Will This Change Life for Millions | $9 Cardboard Bike Supports 485lbs | #SOCENT

Pretty amazing example of the power of creativity in the world economy versus labor and capital.

An industrial designer, Izhar Gafni, has created a $9 bike made out of cardboard that can carry riders up to 485 pounds. This has the ability to affordable make transportation available to millions around the world.  Hopefully they can set up local production, sales, and service globally to support employment and provide opportunity globally. Very cool social innovation.

The Alfa weighs 20lbs, yet supports riders up to 24 times its weight. It’s mostly cardboard and 100% recycled materials, yet uses a belt-driven pedal system that makes it maintenance free. And, maybe best of all, it’s project designed to be manufactured at about $9 to $12 per unit (and just $5 for a kids version), making it not only one of the most sustainable bikes you could imagine, but amongst the cheapest, depending on the markup.


via This $9 Cardboard Bike Can Support Riders Up To 485lbs | Co.Design: business + innovation + design.

Izhar cardboard bike project from Giora Kariv on Vimeo.

Venture Camp: Entrepreneurship Summer Series

The last session of the Mason Center for Social Entrepreneurship’s Summer Venture Camp is 1 August 2012.  Join us as we uncover the role that universities and colleges can play in helping you launch your career as an entrepreneur. What can we learn from Facebook, Google, Nike, and other campus based startups? What is available to everyone in the DC Metro (NoVa, MOCO, Baltimore etc)

Venture Camp: Entrepreneurship Summer Series – Eventbrite.

Financing Social Entrepreneurs | Guardian Sustainable Business | guardian.co.uk

Nice piece to think about from the Guardian on financing social ventures:

When social entrepreneur Luke Dowdney needed to raise funds two years ago to support Fight for Peace, the charity he founded that teaches boxing and martial arts to at-risk youth to reduce violence in gang-ridden communities, he didn’t go the usual route of looking for donations. Instead he launched LUTA, a martial arts-based sportswear company featuring street wear created by young designers from the tough Brazilian neighbourhoods where Fight for Peace began.

In doing so, Dowdney raised just under £1m in investment from seasoned investors who loved the idea. Half of the profits from LUTA go to support the charity, providing much needed funds at a time when other charities were seeing donations dry up during the financial crisis. And the business provides street cred and useful publicity for the charity.

Dowdney’s solution is typical of the kind of creative business and financial innovation that social entrepreneurs are increasingly adopting to stay afloat, and indeed to thrive.

Social entrepreneurs often struggle with the dilemma of how to raise finance. Should they be a charity, and seek donations? Or a business and look for commercial funding? They are driven by a social mission, but traditional philanthropy doesn’t provide them with a stable, long term source of finance. At the same time, commercial investors neither understand nor trust them, many believing that “social” means “soft” and is usually a polite word for “loss-making.

via Financing social entrepreneurs | Guardian Sustainable Business | guardian.co.uk.

The Case for a Trillion $ BoP Housing Market | #socent #socinn

Just read about a new e-book, The BIG IDEA: Global Spread of Affordable Housing from the Next Billion and their partners at Ashoka. Global housing (think slums, lack of legal rights, utilities, etc.) is an enormous issue with huge opportunities for social entrepreneurs and innovators. From SocialEarth:

Several months ago, NextBillion teamed up with one of our Content Partners, Ashoka Full Economic Citizenship, for a Twitter chat. Our mission: Source the most innovative and successful thought leaders and practitioners addressing the multiple challenges and market solutions to affordable housing and post their examples and ideas on our site to share with hundreds of thousands of our readers globally.

The discussion was lively, and ideas tumbled out even faster than your typical Twitter chat. It’s hard to find a topic with more complexities and more relevance to the poverty alleviation puzzle than affordable housing. From financing to land rights, from market incentives to build new homes to rehabilitation of self-built dilapidated dwellings, from new eco-friendly building materials to new social-business models that ensure sustainable and profitable development , affordable housing is a complex ecosystem with all its intricacies.

via New Ebook: The Case for a Trillion Dollar BoP Housing Market | SocialEarth.

5 Takeaways from the 2012 Skoll World Forum | Stanford Social Innovation Review

John Saul over at Stanford Social Innovation Review blog shares his thoughts after attending the Skoll World Forum.  He has some interesting insights:

1. It’s OK to make an economic return from solving social problems. There was a sea change in thinking this year; social entrepreneurs seemed increasingly fascinated by the market as a mechanism to advance their social agendas. Scott Gilmore at Peace Dividend Trust (PDT) is a case in point. PDT renamed itself Building Markets (the name transition says it all) and even created a spin-out for-profit affiliate called Anchor Chain to leverage the private sector in advancing its mission of building local supply chains. I also spoke to the founder of a leading nonprofit consultancy who confided that he wished he had founded his organization as a for-profit instead, admitting “It really doesn’t matter these days, and the transparency is a real problem for us.”

Heidi Kuhn, Roots of Peace founder, and her daughter Kyleigh are the perfect inter-generational metaphor of the times: Both aim to impact the quality of life for Afghanistan’s poor, but in very different ways. Heidi founded a nonprofit to remove landmines and help Afghan farmers tap into the market by teaching new, higher-value agricultural practices; Kyleigh created a for-profit business called Twenty Four Suns to help local artisans in Afghanistan by creating a market for them in the US.

Also, funders themselves seemed increasingly open to the market as a force for change. One foundation director I spoke with openly contemplated investing in for-profits alongside traditional grants: “Why not?” she asked, “If we’re really about impact, it shouldn’t matter!” Continue reading “5 Takeaways from the 2012 Skoll World Forum | Stanford Social Innovation Review”

Clinton Global Initiative University Meeting | Student Social Entrepreneurs

At the fifth annual Clinton Global Initiative University meeting at George Washington University this past weekend, former President Clinton announced over nine hundred new projects that students and universities will undertake to improve the world.

New commitments announced at the two-day meeting include an expansion of Code the Change, a project of Stanford University student Sam King that hosts Code Jams in which computer science students provide up to twenty-four hours of pro bono volunteer services for nonprofit projects; the development, by Duke University student Patrick Oathout, of Uhuru, an online operating module that uses crowdsourcing technology to increase access to information among the international refugee community; the creation of Teach for Africa, a program by Harvard University student and Kenyan native Peggy Mativo that will provide trained teaching assistants to underserved schools in Nairobi, Kenya; and training workshops taught by Princeton University students Amanda Rees and Corinne Stephenson on how to build and operate solar drying units, enabling Kenyan farmers to dehydrate and preserve otherwise perishable produce.

Great to see so many students social entrepreneurs how there bringing a new vision for the future and new models for change.

via New Commitments Announced at Clinton Global Initiative University Meeting | PND | Foundation Center.

Masters in Social Entrepreneurship | Mason Center for Social Entrepreneurship | #Socent #Socinn

George Mason University in Fairfax, VA has announced a new, interdisciplinary Masters in Social Entrepreneurship beginning in the Fall of 2012. From the Mason Center for Social Entrepreneurship:

We welcome applicants from around the globe and from all undergraduate majors for this two-year program. Only a handful of universities in the world offer a graduate degree in Social Entrepreneurship.

This program is truly interdisciplinary. While the program is housed in Mason’s New Century College, the faculty members who teach the courses are drawn from every corner of the university. We think this only make sense as an approach because the global problems that social entrepreneurs seek to solve require knowledge drawn from across multiple fields of study.

Anyone who has completed his/her undergraduate degree is also welcomed to apply.

Also, certain students entering their senior year in 2012 may be eligible to count the 4th year of their undergraduate studies as the first year of this graduate program, allowing them to secure a Master’s degree in 5 years instead of 6.

To get more information fill out this form. GMU will release more information in the coming days.

via Masters in Social Entrepreneurship | Mason Center for Social Entrepreneurship.

PitchIt! Conference & Challenge | WeMedia.com | Deadline 13 Mar 2012

$50,000 to help innovators, both commercial and social. Submit your idea to the We Media PitchIt Challenge by 9 pm 13 March 2012 and get a chance to win one of two $25,000 awards to build out your vision. Time is short, but if you can mobilize your supporter today you can get to the next round by community votes. (Submit your idearules/faqs)

Check out some of the ideas that have been submitted (they are broken out into commercial and non profit — #socent #socinn):

Review+: Review+ helps local businesses generate qualified prospects by leveraging their satisfied customers to build trust and awareness for them. Customer reviews are posted real-time, both on the customer’s Facebook wall, and on the vendor’s own website. What makes this possible is our proprietary remote content delivery system that offers a scalable mechanism to publish fresh and optimized content to the vendor website in real-time, with no manual intervention from the vendor.

Enable U: People with disabilities graduate college 10% less often and find employment 32% less often than people without disabilities. There are many businesses that want to hire more students with disabilities and would be happy to sponsor a non-profit program that helps diversify their workforce. Enable U will increase graduation rates and job placement rates by pairing disabled college students with peer mentors in their first & last semesters.

Radmatter: RadMatter innovates campus recruiting with best practices from leading online, social games – from World of Warcraft to Farmville. Our wildly captivating candidate experience provides intrinsic and extrinsic rewards related to winning career opportunities. RadMatter is important for society and the economy. We foster a happier, more engaged workforce in the the right jobs with the right companies.




PitchIt! Conference & Challenge | WeMedia.com.

Social Entrepreneurs of Grinnell | Campus Champions of Change Challenge | #socen #socinn

Check out the Social Entrepreneurs of Grinnell, a microfinance group started in 2007 on campus in Iowa. SEG provides loans locally and internationally. Pretty impressive.

SEG is one of fifteen finalists in the White House Campus Champions of Change Challenge. The top five projects will go to the White House for national recognition and be featured on MTV’s “The Dean’s List.” Voting is open until March 3, 2012. You can vote for them up to 3 times! Lets go #socen #socinn

3 Ways to Accelerate Your Social Venture | #Socent #socinn

Scott Henderson of Mashable points to three ways to accelerate your social venture.

In exchange for equity stakes, for-profit accelerators and incubators provide robust resources and access to experts. Y Combinator, TechStars and a growing population of other companies have paved the way. Fortunately, social impact startups (for-profit and non-profit) are feeling the love, too, thanks to springboard organizations like Skoll Foundation, Scwab Foundation, Echoing Green and Ashoka.

Here are three more programs worth considering if you want to accelerate the growth of your social-impact startup.

Unreasonable Institute – Boulder, Colorado: Unreasonable’s marketplace is open; you can help determine or even be one of the projects selected for this summer’s program. Do you like the mountains and being connected to a global roster of mentors? Check this program out.

Civic Accelerator – Atlanta, Georgia: Just announced this year, the Points of Light Insitute’s Civic Incubator program is expanding to launch one of the first accelerators focused on social entrepreneurs. Learn more as it rolls out the program in the coming weeks and months.

MassChallenge – Boston, Massachusetts: In its third year, MassChallenge is open to all startups and has no strings attached. Compete for $1 million in cash prizes, interact with over 600 mentors and experts over four months, and enjoy free office space overlooking Boston Harbor. Four of last year’s top cash prize winners were social-impact startups. Apply for this year’s program starting March 1.

via 3 Best Social Good Startup Accelerators You’ve Never Heard Of.