From August 14th to the 22nd, Santa Clara University will be hosting the 12th annual Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI) Accelerator program. Each year, the GSBI Accelerator invites a group of well-established “social enterprises,” nonprofit organizations or for-profit businesses, that focus on addressing social and environmental issues. The organizations’ objective is to showcase their businesses to potential investors.
The 10-month program started in February, pairing one leader from each enterprise with start-up experienced Silicon Valley executives. These executives mentor the leaders on how to overcome business challenges like ‘scalability’—the ability to grow a business by reaching new clients and capacity to handle the growth, without a decline in service quality.
For six months, the organizations’ leaders and their mentor partners (two for each enterprise) work closely with GSBI staff who tutor and advise the enterprises in preparation for the investor showcase, which is being held on August 21st.
This year’s cohort of 16 enterprises is being touted as one of the best yet. They include several enterprises that are using new innovative technologies to help their target markets alleviate poverty. Among these are:
Buen Manejo del Campo, dba Sistema Biobolsa
Revolutionizing small-scale agriculture with ‘biodigester technology,’ which converts animal and organic waste into natural gas and organic fertilizer.
Eco-fuel Africa Limited
Empowering African communities using ‘green charcoal’—a cooking fuel made from converted, locally-sourced, municipal waste.
Created to serve low-income markets with innovative, ecologically clean and efficient stoves that will replace woodstoves for daily cooking.
Enabling young disadvantaged South Africans to educate themselves and each other with after-school tutoring three times a week.
iKure Techsoft Private Limited
A chain of rural health centers that are using innovative technology to ensure patients are receiving high quality, primary healthcare in their communities. They do so by affording community members access to doctors and medicine.
ITA Social Business Bangladesh Limited
Empowering women through networks of enterprises that create more employment opportunities and access to markets.
An agro-forestry enterprise that provides African dry land farmers with training, maintenance and planting inputs “to cultivate a life-changing income for farmers, curb rampant deforestation and earn investor returns.”
Mali Biocarburant SA (MBSA)
The first company in West Africa to produce biodiesel, empowering farmers by making them shareholders in the company and helping develop local economies.
Medical Technology Transfer and Services (MTTS)
Developing, manufacturing and distributing intensive newborn healthcare devices, focused on the needs of low-resource countries.
One Earth Group Ltd. (Brand Name: One Earth Designs)
Collaborating with governments and corporations to deliver renewable energy solutions with their solar cooker designs, developed alongside nomads in the Himalayas. The organization helps combat fuel scarcity and air pollution.
The mentors are as equally impressive as these enterprises. The group includes venture capitalist and Netflix board member Time Haley, President of An Hour and A White Board Taia Ergueta, VP of Finance and Administration for Ion Torrent Jamie Kole and CEO of Officer Pie Digital INC John Orcutt.
One of the most impressive elements of the GSBI Accelerator program is that the mentors are as enriched by the experience as the mentees. Says Time Haley, “The obstacles that [the social entrepreneurs] have to overcome and the dedication required to succeed, compared to what we have here…the contrast is incredible. It’s pretty inspiring.”
In the coming weeks, the Borgen Project will feature several more articles on the GSBI Accelerator program, including spotlights on several of the entrepreneurs and comments from the investors about what brings them to the showcase. Stay tuned.
– Pedram Afshar