the UK’s leading philanthropists, having donated £395m to charity with his focus on achieving a world free of AIDS for everyone.

The Foundation’s goal is to end AIDS by 2030, which they hope to achieve by funding frontline partners to prevent infections, fighting stigma and providing treatment with love, compassion and dignity for the most vulnerable groups affected by HIV around the world.

Elton has set out his ambition clearly, stating: “No one should suffer from stigma, fear or lack of access to treatment anymore – everyone deserves the right to a healthy life.”

So far the Foundation’s work has saved five million lives globally, raised $450m worldwide for their work and supported 3,000 projects which align to their mission.

Their recent projects have focused on fighting AIDS in America, with their new initiative Breakthrough.

In association with Walmart, the Foundation has launched a three year engagement programme  to accelerate the end of AIDS in America by increasing access, education and awareness to safe, convenient HIV testing and services in the southern United States.

There are currently 250,000 people in the U.S. southern region who are living with HIV but lack access to treatment, indicating an urgent need for HIV testing, education, prevention and resources in the area.

The AIDS epidemic disproportionately impacts communities of colour, especially in the South, where people are more likely to be diagnosed with HIV over the course of their lifetime than Americans living in other parts of the country.

The epidemic also has a significant impact on the LGTBQ+ population, with half of Black gay men and a quarter of Latino gay men projected to be diagnosed with HIV within their lifetime.

Anne Aslett, CEO of the Elton John AIDS Foundation commented: “America and the world have set a goal to end the AIDS pandemic by 2030.

“Vulnerability to HIV/AIDS in the U.S. South must be addressed if America is to achieve its goal. This is only possible if no one is left behind. It is wrong that the colour of your skin, your sexuality or your economic status should determine your risk of HIV.

“Walmart is part of the fabric of U.S. communities. Working together, we want to reach into the communities that most badly need support and help them where they are.”

To learn more about the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s work visit their website or follow them on Twitter.



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