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  •  December Newsletter: Goodwill and Good Cheer to All!

    Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013

    Happy Holidays! Our December Newsletter is here!

    Read all about our goodwill and good news--a big present from the eBay Foundation!

    Again, we wish you a very merry holiday season!


    The Center

  •  Immerse Yourself in Learnings from Social Entrepreneurs based in Kenya and Uganda

    Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013

    Thane Kreiner and I led an Executive Immersion program for 7 guests, including our advisory board members, to Kenya and Uganda. We got to see the work on the ground of 8 GSBI alumni from both the Accelerator and Online programs. They included Penda Health, Kopo Kopo, M-Farm, Juhudi Kilimo, Livelyhoods, Solar Sister, BaNaPads and Village Energy.

    Purposefully it was a mix of sectors, and urban and rural. As always when we meet with these incredible, dedicated, passionate social entrepreneurs it was exhilarating and insightful.

    In the next couple blog posts we'll share some of our learnings from the trip to include how to roast coffee to differences between rural and urban distribution.

    ·         Penda Health- provides high-quality, affordable, outpatient healthcare through a chain of health clinics. By 2020 they will operate over 100 clinics across Kenya with millions of happy patients. Penda Health aims to be affordable to everyone in Kenya, including low- and middle-income population.

    ·         Kopo Kopo- is a web based mobile payment platform that enables SME owners to accept mobile money payments. Kopo Kopo aggregates payments from multiple mobile money systems, reflects those payments on an intuitive online dashboard, and automatically posts those payments to a back-office system via a notification API.

    ·         M-Farm- connects smallholder African farmers with urban and export markets via SMS and a web-enabled marketplace. M-Farm negotiates with buyers to create demand and assures quality through its network of agents. This motivates smallholder farmers to move beyond subsistence and into cash crops that can feed Africa and the world.

    ·     Juhudi Kilimo- is changing the way farmers do business. They finance targeted agricultural assets for smallholder farmers and rural enterprises across Kenya. Operating exclusively in very rural areas, Juhudi Kilimo gives smallholder farmers access to the tools they need to scale up and succeed.

    ·         Livelyhoods- taps the power of high potential youth in urban slums two create economic opportunities. They create jobs, give slum consumers access to life-changing products and assist companies to penetrate hard-to-reach markets.

    ·         Solar Sister- eradicates energy poverty by empowering women with economic opportunity. By combining the breakthrough potential of solar technology with an Avon-style direct sales network, Solar Sister brings light, hope, and opportunity to even the most remote communities of rural Africa.

    ·         BaNaPads-  are cost effective sanitary pads made from the processed stems of freely available banana plants. The eco-friendly absorbent material is derived from plant and paper materials and is packaged for monthly distribution to school girls. BaNaPads fabrication centers employ and serve the female residents of the rural communities in Uganda.

    ·         Village Energy- pioneers the local assembly of micro-home solar systems and built distribution infrastructure with rural and peri-urban based entrepreneurs at the center. Their approach to renewable energy is to view solar products as the basis upon which previously non-existent services can be delivered in off-grid communities.

  •  Giving Tuesday!

    Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013

    Next week, people across our relatively blessed nation will have a Thanksgiving feast and then go on a shopping spree for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There is a growing nationwide movement to follow these days of indulgence with "Giving Tuesday." Now in its second year, Giving Tuesday is a national day devoted to remembering those less fortunate and supporting the charities that help them. Join us on December 3rd on our facebook or donate here.


  •  Global Social Benefit Fellow Reflects on Collaborating with Peers

    Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013

    Even though it has been over three months since I returned from my Global Social Benefit Fellowship placement in Zambia, I still have not processed all that I learned.

    When we were told about the roundtable presentations, we chose a theme and were charged with presenting cross cutting themes of social entrepreneurship based on our experiences in the field. We were put in teams of 3-4 fellows with the rule being that none of our roundtable members could have been part of the same fellowship placement.

    The Sunday before our presentation, Emily (Solar Sister/Angaza Design in Uganda), Phil (Anudip/Imerit in India), and I gathered sluggishly in a conference room. Our title was “Clean Energy: Unlocking Economic Potential”, but aside from that, we had nothing. The three of us had been in three different countries, with three different enterprises, conducting research in three very different areas.  Yet there we were trying to string together our experiences into a coherent presentation with cross cutting themes, all while trying to remain interesting and engaging.

    The first few hours of preparation was a cycle of thinking we had gotten somewhere only to realize that we were wrong about something and had to start back from square one. Pacing back and forth, slowly but surely, however, we began to cover all of the whiteboards in a colorful splattering of words, arrows, questions, and comments. Little by little, with the help of many cups of tea and some much needed Thai food, we began to piece together what we thought would be a suitable presentation. We then wrote down a list of open ended questions and tacked them on to the end of the presentation.

    When the day of the presentation rolled around, I was apprehensive about what was going to happen. I was worried that we would sound disjointed and fail to get to the level that was expected. As we began rolling however, I became more comfortable and realized that we didn’t in fact sound too bad. At the end of our presentation, we entered into a discussion with the audience, posing the open ended questions that we had written down. This led to an exciting debate about the usefulness of the social entrepreneurship in addressing the needs of off grid communities. I came to realize that we had in fact, learned quite a lot from our many hours locked in the conference room. Not only did each of us have some experience that was relevant to the topic, but we were able to articulate it in such a way as to broaden one another’s understanding of this theme.

    After watching the second round table presentation from three other fellows, the fact that we had all learned so much from our placements became even more apparent. Despite our wildly different experiences in the field, through a few hours of serious discussion, we were able to come together and generate some very interesting questions and theories.

    Again, even though it has been three months, I am still learning from my experiences, and I can say that I am very grateful to have 13 other fellows whose experiences I can learn from as well.

    Jack Bird
    Team Zambia
    GSBF 2013

  •  Global Social Benefit Roundtables

    Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013

    Arriving in India was a sensory overload. It has hot. The food was spicy. I couldn’t understand the language and it was a twelve and a half hour time difference.

    Even with extensive preparations through the Global Social Benefit Fellowship, it was hard to process all the experiences we were emerged in daily. Utilizing my film background, I worked with sister enterprises Anudip and iMerit, who focus on rural education and job placement in Eastern India, documenting their methods, processes, and social impact. I regularly took three to four hours trains rides to rural villages to film interviews with both the employees and students of the sister organizations.

    The excursions were enlivening, eye-opening, and my favorite part of my trip providing a true insights into life in rural India. My fellow fellows and I sifted through a lot this information through discussion and blogs over the summer, but the Social Entrepreneurship Action Research Roundtables (SEARR) gave us another opportunity to analyze our time abroad in a more discussion-based manner.

    Our mentors and teachers, Thane Kreiner and Keith Warner, helped fashion us into groups for the roundtables with each team focusing on a different aspect of Social Entrepreneurship. I teamed up with Emily Albi, who worked in Uganda with Solar Sister and Angaza Design, and Jack Bird, who worked with Lifeline Energy in Zambia. As Jack and Emily are very passionate about energy poverty, we decided to center our roundtable on the idea of clean energy in developing nations. While I personally had not dealt with clean energy while working in India with Anudip and iMerit, Jack and Emily were experts on it. After a brief consultation we came up with our name, “Clean Energy: Unlocking Economic Potential,” and we were off.

    The Sunday before our presentation Jack, Emily, and I found our way in to a conference room, opened our laptops and our minds and began to talk, think, discuss, and debate clean energy in the developing world. In setting up the lecture, we decided to play to our strengths. Jack and Emily focused on explaining the idea of energy and the power sustainable energy has as a catalyst for change, while I talked about how energy access in rural areas allowed Anudip and iMerit, the companies I worked for, to enact their business strategy and help rural poor transform their lives.

    After Jack, Emily and I spoke, we planned to open it up to discussion with the audience. This was the part I was most nervous for, relying on audience participation to fuel discussion always makes me nervous because there is no way to predict what might be said or if anything will be said at all. We posed two main questions to the audience, “What defines an energy Social Enterprise?” and, “Does holding Social Enterprises to a triple bottom line hinder their growth and impact?”

    With the first question we hoped to provoke discussion by debating whether PG&E could be considered a social enterprise as they provide energy to ‘underserved’ populations in rural areas. In the second question, we speculated whether clean energy was unlocking potential, or actually undermining potential by restraining scalability in order to keep the enterprise environmentally sustainable.

    The answers for the spectators were phenomenal putting all my fears to rest. The audience was passionate, engaged and voiced defenses of both sides of the issue. The excited discussion and connection of the audience turned our lecture on clean energy into a true roundtable.

    The Social Entrepreneurship Action Research Roundtables were a fantastic opportunity for my fellows and I to organize all the knowledge we had gained while abroad in our respective placements, draw some conclusions, and compare perspectives on key issues. It allowed us voice the experiences we had, and apply them to the materiel we learned developing out action research projects.

    Moreover, the talks helped raise awareness of the fellowship as it ends its second placement and begins to recruit a third class. Hopefully, you attended one, but if you didn't keep an eye out for the talks next year with the next installment of Global Social Benefit Fellows.

  •  Women's World Banking: Founding a Movement

    Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013

     On October 30th, a role model for women around the world shared her story with Santa Clara students.  Michaela Walsh, a pioneer woman manager for Merrill Lynch in Beirut in the 60’s, the first woman partner of Boettcher in the 70’s, and Founding President of Women’s World Banking, inspired students with her story of tenacity, passion, and determination.  As one of the first women on Wall Street to be named partner, Walsh shared her vision for the next generation to be tenacious and willing to bend the rules to create change.  Students were encouraged to go beyond seeking set paths and blaze their own.   

    Michaela Walsh, childhood friend of CSTS Senior Research Fellow of Emile McAnany from Kansas City, is best known for her founding of the Women's World Banking organization in 1980 and leading it as CEO until 1990 where she remains on its board. WWB was the first all-women's global financial organization to serve women in developing countries with access to small and medium loans. Today it has more than forty national affiliates with assets of  a billion dollars. But the founding of WWB was only the culmination of a journey that included many turns in her life. She was was an early female employee of Merrill Lynch, and the first woman to serve abroad with that organization in Lebanon form 1960-64, also on her return one of the first women to earn a broker's license on Wall Street. Her work at the Rockerfeler Brothers Fund lead her to attend the UN Conference on Women in Mexico City in 1975. There she met women from developing countries with whom she created a working group to help women attain financial independence. The history of that work from 1975 to 1990 is included in her 2012 book Founding a Movement. Michaela's mission today is to encourage young women to become involved in the issues of development and change with a special focus on helping women in developing economies to access the financial means to prosper. She was very interested in the work of the Social Benefit Fellows and their future careers as global change makers. 


    From the desk of Emile McAnany


  •  Congratulations John Kohler, ANDE Member of the Year!

    Monday, Oct. 7, 2013

     It takes a lot to make a grown man blush.

    Yet, the cheeks of John Kohler, Director of our Impact Capital Program, flushed red when the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) honored him as Member of the Year at their annual conference.

    John thought he was going to give a talk on his ground-breaking Demand Dividend, an innovative investment tool designed to accelerate investment in enterprises serving the world's poorest village communities.

    He simply didn’t see it coming.

    “Well, the award was a surprise! Since ANDE is such a big tent covering all aspects of impact, this is a huge honor. It is peer recognition from a community of practitioners that I care deeply about. It’s just fabulous. I couldn’t be more honored.”

    John is one of the brightest stars of the impact sector. He brings over 30 years’ experience to the Center, gained from his executive leadership at Hewlett Packard, Silicon Graphics, and Convergent Technologies/Unisys and his extensive venture experience. John provides guidance as a mentor and impact advisor to the social entrepreneurs of the GSBI Accelerator and GSBI online community. 

    Congratulations, John! We are happy to have you!


  •  Evolution and Adaptation of the Flagship GSBI Yields Promising Results

    Tuesday, Sep. 17, 2013

    Evolution and Adaptation of the Flagship GSBI Yields Promising Results  

    As part of its vision to positively impact the lives of 1 billion of the world’s poor by 2020, the Center is successfully experimenting with ways to scale social benefit.

    We explained the design of these experiments in a Huffington Post blog earlier this summer. The GSBI Online experiment met with terrific success and we’ve just announced a third cohort. Through GSBI Network, we help “incubate incubators” for social enterprises, and are pleased by the recent addition of two new members, Birla Institute of Management Technology (India), and Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey (Mexico).  But our most ambitious experiment was the GSBI Accelerator to prepare proven social enterprises for scaling their impact and help them secure appropriate capital.

    We think of the Center as an open-source learning laboratory for scaling social entrepreneurship and impact investing. As we learn from our experiments, we endeavor to share the knowledge with the broader ecosystem. Data from our GSBI Accelerator experiment suggests that optimal capacity development paradigms will vary depending on the stage of the social enterprise. We discussed some key emergent parameters just before the social entrepreneurs arrived on the Santa Clara Campus for the in-residence component of GSBI.

    Immediately after the GSBI Showcase in a NextBillion blog, we explained both the GSBI Accelerator design and what Silicon Valley can learn from social enterprises that are preparing to scale. This year’s highly customized program for more advanced social entrepreneurs was extremely well received by mentors, content leads, impact investors, and critically, the social entrepreneurs themselves. As Venture Beat noted, our central theme of investment-readiness includes helping the entrepreneurs learn how to find appropriate capital. Impact investors are engaged in the continued evolution of our GSBI Accelerator experiment. We are accepting applications for the next cohort! 

    From the Desk of Thane Kreiner


  •  CSTS September Newsletter

    Sunday, Sep. 1, 2013

    Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI®

    Evolution and Adaptation of the Flagship GSBI Yields Promising Results

    As part of its vision to positively impact the lives of 1 billion of the world’s poor by 2020, the Center is successfully experimenting with ways to scale social benefit more


    GSBI Accelerator Showcase Videos Now Available

    Meet 12 social entrepreneurs who are shape shifting the scaling and impact investment environment.
    Watch the Videos

    2014 GSBI Accelerator Applications Open Through October 31, 2013

    Social entrepreneurs – the GSBI Accelerator can help prepare your venture to scale its impact and be ready for the investor due diligence. 
    Impact investors – maximize social and financial returns by encouraging your portfolio ventures to participate in our capacity development program.  
    Apply Now

    GSBI Online 2013 Fall Cohort Welcomes 15 Organizations

    With a focus on clean energy solutions, this cohort includes organizations serving populations in Haiti, India, Jordan, Madagascar, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Uganda, and the United States. 
    Fall 2013 GSBI more

    GSBI Alumni News – A Snapshot of Our World

    - Promethean Power:  Full Cream Ahead!
    - Juhudi Kilimo: only social enterprise to win CIO 100 Global Award!
    - Husk Power Systems featured in Obama’s Power Africa Initiative!

    - Manoj Sinha CEO of Husk Power Systems on his Accelerator Experience 

    GSBI Alumni: have any news or enterprise updates? let us know by emailing 

    Of Note

    Demand Dividend Builds Momentum In Impact Investment Space
    Looking for an investment vehicle optimized for small and growing businesses in frontier markets? Check out the Demand Dividend and generate your own term sheet.

    Special Issue on Social Entreprenuership

    A special issue of The Journal of Management for Global Sustainability edited by Thane Kreiner is devoted to the notion of social entrepreneurship as practical social justice and is now available online

    Accelerating Adoption of Off-Grid Energy

    Based on its work with more than 60 social enterprises addressing energy poverty, the Center posits that matching off-grid energy sources to productive use will accelerate economic development by creating sustainable livelihoods in poor rural and urban communities...Read more
    BOP Summit October 21-23

    BOP SUMMIT: Creating an Action Agenda for the Next Decade 

    200 leaders will meet at the William Davidson Institute to develop a robust roadmap for building better BoP enterprises October 21-23. Executive Director Thane Kreiner and Founding Executive Director Jim Koch will represent the Center and its GSBI and impact investing programs. 
    BOP Summit October 21-23

    Experienced CEO Pamela Roussos Named Strategic Alliances Director 

    "Having been a GSBI mentor for 5 years, I’ve been very impressed with how this organization has grown and truly established itself as a leader in the social entrepreneurship and impact capital space.” Read Pamela's bio here

    SOCAP Recap

    The Center Shines at SOCAP13
    The Center reinforced its position as a thought leader and practitioner in social enterprise. Read about our role in mentoring entrepreneurs and advancing impact more

    Read blog entries from workshop panel organizers John Kohler, Thane Kreiner, and Andy Lieberman

    AT A GLANCE: GSBI Statistics 

     •    202 enterprises have completed GSBI programs
     •    Nearly 100 million people’s lives have been positively impacted* by these
     •    40% of the enterprises are scaling, meaning that impact is growing in
          a financially sustainable manner

    •     This scaling rate is more than three times that of conventional
          for-profit ventures
     •    $89 million of funding has been raised by enterprises post-GSBI programs
     •    90% of GSBI alumni are still in business

    *Social impact is challenging to measure, especially since GSBI alumni impact lives in many different ways. As part of their participation in GSBI, entrepreneurs identify a metric for tracking the number of lives their venture positively impacts, such as number of people with clean drinking water or number of people using clean cookstoves.  The impact of each enterprise is displayed on its alumni profile.

  •  Social Enterprise Accelerators

    Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013

    Social Enterprise Accelerators

    Just as it takes a whole village to raise one child, it takes a global support network to help one social entrepreneur reach their vision.  That isn’t because social entrepreneurs are as needy and tender as children. Instead, it is because social entrepreneurs have such large visions of transformative change that they can’t achieve them single-handedly.  (Not to mention that their visions and passion are so exciting that many of us can’t help but want to be a part of the solutions they are working towards.)

    One of the best supports for social enterprises looking for a boost to get to the next level of their venture is participating in one or more of the growing number of social enterprise accelerator programs available.  As the field of social entrepreneurship has mushroomed over the last decade, so has the offering of accelerators.

    Today’s plugged-in social entrepreneur is bombarded by invitations to apply to accelerator programs, but each has its own timeline, format, and focus. Some accelerators such as the Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI®) – with which I’m affiliated – and The Unreasonable Institute source participants globally. Depending on their location, entrepreneurs can also apply to localized programs such as Villgro’s SEED program in India and Village Capital’s programs in places as diverse as Nairobi and Hawaii.  Accelerators like the GSBI have been around long enough to see some of our ventures go on to achieve dramatic success, like Kiva (’06) and VisionSpring (’06).  The next big success stories are surely among the hundreds of ventures participating in accelerator programs today, and it will be satisfying to see them break into the limelight.

    For those of us lucky enough to spend our days (and nights) thinking about how to help more social entrepreneurs help more people, the messiness of the impact accelerator landscape leads to a lot of questions.  How can we reach more entrepreneurs?  How we can guide the right entrepreneurs to the right program at the right time?  How can we maximize our impact on the enterprise?  Not to mention, how can we cover our costs of helping these enterprises? My work with the GSBI centers on answering these questions by strengthening and expanding our program offerings.

    These were among the questions we discussed more broadly at the Innovations in Capacity Development for Social Enterprise panel that I moderated at the SOCAP13 conference earlier this month.  The panelists were SEED’s PR “Guns” Ganapathy, Unreasonable Institute’s Teju Ravilochan, my GSBI colleague Cassandra Staff, Village Capital’s Victoria Fram, and the World Bank Development Marketplace’s Drew vonGlahn.

    Last year’s report, Bridging the “Pioneer Gap”:  The Role of Accelerators in Launching High-Impact Enterprises, looked at 52 impact-focused accelerators and found that 73 percent are less than five years old. Fortunately, the accelerators are evolving together and are collaborating.  In 2011, Halloran Philanthropies recognized the accelerators’ role in global social impact and began bringing us together for pre-SOCAP work sessions to foster collaboration. There are some tangible outcomes, like the creation of a common application questionnaire that is being used by Village Capital and GSBI among others to make it easier for busy entrepreneurs to apply to our programs.  To simplify further, these accelerators are also migrating to a common platform called F6S for the application process.

    With so many accelerators and competitive application processes, it can be hard for a social entrepreneur to choose the right program at the right time.  The entrepreneur has to prioritize between applying for an accelerator program over, say, applying for a grant or bidding on a project. Smart entrepreneurs will do their own diligence on an accelerator to see if what is provided will be right for them at their current stage.  Fortunately most accelerators give quite a bit of detail about their programs, mentors, and past participants, through which, prospective applicants can gauge the fit before applying. 

    Each accelerator targets a specific type of enterprise.  Villgro’s new SEED program focuses exclusively on helping for-profit Indian social enterprises raise their first outside investments. Unreasonable Institute provides mentorship, capital, and a global support network through a multi-week in-residence experience. GSBI takes an in-depth business model-centric approach and provides seasoned mentors with Silicon Valley start-up experience.  Village Capital’s program is built around peer-to-peer support and guaranteed investment for the best ventures from each cohort.

    The World Bank Development Marketplace brought another innovative model to the panel discussion.  After more than a decade of giving grants to promising enterprises, the Development Marketplace has made a commitment to providing capacity development services to their grantees. In order to avoid reinventing the wheel, they are partnering with existing accelerators in an interesting experiment. As part of their latest competition in India, on top of the cash grant, they have assigned an additional dollar amount for capacity development and will allow each entrepreneur to use those funds to retain the services of a vetted group of service providers.

    The Development Marketplace’s new model creates value and efficiency for all parties, and it points to a potential opportunity for overcoming a limitation that most accelerators face today.  Of the accelerators studied in the Bridging the Pioneer Gap report, 74 percent rely on philanthropy. This limits our own sustainability and scalability. Villgro is piloting another approach, which is to charge a success fee, in which entrepreneurs who successfully raise investments are required to pay the accelerator for the services they received.

    The upcoming Aspen Network for Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE)-funded study, Making the $-Value Added Business Case for Incubator/Accelerator Services, conducted by I-Dev International, will give more insight into these issues and surface ways for accelerators to strengthen their programs to keep up with the growing demand for their services.

    Given the flurry of research, collaboration and action, social entrepreneurs can expect a ‘smarter’ and more efficient accelerator space rising to meet them.

    From the Desk of Andrew Lieberman
    Director of New Program R&D

    Republished from

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