Visit to Halcyon Incubator | #SOCENT #Incubator #DC

Earlier this week I was fortunate to tour Halcyon Incubator in the Georgetown neighborhood of DC. The year long social entrepreneurship incubator, offers 8 early stage social entrepreneurs the opportunity to live and work in the Halcyon Incubator_Infographic_930x1628WEB_072815House (a bit more on the property later).

For the first 5 months the entrepreneurs participate in the ‘residency’ phase with skills sessions, pitch opportunities, weekly lunches, mentors, consultants and others supporting their ventures development. For the next 7 months the entrepreneurs live and work in the Halcyon House — a gorgeous, amazingly decorated mansion in Georgetown (virtual tour) with everything from a ballroom to beautiful grounds with a pool.

The newest cohort of Halcyon Fellows are just moving in and beginning their year in the program. They are a diverse lot solving important problems and I look forward to meeting some of them and watching their progress over the next year.

The deadline to apply for the next cohort of fellows is October 14, 2015. If you are an early stage social entrepreneur please check this program out. If you know an emerging social entrepreneur, share the application with them.

The library on the top floor of the Halcyon House. Various sessions are held in this room for the fellows.
The library on the top floor of the Halcyon House. Various sessions are held in this room for the fellows. Awesome space for social entrepreneurs.

Zuckerberg Backed Org Launches Contest to Help Grow Internet in India

A massive 69% of India’s population does not have access to the Internet. A non-profit back by Mark Zuckerberg — probably the most successful student entrepreneur of the past 10 years — has put up $1 million in prizes for creative solutions to this problem.

From TechCrunch:

The contest from Facebook-backed Internet accessibility partnership could help millions of people recognize the value of the Internet, pursue access, and gain knowledge and opportunities that can help them get better jobs and improve their lives. That could in turn help’s flagship sponsor Facebook gain new users that it can connect to the world.

While Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg have a clear interest in getting all those folks online, its seems there is more going on. This is philanthropy in action, making funds available to people, but demanding that they produce something that continues to provide returns to society – in this case apps that connect more people to the internet.

US News on MBAs and Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Investing #Socent

Cornell’s Johnson School and Northwestern’s Kellogg are pushing deep into social entrepreneurship and co-hosting the 2011 Impact Investing Challenge; an invitation only contest challenging teams to put together and defend sustainable investment strategies.  From Stacy Blackman the MBA admissions blogger at US New and World Report Education:

Twelve teams will compete for more than $40,000 in awards on April 8 at J.P. Morgan in New York City. Along with Kellogg and Johnson, other top programs including Columbia Business School, Harvard Business School, and the Stanford Graduate School of Business have teams competing.

This focus on impact investing is part of a much larger trend sweeping business schools. Current students are concentrating not only on traditional courses such as accounting and finance, but also learning how to use their business acumen to bring about meaningful change.

One of the most popular growing fields among b-schools is social entrepreneurship, where students learn about topics ranging from non-profit management to starting businesses that serve underrepresented communities. Many programs now offer specializations in sustainability-centric M.B.A.s, often called “green M.B.A.s,” that focus heavily on teaching environmentally and socially sustainable business practices.

Not a bad move by JP Morgan to host these bright students. Not a bad opportunity for students who fought to get into some of the elite MBA programs.

via The Sustainable M.B.A. – MBA Admissions: Strictly Business

Some Social Entrepreneurship Grad Programs

Rolfe Larson offers a nice sampling of graduate school programs in the U.S. focused on social entrepreneurship or social innovation.

Many of these programs are tied to a business school, which can really help when you bring your great social change idea to the marketplace.  And if you’re already mid-career seeking an advanced degree in social enterprise, there are many opportunities to do that as well.

Here’s a sampling of some well-regarded programs:

Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business has an Executive Program in Social Entrepreneurship. Details at

Harvard University’s MBA program has a social enterprise component and several CEU programs that specialize in social enterprise.  Details

Duke University’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at the Fuqua School of Business has what I consider to be the best professor in the field, Greg Dees.  Details at:

Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology (GSEP) has a Master of Arts in Social Entrepreneurship, with a mixture of classroom and online education.  Details at:

Bainbridge Graduate School specializes in online programs with short stints, with an MBA program emphasizing social justice and environmental sustainability.  Details at:

Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the Kelley School of Business offer a Social Entrepreneurship certificate program.


Social Enterprise Goes to Graduate School | Social Enterprise.

Obama Engages Muslim World With Entrepreneurship – Entrepreneurship and Development

President Obama is currently hosting a two day Presidential Summit with more than 250 business and social leaders from 50 countries, most with large or majority Muslim populations.

The summit is the follow up to Obama’s Cairo speech last summer and looks to use entrepreneurship, and social entrepreneurship, as major tools in increasing development throughout the Muslim world.

Many in the article claim that this is a nice thought, but that other issues – Iran nuclear policy, Iraq and Afghanistan, and Israel – matter far more.

From the piece;

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke opened the gathering by challenging the entrepreneurs to take “the tremendous success that all of you have had individually and expand it throughout the Islamic world.”

“There are over a billion people living in Muslim-majority countries today, and they represent a vast reserve of underutilized potential in the global economy, both in terms of their demands for goods and services as well as their ability to create technological and social innovations that will drive economic growth and social development,” Locke said.

Here is the official summit page and here is the official White House Press Briefing. BTW, it appears you can stream it live as well.

Obama Hosts Global Summit on Entrepreneurship –

Sparkseed Social Innovation Fund for Students Wins Financial Times Award

Just received the great news from our friends over at Sparkseed. They have won the Financial Times Best Social Investment strategy award against some pretty big hitters (McDonalds, The Gap, Microsoft). Sparkseed founder Mike Del Ponte explains, “Students have the creativity, passion, and drive to address issues like climate change, poverty, and global health through novel ventures. But they often lack the means to turn outside -the-box thinking into ideas that yield social dividends. Arming this untapped brain trust with the right resources will have untold benefits for society.”

Congrats to Mike and all of the social innovator and student entrepreneurs working with Sparkseed and to all who participated in the Financial Times – Just Means Social Innovation Awards.

Is Social Entrepreneurship an Oxymoron: Sanjay Anandaram – India Chief Mentor – WSJ

Sanjay Anandaram offers a thought provoking piece about social entrepreneurship at the Wall Street Journal Online.  I agree with many of Anandaram’s thoughts on social entrepreneurship and highlighted a few of them below. This is a piece well worth reading.

Isn’t every business a social venture? After all, it pays taxes, generates employment and hopefully increases incomes of its stakeholders. So why the hoopla around social ventures, social entrepreneurship and social investing? Not surprisingly, social entrepreneurship is the latest victim of feel-good “buzz-word compliance,” an all too common disease in management. What was a business process improvement in the 80s is now a hotly debated incremental or quantum innovation; hiring someone who speaks a foreign language in a foreign location is part of the new and improved HR strategy; no self-respecting company will let go the opportunity to talk sustainability and social responsibility and Bottom Of the Pyramid (BOP) strategy!

The increased media focus and the casual throwing around of fashionable jargon serves some purposes -some useful and others not. It democratizes notions and concepts and makes them acceptable; it generates pressure to actually do something, however small, with a social angle; It can also however, unfortunately, trivialize the enormous challenges of having really meaningful social impact and make it just an agenda item for the next corporate event.


Various discussions are afoot on what constitutes social entrepreneurship. In my mind, a social venture is one where the dominant goal of the venture is to have social impact (e.g. jobs, enhanced incomes, health, education) with profits (to ensure sustainability) being only the means of achieving this social impact. Investors in the venture participate because they believe in the dominant goal, not because they want great returns through a successful IPO. There are other investment opportunities for investors seeking great returns. The entrepreneurship mindset determines the approach (e.g. scale, problem-solving) and culture (e.g. speed, efficiency, low cost, innovative) of this social venture.

Is Social Entrepreneurship an Oxymoron: Sanjay Anandaram – India Chief Mentor – WSJ.

Startup Scramble DC University Challenge

Found out about this great opportunity from some of the people working on social entrepreneurship at GMU and Ashoka (read about the Campus Changemakers program at GMU here). The StartUp Scramble D.C. University Challenge takes place Jan 29th- 31st. According to the event site, “Entrepreneurial college students together in a weekend-long start-up event, work to pitch, plan, and launch sustainable ventures to improve society, which they will lead over the next year and beyond. ”

There will be great speakers, working sessions, and a pitch contest and it will likely be a pretty intense entrepreneurial experience as the participants look to get something on the up and running and making a social impact within a year. Winners receive funding and incubation services. Great networking is likely to take place. Looking forward to learning more and seeing what comes out of this.

Tom Friedman Calls for Year of “Start-Up America”

Just got an email from my friends at the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) that Tom Friedman calls on President Obama to make 2010 the year of ‘Start-Up America’ as the cure for what ails us (and his political fortunes). Friedman suggests Obama turn to programs such as NFTE and National Lab Day that teach students about innovation, entrepreneurship, and science.

Friedman writes, “We need to get millions of American kids, not just the geniuses, excited about innovation and entrepreneurship again. We need to make 2010 what Obama should have made 2009: the year of innovation, the year of making our pie bigger, the year of “’Start-Up America.'”

Here are some snippets describing the programs.


“NFTE works with middle- and high-school teachers to help them teach entrepreneurship. The centerpiece of its program is a national contest for start-ups with 24,000 kids participating. Each student has to invent a product or service, write up a business plan and then do it.”

National Lab Day:

“Introduced last November by a coalition of educators and science and engineering associations, Lab Day aims to inspire a wave of future innovators, by pairing veteran scientists and engineers with students in grades K-12 to inspire thousands of hands-on science projects around the country.

Any teacher in America, explains the entrepreneur Jack Hidary, the chairman of N.L.D., can go to the Web site and enter the science project he or she is interested in teaching, or get an idea for one. N.L.D. will match teachers with volunteer scientists and engineers in their areas for mentoring.

‘As soon as you have a match, the scientists and the students communicate directly or via Skype and collaborate on a project,’ said Hidary.”

While Friedman doesn’t mention it directly, perhaps Obama’s Office of Social Innovation is talking with these groups. Anyone know if Sonal Shah (a former Google philanthropy director) has been active on these fronts?