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Pitch & FlowMC Lyte and DJ D-Nice hosted Pitch & Flow, a competition where rappers and social entrepreneurs join together to win money for their causes.

Pitch & Flow was held on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. According to XXL, celebrity guests included Stretch Armstrong, Melissa Bradley, Young Paris and Doug E. Fresh.

The Africa Creative Agency, Unreasonable Group and Lowe’s Innovation Labs paired the rappers and the social entrepreneurs together for the competition. The eight rappers weave the goals of their entrepreneurs into stories that encouraged the audience to vote for them. After three rounds, the winning duo won $7500 for their cause.

The causes championed at Pitch & Flow represented many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Some of the goals illustrated within the causes include uses for solar energy, educating the incarcerated and recyclable material production.

According to CityLab, all of the rappers involved in Pitch & Flow are passionate about social issues themselves. Many of them “double as activists and educators, and are in line with the grassroots vibe of the whole event. One of them even served as a Hip-Hop Cultural Envoy for the U.S. State Department.” The event gives rappers the opportunity to use their skills to promote a good cause.

Pitch & Flow also provides a unique opportunity for the organizations in regards to informing others about what the organization is about. Rap presents the organizations’ values in a creative and concise way that sticks with an audience.

At the end of Pitch & Flow, rapper and Northeastern University math professor Professor Lyrical and Sun Culture entrepreneur Samir Ibrahim won the $7500 prize. Sun Culture is an organization that “provides solar-powered irrigation systems to farmers in East Africa,” according to Essence.

Pitch & Flow illustrates how the creative arts can be used to promote worthwhile global causes.

Cortney Rowe

Photo: Flickr

India_businessAccording to the World Bank, 21.3 percent of India’s population lived on $1.90 or less per day in 2011. Since this statistic was released, entrepreneurs in India have established private enterprises that cater to the needs of those living in extreme poverty in India. Over the last year, these private firms have seen great success after going public.

In January 2016, Narayana Health was publicly listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange and was immediately valued at $1 billion. Narayana Health was founded in 2000 as a private firm that provided heart surgeries and checkups to low-income individuals at affordable costs.

The expansion of the private firms in the healthcare sector of India, especially the development of firms catering to impoverished communities, is compensating for the lack of government expenditure on public healthcare.

In addition, the World Bank estimates that as of 2014 India only spends 4.7 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on healthcare. Most developed countries spend almost double this percentage on healthcare, with the U.S. at a high of 17.1 percent.

Ujjivan, a private microfinance firm based in India, also went public on April 28 of this year. The financial services firm provides small, interest-free loans to women in poverty. Founded in 2005, Ujjivan is now worth over $600 million (40 billion Indian Rupees) and is expecting to transform into a small bank for the poor.

The firm has also started to give loans to micro and small enterprises, with the aim of reducing poverty in India at the individual level.

These loans allow women and small enterprises to develop their own businesses without having to go through the tedious and often unsuccessful process of obtaining a bank loan. Forbes contributor Nish Acharya reported that “the poorest people in the world, who, contrary to conventional wisdom, had a higher repayment rate than the typical borrower.”

According to Forbes, the “social enterprise” model allows for the business to be more innovative in terms of solutions, as they have the larger focus on raising quality of living standards.

The success of these firms will perhaps become a model for other social entrepreneurs around the world, going beyond alleviating poverty in India.

Isabella Farr

Photo: Flickr

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Entrepreneurs are individuals that go beyond the status quo in order to make change happen. “They pursue poverty alleviation goals with entrepreneurial zeal, business methods and the courage to innovate and overcome traditional practices,” says the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs.

Reform and change are never made without a struggle. Social entrepreneurs in education are no different.

Many struggle with receiving the support and funding necessary to keep programs running. But despite hardships, they press forward in order to make improvements.

Occasionally, an entrepreneur will find a break in the form of investors. Schwab, Skoll and Ashoka are three such foundations that provide this relief to individuals making change happen around the world.

One such fellow, or entrepreneur, that found relief works for an organization by the name of abcdespanol. Based in Colombia, the organization worked to create a new methodology for teaching reading, writing and math skills.

Javier Gonzalez discovered that the issues across Latin America were not due to the people, but the methodology while playing a game of dominoes. “González then created abcdespañol and “ABC de la Matematica”, an innovative learning solution employing games as a teaching methodology.”

For many, this is how it works. Social entrepreneurs in education see an issue and then fight to find and put into practice new ideas to correct the issue. The journey doesn’t stop there, though.

Going back to Javier, “he continued searching for additional ways to make the learning process more interesting.”

Education isn’t an easy fix and is not a one solution fits all circumstance ordeal. Teaching the world’s future leaders takes innovation and improvement. Social entrepreneurs, like Javier, know this and continue to seek out a better way.

Ashoka fellow Flick Asvat of South Africa is another excellent example of this.

In the country of South Africa, Asvat found that many youths become more discouraged than not by the truism that education is the path out of poverty due to the strikes, violence, and other issues that have continuously interrupted such attempts.

To fight this, “Flick is putting children in control of their own out-of-school educational programs. She has developed a concept, Bugrado, based on the idea that human beings have the power to change their circumstances.”

Through innovative new techniques, real change was seen in schools. “Flick has successfully created five pilot programs around Johannesburg and is now focusing on Alexandra Township, where the program is operating in four schools, reaching approximately six thousand students.”

As a social entrepreneur in education, Flick resigned from her job as Minister of Education to solely focus on the implementation of the Bugrado program.

Such stories have become increasingly common. Through simply opening one’s eyes and caring about making a difference, individuals have made change happen. When one thing doesn’t work, new ones are tried. In this way, education is constantly improving.

Jeff Skoll, Founder and Chairman of the Skoll Foundation has expressed the importance of these social entrepreneurs around the world.

On their site, it is stated that it has become, “the premier global event for social entrepreneurship…the Forum has increasingly become a showcase to highlight large scale impact that social entrepreneurs are having on the big challenges facing the planet.”

By connecting social entrepreneurs with the resources and connections they need to improve conditions, the Skoll Foundation helps millions experience the impact of positive change.

In short, these entrepreneurs are alike in a fundamental thought process. As Skoll puts it, “I believe “a lot of good comes from a little bit of good,” or, in other words, where the positive social returns significantly outstrip the amount of time and money invested.”

Katherine Martin

Sources: Schwab Found 1, Schwab Found 2, Ashoka, Skoll
Photo: Wikimedia

social_entrepreneursThis year Echoing Green, an organization devoted to effecting long-term social growth, has partnered with USAID’s Global Development Lab to sponsor social entrepreneurs and projects in developing countries. This funding will lead to social growth, encourage investment in local individuals and create a more supportive environment for social entrepreneurship.

The projects will offer market-based solutions to provide resources for those in need, expand job opportunities and improve the well-being of local people and their communities.

The partnership, called Priming the Pump, is a global development network supported by General Atlantic, Newman’s Own Foundation, the Pershing Square Foundation, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and Echoing Green.

With more than $4 million in funding, the partnership seeks out and invests in early development innovators for social change who pose solutions to issues present in developing countries.

Fellows receive $90,000 over two years to help advance their initiatives and participate in mentoring from international development professionals and global networking programs. So far, Priming the Pump has empowered 29 Fellows from 20 organizations in developing nations.

This year, USAID’s funding will help 15 entrepreneurs jump-start their visions.

One project, developed by Jehiel Oliver in Nigeria and nicknamed the “Uber for Tractors,” allows farmers to order tractors through SMS texts. This allows farmers with limited access to labor to plow their fields quickly and more cheaply. It gives financial gain to small farmers as well as tractor drivers who are contracted to do such work.

Another project receiving funding is the Tujenge Africa Foundation created by Etienne Mashuli and Wendell Adjetety. Both survivors of the Rwandan civil war and genocide, Etienne and Wendell are living examples of how quality education can help people escape poverty and violence.

Through education, leadership programming and peacemaking, their organization helps post-conflict African youth excel and define their own futures.

There are many other groups receiving funding for change such as Love Grain, which builds farming co-ops and supports supply chains to connect teff farmers in Ethiopia with international markets.

Suyo is another initiative that helps low-income families in Latin America secure rights over their property and transforms economic security; while The Open Medicine Project uses mobile technologies to pair healthcare workers in South Africa, India and Pakistan with informational resources and support tools to help them improve their work and save lives.

Funding from organizations such as Echoing Green and USAID will provide developers and their projects with the resources to expand their technology and access to help create real change in their communities and nations.

Jenny Wheeler

Sources: Echo in Green 1, Echo in Green 2
Sources: Flickr

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On March 24, the Schwab Foundation announced the “Social Entrepreneurs of the Year 2014.” The foundation, in collaboration with the Huffington Post, awarded thirty seven social entrepreneurs working in a variety of fields including education, health, employment and the environment.

Hilde Schwab, co-founder of the foundation, said in the announcement that “Social entrepreneurs are the driving force behind innovations that improve the quality of life of individuals around the world, and they represent an integral and dynamic community of the World Economic Forum.”

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, and his wife, Hilde, founded the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship in 2000. Since it was started, its mission has been to identify social entrepreneurs and form a community to work together to solve difficult problems.

The Schwab Foundation chose social entrepreneurs who have been able to work with governments and businesses to truly have a global impact. The awardees, as a group, operate in over 20 different countries and their work aims to find solutions for both social and environmental problems.

All of the awardees will now be included in the Schwab Foundation “Community of Social Entrepreneurs,” which is made up of 250 social entrepreneurs from 60 countries. These individuals work with the World Economic Forum to exchange and to interact with world leaders in politics, business, the media, and civil society.

David Aikman, Senior Director for the World Economic Forum and the head of the Schwab Foundation, said, “We are seeing greater appetite among other stakeholder groups of the Forum to learn from social innovation models and collaborate with social entrepreneurs in innovative ways.” Aikman went on to discuss his belief that this idea will continue growing and that there will be more collaboration in the future.

One of the notable winners was Shelly Batra of India, who co-created Operation ASHA with Sandeep Ahuja to make India a tuberculosis-free country. Since it started in 2005, Operation ASHA has been able to treat people living in over 2,000 slums in six states in India as well as in two provinces in Cambodia.

Another winner from India was Chetna Viay Sinha, who had previously won the same award from the Schwab Foundation in 2013. Sinha works with the Mann Deshi Group of Ventures and the Mann Deshi Foundation, where she is responsible for the largest microfinance operation in Maharashtra. Since it was founded in 1997, her operation has gained 185,000 clients after starting in just a single village.

The Schwab Foundation also honored five groups of American social entrepreneurs in its 2014 list. One of the awardees was Nancy Lublin of dosomething.org, which works to engage teenagers in causes that interest them. Do Something uses various forms of technology to reach out to over 2 million people ages 13-25 and brings 26 campaigns to these people every year. Some of the organization’s most successful campaigns include the “Give a Spit” campaign that led to a bone marrow registration drive, the “Bully Text” campaign that had over 80,000 young people participate, and the “50 cans” campaign that resulted in over 1 million aluminum cans being recycled.

– Julie Guacci

Sources: The Schwab Foundation, World Economic Forum, The American Bazaar
Photo: Social Enterprise Network

6 Qualities of Social Entrepreneurs

The term “social entrepreneur” is used widely in both the business context and that of social volunteering, and for this reason it can be difficult to pin down a distinct definition of “social entrepreneurship.” Some entities like The Skoll Foundation aim to invest in social entrepreneurs, which they define as “society’s change agents: creators of innovations that disrupt the status quo and transform our world for the better.”

So what makes a social entrepreneur? Can it be taught? The Said Business School – an entrepreneurial business school launched in 2003 – clearly believes so. Even so, there are a few qualities that social entrepreneurs share, according to International Journal of Public Sector Management contributor John L. Thompson.

  1. Social entrepreneurs find gaps where needs are not being met. Where business entrepreneurs see an untapped market, social entrepreneurs see an unmet social need. Many social entrepreneurs have a personal stake or experience with this need; Oprah Winfrey, for example, has often cited her childhood years in rural poverty as a key motivation for her many charitable projects.
  2. Social entrepreneurs address this need with creativity and imagination. The way things have always been done is not enough anymore for social entrepreneurs: why else would there be the need in the first place? Social entrepreneur Jane Chen was pursuing an M.B.A. at Stanford when she teamed up with a graduate student class at Stanford to develop an infant warmer that helps stabilize a newborn’s body temperature; the infant warmer only needs 30 minutes of charge to maintain warmth for over 4 hours.
  3. Social entrepreneurs build networks by recruiting other people to the cause. These networks are often irresistibly contagious and use a combination of brilliant marketing and engaging every consumer. People who buy TOMS don’t just buy a pair of shoes, TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie says, “They’re kind of joining a movement. And they want to participate in that…. That’s the best type of marketing you can have.”
  4. Social entrepreneurs are able to successfully secure the resources they need. The Borgen Project founder Clint Borgen worked on a fishing vessel to secure start-up capital; TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie sold his online drivers’ education software company. Social entrepreneurs have enough savvy to locate what they need to begin their ventures, whether this comes in the form of “cashing in” what assets they do have, receiving generous seed money, or working extra jobs and long hours.
  5. Social entrepreneurs overcome obstacles that their specific need presents. Leticia Casanueva, founder and executive director of Crea — a nonprofit social enterprise offering business development services to women seeking to start their own business ventures in Mexico — writes that Crea itself had a number of challenges in starting, the chief of which being “the inflexibility of laws that inhibit innovation and investment in social enterprises.” The way Crea was able to overcome this was, in short, to “have a board full of lawyers” to work out every legal nuance. Every enterprise has a context, and the successful social entrepreneur learns to navigate it.
  6. Social entrepreneurs introduce systems to make the venture sustainable and accountable. While many social enterprises shy away from the reputation of being “for-profit,” most agree that the best answer to global poverty is the development of the target market’s economy. Jordan Kassalow, for example, partnered an eyeglasses-donation drive with the development of a network of in-country distributors operating similarly to the Mary-Kay consultant model. VisionSpring utilizes a “high volume, low margin” approach that also offers higher margin products (custom frames, etc.) for higher-spending customers in-country all while providing vision-related services.

On the whole, social entrepreneurs operate very similarly to business entrepreneurs; they must be connected to a specific need, savvy with securing capital, be able to address challenges, and design a system that is able to sustain itself. What Thompson says is the difference, however, “is a strong commitment to help others in some way.”

– Naomi Doraisamy

Sources: The Skoll Foundation, International Journal of Public Sector Management, CNN, Buffalo.edu Forbes VisionSpring The HUB.net
Photo: Tree Hugger

Crowdfunding Pushes Philanthropy and Development

Crowdfunding is an approach to raising money for new projects and businesses by soliciting contributions from large numbers of ordinary people – online. In 2011 alone, this industry raised $1.5 billion dollars, both in for-profit and non-profit ventures. Due to new regulations, some estimate the trend could grow to $500 billion annually. This could mean huge changes and development through social-venture enterprises; more start-ups and funding for projects that have a beneficial social impact.

The money raised through crowdfunding falls into three different categories: 1. Philanthropy, where there is no expected return for the donation, 2. Lending, where the money is paid back, or some other gift (usually the business product) is given as a reward, or 3. Investment, in exchange for profit or revenue sharing (equity).

Much to industry surprise, the category that received the most funding was philanthropic which equaled 49 percent of all funds raised; despite the fact that most funding sites are for lending or investing.  A few sites, like Crowdrise.com and Causes.com, are exclusively for 501 registered charities. North America is the largest contributor, $837.2 million, over half of the global total, and also the fastest-growing region.

The dramatic news is that earlier this year new legislation was submitted to the SEC, allowing for even greater investment to be made through crowdfunding. So, if the current trends prevail, projects benefiting social causes could start to receive massive amounts of capital. The average equity-based campaign is aiming to raise about $85,000, compared to just $700 for donations. When the new regulations are approved, more funding is expected to flood into “impact investing.”

Jonathan Blanchard, founder of WeSparkt a crowdfunding platform focusing on social-entrepreneurship, believes investing will start to focus on a “double bottom line – profit and social good – to raise equity.” Blanchard sites a Monitor study suggesting that crowdfunding will reach $500 billion annually.  His site will target impact investors hoping to create social change.

You can participate right now, get in with the crowd – fund a project for the global poor!

– Mary Purcell

Source: Forbes, Forbes
Photo: Hong Kiat

 

social-entrepreneur-plan
As global awareness rises and people become educated about the needs of people all over the world, social-entrepreneurs are stepping up and starting businesses of all types, in order to bring about improved social and environmental conditions. Whether for-profit or non-profit, business models are being developed and implemented, in order to increase the quality of life for people living in the hardest of conditions.  In ever-growing numbers, people are considering new business ventures to enact positive change. Here is a 10 point plan for social-entrepreneurs to focus on:

  • Save your money
  • Keep your day job
  • Stay committed – it won’t be easy
  • Focus on social issues (and you can still make money)
  • Bring passion to your mission
  • Build a great team of supporters
  • crowdrise or kickstarter)
  • Make an impact, be able to show results
  • Change the world – all of the above will make it happen

Writing for Forbes.com, Devin Thorpe, the strategist of the above list says that “Once you demonstrate your impact, you can grow your enterprise to have world-changing scale.” The results won’t be measured in profits, he adds. Even the smallest idea can grow into a global force, anyone can choose to start a project and make a difference.

– Mary Purcell

Sources: Forbes
Photo: Heinebroscoffee