Category Archives: environment

12 wonderful wishes you can share for 2012

As we tick down another year and look back at all the milestones of the past year and plan for the next, it is time to also consider some of the wonderful organizations that are making an impact around the world.

Here is my list of a dozen that are making a difference in no particular order. Most of them are young organizations that are just getting started and an opportunity for you to get involved and help them on their way.

  • Greentown Labs http://greentownlabs.org/ An incubator for clean technology ventures that allows entrepreneurs to get down and dirty constructing their next generation green machines. Setup as a nonprofit and collaborative, Greentown provides a unique location for startups that need to build stuff.
  • Sol Solution http://www.sol-solution.org/ A nonprofit that helps underprivileged schools to save on expenses by installing solar solutions to offset their electricity expenses.
  • Social Capital http://www.socialcapitalinc.org/  Social Capital inc has worked over the past 10 years to strengthen communities by connecting diverse individuals, neighbors and organizations and bringing them together through civic initiatives
  • ABAN http://www.aban.org/ Is a young organization that I came across during a visit to University of North Carolina that was started by a team of passionate students that works with the street girls of Accra to help them learn a trade, make a living, and secure a future as well as helping them transform their city into a healthier environment.
  • Space with a soul http://www.spacewithasoul.org/ is another innovative nonprofit that provides shared office space and services to nonprofits. A great landing place for emerging nonprofits as they get started.
  • Peace First http://www.peacefirst.org/site/ Peacefirst works to build a safe and productive environment at schools by teaching students the skills of conflict resolution and civic engagement.
  • Samarthanam http://www.samarthanam.org/ Samarthanam is a nonprofit registered in India and the US that provides quality education, accommodation, nutritious food, vocational training to help empower the visually impaired, disabled and underprivileged in India. It runs a free middle school for underprivileged youth including the visually handicapped.
  • Merrimack Valley Sandbox http://www.uml.edu/mvsandbox/default.html Launched in 2010 November by the Deshpande Foundation, the Merrimack Valley Sandbox works with students in the Lowell/Lawrence area through partnerships with colleges and community organizations to build leadership and entrepreneurship within the Merrimack Valley.
  • LifeCity http://mylifecity.com/  LifeCity helps encourage green businesses in Louisiana through its membership organization where customers get discounts to green businesses and products and green businesses certified by LifeCity get greater visibility and support from LifeCity members.
  • Peacetones  http://peacetones.org  Peacetones supports talented, unknown artists from developing nations build their careers while giving back to their communities.
  • Vision Aid http://visionaid.org/ VisionAid works to help people with visually related disabilities in underserved areas to lead a life of independence and dignity.
  • Ummeed http://ummeed.org/ is a nonprofit that works with children with developmental disabilities in Mumbai and is one of the few that helps bring professional support to this segment of society in India.
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May these Amazing Social Entrepreneurs inspire you in 2011

As the calendar turns and we enter the second decade of the 21st century, a time to reflect on the past and plan for the future.

Here are some amazing folks who are making a significant impact helping the less fortunate. These are all smaller, younger organizations that are doing great stuff and really making a difference.

Take a look at some of the inspirational videos that highlight their work and their messages. May they inspire you to greater things in 2011.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year and a Terrific 2011.

UbuntuAtWork
Helping women micro-entrepreneurs with a path out of poverty by building sustainable enterprises.

Seeding Labs
Building world class research institutions in developing countries by equipping them with lab equipment and state of the art training.

WaterCentric
Providing clean water, toilets and hygiene education to 10,000 kids in India who do not have access to these basic amenities

United Prosperity
Multiplying your social impact 2X – 5X by guaranteeing a loan to a microfinance entrepreneur. View United Prosperity’s Model of Loan Guarantees.

Prosperity Candle
Investing in enterprising women living in distressed areas of the world to start their own businesses

Dream a Dream
Providing quality education to underserved children and helping them develop critical life skills

Komera
Designing affordable sanitary pads for women in the developing world.

Design that Matters
Creating new products that allow social enterprises in developing countries to offer improved services and scale more quickly.

Project Hip Hop
Providing a space where predominantly young people of color from traditionally low-income communities in Boston can develop and exercise their individual and collective leadership

Microfundo
Supporting independent musicians from developing countries by allowing you to micro-fund their artistic works.
http://www.microfundo.org/video/krakow-kids-club-cha-cha

Young Entrepreneurs Alliance
Helping low-income teens realize their economic potential by taking steps toward financial independence by owning and running viable businesses.

Towards a Greener Future

I attended a conference “Making Green Economy Real” organized by The Boston Pledge at Bentley University outside of Boston. After opening remarks by Partha Ghosh, founder of The Boston Pledge, that provided some great insights into the challenges facing the economy, Prof. Bill Moomaw, one of the authors of the IPCC report that shared in the Nobel Peace Prize with VP Gore, provided a terrific overview of what was needed for the US to really go green. 

Recently returned from Washington, Prof. Moomaw had accompanied the Tufts team that entered the biannual Solar Decathalon sponsored by the Department of Energy.  The Decathalon is a challenge to design, build and operate a house that is completely powered by solar energy on site at the Washington Mall. Twenty teams from all around the USA, Puerto Rico, Spain and Germany participated. The winner for the second time in a row was Germany. But more important were Moomaw’s observations about the state of the art in solar and energy efficiency as represented by the various entries. Continue reading

Why we need Social Investors

The latest Time Magazine has a great article about social entrepreneur Reed Paget and his startup Belu that has grown from $13,000 in 2004 to nearly $4 million in 2008 while providing water in corn based bottles that can be composted and redeploying its profits to projects that bring clean water to deserving regions of the world.

In the article Paget says it was important “to remove the ‘We must maximize profit’ from our management system.” His objective is to provide maximal social and environmental benefit, like social businesses defined by Yunus. However the challenge for him is finding socially motivated investors. Over the past several years he has managed to raise $2.5 Million in 32 painstaking rounds of funding. Even environmental charities like Greenpeace do not see it in their purview to fund startups like his.

This is a classic example of the type of opportunity that makes business and social sense but is left hanging as there are not enough socially motivated investors willing to take this early stage risk. As we mentioned in earlier posts, this new market segment badly needs socially conscious investors who are willing to support early stage companies and to take a lower economic rate of return in exchange for greater social/environmental impact. Like Belu, many socially motivated businesses struggle with fundraising expending precious resources in multiple rounds of incremental funding instead of focusing on building and scaling their businesses.

TIECON Social Enterprise Track Provides New Perspective

For the first time TIECON EAST – TiE Boston’s annual conference on entrepreneurship and innovation – had a dedicated track on Social Enterprise. The three panels in the track – ‘Healthcare Innovation in a Global Village’, ‘IT & Communications for the Developing World’ and ‘Feeding 9 Billion people’ – were all well attended and engaged the attentive audience with the incisive discussions. Here are some excerpts from an article I wrote for Lokvani about the sessions. Continue reading