Social Entrepreneur

By Tony Loyd

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Social Entrepreneur exists at the intersection of profit and purpose. We tell positive stories from underrepresented voices, focused on solutions.

Episode Date
An Umbrella Made from Ocean-Bound Plastic, with Deirdre Horan, Dri

(For show notes and a full transcript, see

Dri produces durable, fashionable, and environmentally sustainable umbrellas from ocean-bound plastic.

As a fifteen year-old, Deirdre Horan left her comfortable home in Acton, Massachusetts to join a youth group traveling to Gulfport, Mississippi. This was two years after Hurricane Katrina, and the community continued to struggle.

“What really struck me was the level of devastation that was still there two years later,” Deirdre explains. “It takes much longer than the initial relief to pick lives back up. People will always need assistance if they’ve been impacted. I saw at a young age that something can always be done for somebody.”

Deirdre continued to travel back to Gulfport year after year. But she also thought of how she could make a greater impact.

A shift in plans

In 2017, Deirdre watched a documentary, Garbage Island: An Ocean Full of Plastic. In the film, Captain Charles Moore made a comment that stuck with her.  “He said something like, ‘The oceans to a degree help clean itself out. We need to address the amount that’s flowing in,’” Dierdre explains.

“I went down a black hole, researching recycling. I learned that plastic bottles could be upcycled into polyester.

“One day I was walking to work and my umbrella flipped inside out. I was wet, discouraged, and angry. I threw the umbrella in the trash can. I checked the tag. It was made with polyester yarn. The wheels started turning. I realized that I didn’t know who made any umbrella, let alone an eco-friendly umbrella.”

That’s when the idea came for an umbrella made from ocean-bound plastic.

“I ran around telling everybody I knew about this idea. And then, I realized that I had to buckle down and do some research. One of the biggest hurdles was finding someone who could make it ethically.

“I vetted multiple companies before I made my decision.”

The problem

The world produces 380 million tons of plastic every year. Much of that is for single-use.

But what about recycling? Much of the plastic that is gathered for recycling is sent to countries with weak environmental laws and poor waste management systems. According to Deirdre Horan of Dri, over 17 billion pounds of plastic flows into the ocean every year. That’s more than one garbage truck per minute.

In many of these low-income countries, waste pickers will pick up ocean-bound plastic and bring it to recycling centers. That plastic is pelletized and can be spun into yarn and polyester.

The solution

Dri umbrellas are created from upcycled ocean-bound plastic. The handles are made from fast-growing bamboo, and the shafts are stainless steel, which is recyclable.

Learn More About Deirdre Horan and Dri


Dri on Instagram:

Dri on Twitter:

Vice Documentary, Garbage Island: An Ocean Full of Plastic:


First Founders:

May 18, 2022
Grants, Challenges, and Incubators (Oh My!) with Shubham Issar of SoaPen

For a full transcript and extended show notes, see

Shubham Issar and Amanat Anand go from the UNICEF Wearables for Good Challenge to Shark Tank and beyond.

Shubham Issar and Amanat Anand grew up in New Delhi but met at Parsons School of Design in New York. They loved working together on hands-on design projects that made a difference. In 2015, they entered the UNICEF Wearables for Good Challenge. While investigating the challenge, they ran into a statistic that shocked them. Hundreds of thousands of children under the age of five die annually from infectious diseases that handwashing can prevent. Shubham and Amanat were determined to do something about that.

They returned to India to see handwashing in action. They sat in classrooms and observed. They discovered that teachers, overwhelmed by a student ratio of sixty-to-one, were rationing soap. Proper handwashing was not happening at critical times during the day.

They also observed the children enjoying their favorite pastime, drawing with bright colors.

Shubham and Amanat had an idea to make handwashing fun. They developed a prototype of a soap pen. Kids draw on their hands with brightly colored soap. It takes 20 to 40 seconds to wash off the design, ensuring proper handwashing.

UNICEF selected their design as one of ten winners of the Wearables for Good Challenge. And so, SoaPen, the product, and the company were born.

With the prize money, Shubham and Amanat conducted research and development. In 2017, they conducted a Kickstarter campaign to fund a production run. In 2018, they launched their first product on Amazon, but they struggled with sales.

"Talking about 2019 itself, it was just such a hard year for us," Shubham says. "We were bootstrapped. We launched on Amazon because we wanted to be where the parents were. But when you launch on Amazon, you're this little fish in this massive pond. You don't know how to reach the right audience.

"In October of 2019, we were featured in Real Simple magazine. Being the millennial I am, I had no idea the power that print media had. We completely sold out our entire inventory in two and a half weeks."

SoaPen's supply chain was not ready. Amazon's algorithm sent people to their page, but SoaPen could not meet the demand. Their supplier took more than eight weeks to produce new SoaPens. When the SoaPen products returned in stock, the wholesale channel took 70% of that order. So SoaPen remained out of stock on Amazon.

"On Amazon, if you're inactive for two weeks, you're essentially starting from scratch. I think that was very stressful. We finally felt like we had market validation, that the parents were interested in the product and that it was filling a need."

That was January 2020. Then, COVID hit, and they sold out again.

During this time, SoaPen received crucial customer feedback. Parents wanted more vibrant colors. And, they wanted a smaller roller ball for better drawing. When it seemed like SoaPen should rush into production, they decided to pause to get the product right.

With a redesign and supply chain issues, they took time to get the product back on shelves. They missed sales opportunities, but they developed a product that kids and their parents love.

Mar 11, 2022
Can Meta be a Force for Good? An Interview with Emily Dalton Smith

Is it possible for the company formerly known as Facebook to be a force for good? There are some bright spots. 

NOTE: For a full transcript of the conversation, go to

If you want to hear bad news about Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, you don’t have to look far. And, there’s plenty of bad news to find. If you’re interested in reading more about that, just Google the phrase Facebook Papers.

But, for me, there’s a more interesting question. Can Meta be a force for good? Is it possible?

As you know, here at Social Entrepreneur, our motto is “We tell positive stories from underrepresented voices, focused on solutions.” I admire models such as Solutions Journalism, where journalists ask the question, “Who does it better?” And I love appreciative inquiry, where leaders take a strengths-based approach. I would also recommend Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath.

The point of all of these approaches is, look for the bright spots. Look for what is working and spread that around.

If you know my story, you know that I was a corporate executive. I was bothered by big questions that drove me to leave my career and learn about social entrepreneurs. Social entrepreneurs use the power of business to do social good.

I believe, if we are going to save humanity, we cannot depend on government agencies and nonprofits to do the work required. Their work is necessary but insufficient.

Every business must look at its impact, both positive and negative. We must find the positive effects of our companies and amplify that.

Let me be clear. To make the kind of impact needed, companies cannot work around the edges. If ExxonMobil plops a solar panel on top of their headquarters, they cannot declare victory and go home. We have to rethink our business models fundamentally.

And positive change requires third-party verification. That’s why I’m such a fan of certified B Corporations.

In today’s interview, Emily Dalton Smith, Vice President of Product Management at Meta, describes how Meta is creating a positive social impact. She talks about Crisis Response, Charitable Giving, Community Help, Health, Mentorship, COVID-19 Information Center, and the Voting Information Center. 

Nov 27, 2021
Think Against the Grain for Regenerative Farmers, with Dan Miller, Steward

For extended show notes, see:

Steward is a community of borrowers and lenders who support regenerative farming.

Can a farm make the earth healthier? Regenerative farming is a set of practices that rebuild soil health by restoring carbon and nutrient content. This improves productivity and the health of the planet.

But there’s a problem. The agricultural capital system wasn’t built for small, regenerative farms. That’s where Steward comes in.

Steward equips regenerative farms with the capital they need to grow. Steward is a private lending partner, but they don’t work alone. Steward brings together a community of values-driven lenders who participate in loans and earn a return.

A Capital Marketplace for Regenerative Ag

Steward brings together a three-sided equation – small to mid-sized non-commodity farmers, people who are passionate about food, and the Steward platform. But it all starts with the farmers.

“It’s about thinking beyond a short view of taking care of a resource and feeling the bound to it,” Dan Miller of Steward says.

“For many historical and indigenous cultures, that was obvious. With our current culture, we’ve been disconnected from the resources that we live upon.

“For most of these farmers, small to midsize growing non-commodity, the current financial system is built for large scale commodity agriculture - large soy and grain farms. If you’re one of these smaller producers selling at a farmer’s market or selling to a well-known chef, you don’t have an outlet for capital.

“So they come to us. At first, farmers are surprised that we exist, that there’s a financial service that is focused purely on them as a customer. We have a team member that works them through the funding process. We have an in-house team member who’s a farmer. He helps speak with them about their actual business plan.

“So it is about helping them think about what funding they need. What’s the right amount? What’s the right structure. What are the improvements that they can immediately make to help grow their business?

“They’ve been undercapitalized so long that it’s often a very simple piece of equipment, or tools, or operational capital, or land. It’s not complicated at all. What they need are things they’ve needed for years. They have not had access to capital.”

Learn More About Dan Miller and Steward:


Steward on Facebook:

Steward on LinkedIn:

Steward on Instagram:

Steward on Twitter:

More Resources:

Social Entrepreneur Six-Week Quick Start:

Jul 06, 2021
The Many Faces of Service, with Kate Glantz, Luma Legacy

For complete show notes, see:

Luma Legacy: A Fairer, Kinder World

“Luma Legacy is a segment within Luma Pictures,” Kate explains. “It’s a magical creative studio that's been in the world for about 20 years. The bread and butter of the business is making movie magic - so visual effects. Luma Pictures makes superheroes fly, creates new worlds and realities, and all of the really fun stuff that keeps us entertained and dreaming big.

“Luma also has a venture capital arm that makes early stage investments in companies and founders changing the world with really an investment thesis around future of healthcare, future of work or future of food, and the like.

“And the Luma Features is our newest division that's actually making movies from the ground up. It’s all centered around the goal of creating imaginative, emotionally rich stories that other studios or financiers just might not take the risk on. But these are stories that need to be in the world from voices that aren't always heard.

“And then finally, Luma Legacy is that the segment of Luma that I was brought in to help figure out. And the mandate, the very broad, bold, ambitious mandate is to help create a fairer kinder world for everyone.”

A Company Built on Compassion and Empathy

“Facing any of these existential threats that are imminent, be it climate change or things we don't even know about yet without a certain sort of adherence to participating in the social fabric of what makes us human through compassion and empathy - we're kind of screwed.

“We're really looking at this work is by grouping underlying root causes to some of society's greatest problems. So, we talk about it sometimes as rather than taking medicine for a sniffly nose or itchy eyes, what's actually making you sick?

“There are a number of underlying causes that have driven this heightened state of polarization and intensified prejudice. But two that we're looking at are apathy and intolerance. When you flip those, you're looking at empathy and participation, and tolerance

“That has helped us create these three pillars, which are:

·        Building bridges across America.

·        Catalyzing civic participation.

·        Promoting equity and justice, specifically the people and policies that are helping to solidify equity and justice under the law.

“Behavior change is a really important component. If you are inspired, educated, or moved, it's not sufficient to then walk away and make a sandwich and go back to life. There needs to be a clear call to action.

“At that very high level, our goal is to influence outcomes at the ballot box, so that we can create a truly equitable and representative democracy.”

Luma Legacy’s Theory of Change

Luma Legacy is creating all sorts of media. “It’s going to be what it needs to be to meet people where they are, where they gather, where they play, where they scroll.

“And so our theory of change is essentially trying to shift conversations in culture at the level where pop culture happens. And that's in various segments of entertainment and arts. So music, arts, gaming, food - where people are is where we're be. And each initiative might have a different audience and a different medium, but the goal will always be consistent with those pillars that I shared.”

Learn More About Kate Glantz of Luma Legacy

More Resources:

Jul 04, 2021
Katherine Venturo-Conerly and Tom Osborn, Shamiri Institute

For extended show notes and a full transcript, see https:://

Half of the young people in Kenya have elevated depression and anxiety. 45% of the disease burden comes from anxiety and depression. The Shamiri Institute has an answer.

Kenya has been described as a young hustle culture. But that hustle takes a toll.

According to Tom Osborn of the Shamiri Institute, “Mental health and wellbeing are really important. This is especially true in low-income settings like Kenya where I was born and raised. In Kenya, the median age is about 19. There's evidence that shows this young population is stressed because they have to succeed so early in life.”

In Kenya, there is a massive wealth gap. The Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is around $1,750, while the number of millionaires in Kenya will grow by 80% over the next 10 years. Less than 0.1% of the population (8,300 people) own more wealth than the bottom 99.9%. This places pressure on young people to succeed or be left behind.

“Most mental health outcomes are strongly connected with future career outcomes,” Tom explains. “We think mental health is important at this young age because it determines the life trajectories of many young people.”

According to Katherine Venturo-Conerly of the Shamiri Institute, depression and anxiety make up 45% of the disease burden for young people in low-income countries. “Our research shows that approximately one in two youths has elevated depression and anxiety. Yet these young people go untreated because of a lack of caregivers. There is around one mental health provider for every one million Kenyans.”

Tom Osborn explains that “societal stigma, government under-investment,” are partially to blame. But he also points out that “most existing treatments are long, costly, and not culturally appropriate.”

And the answer is…

The Shamiri Institute provides mental health interventions in a simple, stigma-free, scalable, and school-based group intervention. Services are delivered by young lay providers, ages 18-to-24. Shamiri trains the mental health lay providers and provides vetted tools.

Randomized Controlled Trials of the Shamiri Institute’s interventions show more than 35% reduction in both depression and anxiety lasting up to 7 months. The interventions also provided 14% improvements in social support and a 2.5% increase in academic grades.

“Our approach lowers the cultural and systemic barriers that make mental healthcare inaccessible for Kenyan youths,” Katherine explains. “Instead of the typical psychopathology-centered approach to treatment, we use a simple, positively-focused intervention that emphasizes wellbeing, academic and social improvements. Our innovation is brief, accessible, and disseminated through a network of peers working in schools.”

Learn More About Katherine Venturo-Conerly, Tom Osborn and Shamiri Institute:

More Resources:

Jun 30, 2021
Kick Off, Season Four

I’ve been thinking about you.

You want to live a life of significance

You feel compelled to serve a cause greater than yourself.

You see a need in the world that you can’t unsee. There’s a cause that burns in your heart.

To make a difference, you have to overcome the status quo.

The status quo whispers in your ear, “That’s just the way things are.”

The status quo is that you get up every day and act as if nothing is wrong in the world.

It’s easy to be lulled into complacency by the status quo.

There’s a high price for doing nothing.

Unless you take action, the world remains unjust.

You’re missing the opportunity to make a difference.

You’re missing the chance to live to your full potential.

You’re missing the chance to live a life of significance.

It’s time to kick the status quo in the teeth.

You can be the changemaker you always wanted to be.

This week I’m announcing three new offerings:

  • Season Four of Social Entrepreneur.
  • The Social Entrepreneur Six-Week Quick Start Course.
  • The Culture Shift Community.

What is the Culture Shift Community? We bring together aspiring social entrepreneurs to serve a cause that is greater than ourselves so that we live a life of significance.

This is your opportunity to:

  • Join a movement. You can make more progress with others than you can alone.
  • Achieve results faster. Build the skills and mastery you need to speed up your progress.
  • Get access to a roadmap to success. Gain clarity on your exact next step from idea to impact.

I know how frustrating it can be to change the world.

If you don’t know me, I’m Tony Loyd.

For years, I worked as a Fortune 500 executive.

I watched as companies prioritized the shareholders over the other stakeholders such as the planet, communities, and employees.

I knew there had to be a better way. But I had no idea where to start. The pull of the status quo seemed too great.

In 2014 I met a group of social entrepreneurs – people who made a dollar and a difference. They made money, but the money went toward a mission.

Today, I’m a best-selling author, TEDx speaker, and coach to social entrepreneurs.

I host one of the world’s most downloaded podcasts.

I have interviewed hundreds of social entrepreneurs. I found that successful social entrepreneurs follow predictable steps.

Here’s what I found. Success leaves clues.

You can learn what makes them successful.

It’s easy as 1 – 2 – 3 to get started.

  1. Enroll today. Go to and click the “Get Access” button. When you sign up, you’ll have access to a six-week live course to help you launch a grow a social business.
  2. Participate in live, interactive weekly sessions. Make more progress with others than you can alone. Get answers to your burning questions. Every week we host interactive, live sessions.
  3. Use shortcuts to get results faster. We provide a roadmap so that you always know your next step on the journey.

Make more progress with others than you can alone.

Go-it-alone doesn’t work. When you’re alone, you waste time, miss opportunities, lack guidance, and fail to reach your potential. That’s why you need a community of changemakers.

Join the Social Entrepreneur Six-Week Quick Start course and the Culture Shift Community:

Go to and sign up today.

Jun 28, 2021
A Traveler’s Guide To World Peace, with Aziz Abu Sarah, MEJDI Tours

NOTE: For extended show notes, see

MEJDI Tours sees tourism as an opportunity to transform lives through dual narratives and by strengthening local communities.

Aziz Abu Sarah is a peace-builder, social entrepreneur, cultural educator, and author of Crossing Boundaries: A Traveler’s Guide To World Peace.

But Aziz wasn’t always a peacemaker. 

“I grew up very angry,” Aziz says. “I didn’t have any Jewish or Israeli friends growing up until I was 18 years old.

“In Jerusalem, if you don’t speak Hebrew, you’re not going to go to college. You’re not going to work. Your chances of success in life are minimal. In my high school, it was mandatory to learn Hebrew. But I went through three years of high school refusing to learn even a word of Hebrew.

“I escaped from that class. I told my teachers that I was not willing to come to class because Hebrew was the language of the enemy - the people who killed my brother. I was seven or eight years old the first time I was shot at. I had a lot of trauma to deal with. I still have to deal with it.

“And so when I was 18, I realized that if I don’t learn Hebrew, I will not have any chance of success in my life. So I went to study Hebrew. I studied Hebrew in a class where I was the only Palestinian, and almost all of the people in the class were Jewish immigrants to Israel.

“I remember thinking I’m here to learn the language. I’m not here to make friends. I’m not going to talk to anyone. Apparently, that doesn’t work if you want to learn a language. They force you to sit together, ask questions. ‘Hey, how are you? Where are you from? What kind of music you like?’

“And that’s how we became friends. It wasn’t over political things. It was over simple things like what coffee you drink and what music you like. I love Western country music, which most Palestinians do not agree with me. In that class, I found a couple of people who love country music.

“So we would sit down and talk about Johnny Cash. It started with that and eventually got to deeper conversations and political issues. But we had this space of ‘Wait a second. We have other identities that we can connect.’ And it’s not only ‘You’re Arab or a Jew, and therefore I have to hate you because of that.’

“And in that classroom, I made my first Jewish friends. From that point on, I understood that what divides us is a wall of ignorance, fear, and hatred. I wanted to put cracks in that wall. That became my mission in life.” 

Today, Aziz runs MEJDI Tours. “MEJDI means honor and respect,” Aziz says. “We start with that for the local communities, those we work with, and all our travelers.”

MEJDI originated the Dual Narrative™ method that brings both sides of a conflict together as travel guides presenting their respective narrative. This approach was first introduced in the Holy Land and reaped remarkable results there and throughout the world.

MEJDI Tours goes against the grain by rejecting the model of traditional consumer tourism—a highly commercialized experience that supports big business and often damages local communities. Also, as peace-builders, we are tackling the challenge of a divided and polarized world. 

Learn More About Aziz Abu Sarah and MEJDI Tours:

Book: Crossing Boundaries: A Traveler’s Guide To World Peace:

MEJDI Tours:



Mar 01, 2021
Tap into the Strengths of Neurodiversity, with Isabella He

NOTE: For full show notes, see

High school students work on behalf of those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  

In the United States, 1 in 54 children has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Unemployment rates for individuals with ASD are approximately 85%. More than half a million individuals with ASD will enter the workforce in the next decade. The need for specialized vocational training is growing by the minute.

A CDC study found that 50 percent of children with severe ASD only have access to school-based treatment services. And 17 percent of children with ASD do not have access to occupational, speech, or language therapy whatsoever.

At-home therapy is difficult for those with special needs, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. With most in-person therapy sessions closed, many parents of children with ASD don’t have the proper material and guidance to provide effective at-home therapy.

Meet Isabella He

Isabella He is a high school junior at Mission San Jose High School in Fremont, CA, and the founder and President of SN Inclusion. SN Inclusion is a nonprofit organization that provides career-technical education to neurodiverse individuals. She is also a co-founder of AUesome, a social enterprise that offers at-home therapy kits to children with autism.

Isabella is also an intern at the Stanford Neurodiversity Project and a dedicated volunteer and program coordinator at Friends of Children with Special Needs (FCSN).

Other AUesome co-founders include fellow high school students Anshul Gupta, Andrew Kim, and Arnav Gurudatt. 

Learn More About Isabella He, SN Inclusion and AUesome:

Feb 28, 2021
A Sense of Justice for Women and Girls, with Judith Martinez, InHerShoes

What would you do if you were 1% more courageous?

Judith Martinez is a leader at the intersection of social justice and the future of human capital. She is the CEO of InHerShoes, the modern woman’s community for courage.

When Judith was in the fifth grade, she witnessed a scene that changed her life direction. “I’m a first-generation Filipino-American,” Judith explains. “I grew up with Filipino as my first language. My grandparents raised me.

“I remember we were at the LAX airport. My grandmother was trying to explain in her broken English to a man that she needed help. And he just cast her aside. It was like she was nothing. ‘Oh, you’re no one. You’re nothing.’ For me, as a fifth-grader, it was two humans interacting, but one human didn’t feel like the other one was a human.

“That ingrained in me a sense of justice. That has evolved in a variety of ways. That is part of why I chose to take on InHerShoes.”

Today, Judith is the CEO of InHerShoes. InHerShoes is a non-profit committed to catalyzing courage for girls and women of all ages. They do that through an annual summit, workshops, and leadership training.

The foundation of everything they do begins and ends with one question: What would you do if you were 1% more courageous?

Judith was named a Forbes 30 Under 30 nominee, has been featured in NASDAQ and Forbes. She is a Vital Voices and a TRESemme Global Leadership Fellow. She was recently selected to be a United States of Women Ambassador representing the state of California.

Learn More About Judith Martinez and InHerShoes:

Feb 27, 2021
Eliminate Plastic from Your Oral Care, with Kathy Ku, Juni Essentials

Helping bamboo farmers and women in impoverished regions become self-reliant while eliminating plastic waste.

If Kathy Ku’s name is familiar to you, you might have heard about her previous social venture in Uganda, Spouts of Water. I interviewed Kathy in December 2016. Kathy and her co-founder John Kye left Spouts of Water, but it continues to thrive.

Around the same time that Kathy and John were in Uganda working on clean water, Dr. Noah Park was volunteering in low-income countries.

“One of our Korean co-founders visited our production site in Uganda seven years ago or so, but we had never met each other,” Kathy explains.

“He traveled to the less developed areas of developing countries and noted that a lot of bamboo was being grown in these areas and wanted to do something about it. He calculated by developing the bamboo industry in Vietnam, he could triple or quadruple the average yearly earnings in an area with 150,000 inhabitants. He’s also a dentist, so he naturally came upon bamboo toothbrushes.”

In the United States alone, over 1 billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away each year. These toothbrushes are not recycled. They end up in the landfill or floating in the environment.

To deal with these two problems – plastic waste and helping poor bamboo farmers, Dr. Park launched his bamboo toothbrush company in Korea under the Dr. Noah brand. In 2020, Dr. Noah raised Series A capital to move into the US market. That is when Kathy Ku and John Kye joined the team.

About Kathy Ku

“I grew up in an immigrant family and community that always stressed this idea of giving back,” Kathy says. “My mom would tell me, ‘you should run an orphanage when you grow up.’ Now, I look back and think we definitely should have been worrying about our roof over our heads. But this idea of looking to do good and doing well always stuck with me.

“By the time I joined Juni Essentials, they were still trying to figure out the production process. We’re talking like 50 toothbrushes being made a day. I had a manufacturing background and helped ramp it up. We’re now making more than 50,000 toothbrushes a month. We’ll get to 100,000 soon.

“Not a lot of people know about bamboo toothbrushes, and of the people who’ve tried them, I think a lot of people have been turned off by them. They feel different from plastic toothbrushes. And I think this is where we come in.

“Our product is fundamentally made differently from other products out there. That’s why we chose to make it ourselves. Our surface is heat-treated using patented technology that provides this smooth surface - the toothbrushing experience is comparable to that of plastic toothbrushes, so why not switch?

“I think I generally have good intentions, but the execution has been difficult. For example, I want to be good to the environment, and my husband and I compost and try to use compostable Ziploc bags. But I still drive my high school car, a Cadillac, which probably contributes to 50% of California’s carbon emissions. I think bamboo toothbrushes make me happy because it’s an active decision I make every morning and evening when I brush my teeth.”

Learn More About Kathy Ku, Juni Essentials:

Feb 25, 2021
Screen Printing with a Social Mission, with Sara Weihmann, New Avenues INK

Offering paid job training for youth.

Sara Hart Weihmann is the Director of Social Enterprise at New Avenues for Youth in Portland. She oversees a portfolio of workforce development social enterprises that offer goods and services to the local community. This provides paid work experiences and job training for youth experiencing housing instability. These enterprises include a Ben & Jerry’s scoop shop and a screen-printing business, New Avenues INK.

“I have always had a strong sense of environmental justice since I was a young kid,” Sara explains. “My parents would tell you that I was constantly giving them feedback about lights being left on in rooms. I had these little tickets I would issue to them if they left the lights on.

“So I’ve always been Type A do the right thing. You fall into line. We owe the environment everything. So I really took that environmental view forward into my life.

“In my younger years, I even thought that environmental justice needed to come first before social justice was addressed.

“After graduating college, I found a unique MBA graduate program in the Bay Area with an emphasis on environmental sustainability and social justice. I started a business specializing in installing edible gardens and urban farms throughout the Bay Area.

“What started as a passion for ecological sustainability and horticulture quickly evolved into a passion for food sovereignty, social justice, and elevating the voices of indigenous, black, and people of color to advocate for the resources they needed to thrive in the community.

“I started participating on non-profit boards, coalitions, and councils focusing on food system equity. I found myself passionate about working with young people living in excluded neighborhoods and mentoring them in agriculture and business strategy.

“There is nothing more fulfilling to me than seeing young people recognize their inherent value in an entrepreneurial setting where they get the freedom to brainstorm and take risks with their peers with guidance from mentors.

“When I moved back to my hometown of Portland, I noticed this opportunity at New Avenues for Youth as Director of Social Enterprise. It seemed like an excellent fit for my skills and passion. It was a combination of business strategy and management to serve young people experiencing housing insecurity.

“That was over seven years ago, and I still feel inspired every day by the impacts our workforce development social enterprises have on participants and the community.”

About New Avenues INK:

New Avenues INK is a screen-printing social enterprise owned and operated by non-profit New Avenues for Youth. Since its establishment in 2013, New Avenues INK has specialized in providing high-quality, cost-competitive decorated apparel items to customers while delivering paid work experiences and job training to youth experiencing homelessness in the community.

New Avenues for Youth’s social enterprise portfolio has provided hundreds of paid internships over the years to young people who have little-to-no traditional work experience. Young people receive an hourly wage to learn necessary job skills and participate in career exploration and career coaching. Interns can build confidence in businesses, experience being a part of a team, practice receiving and providing feedback, and ultimately learn about the world of work in a trauma-informed environment.

Learn More About Sara Weihmann and New Avenues INK:

Feb 23, 2021
Changing Lives through a Second Chance, with Karen Lee, Pioneer Human Services

People who were involved in the criminal justice system are more than their labels.

Karen Lee is the Chief Executive Officer of Pioneer Human Services.

She was born during the 1960s civil rights era. “During my lifetime, I’ve seen quite a bit of discrimination. I’ve always wanted to do something about that in a way that was true to me.”

Karen graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point. She served our country until the 1990s.

After her military service ended, she attended the University of Washington School of Law, where she received her JD degree. “I wanted to be a civil rights attorney,” Karen explains, “but I found that I liked working with people and leading organizations.”

She took several middle management positions. In 2005, she was asked to serve as the Commissioner for the Washington State Employment Security Division.

“We would get these reports on employment and wages from the labor economists that work there. That’s when I saw the disparity that exists in society today.

“I got a good look at the income gap. What was troubling was that the income gap was most apparent with people who had a negative interaction with the justice system. Black people, indigenous people, and people of color were all at the labor market’s bottom. I wanted to do something about that.”

Karen used her position in the labor department to try several programs. But then, the governor’s term was coming to an end. That’s when she noticed that Pioneer Human Services was looking for a new CEO.

“This particular segment of the population is one that I have often been concerned about because of my race and because I know people that have been involved with the justice system. I have family members that have been involved with the justice system, and they’ve struggled to find employment. And so I’ve wanted to do something about that.”

About Pioneer Human Services

Pioneer Human Services provides counseling, treatment, housing, job skills training, and employment for those involved in the criminal justice system. Pioneer provides career paths and living wage jobs for a population many disregard. Pioneer is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit social-enterprises. Pioneer serves over 10,000 people a year through its diversion, treatment, housing, and job training programs.

Under Karen’s leadership, Pioneer successfully operates several revenue-generating businesses that provide living-wage jobs and help fund its mission.

Learn More About Karen Lee and Pioneer Human Services:

Pioneer Human Services:





Feb 23, 2021
How to Have Stuff without Breaking the Planet, with Sandra Goldmark

What Sandra Goldmark learned from a seven-year experiment fixing stuff.

Sandra Goldmark is the Director of Sustainability and Climate Action at Barnard College. For seven years, she ran Fixup, a popup repair shop for household items of all kinds. It was staffed by theatre artists. “We use our backstage skills to fix people's broken stuff,” Sandra explains. “and to create an alternative to use and discard.”

Sandra has gathered her lessons learned and put them in a new book, Fixation: How to Have Stuff without Breaking the Planet.

“We are reinventing repair as a viable part of a sustainable, equitable, circular economy,” Sandra says. “We were mobile, so there was no fixed storefront. We accepted a wide range of items as a one-stop drop-off for our customers. We used an event-type structure to create a sense of urgency and community. And we partnered with a range of organizations.”

It started with a vacuum cleaner.

Around 2013, Sandra had a problem. Several items around her house broke – a lamp, a toaster oven, a backpack, and a vacuum cleaner. “It seemed crazy to me that it is easier to buy a new vacuum than get one fixed. It seems crazy to me to look around and see stores and homes and landfills filled with stuff.

“Everywhere I looked around me the whole pattern of consumption seemed totally out of whack. The environmental impacts of our system of consumption are staggering. People aren't happy with this pattern and how it plays out in their own lives. And when you look at individual objects, many of them are actually fixable. The whole system seemed totally broken. But it also seemed fixable!

“My work on circularity and repair is rooted in my work in the theatre - my belief that ALL of us have a role to play in finding solutions and building changes.”

Sandra started simply. “I just started. I was home on maternity leave, and I got a bee in my bonnet and never let go. We started with grassroots advertising, word of mouth, and leveraging neighborhood networks, especially parent networks.”

It worked! At their first popup event, people showed up with their broken stuff.

“We partnered with other organizations to move into new neighborhoods, eventually operating pop-ups in neighborhoods across 3 boroughs.”  

Sandra didn’t always get it right.

“I tried to raise money from investors at one point during the process, and that did not work,” Sandra says. “The project didn't seem to fit some sort of model or mold that they were looking for, and we didn't seem to speak each other's language. I think this is an important point, not for my business per se, but about how we approach climate solutions, how we think about innovation, and how we can learn to work across siloes.

“The hardest part was trying to iterate and pivot while also keeping our focus.”

A popup shop becomes a book.

Sandra sees the book as an extension of her work. “Now, in this latest phase, we are reaching more people through the book, Fixation.

“Fixation provides a comprehensive look at the problem, a clear path forward, and a call to action for individuals, businesses, and policymakers.”

Learn More About Sandra Goldmark and Fixation:

Feb 22, 2021
The Purpose-Driven Social Entrepreneur, with Karim Abouelnaga, Practice Makes Perfect

NOTE: For a full transcript of the conversation, see:

Close the Opportunity Gap through high-impact programs before, during, and outside of school hours.

Karim Abouelnaga is CEO of Practice Makes Perfect, a company he founded when he was 18 years old. Practice Makes Perfect partners with K-12 schools to help narrow the opportunity gap.

Karim is a TED Fellow and Echoing Green Fellow. At 23, he was named to Forbes’ 30 under 30 list in education, and at 24 was named to Magic Johnson’s 32 under 32 list. In 2016, he was ranked in the top 3 most influential young entrepreneurs under 25 globally. Karim’s TED Talk was named one of the 9 Most Inspiring Talks of 2017.

Karim has gathered his lessons learned in a powerful new book, The Purpose-Driven Social Entrepreneur.

Learn More About Karim Abouelnaga and Practice Makes Perfect:

Feb 21, 2021
Denise Withers, Author of Story Design: The Creative Way to Innovate

If you want a better future, you need a better story.

“Leading change has never been tougher,” Denise Withers says. “Fear, apathy, and uncertainty have paralyzed most of the world, making it almost impossible to engage people in even the most straightforward initiative.

“But it doesn’t have to be like that. Story Design can help. It’s a practical way for leaders to take the risk out of change and create a better future.”

Denise Withers is an award-winning storyteller and ICF certified leadership coach who helps clients reduce the risk of change and design better futures - with stories.

Denise spent the first two decades of her career making whitewater films, corporate videos, and TV documentaries - primarily for Discovery Channel. Early in her career, she discovered the power of stories to drive change while directing a film about Indigenous youth for CBC and quickly found her niche creating docs about environmental and social issues for change-makers across the globe.

Five continents, eight awards, and a hundred stories later, Denise left the media to study narrative, engagement, and design, ultimately becoming one of Canada’s top design educators. In 2013, she discovered how to combine storytelling and design thinking into a robust framework for change and pioneered the Story Design concept - a practical way to imagine a better future and make it happen.

Since then, Denise has worked with hundreds of clients across sectors, including CEOs, scientists, politicians, entrepreneurs, academics, and creatives. Together, they’ve used Story Design to do things like advance clean energy, protect ecosystems, transform higher ed, and slow disease. Most recently, she helped two National Geographic photographers double the revenue, reach and impact of their ocean non-profit in less than a year.

Millions of people have seen Denise’s stories on Discovery, CBC, NatGeo, SSIR, the UN, and National Post. Her first book, Story Design: The Creative Way to Innovate, is a favorite with purpose-driven leaders. And her podcast, Foreward: How stories drive change, ranks in the top 100 of management shows.

In the last 35 years, Denise’s clients have used Story Design for impact projects such as clean energy, wilderness protection, reducing chronic disease, advancing food security, and improving financial literacy.

Denise helps clients through custom coaching, training, storytelling, and retreats. As a certified leadership coach and storyteller, she shows you how to combine design thinking and storytelling. Her initiatives build trust, fuel innovation, engage supporters, and inspire action.

“The world desperately needs a new story, says Denise. “Let’s see what we can create together.”

Learn More About Denise Withers and Story Design:

Feb 20, 2021
Housing Affordability Through Small Homes, with Nichol Beckstrand, YardHomes Minnesota

YardHomes Minnesota uses a prefabrication approach and an innovative financing model to create affordable housing.

YardHomes Minnesota is creating housing affordability by building and maintaining accessory dwelling units (ADUs).

“We are a startup that focuses on delivering ADUs in Minnesota as a method of housing,” Nichol Beckstrand explains. “ADUs are tiny houses designed to be permanent living spaces. The problem we set out to solve is housing affordability.”

Under its Y-HELP program, YardHomes installs an ADU on an existing residential property owned by a partner. YardHomes holds and manages the ADU for ten years, offering it as an affordable rental unit for low-income tenants. Each month, YardHomes typically shares a portion of the ADU rental income with the property owner. After 10-years, YardHomes transfers ownership in the ADU entirely to the partner.

The problem YardHomes Minnesota is solving:

Nichol grew up in a house where she could have fun and feel safe. As a parent, she created a space for her children. But, she soon realized that a safe, secure home is not an option for every family. “We are creating more affordable housing for the housing insecure. We create a community setting for them. This creates wealth for the families and nonprofits that participate as host locations for our ADUs.”

“I’ve understood the finance side of affordable housing all my life, but I needed to partner with someone. My business partner understands the building side and the cost factors that go into building a home. I also know that under my current model, the units’ affordability could change after ten years. So I knew I needed to partner with organizations and people who had a desire to keep the property in play for affordable housing after the ownership transfers. I spent a fair amount of time understanding how ADU’s work, how city policy can be helpful (and sometimes harmful) to adding density. I focused on also creating a community connection for the individuals that we are housing.”

Here’s how they solve it.

Yard Homes Minnesota is creating more living spaces quickly. This efficient building model meets housing and safety standards. With more homes in supply, this will eventually reduce the cost of housing. “We leverage our Y-HELP leasing program. YardHomesMN asks an intermediary between nonprofits or people with the land they would like to use for affordable housing. We own the ADU and maintain it. We lease the land where the ADU will be placed and rent the ADU’s to an individual on voucher programs. The program amortizes the lease over ten years, thereby transferring the ADU ownership to the nonprofit or individual landowner at the end of the ten years.”

Here’s how they’re funded.

“Thus far, we are self-funded. We recently established a Program Related Investment (PRI). Our lead donor is the Maggie Foundation, with a matching grant from The Bush Foundation. We will be using their funds as a down payment on a loan to leverage five times to create five times this amount of housing. For every $25,000, we can create one unit of housing with our lease program.”

Learn More About Nichol Beckstrand and YardHomesMN:

Feb 18, 2021
Set Goals Aligned with Your Values, with Ruth Biza, #ThisIsMyEra

For every planner and course sold, #ThisIsMyEra helps a child with an education.

#ThisIsMyEra produces a 90-day planner that helps you set goals that align with your values. They also provide online courses to help you get clear on your life’s purpose.

For every planner that is purchased, #ThisIsMyEra donates school supplies to kids in need in Africa. So far, they’ve provided more than 10,000 school supplies.

And for every course that is purchased, they provide a school scholarship.

Why Education?

“In Ghana and most African countries, public education is not free,” Ruth Biza explains. “So if your family cannot afford to pay for your tuition, you stayed at home.”

Ruth recalls a particularly humiliating experience.

“It was in the middle of a session, and the financial aid lady comes in class, and they call out every single person that owes the school money. When they call you out, you stand in front of the class. So this is an embarrassing moment because every person on that list means you can’t afford your education. You owe money. They parade in you in front of the class.”

On that particular day, The person from financial aid called out Ruth’s name, and she had to stand in front of the class.

“I thought we were a middle-class family, and we could afford the tuition. When I got sent home that day, I spoke with my parents. I learned that we actually could afford my education. Being the selfless person she is, my mom was using half of my tuition to pay for the schooling of other kids who were not so fortunate - kids who had lost parents or kids who lived with grandparents who could not afford it.

“That was the first experience for me, where I noticed how people view you and how education can just affect you.”

Late, Ruth had a second experience that shaped her.

“I was around nine or ten. My mom and I were returning home from the market. We had stopped at a red light. Often, in Ghana, at a red light, people approach the cars selling anything, just anything they can find to make money and make ends meet.

“We were approached by this girl that looked so out of place to me. And I realize she is my she’s probably the same age as me. Why is she here approaching the car asking for money when she should be at home playing or in school? She seems so out of place, and it did not sit well with me.

My mom being the chatty lady, decided to strike up a conversation. We learned that her mom was sitting across the street. Her mom was blind, and she was taking care of a newborn baby. So it was up to this nine-year-old girl to find the resources to feed her family. “

These two incidents sent Ruth Biza on a quest to provide education for those who cannot afford it.

Today, Ruth runs #ThisIsMyEra.

About Ruth Biza

Ruth was born in Ghana, went to middle school in Zimbabwe, completed high school in Switzerland, and moved to the U.S. to study at Lynn University. Ruth is the Co-Founder of #ThisIsMyEra, a personal development brand that donates school supplies for every planner purchased to kids in need in Africa. They have sold over 10K planners and counting. Together with her husband Kuda, they founded the Amani Hope Foundation, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization whose mission is to empower underprivileged children by providing scholarships. Ruth is also a Fitness Trainer and Consultant to social impact brands. She is driven by her desire to leave a positive impact on the world and inspire others to fulfill their potential.

Learn More About Ruth Biza and #ThisIsMyEra:

·        #ThisIsMyEra:

·        #ThisIsMyEra on Instagram:  

·        Kuda Biza’s speech at the 2014 Millennium Campus Conference:

Feb 07, 2021
The Urgency to Go Tree Free, with Zoë Levin, Bim Bam Boo

For extended show notes, see

Trees Should Capture Carbon, Not Crap

We know the problems with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions: Climate change, rising sea levels, flooding, droughts, wildfires, ocean acidification, climate refugees, political instability, and a lot more.

We know that it’s important to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and the oceans. We can do that by reducing the production of CO2. We can also do that by capturing CO2 in carbon sinks.

In the US, forests store 14% of our annual CO2 emissions. Trees are a valuable, and powerful carbon sink.

And yet, in the United States, 27,000 trees are flushed down the toilet every day.

And here’s another problem. Paper-making is a toxic process. It uses toxic chemicals. It creates air and water pollution. This is especially a problem for people with chemical sensitivities.

Zoë Levin calls herself “The toilet paper queen.” She is the Founder and CEO of Bim Bam Boo. They make sustainability-focused, health-forward essentials from fast-growing bamboo.

Last year, they experienced 900% growth in annual revenue. And they saved 1.2 million pounds of virgin forest from getting flushed down the toilet. 

Help Launching and Growing a Business with a Social Mission:

If you need help thinking about these questions, take one of the free self-assessments at

If you need help thinking about your strategy to start and grow a business with a social mission, you can schedule a complimentary strategy call.

Also, we have provided a full transcript of this conversation at

Learn More About Zoë Levin and Bim Bam Boo:

Jan 17, 2021
Using Human-Centered Design to Prevent Maternal and Infant Deaths, with Karima Ladhani, Giving Cradle and Barakat Bundle

For extended show notes, go here:

80% of maternal and infant deaths are preventable.

Dr. Karima Ladhani is the daughter of immigrants. Her parents moved from India to Uganda. In 1972, Ugandan president Idi Amin expelled Asian minorities. He gave 90 days to leave the country.

Karima’s mother made her way to Canada. Her father was in a refugee camp in Malta before immigrating to Canada. “We can’t take for granted the luxuries and privileges that we have,” she says. “There are people going through things. We have an opportunity and responsibility to help them. Others have helped us. We never know when we could be in that position in the future. It’s our responsibility to society to do our best to uplift all.”

When Karima was in fifteen years old, she volunteered to travel to Chitral Pakistan where she taught English and Science. “It was transformative. It was my first experience of seeing dignity in places we don’t often associate with dignity.”

From Finance to Free Falling

As an undergrad at the University of Waterloo, Karima studied finance. “I thought my goal was to work on the trading floor and to become a trader.” In her fourth year of school, Karima had a chance to work on the trading floor.

“Within two weeks, I realized I hated it. The world I was in was interesting. I always thought I could volunteer on the side. My work and these other interests don’t have to align. But I found it wasn’t sufficiently motivating for me. I decided I had to take drastic change.

“Before I graduated, I emailed every professor. I told them that I have no experience in science. But I have a hunch that there is something in this medical-health field that would be more satisfying for me. Here are the transferrable skills I could bring to the table.

“Only one professor replied to me. When all my friends went on to high-paying jobs, I went on to a minimum wage research assistant job in this small town of Waterloo.

“That’s how I learned about public health. I was exposed to this world of population-level health. Then, I was trying to figure out my next steps. I often call this my free-falling period. I took a risk. I had no idea where I was going to end up. Taking a risk is what allows you to grow. If I continued to know what ground I was going to step on the ground in front of me, I could only land where I expected – what was in the realm of my imagination. But, by free-falling, I allowed myself to go beyond that.”

Giving Cradle and Barakat Bundle

In North America, Giving Cradle provides a safety-certified, eco-friendly bamboo rocking cradle. Families can make a safe choice for their newborn and for a newborn in need.

In South Asia, they provide lifesaving Barakat Bundles. These bundles include a Giving Cradle, evidence-based medical items, and health education to families in need.

Karima pitched the idea at the Harvard Business School New Venture Competition. They won enough funding to help them get started.

Today, Karima is the Founder & CEO of Giving Cradle. They sell safety-certified bamboo rocking cradles to families in North America. For every Giving Cradle sold, a mother and newborn in South Asia receive a bundle of needed supplies through Barakat Bundle.

“I think it is unjust that women and newborns continue to die from causes the world has already solved,” Karima says. “80% of maternal and infant deaths are completely preventable. We already have the tools to solve this problem. We just haven't figured out how to get the items that are needed into the hands of people who need them. If we do get them the needed items, we need to teach them how to use them, and they need to want to use them.”

Learn More About Karima Ladhani, Giving Cradle and Barakat Bundle:

Giving Cradle:

Barakat Bundle:

Giving Cradle on Instagram: 

Barakat Bundle on Instagram:

Dec 20, 2020
A Safe Space in Times of Crisis, with Katherine Woo,
00:26:14 to support emergency response around the world.

Natural disasters are on the rise. Climate change has accelerated wildfires and hurricanes. Healthcare workers are responding to the global pandemic. People find themselves displaced without warning. Who better to provide a safe place to stay than Airbnb and their global network of hosts?

To respond to the need for safe housing during disaster, Airbnb has launched is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to facilitating temporary stays for people in times of crisis.

The inspiration for began in 2012 with a single host named Shell who opened her home to people impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Since then, Airbnb hosts have responded to natural disasters like an earthquake in Nepal, and manmade tragedies, like the Pulse Nightclub shooting.

Airbnb hosts have provided stays to evacuees, relief workers, refugees, and asylum seekers. Recently, frontline workers fighting the spread of COVID-19 have benefited from the generosity of Airbnb and their hosts. More than 100,000 hosts have opened their homes and helped provide accommodations to 75,000 people in times of need. Going forward, Airbnb’s Open Homes and Frontline Stays programs will now be called

Katherine Woo to Lead

Katherine Woo is the new Head od She brings a wealth of business and tech experience. She has held roles at Netscape, PayPal, eBay, and Facebook. But it was her work at that helped her to realize that her work could have a direct impact on people in need.

She is joined by a staff and a board that reflects the communities they serve. is building a diverse team at all levels, starting with its founding board of directors. At launch’s founding board is composed of 80% women and 40% underrepresented minorities. Board members include:

  • Joe Gebbia, Co-Founder of Airbnb, Chairman of
  • Jennifer Bond, Founder & Managing Director of the University of Ottawa Refugee Hub and Chair of the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (GSRI)
  • Jocelyn Wyatt, CEO of
  • Melissa Thomas-Hunt, Head of Global Diversity and Belonging at Airbnb
  • Sharyanne McSwain, COO of Echoing Green

Learn More About Katherine Woo and

Dec 08, 2020
The Power of Voice to Make an Impact, with Regina Larko, #impact Podcast

For extended show notes, see:

A place and a community shaped Regina Larko.

Regina Larko was born and raised in Vienna.

“Three generations raised me,” Regina says. “My great-grandmother played a huge role in raising me. Her generation had experienced the hardships of the second world war. One of my great grandfathers never came home from the war.”

When Regina was around nine years old, the former Yugoslavia broke apart, plunging the territory into ethnic wars. Refugees poured across the border into Austria. Many of Regina’s classmates moved to Austria to escape the fighting. She heard first-hand the stories of refugee children.

“I felt immense gratitude for growing up in a peaceful, safe city,” she says.

Regina also spent her summers in a small village of 300 inhabitants located 50 kilometers outside of Vienna. There, she learned the value of community. She saw how community members took care of one another. “There is so much purpose and meaning in every single small action,” Regina explains.

“Neighbors and extended family members would always look out for each other. This is the reason I am so passionate about purpose-driven work that draws its energy from the community.

“It has always bothered me that there is so much inequality in the world - that I had privileges just because of the place and time I was born. I always wanted to live in a fair, equal, and peaceful place. I wanted everyone to have the same rights and possibilities I have. It frustrates me that there are so many people out there suffering every day, just trying to survive.” 

#impact Podcast is Born

Regina launched #impact Podcast in the spring of 2017. They feature inspirational, motivational, and impactful stories. The listeners of #impact Podcast are interested in social impact and sustainability initiatives.

#impact marries two passions in Regina’s life: audio and purpose-driven work. As an audio enthusiast, Regina has always loved how intimate the medium of audio felt. Listeners create pictures in her head.

#impact Podcast tells impactful stories in a light, refreshing and inspirational way. Regina talks about the issues, but she also talks about solutions. #impact Podcast portrays individuals making a positive impact in the world. They talk about why and how they got started, the challenges along the way, and what keeps them going. Listeners feel inspired by the individuals that Regina and her co-hosts interview. Listeners feel empowered to create change. The podcast guests often find new volunteers and donors.

“The first interviews for #impact were game-changing,” Regina says. “I was clumsily setting up my microphones. I asked very scripted questions. Yet, I saw the impact the conversations made on the guest I featured. These NGOs had never had the chance to tell their story. They humanized their work, giving their cause a voice that people could connect to. They reached new listeners. They found new volunteers.

“The first listeners started to reach out, thanking me for introducing them to NGOs. Many listeners started volunteering or donating, thanks to #impact Podcast. That’s when I knew that it was so worthwhile and that I have to continue producing and expanding the show.” 

Regina Larko’s Work Today

Today, Regina is a TEDx speaker. She has been named “10 Women who are shaping Hong Kong for the better”. Her work has been featured in radio, print, and online media. Regina is passionate about inspiring everyone to start making a positive impact. She also mentors aspiring podcasters, empowering them to find the confidence to get their voices heard.

Learn More About Regina Larko and #Impact Podcast:

#impact Podcast:

#impact on Instagram:

Free Podcasting Guide:

Podcasting Course:

Dec 06, 2020
A Muscle for Innovation, with Tom Dawkins, StartSomeGood

How do we get more people involved in social innovation?

NOTE: For extended show notes, see

Tom Dawkins is the founder of StartSomeGood, the leading home of cause-driven crowdfunding, innovative partnerships, and social entrepreneur education. I first interviewed Tom nearly five years ago, on December 14, 2015. You can hear our previous interview at

Tom keeps coming back to one fundamental question. How do we get more people involved?

“All of us are smarter than any of us,” he says. “It’s essential in a world that is evolving so rapidly. It’s never good enough to come up with a single good idea, a single solution, because things that were proven to work yesterday won’t work tomorrow.

“Those of us who care about the future, the planet, and the community, we need not just to find innovations, we need to build an innovation muscle. As a community, the best way to innovate is to ensure that every perspective is heard. Everyone has an opportunity to participate in that process of creating a better future.

“One of my foundational beliefs is that all the ideas are already out there. They’re often held by someone who has lived experience of a particular challenge.

“But so many people don’t know how to get their ideas out into the world. They don’t know how to turn it into a story that will resonate with people. They don’t know how to identify: Who is it for? What’s the value I create for them?

“They don’t have access to a network or impact investors or other types of supporters. So, we started with crowdfunding, but since then, we’re adding all these pieces that might help people make that leap as well.”

What Do Early-Stage Social Entrepreneurs Need?

“There are three key types of capital they need to underpin progress and impact.

“There’s intellectual capital, which is knowing how to do things or accessing the people who do.

“Financial capital is in some ways to fill the gaps of your intellectual capital – to pay for things that you can’t acquire in other ways. And to boost growth and reach.

“And then relational capital, which helps you not to burn out. It’s more than accessing people who know stuff. It’s people who care about you – people who understand the journey. “

The Next Level of Evolution for StartSomeGood

Today, StartSomeGood builds capacity for early-stage social innovators in several ways.

They run accelerators on behalf of corporate partners.

They have the Good Hustle, a ten-week social enterprise design course. And they offer other workshops.

They run live crowdfunding events called Pitch for Good.

They run inspirational events such as their annual Starting Good virtual summit.

They provide the Starting Good Network, an exclusive community for those committed to changing the world.

And they continue to innovate on their crowdfunding platform. StartSomeGood now offers a recurring crowdfunding model.

Learn More About Tom Dawkins and StartSomeGood:


Recurring Crowdfunding model:

Good Hustle:

Starting Good virtual summit:

Starting Good Network:

Tom Dawkins on LinkedIn:

Tom Dawkins on Twitter:

Dec 01, 2020
Wrap-up of Season Two and Kick-Off Season Three of Social Entrepreneur

In season two, we’ve been telling stories of a just and equitable transition to a clean energy future.

The Coronavirus is a wakeup call.

If you don’t know by now, the way we’ve been living isn’t working for the earth. Most of all, it is not working for the poorest inhabitants of the earth.

Climate change, extreme weather, hurricanes, floods, droughts, melting glaciers, rising sea level , wildfires, degraded food supplies, tick-borne diseases, mosquito-borne diseases, climate refugees, political instability  – these are just a few results of our current way of living.

The way we produce, transmit, and store our energy, hurts the poorest among us.

The way we grow, waste, and consume food hurts the poorest among us.

The way we transport ourselves, and our goods, hurts the poorest among us.

We way we produce and consume goods, hurts the poorest among us.

The way we build, heat, and cool buildings, hurts the poorest among us.

The climate crisis is a social justice crisis.

But there are solutions: wind energy, solar, energy efficient lighting, smart buildings, regenerative agriculture, alternative transportation systems, and consumer trends are available to us.

We must change. We can change. And we will change - if not for ourselves, for the poorest among us.

That is why we produced season two of Social Entrepreneur where we’ve been telling stories of a just and equitable transition to a clean energy future.

Season Two Wrap-up

In Season Two, we talked with:

Jonathan Foley of Project Drawdown.

Jessica Hellman, Director of the Institute on Environment at the University of Minnesota.

Ry Brennan. Ry reminds us that the problems with electrical generation and distribution are systemic and complex. The solutions are at the systems level.

Janet McCabe of the Environmental Resilience Institute

Mark Kuo of Routific

Robert Blake of Solar Bear.

Deepinder Singh of 75F

Mary Jane Melendez of General Mills

Lauren Gregor of Rent-a-Romper

Steven Downey of Harmony Fuels

Sebastian Sajoux of Arqlite

Dave Goebel of enVerde

Looking Ahead to Season Three of Social Entrepreneur

We’re kicking things off with someone I admire and consider to be a friend, Tom Dawkins of StartSomeGood.

Karima Ladhani will tell us about Giving Cradle and Barakat Bundle.

Ruth Biza will tell us about #ThisisMyEra.

One of my favorite storytellers, Denise Withers will talk about Story Design.

And Nichol Beckstrand will talk about YardHomesMN.

Still Looking for Guests for Season Three

Our commitment is this: We tell positive stories from underrepresented voices, focused on solutions.

If you know someone we should interview, here is what we’re looking for in a guest:

Nov 30, 2020
A Former Oil Executive Transforms Waste to Energy, with Dave Goebel, enVerde

enVerde converts organic waste into sustainable clean energy.

The Office for Technology Commercialization (OTC) is the office at the University of Minnesota whose mission is to facilitate the transfer of technology to licensees. This allows for the development of new products and services that benefit the public good. It also fosters economic growth and generates revenue. Since 2006, the University has spun out 170 startup companies.

But there is a challenge. Technology transfer is not simple. For a venture to be successful, it must be desirable (the market wants it), feasible (an organization can produce a market solution), and viable (the cost structure and returns are sustainable).

There is a vast desert from license to commercialization. Research can create an idea that is desirable but is not viable or sustainable. It takes time to prove out and commercialize a technology. The time and effort to commercialize a technology is often called the commercialization gap.

On today’s episode of Social Entrepreneur, we talk to Dave Goebel, CEO and Founder of enVerde. enVerde has licensed a thermochemical catalytic technology from the University of Minnesota. The catalyst converts organic material into heat energy. enVerde provides circular economy solutions by repurposing carbon-containing waste into clean, sustainable energy and chemicals.

The Problem with Organic Waste

Every day, the average American generates 4.4 pounds of waste. That includes paper, plastics, yard trimmings, food waste, wood, rubber, leather, textiles, and more.

At the same time, the US Energy Information Administration predicts nearly 50% increase in world energy usage by 2050.

What if we could use organic waste to provide clean, renewable energy?

That’s the promise of enVerde. They are addressing the nearly infinite amount of organic waste and the growing need for energy. They do so in an environmentally friendly, cost-effective manner.

Waste becomes a resource instead of a problem.

“Waste is stored energy and we have a clean way to liberate, free, that energy for our use,” says enVerde Founder and CEO, Dave Goebel. “We economically transform organic wastes into a product called syngas. We also produce heat in the process. Both syngas and heat can be power sources for making electricity.

“Syngas is also convertible into new clean fuels like hydrogen, methanol, or dimethyl ether. It can be green precursor for other chemical processes displacing petroleum products.

“Agricultural, industrial, commercial, and other organizations decrease their operating expenses by significantly reducing their waste streams and creating clean fuels/heat they can use locally and immediately.”

Recent Successes

enVerde is finding some successes along the way. The inventor of the technology, Dr. Paul Dauenhauer won a MacArthur Foundation Genius Award. 

enVerde was also selected as a member of the next cohort with Creative Destruction Lab. Creative Destruction Lab accelerator program is based out of Calgary, Alberta.

Learn More About David Goebel and enVerde:

Nov 22, 2020
An Ecosystem of Environmental Entrepreneurship, with Sebastian Sajoux, Arqlite

For extended show notes, look here:

93% of plastic is not recycled.  

Only seven to nine percent of the plastic that is generated on an annual basis is recycled. Sebastian Sajoux explains, “The plastics go to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF, pronounced “Murph”), and then go into a recycling system. Still, 50% of plastics that are manufactured are impossible to recycle with current technologies.  

“The number that’s really scary is, by 2050 the amount of plastic used and discarded will double.”  

“We are in this race to become more efficient in separation and recycling, but we are still manufacturing products that cannot be recycled.” 

Why Some Plastic is Born Unrecyclable  

"Plastics are divided into categories,” Sebastian told me. “Usually, you see the numbers one through seven in a recycling system. They can only be recycled within the same stream.  

“There are also rigid plastics, such as a shampoo bottle, and flexible plastic, which is a wrapping, for example, for an Oreo Cookie or Lays Potato Chips.  

“For flexible plastics, because it is so thin, it requires different layers to work together to be safer, to keep the product for more time. So, you exchange thickness for another technology. If you combine two different types of plastics, it is automatically unrecyclable.  

“What we are addressing is all of the flexible packaging out there that was born unrecyclable. It seems like a wrapper from, let’s say a butter toffee, it’s harmless. But people discard them every day.  

“So, laminates are our main focus.”  

A Solution to Unrecyclable Plastics 

Arqlite takes unrecyclable mixed plastic and produces a gravel that can be used in construction.  

When compared to traditional mineral gravel, Arqlite’s smart gravel is three times lighter, ten times better insulator, doesn’t break or produce dust, and doesn’t require hydration. These are all characteristics that are desirable in the construction industry.  

Lighter gravel is easier and cheaper to transport. It can be manufactured locally, reducing costs and greenhouse gas emission. And, it does not require mining to produce.  

Builders who use Arqlite smart gravel can gain LEED points. The material is recycled, it is locally produced, and it improves insulation.  

The solution is scalable. “I didn’t want to make countertops and sell 100 countertops per day,” Sebastian says. “I wanted to make gravel and sell 100 trucks per day.”  

Learn More About Sebastian Sajoux and Arqlite: 


Arqlite on Instagram:  

Arqlite on Facebook:  

Arqlite on YouTube:  

Sep 12, 2020
Turn on Your Heat Without Heating Up the Planet, with Steven Downey, Harmony Fuels 

How do you reduce your carbon footprint without breaking the bank?  

Did you turn on your heat this week? A lot of people in the northern hemisphere either already did, or they will soon. For 12 million homes in the US, that meant burning heating oil or propane, both of which contribute to climate change.  

For single family homes, the cost of replacing oil and propane furnaces is unrealistic. According to Bankrate, only 40% of Americans could absorb an unexpected expense of $500 or more. Lots of people want to reduce their carbon footprint, but they don’t have extra money to spend. 

That’s where Harmony Fuels comes in. They are the only carbon-neutral provider of home heating fuel in the US. They didn’t invent a new oil or propane. They make it easy for consumers to reduce their carbon footprints by offering carbon offsets. For each gallon of heating oil or propane its customers purchase, Harmony Fuels buys the equivalent number of pounds of carbon offsets from certified green energy projects. 

Steve Downey is the president of Harmony Fuels. He admits that carbon offsets are not a silver bullet, but it’s a step in the right direction.  

Learn More About Steven Downey and Harmony Fuels: 

Steven Downey on LinkedIn:  

Harmony Fuels:  

Harmony Fuels on Facebook:  

Harmony Fuels on Twitter:  

Harmony Fuels on Instagram:  

Sep 10, 2020
Parents: Reduce Your To-Do List and Your Carbon Footprint, with Lauren Gregor, Rent-a-Romper

For a extended show notes and a full transcript of this conversation, see

Rent-a-Romper makes parents' lives easier while reducing the negative effects of the fashion industry.  

For just a moment, think about your clothes. At some point in time, you chose each item and brought it into your home. Your neighbor did the same thing. So did the house down the street, and the one several miles away. The same thing happened in a house on the other side of the world.  

The global population is increasing. The middle class is growing. And so is our demand for fashion.  

By 2030, the world population will increase from 7.8 billion today to 8.5 billion. You can watch the world population increase in real time here.  

Not only are there more people on the planet, our standard of living is increasing. The GDP per capita is growing at 2% per year in the developed world and 4% in the developing world. That means more demand on our world resources.  

Apparel consumption is expected to rise by 63% by 2030, from 62 million tons today to 102 million tons in 2030. That’s the equivalent of adding 500 billion T-shirts to the environment.  

Why is that a problem?  

The fashion industry produces about 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions.  

By 2030, the industry’s CO2 emissions are projected to increase by more than 60%. That’s like adding 230 million more passenger vehicles on the roads.  

And, it’s not just greenhouse gasses that are a problem. Fashion requires fresh water. The fashion industry consumes 79 billion cubic meters of water per year. That’s equivalent to 32 million Olympic-size swimming pools. But that’s today. By 2030, the fashion industry’s water use will increase by 50%.  

Apparel production puts toxic substances such as mercury and arsenic into our waterways.  

Most of the clothing waste ends up in landfills or is incinerated. Only 20% of clothing is collected for reuse or recycling. The amount of solid waste produced by the apparel industry is going to increase about 60% by 2030.  

So, the environmental impact of apparel is increasing at the same time we need it to be decreasing. If we have any chance of limiting global warming to a 1.5°C increase, we need carbon emissions to be reduced by 45%. 

One Small Step in the Apparel Industry 

Lauren Gregor is a mom. She saw what was happening in her own house. With two small children two years apart, she was horrified by the parade of cardboard boxes showing up on her doorstep.  

“I would get frustrated by the amount of waste that we're generating,” Lauren explains. “But also, how often I felt like I was turning around and getting back to the stores to buy them new things, especially clothes. My boys are tall, they grow fast, they grow very fast at those young ages and I just felt like I was constantly having to do things on my to-do list.”  

Lauren came up with a solution. She calls it Rent-a-Romper. Rent-a-Romper makes parents' lives easier while easing the negative effects from the fashion industry. Parents can sign up for a monthly subscription and receive a customized capsule of clothing to meet the needs of their growing children.  

Learn More About Lauren Gregor and Rent-a-Romper: 

Rent-a-Romper Website:  

Rent-a-Romper on Instagram:  

Rent-a-Romper on Facebook:  

Aug 29, 2020
When Sustainability Isn’t Enough, with Mary Jane Melendez, General Mills

General Mills is blending regeneration and philanthropy to create impact.

How do you feed a hungry world without destroying the planet? And, how do you do so in a way that is just and equitable?

Agriculture and forestry activities generate 24% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. The world population will reach 9.7 billion in 2050. And, a growing middle class in emerging countries is straining our global food supply.

Mary Jane Melendez is Chief Sustainability and Social Impact Officer for General Mills. She also serves as President of the General Mills Foundation. “It’s broader than philanthropy and broader than sustainability,” Mary Jane says. “It’s those two areas coming together to drive greater social impact.”

General Mills is a leading global food company whose purpose is to make food the world loves. They are a 150-year-old company that is using their scale to produce more quality food while reducing their footprint.

Regenerative Agriculture

“Our work is rooted in the earth,” Mary Jane explains, “and we want to restore it. We share a unique bond with nature. When there are threats to nature through changes in climate, those are threats to our business. At General Mills, this is a business imperative and a planetary imperative.

“Today, about a third of the world’s topsoil is degraded. We have lost about 40% of insect species on the planet, including pollinators that are important to our food. There is nothing about that fate that should be sustained. We don’t want to sustain declining ecosystems.

“At General Mills, what we’re being very thoughtful about is our responsibility to move beyond sustainability and think about regeneration.”

General Mills has commitment to advance regenerative agriculture practices on one million acres of farmland by 2030. Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming practices that enhance soil health, pulling carbon from the air and storing it in the soil. It helps land to be more resilient to extreme weather events.

100% Renewable Energy

Scale can be a force for good as demonstrated by General Mills’ commitment to regenerative agriculture. But scale can also be a burden on the planet. In 2015, General Mills was the first company to publish a goal approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions across the company’s full value chain by 28% by 2025. That means that, no matter how much they grow, they committed to reducing their 2010 greenhouse gas emissions.

Last April, General Mills also set a goal of 100% renewable electricity worldwide by 2030.

“Technology changes quickly,” Mary Jane told me. “As new technologies come online, we are constantly keeping our eyes open for new ways to activate that technology, drive the investments to help reduce our greenhouse gas “

Learn More About Mary Jane Melendez and General Mills:

Mary Jane Melendez on LinkedIn:

General Mills Global Responsibility Report:

General Mills and Regenerative Agriculture:

General Mills and Renewable Energy:

General Mills CEO Jeff Harmening’s LinkedIn post from June 4:

Jul 13, 2020
Comfortable, Efficient, and Healthy Buildings, with Deepinder Singh, 75F

Optimizing building energy efficiency can be complicated and expensive. According to Deepinder Singh, it doesn’t have to be.

The world has more than 230 billion square meters of building space with another 65 billion square meters coming online in the next decade. Buildings account for 6% of global greenhouse gasses.

With the ongoing global pandemic, the CDC has developed guidelines that encourage more fresh air circulation. The goal is to maintain lower viral load in the work atmosphere. Those guidelines could increase energy consumption. Improving energy efficiency could make a significant dent in climate change.

It Started with His Daughter

Deepinder Singh is a computer network engineer by training. He designed some of the world’s fastest core networks for AT&T, NTT, and Verizon. In his work on complex systems, he found ways to simplify operational complexity and to make products intuitive. “If you use Verizon,” Deepinder told me, “there’s a 95% chance it goes over a network I built. My claim to fame is that I had one of the first petabit routers sitting in my garage for five years.”

When he and his family moved to Minnesota, he ran into a problem that was a little closer to home. “My daughter, who was one at the time, would wake up in the night crying. The temperature in her room would drop ten degrees at night. The thermostat was in the mater bedroom, which was west facing. We were nice and warm because the sun would keep it warm in that room. In the rest of the house, the heat would not kick on.

“When my daughter was this uncomfortable, I quit my job to fix the damned problem.” Since Deepinder was not trained in HVAC, he used his computer network skills to solve the problem.

75F, Born Digital to Solve Problems for Commercial Buildings

After solving his own problem, Deepinder realized he had a solution with a commercial application. In 2012, Deepinder and his cofounders launched 75F, an intelligent building solution that utilizes the Internet of Things and the latest in Cloud Computing to create systems that predict, monitor and manage the needs of buildings.

“I found that there was an even bigger problem in commercial buildings. People are there all day, and somebody is wearing a coat during the summer.”

“The building controls industry, the last innovation that they had was in the mid-1990s. They are mechanical engineers who try to design It-controlled solutions. Those solutions are archaic by today’s standards. In the controls industry, people are taking these Lego pieces and they are building a custom solution for each building. To me, that’s an opportunity to disrupt.

“I had none of this baggage. I had no idea what the heck I was doing. We were born digital, so we looked at IOT and cloud computing, and created a completely different architecture. It’s modern. It keeps getting upgraded all the time. We look at the building holistically. We use machine learning and AI to implement things that people are doing manually. The building is continuously adjusting and adapting.”

75F uses smart sensors and controls to make commercial buildings healthier, more comfortable, and more efficient than ever before, all at a disruptive price.

“Normally energy efficiency and comfort oppose one another,” Deepinder commented. “We’re trying to do both at the same time.”

75F helps customers achieve an average savings of 41.8 percent in energy consumption and carbon footprint. 

Learn More About Deepinder Singh and 75F:


Deepinder Singh on Twitter:

Jun 30, 2020
Healing is in the Environment, with Robert Blake, Solar Bear

Solar Bear is a Native American owned solar installation company.

Robert Blake of Solar Bear has a habit of mashing up two problems and coming up with a solution. His driving philosophy is “healing is in the environment.”

Solar Bear is a Native American owned solar installation company. They train people on the Red Lake Indian Reservation to install solar power. “If we can do this in Red Lake, we can bring this out to other tribal nations,” Robert explains.

“We’re going to see that solar energy can solve a human health crisis. On Native Nations and reservations, there is a high poverty rate, alcohol addiction, and drug addiction. What I’m hoping is, with this energy source, we can provide opportunities and give purpose to community members.”

Solar Bear also works with the Department of Corrections, and the Willow River Correctional Facility to provide a solar installation workforce development program for the inmates. “The idea here is to battle mass incarceration with climate change,” Robert says. “Here in the United States, we are one of the leaders in incarcerating our citizens. We have this existential problem. Can we get individuals that are incarcerated to fight climate change?

“I believe that healing is in the environment. If we can have these individuals work in the solar industry, be installers, maybe become electricians, this will be a way to heal and give back to society.

“It’s a ripple effect. When these individuals come out of the correctional facilities and are doing solar, they are taking their families off of public assistance. They show their kids that they have a steady job, and that breaks the cycle.”

Robert is also the executive director of Native Sun Community Power Development. Native promotes renewable energy, energy efficiency, and a just energy transition. They use education, workforce training, and demonstrations.

One Native Sun project is creating a K -12 curriculum on climate change. In the pilot program on the Red Lake Reservation, they teach children about energy efficiency, renewable energy, recycling, and gardening.

“Imagine a polar bear family that wear sunglasses. They’re solar bears,” Robert explains. “It’s going to be the kids who are going to have to deal with the aftereffects of climate change.”

Another Native Sun project is to teach solar installation skills to military veterans.

Learn More About Robert Blake, Solar Bear, and Native Sun:

Robert Blake on LinkedIn:

Solar Bear:

Native Sun Community Power Development:

Jun 25, 2020
Delivering Efficiency with Marc Kuo, Routific

Routific uses AI to cut mileage and drive time by 20%-40%.

Marc Kuo is the Founder & CEO of Routific. He is a routing expert with nearly a decade of experience in last-mile logistics. But he didn’t always work in logistics.

“Being a fresh grad out of school, I just wanted to get into either management consulting or investment banking, simply because of its prestige,” Marc told me. “I was ambitious. I wanted to aim for something challenging.

“Once I was in finance, I was on the equity trading floor for one of the investment banks in Hong Kong. It was a glamorous dream job. I was sitting on the fifty-first floor of one of the tallest skyscrapers in Hong Kong. But I just felt a little empty. I was quickly disenchanted by this glamorous job and the corporate life.

“I wasn’t adding much value to society, using algorithms to move money from the retired pensioners to the rich bankers. I didn’t feel like it was value added to society.”

After being on the job for a year, Marc decided to go back to what he studied in graduate school. He wrote his thesis on route optimization algorithms.

From his perch on the fifty-first floor, he watched the ships, trucks, and logistics in the harbor.

“I felt a calling to move physical goods and rout them more efficiently. Physical goods are being moved anyway. Why not do it that much more efficiently?”

The Big Problem

Transportation is responsible for 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Imagine a delivery business that delivers to 500 locations every day with a fleet of 10 vehicles. The puzzle of deciding which vehicle goes where and in what order, while making sure the fleet operates as efficiently as possible, is extremely hard.

“Every day we optimize the routes of hundreds of delivery businesses around the globe to save them time and fuel,” Marc explains. “Our mission? To make route optimization software accessible to every delivery business. We are passionate about helping businesses thrive and creating a more sustainable world.

“Routific surveyed 11,246 businesses and found that 72% still plan routes manually. That means they plan routes using tools like spreadsheets, pen and paper, and Google Maps. Businesses dependent on manual route planning struggle with the consequences of inefficient routes—hours of manual route planning time and inflated delivery costs.

“It’s hard work. And humans are not particularly good at it. Businesses report spending anywhere from one to three hours a day trying to plan delivery routes – many of which are not efficient nor optimal.”

This is where route optimization software can help.

“Aside from saving the manual route planner a lot of time, we also cut mileage and drive time by 20%-40% by generating more efficient routes than humans can ever find.”

The fact that most businesses are still manually planning routes is a big problem for the environment. Third-party environmental consultants estimated carbon emission reductions equivalent to planting 86 trees/year for every driver that switches over from manually planned routes to one optimized by Routific.

In 2019 alone, Routific helped delivery businesses around the world save 11,322 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of planting more than 500,000 trees.

More Information:

Jun 16, 2020
Environmental Change in the Midwest, with Janet McCabe, Environmental Resilience Institute

The Environmental Resilience Institute helps midwestern communities understand and prepare for environmental change. 

There’s something powerful about understanding how a global trend impacts your local community. For example, it’s one thing to hear about world hunger. It’s another to hear about hunger in your state. But there’s a different feeling when you realize that there’s a hungry kid in your neighborhood. As Tip O’Neill said, “All politics is local.”

It’s the same thing with climate change. You’ve probably heard about the global climate crisis. And, when your state is mentioned, you might pay attention. But, when you notice the impact on the health and wellbeing of your local community, well, there’s something compelling about that.

Climate Change in the Midwest

We hear a lot about the impacts of climate change in far-flung corners of the world. We are aware of the dangers of flooding along the US coastline. But what about the Midwest?

The average annual temperature has been increasing across the Midwest. Warmer air holds more moisture, which changes moisture patterns. That means more frequent flooding, and drought.

For each 1 degree Celsius of warming, the crop yield declines for corn, wheat, rice, and soy.

Warmer, wetter winters have led to higher tick populations. The mosquito season is longer. Mosquitoes and ticks spread diseases.

Helping Midwestern Communities Understand and Prepare for Environmental Change

Janet McCabe is an expert in environmental law and policy. She is the director of the Environmental Resilience Institute at Indiana University.

The Environmental Resilience Institute collects data across all 92 counties in Indiana to predict changes in climate, groundwater systems, vegetation, wildlife, and more. Their goal is to help Indiana understand how a changing climate will affect health, communities, industry, and agriculture.

Before joining the Environmental Resilience Institute, Janet held key positions in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

Learn More About Janet McCabe and Indiana University Environmental Resilience Institute:

·        Indiana University Environmental Resilience Institute:

·        Janet McCabe on LinkedIn:

May 19, 2020
A Just and Equitable Transition to a Clean Energy Future, with Ry Brennan

The problems are systemic and complex. So are the answers.

Globally, the United States accounts for 5% of the world’s population, but we produce 15% of the energy-related CO2 emissions. Coastal flooding, hurricanes, drought, and fires are all related to climate change. And who suffers the most from the impacts of climate change? Mostly the poor and vulnerable.

Bringing this closer to home, in the US, 5.9 million people live within three miles of a major coal-fired power plant. On average, these people have a per capital income of $18,400, which is 17% lower than the average in the US.

A Yale University study found that Hispanics have the highest exposure rates for 10 out of 14 air pollutants. African Americans have higher exposure rates than whites for 13 out of the 14 air pollutants.

68% of African Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant. Black people are exposed to 1.5 times more particulate matter than white people. Hispanics have about 1.2 times the exposure to particulates than non-Hispanic whites.

African Americans are hospitalized for asthma at three times the rate of white Americans. And, the death rate from asthma is 172% higher for African Americans than white Americans.

Among children, the results are even worse. According to the Centers for Disease Control, black children are twice as likely to have asthma as white children. And black children are 10 times more likely than white kids to die of complications from asthma.

And, that is not to mention increased birth defects, heart disease, lung disease, learning difficulties, and lower property values.

The average US household spends 4% of their income on energy costs, while low-income families spend 17% of their income.

African Americans spend around $40 billion on energy. Yet, 1.1% of energy jobs are held by African Americans. And, only .01% of energy revenue went to African Americans.

The Solutions Can Be the Problem

At one level, we have the solutions in hand. King Coal is dead. It is more expensive to generate electricity from coal than from either wind or solar.

Wind is the cheapest source of new electricity generation in Minnesota. The cost fell by 16% in one year.

The price of solar energy in Minnesota has declined 34% over the last five years.

LED lighting is energy efficient. Electric cars don’t emit CO2 from combustion.

However, as H. L. Mencken said, “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.”

The problems are systemic and complex. The solutions are at the systems level.

According to Ry Brennan, a doctoral researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara, “Solving the problems with our existing energy infrastructure requires creating resilient energy systems. These systems must be decentralized, diverse, and open to democratic deliberation. This change will require a dramatic remaking of our hard and soft energy infrastructures.”

A Call to Action

In this episode of Social Entrepreneur, Ry challenges us to think deeply about our electrical system. “Figure out how energy gets from the plant to your light switch. If you're not happy about it, find out what people in your town are doing about it. If they're not doing anything about it yet, ask if anyone wants to help you make some noise. If you are happy about it, share your community's good idea with someone else.”

About Ry Brenna

Ry Brennan is a doctoral researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where they study energy justice, infrastructure, environmental sociology, prison ecology, and democracy, especially as these themes and fields relate to energy decentralization. They are also a community organizer working in a range of different affinity groups with the simple ambition of ending oppression in all its forms to cultivate the flourishing of humans, non-human animals, and their ecosystems. They do nothing in their spare time because they have no spare time.

May 11, 2020
Jessica Hellmann, Geofinancial Analytics and the Institute on the Environment

If you could invent a post-pandemic world, what world would you create?

I hear a lot of people talking about the desire to return to “normal.” However, normal was unsustainable. Before the pandemic, there was another crisis, an environmental crisis. A crisis in our food systems, our energy systems, our clean water systems, and our unequal economic systems. Coronavirus did not break our systems. It revealed how broken our systems already are.

There is a saying, “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them." That is why, when faced with intractable problems like COVID-19 or the climate crisis, I like to talk to thought leaders.

On the other side of the pandemic, we have an opportunity to begin again. What world can you imagine in a post-pandemic world? I asked this question to Jessica Hellmann, the Director of the Institute on Environment at the University of Minnesota.

The Institute on the Environment has a bold vision for the world:

  • Sustainable agriculture feeds the world.
  • Renewable energy powers healthy homes, efficient transportation, and flourishing businesses.
  • Every person has access to food, water and shelter.
  • Oceans, lakes and rivers are clean and healthy.
  • Communities have vibrant economies, neighborhoods and cultures.
  • Thriving ecosystems support thriving economies and societies. Overall, humanity restores and renews resources for the benefit of all living things.

IonE is accelerating the transition to this future by supporting breakthrough research across disciplines. They develop the next generation of global leaders, discover breakthrough solutions, and build transformative partnerships.

“Universities have been profoundly important in figuring out what environmental issues are,” Jessica explains. “Now, it’s equally, if not more important in addressing those problems.”

Jessica says, “Occasionally, there are projects or activities that are created within an interdisciplinary institute. Some ideas continue to flourish within an institute, and some go off elsewhere.”

One example of a spinoff from the institute is Geofinancial Analytics. Jessica is the Chief Scientist at Geofinancial Analytics. They are a science-driven benefit corporation. Their mission is to accelerate capital flow from climate stressors to sustainable solutions. They inform investment decisions with transparent, objective facts.

Learn More About Jessica Hellmann:

May 03, 2020
A Systems view of the Climate Crisis (and Coronavirus) with Jonathan Foley, Project Drawdown
Apr 24, 2020
Kickoff, Season Two, Social Entrepreneur

In season two, we are telling stories of an inclusive and just transition to a clean energy future.

Happy Earth Day! Welcome to Season Two of Social Entrepreneur. You already know that we tell positive stories from underrepresented voices, focused on solutions. In season two, we are focusing on stories of an inclusive and just transition to a clean energy future.

Here are the kinds of guests we will feature:

  • Underrepresented voices such as women entrepreneurs, people of color, Native Americans, LGBTQ voices, and others who don’t normally get the spotlight. The venture capitalist Arlan Hamilton refers to them as the underestimated. We highlight the true hustlers, those who have overcome the most on their journey.
  • Are working to solve big problems, tied to sustainable development goals. In this season, we are focused on an inclusive and just transition to a clean energy future.
  • Have a sustainable business model. We give preference to for-profit businesses. We will consider nonprofit businesses who sell a product or service to sustain their impact.
  • Are solution-focused. Our Guests are making a lasting difference through direct action.

Upcoming Episodes:

We’re excited to bring you new stories about our clean energy future. Here are some examples of upcoming episodes:

Apr 22, 2020
Introducing Thrive. Connect. Contribute.

Positive stories of resilient people who thrive in life, connect with others, and contribute to the world in the face of adversity.

Who do you know who is modeling resilience during difficult times?

Have you heard any good stories lately? In this critical time, we are surrounded by acts of heroism, both large and small.

I want to introduce you to the podcast, Thrive. Connect. Contribute.

Here is What You Will Hear:

I am sharing stories of resilient people. Here are three examples.

Episode 3: How I Overcame Anxiety, Found the Purpose of Life, and Lived a Year of Personal Bests. If you’ve been wondering “What happened to Tony?” This answers the question. It’s been quite a year.

Episode 4: These Children Show Us How to Connect with Others in a Time of Crisis. I interview a 10-year-old boy and his 7-year-old sister. They launched a new podcast so that kids can learn and have fun.

Episode 10: Crowdsource Kindness During the COVID-19 Crisis with Morgan Schmidt. According to Morgan, the world is full of kind people. She found a way to crowdsource kindness.

What I'm Doing During the COVID-19 Crisis

I’m looking for these stories. I’ll bet you have heard stories like this. And, I’ll also bet that you have stories from your life.

In the middle of this pandemic, I feel compelled to do this.

I am calling for stories. Here’s how it works.

You can nominate a story that you heard from someone else, or you can tell your own story.

Why "Thrive. Connect. Contribute."?

Last year I did a personal experiment called “My Year of Personal Bests.” If I boiled the entire year-long experience into one phrase, it would be this:

You are here on earth to connect with others and contribute to the world. But before you can connect and contribute, you must first practice self-care. In other words, you must thrive. Thrive. Connect. Contribute. In that order.

Take Control of Your Destiny

So, help me out, will you? Let’s find and tell the stories of people who are thriving, connecting, and contributing in the face of adversity.

Nominate someone to tell their story. Or, let us know about the story you have to tell.

We need these stories now more than ever. 

Apr 22, 2020
Cohort Opportunity at Lunar Startups, with Amanda Heyman and Danielle Steer
Jan 02, 2019
Top Twelve Popular Podcasts 2018, Kathleen Kelly Janus
Dec 31, 2018
Top Twelve Popular Podcasts 2018, Emily Hunt Turner, All Square
Dec 28, 2018
Top Twelve Popular Podcasts 2018, Jeff Ochs, Venn Foundation
Dec 26, 2018
Top Twelve Popular Podcasts 2018, Gator Halpern and Sam Teicher, Coral Vita
Dec 24, 2018
Top Twelve Popular Podcasts 2018, Matt Scott, Let’s Care
Dec 21, 2018
Top Twelve Popular Podcasts 2018, Isaac Hunja, Sky.Garden
Dec 19, 2018
Top Twelve Popular Podcasts 2018, Elizabeth Sarquis

Global Gaming Initiative provides a suite of tools and services to make it easier for game developers and publishers to produce and monetize games for social good.

Note: Between now and the end of the year, we’re counting down the top twelve popular podcast interviews of 2018. It is a people’s choice award, determined by the number of downloads. This interview originally aired on February 12, 2018.

Elizabeth Sarquis was born in a small town along the Magdalena River in Colombia. When Elizabeth was five years old, her family moved to the US. Growing up, she went to school in the US and spent time her summers in Colombia. Elizabeth says “It struck me, when I would see children on the streets begging. Then I would go back home, and I would have everything. It didn’t make sense to me.”

As an adult, Elizabeth worked in nonprofits focused on children’s issues. During the 2008 financial meltdown, Elizabeth observed how difficult it was for nonprofits to raise funds. And, after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, she noticed that there was a wide gap between the money raised and the impact of those funds. “I knew something had to change,” she says. “I wanted to create a model that used technology, which I love, and create an impact.”

In 2010, Elizabeth’s 14-year-old son traveled to Ecuador to volunteer with a nonprofit. Her son told her a story about a boy he met. The boy did not have transportation, and therefore, did not attend school. Elizabeth’s son challenged her to help. Around this same time, Elizabeth found herself playing Angry Birds for hours. She thought, “Can’t we figure out a way to use games, tied to impact?” From this thought cam Global Gaming Initiative.

Global Gaming Initiative is a mobile game company that creates games and aligns them with social impact. They are a cooperative. They work with game developer who wants to create social impact through their game. Global Gaming Initiative is a BCorporation. They have been selected as a “Best for the World” company two years in a row.

Global Gaming Initiative was not successful right away. They hired eight engineers and animators, spent months on the game, but it was not commercially successful. “We didn’t bring marketing in soon enough,” Elizabeth explains. “At that time, it was a bit more of the wild west in the app store.”  

One of Global Gaming Initiative’s first successful games was Sidekick Cycle, a competitive retro arcade game that positions players in a race against time. Profits from in-app purchases and advertisement go towards bicycles for kids. The game is popular and has provided lots of bikes. However, parents began to push back on the content of the advertisements.

To help control the types of ads that are presented on their games, Elizabeth and her team created Jukko. Jukko connects game players with socially-conscious brands. Jukko is scheduled to launch around April of 2018.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Elizabeth Sarquis

“You can make games and you can have an impact.” @elizabetsarquis, @GGInitiative

“You have to surround yourself with a network of people who believe in what you’re doing.” @elizabetsarquis, @GGInitiative

“Get involved in your community.” @elizabetsarquis, @GGInitiative

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Dec 17, 2018
Top Twelve Popular Podcasts 2018, Elisa Birnbaum

In the Business of Change features stories of changemakers who use the power of business to address society’s most pressing problems.

Note: Between now and the end of the year, we’re counting down the top twelve popular podcast interviews of 2018. It is a people’s choice award, determined by the number of downloads. This interview originally aired on May 24, 2018.

Elisa Birnbaum is the publisher and editor-in-chief of SEE Change Magazine, a digital publication of social entrepreneurship and social change. You may recall her interview from June 2017. Elisa has a new book out, In the Business of Change: How Social Entrepreneurs are Disrupting Business as Usual.

The book highlights how social entrepreneurs are using business savvy to create change in their communities. Elisa tells stories from a wide range of sectors, including employment, food, art, education, and social justice. Each chapter focuses on lessons learned and measurable impact. The book provides practical tips for starting and scaling a social enterprise.

Social Entrepreneur Quotes by Elisa Birnbaum:

“It’s part storytelling and part lessons for those who want to start their own social enterprise.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“It’s for the average person who wants inspiring storytelling.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“Look at all of this amazing work being done.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“I wanted to provide a broad spectrum of people doing things in different sectors.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“The book has actually been on my mind for a long time.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“It’s good to tell stories in different medium.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“You want to get these stories out there in as many ways as you can.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“This was a lot more strategic.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“There were a couple of chapters that ended up changing.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“You have to be flexible.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“Social entrepreneurs are taking a bigger role in systems change.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“I didn’t start writing until I had a contract.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“I had a book on my mind for many years.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“People don’t get to see the grit, the passion, and the work that goes into it.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“These stories, I find so inspiring.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“I enjoyed the process more than I imagined I would.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Dec 14, 2018
Top Twelve Popular Podcasts 2018, Mondo Davison, The Black Tech Guy
Dec 12, 2018
Top Twelve Popular Podcasts 2018, Meghan French Dunbar, Conscious Company Media
Dec 10, 2018
Top Twelve Popular Podcasts 2018, Jessica Jackley
Dec 05, 2018
Top Twelve Popular Podcasts 2018, Lulu Cerone, LemonAID Warriors
Dec 03, 2018
Social Entrepreneur Live, Part 4 with Caroline Karanja, 26 Letters
Nov 19, 2018
The Power of Telling Your Secret, with Aneela Idnani Kumar, HabitAware
Nov 13, 2018
Celebrating the Gifts of Femininity, with Amy Stanton and Catherine Connors, The Feminine Revolution
Nov 06, 2018
Social Entrepreneur Live, Part 2, Danielle Wojdyla, Señoras de Salsa
Oct 29, 2018
Social Entrepreneur Live, Part 1, Precious Drew, Perk: The Natural Beauty Lab
Oct 22, 2018
Software to Improve Recovery Outcomes, with Melissa Kjolsing Lynch, Recovree
Oct 15, 2018
How to Change the World, with Bethany Tran, The Root Collective
Oct 08, 2018
Announcing Four Guests for Social Entrepreneur Live!
Oct 01, 2018
Closing the Adult Education Gap for Employers and Employees, with Ned Zimmerman-Bence, GogyUp
Oct 01, 2018
Developing Young Entrepreneurs, with Dario Otero, Youth Lens 360

Youth Lens 360 is a for-profit marketing company that works with youth.

Youth Lens 360 provides visual communication, product marketing, and branding services through the lens of youth ages 14-24.

Dario Otero, the founder of Youth Lens 360, has seen first-hand how the education systems do not support, nurture or value entrepreneurial thinking. “I’ve found in my teaching and leadership experience that underrecognized youth of color have a naturally creative and resourceful entrepreneurial spirit. That gets ignored in traditional education settings,” he explains. “As a result, youth will eventually lose that capacity and enthusiasm for education. They don’t stay engaged when we don’t connect what they are learning to the real world of self-sufficiency or survival.”

To address the problem of lack of entrepreneurial opportunities, Dario has developed a model called L.E.A.D., or Learn, Experience, Apply, and Debrief. “LEAD allows youth access and opportunities that ignite their desire to start a business, create a product, or become self-sustaining while they work with entrepreneurs,” Dario explains. “It is about finding themselves as contributors, leaders, and money makers.” LEAD is not about a single path, Dario says. “It is about changing the way we see youth. It shatters the stereotype threat that we have about our youth and changes our focus from what they will do to what they can do. When we see them in a new light, they become the light we need to see. “

The vehicle he uses to empower youth is Youth Lens 360, a for-profit marketing company that provides visual communication, marketing, and branding services. “There is an assumption that because my company has a social impact, we are a nonprofit. However, we are for-profit. It is essential that the youth who work for me and with me make money for their talents. It is a model that I hope a lot of for-profit companies learn and apply. Profit and social impact should not be mutually exclusive. It is imperative today that our communities see how the products and services big business provides also contribute to our health and welfare on a daily basis. We are all in this together, and we can still make a ton of money. Nobody loses.

Dario’s passion is to empower youth. He encourages them to set their goals high and to implement a plan to achieve those goals. Dario believes that all youth should acquire the necessary skills to become entrepreneurs. He also thinks that the youth need to be community leaders and mobilize other young people to be successful.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Dario Otero:

“There’s this core group of youth from 19 to 24. There’s a gap there that we try to focus on.” Dario Otero @YouthLens360

“I’m trying to tap into that untapped potential that so many overlook.” Dario Otero @YouthLens360

“We started think-tanking with companies.” Dario Otero @YouthLens360

“To allow young people to step into their brilliance, you need to facilitate that energy.” Dario Otero @YouthLens360

“The kids just flourished.” Dario Otero @YouthLens360

“The system of school didn’t understand what we were doing.” Dario Otero @YouthLens360

“If you’re doing business in 2018, you need a visual.” Dario Otero @YouthLens360

“I didn’t know I was a social entrepreneur. I didn’t know they had a name for it.” Dario Otero @YouthLens360

“That even exchange back and forth is where the magic happens.” Dario Otero @YouthLens360

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Sep 24, 2018
The Empowerment Bag: A Bag to End Human Trafficking, with Vaishali Umrikar

The Empowerment Bag is an eco-friendly brand of bags, that employs women at risk of sex trafficking.

Vaishali Umrikar is a passionate social entrepreneur who is committed to fighting human trafficking. While she was in high school, she read the book, The Natashas: Inside the New Global Sex Trade by Victor Malarek. This book awakened her to the realities of modern-day human trafficking. She became involved in anti-trafficking advocacy groups throughout high school and college.

Since then, Vaishali has worked with the Australian Government Office for Women, Chicago Probation Sex Offender Unit, and Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation.

After graduating from college and beginning her corporate career, Vaishali realized her passion was to end human trafficking. So, she decided to launch her own business. She thought of several product ideas. But it was when she couldn't find an ethical and affordable line of bags, she decided to create one herself. The project became The Empowerment Bag.

The Empowerment Bag is a brand of practical & eco-friendly bags that empower survivors of sex trafficking. The bags are made by women at risk of exploitation in West Bengal, India. These women are given an alternative to the sex trade through literacy training, sewing skills, and employment with fair wages. Five percent of sales go to New Light, a nonprofit that provides shelter, education, and healthcare to trafficked women and their children.

The Crowdfunding Campaign

The Empowerment Bag is crowdfunding on Indiegogo until September 27, 2018. Crowdfunding allows people to purchase the bags at up to 35% off retail price. After the crowdfunding period ends, the bags will be available at regular price on The Empowerment Bag website or through authorized retailers.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Vaishali Umrikar:

“Our bags are made by women at risk of sexual exploitation in West Bengal, India.”

“A big part of The Empowerment Bag is breaking the cycle of exploitation.”

“That made me feel powerful about the immigrant experience.”

“Whatever you do in life, do it with all your passion.”

“I always had this feminist push in me, even before I knew what feminism was.”

“Something did not feel right about not being treated the same.”

“I wanted to do something more meaningful.”

“I was missing that passion and that fire that I had all through high school and college.”

“I started listening to podcasts and reading books about being your own boss.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Sep 18, 2018
Meet the FINNOVATION Fellows, with Katrina Becker
Sep 16, 2018
Come to a Live Taping of Social Entrepreneur

Acara + Four Leading Social Entrepreneurs + YOU = Social Entrepreneur Live!

Do you want to be at a live taping of the Social Entrepreneur podcast? We're partnering with Acara, a program of the Institute on the Environment and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Together, we're interviewing four world-changing entrepreneurs, live in front of an audience. Imagine, four entrepreneurs, fifteen minutes each, answering the questions that you care about.

At the end of the night, we'll reassemble entrepreneurs on the stage to take your questions. Step up to the mic and ask them anything.

The event will take place during Twin Cities Startup Week on Wednesday, October 10, from 6 PM - 7:30 PM. We will be at the West Bank Auditorium, Wiley Hall, Room 20. The address is 225 19th Avenue S, Minneapolis, MN. But, you'll need a ticket. Seating is limited, so grab your ticket today.

Here's how you get into Social Entrepreneur Live!

  1. First, order a Twin Cities Startup Week ticket on Eventbrite. NOTE: You'll have to do this before you can sign up for the scheduled events.
  2. Following that, you will be prompted to create a Sched account.
  3. With your new Sched account, you can sign up for the Social Entrepreneur Live event. (Again, you can't start doing this until you have a ticket.)
  4. Browse the schedule and add other events to your Sched calendar.
  5. Spread the word!

The best way to ensure you have a seat is to grab your ticket now. In the next few weeks, as we announce each of our four guests, we expect more tickets to be sold. But, seating is limited. Don't miss this fun night with four changemakers.

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Sep 06, 2018
Five Steps to Easily Tell Your Story and Build Your Brand, with Matt Scott of 180⁰ of Impact
Aug 27, 2018
Use Your Business Skills to Make a Direct Impact, with Kate Hayes, Echoing Green
Aug 20, 2018
The Future of Corporate Social Responsibility, with Rachel Hutchisson, Blackbaud
Aug 13, 2018
This Social Entrepreneur uses Chocolate as a Force for Good, with Shawn Askinosie, Askinosie Chocolate
Aug 06, 2018
This Social Entrepreneur is Changing the Story of Human Trafficking, with Stephanie Page, Stories Foundation
Jul 30, 2018
Fueled by Prize Money, These Social Entrepreneurs Are Striking at the Root of Poverty, with Leeore Levinstein and Jesse Abelson, Vetiver Solutions
Jul 28, 2018
Weaving Artisans and Markets Together, with Alicia Wallace, All Across Africa
Jul 16, 2018
Hope, Cookies, and the End of Relationship Violence, with Junita Flowers, Junita’s Jar

Junita’s Jar donates a portion of their profits to end relationship violence.

One year ago, Junita Flowers said, “Clarity comes while you are working.” And, she is always working. So, it comes as no surprise that she launched a new brand, Junita’s Jar. They offer new products, including 3 oz snack packs. She has a new overarching message, #HopeMunchesOn. And her new job title is “Hope Muncher in Chief.” Still, she remains true to her mission. She brings hope to women experiencing relationship violence.

“Junita’s Jar is focused on creating meaningful conversations that foster education and awareness around relationship violence,” Junita explains. A portion of profits from each purchase of Junita’s Jar cookies is donated to support education and awareness initiatives leading to the end of relationship violence.

Social Entrepreneur Quotes by Junita Flowers

“We believe in the power of really good food and desserts to bring people together.” @JunitaLFlowers

“Our overarching message is ‘Hope munches on!’” @JunitaLFlowers

“It was survival mode.” @JunitaLFlowers

“It’s the clarity and the focus of being on the other side of trauma.” @JunitaLFlowers

“We are a cookie company on a mission.” @JunitaLFlowers

“Our goal is to be purveyors of hope.” @JunitaLFlowers

“Everybody wants to be heard. And everybody wants to be validated.” @JunitaLFlowers

“That’s the movement that I want to be part of creating.” @JunitaLFlowers

“Even in the smallest of crumbs, goodness still exists.” @JunitaLFlowers

“I believe we’re all born with this purpose.” @JunitaLFlowers

“Usually, purpose comes from that place that we’re not the expert.” @JunitaLFlowers

“Say yes to the uncomfortable things, because that’s where the bulk of lessons are and that’s where your courage appears.” @JunitaLFlowers

“Be prepared to pivot, but never quit.” @JunitaLFlowers

“You have to trust your gut so that you can live with your decision.” @JunitaLFlowers


Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Jul 02, 2018
When Vision Meets Purpose, with Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet
Jun 25, 2018
Five Impact Entrepreneur Fellowships Up for Grabs, with Mary Rick, Impact Hub MSP and FINNovation Lab Collaboration
Jun 18, 2018
This App Launched a Female Solidarity Movement, with Aine Mulloy, GirlCrew
Jun 11, 2018
Upcycling Food Waste into Tea with a Purpose, with Daniela Uribe, Lazy Bear Tea
Jun 04, 2018
Elisa Birnbaum, Author of “In the Business of Change: How Social Entrepreneurs are Disrupting Business as Usual”

In the Business of Change features stories of changemakers who use the power of business to address society’s most pressing problems.

Elisa Birnbaum is the publisher and editor-in-chief of SEE Change Magazine, a digital publication of social entrepreneurship and social change. You may recall her interview from June 2017. Elisa has a new book out, In the Business of Change: How Social Entrepreneurs are Disrupting Business as Usual.

The book highlights how social entrepreneurs are using business savvy to create change in their communities. Elisa tells stories from a wide-range of sectors, including employment, food, art, education, and social justice. Each chapter focuses on lessons learned and measurable impact. The book provides practical tips for starting and scaling a social enterprise.

Social Entrepreneur Quotes by Elisa Birnbaum:

“It’s part storytelling and part lessons for those who want to start their own social enterprise.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“It’s for the average person who wants inspiring storytelling.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“Look at all of this amazing work being done.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“I wanted to provide a broad spectrum of people doing things in different sectors.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“The book has actually been on my mind for a long time.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“It’s good to tell stories in different medium.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“You want to get these stories out there in as many ways as you can.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“This was a lot more strategic.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“There were a couple of chapters that ended up changing.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“You have to be flexible.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“Social entrepreneurs are taking a bigger role in systems change.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“I didn’t start writing until I had a contract.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“I had a book on my mind for many years.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“People don’t get to see the grit, the passion, and the work that goes into it.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“These stories, I find so inspiring.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

“I enjoyed the process more than I imagined I would.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


May 28, 2018
Making a Sustainable Difference, with Sasha Kramer, SOIL
May 21, 2018
The Stories that Change Us, Jackie Biederman, Changemaker Podcast
May 13, 2018
These Intrapreneurs are Feeding the Hungry, with Megan Shea and Chip Heim, The Soulfull Project
May 07, 2018
Journalism as a Force for Good, with Tina Rosenberg, Solutions Journalism Network
May 02, 2018
Focus on Purpose, with Meghan French Dunbar, Conscious Company Media
Apr 28, 2018
Used Bikes, Big Impact, with Calla Martin and Mary McKeown, Express Bike Shop

Express Bike Shop is a learning lab where young people develop the habits and skills for work.

Today might be a good day to ride a bike. In fact, almost any day is a great day to ride a bike. Biking can be fun. It’s great exercise. It reduces your carbon footprint. The environmental impact of manufacturing and maintaining a bike is far below that of a car. The only thing better than a new bike is a used bike. And the only thing better than a used bike is a used bike that provides jobs for young people with a barrier to employment.

Express Bike Shop in Saint Paul, Minnesota is a full-service repair shop that also sells refurbished bikes. Profits from bike sales and repair go towards a youth apprenticeship program. Express Bike Shop is a social enterprise owned by a nonprofit organization, Keystone Community Services.

Bicycles are considered hard to recycle items. When you donate a bike to the Express Bike Shop, they either strip the bike down for parts or build the bike up for resell. Since their inception, Express Bike Shop has collected and refurbished more than 20,000 bicycles. They sell between 500 and 600 bikes per years. Components that cannot be reused are recycled. Each year they recycle between 15 and 18 tons of metal and three tons of rubber.

100% of the revenue from the bike shop is reinvested in youth employment programs. The shop serves as a learning lab where young people learn about work and business. They believe that early work experience is the best predictor of later work experience. They have a saying at Express Bike Shop. “The best work readiness program is a job.

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Apr 22, 2018
The Many Side-Hustles of Sherrell Dorsey, ThePLUG and BLKTECHCLT
Apr 09, 2018
Make a Living without Losing Yourself, with Sharon Rowe, The Magic of Tiny Business

The Magic of Tiny Business is now available for preorder.

Sharon Rowe is a pioneer in social entrepreneurship. She launched her company, Eco-Bags Products, almost thirty years ago. Her company produces ECOBAGS, the original reusable bag.

When the daughter of a friend approached Sharon looking for a book on how to launch a business, Sharon looked around and didn’t see what she wanted in the marketplace. Like any good entrepreneur, Sharon decided to fill that gap. The solution is her new book, The Magic of Tiny Business: You Don’t Have to Go Big to Make a Great Living.

Sharon first told me about her book exactly one year ago when she first appeared on Social Entrepreneur. You can hear her interview here:

When I asked Sharon who she had in mind when she wrote the book, she quickly responded “Me. Thirty years ago.” She wrote the book that she wishes would have been on the market when she began.

Sharon takes on the myths that keep aspiring entrepreneurs from starting. “There are too many cultural myths out there that say; you can’t get started unless you have…this,” she explains. “I wanted to take the cover off the mystery called business.” The book provides practical advice on how to start without becoming overwhelmed. “I wove into this book a lot of takeaways that you can easily and readily apply,” Sharon says. “I wrote it to be accessible, applicable, and fun.”

The Magic of Tiny Business is available for preorder today.

Quotes from Sharon Rowe

“I built a business that fit my life.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags

“I decided to write the book to get clearer on my why, and then to figure out, how did I do it?” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags

“Along the way, there was a lot of failures.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags

“It was time to start sharing what I’d learned.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags

“There are too many cultural myths out there that say, you can’t get started unless you have…this.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags

“I wanted to take the cover off the mystery called business.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags

“It’s a lot of work to get the work you don’t want to do.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags

“Without profit, you can’t proceed.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags

“This is not another book about ‘get confident and go.’” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags

“If you can identify your why, you can stay on the right path.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags

“You’re going to fail at least 20% of the time, so just let it go.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags

“It’s not about making a killing. It’s about making a very good living.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags

“A book, you can share.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags

“I am still pretty attached to my pen and my paper.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags

“It’s kind of like a birthing process.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags

“I wove into this book a lot of takeaways that you can easily and readily apply.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags

“Preorders really matter.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags

“I wrote it to be accessible, applicable, and fun.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags

“It’s about becoming a part of many different communities.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags

“What’s your why?” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Apr 09, 2018
Beyond Autism Awareness, Thorkil Sonne, Specialisterne
Apr 02, 2018
Create Talks that Move the World, with Sally Koering Zimney, This Moved Me
Mar 26, 2018
BONUS Interview, Sally Koering Zimney, This Moved Me

This Moved Me helps purpose-driven changemakers speak with confidence, clarity, and authenticity so they can create talks that move the world.

This interview contains bonus material where Sally discusses:

  • How she learned to be a speaker and coach.
  • What she got wrong about coaching.
  • Her personal mantra as a coach.
  • How feedback can be a gift.

You can find the full interview here:

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Mar 26, 2018
Science and Our Relationship with Nature, with Bonnie Keeler, The Natural Capital Project

The Natural Capital Project is developing practical tools and approaches to account for nature’s contributions to society.

As Bonnie Keeler grew up in Eagan, MN, she loved to explore Minnesota’s natural wonders with her family. “My mom was a master at relationships,” Bonnie recalls. “One of the things she taught me was, how people are at the center of everything. Every problem is essentially a problem of relationships. Science can take us part of the way there, in terms of providing the appropriate knowledge base. But when it comes down to actually making change, that’s all about relationships.”  

Today, Bonnie is a lead scientist with The Natural Capital Project. The Natural Capital Project is a partnership between the University of Minnesota, Stanford University, the Nature Conservancy, and World Wildlife Fund. They solve big problems related with how we value nature, and the relationship between people and the environment.

The Natural Capital Project works with a variety of organizations from local community groups who are advocating for a particular environmental future, to private sector companies who are trying to green their supply chain, to national-level governments who are considering the impact of infrastructure. They collaborate with decision-makers to identify questions and develop new science and tools to answer those questions. They test and publish results in peer-reviewed journals.

“If you’ve made a big international commitment to the environment, how do we make that practical, and think of the implementation of it?” Bonnie asks. “Where do you protect? What landscapes do you restore? How do you invest in new infrastructure, whether it’s hydropower, or a big agricultural incentive program? Or a payment program to farmers to adopt different conservation practices? Those are big environmental management decisions that have a set of consequences, not just for those ecosystems, but for the people who depend on them.”

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Bonnie Keeler

“We’re so connected to the environment in so many ways.”

“The big problem is, those connections aren’t very visible.”

“We’re often not thinking of the full set of consequences.”

“There is a broad set of users and audiences that our projects serve.”

“We have partnerships around the world.”

“If you’ve made an international commitment to the environment, how do you make that practical?”

“We spent a lot of time car camping.”

“My mom was a master at relationships.”

“People are at the center of everything.”

“It’s the human dimensions that require careful thought.”

“I was searching for the connection between people and nature.”

“There was a way to be a scientist, but be engaged in those people-oriented, human dimension problems.”

“Partnerships are everything.”

“Are you reading the environmental page in your local newspaper?”

“Find someone who you have the opportunity to be inspired by.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Mar 19, 2018
E-Commerce for Everyone, with Isaac Hunja, Sky.Garden
Mar 12, 2018
The Power of a Simple Idea, with Lulu Cerone, LemonAID Warriors

LemonAID Warriors is a youth empowerment program that aims to give young people the tools that they need to turn their compassion into action, and raise funds and awareness for causes that they care about

Lulu Cerone was an entrepreneur from an early age. At the age of six, she opened her first lemonade stand. At first, she used the money to buy toys or candy. But her mom made a suggestion. Why not use the profits to help someone else? Lulu looked into it and found an animal shelter that needed the funds. “This really crazy thing happened,” Lulu said. “This crazy thing I was doing with my friends actually took on this whole new meaning. It became a lot more fun. My friends and I became more engaged. We felt like what we were doing was meaningful.”

Lulu became interested in community service. However, she had a hard time finding opportunities to serve at a young age. Most organizations require volunteers to be 16 to 18 years-old. She found a few opportunities through her school. Her parents tried helping her to find opportunities. Lulu explains, “It’s hard to know how to raise effective global citizens as a parent.”

In 2010, when an earthquake struck Haiti, Lulu was ten years old. She says, “That was the first time I was aware of a global tragedy. I remember being online with my mom and looking at pictures of kids whose lives had been completely changed by the earthquake. I really had this strong urge to help.” When Lulu went to school, she challenged the boys to a Boys vs Girls LemonAID fundraising competition. Her fifth-grade class raised just over $4,000 in two weeks.

This early success has had a ripple effect. “I found it spinning out of my control really quickly,” Lulu says. She looked back at what worked with the Lemonade stands and came up with bigger idea – PhilanthroParties. A PhilanthroParty is any gathering with a social purpose behind it. Lulu started an organization, LemonAID Warriors to spread this idea of youth empowerment. She wrote a book, PhilanthroParties!: A Party-Planning Guide for Kids Who Want to Give Back.

“This is such a simple idea, but people really latched onto it,” Lulu says. “There is power in simplicity.” Lulu has attracted partnerships for her business. She partnered with Mattel and Forever 21. She was recently recognized as a L’Oréal Woman of Worth. She is currently a freshman in collage as she continues to develop her nonprofit.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Lulu Cerone

“Growing up, I had a passion for community service.”

“Young people can get involved.”

“They can do it in fun and simple ways that integrate social action into their social life.”

“That’s when I had my first PhilanthroParty.”

“It was the first time my friends and I felt like we could be agents of change.”

“I did not set out to start a nonprofit organization.”

“This is such a simple idea, but people really latched onto it.”

“There is power in simplicity.”

“LemonAID Warriors is youth-driven and community-based.”

“It was incredible being in eighth grade and having Mattel looking to me.”

“See yourself as an important agent of change.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Mar 05, 2018
Find Your Funding, Part 2, Cathy Clark, CASE Smart Impact Capital

CASE Smart Impact Capital is a toolkit that helps you to raise capital that aligns with your needs.

In 1992, Cathy Clark had a conversation with Lloyd Morrissett, the co-founder of Sesame Workshop. Lloyd told her “Change happens when the right people with the right idea and the right capital come together at the right time.”

This idea stuck with Cathy and has guided her career since. When Cathy first appeared on Social Entrepreneur in January 2016, she said. “It isn’t enough to have a good idea, to want to help people, but you have to have an organization to do it, and eventually that organization needs capital. And that has become the theme of my career.”

Cathy Clark is the faculty director for the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at the Duke Fuqua School of Business. She runs the Initiative on Impacting Investing.

Cathy and the team at CASE have developed a resource to help social entrepreneurs to be more efficient and effective in raising investment capital. The solution is called CASE Smart Impact Capital. It is a toolkit that contains short videos, downloadable resources, spreadsheets, and more. The modules are bite-sized and flexible. You can jump to any section at any time to match where you are on your fundraising journey.

CASE Smart Impact Capital was developed over a two-year period, while working with partner organizations such as MIT, Stanford, USAID, Uncharted, and Spring.

In this interview, Cathy takes the listeners from the theoretical basis of impact investing through a description of CASE Smart Impact Capital. If you want to jump ahead, leap to 15:50 in the interview. We didn’t get to everything we wanted to talk about, so we’ve put together a short Bonus episode, which you can find here.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Cathy Clark

“The term impact investing was coined almost ten years ago.” @cathyhc, @CASESmartImpact

“Anyone who is investing is taking their dollar and putting it into a capitalist system, where that dollar has an impact.” @cathyhc, @CASESmartImpact

“It’s basically, people voting with their dollars.” @cathyhc, @CASESmartImpact

“Anyone who has an investment account is already investing in an outcome.” @cathyhc, @CASESmartImpact

“We live in a finite set of resources. The planet earth is not infinite.” @cathyhc, @CASESmartImpact

“Unlimited growth within a resource-constrained environment simply does not make sense.” @cathyhc, @CASESmartImpact

“We have to tilt capitalism in a slightly different direction.” @cathyhc, @CASESmartImpact

“I teach at a business school because I believe business has the largest leverage point.” @cathyhc, @CASESmartImpact

“At CASE, we call it leaping the chasm. Other people call it the pioneer gap.” @cathyhc, @CASESmartImpact

“I’ve been looking at this for over 20 years.” @cathyhc, @CASESmartImpact

“What I saw was completely demoralizing.” @cathyhc, @CASESmartImpact

“We really wanted to build this around the needs of entrepreneurs.” @cathyhc, @CASESmartImpact

“We have a template or a tool, where you make a decision, and you move on.” @cathyhc, @CASESmartImpact

“We wanted to make this modular and easy.” @cathyhc, @CASESmartImpact

“We created a triage process.” @cathyhc, @CASESmartImpact

“Most of our entrepreneurs had the wrong list.” @cathyhc, @CASESmartImpact

“The stakes are really high.” @cathyhc, @CASESmartImpact

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Feb 26, 2018
BONUS Episode: Cathy Clark Talks About Larry Fink’s Letter to CEOs

BONUS Episode: Cathy Clark Talks About Larry Fink’s Letter to CEOs


Cathy Clark stopped by to talk about CASE Smart Impact Capital, a rich resource to help entrepreneurs to be more efficient and effective in raising investment capital. While she was here, I took the opportunity to ask Cathy about a letter that Larry Fink, CEO of Blackrock, wrote to CEOs. Blackrock manages $6.3 trillion in investments. In this letter, Mr. Fink said, “To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate.” You can read the entire letter here. You can hear the full interview with Cathy where she talks about CASE Smart Impact Capital here.

I asked Cathy about this letter, and about the dynamic tension that business leaders sense between shareholders and other stakeholders. You can hear her answer to these two questions in this bonus episode.

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Feb 26, 2018
Find Your Funding, Part 1, Jeff Ochs, Venn Foundation

The Venn Foundation uses Program-Related Investments in surprising new ways.

This week, we’re kicking off a two-part mini-series how to fund a business that does social good. We did something like this in April 2016. Next week, Cathy Clark is going to be here to talk about CASE Smart Impact Capital, an online resource to help social entrepreneurs figure out how to find the right capital at the right time.

This week, we’re talking to Jeff Ochs of the Venn Foundation. Jeff is an experienced entrepreneur and investor. He invented and commercialized an educational party game that was licensed by Hasbro. He started a successful nonprofit, Breakthrough Twin Cities. And he was the Executive Director of an angel investing network. In each of these instances, Jeff saw the difficulty of getting the right investments to the right startups at the right time.

Jeff explains that today there are two types of capital:

  1. Charitable donations, which support causes we care about with no expectation whatsoever for financial return.
  2. For-profit investments, which are designed to make as much money as possible for investors on a risk-adjusted basis.

“In this current capital system, it is obvious why there is no investment capital available that is willing to accept ‘below-market’ financial terms,” Jeff explains. To meet this challenge, Jeff partnered with Rob Scarlett and Jeanne Voight to launch the Venn Foundation.

Jeff says, “At the highest level, Venn Foundation has a method for using charitable donations, which today we just give away, to make investments. This allows us to create the below-market investment capital that we badly need. Charitable investments have all the same tax advantages of donations, are anchored against -100% financial returns of donations, and allow the precious charitable donation to be recycled over and over again. Venn Foundation is where charity and investing meet.”

Venn is creating a marketplace for charitable investing. They are removing the obstacles that donors face in making charitable investments directly. By opening a special donor-advised fund called a Venn Account, any individual or organization can recommend that their charitable dollars be used by Venn to make Program-Related Investments, or PRIs. Venn can syndicate any PRI among any number of Venn Accounts. Financial returns from these PRIs go back to participating funds for the donors to redeploy into new PRIs or to grant out as desired.

Venn recently made a program-related investment to Binary Bridge. BinaryBridge creates software that helps humanitarians do their work effectively and efficiently. You may recall our conversation with BinaryBridge founder Lori Most.

Who should seek program-related investing? Jeff suggests that business and nonprofit leaders ask themselves, “Is that I’m doing helping advance a charitable cause as defined by the IRS? And if the answer is yes, or maybe yes, the program-related investment tool is something that could apply to you and your goals.”

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Jeff Ochs

“If that kind of capital existed, what could we do?” Jeff Ochs, Venn Foundation

“It’s where charity and investing meet.” Jeff Ochs, Venn Foundation

“Today, there is not a market for charitable investing.” Jeff Ochs, Venn Foundation

“If capital behaved differently, what would be possible?” Jeff Ochs, Venn Foundation

“Capital is the lifeblood of our economy.” Jeff Ochs, Venn Foundation

“If we can change the nature of capital, we can change the way our economy works.” Jeff Ochs, Venn Foundation

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Feb 19, 2018
Mobile Gaming for Social Good, with Elizabeth Sarquis, Global Gaming Initiative and Jukko

Global Gaming Initiative provides a suite of tools and services to make it easier for game developers and publishers to produce and monetize games for social good.

Elizabeth Sarquis was born in a small town along the Magdalena River in Colombia. When Elizabeth was five years old, her family moved to the US. Growing up, she went to school in the US and spent time her summers in Colombia. Elizabeth says “It struck me when I would see children on the streets begging. Then I would go back home, and I would have everything. It didn’t make sense to me.”

As an adult, Elizabeth worked in nonprofits focused on children’s issues. During the 2008 financial meltdown, Elizabeth observed how difficult it was for nonprofits to raise funds. And, after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, she noticed that there was a wide gap between the money raised and the impact of those funds. “I knew something had to change,” she says. “I wanted to create a model that used technology, which I love, and create an impact.”

In 2010, Elizabeth’s 14-year-old son traveled to Ecuador to volunteer with a nonprofit. Her son told her a story about a boy he met. The boy did not have transportation, and therefore, did not attend school. Elizabeth’s son challenged her to help. Around this same time, Elizabeth found herself playing Angry Birds for hours. She thought, “Can’t we figure out a way to use games, tied to impact?” From this thought cam Global Gaming Initiative.

Global Gaming Initiative is a mobile game company that creates games and aligns them with social impact. They are a cooperative. They work with game developers who want to create social impact through their game. Global Gaming Initiative is a BCorporation. They have been selected as a “Best for the World” company two years in a row.

Global Gaming Initiative was not successful right away. They hired eight engineers and animators, spent months on the game, but it was not commercially successful. “We didn’t bring marketing in soon enough,” Elizabeth explains. “At that time, it was a bit more of the wild west in the app store.”  

One of Global Gaming Initiative’s first successful games was Sidekick Cycle, a competitive retro arcade game that positions players in a race against time. Profits from in-app purchases and advertisement go towards bicycles for kids. The game is popular and has provided lots of bikes. However, parents began to push back on the content of the advertisements.

To help control the types of ads that are presented on their games, Elizabeth and her team created Jukko. Jukko connects game players with socially-conscious brands. Jukko is scheduled to launch around April of 2018.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Elizabeth Sarquis

“You can make games and you can have an impact.” @elizabetsarquis, @GGInitiative

“You have to surround yourself with a network of people who believe in what you’re doing.” @elizabetsarquis, @GGInitiative

“Get involved in your community.” @elizabetsarquis, @GGInitiative

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Feb 12, 2018
Figuring Out Faith in Business and Marriage, with Jessica Jackley
Feb 02, 2018
The Terrifying, Magical Life of a Social Entrepreneur, with Emily Hunt Turner, All Square
Jan 29, 2018
A Business Solution to Coral Reef Restoration, with Gator Halpern and Sam Teicher, Coral Vita
Jan 22, 2018
Launching Minority-Led Tech Startups with Mondo Davison, The Black Tech Guy
Jan 15, 2018
Launch, Scale Up, and Make a Difference, with Kathleen Kelly Janus
Jan 08, 2018
From #MeToo to #HeForShe, with Julie Kratz, Pivot Point
Jan 01, 2018
Create a Better World through…Paperwork? Rachel Armstrong, Farm Commons
Jan 01, 2018
Community Feasts for a Cause, with Emily Torgrimson, Eat for Equity

Eat for Equity is building a culture of generosity through sustainable community feasts.

In the early 2000s, Emily Torgrimson was a college student on financial aid. She lived in a cooperative house in Boston with 24 people. “We always came together around food,” she recalls. “The kitchen was the hub of the home.”

During Emily’s senior year, Hurricane Katrina struck the southern US coast. Not only was Katrina one of the costliest and deadliest storms in US history, it also uncovered financial and racial inequities. Emily wanted to do something, but, she says, “I had no money to give. So, I wondered what kind of difference I could make.”

Because it was Emily’s turn to cook in her cooperative house, she was looking at recipes, when she stumbled across a recipe for jambalaya. This gave her an idea. She asked her housemates, “If I made a New Orleans themed meal, do you think people would throw in a buck or two for hurricane relief?” Her housemates agreed. They handed out fliers. They invited friends and classmates. In the end, one-hundred people showed up, ate Cajun food and raised money for hurricane relief. They called the event “Eat for Equity.” Eat for Equity eventually became Emily’s life’s work.

After returning to Minnesota, Emily began to host Eat for Equity meals with her roommate in their small home. After about a year of monthly meals, a friend, Jane, hosted an Eat for Equity meal. People who knew Jane showed up for the meal. Then Eat for Equity began to grow to more homes, more social causes, and more people who were willing to experience something new.

How does Eat for Equity Work? You walk in to a home, an art gallery or a farm. Volunteers have prepared a feast with from-scratch cooking, utilizing local produce. You give what you can. That might be $10 or $50. You might not have money, but you can volunteer to help with dishes or provide music. The meal supports a nonprofit cause.

Eat for Equity also hosts dinners called “The Welcome Table,” which is focused on immigrants and refugees. Four cooks are featured in each dinner. Each course reflects their family heritage.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Emily Torgrimson

“You walk into abundance.”

“How do you use food to bring people together to support a great cause, to address inequities around us?”

“I think of Eat for Equity as trying to create connections.”

“There are all these ways you can give that feed you and also create something bigger around you.”

“You can be generous with what you have.”

“You share a piece of yourself when you cook for people.”

“I wanted to be part of the story, as much as I wanted to tell it.”

“I fell in love with Minneapolis and the culture of collaboration.”

“Catering has basically doubled every year.”

“Just try something and see how it feels.”

“Everything happens around food.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Dec 18, 2017
Fair Trade Coffee from Smallholder Farmers, with Lee Wallace, Peace Coffee [ENCORE]

NOTE: This is an encore presentation of an episode that first aired on July 11, 2016. Advice from Lee Wallace is featured in the book, Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs. To hear the original, extended interview, go here:


Smallholder farmers grow more than half of the coffee consumed worldwide.

Imagine if you will, that you are working at a non-profit in Minnesota, focusing on public policy. The phone rings, and the person on the other end says “Hello. This is the Port of Los Angeles. We have 38,000 pounds of green coffee with your name on it. How would you like to pick this up?” You know nothing about coffee or roasting or retail. What would you do?

That is exactly what happened twenty years ago at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. In today’s Social Entrepreneur, Lee Wallace, the Queen Bean of Peace Coffee tells us the rest of the story.

Peace Coffee is a for-profit social enterprise, owned by a nonprofit, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. Peace Coffee has a wholesale business that they have been running for about two decades. They also have four retail coffee shops within the Twin Cities, Minnesota.

Last year Peace Coffee purchased 735,000 lbs. of coffee from 12 countries and 20 smallholder farmer cooperatives. In the process, Peace Coffee paid $370,000 in fair trade premiums.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Lee Wallace

“We think hard about how to do the right thing for coffee farmers.”

“Our customers named us.”

“I was trying to find a career that made sense to me in terms of my passions.”

“What I was trying to do was find places that sit at the nexus of mission and money.”

“Pretty quickly I realized that this is a magical place for me.”

“I have always been interested in how organizations work.”

“We spend a lot of our time at work.”

“The Twin Cities is an amazing place to learn about natural foods because we have such a vibrant and thriving co-op ecosystem.”

“My dad really wanted us to understand the history of industry as it came in and out of communities and how that really impacted families in those communities.”

“The original idea was that we would be an importer of all kinds of things.”

“More than 50% of the world’s coffee farmers, farm coffee on very small parcels of land.”

“We come this work with the sense that, what we’re doing is working on trying to elevate the livelihood of an awful lot of people who historically have been very disadvantaged when it comes to the way trade works.”

“It’s livelihood, but its community development too.”

“Co-ops are stepping in and playing the role of civil society in these communities.”

“People in these communities have ideas and know how they’re going to make their communities better. Our job is to be a good partner on the other side of that.”

“We have a price floor…We believe that below this level is unsustainable for coffee farmers.”

“This company existing 10 years from now is more important than what is happening this month. This company is bigger than all of us.”

“You’d be amazed at who would be willing to talk to you.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Dec 18, 2017
Kate Goodall Explains Why Halcyon is Like the X-Men
Dec 11, 2017
A Social Enterprise with a Radio Show at its Heart, with Krista Tippett, OnBeing [ENCORE]
Dec 11, 2017
Educational Opportunities for All, with Maimuna Ahmad, Teach for Bangladesh
Dec 04, 2017
From Iron Deficiency to Iron Man, with Gavin Armstrong, Lucky Iron Fish
Dec 04, 2017
Improving Healthcare, One Story at a Time, with Jay Newton-Small, MemoryWell
Nov 27, 2017
Global Competencies for High School Graduates, with Abby Falik, Global Citizen Year
Nov 27, 2017
The Twin Cities Impact Investing Ecosystem Map with Susan Hammel, Cogent Consulting

The Twin Cities Impact Investing Ecosystem Map documents impact investing activity in Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

If you would have picked up a copy of the Financial Times last Saturday, you might have noticed a half-page ad asking readers to participate in the Investing for Global Impact research study. Two pages later, you may have also noticed a full-page ad for a report from Principles for Responsible Investing (PRI) on the relationship between the Sustainable Development Goals and investment opportunities. And, you may have caught this interview with Rehana Nathoo of The Case Foundation on their efforts to map this space.

Impact investing is a hot topic. According to the World Economic Forum, impact investing “intentionally seeks to create both financial return and positive social or environmental impact that is actively measured.”

But, what does impact investing look like in the Twin Cities? Last year, Susan Hammel set about to answer this question. Susan is the CEO of Cogent Consulting and Executive in Residence for impact investing for the Minnesota Council on Foundations. In 2016, Cogent Consulting partnered with the Bush Foundation, the Impact Hub Minneapolis – Saint Paul, and others in the community to map the impact investment space. The result is Twin Cities Impact Investing Ecosystem map.

The map consists of three components: sources of capital, companies being funded and intermediaries. The map covers both debt and equity investments.

Work on the Twin Cities Impact Investment Ecosystem continues. Cogent Consulting is holding a meeting on November 28, 2017, “What's Next for Twin Cities Impact Investing Ecosystem?” Click here for details.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Susan Hammel

“Entrepreneurs really need patient capital to fuel their great ideas.” @susan_hammel

“If it is intentional and measured, it is an impact investment.” @susan_hammel

“Where is all this money going? Could any of it being going to good purposes?” @susan_hammel

“We don’t think there is a deal flow problem we think there is a deal mismatch problem.” @susan_hammel

“The Investees sometimes go to the investors and ask them for things they will never do.” @susan_hammel

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Nov 20, 2017
Mapping the Trillion Dollar Impact Investing Sector, with Rehana Nathoo, The Case Foundation
Nov 20, 2017
Hira Batool Rizvi: Transforming Transportation for Women in Pakistan
Nov 13, 2017
Everyone Deserves Healthcare, with Grace Garey, Watsi [Encore Presentation]


NOTE: This is an encore presentation of an episode that first aired on March 6, 2017. Grace Garey and Watsi are featured in the book, Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs. To hear the original, extended interview, go here:

Watsi is on a mission to provide healthcare for every person in the world.

A billion people around the world do not have access to basic healthcare. And, for those who are fortunate enough to have access, the cost of healthcare can create a life-crippling financial burden.

Watsi enables anyone to directly fund life-changing healthcare for people around the world. You can go to their website, see photos and read stories of patients. You can donate as little as five dollars. All the donated money goes directly to the patient.

Donors receive updates throughout the funding process. Once the patient’s healthcare is funded, donors receive updates from doctors and healthcare workers. Donors experience full transparency from the donation to the impact.

Since launching four years ago, visitors to the site have raised $7.5 million to provide healthcare for more than 10,000 patients in 24 countries.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Grace Garey

“We believe everyone deserves healthcare.” @gracegarey, @watsi

“A billion people around the world don’t have access to basic healthcare.” @gracegarey, @watsi

“It’s all through a network of local medical partners.” @gracegarey, @watsi

“When you support a patient, by default, 100% of your donation goes to support that patient’s care.”

“My parents are both progressive people who raised me and my sister to care about the rest of the world, outside of our bubble.”

“When people are safe and healthy and have access to the basic things they need, they make good decisions and they make the world around them better.”

“We started working on Watsi on nights and weekends.” @gracegarey, @watsi

“We just started.” @gracegarey, @watsi

“We employed the generosity of a lot of people who were excited about the idea.”

“We really didn’t know if it would work or not.” @gracegarey, @watsi

“We started with almost no systems.” @gracegarey, @watsi

“Our initial goal was that we would fund healthcare for ten patients in the first six months, and we did it in the first six hours.”

“I didn’t know what Y Combinator was.” @gracegarey, @watsi

“We were more like the for-profit startups than we were different.” @gracegarey, @watsi

“When we got to YC, everyone was thinking really big.” @gracegarey, @watsi

“We told them that we wanted to change global health and they did not blink an eye.”

“They assumed it was worth trying.” @gracegarey, @watsi

“There are now a dozen or so non-profits and social ventures who have gone through Y Combinator. They’ve all meshed this idea of making an impact with the idea of reaching scale.”

“Up to 40% of health funding is lost to inefficiency.” @gracegarey, @watsi

“The hardest part throughout this whole journey is just scaling as a person.”

“Everyone talks about what it takes to scale your startup, but you also have to scale.”

“You have to get used to being really bad at your job most of the time.” @gracegarey, @watsi

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Nov 13, 2017
Balancing Entrepreneurship with Family and Self-Care, with Dorcas Cheng-Tozun, Inc. Contributor and Author of "Start, Love, Repeat"
Nov 06, 2017
Live Your Mission, with Tyler Gage, Co-Founder of Runa, and Author of Fully Alive
Nov 06, 2017
Merging Business and Philanthropy through Trackable Giving, with Bryan Pape, MiiR
Oct 30, 2017
Katrina Klett: Elevating Honey in China
Oct 30, 2017
Designing Functional Workwear for Women, with Sarah Calhoun, Red Ants Pants
Oct 23, 2017
Advocacy Through Industry, with Raan and Shea Parton, Apolis Global
Oct 23, 2017
Recognizing a Different Way of Doing Business, with Lucy Findlay, Social Enterprise Mark
Oct 16, 2017
Moving from Aid to Opportunity, with Jennifer Paige Holt, Building Markets
Oct 16, 2017
A Second Chance at Childhood, with Jenny Bowen, OneSky

One Sky is an international NGO that works with governments and communities to help the most disadvantaged and marginalized children.

Jenny Bowen is a storyteller. In this interview, she tells the story of OneSky. I would also suggest that you pick up Jenny’s book, Wish You Happy Forever: What China’s Children Taught Me About Moving Mountains. Because Jenny tells the story so well, I recommend the audiobook.

It seems like a simple concept. When children interact with loving parents, they learn…well, they learn everything. They learn a sense of self. They develop language and mobility and curiosity and so much more. But, not all children are so lucky as to have loving parents. In some extreme cases, children are neglected. They can wither and eventually die.

In 1996, Jenny Bowen and her husband Dick read an article about Children’s Welfare Institutions, or orphanages. They sat in stunned disbelief as they learned the mortality rate of children in these orphanages was upwards of 85%. They were moved to help, but they were not sure what exactly to do. It was Dick who first suggested that they could adopt one of the children and bring her home.

In 1997 Jenny and Dick adopted Maya from a Chinese orphanage. When they received their daughter, she suffered from parasites and dysentery. She was emotionally vacant.

Jenny says that she did what any mother would have done. She loved her daughter, interacted with her, read to her and paid attention to her. Maya’s development was subtle at first. But one year after adopting Maya, Jenny watched Maya play in the garden with other children. Jenny said to Dick, “It’s so easy…why don’t we do that for all the kids we can’t bring home?” She knew that she had to go back to China to help other vulnerable children like Maya.

Jenny’s story is one of incredible perseverance. She focused on solutions. She flowed like a river around immovable objects. When people did not say no, she took it as a yes. She transcended political, cultural and language barriers to find what was accessible to everyone: the love of children and the desire to see those children prosper.

Today, Jenny is the CEO and Founder of OneSky. She sees the problem of child development as a global problem. She says that about one-half of all children in the world will never reach their full potential because they don’t have access to the resources and love they need. OneSky for all children currently operates in China, Vietnam and soon, Myanmar.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Jenny Bowen

“We focus on low resource communities.”

“It’s so easy why don’t we do that for all the kids we can’t bring home.”

“It wasn’t easy…Everyone told me that it would be impossible.”

“I couldn’t have done what I have done if I did not feel absolutely driven.”

“Our mission has grown to focus on what is universal in all children.”

“We were certainly living comfortable lives, and maybe we could save one life.”

“I knew what I had to do. I just knew it.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Oct 09, 2017
Liza Moiseeva: Empowering Artisans Around the World with GlobeIn
Oct 09, 2017
Making Technology Fun, Relevant, and Accessible for Girls, with Betty Gronneberg, uCodeGirl

uCodeGirl offers pathways to technology careers for teen girls by tapping into their curiosity, skills, and potential.

Betty Gronneberg grew up in Ethiopia. She attended Addis Ababa University where she majored in statistics. Betty recalls a day in college when she saw her name on a list of students who had been accepted into the new Computer Science track. She was one of two female students on the list. This was 1991. The “world wide web” had not yet been invented. Betty learned to write simple programs in BASIC, an early computer language.

Betty’s experience grew rapidly as the internet began to spread. She became a country-wide email administrator for Ethiopia. In 1995, she became the first webmaster for the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. With each new assignment, Betty noticed that she was one of the few women in the room. In 1995, 37% of computing jobs went to women. Since women make up half of the population, that’s bad news. And, the news is getting worse. Today, according to Betty, “Nationally 18% of the technology sector is made up of women.”

Betty began to ask a fundamental question. “In this great United States, where everything is possible, why are there not many women?” According to Betty, girls begin to lose interest in technology around middle school, when the girls are around 12 or 13 years old. They don’t see the relevance of technology in their everyday lives. Betty began to imagine an organization that helps young girls to apply technology in a fun environment.

To help her work out the details of this new organization, Betty applied for and became a Bush Fellow with the Bush Foundation. From the beginning, as she was filling out her application for the Bush Fellowship, she began to refine her ideas. Through her experience with the Bush Foundation, she formed a new organization, uCodeGirl. uCodeGirl is a Fargo, North Dakota based nonprofit that focuses on building confidence and talent for young girls between the ages of 12 and 18, and to inspire them to pursue opportunities in technology.

uCodeGirl is making technology fun, relevant, and accessible. Girls learn leadership skills and an entrepreneurial mindset. Leading women in technology provide mentoring.

uCodeGirl also helps girls to learn hands-on skills. They provide a three-week summer camp where the girls can experiment with technology to solve their own problems. In the process, they help the girls to build a pathway to a career in technology.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Betty Gronneberg

“We want to go to the young girls where the divergence happens and cultivate their confidence.”

“Nationally 18% of the technology sector is made up of women.”

“It’s like nothing changed, but everything changed.”

“I have always been resourceful and resilient.”

“We want to help young girls to see technology as a solution for real-world problems.”

“We want to cultivate their confidence.”

“When you exude that passion, it’s easy for people to say, I’m here to help. What can I do?”

“Not everybody is an early adopter of your idea.”

“Be okay with no.”

“It takes all of us to be a tech savvy generation.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Oct 02, 2017
Connecting Buyers and Suppliers of Aid Supplies, with Stephanie Cox, The Level Market

The Level Market is the premier marketplace for aid and relief supplies.

Stephanie Cox grew up looking at National Geographic with her grandfather. “I knew I wanted to travel the world when I was 6, 7, 8 years old,” she explains. After graduating from college, she traveled the world as a freelance journalist. In 2004, she had a near death experience during the Boxing Day Tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people. She worked in Nepal and in Eastern Europe during times of conflict. But, she found it difficult to make a living. Her family encouraged her to return to the United States to find her way forward.

Stephanie moved to Colorado to attend graduate school. While there, she pitched an idea to iDE, a global organization that creates market-based solutions in agriculture, water, and sanitation. Stephanie offered to travel to Tanzania to document the impact of iDE’s efforts. Using her skills as a journalist, Stephanie says “I spent three months in the back of a pickup truck.” Her efforts paid off. She landed a full-time role with iDE, where she remained for 13 years.

In 2014, ten years after the Boxing Day tsunami, Stephanie received a call from a colleague in Sierra Leone. He shared how difficult it was to find aid and relief supplies. Stephanie offered to help. Although she had many connections in the aid and relief space, she also struggled to find supplies. She compared her experience with finding relief supplies with her experience shopping on Amazon or Alibaba. She knew that there had to be a better way. Stephanie thought, “If no one’s going to do it, a single mom in her PJs will do it.” That was the genesis of The Level Market.

The Level Market connect buyers and suppliers of products such as solar lights, shelter, and cooking stoves around the world. The Level Market’s site allows government agencies, relief agencies, and nonprofits groups to purchase goods for those on the front lines. According to Stephanie, “They can come to our site and find quality, top notch aid supplies.”

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Stephanie Cox

“Today, we’re in the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.”

“We were looking at the problem of discovery and distribution.”

“There was never a hub to connect buyers and suppliers of these products.”

“It was a fragmented and broken industry.”

“We were very specific as to who could sell their products on our marketplace.”

“I always wanted to be the first female president.”

“I knew I wanted to travel the world when I was 6, 7, 8 years old.”

“I was always interested in words, ideas, and communication.”

“I was in Eastern Europe during the time when it was very unstable.”

“I grew up in a family where my mom was a Democrat, and my dad was a Republican.”

“I spent three months in the back of a pickup truck.”

“They can come to our site and find good quality, top notch aid supplies.”

“I got to understand the pain of entrepreneurship.”

“If no one’s going to do it, a single mom in her PJs will do it.”

“Get your heels firmly in the mud.”

“If you do donate find out specifically what it is that they need.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Oct 02, 2017
One Million New Change Creators, with Adam Force, Change Creator Magazine

Change Creator is a platform for motivated social entrepreneurs who are ready to create solutions to the world’s problems.

What would it take to produce one million new change creators per year for the next 10 years? That’s the question that Adam Force, Amy Aitman, and Keisuke Kubota of Change Creator Magazine sat down to answer. The result of that question is a new strategy.

Change Creator Magazine is a multimedia platform empowering forward-thinking change creators and established enterprises to drive social progress. Their mission centers around three of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They focus on SDG 1, No Poverty; SDG 6, Clean Water and Sanitation; and SDG 7, Affordable and Clean Energy.

According to Adam, “People want to make a living doing something that matters, aligning their capital to values.” Adam thinks of Change Creator Magazine as an ongoing form of mentorship. They interview social entrepreneurs and global icons to learn about their strategies, how they get their ideas, and how are they scaling. Some examples of notable figures featured in the magazine are Tony Robbins, Dale Partridge, Ariana Huffington, and Guy Kawasaki.

Based on reader surveys, Change Creator Magazine is changing technology platforms, creating an improved reader experience. The magazine uses responsive text for mobile and desktop. Also based on this feedback, they are featuring more stories of every day social entrepreneurs.

“There is so much more we want to offer people in to help them along their journey,” Adam says. To take on additional changes, Change Creator is launching a crowd funding campaign. This will allow them to create new educational and consulting offerings. They will be able to offer virtual summits, speaker series, and online courses.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes

“They want to make a living doing something that matters to them.”

“One of our key values is collaboration.”

“The magazine is an ongoing form of mentorship.”

“We extract these insights and we put them in the magazine.”

“We’re doing the heavy lifting and saying, here are the strategies.”

“Our focus is listening to our audience and giving them the interviews they can’t anywhere else.” Amy

“We want to put out awesome content that has value.” Amy

“The more you dig through, the more value you find.” Amy

“What are we providing people to give them the outcomes they’re looking for?”

“We’ve developed a crisp vision called our brand network.”

“We have six new channels that we will be rolling out.”

“Phase one is crowdfunding to start development of the next program.”

“Our point is building a community.” Keisuke Kubota

“We want to create 1,000,000 change creators a year for the next 10 years.” Amy

“Really put yourself out there to build relationships.”

“Don’t think that just because you put a strategy together that if it doesn’t work your done.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Sep 25, 2017
Clean Water, Powered by Gravity, with May Sharif, AguaClara

AguaClara designs gravity-powered water treatment plants for low-income communities around the world.

According to May Sharif, Founder and Managing Director of AguaClara, “More than one in ten people around the world don’t have access to clean drinking water on tap.” When people don’t have access to clean drinking water, adults lose time at work and children miss school. They suffer from illness and or even death. “Up to two million people die each year due to waterborne disease,” May explains. “Most of them are children under five.” By providing access to clean drinking water, people prosper and children learn.

Conventional water treatment plants typically do not last more than two years in rural and remote communities. They require skilled technicians and proprietary parts to run and to be maintained. AguaClara has a different approach. AguaClara develops community-scale, non-electric water treatment systems. The systems are designed to be operated by a person with a sixth-grade education and are powered entirely by gravity. They use local materials and local labor to build and maintain the systems, creating a sustainable solution.

AguaClara has its roots at Cornell University. In 2005, Dr. Monroe Weber-Shirk worked with Salvadoran refugees in Honduras. He noticed the lack of access to clean drinking water. He saw that there were water treatment plants, however the plants did not work. As he investigated the cause of widespread failure of water treatment systems in poor communities, he discovered that the systems built in these communities were not designed for the communities. Working with graduate students, he and the team designed a series of technologies for off-grid water treatment.

May Sharif became involved in AguaClara as a student. She joined the summer internship program and developed designs for the program. “That was my first exposure to the developing world and what water can mean to an entire community,” she says. May pursued a Master’s of Engineering degree and continued to work on AguaClara as her project. After graduation, Dr. Weber-Shirk asked her to continue to work on AguaClara. In 2013, May and fellow graduates of the Cornell AguaClara program formed AguaClara LLC, a social enterprise.

AguaClara currently has 14 systems in Honduras serving 65,000 people, four systems in India serving 2,000 people and a new plant is being built in Nicaragua.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Maysoon Sharif

“More than one in ten people around the world don’t have access to clean drinking water on tap.”

“Conventional water treatment plants don’t last more than two years in remote and off-grid communities.”

“We put out designs that are open-source.”

“Me being there and working on designs wasn’t translating into new projects happening.”

“Gravity-powered water treatment works, and it works well.”

“Our partners worked on commercializing it for us.”

“It’s a certified BCorporation.”

“Yes, you can find people to trust but also learn to develop an eye for who you can trust.”

“When we leave, we want to make sure they’re taking care of it.”

“Fail fast.”

“You have no way of predicting what’s going to happen.”

“Put your plan in place and be ready to throw it out the window.”

“I make it a point not to get married to anything I create.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Sep 25, 2017
Joel Solomon, Author of The Clean Money Revolution
Sep 18, 2017
Work and Travel with Purpose, Ann Davis, Venture with Impact
Sep 18, 2017
Unleashing $16 Billion for Social Good, with Stephen Garten, Charity Charge
Sep 11, 2017
Closing the Opportunity Gap with Sondra Samuels, Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ)
Sep 11, 2017
Schools Partnering with Schools for Clean Water, with Patty Hall, H2O for Life
Sep 04, 2017
The Importance of Human-Centered Design, with Wes Meier, EOS International
Sep 04, 2017
The Future of Philanthropy, with Janet Mountain, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
Aug 28, 2017
Reducing the Carbon Footprint of the Internet, with Jack Amend and Matthew Reid, Web Neutral Project

The Web Neutral Project is a comprehensive certification program that calculates, offsets and neutralizes the carbon footprint of websites and digital products.

Matt Reid and Jack Amend have known each other almost all of their lives. They grew up just down the street from one another. Matt attended the University of Minnesota where he studied Environmental Science.

Jack attended the University of California, Santa Barbara where he studied Political Science. While in school, Jack ran a graphic design and web development company as a side-hustle. After school, Jack and some friends put together a creative agency with a focus on cause-driven organizations. Jack’s company used solar-powered servers to run their company. When some of their customers asked for a way to tell the story of solar-powered servers, Jack hit upon an idea. Could he provide a certification program for the internet, much like LEED certification for buildings? To figure this out, he reached out to Matt.

The IT sector consumes 10% of all global energy, and it’s growing. IT produces more greenhouse gasses than the entire global aviation industry. With an additional 3 billion people expected to come online, it is critical that we think of the carbon footprint of our global presence.

The Web Neutral Project offers a certification for carbon-neutral websites. They offer solar-powered web hosting. And, they can help you optimize your web page design, reducing energy consumption.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Jack Amend and Matthew Reid

“It’s something that’s unknown to the general public.”

“The average person who uses the web isn’t aware of the effects it is having.”

“The footprint of the internet is about 50% larger than the global aviation industry.”

“The average website in a year produces about 4,700 lbs. of CO2.”

“The infrastructure of the internet is dependent on fossil fuels.”

“There is an issue with green washing.”

“Something I like about the entrepreneurial experience is getting to learn new things all of the time.” Matt Reid

“Echoing Green has been a huge validation of what we’re working on.”

“I didn’t know almost anything about entrepreneurship.” Matt Reid

“Try to manage your expectations.” Jack Amend

“Be ready for the long grinding days where you feel like you do so much, but not gotten too far.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Aug 28, 2017
Style with a Purpose, with Hamilton Perkins, Hamilton Perkins Collection

Hamilton Perkins Collection is a certified B Corporation, offering designer travel bags at an affordable price. Each bag is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles and lined with vinyl from repurposed billboards.

Hamilton Perkins found his niche early with retail sales. During university, he had a sneaker business on eBay. He made and sold leather bags. After college he entered financial services, rising through the ranks at Bank of America and Merrill Lynch. Yet, he had an entrepreneurial itch. So, he enrolled in an MBA program at William & Mary while working full-time.

Not only was Hamilton working full time while pursuing his MBA, but he also had a side-hustle business creating leather bags. To make sure he was creating something that customers would want, he conducted over 1,000 customer interviews. Hamilton describes his strategy, “I spent every break, and every lunch and every happy hour with a customer throughout business school.”

One of the key learnings was that consumers wanted their purchases to have a social impact. “A lot of people want more out of the companies they support,” Hamilton explains.

Hamilton consumed a lot of water from plastic bottles. “I saw what eight plastic water bottles every day for a week looked like,” he says. Hamilton researched and found a company, Thread, that makes material out of water bottles. He found a source of used billboard vinyl. He put them together into a prototype bag.

To test interest in the bag, they set up an event at a new art gallery and invited potential customers. That evening Hamilton gave a 90-second speech. That night they received a couple dozen orders. This gave them the confidence to move to a Kickstarter campaign. They launched the campaign with a goal of raising $10,000. They hit their goal in under a week.

With the upcycled billboard liner, each bag is unique. But, Hamilton says, “We’re not making a bag that is eco-friendly and crafty. It’s eco-friendly and stylish. It starts with style, then it’s quality, and then it’s impact.” For every Hamilton Perkins Collection bag, they use material from 17 plastic bottles. The inside is lined with one square yard of upcycled billboard vinyl.

Customers have responded. “We just need to make the product,” Hamilton says. “Once we make it, it sells out.”

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Hamilton Perkins

“Everything I was trying to do was pointing me in the direction of ‘Why don’t you go start a company?’”

 “A bag came to me because I needed it. I wanted to travel.”

“No two bags are ever exactly the same.”

“It’s cleaning up the environment. It’s also providing dignified income opportunities.”

“The real business plan was, would people buy it?”

“We wanted to make a product that mattered.”

“I learned a whole lot about patience in the first six months.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Aug 21, 2017
Using Your Professional Skills to Volunteer, with Ann Herzog-Olson, Social Venture Partners, Minnesota

Social Venture Partners is a nonprofit that uses the venture capital model to help other nonprofits build capacity and grow.

Sometimes you want to do more. It might feel satisfying at the moment to march and chant. But does the impact last? You can donate money to social causes, and that’s important. But sometimes, it feels like you want to do even more.

One trend in philanthropy is engaged philanthropy. Engaged philanthropy recognizes that you have more than financial capital to give to a cause. You also have intellectual capital and social capital. You can use your skills and experience to help a nonprofit. You have a network of connections which can benefit a nonprofit. Social Venture Partners allows individuals and corporations to practice engaged philanthropy.

There are 42 Social Venture Partners affiliates around the globe. Social Venture Partners, Minnesota is one of them. They focus their efforts on serving youth.

The partners at Social Venture Partners identify potential nonprofits to target. They look for nonprofits that are emerging early stage, with some proof of concept. Ann Herzog-Olson, the Executive Director of Social Venture Partners Minnesota says, “We focus on nonprofits who have a vision of where they want to go and look like they’re emerging. Then we help them build a capacity building plan.” The individual and corporate partners at Social Venture Partners stick with the nonprofit for three years as they build their capacity.

In some cases, the nonprofit wants to serve more youth. In those cases, Social Venture Partners help them to scale. In other cases, the nonprofits want their existing programs to be more effective.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Ann Herzog-Olson

“Youth are kind of lost in the middle.”

“Social Venture Partners is focused on building capacity.”

“We look for nonprofits that are directly serving youth.”

“It’s what we call engaged philanthropy.”

“It’s skilled expertize, professional expertize, that we provide to the nonprofits.”

“We usually get about 30 to 50 applications, and we select just one nonprofit.”

“We walk alongside them.”

“It’s highly strategic skilled volunteers.”

“We use revenue as a proxy.”

“They double their revenue in three years.”

“We expect our partners to become involved and volunteer their time.”

“It’s sophisticated volunteering.”

“We train people to use their skills to help a nonprofit in a strategic way.”

“We are impacting more teens as we add more partners.”

“Development’s really about the donor.”

“They need to have a vision of where they want to take their organization.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Aug 21, 2017
Product Packaging with a Purpose, with Lindsey McCoy, Plaine Products

Plaine Products helps reduce single-use plastics by producing natural, vegan shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in returnable, reusable containers.

In 2013, Lindsey McCoy was living in the Bahamas and running a non-profit called Save the Bays. “I had zero interest in going into business,” she told me. “I was going to save the world.”

As she explored the islands, she noticed the impact of single use plastics. “Without regular trash pick up, you see those water bottles, flip flops and plastic bags in the water and along the side of the road,” she explains. “To me, single-use plastics is one of those things that once you start to notice it, you realize it’s everywhere.”

Lindsey tried to reduce her personal use of plastic. But she found it difficult to find plastic-free alternatives to shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. “It began to occur to me that there was a way to solve this by going outside of the non-profit community Providing a product might be a better solution.”

When she returned to the United States in 2015, she and her sister, Alison Webster, went to work on the problem. Together, they formed Plane Products. Plaine Products produces natural, vegan shampoo, conditioner & body wash in returnable, refillable, reusable containers. When a customer empties a Plaine Products bottle, they order a replacement. They place the empty bottle into the box and return it to Plaine Products to be sanitized and refilled.

It took Lindsey and Alison almost two years from idea to product launch. They had to find a contract manufacturer who produces natural products. They needed to work with someone who would be willing to refill bottles. And, they had to figure out their non-plastic packaging. At first, they tried steel containers, but the containers rusted. When they switched to aluminum containers, they found that the packaging not only lasted, but it was lighter to ship, saving costs. And, they had to figure out how to explain the concept of reusable packaging.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Lindsey McCoy

“Once you start to notice it, you realize it’s everywhere.”

“I’m lazy. I’m busy. Making shampoo in my tub was not going to work for me.”

“Our addiction to convenience and dispensability seems only to be growing.”

“There will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.”

“As far as we know, no one is doing this.”

“We were doing something totally different, and that made it even harder.”

“We tried some terrible products.”

“You can be small and still mighty.”

“Progress not perfection.”  

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Aug 14, 2017
A Bicycle-Based Beekeeping Business, with Kristy Lynn Allen, The Beez Kneez
Aug 14, 2017
Investing in, Connecting and Celebrating Social Entrepreneurs, with Sally Osberg, Skoll Foundation

The Skoll Foundation drives large-scale change for the world’s most pressing problems. They invest in, connect and celebrate social entrepreneurs.

Sally Osberg’s reading early in life shaped her outlook. “I was reading biographies of people like Eleanor Roosevelt, and Jane Adams, and people who convinced me that you could make a pretty powerful difference in the world. And somehow that seeped into my consciousness and gave me a real sense of agency, and I could be meaningful in the scheme of trying to make the world a better place.”

Sally is the President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation. She describes what they’re looking for this way. “We look for the convergence of an innovative idea; a great innovator with the determination and wherewithal to stay at this work; and an inflection point where there is sufficient evidence that this idea works.”

 Jeff Skoll founded the Skoll Foundation in 1999. Jeff was the founding president of eBay. Jeff’s vision is a more peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. In 2001, he reached out the Sally to help him create a different kind of philanthropy.

Each year, the Skoll Foundation recognizes four to six changemakers who are ready to scale their impact. They invest in these changemakers through the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship. Awardees receive a $1.25 million investment over three years. They also gain access to a global community of innovative leaders and who are solving the world’s most pressing problems.

“We’re looking for a proven track record,” Sally explains. “We’re looking for a truly pressing global problem…And then this inflection point. Is the team in place? Is the evidence in place? Is there a discipline in place? Is there a great board?”

The Skoll Foundation connects social entrepreneurs through the annual Skoll World Forum. They video, document and share the stories of these changemakers.

Sally has announced that she will be soon stepping down from her role at the Skoll Foundation. As she looks back and forward at the same time, she reflects on the world as she sees it. “The challenges have never seemed so complex and massive in scale. And yet, the upwelling of talent and interest and goodness from people… I look at young people and see this incredible determination to tackle these problems and not make a choice between doing good, making a difference and a viable career. And I believe that holds so much promise.”

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Sally Osberg

“We partner with social entrepreneurs and celebrate the impact of their great ideas.”

“I tried to channel his DNA, which is fundamentally entrepreneurial.”

“Our mission is our strategy: Invest, Connect and Celebrate.”

“There are great solutions out there. We just have to open our aperture to find them.”

“People think of social entrepreneurs as lone rangers. They are anything but.”

“We first and foremost are trying to be a good partner to the social entrepreneurs.”

“We can help to amplify, accelerate and strengthen, how all this comes together.”

“I plan to continue working with people who want to make a difference in the world.”

“I believe the empowerment of women and girls holds major promise for the world.”

“It is not a moment for us to descend into cynicism or despair.”

“I see this aspiration in young people around social entrepreneurship.”

“That combination of expertise and humility…is a critical piece.”

“Develop some area of expertise.”

“Think about social entrepreneurship different.”

“Learn about a social entrepreneur who is making a difference on an issue that they care about.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Aug 07, 2017
An Ecosystem for Small Businesses, with Christopher Webley, New Rules
Aug 07, 2017
From Used Goods to the Greater Good, with Julie Kearns, Junket: Tossed & Found
Jul 31, 2017
Civic Engagement in a Digital World, with Damola Ogundipe, Civic Eagle
Jul 31, 2017
183, Lori Most, BinaryBridge | Improving the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Humanitarian Missions

BinaryBridge creates software that helps humanitarians do their work effectively and efficiently.

Lori Most grew up seeing television commercials of humanitarian crises, especially in Africa. Lori recounted, “I always wanted to go to Africa and help…I thought ‘I’m going to grow up and go over there.” In college, she started as a pre-med student. Part way through she switched to engineering. “I changed directions a lot,” she laughed. When she graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in mathematics, she was left with this sense that she still wanted to help.

After graduating, Lori quickly found work in the booming field of software development. She worked as a software developer, business analyst and product manager with well-known brands such as UnitedHealth Group, Target, and C.H. Robinson. She felt like the work she was doing was important, but she says, “It wasn’t quite the mission I was looking for.”

Lori thought about working with a nonprofit. She explored several opportunities. Eventually, her sister introduced her to a humanitarian medical mission working in Peru. Lori accompanied the mission to Peru where she observed organized chaos. The medical team saw between 80 and 100 patients per day. As the patients moved from the intake room to the exam room, to the checkout areas, the patients were tracked with paper records. Paper records are easily misplaced or mishandled. They lack instant access across a caregiving team. They can be illegible, causing medical errors and slowing down care. Medical professionals on humanitarian missions have had to rely on paper medical records, until now.

Walk into almost any medical clinic in an industrialized country, and you’re likely to be greeted by a person behind a computer screen. With a few key strokes, the receptionist can pull up your complete medical record. Modern clinics depend on electronic medical records or EMR. EMR provides many benefits. Records are instantly accurate and complete. Health workers can effectively diagnose patients, reduce medical errors, and provide safer care. EMR provides coordinated, efficient care, improving productivity.

backpackEMR allows medical professionals in the field to instantly input, update and share patient data. They use a custom-built peer-to-peer network to share data in remote areas where no internet access is available. backpackEMR works as an app on a tablet or with web-based access. BinaryBridge charges a minimal fee to keep the software running.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Lori Most

“I changed directions a lot.”

“My philosophy on software…is get the best of the best and make sure it’s right the first time.”

“Get a technical co-founder.”

“Accept help from other people.”

“Support your local social entrepreneurs.”  

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Jul 24, 2017
182, Zach McGill, Perk Health | Improving the Health of People and Companies

Perk Health is a website and app that helps you pick up healthier habits in a way that is sustainable.

Zach McGill and Doug DeBold grew up playing sports. Games taught them so much: achievement, competition, leader boards, point scoring, rewards, rules of play, self-expression, socializing, mastery, and status. When it was time for college, Doug went off to college in Vermont while Zach attended the University of Minnesota.

Initially, Zach studied engineering. He wanted to invent things. But, he says, “I realized, with engineering, there would be less inventing and lot more equations.” So, he started studying entrepreneurship. “It became clear to me that my path was going to be to start and build companies.”

Zach built side businesses while he was in school. He became involved with the Acara Institute at the University of Minnesota. He traveled to New Delhi where he and a team developed a business plan to build a small biogas plant. The proposed plant would reduce greenhouse gasses while providing reliable access to electricity.

As Zach’s project in India came to a close, he had a decision to make. Did he want to move to Delhi and pursue his business idea, or did he want to grow another side project he had, Perk Health? He chose Perk Health. And to help him grow and scale it, he partnered with his childhood friend, Doug DeBold.

Perk Health helps individuals to develop healthy habits. If you look back 100 years ago, people in the United States died mainly of influenza, pneumonia, and tuberculosis. Today, Americans die primarily from lifestyle diseases including heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. 73% of Americans don’t get the recommended amount of physical activity. Inactivity, diet, and obesity kill more people in the US than any communicable disease. As a result, 86% of our healthcare spending can be traced back to these lifestyle factors.

Employers who use Perk Health can lower healthcare costs, increase productivity and decrease absenteeism. Perk health delivers their products through a virtual system, which can be cost effective. The Perk Health app retains over ten times the engagement of traditional wellness programs. Perk Health tailors the program to each individual, making it easy and fun to participate.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Zach McGill

“We looked at things that change people’s behavior in the real world.”

“How can we flip those mechanisms on their head and use them for good?”

“How do we get people to focus on small actions, and follow that up with rewards?”

“We looked at things that worked for us.”

“To get to the beginning, you have to go back to Junior High.”

“I was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug.”

“A business can be not only a vehicle for profit but a vehicle for good.”

“You can do good and do well.”

“It’s something we’re really passionate about.”

“I knew I wanted to do something that was impactful.”

“I realized that, if I wanted to do anything well, I needed to focus.”

“Just get started.”

“The reality is, there is no ah-ha moment.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Jul 24, 2017
181, Marcus Owens, NEON | Sustainable Community Development through Entrepreneurship

Northside Economic Opportunity Network, better known as NEON, provides entrepreneurs in North Minneapolis with business development services.

Marcus Owens is a product of North Minneapolis. He grew up there, graduating from North Community High School. He bought his first home there. Then his second. He says, “I always wanted to find a way to give back to this community.”

Marcus has long been an entrepreneur, operating real estate and financial services businesses. He also worked at a regional bank and a large retailer. He ran a small nonprofit. By 2012, he was looking for more ways to give back to the community. He found his way to the board of NEON. Two years later, he took over as the CEO.

NEON works with low- to moderate-income entrepreneurs to build wealth and develop a sustainable community. They offer training and coaching. They also provide access to capital and access to markets. Their coworking space is on West Broadway in North Minneapolis.

Marcus says that “We’re trying to revitalize [North Minneapolis] in a way that provides the people that are here with ways to bring themselves out of poverty.” Marcus and board developed innovative ways to fund NEON. Though NEON is a nonprofit, they have several streams of revenue. Marcus explains, “It’s not enough to just give services away. You’ve got to create affordable options for folks to work with you, and bridge the gap where the market does not exist today.”

To give small businesses access to the market, NEON has two incubator programs. One incubator is centered around the business of property maintenance. NEON owns a property maintenance business and aggregates smaller subcontract work. They develop these subcontractors with business development skills. They also have a partnership with Twin Cities RISE to provide personal development. NEON also runs a food business incubator program.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Marcus Owens

“We saw North Minneapolis as a key area to provide development services.”

“We saw that the way to develop assets was through small business ownership.”

“We wanted to give people a gateway to start a business.”

“We have about 42% of our residents in poverty.”

“We’re building a community of entrepreneurs together.”

“What problem are you solving and who are you solving it for?”

“We have a great partnership with Fredrikson & Byron.”

“I always wanted to find a way to give back to this community.”

“There is no difference in nonprofit and for-profit in how you should operate.”

“How do you innovate in a space that has not been innovated in a long time?”

“How can you start it today?”

“Think about how you’re spending money. Are you spending it in your community?”  

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Jul 17, 2017
180, Michelle Horovitz, Appetite for Change | The Intersection of Food and Social Justice
Jul 17, 2017
179, Junita Flowers, Favorable Treats | Clarity Comes While You Are Working
Jul 10, 2017
178, Kristen Womack, Hack the Gap | Hacking the Diversity Gap

Hack the Gap is a weekend event where women come together to build a project as a team.

Kristen Womack is a bona fide techy. She worked as a product manager for some well-known tech companies. She runs Night Sky Web Co. And she has been involved in the local tech scene from Geekettes to Mpls MadWomen. And yet, as she attended hackathons, she couldn’t help but notice the lack of women. “When I went to the bathroom, there was no line,” she told me.

The diversity gap in tech has been widely reported. The problem starts early in life. In a recent survey, only 0.4% of teenage girls plan to major in computer science. Only 6.7% of all women graduate with a STEM degree. According to a study by MIT, about 20% of undergraduate engineering degrees are awarded to women, and only 13% of the engineering workforce is female. According to Google’s annual report, only 31% of its employees are women. Worse still, Hispanic workers account for only 4% of their workforce, and black employees make up only 2%.

Kristen and Jenna Pederson of Hack the Gap believe that, while there is a problem with getting more women in the tech pipeline, the problem goes deeper. Tech has a culture problem. Kristen says that “We fundamentally believe that, if we increase the pipeline of women and girls who are interested in technology, they are going to enter a world where they could potentially drop about due to death by a thousand cuts.”

A recent New York Times article painfully documented the culture of sexual harassment in the tech industry. Male founders of tech companies have come to a slow realization that their practice of hiring from within their network has caused them to exclude talent from diverse backgrounds.

Kristen points out that the problem is multifaceted. “We have to fix every part of the journey from childhood to adulthood for women in technology.” That’s a big undertaking, Kristen acknowledges. “So, we decided to focus on this one particular segment of adult women.”

Hack the Gap is a weekend event where women come together to build a project as a team. During the weekend, women can become more confident in their skills, or learn a new skill. Not all the women who participate in Hack the Gap are coders. Some have skills in project management, marketing or other skillsets.

The Hack the Gap event strengthens the community of women business leaders. Kristen says, “We have seen several women come out of our hackathon and go on to continue with the business from what they built at Hack the Gap.”

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Kristen Womack

“There is a need for everyone at the hackathon.”

“12% of all engineers are women.”

“The problem is multifaceted.”

“How do we show the rest of the community what these women are doing, and elevate them even more?”

“There are more men named John who are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies than there are women CEOs.”

“We might have more diversity in technology if we had more women in hiring positions.”

“These women are bringing real-world problems into the hackathon, and building tech that will solve those problems.”

“Testing your idea in the smallest state possible is really key.”

“You start to see patterns when you start small.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Jul 10, 2017
177, Katherine Milligan, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship | The World’s Largest Network of Late-Stage Social Entrepreneurs

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship is the sister organization to the World Economic Forum. They manage the world’s largest network of late-stage social entrepreneurs.

Katherine Milligan says, “I have always been deeply touched by the inequities of the world.” She spent time in the Peace Corp. She lived in a village in Benin without running water or electricity for two years. While there, she saw first-hand how an international shift in the commodity price of cotton had a significant impact on local cotton farmers and their families. “It opened a deep curiosity in me to understand why the conventional ways of delivering solutions to these populations where failing.”

Her curiosity led her to pursue a Master’s degree in Trade and International Development. This was followed by two years as a Research Fellow, traveling the world and interviewing stakeholders from ambassadors and trade representatives to the WTO and farmers. She says that this study gave her an appreciation for how complex problems are. “When you know very little about a problem, it’s very easy to see it in a black and white way and to propose a simplistic solution. When you dig into it and you understand the complexities of it, that’s when you appreciate just how challenging and complex these problems are to solve.”

Katherine’s search for solutions to large, complex global problems led her to the World Economic Forum in 2005. In 2009, she took over the lead role for the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship is the sister organization to the World Economic Forum. They manage the world’s largest network of late-stage social entrepreneurs. They elevate the work of late-stage social entrepreneurs on the platform of the World Economic Forum.

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship was launched in 1998 by Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum and his wife Hilde. Their initial goal was to introduce the work of social entrepreneurs on a global stage. At the time, the concept of social entrepreneurship was mostly unknown.

Each year the Schwab Foundation recognizes several social entrepreneurs through a “Social Entrepreneur of the Year” competition. This year they selected 17 social entrepreneurs from 13 organizations. These social entrepreneurs become part of the broader Schwab Foundation community of more than 300 entrepreneurs to exchange expertise and experiences. They are also fully integrated into the World Economic Forum’s events and initiatives, giving them a global presence and visibility.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Katherine Milligan

“When you get that kind of spotlight and exposure, it changes the dynamics and resources come to you.”

“I’ve always been deeply touched by the inequities in the world.”

“When you know very little about a problem, it’s easy to see it in a black and white way.”

“You have to log those hours.”

“We need a reality check on the problem spaces.”

“Know your strengths.”

“Surround yourself with people who compliment your skills.”

“This is a really challenging path.”

“Understand the role of self-care.”

“If you let the cause consume you, what good are you to the cause?”  

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Jul 03, 2017
176, Tim O'Neil, Bunker Labs, Minneapolis | Start and Grow a Veteran-led Business
Jul 03, 2017
175, Rose McGee, Sweet Potato Comfort Pies | A Catalyst for Caring and Building Community
Jun 26, 2017
174, Eric Sannerud, Mighty Axe Hops | Experimenting within an Ecosystem

Mighty Axe Hops is using experimentation to create an ecosystem within an ecosystem.

Eric Sannerud is an experimenter. He tries small experiments, gathers feedback and then adjusts. For example, in 2013, he was graduating from the University of Minnesota. At the same time, he had several irons in the fire.

He was part of a team that launched Twin Fin, an innovative urban farm start-up, growing fish and greens in a city warehouse. At the same time, he was involved with the Famers’ Legal Action Group (FLAG). He was also involved with Urban Oasis, the winner of a $1 million Forever Saint Paul Competition to create a sustainable food center on the East Side of Saint Paul. And, he cofounded the Sandbox Center for Regenerative Entrepreneurship. And, in his spare time, he managed to co-found Mighty Axe Hops, building and leading a new industry in Minnesota.

Eric explains, “There’s a sliver in your life where your commitments and your personal life might not be as stringent as they tend to grow to be, and I wanted to make full use of that time.” He talks about the importance of an experimental mindset. “They were all really low-risk. As they begin to grow, you try to commit more resources to the ones that look like they will bring better results.”

Eventually, Eric began to focus his efforts. “That time of being involved in many things, I’m really shrinking it down to just being involved in the things I want to be involved with.” Today, he spends his time growing Mighty Axe Hops. He and his co-founder Ben Boo have grown their operations from 20 plants to a new 80-acre farm.

Mighty Axe Hops is creating a hops-growing ecosystem in Minnesota. Where no hops industry existed before, a cottage industry of inputs, processors, marketers, farm implements is beginning to grow. The hops industry is an ecosystem within an ecosystem. The rise of craft beer and microbreweries gives rise to the need for local hops with unique flavor profiles.

Not only is Mighty Axe Hops creating an ecosystem, they are growing within the fertile ground of the Minnesota social good ecosystem. They started as a student-led start-up, launched during the Acara program at the University of Minnesota. Eric is also a member of the local Global Shapers Community and is an active member of the Impact Hub, Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Eric Sannerud

“I was looking for something that would or could become a job.”

“I was involved in a number of startups through late college and just after college.”

“It boils down to, I want to make a difference with my life.”

“At that phase of my life, I was just saying yes.”

“I know what I want to do for the next five years.”

“That was the little money we needed to put more proof behind our concept.”

“Our main goal is to create a vibrant Minnesota hops industry.”

“It never felt sharky.”

“I think the reason I like entrepreneurship is because of how challenging it is.”

“We’re directly measuring water quality and soil health.”

“The thing that helped me the most was learning to just do it.”

“Start something and try something, but in a smart way.”

“I always approach it like a scientific hypothesis.”

“Test as many of your assumptions in your business plan as possible, with the least amount of risk.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Jun 26, 2017
173, Cheryl Dorsey, Echoing Green | How to Find Meaningful Work
Jun 19, 2017
172, Evva Kraikul, GLITCH | Equipping Emerging Game Makers with Tools for Success

GLITCH promotes the exploration of digital games as a culture, career and creative practice.

If I were to tell a joke about Evva Kraikul, it might go something like this “A game designer, a neuroscientist and an entrepreneur walk into a bar. She ordered herself a drink.” Evva brings her experience in game design and neuroscience to the startup world where she is the cofounder of GLITCH.

Evva was an extraordinarily early adopter of technology. At the age of four, she was interested in all things digital. She used a laptop to explore online. When she was ten-years-old, she set up a website and sold Beanie Babies. Her first online transaction was for $1,000. She built battle simulators in AOL chat rooms. She is a true digital native.

Evva’s parents encouraged her to be either a doctor or lawyer. “Those seemed to be my only two options,” she remembers. She pursued her degree in neuroscience at the University of Minnesota, but her interests in all things digital would not let her go. She looked for local resources for emerging game makers but found none.

Evva and fellow student Nic VanMeerten set up programs and events. They invited gaming industry insiders to give lectures and workshops. Fellow students were enthusiastic, paying to attend these events. With this proof of concept under their belts, Evva and Nic were awarded a $45,000 grant to continue their work. This work eventually led to the startup, GLITCH.

GLITCH supports emerging game makers through a series of ongoing programs, events, and residencies. GLITCH recently began providing small grants to game makers who are doing interesting work.

By supporting emerging game makers, GLITCH is bringing a unique perspective to the gaming industry.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Evva Kraikul

“My parents didn’t believe me when the first sale was $1,000.”

“There was something missing.”

“There weren’t a lot of resources and support for emerging game makers.”

“We tested them. We did small programs.”

“That’s the most powerful thing – going in open minded.”

“My initial ideas change drastically. They aren’t the same as when they started.”

“How do we allow people to be vulnerable and talk about the issues they’re facing, in games?”

“All you can do is put your design in the world, let people use it, and iterate.”

“Everything you put into the world should be a living thing.”

“The thing that was the hardest and continues to be most difficult is learning how to lead.”

“I’ve been learning how to say yes, and more specifically how to say no.”

“I want to support emerging game makers who are doing interesting and innovative work.”

“I love games. I don’t love where games are right now.”

“Be bold. Be daring.”

“Find a community that you’re specifically passionate about.”

“Find a problem you’re itching to solve. Jump in and shut it down.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Jun 18, 2017
171, Mark Norbury, UnLtd | The Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs

UnLtd is the UK’s largest supporter of early-stage social entrepreneurs.

Mark grew up in the time when Land-Aid, Band-Aid, and Live-Aid were popular. “The idea that you can be a rock star who saved the world was pretty damned compelling when you’re fourteen years old” he confesses. But, with a lack of musical talent, Mark decided to focus on changing the world.

As an 18-year-old, Mark volunteered on London’s east side, working with Father Duncan. “He was much more of a social activist than he was a priest,” Mark explains. “He was five-foot-nothing. He was a British-Asian guy who experienced a lot of racial abuse…He also fostered a young kid who had come from an abusive background. And he had a rare blood disorder that caused him to have to take whole body blood transfusions.”

During his work with Father Duncan, Mark experienced a world different from his own, from domestic abuse to illiteracy, to the lives of the elderly. “That was where I realized that what I needed to do was to try to make a difference.”

After university, Mark worked in non-profits but did not quite find the sustainable model he was looking for. He eventually enrolled at INSEAD where he encountered social entrepreneurship. With social entrepreneurship, he saw the bridge between service and economic sustainability.

Mark helped set up INSEAD’s Social Innovation Centre where they introduce and developed new business models that deliver sustainable economic, environmental and social prosperity. He also was a trustee at Bridges Ventures. It was while at Bridges Ventures that he first had contact with UnLtd. In 2016, he joined UnLtd as its Chief Executive Officer.

UnLtd has backed over 40,000 individuals over the last 15 years. They provide three levels of awards to early-stage social ventures:

  • Try it, which is £500
  • Do it, up to £5,000
  • Grow it, up to £15,000

These awards come with support such as business advice, coaching, mentoring, and peer-to-peer support.

UnLtd has also runs the Big Venture Challenge, an award program that provides match funding to help growing social enterprises to raise investment and deliver social impact at scale.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Mark Norbury

“Everything we do, the social entrepreneur is at the heart of it.”

“I grew up in the Land Aid, Live Aid, Band Aid era.”

“UnLtd is a gem, but it’s not realized its potential yet.”

“You’ll find social entrepreneurs in these communities making something with nothing.”

“They’re creating a micro-conglomerate of brilliance and hope, and it’s all self-sustaining.”

“Make it about the people and communities you’re serving.”

“Do it in a co-production model.”

“Social entrepreneurs don’t always ask for help enough.”

“I’m an idealistic optimist.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Jun 12, 2017
170, Elisa Birnbaum, SEE Change Magazine | A Storytelling Platform for Social Entrepreneurs
Jun 05, 2017
169, Ned Tozun, d.light | Find Your Funding
May 29, 2017
168, Lisa O'Donoghue-Lindy, She Inspires Her| Stories that Inspire African Women to Start and Grow Businesses

She Inspires Her is an online and mobile media platform that shares stories about women entrepreneurs in emerging African markets.

Lisa O’Donoghue-Lindy was born in Ireland. When she was 12 years-old, she moved to the United States with her family. After college, she went back to Europe working with major corporations in communications roles. Lisa and her husband have lived in South Africa, Greece and Finland. As we spoke, they are in the process of moving to Namibia. Because she has moved so often, she has done work that can be accomplished from anywhere in the world.

In 2014, Lisa and a friend launched a side project called Career 2.0. They wrote stories of women who had experience major mid-life shifts. They featured women, mainly from the US and Europe, who had found a way to live a fulfilling life.

It was through this work that Lisa wrote a story about Hyasintha Ntuyeko, and entrepreneur from Tanzania. After the story came out, Hyasintha applied for the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) fellowship. She included the story in her application. When Hyasintha was accepted, she wrote an email to Lisa telling her about the difference that the story had made. This had a profound effect on Lisa. “I made a difference in someone’s life,” she realized. It was at this point in 2016, that Lisa pivoted away from Career 2.0 and to open She Inspires Her, focusing on women entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Women in Sub-Saharan African only own about 10% to 15% of formal businesses. They are stuck mostly in the informal economy. Their businesses are not sustainable. They do not create jobs. These businesses cannot scale and grown.

For many women in Sub-Saharan Africa, there are legal, cultural, financial and structural barriers that keep them from owning formal businesses. In some cases, local culture reinforces the idea that the woman’s place is in the home. Women often lack access to education. Women can lack access owning property, which can also block access to financing.

Highly successful African women entrepreneurs are often featured in Forbes or CNN Africa. And, there are other women who are incredibly savvy at social media who can tell their stories, However, Lisa says “There’s a real dearth of stories of everyday women in markets like Uganda, Rwanda or Tanzania who are not able to get their stories out. And these women are remarkable. My goal is to get these stories out there so that younger women, or even girls, can read them and see themselves in those stories.”

She Inspires Her provides role models, connects women to networks, promotes women-owned businesses and raises awareness to barriers to female entrepreneurs. Their main objective is to share relatable stories that get more women to start and grow businesses in Africa.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Lisa O'Donoghue-Lindy

“You can’t be what you don’t see.”

“Small and Medium Enterprises are crucial drivers of job creation.”

“In countries like Cameroon and Ghana, SMEs are responsible for more than half of employment opportunities.”

“My objective is to get more women out of the informal sector and into formal business.”

“It was in working with her that I realized where I could really make a difference.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


May 22, 2017
167, Peter Holbrook, Social Enterprise UK | Leading an Economic and Political Systems Shift

Social Enterprise UK is the membership and advocacy body for social enterprises in the United Kingdom.

Peter Holbrook started his career with the retailer Marks & Spencer. He also worked at The Body Shop. In both cases, he watched as values-based companies changed once they became shareholder-driven.

Peter wanted to have a social impact with his work, so worked for Oxfam and for Greenpeace. There, he found organizations that were working on purpose but were missing some of the innovation and drive of for-profit enterprises.

In 2001, he launched Sunlight Development Trust, a community owned and managed charity. They work in the Medway community in South East England to improve health and well-being. Sunlight Development takes an innovative approach. They house a community café, recording studio, and a community radio station, located next to health services.

Peter’s work with Sunlight Development attracted the attention of political parties from both sides of the aisle. Prime Minister Gordon Brown appointed Peter as a Social Enterprise Ambassador. David Cameron visited Sunlight Development on several occasions.

Peter was a member of Social Enterprise UK. When the Chief Executive, Jonathan Bland stepped down, Peter was encouraged by a board member to apply for the role. Peter had been at Sunlight Development for more than ten years. The opportunity at Social Enterprise UK seemed like a chance to get back to his entrepreneurial roots. It also gave him an opportunity to work at the system level to create an economic and political shift.

In the UK, there are around 80,000 social enterprises with a combined revenue of £27 billion per year. Social Enterprise UK is the national membership body for social enterprises. They conduct research. They run campaigns such as Buy Social and Social Saturday. They develop policy. And they lobby on behalf of their members.

One key piece of legislation that was passed with Social Enterprise UK support is Social Value Act. This law requires public authorities to consider the economic, social and environmental implications of contracts. Therefore, instead of only basis government contacts on price and quality, government organizations can look holistically at the impact of their spending. This single piece of legislation can unleash £300 billion in government spending for social good.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Peter Holbrook

“I wanted to bring those two worlds together – commercial thinking, to the world of social change.”

“I set up an organization without any knowledge of the term social enterprise.”

“I understand the value of networks.”

“Running a social enterprise can be a lonely experience.”

“I’ve always recognized the need for an economic and political shift.”

“Enthusiasm is a great substitute for talent.”

“Dare to dream.”

“You can genuinely achieve great things if you’re not bothered about who takes the credit.”

“We can only make the huge change the world desperately needs if we work together.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

May 15, 2017
166, Kari Enge, Rank and File Magazine | The Journey of a Social Entrepreneur
May 08, 2017
165, Paul Polak | Be Curious, Leap In and Learn
May 01, 2017
164, Nausheena Hussain, Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment (RISE) | Amplifying the Voices of Muslim Women
Apr 24, 2017
163, Jen Boynton, Triple Pundit | Telling Stories at the Intersection of Business, Environment, and Society
Apr 17, 2017
162, Sharon Rowe, Eco-Bags Products | A Pioneer Social Business
Apr 10, 2017
161, Madeline Di Nonno, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media | Changing Media to Empower Girls

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media is a research-driven organization that is changing media to empower girls. 

While watching television with her daughter, Geena Davis noticed that women were not well represented. She was concerned about the messages that were being sent to her daughter and to her twin boys. Geena launched a research project and was disturbed by what she found. In 2009, Geena met with Madeline Di Nonno, a 30-year veteran of the entertainment industry. Together, they launched the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media.

Here is what they found. Women and girls make up 51% of the population and yet, if you watch movies and television, you might not know that. For every minute of female screen and speaking time, there are three minutes of male screen and speaking time. Women make up around 17% of crowd scenes. And only 17% of the top 100 feature films of 2015 featured solo female roles.

The kinds of characters played by women are also off-balance. 80% of the characters seen working are male. Women in films make up less than 5% of the C-Suite roles. Men play attorneys or judges 13 times for every time the role is played by a woman. Men play professors 16 times for every time a woman plays the same role. And men play medical professionals nearly 6 times for every time a woman plays the same role.

Children consume about 7 hours of television per day. So, media plays an oversized role in influencing their understanding of society. Given the statistics above, children, both boys and girls, are fed a steady diet of messages that women and girls don’t matter to society.

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media is a research-driven organization. Through their research, they have amassed the largest body of research on gender prevalence in family entertainment spanning over 25 years. They partnered with Google to create a software that analyses video and audio. The software measures the GD-IQ (the Geena Davis Inclusion Quotient).

They research directly to decision makers and creators in the entertainment industry. They collaborate with the media and entertainment industry to expose gender imbalance, identify unconscious bias and remodel characters to achieve equity.

In a recent impact study, 68% of entertainment industry executives familiar with the Institute’s research changed two or more projects, and 41% changed four or more projects.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Madeline Di Nonno

“The problem is centered around unconscious gender bias.”

“Even when there are female leads, they receive three times less speaking time than the male leads.”

“Female-led films are earning 16% more at the box office.”

“We’re focused on research, action, and results.”

“I learned a lot by reading obituaries.”

“I thought, could I use my power for good?”

“It’s important to do a SWOT analysis.”

“Is there another organization that you can partner with?”

“Whatever you do has to be measured in finite terms.”

“We’re dealing with huge systemic change.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

More Stories of Sustainable Development Goal 5, Gender Equality

In 2017, we’re emphasizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In April, we are focusing on Sustainable Development Goal 5, Gender Equality. You can read more about the Sustainable Development Goals here.

Apr 03, 2017
160, Yohans Wodaje Emiru, helloDoctor | Bridging Barriers to Healthcare in Ethiopia Through Simple MedTech

Dr. Yohans Wodaje Emiru is the founder of Telemed Medical Services. Their flagship service is helloDoctor.

For every doctor in Ethiopia, there are more than 30,000 patients. Compare that to less than 400 patients per doctor in the United States. Millions of Ethiopian patients are cut off from medical services due to geography and infrastructure. There are also cultural barriers to medical treatment. Some conditions can seem embarrassing to discuss face-to-face with a local doctor. Transportation costs or consultation fees may be a barrier to treatment.

Yohans Wodaje Emiru has found a way to use technology to provide access to medical professionals using a simple hand-handheld phone.

Yohans understands the challenges of medical services in Ethiopia. He graduated from medical school at Addis Ababa University. He worked in several roles, including being the Medical Director of Saint Urael Medical Services in Addis Ababa. He also worked in a remote town in a government hospital where he saw first-hand the challenges of Ethiopians to access medical services.

HelloDoctor allows people to call at any time and from anywhere in Ethiopia and get instant professional medical advice. People call, describe their symptoms and a medical professional helps them decide whether to treat their symptoms at home, to obtain an over-the-counter product or to seek further medical services at a local clinic or hospital.

For chronic illnesses such as diabetes, HIV or Tuberculosis, helloDoctor also provides Patient-Center Engagement and Tracking Services.

HelloDoctor has received over 80,000 calls. They have directly impacted over 50,000 individuals. Between 50% to 65% of the medical conditions are sufficiently handled through the phone calls. The remaining patients have been helped through direct referrals. They also help patients to save money. They calculate that for every phone call received, they save their patients $3 in healthcare expenses.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Yohans Wodaje Emiru

“These barriers can be bridged with the kind of service we are building.”

“People launching new services is not something people are used to here.”

“You have to pull all the strings you can to keep the music going.”

“There are challenges you face every day. But if you believe in what you’re doing, it just passes.”

“We monitor everything we’re doing.”

“The most interesting thing is the money that people are able to save.”

“You have to keep measuring. You have to keep talking to your clients.”

“The first thing you start out with is, unless you’re very lucky, rarely the right solution.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

More Stories of Sustainable Development Goal 3, Good Health and Well-Being

In 2017, we’re emphasizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In March, we are focusing on Sustainable Development Goal 3, Good Health and Well-Being. You can read more about Sustainable Development Goal 1 here, Sustainable Development Goal 2 here, or learn about all of the Sustainable Development Goals here.

Mar 27, 2017
159, Christa Hasenkopf, OpenAQ | Fighting Air Inequality through Open Data, Open Source Tools and Collaboration
Mar 20, 2017
158, Jordan Kassalow, VisionSpring | Creating and Sustaining Livelihoods through Vision
Mar 13, 2017
157, Grace Garey, Watsi | Everyone Deserves Healthcare

Watsi is on a mission to provide healthcare for every person in the world.

In March, on Social Entrepreneur, we are focusing on Sustainable Development Goal 3, Good Health and Well-Being. A billion people around the world do not have access to basic healthcare. And, for those who are fortunate enough to have access, the cost of healthcare can create a life-crippling financial burden.

Watsi enables anyone to directly fund life-changing healthcare for people around the world. You can go onto their web site, see photos and read stories of patients. You can donate as little as five dollars. All the donated money goes directly to the patient.

Donors receive updates throughout the funding process. Once the patient’s healthcare is funded, donors receive updates from doctors and healthcare workers. Donors experience full transparency from the donation to the impact.

Since launching four years ago, visitors to the site have raised $7.5 million to provide healthcare for more than 10,000 patients in 24 countries.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Grace Garey

“We believe everyone deserves healthcare.”

“A billion people around the world don’t have access to basic healthcare.”

“It’s all through a network of local medical partners.”

“When you support a patient, by default, 100% of your donation goes to support that patient’s care.”

“My parents are both progressive people who raised me and my sister to care about the rest of the world, outside of our bubble.”

“When people are safe and healthy and have access to the basic things they need, they make good decisions and they make the world around them better.”

“We started working on Watsi on nights and weekends.”

“We just started.”

“We employed the generosity of a lot of people who were excited about the idea.”

“We really didn’t know if it would work or not.”

“We started with almost no systems.”

“Our initial goal was that we would fund healthcare for ten patients in the first six months, and we did it in the first six hours.”

“I didn’t know what Y Combinator was.”

“We were more like the for-profit startups than we were different.”

“When we got to YC, everyone was thinking really big.”

“We told them that we wanted to change global health and they did not blink an eye.”

“They assumed it was worth trying.”

“There are now a dozen or so non-profits and social ventures who have gone through Y Combinator. They’ve all meshed this idea of making an impact with the idea of reaching scale.”

“Up to 40% of health funding is lost to inefficiency.”

“The hardest part throughout this whole journey is just scaling as a person.”

“Everyone talks about what it takes to scale your startup, but you also have to scale.”

“You have to get used to being really bad at your job most of the time.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

More Stories of Sustainable Development Goal 3, Good Health and Well-Being

In 2017, we’re emphasizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In March, we are focusing on Sustainable Development Goal 3, Good Health and Well-Being. You can read more about Sustainable Development Goal 1 here, Sustainable Development Goal 2 here, or learn about all of the Sustainable Development Goals here.

Mar 06, 2017
156, Morgan Dixon, GirlTrek | When Black Women Walk, Things Change

GirlTrek is the largest public health nonprofit for African-American women and girls in the United States.

Morgan Dixon was a school teacher. As she learned about the statistical probability of chronic disease and early death among her students, she wanted to take action. Morgan knew that walking was a powerful antidote to many of the health challenges faced by those in her community. She began by walking with her students. As satisfying as those walks were, she knew that the solution needed to scale.

With her friend, Vanessa Garrison, they used Facebook to organize a 10-week walking challenge. The next year, women came back and asked Morgan and Vanessa to run the challenge again. That’s when they knew they were on to something.

As important as walking is, Morgan and Vanessa sensed that they were on to something even bigger. Morgan told me, “We started to look to our history for what happened when black women walked for change?” They connected the movement with the history of black women and civil rights. This was the beginning of GirlTrek.

GirlTrek encourages women to use walking as a practical first step to inspire healthy living, families, and communities. They have nearly 100,000 women who participate in their walks, and they are a path to rapid growth. This year they anticipate they will reach 500,000 women and by next year, over 1 million.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Morgan Dixon

“I felt like I was uniquely positioned to do this because I was that girl.”

“Life felt like a setup for a takedown.”

“It has become a neighborhood walk in sneakers.”

“We just started with ourselves.”

“We did a call to action with just our friends and family.”

“We needed a bite-size ask.”

“Small waistlines and skinny jeans have never been why we do this.”

 “They will become the new changemakers in our communities.”

“We had 10,000 people before we had funding.”

“There’s so much power and changemaking that can happen without huge and bloated budgets.”

“If the mom is committed to a lifetime of active, healthy, personal glow, her whole family changes.”

“You have to root, to rise.”

“What is the level of trauma that creates an entire population of people to feel inactive?”

“There were root causes around loneliness and isolation.”

“Loneliness is deadlier than cigarette smoking.”

“We are building movement tools that are based in our culture.”

“That for me feels different, hopeful and constructive.”

“I think we have a spiritual muscle and a grit.”

“I think we are spiritual warriors in a way that allows us to rise above and stay hopeful when things turn incredibly dark.”

“I have the muscle to hope. I have the muscle because my mother has the muscle to hope, and her mother had the muscle to hope.”

“I don’t have the stomach for rage.”

“You have to be incredibly present and grateful for where we are now.”

“It’s OK to make pivots.”

“In order to grow, you have to try a bunch of things.”

“We can’t afford to be apart at this time. We have to come together in common cause.”

“We need you to organize.”

“You can organize a team of you and your daughter for the first year.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

More Stories of Sustainable Development Goal 3, Good Health and Well-Being

In 2017, we’re emphasizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In March, we are focusing on Sustainable Development Goal 3, Good Health and Well-Being. You can read more about Sustainable Development Goal 1 here, Sustainable Development Goal 2 here, or learn about all of the Sustainable Development Goals here.

Mar 01, 2017
155, Jehiel Oliver, Hello Tractor | Collaborative Consumption for Smallholder Farmers

Hello Tractor is an AgTech company focused on improving food and income security across sub-Saharan Africa through a tractor co-sharing platform.

Collaborative consumption is reshaping the world. There are the well-known players. For example, Airbnb rents more rooms than Hilton, Marriott, and InterContinental combined. If you want to get around in a city, you can grab a ride with someone via Lyft or pick up a bike with bike sharing services such as Nice Ride Minnesota.

But can collaborative consumption help feed the world? That’s what Hello Tractor is attempting to do.  

In Africa and Asia, more than 80% of the food is produced by smallholder farmers. These farmers cannot afford to purchase and maintain a tractor. They depend on manual labor to work their land. With a lack of available labor, they often do not fully cultivate their land. Hello Tractor builds low horsepower tractors, suitable for smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. Smallholder farmers can request tractor services by sending a text, just as you might request a Lyft.

Hello Tractor is not just building tractors. They have created a technology platform that can be used by other manufacturers to provide services on-demand.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Jehiel Oliver

“I’ve always been a fan of using commercial markets to reach low-income populations.”

“Most people who access microfinance, earn their income on the farm.”

“The tractor itself is low-tech, but the technology that supports it is fairly sophisticated.”

“We just asked people for advice.”

“Our biggest asset is a willingness to put yourself out there and sound really stupid.”

“The upside was clear.”

“We were always putting out fires. I think that was part of the fun.”

“Get started. Just go. You’ll never have it figured out.”

“The best learning is not done behind a desk. It’s done out there in the field.”

“Be bold with your ideas. Because some of these challenges are so massive.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

More Stories of Sustainable Development Goal 2, Zero Hunger

In 2017, we’re emphasizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In February, we are focusing on Sustainable Development Goal 2, Zero Hunger. You can read more about Sustainable Development Goal 1 here, Sustainable Development Goal 2 here, or learn about the Sustainable Development Goals here.

Feb 27, 2017
154, Vijaya Pastala, Under the Mango Tree | A Hybrid Social Enterprise that Creates Livelihood from Bees

Under the Mango Tree increases agricultural yields by teaching rural farmers to keep bees. 

Vijaya Pastala and Under the Mango Tree are a good illustration of something that I believe which is, miracles find you while you’re in motion.

Vijaya started experimenting with her business idea in January 2009. By January, 2010, Vijaya had 8,000 rupees in the bank. That’s less than $120 USD. At the time, the monthly cost of running Under the Mango Tree was around 34,000 rupees. Under the Mango Tree was gaining positive press, but beneath the surface, Vijay’s personal savings, which she was using to fund the company, were running out.

During this crisis, Vijaya received a request for a meeting from a stranger. Given all that she was managing, she considered turning down the meeting. It turned out that the stranger was willing to provide the funds needed to meet their operating costs. By May 2010, Under the Mango Tree won the UnLtd India competition, which provided their first seed investment. Other money was to follow, including support from Acumen.

Under the Mango Tree works with marginal farmers, that is farmers who have an income of about $600 per year. They train farmers to transfer wild bees into a bee box. As a result, the farmers increase their productivity, their income and their savings. Under the Mango Tree also helps farmers to gain access to markets for honey and other bee-related products.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Vijaya Pastala

“We work with marginal farmers.”

“There are only five types of bees that make honey and out of those, there are only two bees that can be boxed.”

“It takes a farmer 18 months to become completely at ease with being a beekeeper.”

“We are a honey brand in the market in India.”

“We have created an ecosystem of beekeeping.”

“We train women’s groups to create a swarm bag or a bee veil.”

“We’re like a one-stop-shop on beekeeping.”   

“It’s farmers who are training other farmers.”

“Agriculture is something I’ve always worked on.”

“I understood the importance of sustainability.”

“The hybrid came into being from day one.”

“I realized that, in India, we don’t really showcase the origin of the honey.”

“When you’re an entrepreneur, it’s on your head – everything.”

“Yields are going up 40% to 60%.”

“We have trained about 700 women beekeepers.”

“We have six women who are training other women to be beekeepers.”

“Keep knocking on doors.”

“Use your network.”

“Don’t be shy in asking for help.”

“Set yourself a timeframe.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

More Stories of Sustainable Development Goal 2, Zero Hunger

In 2017, we’re emphasizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In February, we are focusing on Sustainable Development Goal 2, Zero Hunger. You can read more about Sustainable Development Goal 1 here, Sustainable Development Goal 2 here, or learn about the Sustainable Development Goals here.

Feb 20, 2017
153, Matt Moreau and Kori Chilibeck, Earth Group | Feed and Educate Children
Feb 13, 2017
152, Marion Atieno Moon, Wanda Organic | Food Security through Soil Health

Wanda Organic is a for-profit social enterprise that works with farmers to improve their productivity and profitability by improving their soil.

At the age of 28, Marion Atieno Moon quit her job. She wasn’t quite sure what she was going to do next, but she knew there had to be more to life than work and a paycheck. When she returned home to Kenya, she noticed a pattern. As she visited the villages of her childhood, she was expected to bring food. This was a sharp contrast when compared to her travel to other regions where strangers often offered food to her.

As she considered the causes of food insecurity, she realized that food production depends on a handful of factors such as climate, water, and soil. Soil has been called “the living epidermis of the planet.” It is the thin membrane upon which all life on earth depends. Marion saw the poor quality of soil as a business opportunity.

Challenges with Food Production in Kenya

Kenya is a microcosm of the challenges of food production globally. One report estimated that 1.3 million people in rural areas and between 3.5 to 4 million in urban areas are food insecure. The population is growing and becoming more affluent. The cities are encroaching on arable farm land. Climate change is changing soil temperatures and putting pressure on water supplies. And, more importantly, poor farm practices have led to decreased productivity.

Wanda Organic educates Kenyan farmers on the important role soil plays in productivity. They sell bioorganic fertilizers that restore soil health. They also help farmers access markets.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Marion Atieno Moon

“By focusing on maximizing or restoring soil health, we’re enabling farmers to produce more and better-quality food.”

“A lot of the arable land is being taken over by urbanization.”

“I felt there must be more to life than working and making money.”

“I found a huge gap in soil fertility.”

“I learn a lot from the farmers I work with.”

“By using our products, farmers are able to increase their productivity by 30%.”

“We are able to reduce input costs by about 20%.”

“We are currently working with just over 4,000 smallholder farmers, and we have 11 big, corporate clients that we work with.”

“People don’t understand how serious and bad this is.”

“If you’ve killed your soil, you’ve got to fix it.”

“I felt I finally had a seat at the table.”

“I realized that I had grown so much.”

“I feel my instincts are so much better.”

“Resilience and persistence – don’t underestimate what those two can do for you.”

“Take soil very seriously.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

More Stories of Sustainable Development Goal 2, No Poverty

In 2017, we’re emphasizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In February, we are focusing on Sustainable Development Goal 2, Zero Hunger. You can read more about Sustainable Development Goal 1 here, Sustainable Development Goal 2 here, or learn about the Sustainable Development Goals here.

Feb 06, 2017
151, Thane Kreiner, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship 20th Anniversary
Feb 01, 2017
150, Ken Oloo, Filamujuani | Using Film to Fight Youth Unemployment
Jan 30, 2017
149, Sara Leedom, African Entrepreneur Collective | The Real Job Creators: African Entrepreneurs
Jan 23, 2017
148, Kwami Williams, MoringaConnect | Unlocking the Value of Moringa to End Poverty
Jan 16, 2017
147, Okocha Nkem, Mamamoni | Empower Women to Break the Cycle of Poverty
Jan 09, 2017
146, Gayathri Vasudevan, LabourNet | Sustainable Livelihoods through Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship
Jan 02, 2017
145, Ted Barber, Prosperity Candle | Opportunities for Women to End Poverty
Dec 30, 2016
144, Mario Jovan Shaw, Profound Gentlemen | Male Educators of Color as Role Models for Boys of Color

Profound Gentlemen is having a profound impact on boys of color through social-emotional learning.

How do you raise a successful boy of color, in an age of Trayvon Martin and Philando Castile? Boys of Color are four times more likely to receive out of school suspensions as their peers. They are rarely exposed to men of color in the classroom, despite data that shows that having men of color as role models greatly improves the social, emotional, and academic progress of all students, but especially boys of color. More than a quarter of men of color will leave the education profession after their first year.

In 2013, Mario Jovan Shaw was a 7th Grade English language arts teacher. He started a group called The Brotherhood which consisted of 12 – 15 boys of color. Some of the boys were struggling with repeated disciplinary problems while others were performing well in school. They met each Wednesday to talk about how to navigate through life as boys and men of color. This was around the time that George Zimmerman was on trial for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

The students told him, “Mr. Shaw, you are our first educator of color.” This had a profound effect on Mario Jovan. He wrote a letter to the Charlotte Observer, laying out the case for the need for more male educators of color. His letter arrived around the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. So the Charlotte Observer featured his letter. This caught the attention of Jason Terrell who was also doing work in the same area.

By July 2015, they launched Profound Gentlemen. Profound Gentlemen is creating a cradle-to-career pipeline for boys of color. They work with educators of color to increase the social-emotional learning for boys of color. Their goal is to retain 90% of the Gentlemen in the field of education. The expect 90% of boys of color in their Gentlemen’s mentoring groups will graduate from high school. And 90% of boys of color in the Gentlemen’s mentoring groups will be exposed to diverse career opportunities. They work with boys of color in student groups and in after-school programs.

They help boys of color who live in poverty to overcome the barriers in their lives. Profound Gentlemen gives them a chance to experience opportunities that they might not otherwise be exposed to.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Mario Jovan Shaw

“Over 80% of our guys who are Profound Gentlemen, were not education majors.”

“We not only want to have a great football player, but we want him to understand how he contributes back to society.”

“You have to recognize the reality, but you also have to be optimistic.”

“In order for us to win, we have to show gratitude.”

“The biggest thing I’ve learned on my journey is continuously evolving yourself and your organization.”

“Your mission and vision in the first year, is always evolving.”

“Jason and I had to become very, very vulnerable.”

“My way is not the only way.”

“My biggest advice is, continue to allow yourself to grow.”

“Whenever we get into a dark place, we know we’re about to experience major growth.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Dec 28, 2016
143, Kathy Ku and John Kye, SPOUTS of Water | Safe Drinking Water for all Ugandans
Dec 26, 2016
142, Gidon Bromberg, EcoPeace Middle East | Connecting Environmental Protection and Peace in the Middle East
Dec 23, 2016
141, Jeroo Billimoria, Child & Youth Finance International | Social Entrepreneurship Starts Early
Dec 21, 2016
140, Benje Williams, Amal Academy | Continuous Action Creates a Path Out of Poverty
Dec 19, 2016
139, Sonja Ausen-Anifrani, SMS Maama | Reduce Maternal Mortality in Uganda

Sonja Ausen-Anifrani and Katelyn Pastick believe that maternal mortality can be reduced by providing the health information that every woman deserves.

The founders of SMS Maama met at a course on social entrepreneurship at the University of Minnesota. None of them had experience in being an entrepreneur or building a social venture. The class provided mentors in Uganda. They worked on their idea and, when the class was over, they walked away with a grade and a business plan.

But now, they were on the hook. They knew what the problem was and they suspected that perhaps they had a solution. And if they could do something about maternal mortality, didn’t they have to try?

Uganda has a maternal mortality rate of 360 deaths per 100,000 live births. While 1 in 44 Ugandan women will die due to pregnancy complications, in many cases, this is preventable. Early health assessments and improved nutrition can dramatically reduce maternal mortality. However, many women in Uganda do not have access this information.

SMS Maama uses automated text messages to send pregnancy-related information. They also screen for complications during pregnancy through simple text questions and responses. They are just beginning their pilot project in Uganda. Sonja Ausen-Anifrani tells the story.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Sonja Ausen-Anifrani

“These complications are preventable.”

“Every woman has the right to accurate information.”

“When you’re in the class, you’re working with theory.”

“Moving from theory, working in class on a group project, to something real, takes a lot of work.”

“You don’t have a structure. You’re creating a structure.”

“It takes so much internal motivation.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Dec 16, 2016
138, Julius Ibrahim, Second Shot Coffee | Heart, Head, and Hustle to end Homelessness

Julius Ibrahim is tackling homelessness one espresso at a time.

In her book, Work on Purpose, Echoing Green alumni Lara Galinsky offers this formula:

Heart + Head = Hustle

By heart, she means your emotions.

By head, she is referring to your skills and abilities.

And by hustle…well, every entrepreneur knows exactly what that looks like.

Julius Ibrahim is a beautiful illustration of heart, head and hustle.

As Julius entered university in Central London, he was confronted daily by those who were sleeping on the sidewalk, in doorways or parks. These folks are referred to as “rough sleepers.” This was a significant “heart” moment for Julius.

He wanted to apply his skills to make a difference. He became involved with the organization Enactus. Enactus allows students to take entrepreneurial action for social causes. His skills grew as he took on a leadership role in the organization. It was through Enactus that he helped turn around a social enterprise café. He was hooked.

In this role, he had a chance to see a lot of social business startups, including several false-starts of companies who were trying to solve homelessness.

Julius took the time to learn more, speaking to people in the homelessness space. He wanted to know what a good solution looks like.

Julius has a passion for hospitality. He thought about how could bring his hospitality industry skills to bear to solve the issue of chronic homelessness. In other words, how could he combine his head and his heart to make an impact.

Julius started hustling. It took him almost a year to raise the funds to start. He started with a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Although he failed to raise as much money as he hoped, he did receive a great deal of press and social media attention. This led to private investment funding. Because Second Shot Coffee is a UK-based social enterprise, the investors qualified for a Social Investment Tax Relief.

In May, 2016, Julius launched Second Shot Coffee. Charity organizations refer people dealing with homelessness to Julius and Second Shot Coffee. He employs them, trains them as baristas and then transitions them to further employment.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Julius Ibrahim

“I was always passionate about hospitality.”

“Every day there was just so much rough sleeping.”

“That’s when I realized I’m probably not going to go and do the kind of standard career choice.”

“The reason homelessness is so persistent is because there is such a lack of understanding about how easy it is to fall into the situation.”

“Homelessness is something that happens to someone.”

“The average person is two paychecks away from becoming homeless.”

“We started with a crowdfunding campaign.”

“Every day it’s something new and a new challenge.”

“For our model, staff turnover is a good indicator.”

“Once people learn what we do, they’re really onboard and willing to help.”

“If people are given the opportunity, they will contribute and will try and be part of something more meaningful.”

“Find a local social enterprise and support them.”

“Everybody has some kind of specialized skill that they’re able to give.”  

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Dec 14, 2016
137, Misan Rewane, WAVE | Skills over Schools
Dec 12, 2016
136, Vivek Maru, Namati | The Rule of Law for Everyone

Namati puts the rule of law in the hands of people.

The rule of law is a bedrock of most modern societies. No one is above the law. We are all equal under the law. And yet, more than four billion people live outside of the protection of the law. Their rights are easily violated. They have no right to their land. They are denied basic human rights. They are threatened and intimidated, often by the very people who are supposed to protect them.

Vivek Maru learned about social justice from his grandfather who was part of the Gandhian Movement. Vivek wrote his undergrad thesis on Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Malcom X. After college, he received a fellowship to study Gandhian social action in India. He settled in the Kutch district. There he worked on watershed development.

Upon returning to law school, he felt conflicted. He considered dropping out. “What I was learning about the law seemed so contradictory to that Gandhian spirit that I admire,” he told me. But he stuck with his studies.

By 2003, Vivek made his way to Sierra Leone, just after the end of a bloody civil war that had left more than 50,000 dead. Though the country had achieved peace, most of the civil institutions were weak or non-existent. In the entire country, there were less than 100 lawyers. Most of those were in the capital city of Freetown. Across rural Sierra Leone, people had little recourse for legal complaints.

Vivek formed Timap for Justice, training paralegals throughout the country. These paralegals, often referred to as barefoot lawyers, restored the rule of law in many communities. The idea of using paralegals for social justice work is not new. What was different with Timap was that the paralegals coordinated and learned from one another. Eventually the work of Timap was recognized by the World Bank, International Crisis Group and others.

In 2011, Vivek began to scale his community paralegal work to other countries. To do so, he formed Namati. Namati helps people to understand, use, and shape the laws that affect them. Namati develops innovative methods that allow grassroots legal advocates to take on challenges to justice. They spread these methodologies through an interconnected coalition of organizers. The organizers share insights and learn from one another. The coalition work for large-scale, system-changing policy changes. Once the policies are passed, the barefoot lawyers work with local communities to bring those policies to life.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Vivek Maru

“Three billion people around the world live on lands to which they don’t have legal rights.”

“Any big problem you can imagine, law and justice matters.”

“Even though we’ve got tons of lawyers, we have an extraordinary crisis in terms of access to justice.”

“I was dreaming about social justice since I was a kid.”

“What I was learning about the law seemed so contradictory to that Gandhian spirit that I admire.”

“There is a way of approaching the law that sets its sites on transformation.”

“I have found that even in some of the toughest situations, well-equipped and well-supported paralegals can manage to squeeze justice out of broken systems.”

“Study history.”

“You might not notice law and justice if you’re not looking for it.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Namati on Facebook:

Dec 09, 2016
135, Gillian Caldwell, Global Witness | The Link Between Natural Resources, Conflict and Corruption

Global Witness investigates and exposes natural resource exploitation around the world.

Have you ever wondered why many of the countries that are richest in natural resources, have some of the poorest populations? Countries that are rich in gems, minerals and other natural resources also have persistent poverty. In many cases, this is due to corruption and human rights abuses.

How do you break the chain of corruption and abuse? First, it must be exposed. That is what Global Witness does. They document abuses of environmental and human rights. They work for justice for the exploited and they hold the powerful to account.

Gillian Caldwell has been thinking about social justice and natural resources since she was in high school, where she was a chapter coordinator for Amnesty International. Before joining Global Witness, she was CEO for 1Sky where she took on climate change. She was also the Executive Director for WITNESS, a platform for documenting violations of human rights.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Gillian Caldwell

“Global Witness was one of the first organizations to understand the relationship between natural resource exploitation and environmental and human rights abuse.”

“Our work looks at Western enablers of corruption that help impoverish nation states by depriving them of the wealth that their natural resources should be able to generate.”

“My teachers were very influential for me.”

“From an early age I was thinking in very broad terms about the world around me and what difference I could make in it.”

“The process is as important as the destination.”

“In an increasingly interconnected world, there is no such thing as an exclusively national concern.”

“We just don’t have the luxury to see those problems in separate compartments any longer.”

“Some of the most resource rich countries in the world are dealing with grinding poverty, environmental and human rights abuse and corruption.”

“Too often companies are shielded and the money itself is shielded by the existence of so-called anonymous companies.”

“Tune in to what moves and motivates you.”

“Personal sustainability is key.”

“This is a marathon and not a sprint.”

“The only change that’s meaningful in the world is change that happens through partnerships and collaboration.”

“There’s room for people who are passionate enough to chart their own course.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Dec 07, 2016
134, Verengai Mabika, Development Reality Institute (DRI) | The Climate Change Challenge and Opportunity

Verengai Mabika sees the opportunities created by climate change.

Eighty percent of Zimbabwe’s businesses depend on Agriculture. Most agriculture in Zimbabwe is rain-fed. Climate change brings record high temperatures and frequent droughts. When crops fail, so does Zimbabwe’s economy. The droughts, combined with land reform, changed Zimbabwe from a net exporter of agricultural products to an importer of food. There are currently around four million people who need food aid in Zimbabwe.

Verengai Mabika has a passion for designing green communities. He was trained as an urban planner with an emphasis on environmental design.

In 2009, there was a sharp rise in political violence. Verengai told me, “I was surprised by the way our leaders were taking advantage of young people who had so much energy. I thought I could motivate a few young people to get into a discourse that I believed was very serious and could bring some opportunities for them.”

The Development Reality Institute taps into the high number of unemployed youth to address the effects of climate change. They have three key activities. They run a virtual school to build the capacity of people to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change. They operate the Green Innovations Hub, which is a space with technical and financial assistance for innovative ideas. And they work with young people in school, educating them through their Cool Schools program.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Verengai Mabika

“We believe that we can create a generation of social entrepreneurs who can effectively respond to the effect of climate change.”

“I believe that the climate change discourse, even though it is one of the greatest challenges, it also offers some huge opportunities.”

“I see it as a dual challenge of climate change as well as unemployment.”

“The current unemployment rate in Zimbabwe is about 80%.”

“What we’re trying to create here is a pathway for young people to think differently when it comes to climate change.”

“The Green Innovations Hub is both a virtual and physical space.”

“Most of the motivation that keeps me going is the motivation that I draw from my colleagues.”

“Persistence and consistency are quite key.”

“There’s now compelling evidence that climate change is a huge issue.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Dec 05, 2016
133, Rashmi Bharti, AVANI Society | Create Sustainable Livelihood Through an Ethical, Green Brand
Dec 02, 2016
132, Nina Smith, GoodWeave International | End Child Labor with a Market-Based Approach

Nina Smith has been thinking about social justice since she was eight years old. It’s natural that today she is working to end child labor.

You might think that child labor is a thing of the past, relegated to black and white pictures from the 1940s. Unfortunate for millions of children around the world, that is not true. According to the Global Slavery Index, 45.8 million people are enslaved in the world today. In the handmade carpet industry alone there are nearly a quarter of a million children who are being exploited.

Nina Smith grew up in a Jewish household, where her grandmother taught her the Jewish tradition of tzedakah, or social justice. As an eight-year-old, she was first introduced to her cousin Mark. She was told by her mother and grandmother that Mark would tell her and her sister a story. The story, as it turns out, was the story of the holocaust. “That was the first time I understood about the injustices in the world,” she told me.

Nina sees echoes of this injustice in the lives of modern-day slaves. “Very much my childhood influenced the way that I respond to this kind of thing now. People all over the world knew it was happening, the information was there, but people didn’t act soon enough or strongly enough.” She said of child labor, “It’s touching every one of us through the products that we buy.”

GoodWeave is transforming the rug industry by certifying child-labor-free rugs. To earn the GoodWeave label, manufacturers must meet certifications standards. They must also agree to random, independent inspections.

GoodWeave has freed more than 3,500 children from slave labor. They have reduced child labor by 80% in the handmade carpet industry of South Asia. Children who are rescued, are offered schooling and other basic needs. GoodWeave also prevents child labor by providing opportunities to at-risk children.

GoodWeave is expanding their market-based approach to eliminating child labor to new sectors such as apparel, home textiles and agricultural products.

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Macy’s – GoodWeave partnership announcement:

Nov 30, 2016
131, Paul Rice, Fair Trade USA | Vote with Your Dollars
Nov 28, 2016
130, Kathleen Colson, The BOMA Project | Poverty Graduation through For-Profit Entrepreneurship
Nov 25, 2016
129, Martin Burt, Fundación Paraguaya | The Poverty Stoplight
Nov 23, 2016
128, Steph Speirs and Steve Moilanen, Solstice | Solar for All

Solstice provides access to clean, affordable solar energy for those who have been locked out of the solar market.

Today’s conversation with Steph Speirs and Steve Moilanen of Solstice is the fifth in a series on solar power and clean energy around the world. We spoke with Sam Goldman of d.light, a pioneer in solar energy for the developing world. We also spoke with Allison Archambault of EarthSpark International. They provide pre-pay electricity through a mini-grid in Haiti. We spoke to Harrison Leaf of who helps mini-grid operators utilize “the internet of things,” wireless connectivity and a platform, primarily in Africa. We heard from Clementine Chambon, Amit Saraogi of Oorja. They are working on rural electrification in India utilizing a hybrid solar and biomass system. Today, we speak with Steph and Steve about why Americans are locked out of inexpensive solar energy and what it is that they are doing about that.

How big is the problem? Almost 90 million American households cannot access solar power. Some are renters. Others live on low incomes. Still more live in homes that do not have sufficient direct sunlight. Whatever the reason, millions of households cannot access clear, affordable solar energy…until now.

Solstice is transforming the market, using community shared solar. Through Solstice, anyone can subscribe to a solar garden, saving money and the environment at the same time.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Steph Speirs and Steve Moilanen

“Solar is cheap enough that everyone can save money using it.” Steph Speirs

“Sixteen states that allow for community solar, but the Department of Energy thinks it’s going to be a $16 billion industry by 2020.” Steph Speirs

“One of the benefits of community solar is how easy it is.” Steve Moilanen

“Think of it like a community garden, but for clean energy.” Steve Moilanen

“The number one reason why anyone signs up for solar is because they have a friend or neighbor that went solar.” Steph Speirs

“Solar is contagious in personal networks.” Steph Speirs

“We’re creating viral communities around community solar.” Steph Speirs

“You can switch to clean energy and save money on your electricity bill from day one, at no up front cost.” Steph Speirs

“I realized I didn’t have to be halfway across the world to work on energy equity issues.” Steph Speirs

“In America, the people who need solar savings the most are currently the least likely to get it.” Steph Speirs

“We’re never going to mitigate climate change unless we get more people access to clean energy.” Steph Speirs

“The set of thing that you are expected to be competent at as a first-time entrepreneur, is daunting.” Steve Moilanen

“We probably got rejected from twenty grant proposals before we got our first influx of money through the Echoing Green fellowship.” Steph Speirs

“Entrepreneurs don’t have good days and bad days. They have good hours and bad hours.” Steph Speirs

“We want to switch 50,000 households to solar by 2020.” Steph Speirs

“In starting something, make sure you’re picking a battle that’s worth fighting.” Steve Moilanen

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Nov 21, 2016
127, Clementine Chambon, Amit Saraogi, Oorja | Rural Electrification of India Using Waste

Oorja's biomass and solar-powered micro-grids provide affordable and reliable electricity to off-grid communities in rural India.

In India, 450 million people lack access to reliable energy. This has several repercussions including a lack of economic development, poor health outcomes, gender inequity, poor education and more. Without reliable electricity, villagers rely on fossil-fuels such as kerosene and diesel. They spend up to 20% of household income on these dirty sources of power.

At the same time, people in rural India produce 200 million tons of crop waste per year. This waste is usually burned in the field, producing greenhouse gasses.

Clementine Chambon and Amit Saraogi met in a Climate-KIC workshop in 2015. They developed the business model for Oorja during that workshop. Since then they have worked with and interviewed hundreds of people, fully developing their business idea.

Oorja builds and maintains decentralized hybrid solar and biomass-powered micro-grids, producing reliable clean energy across the Indian countryside.

Oorja is the project developer and they use a community-ownership model. This provides livelihood opportunities and economic stimulation.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Clementine Chambon and Amit Saraogi

“We’re aiming to provide reliable and affordable power to places that currently don’t have access to electricity.” Clementine Chambon

“We’re aiming to compete with diesel.” Clementine Chambon

“I’ve always had interest in climate change and clean energy solutions.” Clementine Chambon

“We identified that waste energy and rural electrification were our common points of interest.” Clementine Chambon

“The benefits of this growth and globalization were not really trickling down.” Amit Saraogi

“I was a banker, but I knew this was not the right path for me.” Amit Saraogi

“I believe good policy that is well-implemented is the need of the hour.” Amit Saraogi

“I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time.” Amit Saraogi

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Nov 18, 2016
126, Harrison Leaf, | Connect Mini-Grids to the Cloud

Mini-Grids are a way to connect more than a billion people to electricity and water.

We’ve grown used to the idea of “the internet of things,” big data, and wireless connectivity. But can these technological breakthroughs be used to improve the lives of some of the poorest people in the world? And, will that technology work in the most rugged and off-grid places on earth? That’s what does.

On Social Entrepreneur, we’ve been looking at how the people around the world suffer from energy poverty can move up the energy ladder. When people don’t have access to reliable electricity, they use expensive, dirty fuels to power their lives. This hurts their health while keeping them trapped in poverty.

One answer is mini-grids, powered by clean energy sources such as wind and solar. But, mini-grid operators have unique challenges. But how does someone without a bank account buy electricity? How does the utility read a meter, turn on an account or track usage remotely? provides smart meters, wireless connectivity and a robust platform utilities can use to manage their system. works in some of the most remote places on earth. Utilities can use technology to aggregate data and to learn.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Harrison Leaf

“My work is my protest.”

“We’ve gone out to the bush and designed this in a place where it’s going to be used.”

“We’re not the power company. We put the power company’s equipment, via our smart meters, onto the internet.”

“It’s autopilot for mini grids.”

“Search not just for success, but for failure.”

“Apply the scientific method.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Nov 16, 2016
125, Ellen Moir, New Teacher Center (NTC) | Improve Student Learning by Accelerating Teacher Effectiveness
Nov 14, 2016
124, Sam Pressler, Armed Services Arts Partnership (ASAP) | Empowering Veterans through Comedy and the Arts

On this Veteran’s Day, we celebrate with Sam Pressler of the Armed Services Arts Partnership or ASAP.

What words would you use to describe veterans? Hero? Brave? Or maybe broken or dangerous? How about neighbor, coworker, or community member? Veterans are people like you and me who exist far beyond the hyperbole, and yet they are often misunderstood. Since September 11, 2001, about 1% of the US population has served in the military. Because so few have served, there can be a civilian-military divide, punctuated by common misunderstandings.

The Armed Services Arts Partnership or ASAP helps veterans and their families to thrive through arts classes and performances. Their flagship program is a comedy boot camp where veterans learn about comedy, write their own jokes and then perform in front of a live audience. ASAP’s training helps veterans to develop life skills while breaking down the civilian-military divide.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Sam Pressler

“Only 10% of veterans are female, but 35% of our classes are made up of women.”

“There is a difference between art therapy and art as therapy.”

“Humor was the avenue that I used to get through difficult times.”

“When we don’t have a way to connect to one another, we often turn to humor.”

“I didn’t know what social entrepreneurship was.”

“I’ve really never had any job, except for this.”

“The line between emotional tragedy and emotional jubilation is very thin.”

“Really ensure that you are taking care of yourself.”

“Get to know veterans beyond the stereotype of the hero or the broken.”

“This is a movement to ensure veterans have opportunities to express themselves, have a voice and heal through the arts.”

Veteran’s Day Resources:

Nov 11, 2016
123, Allison Archambault, EarthSpark International | Solving Energy Poverty through Innovation

EarthSpark International is working to eradicate energy poverty.

Energy poverty is the cycle of poverty that exist when people don’t have access to modern fuels, especially electricity. More than a billion people worldwide do not have access to electricity. And even more people do not have access to reliable electricity. For many of these people, they spend a very large portion of their income on energy services such as kerosene, candles, batteries and cell phone charging services.

EarthSpark International researches and develops business models that can spin-off and scale to address specific aspects of energy poverty. EarthSpark provides a pre-pay microgrid in Les Anglais, Haiti. They serve over 2000 people with 24-hour electricity powered by solar energy. This solar-powered microgrid provides affordable clean energy. It cuts their customers’ energy costs by up to 80%.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Allison Archambault

“We’re working on business models that can be relevant to energy poverty in many different places.”

“Haiti’s the least electrified country in the western hemisphere.”

“I signed up for six months and that was six months ago.”

“It’s easier to build a town-sized, solar powered smart grid in rural Haiti than it is in Washington, DC, where I live.”

“A lot of people in Haiti have cell phones but they don’t have access to electricity.”

“Everybody aspires to higher levels of electricity.”

“We call it de-risking by doing.”

“A microgrid is an energy system that is at a community scale.”

“We’re powerful enough to energize industry, and progressive enough to deliver electricity to every single customer within the infrastructure’s footprint.”

“We have a solar powered microgrid that is delivering clean, affordable and reliable electricity to about two thousand people in a town in rural Haiti.”

“Our mission is to eradicate energy poverty, but the method is to do research and development on business models that we can spin off and scale.”

“It’s not one single solution that’s going to solve energy poverty. It’s a real portfolio approach.”

“We have a goal of building eighty grids in the next five years.”

 Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Nov 09, 2016
122, Sam Goldman, d.light | Affordable and Clean Energy for the Developing World
Nov 07, 2016
121, Lauren Fine, Youth Sentencing and Reentry Project (YSRP) | Providing the Child Advocacy every Child Deserves

The Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project is dedicated to keeping kids out of adult jails and prisons.

Did you make any bad decisions when you were ten years old? I know I did. In many states, including Pennsylvania, children as young as ten years old can be treated by the courts as an adult.

When children come into the court system, they can be offered a public defender. However, when children are in trouble in a group, and we know that children often get into trouble in a group setting, only one of the children will be given a public defender. The others are appointed a private attorney. These private attorneys can be private practitioners who lack a support team such as paralegals, social workers or case managers.

The Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project supports kids who are prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system, including individuals who were sentenced to life without parole as children.

They do that by helping lawyers with low-income clients get their cases transferred from the adult criminal justice system to the juvenile justice system. They also help connect youth and juvenile lifers with existing community resources and programs, so they have access to education, healthcare, stable housing and job placement.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Lauren Fine

“Children as young as 10 years old can be treated as adults in the criminal justice system.”  

“On any given night in the United States there are 10,000 children in adult jails or prisons.”

“In Pennsylvania we have the highest number of individuals who, as children, were sentenced to live without the possibility of parole.”

“It’s important to note that race is really relevant in terms of which kids are being treated as if there were adults.”

“86% of youth tried as adults are youth of color.”

“Youth of color are ten times as likely to be sentenced to life without parole.”

“Pick good advisors.”

 Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Nov 04, 2016
120, Paul Bradley, ROC USA | Housing Security for Mobile Home Owners

ROC USA is a non-profit organization with a mission of making quality resident ownership possible nationwide.

When Paul Bradley was studying economics in university, he became interest in cooperative business models. “It immediately appealed to me,” he told me. “By its structure, it’s a more broadly distributing form of business ownership. Resources are shared more broadly among workers, among members and among consumers of the cooperatives.”

Paul was also interested in development work, spending time in Central America. When he returned to his home in Concord, New Hampshire, he found the opportunity to work in development work in his own neighborhood. He worked with the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund where he organized mobile home park residents.

In the United States, there are around 50,000 mobile home parks. The residents, many of whom are low-income, often own the home in which they live, but they do not own the land on which the home sits. It can be quite expensive to move a mobile home to another lot.

Because mobile home owners do not own the lot, they do not have control over the lot rent. Rent can go up significantly with as little as sixty days’ notice.

Some mobile home park owners do not properly maintain the infrastructure such as roads and sewage. This can cause homeowners to be held captive in unsafe and deteriorating conditions.

Mobile home owners also lack the security of land tenure. A mobile home community can be closed with very little notice. This often happens when the value of the land has gone up significantly, and the land owner chooses to turn the land to another use. Homeowners who may have been paying rent for decades can suddenly lose their home.

ROC USA helps homeowners form a cooperative, and to purchase land in order to preserve and improve the community. Each homeowner owns one share in the cooperative that owns the land.

There are two barriers that keep mobile home owners from forming cooperatives and purchasing their land. One is technical know-how. The other is access to capital. ROC USA addresses both of these challenges.

ROC USA has scaled a model of resident ownership in manufactured home communities, building a network of more than 10,000 secure and affordable homes with partners in 14 states.

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Nov 02, 2016
119, Alana Greer, Community Justice Project, Inc. | Lawyers for the Social Justice Movement
Oct 31, 2016
118, Avnish Gungadurdoss, Instiglio | Tying social program funding to results

Instiglio is a nonprofit with a mission of maximizing the social impact of every cent spent on social programs. They do that by tying funding to results.

Avnish Gungadurdoss grew up on the island nation of Mauritius. He was drawn to do social work at a young age. “I remember being taken by how much the poor’s trajectory was completely dependent on where they were born,” he told me. “To me that was a crazy thought, that life is up to the random chance of where you were born.”

While working in the field and seeing firsthand the gap between the promise of social programs and their outcome, he recognized that most social programs are funded for inputs and activities, not impact. “Policies that look good on paper get implemented in such a poor manner that they rarely deliver results on the ground,” he acknowledged. He and his cofounders decided to do something about that. They founded Instiglio in 2012.

Instiglio helps social programs to be more effective in solving the world’s most pressing issues. They do that by tying funding to results.

Instiglio is a leader in Results-Based Financing. That is, funding of social programs is tied directly to their impact. Instiglio focuses on two tools: Performance-Based Contracts and Impact Bonds.

They also provide Performance Management services to help service providers track and make data-driven decisions to improve the impact of their programs.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Avnish Gungadurdoss

“That’s the real standard we need to hold ourselves to in international development. Can we be better than just giving people a handout?”

“Can we actually solve these market failures in such a way that’s relevant, and that drives results and outcomes for the populations that we’re serving?”

“How do we actually make good policies work on the ground?”

“We have been able to mobilize about $320 million towards results-based financing instruments.”

“The deeper you look, the more troubling it was.”

“There was this broad recognition that every year billions of dollars are spent with absolutely no impact.”

“We wanted to shift the game.”

“It’s a fairly simple concept, but it’s tricky to do in practice.”

“These types of instruments are provoking some radical transformations.”

“You see the organizations transition from a beneficiary mindset to a client mindset.”

“Do it about something you care about, that grips you emotionally.”

“Your purpose has to be strong enough to keep you going.”

“Do it with a team that is equally committed and whom you can trust.”

“Social programs, when they work well, are smart economics and smart politics.”

“The idea of unlocking the potential of people who are otherwise constrained by poverty, should be of interest to every nation.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Oct 28, 2016
117, Safeena Husain, Educate Girls | The Power of an Educated Girl

Safeena Husain of Educate Girls works with volunteers across Indian villages to find out-of-school girls, bring them back to school and to educate them.

As an educated, successful woman, Safeena Husain visited a village, accompanied by her father. Because they were strangers in the village, the local residents were naturally curious. The local villagers asked Safeena’s father about his family. When her father explained that this was his only child, a daughter, the reaction shocked Safeena. “You poor thing,” they said. “Perhaps it is not too late for you. You can still try to have a son.” Safeena thought to herself, “If I am treated like this, what chance does the poor girl in the village have?”

When a girl is educated, they have the potential to enter the formal economy, gain employment and lift their families out of poverty.

Educate Girls works at the root cause of gender inequality in India's education system. They work with thousands of schools, reaching millions of children in some of India's most remote areas. Through their work, they have achieved over 90% enrollment and higher attendance for girls. They have also worked to improve school infrastructure, quality of education and learning outcomes for all girls.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Safeena Husain

“We find every girl who is out of school. We make sure she is brought back to school, stays in school and is learning.”

“To find the girls out of school, we go door-to-door.”

“It’s not enough to have her in school. If she’s not learning, everything would be worthless.”

“India has the highest number of out-of-school girls in the world.”

“We have the highest number of child brides anywhere on the planet.”

“And we also have the highest number of women or girls that are trafficked.”

“The World Bank says that investing in a girl’s education is the best investment a country can make.”

“For each additional year of schooling for a girl, family income goes up by 10% - 15%.”

“Once she is educated, she is 500 times more likely to educate her children.”

“These are not the rules. These are just the rules we have made.”

“I thought I have to do something in girls’ education, because I found my pathway through education.”

“They gave me a list of 26 critical gender gap districts.”

“I learned from a lot of best practices in this sector.”

“In terms of learning, we had an almost 30% better result than a regular government school, in our school.”

“My job is to have a vision of success.”

“It’s a mindset issue.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Oct 26, 2016
116, Tom Streitz, Twin Cities RISE | Ending Poverty through Personal Empowerment

Twin Cities RISE transforms lives through personal empowerment and meaningful work.

In the United States, one of the richest countries in the world, why does poverty persist across generations? The path out of poverty is complex, but it almost always involves meaningful work. And, while it often takes technical skills to find a job, more often the barrier to work involves power skills – emotional intelligence, social intelligence, confidence, belief, a sense of self-worth. Through their Personal Empowerment program, Twin Cities RISE creates transformative change, self-confidence and self-reliance.

Twin Cities RISE helps individuals in poverty to find long-term, meaningful and stable employment. When someone joins Twin Cities RISE, they are assigned a coach. They participate in the Personal Empowerment program and they are connected with employment opportunities. Twin Cities RISE provides work skills training, internship opportunities, job search assistance, and employment placement.

Twin Cities RISE creates long-term results. Eighty-two percent of graduates are still at their job after one year and seventy-five percent after two years. That’s more than double the national job retention average. Through their Reentry Connect program, they have reduced first-year recidivism rates from 43% to 13%. Studies have shown that, for every dollar invested in Twin Cities RISE, they produce seven dollars of social benefit.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Tom Streitz

“The mission is focused around breaking multigenerational poverty.”

“The technical skills someone needs on a job, we believe come after a grounding in emotional intelligence.”

“The real foundation of what we’ve done is focusing on outcomes.”

“We were a pioneer in Minnesota for Pay for Performance.”

“The average income of someone coming into our program last year was around $3,000 to $4,000.”

“This is a place where people walk through the door and their future hangs in the balance.”

“For those who complete the program, it’s nothing short of a miracle.”

“Are you prepared to take this journey? If you are, the outcomes are phenomenal.”

“We don’t call people ‘clients.’ They’re participants.”

“They’re the ones driving their success. We are a witness to it.”

“Our retention rate on the job after one year is 82%, which is double the national average.”

“Business principles can drive very successful social outcomes.”

“By measuring it, we can demonstrate the economic proposition.”

“Every dollar the state of Minnesota has invested in Twin Cities RISE, has delivered seven dollars back to the taxpayers.”

“It pays for itself and has dividends both economically and socially.”

“It is literally going to the root.”

“It’s an intervention that’s meant to completely empower and transform someone on their journey.”

“Their intelligence and their grit is intact. What’s lacking is a belief that are either worthy of or can achieve anything of importance.”

“We are involved in addressing systemic issues that weave a web that keeps people enmeshed in systemic poverty.”

“Our vision is long-term, meaningful employment that supports you and your family.”

“Under our reentry connect program, the recidivism rate is under 12%.”

“We’re a school that’s free for people in poverty.”

“The best path out of poverty is a great job.”

“Employers love to hire our participants.”

“Look at the system that keeps that problem in place, and devise a very simple intervention.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Oct 24, 2016
115, Anushka Ratnayake, myAgro | How to Move Smallholder Farmers out of Poverty

Anushka Ratnayake of myAgro uses a combination of savings, inputs and training to increase the income of smallholder farmers.

As a social entrepreneur, Anushka Ratnayake has seen startup challenges that are not common in other regions. For example, less than a year after launching myAgro, an armed conflict broke out in northern Mali. A group associated with Al-Qaeda set up a new state in Norther Mali. In response, the French military launched an operation and ousted the rebels.

Anushka Ratnayake, the founder of myAgro was an early employee with Kiva. There she learned about the power of microfinance to impact poverty. She also worked with One Acre Fund where her job was to develop a repayment process for smallholder farmers. She heard from the farmers that they wanted to prepay their loan, or in other words, they were asking for help in saving money for the future.

Seventy percent of the population of Mali are smallholder farmers, most living on less than two dollars per day. The farmers have seasonal income. They have the most cash at harvest time and less cash on hand when it is time to purchase seeds and fertilizer.

myAgro sells seeds and fertilizer on layaway via a mobile phone platform. They also provide training on well-established agricultural methods. This helps smallholder farmers grow more food and increase their income.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Anushka Ratnayake

“Smallholder farmers make up 80% of the two billion people living under two-dollars per day.”

“I saw this opportunity of low yields, lots of land and a fast growing population.”

“I started hacking One Acre Fund from within.”

“When you’re working a startup, everyone’s time and resources are so valuable.”

“On the side, I started working with someone on a savings program for a cow.”

“There were all doing amazing work, but no one had a savings program specifically for farmers.”

“Solving the financing problem for farmers is a key to ending poverty in our lifetime.”

“One of the reasons it’s hard to serve smallholder farmers is that they tend to need many different support mechanisms.”

“It’s really convenient for farmers to put small amounts of money aside.”

“We bulk purchase seeds and fertilizer and deliver it to farmers.”

“It’s that combination of financing plus delivery of inputs plus training that really gets us that increase in harvest and the increase in income that we’re seeing.”

“Farmers are increasing their harvest from 50% - 100% over a control field.”

“They’re increasing their income by an average of $150.”

“There was a twelve hour period when it was unclear whether Mali would continue to exist.”

“I think social enterprises sometimes under value the impact they have on their team.”

“Our favorite day across the organization is delivery day, when farmers get their inputs.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Oct 21, 2016
114, Satyan Mishra, Drishtee | Developing Sustainable Communities

Satyan Mishra of Drishtee is developing sustainable communities in the villages of India.

In the late 1990s, while Satyan Mishra was working on a government contract, he had the opportunity to visit many villages across India. In India, more than 775 million people live in small villages. Nearly half of them live on less than one dollar per day.

Satyan saw how the presence of a computer in a village could have an impact. His company, Drishtee started setting up kiosks in villages. By 2006 they had set up over 1,000 village kiosks. And yet, as Satyan told me, “I realized that what we had done had not really made any impact on the community.” Economic challenges, social constraints and environmental degradation remained.

So, Satyan and his cofounders at Drishtee decided to take the company in a different direction. While they continue to work at the village level, today they use the power of entrepreneurship to take on the social challenges of the villages.

They take a holistic approach to community development. They start with livelihood. This often comes by developing local agriculture. Once people have livelihood, then Drishtee works to add services – doctors, education, banking, cobblers, etc., which further stimulates the economy. This is followed by infrastructure such as roads and electricity. The fourth area of intervention is governance.

Drishtee incubates businesses in a non-profit. If the ideas is successful and looks like it will be able to scale, they move the idea into the for-profit side of the business.

They are in about six thousand villages today. That means that their work impacts around two million families.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Satyan Mishra

“We have always worked in villages.”

“We have always believed in entrepreneurship.”

“We have always been drive by business models.”

“There are business solutions for every problem that exists.”

“When I was in class nine, I wanted to be filthy rich.”

“We realized the computers could not solve all of the problems of the community.”

“The idea of Drishtee was to make money initially, but over a period of time I realized that this is perhaps not the best way to become the richest person in the world.”

“Our entire approach was very top-down.”

“That is when we started looking at the community as a customer.”

“Sixty-five percent of people live in the villages, but they contribute about fifteen percent of the overall GDP.”

“When you go into a village, you see that most people do not have jobs.”

“The first and foremost need that they had was livelihood.”

“There were four areas that were needed. The first was livelihood.”

“Agriculture stood out as an area that we could train and enhance.”

“We are like a pipeline. Start with an idea. Incubate it. Nurture it.”

“We have limited bandwidth, but the need of the community is unlimited.”

“I think a social entrepreneur is one who will be relentless, and would be flexible.”

“We have been treating the symptoms. It’s time to look at the core disease.”

“We have moved away from living together.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Oct 19, 2016
113, Yvette Ondachi, Ojay Greene | Connecting Smallholder Farmers to Markets

Yvette Ondachi uses technology to connect smallholder farmers to markets.

Yvette Ondachi is a biochemist. She was a pharmaceutical product manager across several east African countries. “The problem I encountered was, most people couldn’t afford [medicine],” Yvette told me. Even after an experiment in which the company lowered the cost of medications by 75%, many people still could not get access to medicine.

“One of the things that propelled me,” Yvette explained, “was watching mothers, helpless as their children suffered from preventable diseases.” She knew she had to do something to make a difference. “Something within me became very restless. I said, ‘I have to do something about this.’”

Most of the people who were unable to buy medicine were smallholder farmers, those who farm on small plots of land and live off of their crops. Globally, there are about 500 million smallholder farmers. They produce 80% of the food consumed in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. In Kenya, around 42 million people work at least part time in agriculture.

Yvette’s company, Ojay Greene works with smallholder farmers to remove the barriers that limit them. Ojay Greene uses technology to give smallholder farmers access to markets, therefore increasing their earnings. Farmers who participate increase their income by five times over five years.

Quotes from Yvette Ondachi about Smallholder Farmers

“What we do with smallholder farmers is, we link them to profitable markets.”

“Smallholder farmers constitute between 50% and 70% of populations across Africa.”

“Poverty robs them of their potential.”

“I asked the question, why is it that people who are involved in food production are poor?”

“Despite advances in mobile phones and other advances, very little had occurred in agriculture.”

“I looked at the skill I had in my hand, and the skill I had in my hand was marketing.”

“There was a lack of coordination between the supply and the demand.”

“It is uncomfortable to watch people wallow in poverty.”

“I was looking at the science of farming.”

“This text system came out as a result of a problem and a frustration.”

“In Sub-Saharan Africa, the continent is spending close to $40 billion importing food.”

“We’re taking them on a journey where they move from subsistence farming to building micro enterprises.”

“The end game of what we’re trying to achieve is to build strong and vibrant communities.”

“We’re looking at going into four countries by 2018.”

“When you have a goal, it’s important to stick to it.”

“For every ten doors I knock, chances are that nine are shut.”

“Many people want the success of your journey and not the hardship of your journey.”

“I looked into the business aspect of the social enterprise and said this has to make business sense.”

“We have focused on churning up the revenue.”

“Never forget why you did this in the first place.”

“Don’t do this for the money. Do this for the positive change.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Oct 16, 2016
112, Martin von Hildebrand, Gaia Amazonas | Promoting the Rights of Indigenous People and the Environment

Martin von Hildebrand has been working with indigenous people for the last 42 years to protect their rights and the environment.

Martin lived with indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest from the 1972 through 1980. There, he witnessed rubber tappers exploiting the lands and missionaries converting the indigenous people from their traditional ways. By listening to the indigenous people, he was able to learn what they wanted, and to explore ways to secure their future.

Martin realized that, the indigenous people needed to secure land rights, the right to self-governance, and environmental protections. Martin worked with the government to secure all of these rights. In Colombia, 26 million hectares were set aside. Indigenous people have their own governmental system, and they are managing their environmental programs.

Martin’s work is spreading beyond Colombia to the rest of the Amazon. The Amazon is critical for so many reason. The Amazon is a rich source of biodiversity. Twenty percent of the world’s oxygen comes from the Amazon. And the Amazon rainforest is responsible for moving moisture from the sea inwards, through what has been described as “flying rivers.”

Today, the rainforest remains under pressure from hydropower, oil, mining, roads, timber production and agriculture. Martin takes a collaborative and pragmatic approach to saving the rainforest.

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Oct 14, 2016
111, Anne Field, Award-Winning Writer, Editor, Journalist | Not Only For Profit

Anne Field is interested in “not only for profit” businesses.  

Anne Field is an award-winning writer, editor and journalist. Just over ten years ago, she wrote an article on for-profit social enterprises and impact investing. At the time, the term impact investing was new. The B-Lab had just been formed, and new social enterprises were blooming. Anne became fascinated how companies could make a profit with a purpose.

Today, Anne is best known for her Forbes blog Not Only for Profit. She writes about for-profit social enterprises and impact investing. She primarily focuses on the startup journey. She is one of the people I closely follow on social media.

In this conversation, Anne describes where her interest in social entrepreneurship and impact investing began. She describes some of the forces behind the growth of social entrepreneurship including the financial meltdown, the frustration with inaction on some of the larger issues of our time, and the important role of millennials.

She describes four trends in social entrepreneurship that she is noticing, including companies that utilize tech breakthroughs, accelerators, companies that repurpose waste and local equity investments.

She describes her worries about social entrepreneurship, but also her hopes.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Anne Field

“I started hearing more and more about this new thing [social entrepreneurship]. This was more than ten years ago.”

“The field has grown more and really blossomed.”

“Something that gave it a big push is the financial meltdown and the sort of world economic crisis.”

“What happens in the political sphere has been extremely depressing and seems to be going nowhere. Most importantly in the US is the area of climate change.”

“The trend of millennial interest is extremely important. It’s really what’s giving this at all a shot and arm.”

“I just don’t know if all this stuff is going to last if it had legs or if it’s what amounts to a fad.”

“There’s another issue also with just how much these enterprises can scale.”

“For them to be really effective, these companies really have to scale.”

“I do see it becoming more entrenched, for example in business schools.”

“My hope is that it becomes increasingly mainstream.”

“You have to focus on the money.”

“I think that the for-profit part is very important in helping a company scale and become sustainable.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Oct 12, 2016
110, J.B. Schramm, New Profit | Advance Equity through Investment

New Profit supports systems-changing ideas to advance equity.  

America has a problem. We need ten million more people with degrees and quality credentials by the year 2025. J.B. Schramm wants to do something about that, in a way that advances equity.

J.B. was a co-founder, and now serves on the board of College Summit. College Summit partners with high schools in low-income communities to empower students. They see students as peer-leaders. To date, they have served over 250,000 students from 500 schools nationwide.

College summit saw quite a bit of success. President Obama awarded College Summit a portion of his noble prize fund. They were selected by the World Economic Forum as the US Social Entrepreneur of the Year. J.B. enjoyed the program work, but eventually, like very great social entrepreneur, he began thinking about how to shift the system. He began doing field work in order to advance equity across the entire system.  

Today, J.B. leads New Profit’s Learn to Earn Fund. Learn to Earn scales proven initiatives for low-income students to help them succeed in college and career.

New Profit is a venture philanthropy fund. Their mission is to break down the barriers that stand between people and opportunity in America. They partner social entrepreneurs and philanthropists to transform the way America educates its children.

One of New Profit’s initiatives is a Power Skills XPRIZE. Power skills include leadership, critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, communication, growth mindset and grit.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from J.B. Schramm

“For national security, global competitiveness and social justice reasons, our nation needs to develop ten million more Americans with degrees and quality credentials by 2025.”

“Unfortunately, what we haven’t seen are initiatives that are moving the needle for low-income students and scaling.”

“What Learn to Earn seeks to do is to scale proven initiatives for low-income students for their post-secondary and career success.”

“We use a private equity model for helping initiatives scale.”

“We help convene and catalyze the ecosystem.”

“We bring together our high net worth network, along with institutional funders to build funds that not only help to stretch the dollars and leverage the funders dollars but they also help these leading funders mitigate some risk.”

“We work to build a community of funders that assess the issue and then jump in together.”

“That was when I first recognized that talent is evenly distributed but opportunity is not.”

“While it’s important for each of these groups to serve more and more students, it’s also important to think about the field.”

“I’m just a firm believer that we learn by trying it out.”

“You’re going to have to be a pit bull.”

“Pay attention to your unit economics early.”

“Paying attention early on for the unit economics is going to make a difference between having a great idea that maybe inspires people versus an inspiring idea that actually can scale.”

“Start thinking about student activation.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Announcement: Back to Three Times Per Week, for Now

In June, we throttled back the number of episodes from three per week to one per week. While this change was somewhat popular, we also heard from plenty of others who wanted to hear from more social entrepreneurs. So, starting this week, we’re going to go back to the three times weekly schedule. You’ll have a chance to meet more social entrepreneurs and we’ll have a chance to highlight more important work. We’ll continue to monitor feedback and see how this change goes. If you have an opinion, let us know in the comments below.

Oct 10, 2016
109, Clara Brenner, Urban Innovation Fund and Tumml | Creating an Ecosystem
Oct 03, 2016
108, Chris Underhill, BasicNeeds | Partnering with people living with mental illness

BasicNeeds works in partnership with people living with mental illness. 

Picture it. A young Chris Underhill and his wife are making their way out of a large hospital in Malawi where they have just been given wonderful news. They are expecting their first child. The year is 1969. The courtyard is filled with family members of hospital patients. Smoke from cooking fills the air. The hallways are crowded as the young is compelled forward, carried by their good news.

As they round a corner, they come upon an unexpected scene. They find themselves confronted with a cage containing five men. The cage is surrounded by small children poking the men with sticks and taunting them. As Chris would later discover, this scene is far from uncommon for mental health patients in low-resource settings.

This bittersweet moment compelled Chris Underhill into a life of service on behalf of mentally ill patients in low-resource settings. Globally, nearly six hundred million people suffer from mental illness. In low-income countries most are forced to suffer without help.

BasicNeeds is working to improve the lives of people living with mental illness and epilepsy. They have developed a model of intervention that is effective, locally owned, can be replicated and is transferable.

Since the year 2000, their programs have improved the lives of over 665,000 people living with mental illness and/or epilepsy, their caregivers and families.  

Mental Health Quotes from Chris Underhill

“At any one time, in the world there are at least 450 million people who are suffering from mental illness and who should be getting treatment.”

“The treatments are available, and often they are not particularly expensive.”

“It’s very common to see a mental health [treatment] gap of 85%.”

“It is not uncommon for teams in the BasicNeeds family of organizations to find themselves in the presence of a person who has been illegally imprisoned.”

“I was in the organization Practical Action, minding my own business, and getting on with being a chief executive of someone else’s organization…and someone knocked on the door…and he said ‘Have you got another organization in you?’”

“This event came surging forward and became the thing that I wanted to do.”

“We had a reasonable battery of skills which come under the title of capacity building, consultation, workshopping, and so on.”

“If the first point was consultation, then the next point in the whole construction of this idea, was definitely partnership.”

“You’ve got that capacity building bit, you’ve got that leadership bit, and you’ve got that local partnership bit. And those three things seem to be inherently sensible and probably were the products of a certain amount of experience.”

“It always takes longer than you think.”

“Don’t under-budget.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Sep 26, 2016
107, Ana Pantelic, Fundación Capital | Participatory design of services for the poor
Sep 19, 2016
106, Marta Del Rio, Wasi Organics | Balancing Purpose, Passion and Skills
Sep 12, 2016
105, Jay Coen Gilbert, B Lab | Business as a Force for Good
Sep 05, 2016
104, Adam Force, Change Creator | A Multimedia Platform for Business with a Purpose

This is what happens when podcasters interview podcasters.

As two podcasters, Adam Force and I have a great time going back and forth in this engaging interview. Adam tells the story of how he started Change Creator and what it is that he is hoping to do.

Adam was sitting on a beach in Costa Rica when the direction of his life shifted. At the time he and his wife were living in New York. They had taken a trip to Costa Rica in order to recharge. While sitting quietly and connecting to nature, Adam suddenly realized that his life should mean more – needed to mean more. With more than 15 years of creative work, he tried several avenues. He started a blog. He launched a water bottle made out of hemp. He became a rainforest advocate. None of these ideas seemed just right.

It was during this time that he came across the book Making Good. This book outlines how to find opportunities to effect change and make money. Adam took an inventory of his skills and decided to utilize his expertise in brand building to launch Change Creator.

Change Creator is a multimedia platform focused on business with purpose. They offer a digital magazine app (available on iOS & Android) for ambitious entrepreneurs eager to change the world, and a podcast with social entrepreneurs.

Social Entrepreneurship Resources Mentioned on This Episode:

Aug 30, 2016
103, Krista Carrol, Latitude | A Company Powered by Purpose

Latitude is a for-profit creative agency, powered by purpose.

In November, 2009, Krista and her husband were in their 30s and, as she told me, “chasing the American dream really hard.” They were being financially successful, but lacked a level of meaning and purpose. It was during a trip to Haiti that they witnessed extreme poverty for the first time. In response to this life-changing experience, they decided to form a social enterprise. In order to avoid debt, Krista, her husband and two small children moved into her parents’ basement.

Their company, Latitude is a for-profit, full service creative agency. They do amazingly great work in brand design and experience design. What makes Latitude unique is that they donate 50% of their profits to help women and children in the developing world.

They work primarily with three nonprofit partners in 18 countries. They have been able to direct $2.7 million to trusted nonprofits. Through International Justice Mission, they have rescued over 2,600 people from sex trafficking and slavery. They have partnered with Healing Haiti to build a medical and dental clinic. They have built homes and an orphanage. Through their work, over 13 million gallons of clean water has been delivered. They have partnered with Opportunity International to fund several thousand microloans for women entrepreneurs. They also partnered with Opportunity International on an entrepreneurial High School in Nicaragua. Several hundred students have attended. They have provided food through Feed My Starving Children. They partnered with Matter on equipping clinics in Honduras and Mongolia. They have provided desks and supplies to schools for girls in Afghanistan.

Quotes from Krista Carroll on Being Powered by Purpose

“You need to know how to set people up for success.”

“We looked at these children who were so similar to our own children. The only difference was that they were born in a different latitude and longitude in which opportunity was scarce.”

“We have to win our business on being excellent providers.”

“We have had virtually zero turnover with our clients.”

“There’s no room for anything less than excellence and sustainability.”

“The partnership between a for-profit and a nonprofit challenges each of us to think holistically.”

“It’s a constant process of poking holes in your own plans.”

“As a CEO, I’ve come to terms with being misunderstood at times.”

“One unexpected benefit of being a company that is powered by purpose has been the incredible talent that we have attracted.”

“Limit your debt and limit the complexity.”

“Use the gifts you’ve been given to empower those who have not been given as much.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Aug 29, 2016
102, Jim Fruchterman, Benetech | Technology Serving Humanity #TechForGood
Aug 22, 2016
101, Kat Taylor, Beneficial State Bank | Beneficial to All, Harmful to None

Can a bank be beneficial to all and harmful to none?

Does your bank do only good and no harm? Do you know? Beneficial State Bank aims to bank in a way that is beneficial to all and harmful to none. It’s more than a platitude. They proactively measure themselves against goals such as how many affordable housing units they have financed, how many kilowatt hours of clean energy their loans have produced and how many millions of dollars they have loaned non-profits.

Kat Taylor and her husband set out to create a business that would do social good with a sustainable business model. So far, they seem to be doing quite well.

Beneficial Quotes from Kat Taylor

“The way we think about social justice…is that we run our economy and our society in a way that distributes power, creates broad prosperity and gives individuals a hefty dose of self-determination. “

“I think that the banking sector is rife with opportunity for change by individuals.”

“We’ve been trained over decades as depositors to believe all we deserve is a pittance of an interest rate return, particularly where federal interest rates are right now, and no voice. But we should actually have the maximum voice among stakeholders of the banks because we control, at a minimum, nine out of ten dollars lent.”

“We should really be listening to those depositors, and we should be awakening them to the voice that they can have.”

“You can go to Treasury’s CDFI web site and there’s a map there of where those 111 banks are. So the first thing anyone can do is simply take their money out of a bank that’s not respecting their values and put it in a bank that is.”

“We’ve been trying to be on the leading edge of the movement to establish third-party auditable, credible, robust impact metrics for the banking sector.”

Beneficial Resources:

Aug 15, 2016
100, Michael Crooke | Sustainable Competitive Advantage through Purpose
Aug 08, 2016
099, Mallika Dutt, Breakthrough | Culture Shift to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls
Aug 01, 2016
098, Gianluca Cescon, Devergy | Solar Micro Smart Grids
Jul 25, 2016
097, Nakul Saran, Rare | Near-Shore Fishers
Jul 18, 2016
096, Lee Wallace, Peace Coffee | Fair Trade Coffee from Smallholder Farmers

Smallholder farmers grow more than half of the coffee consumed worldwide.

Imagine if you will, that you are working at a non-profit in Minnesota, focusing on public policy. The phone rings, and the person on the other end says “Hello. This is the Port of Los Angeles. We have 38,000 pounds of green coffee with your name on it. How would you like to pick this up?” You know nothing about coffee or roasting or retail. What would you do?

That is exactly what happened twenty years ago at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. In today’s Social Entrepreneur, Lee Wallace, the Queen Bean of Peace Coffee tells us the rest of the story.

Peace Coffee is a for-profit social enterprise, owned by a nonprofit, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. Peace Coffee has a wholesale business that they have been running for about two decades. They also have four retail coffee shops within the Twin Cities, Minnesota.

Last year Peace Coffee purchased 735,000 lbs. of coffee from 12 countries and 20 smallholder farmer cooperatives. In the process, Peace Coffee paid $370,000 in fair trade premiums.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Lee Wallace

“We think hard about how to do the right thing for coffee farmers.”

“Our customers named us.”

“I was trying to find a career that made sense to me in terms of my passions.”

“What I was trying to do was find places that sit at the nexus of mission and money.”

“Pretty quickly I realized that this is a magical place for me.”

“I have always been interested in how organizations work.”

“We spend a lot of our time at work.”

“The Twin Cities is an amazing place to learn about natural foods because we have such a vibrant and thriving co-op ecosystem.”

“My dad really wanted us to understand the history of industry as it came in and out of communities and how that really impacted families in those communities.”

“The original idea was that we would be an importer of all kinds of things.”

“More than 50% of the world’s coffee farmers, farm coffee on very small parcels of land.”

“We come this work with the sense that, what we’re doing is working on trying to elevate the livelihood of an awful lot of people who historically have been very disadvantaged when it comes to the way trade works.”

“It’s livelihood, but its community development too.”

“Co-ops are stepping in and playing the role of civil society in these communities.”

“People in these communities have ideas and know how they’re going to make their communities better. Our job is to be a good partner on the other side of that.”

“We have a price floor…We believe that below this level is unsustainable for coffee farmers.”

“This company existing 10 years from now is more important than what is happening this month. This company is bigger than all of us.”

“You’d be amazed at who would be willing to talk to you.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Upcoming Webinar: How to Make a Difference while Making a Living (HINT: No Ramen Noodles Required)

On July 20, 2016 at Noon US Central time, I am hosting the webinar, “How to Make a Difference while Making a Living (HINT: No Ramen Noodles Required).” In this webinar I will be talking about:

  • How to go from being a compassion person to being a changemaker
  • How to overcome the five most common roadblocks to being a changemaker
  • The seven key characteristics of successful changemakers
  • The ten steps on the path to changemaking

During the webinar, we will be giving away fabulous gifts and prizes. You won’t want to miss this. Register for the webinar today: .

Jul 11, 2016
095, Nithya Ramanathan, Nexleaf Analytics | Connected Devices with Social Impact #TechForGood
Jul 04, 2016
094, Amara Humphry, Gooru | Education Technology to Navigate Learning
Jun 27, 2016
093, Taylor Downs, OpenFn | Increase Impact by Automating #TechForGood

In today’s episode of Social Entrepreneur, we continue our #TechForGood series. Today we meet Taylor Downs of OpenFn (pronounced open function). OpenFn is the easy way for NGOs to connect all of their technologies in a few clicks. Here’s why that is important.

We know the promise of technology. When we automate routine data jobs:

  • We increase the speed of our impact, brining data to near real time.
  • We increase data accuracy, reducing data entry errors.
  • We reduce costs of people-intensive routine jobs.
  • And we can more easily utilize our technology, reducing the need for technical specialists on the job.

We can quickly scale and amplify our impact, especially when our technologies integrate with one another. Technologies work better when they work together.

But of course, systems do not always want to work and play well together. That’s where OpenFn comes in. They support mission-driven organizations to integrate and automate their routine jobs.

Resources from our Conversation about Automating #TechForGood:

Culture Shift Learning Academy

Soon we will be launching a Beta version of Culture Shift Learning Academy, a comprehensive system to help you flesh out your social impact idea and start achieving it.

Enrollment isn’t open yet, but you can join the waiting list with other changemakers. Just go to and enter your email address. As a thank you, I’ll send you the Social Entrepreneur Startup Readiness Assessment. This useful tool is designed to help you to determine where you are on your startup journey and to successfully focus your development efforts.

Jun 20, 2016
092, Hillary Miller-Wise, Esoko | #TechForGood for Smallholder Farmers
Jun 13, 2016
091, Cameron Goldie-Scot, Musoni Services| Microfinance #TechForGood
Jun 06, 2016
090, Stacy Flynn, Evrnu | Sustainable Fashion Innovation
May 30, 2016
089, Alexandria Lafci, New Story | Disrupting Community Development through Story-Driven Crowdfunding

New Story is disrupting community development. They are doing that through a story-driven crowdfunding process for building homes. But, they’re not just building houses, they’re creating communities. And, in the process, they are changing the donor experience. To explain all of this, we’re joined today by Alexandria Lafci, a cofounder and the head of operations for New Story.

There’s so much to love about Alexandria and New Story. First, they are targeting communities one at a time. For example, they started in Leveque, Haiti where they moved 152 families from living under blue tarps, to living in lovely homes. And, by building that many homes, they were able to create a community.

I also love that Alexandria is the head of operations. If you think about it, after a social enterprise defines a problem, comes up with a solution, and funds the idea, the most important priority is execution. Alexandria plays a unique role in seeing to it that New Story disrupts community development.

Alexandria is familiar with the need for housing security. Her mother grew up in the foster home system.

As a Teach for America volunteer in a southeast Washington DC neighborhood, Alexandria could observe first-hand the impact that housing instability had on her students.

After Teach for America, Alexandria took a role in supply chain logistics for a company in Atlanta. This role taught her many of the skills that she uses today at New Story.

Alexandria met her cofounders while at a gathering of social entrepreneurs in October 2014. By November of 2014, they put together a minimally viable product (MVP) version of New Story, and by December they were bringing in thousands of donor dollars. By June of 2015, they were in a batch of startups at Y Combinator.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Alexandria Lafci

“Just this one thing, housing stability, having it had such far-reaching implications that many of us take for granted, and then not having it had all of these detrimental side effects.”

“All we did was we put the image of one family, we put up their story and we had the ability to take payments.”

“We started with wanting to help individual families, but when you build homes at a critical mass, you actually create entire communities.”  

“We use local material and we use local labor.”

“Operations is an umbrella term for all of the components necessary to execute our vision in the physical realm.”

“What we are doing is creating sustainable communities, places where people want to live.”

“The biggest benefit of Y Combinator for us was, just having audacious goals.”

“In setting that huge goal, our entire mindset shifted.”

“We called it a 100 homes in 100 days campaign.”

“When you’re focused on growth almost exclusively, it really jam-packs a lot of lessons that would have taken us years to learn.”

“Sometimes the scariest part is starting.”

“Another thing that helped was speaking.”

“Find someone who shares that passion and who can do that with you.”

“Make sure the problem is not already being solved.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Culture Shift Learning Academy

We’re moving closer to the launch of Culture Shift Learning Academy, a comprehensive system to help you flesh out your social impact idea and start achieving it.

Enrollment isn’t open yet, but you can join the waiting list with other changemakers. Just go to and enter your email address. As a thank you, I’ll send you the Social Entrepreneur Startup Readiness Assessment. This useful tool is designed to help you to determine where you are on your startup journey and to successfully focus your development efforts.

May 27, 2016
088, Mike Gabriel, RSF Social Finance | Financing Social Enterprises

RSF Social Finance has an innovative approach to financing social enterprises. They bring social entrepreneurs and funders together in regional meetings where loan rates are negotiated. Entrepreneurs help funders understand the impact of higher rates, while funders help entrepreneurs understand the impact of lower returns. In the end, they set the rates.

How did Mike Gabriel come to join RSF? From 1997 to 2002, Mike Gabriel was an investment banker in San Francisco. “There was the dot-com boom and bust,” Mike told me. “There was a lot of froth – a lot of greed. That took a toll on me. Like many young people do, I questioned, what is it I’m doing with my life?” He decided to travel the world for a while. First stop? The Philippines.

While in the Philippines, Mike joined a micro-finance institution. “That got me on this track,” he said. This led to a 5-year stay with the Grameen Foundation.

Today, Mike is with RSF Social Finance, as a manager with in the Social Enterprise lending program, specifically focused on ecological stewardship work.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Mike Gabriel

“Our mission is to transform the way the world works with money.”

“Like many young people do, I questioned, what is it I’m doing with my life?”

“RSF is, at the end of the day, trying to create a much better financial system.”

“We want to create financial transactions that are based on long-term relationships, based on transparency and that are direct.”

“What we’re working on now at RSF is something we’re calling integrative capital.”

“Build a strong network of support.”

“Is your money aligned with your values?”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Culture Shift Learning Academy

We’re moving closer to the launch of Culture Shift Learning Academy, a comprehensive system to help you flesh out your social impact idea and start achieving it.

Enrollment isn’t open yet, but you can join the waiting list with other changemakers. Just go to and enter your email address. As a thank you, I’ll send you the Social Entrepreneur Startup Readiness Assessment. This useful tool is designed to help you to determine where you are on your startup journey and to successfully focus your development efforts.

May 25, 2016
087, Matthew Patsky, Trillium Asset Management | Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Investing

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG); Socially Responsible Investing (SRI); and Impact Investing: these terms have slightly different meaning, but in the end all lead to the same conclusion. When we invest, we are owners of companies. We have an obligation to take that ownership responsibility seriously in order to influence the environmental and social impact of companies.

For today’s episode of Social Entrepreneur, we continue our May #MoneyMonday series with Matthew Patsky of Trillium Asset Management. Trillium has been recognized as a “Best for the World” BCorp. We dig in to the governance aspect of ESG. Trillium not only screens investments into or out of their portfolio based on ESG, they use their shareholder status to improve the environmental, social and governance policies of companies they hold in their portfolio.

Trillium Asset Management works with individual investors, financial advisors and institutional investors. For individuals, they combine investment performance with environmental and social impact. For financial advisors, Trillium enables them to meet the needs of their clients looking for sustainable investments. And Trillium partners with institutional investors to align their investment portfolio with their organizational values.

Quotes from Matthew Patsky on Environmental, Social and Governance Investing

“There are impacts with money and the way money is invested.”

“On behalf of the clients, we are acting as owners and trying to influence behavior toward more sustainable business practices.”

“We actually do see a positive long-term financial benefit to doing the right thing on governance.”

“There seems to be an awful lot from the Ben & Jerry’s culture that is now running throughout all of Uniliver.”

“The worst thing you can do is to sit back and say “I am but one individual. What I do doesn’t matter.’”  

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Culture Shift Learning Academy

We’re moving closer to the launch of Culture Shift Learning Academy, a comprehensive system to help you flesh out your social impact idea and start achieving it.

Enrollment isn’t open yet, but you can join the waiting list with other changemakers. Just go to and enter your email address. As a thank you, I’ll send you the Social Entrepreneur Startup Readiness Assessment. This useful tool is designed to help you to determine where you are on your startup journey and to successfully focus your development efforts.

May 23, 2016
086, Christopher Gray, Scholly | Student Loan Debt Slayer

Student loan debt in the US is over $1.3 billion. You can watch the student loan debt grow in real time here. And it’s no wonder. Over 70% of students in the US take on debt to pay for education. At the same time, over $100 million in private aid (scholarships) go unclaimed on an annual basis.

This is why Christopher Gray cofounded Scholly. If you have heard Christopher’s name before, it would not be surprising. He is well known for having been awarded $1.3 million in scholarships, a feat that took him 7 months of hard work. You might also remember the disagreement his pitch caused among the “sharks” on the television show Shark Tank.

Scholly is the simple, comprehensive and accurate scholarship matching platform that has helped students win over $35 million in scholarship awards. In less than two minutes, you can input your data and be instantly matched with scholarship opportunities.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Christopher Gray

“Scholly is a mobile and web app that makes it simple for high school students and current college students to find scholarships for college.”

“Rather than students taking months looking for scholarships, we turn that process into minutes.”

“It took me 7 moths just to find the scholarships I wanted to apply for.”

“It takes 2 minutes to input 8 parameters and instantly you’re matched with scholarship opportunities.”

“We were getting like 9,000 hits to our site per second.”

“We were shutting some scholarship sites down because so many people were accessing the site at one time.”

“You have to make sure you’re building a business where your financial success correlates directly with your social impact.”

“Focus on your data.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Culture Shift Learning Academy

We’re moving closer to the launch of Culture Shift Learning Academy, a comprehensive system to help you flesh out your social impact idea and start achieving it.

Enrollment isn’t open yet, but you can join the waiting list with other changemakers. Just go to and enter your email address. As a thank you, I’ll send you the Social Entrepreneur Startup Readiness Assessment. This useful tool is designed to help you to determine where you are on your startup journey and to successfully focus your development efforts.

May 20, 2016
085, Nur-E Farhana Rahman, Knotty Gal | Authentic Startup Life

Startup life is not for the faint of heart. When Nur-E Farhana Rahman tells you about startup life, she is authentic, transparent and genuine. There are worries about cash flow. There are struggles with hiring the right people and picking the right suppliers. She tells a painful story of falling short on a Kickstarter campaign. In her stories, there is nothing glamorous about startup life.

That is not to say that her jewelry startup, Knotty Gal, has not been successful. On the contrary, they have been able to grow the company while bootstrapping. Customers stop them on the street to comment on their products. They have been featured in Forbes Huffington Post, Daily Candy, Conscious Magazine, MSNBC and other news outlets. As their revenues rise, so does their impact.

Through Knotty Gal, Nur-E is able to support girls attending Bhandari Girls’ School, one of the first all girls’ school in Bogra, Bangladesh. The school has special meaning to Nur-E. Her great grandfather started the school. Her mother graduated from there. It’s a cause big enough to help her meet every challenge startup life sends her way.

Startup Life Quotes from Nur-E Farhana Rahman

“We had the cause first. We had no product.”

“People started sending me stories. ‘On the subway today, someone asked me about my necklace.’”

“Scalability is key.”

“I read an article that one in three founders suffers from depression.”

“You’re constantly thinking about running out of money.”

“We’re constantly comparing our behind the scenes to everyone’s highlight reel.”

“We’ve been bootstrapping the entire time.”

“You will fail. It’s guaranteed. It’s just a matter of how you bounce back.”

“Perseverance is the one key trait that all successful entrepreneurs have.”

“Do one thing that scares you”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Culture Shift Learning Academy

We’re moving closer to the launch of Culture Shift Learning Academy, a comprehensive system to help you flesh out your social impact idea and start achieving it.

Enrollment isn’t open yet, but you can join the waiting list with other changemakers. Just go to and enter your email address. As a thank you, I’ll send you the Social Entrepreneur Startup Readiness Assessment. This useful tool is designed to help you to determine where you are on your startup journey and to successfully focus your development efforts.

May 18, 2016
084, Luni Libes, Aviary | Venture Capital Seed Fund for Impact Companies

Aviary is a new venture capital seed fund, focused on mission-driven, for-profit conscious companies. It is run by Luni Libes. Luni was first a guest on Social Entrepreneur in episode 3. He is our first returning guest.

The last time Luni was with us, it was to describe how Fledge, the conscious company accelerator, works. Fledge has graduated 52 companies from their accelerator. They have 7 more in the program right now.

As part of our #MoneyMonday in May series, we talked to Luni about several topics:

  • The challenge of finding early seed capital for impact entrepreneurs.
  • Why he started a venture capital seed fund.
  • Luni’s plans to expand Fledge to new cities around the world.
  • And his latest book, The Pinchot Impact Index.

If you are an accredited impact investor and you are interested in learning more, Aviary is building a community of co-investors. You can contact Aviary through the contact form on their web site at

Quotes from Luni Libes, Aviary Venture Capital Seed Fund

“What you do when you have a company that is succeeding, is you figure out how to make it grow and make it bigger and make it have a bigger impact.”

“There are definitely more entrepreneurs than capital.”

“I’m focusing on the impact investing corner of entrepreneurship.”

“It’s a seed venture capital fund for impact companies doing anything impactful anywhere in the world.”

“We’re agnostic on sector. We’re agnostic on geography.”

“When you look at it from the perspective of the investor, they have a problem when it comes to deal flow and seed investment and writing small checks.”

“Accelerators are really good at finding early stage companies, they’re good at training those companies and most important, they’re good at supporting those companies.”

“We’re looking for companies before they’re ready for growth capital.”

“The way we run Fledge is based on TechStars.”

“The current plan is one new city per year for the ongoing future.”

“Like most things in business, it’s going to end up being more network than top-down plan.”

“The most important skill is storytelling.”

“We need to be able to tell stories that are as good as TED talks.”

“Nobody sits down and writes a hit.”

“Get out of your box and go seek creative advice in other venues.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Culture Shift Learning Academy

We’re moving closer to the launch of Culture Shift Learning Academy, a comprehensive system to help you flesh out your social impact idea and start achieving it.

Enrollment isn’t open yet, but you can join the waiting list with other changemakers. Just go to and enter your email address. As a thank you, I’ll send you the Social Entrepreneur Startup Readiness Assessment. This useful tool is designed to help you to determine where you are on your startup journey and to successfully focus your development efforts.

May 16, 2016
083, Nokwethu Khojane, Lakheni | South African Townships Called to Action

Lakheni works in South African townships. If you’re not familiar with the townships of South Africa, during apartheid, these were the areas outside of city centers where black people were required to live. During these years, the South African government failed to invest in infrastructure such as water, sewage, electricity and roads. Without infrastructure, commerce and prosperity have been slow to return to the townships. Nokwethu Khojane, grew up under apartheid, and therefore lived in the township. As apartheid was reversed, she had the opportunity to go to university and to find a meaningful career. Her obvious intelligence and hard work gave her many career choices, but her heart was with the people still in the township.

While at the University of Cape Town, Nokwethu studied early childhood education. She wanted to tackle the problems of poverty at the root. One of the courses she took was Social Innovation Lab. Her professor encouraged her to go to the crèche (daycare) in the township and to observe. Even though Nokwethu had been raised in the township, she was still surprised by what she saw. She noticed how the crèche and the families maximized the power of community. They helped one another, shared resources, cooked and generally supported one another. Nokwethu soon realized that this social capital was an asset that could be utilized.

With her cofounder Lauren Drake, Nokwethu created Lakheni. One of their projects is to pool the buying power of the families around the crèches. Buy buying in bulk, these families could decrease their direct food costs, and their transportation costs. The crèche benefits by taking a small fee for coordinating. By keeping more of the money in the township, the community is able to stimulate the local economy. This system is a win all around, with a revenue stream that allows Lakheni to continue to provide their services.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Nokwethu Khojane

“It felt like something drove me to this.”

“Poverty does not necessarily equal deep unhappiness.”

“If those of us who have come out can’t go back and try to make a difference, I don’t know who will.”

“We’ve got the biggest Gini coefficient in the world and that’s not sustainable.”

“It was sitting in the space and allowing it to unfold itself, that the solution came about.”

“You’re always in the space of, I actually don’t know.”

“This is what this space requires. It requires people who are comfortable in mess.”

“You have to be able to see things from your market’s perspective.”

“What you think they need is usually not what they need. So, ask them.”

“Test it out. Learn. Change it. Test it out again.”

“Start small. Start where you are. Start today.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Culture Shift Learning Academy

We’re moving closer to the launch of Culture Shift Learning Academy, a comprehensive system to help you flesh out your social impact idea and start achieving it.

Enrollment isn’t open yet, but you can join the waiting list with other changemakers. Just go to and enter your email address. As a thank you, I’ll send you the Social Entrepreneur Startup Readiness Assessment. This useful tool is designed to help you to determine where you are on your startup journey and to successfully focus your development efforts.

May 13, 2016
082, Miriam Haas, Down To Earth Markets | Farmer’s Market as a BCorp

Farmer’s markets play an important role in our food ecosystem. Miriam Haas has been tinkering with the model of the Farmer’s market for more than 25 years.

There’s so much to love about Miriam and the story of Down to Earth Markets. We talked about Farmer’s Markets as a tool for economic development, especially in abandoned town centers. Miriam refers to farmer’s markets as local community-scale businesses that sell neighbor to neighbor. We talked about local produce as an alternative to the industrialization of our food. We talked about eating clean, local and organic.

I also found it interesting that Down to Earth Markets has found a way to scale the local farmer’s market model, while being recognized as a “Best for the World” company by B-Lab, the certifying body for B Corporations.

Down to Earth Farmers Markets manages fifteen farmers markets in and around New York City. The company was founded in 1991 as Community Markets and rebranded in 2012 as Down to Earth Farmer’s Markets.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Miriam Haas

“I wanted to create a sense of community.”

“It is an economic development tool.”

“It took me four years to locate an organic farmer who would come to the market. That farmer is in his twenty-third year with us.”

“I bootstrapped through a Friend of the Market program.”

“I was very passionate about doing this work.”

“You have to have a passion about an idea.”

“If someone says your idea is absurd or discourages you, that’s the thing that should actually activate you.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Culture Shift Learning Academy

We’re moving closer to the launch of Culture Shift Learning Academy, a comprehensive system to help you flesh out your social impact idea and start achieving it.

Enrollment isn’t open yet, but you can join the waiting list with other changemakers. Just go to and enter your email address. As a thank you, I’ll send you the Social Entrepreneur Startup Readiness Assessment. This useful tool is designed to help you to determine where you are on your startup journey and to successfully focus your development efforts.

May 11, 2016
081, Zuleyma Bebell, ImpactAlpha | The TechCrunch and CrunchBase of Impact

ImpactAlpha provides business reporting in the area of impact investing. ImpactSpace is an open data platform providing information for the impact investing marketplace. It’s easy to see why people compare these two platforms to TechCrunch and CrunchBase.

ImpactSpace first came to my attention when NextBillion (Episode 54) announced a media partnership (announcement here). ImpactSpace is quickly becoming the standard profile source for thousands of companies and investors. There you can find the profiles of over 6,000 impact companies, more than 2,000 impact investors and more than 3,000 impact deals.

Zuleyma Bebell began her university career thinking that she was going to go into intelligence work. She soon began to notice how a lack of economic opportunity was a root cause of radicalization around the world. When her friend Ravi Kurani told her about his idea for ImpactSpace, Zuleyma replied “Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.” This offer led to the two of them becoming co-founders of ImpactSpace. Eventually they connected with David Bank of ImpactAlpha, which led to an acquisition in April 2015.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes by Zuleyma Bebell

"Being part of a startup was never part of my life's goals.”

“Data’s important, but if you don’t have the stories to tell, it’s not going to go anywhere.”

“[ImpactSpace] is Wikipedia-style.”

“We are transparency supporters.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Culture Shift Learning Academy

We’re moving closer to the launch of Culture Shift Learning Academy, a comprehensive system to help you flesh out your social impact idea and start achieving it.

Enrollment isn’t open yet, but you can join the waiting list with other changemakers. Just go to and enter your email address. As a thank you, I’ll send you the Social Entrepreneur Startup Readiness Assessment. This useful tool is designed to help you to determine where you are on your startup journey and to successfully focus your development efforts.

May 09, 2016
080, Audrey Cheng, Moringa School | Code School for Kenya

When Audrey Cheng was working with Savannah Fund, Africa’s leading technology seed fund and accelerator, she ran into a problem. She could not find software developers. She noticed that she was not the only one who was experiencing this problem. In fact, a 2011 survey found that, in Kenya, 45% of employers with developer positions were not able to find qualified coders. And the developers they were able to find were very expensive. Many Kenyan companies outsourced work to India, Eastern Europe and other regions.

Audrey began to ask questions. With unemployment rates around 40%, and universities teaching computer science, why were there so few qualified developers in K