The Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI™) has been helping social entrepreneurs build sustainable, scalable organizations since 2003. Over the years they have trained over 180 entrepreneurs who have collectively gone on to positively impact the lives of 74 million people.
GSBI Alumni have come from across the globe and work in industry sectors such as: delivering clean drinking water, providing sophisticated health care in rural setting, designing and delivering innovative solar lighting solutions, bringing information and education to millions who live without access to either grid electricity or the internet, providing access to mobile banking services, and more.
Since the inception of the GSBI a network of over 40 Silicon Valley mentors has been established to give the GSBI an edge in its training. If ten years has taught us anything it's that experience is paramount to building an enterprise. Whether that's field experience from our entrepreneurs, or industry experience from our mentors, that element can make all the difference.
The GSBI has also developed a network of partners that includes support from organizations like the Skoll Foundation and Applied Materials, and guest speakers and workshops from groups like IDEO.
We've worked hard these past ten years, and so have our alumni. To learn more about each of the 186 organizations that have come through the GSBI, visit our alumni page.
The GSBI evolved out of the Center's interest in the use of science and technology for social benefit[i], its earlier work in co-founding The Tech Awards, collaborations with the UN Millennium Project and their influence in defining The Tech Award categories to reflect urgent challenges and the Millennium Goals and concerns about the barriers that innovators faced in scaling their social impact—especially in resource constrained environments[ii]. The pilot version of the GSBI in 2003 was developed during 2002 in collaboration with the Glocal Forum, a peace institute[iii] in Rome led by Uri Savir, the Chief Negotiator of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians in 1993.[iv] As part of the University's strategic plan under the direction of Don Dodson, Jim Koch, the founding, Executive Director of CSTS, along with a Distinguished Board of Advisors and Father Locatelli crafted a Center and program rich with innovative thinking, thought leadership and extraordinary global alliances.
In mid-2002, Patrick Guerra, a seasoned and successful early stage entrepreneur and business executive took a break from the commercial world and accepted the position of Executive Director for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at Santa Clara University. Then, Leavey School of Business Dean, Barry Posner, challenged Pat to articulate a new vision and purpose for CIE. One that served students, engaged members of the faculty and attracted the attention of Business Leaders in Silicon Valley. Pat did extensive research on Innovation and Entrepreneurship and met with faculty across numerous disciplines. During a follow on meeting, Jim Koch introduced Pat to a problem that he had observed with both The Tech Awards and the Global Junior Challenge, a competition sponsored by the Glocal Forum and the Digital Youth Consortium in Rome. Jim Koch and the Center provided the judging for the Tech Awards and Jim was an advisor to the Glocal Forum. The Glocal Forum's Global Junior Challenge sought to identify and recognize Information and Communication Technology (ICT) initiatives aimed at helping to bridge the digital divide.
Jim noted that several years after receiving the prestigious recognition from such competitions the "projects" being recognized showed little sign of extending their social benefit reach to those that could benefit from the product and service innovations. He asked Pat Guerra to think about what might be done to help these innovators and their organizations with both scaling beneficiary reach and obtaining the necessary financial resources to do so.
The collaboration between CIE and the Center entailed utilizing the lessons of Silicon Valley to promote social justice, the mission at the heart of Jesuit education. It sought to engage the Valley's creative energy, its products, services and business leaders in the challenges faced by the poor in resource-constrained environments.
Dr. Albert Bruno, the William T. Cleary Professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship and Founding Director of the CIE, had developed an extensive array of MBA level entrepreneurship curricula and case studies. Pat and Al set about adapting these materials to the needs of social mission entrepreneurs.
This early work, and Al Bruno's continuing instruction, still provide the foundational core of the program. The program, content, and faculty continue to learn, adapt, evolve, and refine the tools and instructional techniques.
From the inception, Pat viewed the use information technology as an essential and integral element of the incubator, distance learning, collaboration, and mentoring. The GSBI continues to pilot various tools and platforms aimed at "distance incubation" and extending the reach of the program.
The Center for Science, Technology and Society would like to thank Pat for his visionary leadership in creating a transformational program for social entrepreneurs. The collaboration with Jim Koch, and the esteemed global network of partners that Jim built in his role as Executive Director of the Center, and the innovative curricula contributed by Al Bruno made it possible to turn the vision into reality for social good.
Cynthia Graebe of SCU provided extraordinary love, care and program administration during the first year launch. Sherrill Dale, orchestrated the program and facilitated every aspect of the experience for 10 years. Since 2007 Dr. Eric Carlson, a successful entrepreneur, business executive, and community leader, has directed the admission process as well as various components of the in-residence program. A talented staff, students, and the generous support of insightful Silicon Valley executives, philanthropists and venture capitalists have continued to innovate and scale the program, and provide an unparalleled learning and networking experience. Building on the early foundation, additional global partnerships that developed include some of the leading organizations in the field. Pat has continued his poverty alleviation pursuits with organizations such as Ashoka, the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs, IDEO, Acumen, the Rockefeller Foundation, Civic Ventures, the Second Harvest Food Bank, and the Media Policy Center. The origins of this work are important to understanding the early history of the GSBI. Its modular structure has facilitated the continuous innovation of colleagues, the engagement of network partners, and the ability to tap the work of thought leaders and leading edge practices in social entrepreneurship. Its innovative use of technology to benefit humanity is in many respects a hallmark example of the founding spirit of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society and the foundational work of the University planning process that sought to integrate the distinct institutional values of Santa Clara University with the palpable energy and innovation that characterizes Silicon Valley.
[i] "Technology and the Quality of Being Human," by Jim Koch, Paul Locatelli, S.J., and Peter Giles, STS Nexus, Fall 2001, Volume 2, Number 1, pages 4-9
[ii] "Making the Circle Bigger—Technology and the Greater Good," by James L. Koch with Howard Neff, STS Nexus, Fall 2002, Volume 3, Number 1, pp.6-13
[iii] The Glocal Forum focused on the relationship between poverty and peace. It placed a particular emphasis on youth in conflict regions and the need for achieving a better balance between globalization and community needs in the context of unprecedented urban migrations
[iv] "Glocalism and Our Networked World", by James L. Koch and Uri Savir, STS Nexus, Summer 2003, Volume 3, Number 2, pp. 5-6)
Going to Scale and the Social Benefit Entrepreneur, by Pat Guerra and Jim Koch, STS Nexus, Fall 2003, Volume 4, Number 1, pp. 7-15. It was planned to coincide with a major conference sponsored by the Center, Networked World: Information Technology and Globalization.
Follow the links below to read publications related to the creation of GSBI: