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This article is being prepared as an assignment for Megan Lyster’s Fall 2012 Social Entrepreneurship class.

Hua Dan[edit]

Hua Dan, the first project of the Schecherazade Foundation, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating participatory and educational theater workshops in the interest of building vocational skills among various rural to urban Chinese communities. Founded in Beijing, China in 2004, Hua Dan partners with community organizations and commercial enterprises to run theater workshops that provide training aimed at increased employability, social mobility, and improved quality of life, particularly for migrant women moving from the rural countryside to enter the service and manufacturing industry in the city. [1] [2]


Hua Dan was founded by Caroline Watson, a Hong-Kong born British woman who studied theater at Lancaster University, United Kingdom. Moving to Beijing in 2003, Watson was in search of a way to use her background in theater as a tool for leveraging women’s rights and empowerment. She was inspired by the city’s vibrancy and liveliness, but was discouraged at the sight of an impoverished community of people, made up primarily of migrant workers from the rural countryside, who came to the city in search of a job. As she learned more about the migrant community, she was struck by its large population of women who were not only suffering from unemployment, but from unfair treatment, which prevented them from acclimating to the bustling city life. Her early experience with female migrant workers and the issues they faced became the basis for Hua Dan. To kick start Hua Dan, she began by working with the Rural Women Knowing All school in Changping, China, where she ran workshops. With no previous experience in management or in working with Non Government Organizations(NGOs), she was able to gather a small support group of migrant participants and university volunteers. With these volunteers, she would apply for funding for her enterprise. Watson has since worked with hundreds of migrant workers. [3] [4]


Hua Dan is committed to improving the quality of life of the Chinese migrant community, by using theater and creativity as a tool for inspiring leadership and strengthening community. As well as recruiting, employing, training, and empowering women to help sustain the organization. Through launching various projects--from programs to performances--Hua Dan has used theater in an effort to improve the lives of several thousand women, children, and earthquake victims.

The organization seeks to achieve its mission via the following three main principals:

  1. Personal leadership: more people leading their own lives and communities with integrity, courage and confidence.
  2. Relationships: increased understanding and collaboration between different groups of people.
  3. Participatory Arts: more people understanding the value of participatory arts for personal growth and social transformation. [2]

By using these principals, Hua Dan ultimately strives to create social transformation through participatory arts while presenting themselves as a scalable entrepreneurial model that they hope will be built upon world wide. They hope to improve the quality of life of migrant workers as they assimilate into society, providing the individuals with vocational skills that will support them through increased employability and better assimilation into the main stream work place. [5]

Social Impact[edit]

23,000 people have participated in Huan Dan theater programs and they have trained 10 workers to run these programs. The Huan Dan organization beleives that theater can be used as a mechanism for social change. Huan Dan has plans to expand to India and other developing countries.[6]

Methods of Operation[edit]

Hua Dan partners with community organizations and commercial enterprises in impoverished areas of China, conducting workshops that teach skills catering to employability, social mobility and better quality of life, while training migrant workers to be professional arts practitioners working with the organization. Hua Dan also operates through applications for foundation grants, as well as funding from its consultancy program[7] to support the organization's nonprofit projects and every day operations.


Workshops heavily stress advanced role-play, improvisation, creative games, exercise, storytelling, and other participatory training techniques. The skills and values fostered by these workshops are, in part:

  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Cross-cultural communication
  • Leadership
  • Conflict resolution
  • Problem solving
  • Self expression
  • Creativity[5]

Projects and Programs[edit]

Women Empowerment Program[edit]
The Women Empowerment Program focuses on giving Beijing-based migrant women the confidence and skills they need to take charge of their lives. Results have shown that participants have increased employment potential and more chances for career development, and are better able to adapt to the new challenges of city life. [8]
Migrant Training and Employment Program[edit]
The Migrant Training and Employment Program works with marginalized youths and migrant workers, by teaching them to facilitate workshops and eventually manage Hua Dan projects. There are currently five long term migrant facilitators working for Hua Dan. [8]
Children’s Education Program[edit]
The Children's Education Program works with schools and community centers in Beijing, bringing projects, theater programs, and workshops that compliment school curriculum, in such a way as to empower migrant children to realize their own potential. The program seeks to help equip children with self-awareness, confidence, communication, and leadership through the arts. It also serves to support teachers in integrating more creative and experiential methods into their curriculum.[9]
Sichuan Earthquake Rehabilitation Program[edit]
The Sichuan Earthquake Rehabilitation Program utilizes participatory arts to help rehabilitate and restore confidence in victims of the Sichuan earthquake, helping foster community, communication, and leadership skills for the purpose of rebuilding homes, communities, and lives.[10]
Community Engagement Program[edit]
The Community Engagement Program consists if workshops and projects fostered by partner organizations and focuses on bringing people together from different parts of the migrant community, in the interest of engaging in dialogue and debate about potential solutions to the problems faced by migrant and rural communities in China.[2] [8]
Bean Sprouts Project[edit]
The Bean Sprouts Project serves 6 to 18 year old children, and the project's goal is to stimulate expression in young children. The project utilizes many art forms such as painting, dancing, and story telling in order to engage students. The subject matter revolves around themes of trust, love and tolerance to encourage a creative and safe atmosphere. [8]
Consulting Programme[edit]
Huan Dan Consulting Programme runs workshops with corporations about social responsibility through theater and improvisation. The profits earned from the consulting programme goes towards the socail entreprenurship side of the business. The Consulting projects are tailored towards the specific organizations needs. [11]


  • Foundations
    • Narada Foundation
    • Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation
    • Ford Foundation
    • One Foundation
    • Partnerships For Community Development
  • Organizations
    • Beijing Improv
    • Cultural Development Center For Rural Women
    • Fuping Development Institute
    • Xingzhi New Citizen School
    • One Plus One (Beijing) Disabled Persons' Development Center
    • Compassion For Migrant Children
    • Unesco
  • Enterprises


Awards and Achievements[edit]

Founder and Director Caroline Watson, and Staff member Dong Fen have received various awards for their work with this organization.

  • Young Global Leader Nominee, World Economic Forum[13]
  • Architect of the future, Waldzell Meeting 2007[14]
  • Paragon Fellow, Foundation for the Youth Social Entrepreneurship 2010[15]
  • British Council Social Entrepreneurship award/ You Cheng[16]

Hua Dan has accomplished many feats to helping communities since it first starting. Moving quickly from where it first began, Hua Dan has now a fully operational regional office that has reached over 7,340 people, along with over 254 three-hour workshops and separate performances. The organization is supported by 188 volunteers, has recently opened its winter and summer camps, signs of continuing growth.



Created by paper-cut artist Liu Ren, Hua Dan's logo is meant to capture the spirit of the workers in china by using a traditional art form, and symbolism that includes a sunrise, balls from a favorite game played at Hua Dan, and men and women in partnership. To honor the fact that Hua Dan is a female-led organization, the traditional right-left positions of the man and the woman have been reversed.[18]


  1. ^ "Caroline Watson". Web. World Economic Forum. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c "Organisation - Focus and Mission". Web. Hua Dan. 
  3. ^ "Briton Helps Migrant Women Improve Self-Respect". Magazine. China Daily Europe. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "Caroline Watson - Hua Dan - Member Interviews". Interview. i-genius Academy. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "SE Network: Social Entrepreneur Focus Hua Dan". Web. INSTEAD The Business School for the World. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Consultancy Program". Retrieved 17 October 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c d  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Hua Dan Partners". Retrieved 17 October 2012. 
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Hua Dan Logo". Retrieved 17 October 2012. 

External Links[edit]