This is the meeting for the week of April 17, 2017 through April 23, 2017

This Meeting at a Glance:
Program: Big Data Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa with SMAG Media
Program Description: This talk will be a discussion about the SMAG Media team’s journey in sub-Saharan Africa working on data projects with some of the best and talented minds in the region. From West to East to Southern Africa, SMAG Media has partnered with technology companies, IT Teams, and individuals passionate about their country and facing ICT challenges head-on in innovative ways. For SMAG media, it’s just the beginning and they will continue to build tomorrow’s technology and aspire to work with today’s brightest in ICT in Africa.
Speaker: Sando Johnson, President of SMAG Media

Is this your first time to visit us? If so, welcome to our weekly online meeting! To complete our meeting, please continue reading from here to the bottom of this page. 

Each Monday our week’s meeting is posted early in the morning, U.S. Pacific Time. These meetings are designed so that you can read and watch what we post anytime during the week. The entire meeting takes about 60 minutes to complete, with the video conference recording of the program being the bulk of the time.

Note that you can easily read this meeting with your favorite device, so feel free to take our meeting on the go with you; read it while on public transit, waiting in line for coffee, or even at the park! Please also make sure to complete the attendance form at the bottom and leave a comment. Enjoy!

Welcome to the Rotary eClub of Silicon Valley!

Message from President Mitty

Thinking About Next Rotary Year

New to our meetings? Then I want to welcome you to the Rotary eClub of Silicon Valley’s online meeting! Every week we curate inspiring and educational content in an online format like the one you’re seeing here. As you continue reading, watching, and scrolling, our hope is that you’ll leave feeling a little bit more inspired. As an online Rotary club, we have these asynchronous meetings online, but we also meet in-person in the Silicon Valley / San Francisco bay area for service projects and for social events. Keep reading on, and feel free to also join us for one of our in-person events if you can make it!

Members & guests, welcome! I’m excited that this weekend our club will be staffing its own chili booth at the Justin House’s Annual Chili Cookoff for Charity! All proceeds from the event benefit the amazing work the team at Justin’s House accomplishes in helping minors. This is our second year our club will be participating in the chili cookoff! Members who want to help serve chili as part of service, you’re welcome to connect with our event chair, past president Rushton at [email protected] For those who can’t do the service portion, but want to stop by and support Justin’s House by coming by for some awesome chili tasting, you too are invited to come! The event will be this Sunday — details in the Events segment of this meeting! Check it out!

I also want to take this time to give three of our members a shoutout.

First, shoutout to Linda Tangren. Her granddaughter, Kendall, recently was accepted to and just committed to going to the University of Alabama as part of the school’s prestigious Scholars Program. That’s awesome! Our congratulations to Kendall, Linda! Thanks for sharing the good news with us in your happy dollars last week!

Second, a shoutout to Monique. Last week her husband, John Z, celebrated his 60th birthday! Happy belated birthday to John, Monique! Thanks for sharing that with us in your happy dollars last week!

Third, a shoutout to Tzviatko. Over the past few weeks, Tzviatko has introduced us to more than three of our upcoming guest speakers for our weekly programs. As a Rotary eClub that produces its own curated content weekly and new recorded programs, finding guest speakers and programs is a never-ending task that every president appreciates! Thank you, Tzviatko! Members and guests – if you know anyone who would be a good speaker for one of our programs, please consider introducing them to me via email at [email protected]

I’m excited that this week’s program comes from a talented entrepreneur with an amazing story. You’ll love this week’s program if you are are interested in politics, technology development in Africa, big data and information sets, or just learning about how one team is inspiring local entrepreneurs! Without revealing too much, I would definitely recommend reading on through the meeting till the program. You’ll enjoy hearing from Sando, the President of SMAG Media!

Thanks for visiting, and continue reading onwards to enjoy the rest of this week’s meeting! Also, please don’t forget to leave a comment at the bottom of this page after you’re done with the meeting! It’s a great way to interact with our fellow club members, guests, and even our guest speaker.

Yours in service,
Mitty Chang, President
Rotary eClub of Silicon Valley
[email protected]

Weekly Inspiration: The Bank That Uses Parmesan Cheese as Collateral

Every week we start our meetings with a short video highlighting innovation, inspiration, entrepreneurship, or social change. This week we are featuring a video from Great Big Story about the bank that takes Parmesan Cheese as collateral for a loan!

Whether they’re students or businesses, lots of people have to take out loans from the bank. For cheese farmers, there’s a bank in Italy that will literally accept *cheese* as collateral for loans. This is the story of three men and millions of dollars worth of that proverbial cheddar.

Wow! If you were a bank or a private money lender, is there anything out of the ordinary that you would take as collateral for a loan? Tell us in the meeting comments at the bottom of this page!

Laughing Out Loud (L.O.L.) with our Lady of LOLs

yvonnebubbleWe believe that laughing a little every day keeps you healthier. Every week we try to share with you something that will make you smile! This section is curated by Rotarian Yvonne Kwan, our club’s “Lady of LOLs.”

From Yvonne: “Here are some great jokes I heard this past weekend! I hope they crack a grin on your face!”
Parallel lines have so much in common.
It’s a shame they’ll never meet.
“Someone stole my Microsoft Office and they are going to pay. You have my Word.”
I went to a really emotional wedding the other day.
Even the cake was in tiers.
I tried to catch fog yesterday.
I mist.

Coffee with a Rotarian

A natural part of Rotary is the networking and the fellowship you get out of meeting other Rotarians. Coffee with a Rotarian is a program of our club where we match our members with other Rotarians that they haven’t had a chance to really get to talk to. This program is organized by member Tzviatko Chiderov.

In this week’s Coffee with a Rotarian, we are featuring a digital coffee meetup between two of our remote members, Brett Sham from Australia and Nathan “Nate” Gildart from Japan!

Here is what Brett had to say about Nate:

On the weekend, I had a Coffee with a Rotarian catch up with Nathan. I had a great chat with him for an hour and during that time I learnt that he is a History teacher in Japan, and moved over there from Canada 20 years ago. He currently teaches at an international school in Tokyo, but will be moving in the summer to a new city and will be starting at a new school and his wife is currently studying Nursing.

Nathan also loves travelling around and living overseas; in the next few weeks he will be traveling for a teachers’ conference. His work at the international school has also provided him with opportunities to travel around the world. He is passionate about education, and integrating technology with teaching and the classroom, and this is how he became involved with our club – he met Rushton at a couple of Google summits – firstly in Toyko and then in Kobe – where they connected over Rushton’s Next Vista NGO and then Rushton extended him an invitation to join our club. However, this isn’t his first exposure to Rotary, as his father an uncle have also been members of Rotary.
Outside of Rotary and teaching, Nathan plays guitar and bass and is lead vocalist in a band, which recently performed on St Patrick’s Day. He was also a serious soccer player growing up, playing in University and went to Europe.

We also talked about Rotary, and its embrace of technology, but also its need to do more to change. It has great programs, such as End Polio Now, but also needs to grow brand recognition and engagement with the community and evolve to continue into the future.

I plan on visiting Japan later in the year, so hopefully (itinerary permitting) we will have the opportunity to meet in person whilst I’m there.


Here is what Nate had to say about Brett:

Brett Sham and I had a chance to catch up. We’ve met briefly at one or two recordings but finally had an opportunity to have a nice chat over a Sunday morning java. Brett is a totally interesting guy! The conversation kept moving in different directions, which means it was a good chat, but I didn’t get to ask what it is that Brett considers his cooking specialties – the guy likes to cook. His lawyer girlfriend would probably be the one to ask. With her having a Vietnamese background I imagine he’s learned some culinary magic from Vietnam. (I love the country, people and the FOOD!) Another of Sham The Man’s hobbies is photography, so we’ll have to hope to see some of Brett’s perspectives in the monthly photos posted.

Brett himself is a consultant. This takes him to the major cities in Australia as well as around the globe. He’s been to several laces in the USA, Asia, Europe, and South America. The most rewarding is the people he meets in all of the places he goes. Brett’s taking advantage of a 10-week appreciation leave next year to travel the world. (#envy)

Another thing I learned is that Brett is a very experienced Rotarian, spending many years involved in Rotaract. Due to the amount of Rotary learning we’ve been given through out meetings I acually understood much of what he was talking about! Brett was active with the RYLA leadership development program, so it was great to get his take on RYLA, Rotaract, and Rotary in general. We did have an interesting discussion on Rotary adapting to the busy and connected 21st Century. In this the concept of eClubs is a reason why he feels fortunate to be able to continue his involvement in Rotary. (as we all know, business is far more mobile now than in the past and weekly face-to-face meetings might not work for many people, especially youth, who would like to be involved. As with Brett’s career, he highly values the people he’s met through Rotary. (including President Mitty!)

We had a great chat! Perhaps when Brett gets to Japan at the end of this year I can convince him to swing by my place and whip up some dinner. 😉


Thanks for sharing, Brett and Nate! Check in next week for more Coffee with a Rotarian stories!

Community Messages

Part of being in Rotary means being active in your local community. Our members are connected with dozens of incredibly amazing community groups and projects. This segment is for community announcements from our community partners and members.

Help Judging the Student Video Contest! (From member Rushton Hurley): 

Hi, all!

Every year, students at schools around the world create videos telling about the efforts of those who work to make life better for others. Our club helps with the judging of this contest, and this year’s finalists are ready for you to see!
There are three videos, and you can follow the link in the ballot to watch them and cast a vote. All told, it should take about ten minutes to complete the videos and cast a vote.
The deadline for our being able to count your vote is April 30th, but we’d love for you to do this in the next few days if possible.
Service via Video 2017 ballot:
Thanks so much for taking part and helping encourage these students to tell stories of service.
Best wishes,

Have a community announcement you’d like to see for future meetings?

Email your announcement requests to [email protected] Announcements from members take priority, so consider having one of our club members submit your announcement request!

For Members: Updates

This segment of the meeting is dedicated to our club members. This section includes announcements and new initiatives. Guests, you are welcome to read this section or just skip it.

District Conference in Santa Cruz & International Convention in Atlanta

Members, if you’re planning on going to either the district conference in Santa Cruz (this May) or to the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta (this June), please send President Mitty a message so we can get a headcount! [email protected]

Past Member Announcements:

  • Message from Treasurer-elect Heather on Automatic Dues: Make sure to check your emails! We are switching our system over to automatic dues rather than manual payment. Treasurer-elect Heather has more info for you!
  • Homepage Hero Image Project: If you’re able to take a photo of yourself against a green screen (any background that is completely green), President Mitty will splice your image into the hero image of the homepage of our website! Send your photo to [email protected] with the subject line “Rotary eClub Homepage Hero Image Project.”
  • TRF Challenge coins: Members who donate the following amounts will receive the following coins: $1000 – Gold, $500 – Silver, $200 – Bronze. Go ahead and request your Challenge Coin via the online form here then! 
  • Service Blotter Submissions: Click here to fill out The Rotary eClub of Silicon Valley Service Survey

Our Events & Projects

We hold our meetings online, but we hold regular service projects and social events in the Silicon Valley every month! This section is updated every week with our upcoming events. We welcome guests to all of our events and service projects listed here.

Also be sure to join our Meetup Group for automatic calendar updates and to RSVP for our events! These are open to all guests as well!

Rotary E-Club of Silicon Valley

Fremont, CA
114 Members & Guests

Calling all service-minded entrepreneurs, foodies, and community leaders! This group is for anyone interested in innovation, community service, education, business networking,…

Check out this Meetup Group →

Upcoming Events:

All times are Pacific Time! (San Francisco time)

February to April events coming soon! Here are some of the major May and June events to look forward to!

Serve: Charity Chili Cook Off for Justin’s House – Sunday, April 23, 2017

For the past two years, our club has been volunteering at Justin’s House. The mission of Justin’s House is to provide a variety of services that inspire youth to live beyond abuse and addiction. Our club is looking for members and guests who are interested in volunteering this year on Sunday, April 23, 2017 for their annual Chili Cookoff in Santa Clara, California. Interested members or guests, please contact our event chair, Rushton Hurley at [email protected] – thank you!

Our club’s event chair: Rushton Hurley

Or if you can’t make it out for service, consider attending the event as a guest by purchasing tickets at

Network: Rotary District 5170 Conference – May 5-7, 2017 in Santa Cruz, California

Join hundreds of Rotarians from throughout our Rotary district for our annual Rotary District Conference! This year’s conference will take place in Santa Cruz, California at the Boardwalk! This family-friendly event will be open to all guests and family members to attend. We hope to see more of our eClub members join us this year!

Our club’s event chair: Yvonne Kwan

Socialize: Beer O’Clock at Faction Brewery – Sat. May 27, 2017 from 4pm-6:30pm in Alameda, California

Kick back with Rotarians and awesome people for a relaxing Saturday social hour starting at 4 PM and running until 6:30 PM at the famous Faction Brewery in Alameda, California! Guests are welcome! If you are a guest, we would love for you to email us in advance at [email protected]! But you are also welcome to just come join us and look for the Rotary hat, shirts, and sign!

Our club’s event chair: Shags Shagrin

Network: Rotary International Convention – June 10-14, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Join over 35,000 Rotarians from around the world at the annual Rotary convention! This year’s convention will take place in Atlanta, Georgia, USA and features the centennial celebration of The Rotary Foundation! The Rotary International Convention is the largest regular gathering of Rotarians, and is also one of the best networking opportunities anyone can ever experience. Our Rotary eClub will have member events and experiences in Atlanta! Come join us in Atlanta! Members, be sure to let President Mitty know the dates you will be there!

Our club’s event chair: Mitty Chang

Special: Club Charity Fundraiser – Sunday, August 6, 2017 at Retzlaff Vineyard in Livermore, California

Save the date for Sunday, August 6, 2017 for our club’s first annual charity fundraiser! This delicious food and wine lunch event will indulge your taste buds while we enjoy amazing company, live music, silent auctions, auctions, and ticket drawings. More info coming soon.

Our club’s event chair: Andrew Taw

Happy Dollars: Do Good by Sharing Something Good

Each week we ask our members to share stories with the club and toss in a few dollars to support our efforts. The primary goal of this section is to provide a fun way of getting to know each fellow members and guests, while giving back to a good cause.

Happy dollars is an opportunity to share something positive that has happened in your life whether it is personal or business. Think of it as your opportunity to brag a little, but also put a little bit into a karma jar. The money donated through happy dollars is put to charitable use, and the message that you leave for happy dollars will be posted in our online meeting the following week for the entire week for folks to see! (Pending that it’s appropriate!)

Last week’s happy dollars went towards our club’s general fund. Here were the happy dollars donations from last week:

Thank you to member Rory Olsen for his $15 donation, to be donated to The Rotary Foundation’s PolioPlus Fund! Rory had this to say:
“Polio Plus, please. All is well.”

Thank you to member Monique Ziesenhenne for her generous $20 donation! Monique had this to say:
“My husband is having a big birthday this week, so I’d like to donate to the Annual Fund in his name! Happy 60th, John Z!”

Thank you to member Linda Tangren for her generous $20 donation! Linda had this to say:
“This is a grandmother brag. Kendall, our granddaughter, finally made a college decision. We are now all saying”roll tide.” For those of us who only live and think West Coast that is the University of Alabama. Here is a college that knows how to close the deal…reduced tuition, based on GPA and acceptance into the Scholars Program. These are important to a student who will pay out of state tuition to all mainland schools.”

Thank you all for your donations last week!

This week’s donations will go towards supporting club operations!

Happy dollars is also a great opportunity to share with the group about something good that has happened to you.

So what are you happy about? Share with us below, and help support one of our future leaders!

Fill out my online form.

Selected Six

Every week at the bottom of our meetings, there is a comments section for members and guests to tell us what they enjoyed about the meeting or to ask questions to the speaker. We select six comments every week from last week’s meeting to be featured during this week’s meeting.

Here are six comments selected from last week’s meeting about How Rotarians Empower Entrepreneurs Globally through Microfinancing:

Member Monique Ziesenhenne (California, USA) had this to say:
“Really great program this week. I enjoyed hearing about the coffee meeting – Chris, you did a great job on your first video. I look forward to seeing more. The Hollywood Hotline was a good story, too. Most inspiring is the microfinance project! I have long been happy at how this form of microfinancing/credit can create opportunities for women all over the world. Often, it’s not a lot of money that will make the difference, but a small amount that will make a HUGE difference. Thanks for such an informative program.”

Member Tzviatko Chiderov (South Africa) had this to say:
“Marilyn and Jim, thank you for sharing the power of microfinance with us. I wasn’t aware there is a RAC focused on microfinance. I enjoyed the stories you talked about and how transformational these opportunities have been to people around the world. It’s amazing how high the repayment rate is! This alone is such great proof that this not only works for beneficiaries of the loans but also for the loan making organizations. Thanks for your work. Mitty, it would be really great to look into participating in a microfinance program as a club.”

Guest Jaiki Alves (Brazil) had this to say:
“Hello everyone, this week the Rotary Meeting is amazing, because I am learning a few more about this Eclub. I’m excited for help to do the diference in the world. I was checking about Happy Dollar and I’ve sure to say a thing: THIS IS A GREAT IDEA AND YOU ARE DOING DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD. This is my second meeting and I am counting the time to can be member with this club. Another point about is the coffe with a Rotarian, I’ve sure that is a great moment to met differents rotarian, because we can learn with networking. About Merilyn and Jim, I can say that, they are difference in the world, in profession and community, congrats for all activities. Finally! Thanks so much for the opportunity Rotary Eclub Silicon Valley.”

Guest Megan Breyer (California, USA) had this to say:
“Marilyn & Jim, this was absolutely wonderful! As a maker in the online Etsy community, microfinancing comes up quite often in our conversations and opportunities, but it is wonderful to hear about third world and Rotary applications with this as well. I saw firsthand the poverty in Central America (Guatemala specifically) and it makes me so happy to hear that something so simple is making such a positive difference in their lives. I can only imagine how much independence and pride this brings to these individuals! I agree with Tzviatko – this sounds like a great project for this club. Sign me up – I would love to get involved in this!”

Guest Ashley Myers (Kenya) had this to say:
“Mitty thanks to your club for making this facility available. Microfinance is massive in Kenya and can do a great deal of good if run well. I don’t know if your club does overseas projects but having been introduced to you by Tzviatko it would be great if you wanted to partner with us in PE Stephen’s year. We are focusing all our efforts on a small village called Ngu Nyumu near Machakos in Kenya where we have started with a borehole and are moving on to pipe water to the school and the rest of the village, upgrade facilities in the school and the medical facilities and are looking to set up a permaculture farming project”

Member Roger Plested (Kamloops, Canada) had this to say:
“Another excellent meeting. I am intrigued to hear that Kay has an Instagram account, nice picture. Checking out the account, I have placed on my to do list. Thank you Marilyn and Jim for your program on micro financing. It has updated me as to what is happening around the world regarding the program and particularly in Detroit. I have a question for you, Jim. In Canada is there a micro financing program happening. I ask this because I am familiar with the Community Futures program that was started by the Canadian government over 25 years ago and is still running in numerous communities in Canada. For those outside Canada, the Community Futures program is very similar to the Rotary micro financing program.”

Be sure to leave a comment at the end of this week’s meeting after you watch the program below, and perhaps you’ll see your comment featured next week!

Tip: If you participate in the monthly photo contest via the comments, you’re much more likely to be featured in the next week’s meeting! Guests can participate too! Read our Members segment of our meeting to learn more about the theme for this month.

Program: Big Data Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa

Every week we bring to you a new program on innovation, education, technology, and humanitarian service. This week our guest this week is Sando Johnson, the President of SMAG Media.

Our program this week is about the SMAG Media team’s journey in sub-Saharan Africa working on data projects with some of the best and talented minds in the region. From West to East to Southern Africa, SMAG Media has partnered with technology companies, IT Teams, and individuals passionate about their country and facing ICT challenges head-on in innovative ways. For SMAG media, it’s just the beginning and the SMAG Media continues to build tomorrow’s technology and aspire to work with today’s brightest in ICT in Africa.

Meet Sando.

Sando Johnson is the President & Founder of SMAG Media and lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. Originally from Liberia, Sando frequently travels to Africa. His software company, SMAG Media, supports election transparency and reports on elections across Africa through a telecommunication system created by his organization.

Sando graduated from the Milwaukee School of Engineering in 2001. He spent a few years as an engineer before starting SMAG Media in July 2001. SMAG Media is based out of the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

This is his story.

Members and guests, please join us in welcoming Sando from SMAG Media!

Related Links

Ask a question. Leave a comment!

Have a question for Sando? Leave a comment or a question in the comments below! Or just tell us how your week has been!

Upcoming Program Schedule

All of our guest speakers and programs are recorded live online. We welcome members and guests to join us in one of these upcoming recordings. Recordings are approximately 30 to 45 minutes long and are subject to change without notice.

Upcoming Recordings:

  • Oops, none scheduled at the moment!

If you would like to join us for any of the live recordings, please email [email protected] with your request. Requests will be checked up until 5 minutes prior to the recording time. Please note the timezone is all California, USA time.

You’re Almost Done! One last thing: The Attendance Survey…

Thanks for reading and watching this week’s meeting. You have two last things to do before you’re done. First, we have a very short attendance survey below for you to fill out to record your attendance.

Visiting Rotarians, this is how you can get an email receipt to pass along to your club’s secretary as proof that you’ve attended our meeting if you need it for makeups.

Non-Rotarian Guests, we would love to see who is dropping by our meetings! This part is optional for you. If you think you may want to join our eClub at some point in the future, we would strongly recommend you fill out the attendance form as it will improve your chances of success for your membership application.

More importantly, for all members and guests — we strongly recommend and ask that you leave a comment below in our comments area below. Tell us how you enjoyed the program. Ask this week’s speaker any questions you might have. Or just stop by and say hello and tell us where you’re from!

Fill out my online form.


We'd love to hear from you! You can use this form or send us an email directly at [email protected]

Copyright Rotary eClub of Silicon Valley 2015-2017, located in Rotary District 5170 in the sunny Silicon Valley of California, USA. Rotary International club #86428. Inquiries can be sent to [email protected]

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