Doing some work on a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) for the Mason Center for Social Entrepreneurship and came across this interesting video on social impact bonds. Worth checking out.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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”
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.