Ian Rosenberger’s Thread International – A For Profit Endeavor with a Non-Profit Mission

Social Entrepreneurs: Merging Profit Endeavors with a Non-Profit Mission

By Nick Frost | 90.5 WESA Pittsburgh

Credit Nick Frost / 90.5 WESA Tim Zak (left), Director of the Institute of Social Innovations at CMU, studies social changes which includes Ian Rosenberger (right), founder of Thread International, is just one example of a new type of entrepreneur called social entrepreneurs.

There are many emerging companies that blur the lines of for profit endeavor with a non-profit mission, these social entrepreneurs, as they are called, are concerned with both financial sustainability and social impact.

Ian Rosenberger, founder of Thread International, an East Liberty based company recycling plastic bottles in Haiti for use in the manufacturing of apparel is one of these social entrepreneurs. Tim Zak, Director of the Institute for Social Innovation at Carnegie Mellon University studies innovators such as Ian.

Zak says, “we often think of entrepreneurs as those who have a motivation for financial gain and perhaps as a nice byproduct there are some social impact, where social entrepreneurs differ perhaps is that they are still addressing the needs of people that their needs are not adequately met by existing solutions, but their primary motivation is on social impact that is financially sustainable over a long period of time.”

Rosenberger has created a company that appears to fit that definition and it all started after a natural disaster.

“After the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, I got the chance to travel down there and while there, spent a week and fell in love with the country and people. And the two things I see the most when I travel to the developing world, and I’ve had the chance to see a lot of interesting places now, are poverty and trash. In a place like Haiti where you see thousands of non-profits and NGO’s focusing on social problems, but not a lot of progress being made, we saw an opportunity to pick up a lot of trash, create a lot of jobs and have a social impact at the same time. The idea for Thread was born out of a need to create jobs for the people we were coming to love, the friends and family, in Haiti almost four years ago now.”

via Social Entrepreneurs: Merging Profit Endeavors with a Non-Profit Mission | 90.5 WESA

Crowdfunding Solar Energy Deployment

Crowdfunding Solar Energy Deployment

Crowdfunding Site Provides Capital for High-Impact Solar Energy Projects

Lack of access to financing can keep many otherwise worthy solar energy projects from being built in poor and underserved areas, but a solar crowdfunding site is helping to connect individual investors with solar energy businesses and working to bring affordable solar energy to communities around the world.

[Read more...]

Social Entrepreneurship: New Solutions for Age Old Problems

“Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.” — Bill Drayton

Sang Lee  CEO and Founder, Return on Change | via Huffington Post

The modern era has brought such advancements in medicine, technology and energy that have continued to bring higher quality of life and sustainability for the whole world. However, concurrently we continue to face significant challenges around poverty, disease and accessibility to education just to name a few. We are collectively searching for the ideal solutions, and platforms such as the Youth Assembly at the United Nations are working towards creating fundamental and sustainable solutions that will not only provide immediate alleviations for current issues, but also serve as a spring board for further innovation to create systematic change.

There has been much misunderstanding that social entrepreneurship is nothing but a rebranding of charity and philanthropy. This is a fundamental flaw in the understanding of what social entrepreneurship seeks to accomplish, which is to create sustainable ground level and systematic change for all stakeholders in the world, which includes investors, consumers, community and environment. The public image that social entrepreneurship equates to charity has created difficulty in spreading the concept to the broader industry, but we are definitely moving in the right direction. Social entrepreneurship has the true potential of changing the world on a fundamental scale.

While today’s companies engage in corporate social responsibility, they have limited flexibility and are often unable to deliver high impact results. Large corporations also primarily contribute by means of philanthropy as opposed to sustainable business. Social entrepreneurs think outside of the box and think about disrupting the way issues are dealt with. We’ve seen entrepreneurs developing methodologies to make people ‘invisible’ to mosquitoes to fight the proliferation of disease or creating portable medical devices which allows doctors to provide their expertise to regions of the world that lack access to healthcare. As with other startups industries, social entrepreneurs have the ability to walk away from the established path to create new solutions for what is more often than not an old problem.

Additionally, the current model of philanthropy, while having certain uses has limited impact as compared to social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurs are motivated by maximizing the impact they are able to deliver, while concurrently creating a self-sustaining business model that is able to truly benefit everyone. This has the potential to have longer lasting impact as social entrepreneurs do not rely on a donation model, but actually create their own revenue to sustain the business. Financial systems are also evolving in order to promote financial inclusion and the democratization of the capital markets. Crowdfunding all over the globe has breathed new life into entrepreneurship and has facilitated the creation of new impact delivering businesses and the creation of jobs. There have been new regulatory changes such as the JOBS Act which will give everyone the opportunity to invest in community and businesses that they truly care about. Crowdfunding to date has shown that the number one type of campaigns to get funded are for social causes.

I have the honor and privilege of participating in the Youth Assembly at the United Nations this February with various panelists that bring unique and inspiring perspectives on how we could continue to collaborate and brainstorm on leveraging social entrepreneurship to deal with our most pressing issues. It’s also going to be so important that all entrepreneurs bring long term value creation into their business model and thesis. If all of our early stage businesses were simultaneously focused on creating multiple forms of value, we may not even need to have this discussion in the near future.

Follow Sang Lee on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@RoCSang

via | Huffington Post

Social Impact: MBA Entrepreneurs Use Hult Prize Start-Up To Hep Solve Indian Hunger Crisis

These five ESADE MBAs were banded together as social entrepreneurs in the Hult Prize 2013. But a few months down the line and their start-up is helping to feed people in India’s slums, full-time.
Some of the Origin co-founders in the slums of Dharavi, after conducting a focus group with locals

via | Social Impact: MBA Entrepreneurs Use Hult Prize Start-Up To Hep Solve Indian Hunger Crisis | BusinessBecause

Some of the Origin co-founders in the slums of Dharavi, after conducting a focus group with locals

On the face of it, Cesar Del Valle, Greg Perowne, James Doherty, Jon Myer and Monica Noda don’t have much in common professionally – other than the fact that they are part-time MBA students.

Before business school, Cesar came from real estate; Greg is a former Deloitte consultant; Jon was a communications specialist; Monica co-founded a design company; and James worked for the Swedish Trade Council.

The group’s mix-match of skills and personality is an embodiment of the modern MBA cohort. And it is a trait that ESADE Business School, their current place of business, has in abundance.

The current full-time MBA class of about 160 students represents 48 different countries – and a large chunk of them come from non-traditional backgrounds such as humanities and social sciences.

They are a school typified by diversity. And while all MBA programs like to brandish international representation, how many of them successfully pair four different nationalities together for the long-haul?

James and Cesar are from the States, Greg hails from Canada, Jon is from Australia and Monica comes from Brazil.

As different as their careers and backgrounds might be, though, they share a passion for social impact – a passion that has put them on a path to entrepreneurship.

The ESADE five are all the co-founders of Origin, a social-impact start-up that helps improve nutrition and financial inclusion in some of the poorest parts of India.

They speak to me from their campus in Barcelona, Spain, but last summer they were immersed in the slums of India – a country in which over 20 per cent of the population live in extreme poverty.

When they first met at ESADE in 2012, they had no idea they would be working on Origin in two years’ time, shunning corporate MBA jobs in favour of entrepreneurship.

“We hadn’t pin-pointed social start-ups, but we all had the idea of getting into the social enterprise sector somehow. We were gravitating towards that purpose,” Cesar says. It was why they chose ESADE in the first place, says Monica.

“We chose ESADE partly because of its focus on social impact and sustainability,” she explains. “We met each other very quickly and found we had similar aspirations.”

Indeed, ESADE has its own Instituto de Innovación Social – Institute for Social Innovation – which is dedicated to social enterprises, leadership and NGO management, and corporate social responsibility. In December last year, they launched their first Social Impact Investment Forum for social entrepreneurs and investors to find eachother.

So when the opportunity to enter the Hult Prize 2013 – a global competition which presented the challenge of addressing the food shortage in urban slums – they jumped at it.

“That’s how it all started,” says Greg. “We were all very interested in social enterprise but hadn’t focused on a specific issue. The Hult Prize got us to rally round this one cause and this was the formation point.”

The competition, which many MBA teams enter each year, has a grand prize of $1 million in seed funding. Enough incentive for any social entrepreneur. Although the ESADE team didn’t take home the cash last year, they left with something much more valuable.

“As we looked deeper into the issue, we starting defining who our customers would be and which geography we would target, and things progressed from there,” says Greg. Flash forward to February 2014 and the five founders are committed to making this a full-time project.

That competition was the catalyst they needed to get started. While most MBAs are immersed in their studies, the Origin team have one eye fixed firmly on graduation.

As admirable as their cause is, they will only achieve impact if their business is successful – and that requires hours of hard graft in-between lectures and case studies.

“We’re laying the ground work for after graduation,” says Cesar. “We had trips to India in the summer which helped us to fine-tune and develop the business from the ground up.
“We piloted our model in Mumbai in September and, while we’re back to completing our MBAs, we regularly meet to discuss strategy.”
With the Hult Prize behind them, they are free to develop a business model of their choosing, says Greg. “While you’re competing you have constraints imposed on you. You are always making certain compromises; you see paths that you can take, but u have to stay with the competition,” he explains.

“But now suddenly it’s behind us, the criteria is gone. We’re in that sole-searching phase, trying to see how we can have the most impact.”

There is no doubting that the Hult Prize was a fantastic enabler, rather than a burden – “the reward is worth it,” adds Greg – but they have a clear vision of their goal now.

Origin works with small retailers in India, improving nutrition and social inclusion. They link small grocery shops to the private and public sectors with “low-cost” technology and help them sell healthier, more affordable food in the slums.

Their focus is not just on nutrition, however. The business also works with local retailers to streamline their banking processes, helping them remain free from corruption.

Origin is a for-profit enterprise, but profits will be invested back into the business, Cesar insists.

They are not just targeting India either. Origin’s founders hopes to maximize social impact on an international scale – although they are a few strategy meetings off that level. What is the ultimate aim? “That’s what we ask ourselves all the time,” says Greg.

“We want to be somewhere where we can bring a business practice that’s beneficial to society. Sure, we’ve looked at different markets, such as East Africa and Latin America, so ideally we could replicate this model and easily translate it to other markets.

“But like most start-ups, we’re more focused on the next five to ten months, rather than the next five to ten years.”

It’s a big task. And the ESADE MBAs are under no illusions as to its difficulty; who knows where the business will be in a few years’ time. But one thing they are certain of is that an MBA was the right path to take.

It hasn’t just made them business partners and given them the inspiration behind their idea, but funding and the skill-set to make their start-up a success.

“But the most important way an MBA helps is that It gives us a more customer-centric look at problems, so we don’t get the idea that we have a product or solution that will change the world; instead, we develop and fine-tune our business based on customer feedback,” says Greg.

“We received some funding from the school, nothing too large, but it has helped. There are a good amount of resources we can utilize.

“ESADE being a small school, we have close connections to students and professors – and they are always more than happy to let us bounce ideas off them.”

They may not have won the Hult Prize competition, but that is not slowing Origin down. When the event finished and they had begun to make an impact, they did not rest on their laurels.

For these five ESADE MBAs, Origin is much more than a project. Social entrepreneurship is a way of life.

 

The new social entrepreneurs: young, tech-savvy and improving the world

Solving social problems rather than getting rich is the priority for tomorrow’s ambitious entrepreneurs.
graduates sea

New horizons: social change is the primary driver for many young people.
Photograph: Alamy

Technology has levelled the playing field, opening up remarkable opportunities for young people. According to a Populus survey, more than a quarter of 16- to 25-year-olds want to set up their own business, and 14% are in the process of doing so, compared with 8% only a year ago.

But there is something else at play here, another trend emerging. For many of these new digital entrepreneurs, the primary objective is to improve the world rather than their own bank balance. They are looking for radical solutions to social problems rather than creating a product or service that will make them a stash of cash.

That doesn’t mean their aims are any less ambitious. Take 22-year-old Aaron Jones, whose goal is universal access to education. He has set up the multi-award winning Fikay, a lifestyle brand all about successful living and giving. It produces fashion accessories using recycled cement bags, employs co-operatives and members of fair-trade organisations and, for every purchase made, Fikay donates to educational building projects in south east Asia.

Fikay has already helped to build one school in Cambodia with plans for many more to follow. “Why,” says Aaron, “do some children have the right to an education while others don’t? Fikay is my adventure and mission to change this.”

If social change is the primary driver for many of the new generation of entrepreneurs, digital is their vehicle of choice. In recent years, there has been a proliferation of initiatives designed to encourage young people to develop their digital skills. Code Club, Young Rewired State, Freeformers, Digital Youth Academy and Coderdojo (itself established by 21-year-old James Whelton) are just some of the organisations equipping young people to move from being consumers to producers of digital content, products and services.

A new generation of digital makers is emerging, but more exciting still is the fact that so many young people are using their digital skills to tackle such seemingly intractable social challenges as education, healthcare, human rights and social isolation.

[Read More]

via | The new social entrepreneurs: young, tech-savvy – and improving the world | Social Enterprise Network | Guardian Professional.

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Impact Entrepreneurship Magazines’ Institutional Advisory  Council is a membership group comprised of leading change agents  representing a diverse range of institutions from around the world. The Institutional Advisory Council provides leadership in the industry, facilitates shared learning and collaboration, serves as a resource for disseminating the latest research and best practices, and prmoted the creation and adoption of industry infrastructure, including impact metrics.

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Profit • Planet • People

Impact Entrepreneurship Magazine’s subscribers are change agents, independent thought leaders, innovators and inspired individuals strongly interested in triple bottom line results; that is,  making a difference in areas relating to PEOPLE, the PLANET and developing a sustainable business that makes a PROFIT.

This publication seeks to disseminate impact entrepreneurial activities, success stories and case studies from  each business sector that has the greatest impact upon many causes discussed here.

Social-Impact Issues

Education – Impact entrepreneurship can make a measurable impact on this sector by focusing on innovative and  sustainable ways to increase, improve, optimize, prevent, mitigate, reduce or eliminate:

  • Increase access to education
  • Improve access to facilities
  • Increase the number and quality of teachers
  • Improve overall student performance

These impact metrics are currently most pertinent to educational institutions.

Health - Impact entrepreneurship can make a measurable impact on this sector by focusing on innovative and  sustainable ways to increase, improve, optimize, prevent, mitigate, reduce or eliminate:

  • Improve overall health and wellness
  • Increase access to health care facilities
  • Optimize utilization of health care facilities
  • Reduce occupancy in overburdened health care facilities
  • Reduce wait time for patient care
  • Prevent and mitigate specific diseases

These metrics are currently most pertinent to hospitals and clinics.

Human Rights – Impact entrepreneurship can make a measurable impact on this sector by focusing on innovative and  sustainable ways to increase, improve, optimize, prevent, mitigate, reduce or eliminate:

  • Improve human equality and empowerment
  • Improve human rights protections or expansion

Community Development - Impact entrepreneurship can make a measurable impact on this sector by focusing on innovative and  sustainable ways to increase, improve, optimize, prevent, mitigate, reduce or eliminate:

  • Conflict resolution

Information - Impact entrepreneurship can make a measurable impact on this sector by focusing on innovative and  sustainable ways to increase, improve, optimize, prevent, mitigate, reduce or eliminate:

  • Increase access to information

Environmental-Impact Issues

Food - Impact entrepreneurship can make a measurable impact on this sector by focusing on innovative and  sustainable ways to increase, improve, optimize, prevent, mitigate, reduce or eliminate:

  • Food security
Agriculture  - Impact entrepreneurship can make a measurable impact on this sector by focusing on innovative and  sustainable ways to increase, improve, optimize, prevent, mitigate, reduce or eliminate:
  • Improve the environmental aspects of agriculture practices
  • Improve agricultural productivity performance measures
  • Increase the capacity-building capabilites of agricultural practices

These metrics may be pertinent to organizations operating throughout the agricultural value chain.

Water - Impact entrepreneurship can make a measurable impact on this sector by focusing on innovative and  sustainable ways to increase, improve, optimize, prevent, mitigate, reduce or eliminate:

  • Improve the performance of products and services that conserve water
  • Improve the quality of water
  • Increase the availability of quality water
  • Optimize the output of water treatment or conservation devices
  • Optimize water storage and delivery mechanisms
  • Increase access to clean water
  • Improve water resources management
Energy  - Impact entrepreneurship can make a measurable impact on this sector by focusing on innovative and  sustainable ways to increase, improve, optimize, prevent, mitigate, reduce or eliminate:

The energy metrics have been designed to capture performance measures for products and services that seek to reduce energy consumption or conserve energy resources, such as energy efficient technologies or alternative energy producers.

  • Access to energy
  • Energy and fuel efficiency
  • Sustainable energy

Environment - Impact entrepreneurship can make a measurable impact on this sector by focusing on innovative and  sustainable ways to increase, improve, optimize, prevent, mitigate, reduce or eliminate:

The environment metrics have been designed to capture the performance of products and services that conserve natural resources, reduce threats to biodiversity, or reduce land- and air- based pollution.

  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Pollution prevention & waste management

Natural Resources - Impact entrepreneurship can make a measurable impact on this sector by focusing on innovative and  sustainable ways to increase, improve, optimize, prevent, mitigate, reduce or eliminate:

  • Natural resources conservation
  • Sustainable land use

Economic-Impact Issues

Housing/Community Facilities - Impact entrepreneurship can make a measurable impact on this sector by focusing on innovative and  sustainable ways to increase, improve, optimize, prevent, mitigate, reduce or eliminate:

  • Increase development of affordable housing projects
  • Increase the percent of affordable housing
  • Increase the use of green-building practices

Economic Development Impact entrepreneurship can make a measurable impact on this sector by focusing on innovative and  sustainable ways to increase, improve, optimize, prevent, mitigate, reduce or eliminate:

  • Increase employment generation
  • Improve income
  • Improve productivity growth

Financial Services - Impact entrepreneurship can make a measurable impact on this sector by focusing on innovative and  sustainable ways to increase, improve, optimize, prevent, mitigate, reduce or eliminate:

  • Increase access to microfinance institutions
  • Increase access to community development finance institutions
  • Increase access to financial services
  • Increase charitable giving

Technology  - Impact entrepreneurship can make a measurable impact on this sector by focusing on innovative and  sustainable ways to increase, improve, optimize, prevent, mitigate, reduce or eliminate:

  • Telecommunications Servcies
  • Information Technology Infrastructure/ Facilities Development
  • Technical Assistance Services

Issues: Do You Have A Solution?

The following business sectors all need creative solutions…

  • Agriculture
  • Artisanal
  • Culture
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Environment
  • Financial Services
  • Health
  • Housing Development
  • Information and Communication Technologies
  • Infrastructure/ Facilities Development
  • Technical Assistance Services
  • Tourism
  • Supply Chain Services
  • Water
  • other…

How can you create an impact?