Past Programmes

Over its lifetime CIVA has incubated a myriad of different programmes. A selection of these is presented below:



Young people have an important role today as active citizens, and tomorrow as leaders of social change. Over a number of years CIVA encouraged and supported young people to get active in their communities and incubated the following organisations:

Changemakers: young people leading change

Changemakers pioneered a “young person-led approach”  which is now seen generally as good practice when working with young people. The Changemakers approach encourages and supports young people to develop their own creative solutions to the problems and issues that they believe are important. These might range from addressing school bullying, developing recreational facilties locally sich as a skatebaord park, school improvements or raising money in memory of a friend struck down by cancer. Changemakers created a frameowrk of “12 Enterprise Skills” for the young people to refelct on what they had achieved, the skills gained and how to mvoe forward. In 2014, Changemakers merged with the Foyer Federation.

Youth Bank /Youth Bank International

YouthBank was launched in 1999 to enable young people to become grant-makers. The National Youth Agency led the programme until 2011, supporting a Board which consisting entirely of young people. Since then, the centre of energy has transferred to Northern Irleand, where Vernon Ringland at the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland is supporting 18 YouthBanks across the island of Ireland and has developed YouthBank International which coordinates the YouthBank movement which is now operating in more than 30 countries.

Young Achievers Trust: celebrating the achievements of young people

The Young Achievers Awards was started by CIVA as the  RSA Young Leaders Awards, launched in 2001 as part of the International Year of Volunteers. In 2004, this award scheme merged with the Whitbread-sponsored awards for young people, which CIVA also helped design. In 2007, the awards were handed over by Whitbread to the newly-formed Young Achievers Trust supported by CIVA, YouthNet, UnLtd and the RSA, and governed by a board consisting mainly of young people. The awards were offered annually with winners, runners up and highly commendeds in two age ranges 16 to 21 and 21 to 25 in the following categories: arts, community, environment and sport. The awards recognized the achievements of young people, and also invested in their future capabilities as young activists by offering cash prizes, access to project awards, money-can’t-buy opportunities and mentoring. The awards ran until 2013.

SpeakersBank: encouraging public speaking

CIVA supported SpeakersBank develop resources to assist young people improve their skills and get practice in public speaking, and helped run an annual speaking competiton on fiancial literacy sponsored by CitiBank, and published a manual, “Untie Your Tongue, and Get Life Licked”.


This project encourages financial literacy and enterprise. It enables students and young people to operate their own bank taking deposits and making loans, and it has created a wide range of projects that engage young people, including Enterprise in a Box which is a simple way for young people to develop their enterprise skills by buying a box, following the instructions, and ending up nearly doubling their money, MyBnk has won many awards and licenses its products to youth programmes across the world.

Enterprise in a Box

A simple way for young people to develop their enterprise skills by buying a box, following the instructions, and ending up by nearly doubling their money,



Over the years CIVA has supported a range of global initiatives, two of which were:

Just Change: innovation in fair trade

A programme in India that links consumers and producers, trading their produce amongst one another, so that sellers get a higher price and buyers pay a lower price.

South-North Exchanges: sharing across the geographical divide

CIVA pioneered visits by people from the South to look at social issues in the UK and compare ideas and actions taken to address these issues with what they were doing back home. Visits included community workers to rexplore and reflect on poverty in the UK, housing workers to explore housing and community engagement, and ex-freedom fighters from Zimbabwe sharing ideas for after-the-conflict programmes.



An issue of global significance in its own right ,CIVA supported the development of two ground-breaking programmes helping them get off the ground and scale up:

Children’s Development Bank: savings and loans controlled by children

CIVA worked with Butterflies to develop a children’s banking programme run by the children themselves targeted street and working children as savers and borrowers. Today there are children’s banks in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, with around 200 projects in operation. In 2006 by mutual agreement, ChildHope took over CIVA’s role in managing the Comic Relief grant obtained to create this programme.

ChildLine India and Child Helpline International: telephone helplines for street children

ChildLine India provides a crisis intervention assistance service to children on the streets with any problem (health, safety, abuse, abandonment, problems with the police and justice systems, wanting to be reunited with their families…). Today, ChildLine India is operational in 366 Indian cities and districts through a network of over 700 partner organsiations, and has taken over 36 million distress calls since its inception. It is backed by the Government of India.



Central to social and economic development, literacy is an area that CIVA has been promoting for almost two decades. Three initiatives supported by CIVA of note are:

Books for Change: publishing for development

Books for Change was established by CIVA in 1996 with support from the Department for International Development to publish and distribute books highlighting good practice, promoting issues and ideas and providing practical information and advice. It is now run as an independent division of ActionAid from Bengaluru.

Books, reading and village libraries.

In 1997, CIVA launched a village literacy programme with a grant from the UK Lottery’s Community Fund to promote and support village libraries as a place in the local community to make books and newspapers available and encourage reading. This programme concentrated on creating, continuing and improving libraries in the State of Andhra Pradesh.

Village Reading Programme

The village books programme aims to bring books to semi-illiterate women in villages… and then encourage them to read and discuss the books, and decide what action they could take to improve their lives. Books cover livelihoods, farming, health and basic rights. The books are published by BooksLine, a unit that we established in Hyderabad, and the programme has worked closely with Literacy House and the Hyderabad Book Trust.



This area of work has been, and continues to be central to CIVA’s activities, with the organisation doing much over the years to further the fields of social entrepreneurship and voluntary action:

Groundswell and homeless self-help

In 1995 as its first project, CIVA established a small volunteering programme in Kings Cross for homeless people to consider what they could do to engage positively in the community. This developed Speak Outs, events where the homeless faced an audience of providers to discuss their needs and the state if provision. This also led to the creation of Groundswell, a network of homeless self-help projects.

UnLtd: the foundation for social entrepreneurs

Michael Norton played a leading role in assembling a consortium which went on to bid succesully for the Millennium Legacy, which provided over £100 million to endow a foudnation to make awards to early-stage social entrpreneurs to help them get their ideas into action. Awards are made at three levels: start up, growth, and scaling up/investment readiness.

UnLtd makes over 1,000 awards a year in the UK, also providing mentoring and other support to the award winners. It has received support from foundations, the governmetn and the Big Lottery to expand its programmes to young people, older people and universities. UnLtd also created the Global Social Entrepreneurs Network to spread the idea of “investing in individuals with ideas” to other countries.

UnLtd in India

In 2006, CIVA developed plans to start a foundation for social entrepreneurs in India linked to UnLtd in the UK, which has now been incorporated as UnLtd India and operates out of Mumbai.

The Social Entrepreneur Foundation India with its own board has been established in India as the vehicle for UnLtd India. A UK support organisation, the Social Entrepreneurs Trust, assists with fundraising and is used to receive international grants. This Trust was established using the charitable trust, which CIVA had used for its operations prior to establishing itself as a Company Limited by Guarantee. CIVA has also been providing secretarial services to the Trust. For further information or if you want to sponsor an Indian social entrepreneur, contact:

Alongside UnLtd India, CIVA helped create Journeys for Change, which organises study visits for social entrepreneurs around the world and others interested in social entrepreneurship to visit projects and interact with social entrepreneurs, mostly in India.

UnLtd in South Africa

In 2009, CIVA helped establish a foundation for social entrepreneurs in South Africa. A trust was established in Cape Town, and the first awards were made in 2010. This has now merged with LifeCo in Johannesburg.


CIVA developed Buzzbnk as a platform for crowdfunding social ventures which was launched in 2009. where people can make donations, loans or revenue share arrangements to back enterprises of their choosing. In 2014, it merged with Trillion Fund which specialises in loans for green energy installations. Buzzbnk has now been renamed, and the future of the two platforms are currently under discussion.

The International Centre for Social Franchising

CIVA developed the International Centre for Social Franchising in 2011 to promote the idea of social franchising and to provide professional expertise to assist in the process of rapid replication of successful social ventures. This non-profit consutlancy supports itself from earned revenues, and now operates in the UK and the USA with partner or affiliate organisations in South Africa, Kenya and Australia. CIVA is now spreading this idea into China.

The CIVA Innovation Labs programme

In 2012, CIVA developed the SmallWorks programme providing spaces to encourage community innovation using spaces lying empty or underused on housing estates. Innovators pay a very low membership charge, and in return they provide skills or run sessions for the local community where they are based. The first three SmallWorks are in Hackney, Victoria and Kings Cross.

365 ways to Change the World: an idea a day that will make a difference

It’s all too easy to disengage ourselves from the problems of the world, to leave it to the politicians, big business and international agencies to do something. The 365 Ways programme provides people with an idea a day that will make a difference. The book has been published around then world in 17 editions in 12 languages (from Estonian and Greek to Chinese and English). A Better World App is being piloted in China, in partnership with Modern Media, a Shanghai-based magazines company.

How to be a Community Champion: action manuals for young people

CIVA has developed a range of action manuals published in a simple workbook format with basic advice and space for readers to develop their own plans for getting into action.



Last, but by no means least, are the environmental projects CIVA has supported over the years:

The Otesha Project UK

CIVA brought this award-winning Canadian project to the UK, for young people to promote the idea of sustainable living in a fairer world to other young people, and encourage people through cycle tours and theatre and to help them make sensible “Morning Choices” each day. This project ran until 2016.

Carbon Neutral Housing

In July 2007, CIVA launched a project on two housing estates in England – in Bristol and the London Borough of Newham – to challenge residents to go carbon neutral. The Bristol project contributed towards the formation of the Knowle West Media Centre.


In May 2009, CIVA launched FoodCycle to encourage students and other young people to cook reclaimed food in donated kitchen space to feed hungry people. This project continues.


CIVA is developing a new project in partnership with Trees for Cities that will link primary age children with trees that they grow and look after.