Category Archives: sustainable development

Vijay Mahajan of BASIX on risks and results in microfinance

A good article that touches on some of the issues in my last post is a recent interview of Vijay Mahajan on the Credit Suisse website. In the interview Mr. Mahajan points out to some of the prerequisites for microfinance to pull people out of poverty. He also highlights the need to match investment growth in this sector to the available management capacity in order to avoid a bubble in the sector. Here are some extracts from his interview. Continue reading

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Another successful year for ForSE 2009

Another successful conference on Social Entrepreneurship was held on October 23rd, this time at Babson College in Boston’s Wellesley suburb. Details on the conference and photos were posted in a local e-magazine, Lokvani.com and are reproduced below for those who could not attend. Continue reading

World’s largest Business plan competition looks to help social entrepreneurs

To help jumpstart job growth in Massachusetts, a unique public/private partnership, Masschallenge.org, was launched earlier this year. By unveiling what it claims is the world’s largest business plan competition; the folks at MassChallenge are hoping to attract hundreds if not thousands of interested entrepreneurs. While most business plan competitions have been university based in the past, MassChallenge intends to go mainstream with entries accepted from all quarters. With the intent of raising serious money – a target of $25 Million for the first year – it hopes to change the way plans are run by providing the winning teams with $1 million in seed funding. It hopes to run six parallel competitions in the following areas:

  • Healthcare, and Life Sciences
  • IT, Software, and Gaming
  • Clean Technology and Energy
  • Social Development and Non-profit
  • Open Category, Seed Stage
  • Open Category, Expansion Stage

The one on Social Development and Non-profit caught my eye as it is along the lines of what we have been discussing on this blog. As I had said in some of my earlier posts, early stage social innovators sorely need a jumpstart as they face a tougher time raising funds than a for-profit. More importantly, Massachusetts has grown to be a focal point for social innovation attracting the best and brightest to the exciting programs offered in all the leading universities. Coupled with the incentives from MassChallenge and the Massachusetts Government, we have the opportunity to create a new growth cluster in the state. We have an opportunity to retain the top talent attracted to the programs in the area and to channel them to building the next generation of innovative social enterprises here in Boston.

I recently wrote a more detailed article for the MassChallenge.org blog that outlines this and am excerpting it below. Continue reading

Sustainable Business Models for Social Ventures

Panel Description for ForSE 2009

In decades past, many non-profits have achieved only temporary success and limited scale due to dependence on grants and donations. A new breed of ventures has begun innovating revenue models to build greater capacity and sustain operations. These approaches leverage the power of markets to meet social needs. Whether they’re building a socially responsible brand of clothing, providing renewable energy solutions, or bringing banking to the poor, these organizations have discovered the sustainable power of partnering with their customers.

Hear from a panel of innovative organizations that are thinking outside the box in terms of building sustainable models. Click here to register.

Panelists

Moderator

  • Prof Nitin Joglekar, School of Management, Boston University

Equal Exchange – Special In-depth Case Study and solutions brainstorming

Case Presenter: Rodney North, The Answer Man, Equal Exchange

Moderator: Gaurav Rohtagi, Principal, Continuum

Equal Exchange, the Massachusetts-based employee-owned worker co-operative best known for introducing Fair Trade coffee to American grocery stores in that late ‘80s.

Equal Exchange has over 100 employees in 6 states and $35 million in annual revenue. They’ve recently won six different awards for their environmentally and socially responsible business practices including the Social Innovation Award from the Financial Times newspaper and the World’s Most Democratic Workplace award from WorldBlu.

Valuing Social Enterprises

Panel Description for ForSE 2009

As a number of young entrepreneurs launch their social enterprises, one of the areas they all struggle with is attracting socially conscious investors. A challenge for all is how to evaluate a social focused business on metrics other than strict return on investment. A number of innovative organizations have tackled this problem from different perspectives, developing alternate metrics, scorecards and criteria that weigh the benefits from an investment beyond cold dollars and cents. The panelists, all significant actors in this arena, either invest or provide access to social investors and will highlight several interesting approaches that funders use in evaluating social investments.

Panelists

Moderator

  • Prof. John Whitman, Professor, Babson College

Register for ForSE 2009 before rates go up!