Category Archives: Water

Boston experiences water issues that 1 Billion people live with daily

Saturday morning, as families in Boston planned for a gorgeous spring day, a ten foot water pipe, that brought water to over 2 million Boston residents, ruptured.  Over 200 million gallons of water gushed out at a rate of 8 million gallons per hour. Authorities declared a state of emergency and imposed a blanket order for homeowners and businesses to boil the untreated water now flowing from their taps. Chaos and panic spread through the populace.  A run on bottled water at stores resulted in scuffles and rumors of price gouging for clean water were rampant. Continue reading

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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.

Jacqueline Novogratz – Legatum Lecture at MIT

We are a connected world said Jacqueline as she described the story of her blue sweater, also the title of her recently published book. Once discarded by her at Goodwill, it turned up 25 years later in Rwanda where she found it on a boy in the countryside.

Speaking at the Legatum Center’s Lecture series at MIT, she described the innovative work of Acumen fund and how it helps build social solutions through its venture philanthropy.

She prefaced her talk by some of her observations from her work helping to build enterprises around the world that she undertook since her time in Rwanda.

  • Dignity is more important than wealth for the human spirit.
  • Traditional models of charity won’t solve problems of poverty.
  • Markets can’t solve poverty. 100 Million people went back into poverty last year and that is what happens when you only rely on market forces to solve these problems.
  • What is needed is patient capital that will address these problems

Continue reading

Ashoka’s “Tapping Youth Innovation Challenge”

Ashoka has launched a youth movement called Ashoka’s Youth Venture (http://genv.net/) to help young people to design and launch their own lasting social ventures. (More on this in a later post). As part of their efforts to spur innovation, they have teamed up with a number of organizations to hold youth oriented social innovation competitions.

The latest one is “Tapping Youth Innovation, a Water Campaign” where they are looking for young innovators’ ideas on how to solve some of the challenges to clean water and sanitation for people living in poverty.  The challenge is accepting entries until March 22, 2009 which coincidentally (or maybe not so coincidentally) happens to be World Water Day!

Here is a blurb about their competition for people who might be interested. Continue reading

Adapting to Climate Change

We have over 80 people registered already for ForSE 2008: Forum for Social Entrepreneurs. Click here to register as we are going to quickly reach the limit of our 180 discounted admissions.

Here is the description of another one of the six tracks

Adapting to Climate Change

Rising global temperatures and erratic local weather patterns are of growing concern all around the world. Scientists worldwide have confirmed the reality of climate change and the impact of humans in increasing Greenhouse Gases (GHG) in the atmosphere. International treaties such as the ‘Kyoto Protocol’, state adopted legislations and activities at the local level are focused on acting to mitigate the effects of global warming. By changing policies, processes and habits, these actions may help the general public to gradually reduce the emission of GHGs and thus curb the severity of the impending climate change.

While it is important to mitigate climate change and its impact, positive results will be seen only after several decades. In the meantime, climate change and a rise in global temperatures will continue to occur, with changes in weather, ecology and environment impacting our daily lives on earth. Therefore it is important to adopt two strategies – mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

Several entrepreneurial spirits have taken up the challenge and established a creative response to the dilemma of high energy prices, high demand and low supplies concurring with global warming. This track will present an expert panel that will discuss strategies for adaptation to climate change and how social and business entrepreneurs are supporting this effort.