Center for Science, Technology, and Society, News page

  •  Mother Earth (GSBI Alumni '08) Launches Earth Food

    Friday, Jun. 10, 2011
    Earth Food is about eating sensible, natural, healthy and non-toxic food.

    Mother Earth (GSBI Alumni '08) announced the launch of its in house brand of healthy, organic, chemical-free range of food products named EARTH FOOD. This initiative is launched in association with Sahaja Samrudha, Karnataka’s first farmer producer company. EARTH FOOD launches today, June 10, at the Mother Earth Store, Domlur, Bangalore. In addition, Mother Earth offers fashionable choices in garments and accessories that are natural and stylish as well as sustainable and fair for gifts and home décor that keep India’s green hand skills alive.

    Find out more about Mother Earth:

  •  Social Entrepreneurs Focused on Alleviating Malnutrition & Food Scarcity

    Monday, May. 9, 2011
    Kurago Biotek (Mexico)

    This year, three of the 2011 GSBI class are focused on alleviating many of the malnutrition and food scarcity problems that plague Mexico, Nigeria, and Haiti.

    Kurago Biotek (Mexico) has developed nutritional supplements using biogel technology to mix probiotics, prebiotics, and vitamins for better overall health.

    Haiti Community Development (Haiti) promotes the production of the highly nutritious, locally grown Moringa for overall health benefits and economic development.

    Centre for Community Development - Nutrition On Your Doorstep (Nigeria) addresses Haiti’s food security needs through solarpowered production means.

    Please join Santa Clara University's Center for Science, Technology, and Society for a day of business plan summary presentations by all twenty 2011 Global Social Benefit Incubator entrepreneurs from around the world.

    Save the Date: GSBI 2011 Business Summary Plan Presentations

    Thursday, August 18, 2011
    Mayer Theater, Performing Arts Complex
    Register Here

  •  Solar Sister

    Friday, Apr. 29, 2011

    Solar Sister was one of the 20 socially-minded ventures from around the world that has been chosen to receive full scholarships to participate in the ninth annual Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI™). The ventures provide essential goods and services to the poor, and often act as catalysts for economic growth. This year, over half of the 2011 GSBI class is focused on developing or distributing cleaner and cheaper sources of energy for the nearly 1.5 billion people in the world who have no access to reliable, grid power.

    Solar Sister empowers women through economic opportunity. Using a market based solution to eradicate energy poverty in rural communities throughout Africa, Solar Sister gives women the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty. Solar Sister combines the breakthrough potential of micro-solar lighting with a deliberately woman-centered direct sales network. Women become their own bosses and earn independent income as entrepreneurs. Solar Sisters are change agents in their communities, providing access to affordable solar technology to replace the kerosene lanterns that are used throughout rural communities in developing countries.

    GSBI combines online instruction and in-residence exercises with training and mentoring from academic leaders and Silicon Valley executives over an intensive eight-month period. The final phase of the program features an in-residence program on Santa Clara University’s campus August 7-19, culminating with a business plan summary presentation on August 18.

    Learn more about the GSBI program!

  •  Amazing Class

    Thursday, Apr. 21, 2011
    Angaza Design, East Africa (GSBI 2011)

    For two weeks, we spent early mornings and late evenings interviewing them: the 43 GSBI 2011 finalists, chosen from a pool of more than 162 qualified applicants, all of whom spent three months completing mentored learning exercises as part of the GSBI application process. Going through this for the first time, I was intimidated by the sheer volume of time required to prepare for and conduct the interviews in addition to my “day job”, requiring 16-hour works days.  But all of that was nothing compared to the compelling stories we heard from these amazing 43 social entrepreneurs, connecting by Skype from five continents.

    I love the definition of ‘social entrepreneur’ used in the awards ceremony program at this year’s Skoll World Forum: 1) society’s change agents; 2) creators of innovations that disrupt the status quo and transform our world for the better. By the way, the Skoll World Forum was amazing in many dimensions: intellectual, emotional, spiritual; check out the videos of the sessions. Each of the women and men we interviewed—and there were more women than ever this year, an encouraging indicator of change in and of itself, but more on that later—each of these agents had a palpable passion for effecting social change by disrupting one of the wrongs afflicting the poor people of our planet with an innovation. Whether an innovation in technology, business model, or ecosystem, or some permutation of thereof, we had the honor of listening to each of them explain her or his vision for changing the world.

    For this alone, each deserved to of win one of our 20 positions for the remaining five months of the 2011 GSBI program. Our collective task was to choose those who would benefit most by participating in the next three months of virtual learning, each individually matched with two Silicon Valley executives, then a two-week intensive in-residence program in August.

    This year’s GSBI class was announced on April 13, 2011. Eight are women, the highest number and percentage ever. Eight are working in Africa, again the highest number and percentage ever, and also an encouraging trend. Six are from Asia, including India; two each are from Latin America and Haiti; and one each is from Europe or working globally. Twelve are working to provide clean energy to some of the 1.4B “off the grid” people, once more the highest number and percentage ever 45% offer a product, 40% offer a service, and 15% offer both to the poor communities they intend to transform for the better.

    All of the 2011 GSBI class will present their business plans on August 18, the culmination of their work during the in-residence portion of the program. The presentations will be here on the Santa Clara University campus, with immediate feedback from a panel. Imagine a live, ‘best-of’ version of The Planet’s got Talent for helping the poor (but with genuinely helpful feedback), mark your calendars, and come hear how this amazing class will change the world.

  •  20 Social Entrepreneurs Chosen for Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI) Enterprise-Building Program at Santa Clara University

    Monday, Apr. 18, 2011

    Silicon Valley Mentors and Academics Partnering with Social Entrepreneurs
    to Address Most Difficult Developing World Challenges 

    Twenty socially-minded enterprises from around the world have been chosen to receive full scholarships to participate in the ninth annual Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI™). These ventures provide essential goods and services to the poor, and often act as catalysts for economic growth.

    The GSBI program empowers socially-minded entrepreneurs to build economically sustainable organizations and to solve problems for people living in poverty around the world. The signature program of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Santa Clara University, the experience and capacity-building GSBI program combines online and in-residence exercises with training and mentoring from academic leaders and Silicon Valley executives over an intensive eight-month period. 

    Products and services being developed by the 2011 Class include: biogas-powered milk coolers for Ugandan farmers; microfranchise training and employment opportunities for slum youth in Kenya; probiotics to improve health in Mexico; solar-powered chicken and egg production in Haiti; and women-created fashion and furniture from recycled garbage in the Philippines. 


    Read  more at

  •  New Kid on the Block

    Thursday, Apr. 7, 2011
    Thane Kreiner, Executive Director, University Professor of Science and Technology for Social Benefit, Center for Science, Technology, and Society

    Just six months in to my new role as Executive Director for the Center for Science, Technology, and Society here in the heart of Silicon Valley, I am still the “new kid on the block” in the social entrepreneurship universe. Our focus at the Center is promoting the use of science and technology to benefit underserved populations worldwide, and the primary means by which we promote are through entrepreneurship and innovation. Specifically, we focus on helping social entrepreneurs build sustainable and scalable ventures through our pioneering Global Social Benefit Incubator™ program, now entering its 9th year, and more recently through the Frugal Innovation Lab initiative, a vision of my colleague Radha Basu.

    One advantage of being the new kid is the opportunity to look at the neighborhood through a different lens. Another is to profess naïvete, often borne of genuine ignorance of the tremendous body of knowledge amassed by brilliant people around the world. With that caveat, how we can help entrepreneurs and innovators scale the best solutions to create impact at the level of the issues affecting poor communities around the world?

    I know some incredibly intelligent folks who think in multiple dimensions; I’m limited to three. At my nascent stage of understanding, the axes are: technology, business model, and context. Technology innovations for social benefit are often considered in terms of the goods or services they provide to the poor. On a trip to visit social entrepreneurs in India in January, I observed that two very different needs—clean water and off-grid energy—could better scale through technology innovations enabling measurement and transactions. How do we foster, reward, and honor technology innovations throughout the value chain?

    After more than a quarter of a century in Silicon Valley, it’s easy to think of business models in that vernacular: let’s make it as big of an enterprise as we can, as quickly as we can, to maximize the present value of our bottom line, be that single, double, or triple. I’ve met a lot of social entrepreneurs who are most passionate about serving communities they know personally—that’s anecdotal, not statistical. Moreover, mechanisms for accrual of benefits from scale through replication or franchising to the original entrepreneur or innovator are less evident in theory or practice. What are the right incentives for “open source” social entrepreneurship and who needs to “play”?

    Assuming one can identify the best technology innovation to solve a particular social problem and the right business model for building a sustainable and scalable venture (or ventures), there are a number of other contextual factors that influence whether or not the venture will be successful. In the realm of genetics, these were referred to under the umbrella of ELSI (Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues). The people who live in the house down the street, or in this case the faculty in the building across the green on campus, look at the universe and the neighborhood through different lenses. How do we encourage meaningful research to identify success factors in social entrepreneurship based on sociological, cultural, political, and other contextual factors?

  •  Nominate Now for Tech Awards 2011

    Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011

    The Tech Awards, presented by Applied Materials, was launched in 2000 and is an annual international awards program that honors innovators from around the world who are applying technology to benefit humanity. It inspires global engagement in addressing the world's most pressing problems by recognizing individuals and organizations that utilize innovative technology solutions. Laureates are inducted each year into The Tech Awards Network (TAN) that provides access to resources and mentoring aimed at increasing organizational impact. The Tech MuseumApplied Materials, and Santa Clara University’s Center for Science, Technology and Society (CSTS) collaborate to insure that laureates benefit from the educational, networking, and leadership opportunities in Silicon Valley.The Tech Awards Gala 2011 will be held on Thursday, October 20, at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

    The Tech Awards focuses on five categories: Environment, Economic Development, Education, Equality and Health, which were inspired by the 15 Global Challenges identified in the State of the Future report (published by the Millennium Project of the American Council of the United Nations University. Individuals, for-profit companies, and not-for-profit organizations are eligible. Candidates are nominated and then invited to submit applications. International panels of judges review the applications and select 15 laureates.

    Three laureates in each category are honored and one laureate per category receives $50,000. They are honored at an annual Gala event and inducted into TAN, which extends the award program from an annual event to a year round program. Laureate benefits include The Tech Awards Showcase, media interviews, filming, marketing materials, seminars, workshops, speaking engagements, networking opportunities, and more. In addition to the opportunities provided by the Silicon Valley community, CSTS provides the laureates with additional chances to network by connecting them with the Santa Clara University community and its network of social entrepreneurs worldwide. Each year the laureates are invited to participate in the Center's annual fall conference that looks at the theme of how to take technology innovations to scale through collaborations among The Tech Awards laureates, large NGOs, corporate partners, and the Center's Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI) program. This year’s conference will bring examples of successful social entrepreneurship to the wider Silicon Valley community. Based around interactive panel discussions, the agenda will focus on providing tangible examples from entrepreneurs who have built their social ventures into self-sustaining organizations that provide real, on the ground impact to those living in systemic poverty. This year's conference will take place on October 19, 2011 on the Santa Clara University campus. Nominations are accepted through March 31, 2011. The Tech Awards program requires participation in a two-step nomination process

    Step 1: Submit Nomination
    Submit a nomination for yourself, or another organization. Nominations for The Tech Awards 2011 are now open until March 31, 2011.

    Step 2: Application and References
    If your nomination is accepted, you will be invited to submit a more detailed application and required to provide references (e.g., business colleagues, professors, mentors, or members of the group applying).

    Learn More About the Application Criteria and Categories


  •  SCU Ties-up with XLRI, India

    Tuesday, Mar. 29, 2011

    The Times of India, Next Billion and BizWire Express posted articles announcing the collaboration between Santa Clara University’s Center for Science, Technology and Society (CSTS) and Xavier Labour Relations Institute Jamshedpur (XLRI), India’s top Business Management School located in East India, to promote and support social entrepreneurship. XLRI will be the program partner to manage and support the Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI) in India. The two universities wish to broaden social entrepreneurship as a core focus area among the International Association of Jesuit Business Schools (IAJBS).

    Annually, GSBI selects 15-20 social ventures from around the world and provides them with incubation support from technical input, access to mentoring, to acquiring grants that help make organizations investor-ready. Given XLRI’s local reach and access to social entrepreneurs, the institute can identify and recommend individual partners to GSBI for incubation and will assist in conducting due-diligence on ventures helping to ensure appropriate potential and quality. There have been about 30 GSBI alumni social ventures in India, which include globally well-known organizations such as Gram Vikas, Jaipur Rugs, Drishtee, Mother Earth, Husk Power Systems, Video Volunteers, Naandi Foundation, etc.

    XLRI will provide post-incubation support by hosting a GSBI Alumni Network in India that will provide opportunities for interaction through faculty and alumni networks, as well as provide continued mentoring to Indian social ventures after their graduation from the GSBI program. 

    Case studies of the GSBI's Indian alumni ventures will be jointly developed. Professor Shukla of XLRI stated, "These case-studies will be a valuable academic resource to promote learning about sustainable models of socio-economic development, and will help dissemination of practices and lessons learned in the social entrepreneurial space." Collaboration through network initiatives can accelerate the development and diffusion of sector solutions such as market intelligence, global sourcing of technology, capital, and distribution for sustainable off-grid electrification.

    Read the Times of India article.


  •  UN Women Event Highlights Equal Access Award-winning VOICES and The Most Understanding Husband Competition

    Tuesday, Mar. 29, 2011

    Ronni Goldfarb of Equal Access spoke at a UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UNIFEM) event in New York in early March during the launch of UN Women at The Changed and the Change-makers: Engaging Men and Boys to End Violence against Women and Girls event. Equal Access Nepal received the One World Media’s “Special Award” for VOICES, an innovative Nepalese radio show Samajhdari (mutual understanding) which featured "The Most Understanding Husband Competition" on-the-air and included a comprehensive community outreach initiative.

    The VOICES initiative promotes the value of positive male participation in creating communities and societies where women and girls can flourish. More than one million regular listeners tune in to “reality” dilemmas, stories of triumphs over violence and solutions to daily challenges faced by Nepalese women. To engage male listeners and empower women, Equal Access launched the radio program Samajhdari in an effort to redefine masculinity, to provide positive male role models, and to encourage men to take responsibility for their actions. Men listeners were invited to nominate themselves as the “Most Understanding Husband". Men from across Nepal sent letters and shared their thoughts and feelings about their behavior towards women. Ten husbands were selected as finalists and were featured on national radio. They continue to serve as positive male role models in their communities. “Most Understanding Husband” Award Winner, Sindhupalchwok said, "I see many people dominate women, discriminate against them, only because they are women, and differentiate work to be done by men and women. I never like this. I feel motivated to speak against Violence against Women." A program overview and more testimonials are featured on the Equal Access International YouTube channel. Outreach activities include legal literacy training through Samajhdari’s productive dialogues that teach women how to speak openly, think critically and organize collectively around women’s rights in relation to gender-based violence.

    Equal Access is a ‘04 alumni organization of the Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI) program of Santa Clara University's Center for Science, Technology and Society. The organization focuses on digital satellite broadcasting and solar energy with local content designed for under-served global markets. Today, Equal Access has a broadcast reach of more than 100 million people across Asia, Africa and the Middle East, with offices and large-scale programs in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Chad, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, Yemen and project activities in Lao PDR.

    You can learn more by visiting:

  •  Seasonal Greetings from the Center for Science, Technology, and Society!

    Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010

    During this holiday season, we offer our profound gratitude to all of our friends, partners, colleagues and funders for your support of our social benefit endeavors. Nearing the end of the first decade of the 21st century, we have set an audacious goal for the second decade: to promote the use of science and technology to benefit the lives of one billion impoverished people around our planet. Our efforts to help social entrepreneurs and innovators build sustainable enterprises that reach significant scale are central to achievement of this ambitious vision; we are especially grateful and humbled by the opportunity to know and learn from these wonderful and inspiring people.

    We welcomed social entrepreneurs from India, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Mexico, South Africa, and Senegal to our 8th Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI™) this August, following months of distance learning that linked them to our generous Silicon Valley executive mentors. Several of these entrepreneurs have secured significant funding, enabling them to accelerate their social impact. Movirtu received $5.5 M in funding for its wireless telecommunications services in rural communities in Sub-Sahara Africa and South Asia.  In the clean energy sector, re:char, which works with subsistence farmers in the developing world to enhance their crop yields and supplement their income while trapping atmospheric carbon and enriching depleted soils, won a 200,000 Euro prize from the Dutch government. And Energy In Common received $120,000 from the Google Foundation.  Our network of GSBI alums now spans 5 continents, 32 countries, and 121 enterprises; 90% of these are still extant and 55% are scaling, defined as income growing faster than expenses.

    We deepened our partnership with The Tech Museum, welcoming 15 Tech Laureates to the Locatelli Center at Santa Clara University, a fitting tribute to Fr. Locatelli, who helped launch the unique Tech Awards program and coined the inspiring “Technology Benefiting Humanity” tag line. In addition to developing workshops to help these innovators achieve maximum social impact, we hosted the Showcase for the first time as an integral part of a historic Technology Solutions for Social Impact: Taking Innovations to Scale conference, jointly hosted with our new partner, NetHope. NetHope works with over 30 of the world’s largest NGOs to solve common problems in the developing world. 

    Supported by the generosity of Jeff and Karen Miller, we launched the Frugal Innovation Lab. Ably led by Senior Fellow and Executive Committee member Radha Basu, this initiative of the Center leverages partnerships with the School of Engineering and Leavey School of Business to adapt and create innovations that address the needs of “base of pyramid” communities. 

    The Center’s mission embodies the University’s overarching Jesuit vision to create a more just, humane, and sustainable world by educating leaders of competence, conscience, and compassion. To that end, we are delighted to have announced the 2010 Roelandts Fellows, a collection of 7 faculty and 15 students pursuing projects across all disciplines for social benefit. The Fellows will share their projects at a poster session, open to the public, on May 16, 2011. We hope many of you will come to experience the successes made possible through the generosity of Wim Roelandts and Maria Constantino-Roelandts endowing this program. 

    As the Center’s new Executive Director since September 20, I am incredibly proud of these and many other accomplishments towards our grand vision. None would have been possible without the foundations for the future established by former Managing Directors Radha Basu and Jeff Miller, to whom I’m personally deeply indebted. As we move into the New Year, we both wish and work for peace on Earth and social justice.




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