Category Archives: social entrepreneurship

Skoll World Forum 2015: Belief

SWF2015_mobile_logoThe 12th Skoll World Forum took place April 15-17th in Oxford. It was my 9th Skoll in a row and it is still my favourite forum for its great content, inspiring conversations and unlimited networking opportunities. This year two of the topics that were most emphasized were girls’ education and the continuing need to collaborate amongst the three converging worlds; private, public and citizen sectors. Another positive,this year, many of the sessions were recorded (more than ever) so subscribe to the youtube page of Skoll so that you can check on the videos that are being uploaded. Check also content through their Facebook and twitter page.

Karmafy: Have Fun = Do Good

We would like to introduce you to Karmafy
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Karmafy represents a global social currency for doing good. The platform offers businesses, apps, and cause organizations the opportunity to attract new users and strengthen their existing user base by allowing users to track and make use of their socially responsible actions. We partner with businesses through a commonly used rev-share model and deliver more engaged users. Increased monetization occurs through cross promotion, use of gamification and functionality to make directed donations to vetted philanthropic organizations. More to come soon.

Bunker Roy receives the prestigious Clinton Global Citizen Award

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Last night Bunker Roy, founder of Barefoot College was one of the 7 recipients of the prestigious Clinton Global Citizen Awards. . The awards were presented at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York,

..the honorees are chosen based on their innovative and effective approaches to making positive global change, and on their work’s potential for scalable growth and sustainability. They are leaders whose efforts transcend borders, change lives, and set an example for us all…

( source: Clinton Global Initiative)
Congratulations Bunker!

What’s new in Impact Investing

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SOCAP 13 (Social Capital Markets, at the intersection of money and meaning) conference took place last week. I could not attend this year but it is great that the videos have already been made available on their website. A platform launched during this conference is ImpactSpace, an open data and resources platform. Their mission is to accelerate impact investing by making information available about the impact market (companies, investors, deals, people) to everyone and maintainable by anyone. It looks already a very helpful and promising resource.
Regarding recent articles and reports in this field that are highly recommended to read are;
1) “When can impact investing create real impact?” by Paul Brest and Kelly Born that appeared in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. The article and the responses by industry experts give a great insight on this topic.
2) “Making Impact Investible” by Max Martin of Impact Economy is a solid and rich working paper that provides a clear framework to understand the industry, all actors and also provides recommendations on how to scale up the industry.

Changing mindsets… importing innovative models made by emerging and developing economies

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Just back from the “Partnering for Global Impact” a two day forum by EBD Group in Lugano. Key areas covered were agriculture, education, healthcare housing, financial services and water.This forum facilitates outcomes in impact investing and philanthropy through one to one meetings alongside great keynote addresses (such as Sir Ronald Cohen) and panel discussions. It was a well organized event with very good content and great for networking.
Having attended numerous events on impact investment and philanthropy and having been fortunate to learn from outstanding social enterprises over the past 10 years I believe that one new topic should be added to these events.
These great forums such as Skoll World Forum, SOCAP, TBLI and PGI are playing a critical role in helping to solve the most serious problems we face through bringing together ideas, people, capital and promoting the more efficient use of resources. Find sustainable solutions which are working in emerging economies and scaling it. Funding and capacity building to be provided by impact investors, philanthropists and development finance institutions. It’s great but maybe we could do even better.
One different angle should be added. What could WE in the developed world learn and import from the emerging market innovative models that have been successful? Who has developed or is developing low cost high quality services in education, financial services and healthcare? There are successful education models developed in Latin America that could be used for low income communities in the USA. Perhaps vocational school systems or microfranchising business models that could be useful in reducing youth unemployment in The European Union? The increasing applications of mobile technology for payment systems in Kenya? There is so much innovation happening in emerging economies and we should be pragmatic and maybe a bit humble and change our mindsets to search and learn from the best available solution.
I talked about this idea to some veterans in this field, Suzanne Biegel from Catalyst at Large and ClearlySo, Jed Emerson of ImpactAssets and Blended Value and to Hans Wahl of INSEAD and they all thought it made sense! This topic is worthwhile to dig in further and much more research is needed I hope it will be included in future forums.

What’s new in crowdfunding, crowdinvesting


Crowdfunding platforms are continuing to be launched and according to industry sources there are more than 500 platforms. Of the 4 types of crowdfunding sites (donation-based, reward-based, loan based and equity based) this year we are likely to see a surge of equity based crowdfunding sites (in particular in the USA) that would allow for investment in startups. This is due to the passage of the JOBS Act last year that includes the Crowdfund Act. A recent article titled Crowdfunding Clean Energy by David Bornstein gives an excellent insight on the recent trends in this area. In addition to Solar Mosaic described in this article there are several new green crowdfunding sites that look appealing. Impact Crowd, Abundance Generation, OnGreen

Update: Solar electrification of Kandwi, Zanzibar by Barefoot solar engineers

fatima_patima.JPG Last August I accompanied Bunker Roy of Barefoot College to Zanzibar where he was selecting grandmothers in the village of Kandwi who would be travelling to India to be trained as solar engineers.(see entry)
This project named “Women Empowerment Project” was supported by Giving Women. Just 12 months later, the women solar engineers are installing the solar panels and LED lights for 100 houses in Kandwi. It is remarkable to see the changes in these women too. It is impressive that the whole project cycle from visiting the village, selecting the grandmothers, getting the village approval, preparing them to go to Tilonia for training, the 6 month training, getting back and preparing the maintenance workshop, getting the solar equipment out of customs and solar electrifying the village houses all this has been achieved in 12 months!
Congratulations to Fatima, Patima and Mwashamba the three solar barefoot enginners, the villagers of Kandwi, Barefoot College and Giving Women for their great work! (video showing the installation, courtesy of Kathrin Legg)

A must see video from the Skoll World Forum 2012

This year’s Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship was titled FLUX: Seizing momentum and driving change. This forum continues to be one of the best venues to meet up, update, share, collaborate and form new partnerships between all the players, social enterprises, private sector and public sector. One of my favourites talks at this year’s Skoll Forum was Hans Rowling’s presentation on the future of world population.

sosense.org – where philanthropy meets entrepreneurship

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We (Socential Ltd.) are happy to announce the launch of sosense.org. Our new platform sosense.org is dedicated to support high impact social enterprises operating both on a global scale, mainly in developing countries, as well as those operating in Switzerland. We strive to make it simple for social investors and donors to search, select and support these enterprises. Our aim is to facilitate collective impact.
We feature outstanding social enterprises that are working efficiently and effectively in solving some of the major social and environmental issues that we face today. Take a look at VisionSpring, Tostan, International Bridges to Justice, Riders for Health, Gram Vikas, Landesa to name a few. You can see the short video on their pages to get an overview of these inspiring organizations.
We realized during our pilot phase that supporting the social enterprises makes much more sense and creates a larger and long lasting impact than trying to dedicate to funding independent projects. www.sosense.org is a brand and it is owned and managed by Socential Ltd.
We still have a lot to improve on a number of fronts. It is work in progress which shall improve and we look forward to your collaboration and feedback!
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Barefoot Women Solar Engineers (Zanzibar)

IMG_3775.JPG Bunker Roy, founder and Director of Barefoot College visited Zanzibar from July 31 to Aug 3 to select the women (young grandmothers) in rural villages who would be trained to become solar engineers. I have been a fan and supporter of Barefoot College for some time especially after I visited them in Tilonia, India in early 2009. (visit report) Also as part of Socential, we have been promoting and funding solar electrification projects in Africa and Central America. IMG_3766.JPGI was very happy to be able to join Bunker in Zanzibar thanks to the invitation from my friend Meagan Carnahan who is a member of Giving Women, a Swiss based philanthropic organization and the leader of their Zanzibar Barefoot women solar engineers project. It was facinating to see Bunker at work. IMG_0065.JPGAt the end of his short stay we had achieved to 1) select 2 women from the village of Kandwi which was approved in a meeting with the entire village and in the presence of the Indian Consul General H.E. D.S. Singal (top foto second from right). These 2 women will be travelling in September to Tilonia for the 6 month training program. 2) Meagan wrote a press release of this event which was published in the section of Zanzibar in The Guardian, a major newspaper in Tanzania. 3)The selection of one woman in the village of Matemwe was also made in a village meeting and the second candidate will be approved by the village chief (These 2 ladies will be attending the 6 month training in March 2012)
Barefoot College has solar electrified over 1000 villages in 37 countires (28 countries in Africa) saving 4.6 million kerosene a year, reducing carbon emission of 7 million kg a year, lighting over 34,000 house and training 683 solar engineers.