Meet109 World, a non-profit organization dedicated to enabling each person’s unique ability to make a change in the world by creating online movements, hosting global mission trips and raising awareness for the greatest social and environmental challenges of our time.
1. Who is the core team of 109 World and , where are you from?
Leticia Reyes is originally from Brazil, Olivia Rothschild is originally from Sweden, and Rachel Brathen is originally from Sweden.
2. How did the team members meet?
Rachel and Olivia are best friends since high school in Sweden. Olivia and Leticia became best friends when studying their master’s degree in social entrepreneurship in London in 2012. The 3 of them came together later, and that’s when they began thinking about creating 109 World.
3. Where are you based now?
Leticia is based in Boulder, Colorado, where 109 World is registered as a 501(c)3 public charity. Olivia just moved back to Stockholm, Sweden from Aruba. Rachel has been living in Aruba for almost 10 years now.
4. Why did you create 109 World, what is the concept of 109 World, and why do you believe the project is important?
109 World was born from a conversation between Rachel (Yoga_Girl) and Olivia (Rachel’s best friend from Sweden) while in Thailand in 2015. Rachel wanted to use her social media presence to generate a deeper and more direct positive impact; Olivia had recently graduated with a Master’s degree in social entrepreneurship and had a lifelong dream to help the planet. Olivia then pulled in Leticia, who is her best friend from their shared master’s program experience. Leticia was already working in the global development space, so her destiny and passionately-developed expertise were a clear match with 109 World. Together, the 3 women are creating an impact movement that demonstrates the gift of impact that each individual has in creating social and environmental impact.
The concept for 109 World originated from the founders’ discomfort about how, with today’s technology, a majority of the population still has little knowledge about the social and environmental challenges that our world continues to face. The founders of 109 World realized this lack of knowledge prevented existing initiatives tackling these issues from obtaining the necessary support they need in order to increase their impact. By asking the question “How is it possible that in a world — more connected than ever, where information and content is cost and border-free — we (individuals, corporations and other organizations) remain so unaware?”, the 109 World founders determined to make use of the tools they had. The team set out to leverage the power of social media to do good:
- Empower individuals to become aware of not only their “online” habits, but their everyday habits as well, and to create social and environmental impact within these accessible areas.
- Use the collective power of individuals to become aware of and support local and impactful initiatives across the globe.
- Direct the influence and resources of big organizations and personalities toward communities in need.
5. What are you passionate about (and why?)
109 World is passionate about increasing awareness and taking action. Our vision is to break the paradigm that philanthropy is something only for wealthy individuals to engage in. We envision extending the concept of philanthropy to everyday people and empowering them to become change-makers and facilitators of development. There is tremendous power in today’s technology to spread awareness, unite our efforts, and co-create the best recipe for positive change. Just as the challenges we face all over the world are global, the solutions and most effective ways to tackle them are through macro, cross-border initiatives based in a grassroots strategy. 109 World aims to become a platform for individuals to understand the biggest social and environmental challenges of our time, as well as a place where they can foment positive change to make the world a better place.
6. One global issue that needs more attention is…
The refugee crisis. According to AidRefugees.gov, “the accumulated amount of displaced people in the world today averages to 24 people getting displaced from their homes each minute — almost double the typical frequency at which adults breathe.” People who were active in their countries’ economic markets, who used to be doctors, teachers and entrepreneurs, now find themselves labeled refugees and estranged in poverty. How can the world afford to lose so much talent? If people could come together and think of a way to harness the brilliance that exists within the refugee community, the world could gain so much in so many different ways. After our co-founder Leticia spent 2 months immersed in a refugee community, we realized how the refugee crisis is both a significant unmet need, and also an opportunity for entrepreneurs and innovators to create sustainable jobs for the massive skilled refugee communities around the world.
7. What do you enjoy about being a partner with WIB?
We enjoy having the opportunity to talk about issues that matter and to be offered a space to share the impactful work we are doing with our partner organizations.
8. What are 3 WIB articles you recently read and loved? Why?
“Innocent until proven refugee” — We featured this article on the 109 blog right before our 109 Greece trip. It is not an easy read, but it recounts the reality that many countries handling the refugee crisis are facing, and absolutely makes you want to do something about it.
“Voices for gender justice in South Africa” — We love all articles that feature peace movements started by women because we feel that the majority of people are clueless both about the violence and the anti violence movements unfolding throughout Africa. Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace, for example, is a peace movement started by women in Liberia that worked to end the Second Liberian Civil War.
“Women empowerment — a question of choice” — This article has given us some inspiration and content for the next humanitarian trip focused on women empowerment we are organizing with 109 World.
9. What are the next steps for 109 World?
In the short-term, 109 World has 3 main goals for fulfilling our mission and expanding our positive reach. Each goal leads to a social and/or environmental return on investment that, in the long run, will solidify and enhance our operations.
- Grow our existing target reach. Our mission is grounded in the strong belief that each individual has the power to change the world. We continuously work to facilitate and release the power of change through providing guidance for creating everyday change and inviting people to be the change through joining our community online and humanitarian trips.
- Organize and implement more humanitarian trips and offer our community a wider range of impactful projects to engage in, while at the same time responding to the needs of grassroots organizations that may need our assistance. Every humanitarian trip s carefully thought out, implemented, and evaluated to ensure that we are maximizing positive impact while providing participants and benefactors a life-changing experience.
- Explore impactful partnerships with organizations, brands and influencers that believe in our model and vision, and that enable us to grow our community of changemakers and increase our impact on the ground.
There is a saying that you cannot learn how to ride a bike by reading books or talking about it. Quite simply, you have to pedal. At 109 World we believe that nothing quite substitutes experience; that is why our empowerment and fundraising model is done through organized global humanitarian trips. Participants gain firsthand insight into some of modern day’s most important social and environmental causes, while the money used to finance their trip is channeled as a donation grant to our local partners.
10. Ask a question to our readers…
How would you make the world a better place?