Category Archives: MicroFranchising

Skoll World Forum 2017 Fault Lines: Creating Common Ground


The 14th Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship took place on April 4-7. This year’s theme was Fault Lines: Creating Common Ground. As boldly described in their welcome message;

Globally, rifts are emerging along cultural, class, and political lines as globalization and the digital revolution have benefited some, and left some behind. The divide grows in how people perceive-and experience-the world which represents a threat to a peaceful and prosperous future. Can we design a world where our common humanity outshines our ideological, cultural, and political differences? Together we’ll rise to new ideas, new perspectives, and ultimately, new relationships built on trust and a mutual desire for human progress. We’ll highlight innovators around the world creating common ground through their drive, creativity and leadership.

It was not only an inspiring forum but a very rich and powerful gathering with bold and innovative ideas and exchanges happening, one of the best that I have attended in the past 11 years.
Highly recommended videos to watch… and if you would like to see more here is the entire playlist.
-Jeff Skoll talks with Jim Kim, President of World Bank Group (29min)

-Jess Search talks to Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder and CEO of Chobani (22min)

-A chilling and fascinating analysis by Michael Porter of HBS on what is the problem in the USA: Porter on Populism (90min)

Meet the Skoll Awardees of 2017 (link includes a 5 min intro to all 4 Awardees)
-Kola Masha: Babban Gona is an investor-owned social enterprise serving networks of smallholder farmers in Nigeria with a model created specifically to attract youth. The first for-profit company to receive the Skoll Award
-Elizabeth Hauser: Build Change trains homeowners, local builders, engineers, and government officials to construct or retrofit disaster-resistant houses and schools in emerging nations vulnerable to earthquakes and typhoons.
-Rajesh Panjabi: Last Mile Health partners with government to deploy, support, and manage networks of community health professionals and to integrate them into the public health system. Working in Liberia.
-Bradley Myles: Polaris systematically disrupts human trafficking networks and restores freedom to survivors. With experience and expertise from direct victim services such as hotlines and resource centers, to policy advocacy, Polaris provides a data backbone for the sector.

A big thanks to Jeff Skoll, Sally Osberg, Stephan Chambers, the Skoll team and the Saiid Business School for their awesome work.

SOCAP 2010 Mainstreaming Impact Investments

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SOCAP 2010 took place in San Francisco on Oct 4-6. Over 1200 participants. Energetic, lively, sharing, innovative. Impact investments took center stage.Watch these amazing videos of Jacqueline Novogratz (Acumen Fund) Matt Flannery (Kiva) and many more http://video.socialcapitalmarkets.net/live-video-stream/ The first SOCAP Europe will take place in Amsterdam May 31-June 2, 2011.

Book: Microfinance and Beyond: Introducing microfranchising and social businesses

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This book introduces innovative social/business models that provide sustainable solutions to the problem of poverty and portrays the insipiring people behind them.You can find an update on microfinance, BOP (base of the pyramid) initiatives, and microfranchising all which are improving the lives of the 4 billion people living at the BOP. VisionSpring, an innovative social microfranchising enterprise with the mission to reduce poverty and generate opportunity through the sale of affordable reading glasses is featured as a model case. The aim of this book was to share my insights on 1) how the business and social worlds have been converging, setting the stage for these innovative models to emerge, 2) how these models, together with the advent of Web 2.0, are creating a strong and positive movement towards a more responsible, sustainable and kinder world and 3) how all of us could make a difference.
This book is the updated English version of the German book that was published last year. I used lulu.com to publish this and I can recommend it.

What is Impact Investing?

“Impact investments aim to solve social or environmental challenges while generating financial profit. Impact investing includes investment that range from producing a return of principal capital to offering market-rate or even above-market financial returns. Although impact investing could be categorized as a type of “social responsible investing” (SRI) it contrasts with negative screening which focuses primarily on avoiding investments in “bad” or “harmful” companies -impact investors actively seek to place capital in businesses and funds that can harness the positive power of enterprise.” (source:based on GIIN)
I first heard this expression in spring 2008 at the Skoll Forum in Oxford described by Antony Bugg-Levine of the Rockefeller Foundation. (I thought I finally found the proper word to describe what I do, I am an impact investment advisor) A year later at the 2009 Skoll Forum, the Monitor Institute presented an excellent report titled Investing for Social and Environmental IMPACT and also A. Bugg-Levine announced that the Global Impact Investment Network (GIIN) was being formed. In Sept at the SOCAP 2009 in San Francisco one could confirm that “impact investing” had become the widely accepted expression by the rapidly growing social capital investment industry. On Sept 25th 2009, GIIN was officially launched and announced its 25 founding members of the GIIN Investor’s Council at the Clinton Global Initiative. A recent article in the Economist also profiles impact investing.
Over the past few years many new expressions have been created to describe investing for social and environmental impact and financial return. These include double or triple bottom line investing, blended value investing and BOP investing. Needless to say microfinance investments is one of the leading and successful examples of this type of investment. All these expressions are valid in their own right; however, it confuses the investors and makes it difficult to build the market mechanisms for this nascent industry to efficiently grow. It is great that we now have a clear terminology and definition and an institution such as GIIN which is dedicated to increasing the effectiveness of impact investing. Other great initiatives in this area include The Global Social Investment Exchange (GSIX) and Nexii, the electronic transactions and communication platform for the social and environmental markets.

Solar-aid, fighting climate change and global poverty

SolarAid is an innovative enterprise that aims to combat two of the major threats that humanity faces today; climate change and global poverty. They do so by providing clean renewable energy to the poorest people in the world. According to SolarAid about 2 billion people have no access to electricity-they rely on burning kerosene and wood which are highly toxic and expensive. SolarAid aims to replace these carbon-emitting products with solar power which is more economical and environmental friendly. Their projects include 1) Sunnymoney Micro-franchising (training microentrepreneurs in Kenya to assemble/repair and sell solar products that would reduce their dependency on harmful and expensive kerosene. 2) Solar powered water pumps- this project will test a new solar powered water pump, that will allow families to access clean water for drinking, washing and irrigation 3) electrifying Malawi communities with solar energy.
Although SolarAid is a relatively new venture it is worth keeping an eye on as they are in one of the most interesting areas tackling both poverty and renewable energy.

Framework for a better future: lecture by Muhammad Yunus

Prof. Yunus, Nobel Laurete and founder of Grameen Bank gave an inspiring lecture titled “A Framework for a better future: the promise of social business” on May 29th at the British Council. He continues to strongly promote the creation of social businesses as these can address and solve the problems of poverty, health care and environment. Prof. Yunus gave examples of social businesses he has been creating in Bangladesh. In addition to the well know Grameen- Danone (joint venture manufacturing affordable yoghurt full of micronutrients for children in Bangladesh) he mentioned Grameen-Veolia (Veolia is a French water company) creating small water treatment plants and BASF-Grameen which will be providing treated mosquito nets at very little cost. He also mentioned the eye hospitals and a healthcare program to create a nursing college as a social business. In the area of environment Grameen Shakti has been providing affordable solar home systems in Bangladesh for the poor.
Prof. Yunus call for social business is very timely as the current financial crisis is forcing us to think how can we improve or rebuild the financial system so that it is an inclusive system that would include the majority of the people. You can see the transcript and videos (youtube) of the lecture.

Skoll Forum 2009

The 6th Skoll Forum, a gathering of leading social entrepreneurs took place in Oxford on March 25-27th. Prominent figures of the social, corporate, policy, academic area engaged for 3 days in discussions and debates to accelerate, innovate and scale solutions for the world most pressing issues. This year the mood was slightly less euphoric due to the current crisis but one could feel an even stronger and powerful level of energy in the air as social entrepreneurs are becoming even more important players, in Jeff Skoll words, they are likely to come out of this crisis not as survivors but as leaders. He pointed out that social entrepreneurs are masters in leveraging; in producing results with limited resources, they have the abilitiy to do more with less, in choosing which assets can be most efficiently used to meet the objectives, also they maximize resources by collaborating. He could not have expressed it better. Many sessions can be watched in videos and also many blogs are available of the event. This year there were 9 Skoll Awardees. I was especially delighted to see Jordan Kassalow of VisionSpring, formerly Scojo who we have covered in this journal and in my recent book being one of them.

A visit to Barefoot College- Tilonia, India

Barefoot College (registered as the Social Work and Research Center) was founded by Bunker Roy in 1971 in Tilonia, a small village 350km southwest of Dehli, India. The college follows the lifestyle of Ghandi and it is built by the poor, for the poor and managed by the poor. The college empowers the rural poor by assisting them to develop their capacities and skills so they can serve their own communities better which enhance their self confidence and self reliance. The college trains rural people who are illiterate or semiliterate to become barefoot educators, doctors, teachers, water engineers, solar engineers, architects, designers, hand pump mechanics and accountants to serve their communities while generating income. The college runs pre-schools and night schools that are taught by barefoot teachers. They have also been replicating its approach not only throughout India where 20 colleges have been established in 13 states but also around the world! Pictures of the visit.

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Hapinoy Stores: a promising microfranchise (microventure) from the Philippines

Hapinoy envisions to become the largest chain store (franchise) of small convenience stores (known as sari sari stores or variety stores in the Philippines). Their aim is to empower microentrepreneurs and help them grow their business. There are roughly 700,000 sari-sari stores in the Philippines and the idea is to convert some of these stores into Hapinoy branded stores. The microentrepreneurs who join this franchise will have access to microfinance (business loans) as well as training for standarized operating systems. Another benefit would be the opportunity to increase sales through new businesses and services brought in by Hapinoy through partnerships. Hapinoy works closely with MFIs (CARD-MRI, TSKI, Kasagana-ka, LMPC) and also partners with manufacturers and service providers (Nestle, Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive, Smart Communications etc).
Hapinoy is the first venture by MicroVentures Inc, a social business enterprise founded by Philippine leaders from the social development sector and the business sector. MicroVentures seeks for positive change in the Philippines through empowering microentrepreneurs and pushing the social business enterprise agenda believing that making profit and creating positive change can go hand in hand.
Hapinoy is a promising venture that one should keep an eye on. I learned about Hapinoy as I met Markus Dietrich who will be working for Hapinoy as a consultant based in Manila for one year starting this October.

Visit to Aravind Eye Hospital in Pondicherry, India

naoko.jpgOn April 16th, I visited Aravind Eye Hospital in Pondicherry one of the 5 eye hospitals of Aravind Eye Care Systems (AECS). AECS was founded in 1976 by the late Dr. Venkataswamy (Dr. V) with the mission to eliminate needless blindness by providing compassionate and high quality eye care.AECS today is not only the world largest eye care facility but the world leader in eye care delivery. It encompasses 5 hospitals, a manufacturing center for ophthalmic products (Aurolab), an international research foundation (Aravind Medical Research Foundation) and a resource and training center (LAICO). During the 12 month period to March 2007 AECS treated 2.3 million outpatients and performed 270,444 surgeries. AECS is a profitable institutions although only 40% of the patients pay between US$ 50-300 for catarat surgeries while 60% are non-paying patients.
I was taking part on Unltd Learning Journey 2008 visiting social entrepreneurs in Southern India and although this was not part of the official program it was great that I could visit one of the institutions that I respect so much and have featured in my new book (see entry below). Renjith who is a manager for out-patients organized an efficient visit so that we could have an overview of how patients (both paying and non-paying patients) were examined and treated. We also had a chance to talk to Dr. Ravindran (picture above), the Chief Medical Officer about Aravind expansion plans. Aravind is busy expanding and replicating its model due to the many inquiries and requests from many places both in India and abroad. Yunus Muhammad is opening this month the first Grameen Eye Hospital in Bangladesh modeled after the Aravind Eye Hospital.