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Monthly Archives: November 2015

Akhtar Hameed Khan (15 July 1914 – 9 October 1999) was not your usual desk-bound social scientist and development practitioner. He was one of the strongest advocates of participatory rural development in developing countries particularly in his home country, Pakistan. He was the creator of the Comilla Model, a comprehensive model of rural development including its projects, which earned him several accolades including a doctorate of law (honorary) from the Michigan State University and the Philippines’ Ramon Magsaysay Award.

His Orangi Pilot Project, a community development initiative with a Bottom Up approach that he started in the 1980s, became the global model for community participatory development initiatives. His competent and compassionate direction of programs ranging from microcredit and self-finance to family planning and housing provision for slum dwellers in rural and urban areas, which also earned him accolades in Pakistan including the Jinnah Award, Sitara-e-Pakistan, and Nishan-e-Imtiaz.

Khan was also a prolific writer of scholarly books and articles as well as travelogues and poems. His literary works spanned at least seven languages and dialects.


Vinayak Narahari Bhave (11 September 1895 – 15 November 1982), also known as Vinoba, was a well-known, well-respected Indian advocate of human rights and non-violence. He is widely considered as Mahatma Gandhi’s spiritual successor, a National Teacher of India, and a strong advocate of the Bhoodan Movement.

He was an active leader in the India’s freedom struggle against British rule. He gave a series of talks against the British colonial government while he was in prison, which was published as “Talks on Gita”. He was also chosen as the first individual Satyagrahi by Gandhi.

Vinoba adopted a religious outlook that synthesized the truths of the world’s major religions, observed the life an average Indian, and promoted compassion for the poor and non-violence for the ills that beset Indian society.

He created 6 ashrams including the Brahma Vidya Mandir, a community for women that promotes self-sufficiency, social justice, and sustainability as well as non-violence. The community provides Indians with a counter-narrative against the pervasive Western-style consumerist attitude today.

Vinoba Bhave was also a prolific thinker, writer and scholar with numerous books to his name. He was a linguist and orator with an excellent command of English, Marathi, Gujarati, Sanskrit, Urdu and Hindu. He was a translator whose work in translating the Bhagavad Gita into Marathi made the texts accessible to the general public.

His works include the essence of Christian teachings, the essence of Quran, thoughts on education, and Swarajya Sastra. His commentary and criticism of several Western and Eastern works show the breadth and depth of his considerable intellect.

For the common man in India, he was best known as the founder of the Bhoodan Movement, which he started on 18 April 1951. The movement was a land donation movement that he started at Pochampally of nalgonda district Telangana.

Basically, he asked for and was given donated land by Indian landowners, which he then distributed to the landless and poor Indians for their personal cultivation of crops. His movement spread and grew until he began asking entire villages for land donations, a program known as Gramdam.

Alan Michael Sugar, also known as Baron Sugar, is a prominent English business tycoon who is also known for his work in media and politics. He is one of the richest persons in The United Kingdom with an estimated net worth of £1.4 billion. He was also the chairman of the Tottenham Hotspur for a decade (1991-2001) and appears in The Apprentice, a BBC television series.

Sugar is famous for his successful business ventures. His most successful so far is Amstrad (1968), which started as a wholesaler and importer/exporter but later on specialized in consumer electronics. While he stepped down from its helm in 2008 upon BskyB’s acquisition of Amstrad, he is still known as a pioneer in the British computer industry.

He also founded Amsair Executive Aviation (1993), an aviation company; Amsprop, a investment firm; and Amscreen, a company selling ad space on digital screens for the retail, medical and leisure industries. He was the owner of Viglen Ltd., an IT services provider, too.

The brand Estée Lauder is synonymous to beauty, but only few people know the woman behind its success. Through single-mindedness, Estée Lauder – the entrepreneur – has created one of the world’s most reputable cosmetic brands. The woman who was trained to sell skin care products at a young age soon became a household name in the cosmetics industry, with thousands of customers all over the world. In the cutthroat world of business, how did she climb her way to the top?

Lauder’s story was not created overnight. It was in 1946 when she first produced cosmetics at her hometown, New York, together with husband Joseph. They only had four products to begin with, and everything was sold by Estée herself. There was no store and no army of salesladies; it was said that she tirelessly and creatively did all the logistics. The hard work paid off, and two years later, her sales skills obtained her a  counter at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York.

A late bloomer, her winning break at the age of 45 came with a bottle of perfume called Youth Dew. Over 50,000 bottles were sold the same year the perfume was launched. More Estée Lauder counters in America were opened due to this success. A few years later, Lauder launched her business in the international scene with Harrods department store in London.

The rest, as they say, is history. Relentless and filled with ambition, Lauder spent the rest of her life building this empire and convincing “careless women” to become beautiful through her cosmetic products. She has helped these women  transcend the mark of beauty with make-up, skin care products and perfume. She was truly the pursuer of beauty.

The winning concoction to Lauder’s success is something aspiring business women try to emulate, but the world has yet to see another come close to her achievements. She was eager to promote what she believed in, and did so even after forty years in business. Her death in 2004 was the only the beginning of a new generation which she herself has started.

Today, the Estée Lauder brand is aiming at new markets under the Fabrizio Freda, an Italian who  built his career at Procter & Gamble. The chairman emeritus is one of Lauder’s very own, her elder son Leonard. Although men are now taking the lead in the company, Estée Lauder’s legacy as  one of the most powerful women of the past century will never fade.

Jonathan Løw, a Danish entrepreneur also known for his knowledge and skills as a resource speaker and innovation consultant, is on a roll in his career. He has started 4 companies, namely, Listen Louder, Sprout Europe (as co-founder),, and (as a co-founder), all of which have been successful ventures in their own right.

In 2008, he was the recipient of the Edison Award by Computer World for his role as co-founder of, a Danish aid project that raised money online for both development and relief organizations in and out of Denmark; recipients included Save the Children, the Danish Red Cross, and the Cancer Society. Løw and his co-founder, Mads Ellegaard, received thousands of pledges for donations from major stores including Amazon, KLM, eBay, and Ellos. These businesses donated to charity by providing its customers with discounts, which were then passed on to their chosen charities.

Løw was also nominated for the Idealist of the Year award at IvaekstPrisen for which he received a Runner-Up Prize. He was named in 2008 by Financial Times as “A Leader Celebrating Human Rights” as well as received the ConnectDenmark Award in 2009.

Qais Al Khonji has a knack for both business success and for providing small businesses with assistance in overcoming the hurdles along their way. He is a notable Omani businessman and entrepreneur whose wide range of business interests include founder of Qais United Enterprises Trading, a full-service marketing agency that focuses on increasing brand value for its clients by providing them with effective and efficient solutions. His company provides clients with integrated marketing solutions that build long-term relationships with their own suppliers, customers and stakeholders.

He is also the founder, co-owner and chief executive officer of Genesis International, a medical education company in Oman. His company offers services in educational counseling, automatic meter reading, solar energy, and engineered products.

He is also known in his home country for providing effective and efficient assistance to Omani citizens particularly in overcoming the hurdles that come with starting their small businesses.

In 1998, he graduated from Atlantic College in Wales where he obtained his IB degree in two years. He then moved to Leicester, England after his graduation and proceeded to enroll in De Montfort University where he acquired his bachelor’s degree in business information systems.

In 2010, he founded Qais United as a trading company (i.e., he bought goods from China and resold them to end consumers). In 2012, he established Genesis International, a company that currently provides IT solutions especially in electronic bills payments for water and electricity. His current goal is the application of these solutions in Oman and in some parts of India.

In 2013, he also established Genesis Projects, an improved oil recovery company that became successful. He also founded Investments LLC – EOR Lab Services, which he manages to this day.

He is also a board member in various private and public agencies including Oman Fisheries, Oman National Engineering & Investment Co., and Muscat National Holding. He was recognized as the Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015 by the Business Worldwide Magazine.

Samir Arora may be able to rest on his laurels – he is, after all, acknowledged as among the 100 Internet Pioneers and one of the 32 people who shaped the World Wide Web, a distinction awarded at CNET’s 1st Web Innovators Award. But he continues to influence the world as an entrepreneur, inventor and investor, a testament to his passion for pushing the boundaries.

Arora has a degree in electronic engineering from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science and a diploma in sales and marketing from the London Business School. His distinction as an Internet pioneer was due to his work at Apple Computer particularly in Software and New Media where he pioneered several innovations, such as a white paper (Information Navigation: The Future of Computing), hypercard, desktop publishing, and 4th dimension systems. He also created the first External Objects, worked on the early prototypes resulting to the Knowledge Navigator video, and created Pen Mac (i.e., the basis for Steve Jobs’ iPod, iPhone, and iPad).

Paul Gardner Allen is best known as the co-founder of Microsoft with Bill Gates as his partner. Beyond his crucial role in the global success of Microsoft, he is also a notable philanthropist, investor and innovator as well as an avid musician. He is considered one of the world’s richest men (#51, July 2015, Forbes) with an estimated net worth of $18.1 billion.

In 1975, Allen persuaded Gates to drop out of Harvard University and establish Microsoft – and the rest is history. He marketed a BASIC programming language interpreter as well as came up with the name for the now-famous company. He also spearheaded a deal to buy QDOS, which paved the way for Microsoft to become the supplier of DOS to IBM’s computer line; the IBM contract formed the basis for his immense wealth.

By the 1980s, Allen began distancing himself from the company. In November 2000, he resigned from his Microsoft position but continued as its senior strategy advisor as well as reportedly still owns millions of shares to this day.

Beyond Microsoft, Allen maintains a high profile as an investor, philanthropist and innovator. He is currently the founder and chairman of Vulcan Inc., a company that manages his wide range of business interests and philanthropic activities. He also maintains a multi-billion dollar investment portfolio across several industries including real estate, science and technology, media and communications, and sports (e.g., Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers).

Allen’s passionate interest combined with his immense wealth has resulted in several science-related organizations. These are the Allen Institute for Brain Science, the Allen Institute for Cell Science, and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, as well as Vulcan Aerospace.

His contributions to the advancement of various causes, including science and technology, wildlife conservation, education, and arts and community services, have amounted to over $1.8 billion – and growing. His Paul G. Allen Family Foundation administers part of his philanthropic contributions; through the foundation, Allen has contributed over $494 million to more than 1,500 non-profit organizations.