How a small grant from the Global Fund for Children grew into a Nobel Peace Prize

I was very excited to learn this week that the Nobel Committee decided to recognize Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi for their courageous and inspiring work to improve the lives of children globally.  I want to congratulate both of these extraordinary individuals and take a moment to reflect on my personal experience with Kailash Satyarthi.  I met Kailash almost fifteen years ago on a trip to New Delhi as part of my work for the Global Fund for Children.  He was still building the Global March Against Child Labor, his groundbreaking network that has brought people, unions and grassroots organizations together around the world to change labor laws, influence the international human rights agenda and rescue children from slavery.

I remember Kailash first approached us because he needed support to continue to take his vision global.  He told us that in order to grow his network he needed financial backing to go seek out innovative grassroots organizations in far-off hard-to-reach places.  Seeing this as an opportunity to expand our own access and reach to help marginalized children living in the far corners of the globe, The Global Fund for Children awarded Kailash and his organization with a $5000 grant from 2002 to 2003 to build upon his work.

At the time, Kailash was still a relative unknown, and we took a risk on an aspiring social entrepreneur with passion, dedication and vision for how he could make this world better.  It is incredible to think about what that small $5000 grant helped seed 12 years ago, and I feel honored that The Global Fund for Children was able to make a small contribution at a crucial time to provide Kailash the opportunity he needed to expand his work.

His well-deserved recognition as a Nobel laureate is a testament to his accomplishments as an international change-agent responsible for improving millions of young lives.  And the small role GFC was able to play highlights how critical it is for the international community to make small, targeted investments in budding social entrepreneurs, so future grassroots leaders get the support they need to grow their vision and achieve their true potential.  Not every investment will pay off, not every risk will be rewarded, but when you look at what Kailash has achieved, there is no doubt that it is worth the risk.