Kiva: Loans that are changing lives

Buying a Car? A house? Starting up a business? Need money for college? I could go on but whatever the reason is, you’re in a situation where you need a loan. You’re looking for a bank to lend you a helping hand and in exchange you will pay them back (in installments) the full amount, plus interest.

Seems like a pretty normal situation.

However, what if that bank was you? What if poor students and entrepreneurs from across the world told you why they needed a loan, how it would help them and were willing to pay you back (with interest)?

Seems like an interesting concept?

Well, that’s exactly what Kiva.org is – a crowd-sourced micro-lending website/platform service that allows individuals (like you and I) to lend money to extremely low income students and entrepreneurs across the globe.

Crowd-sourced micro-lending?

This is the source of how Kiva operates and it’s basically a group of people contributing Read more…

Acumen Fund: Investments not Grants, Building Business Models to Solve the World’s Problems

This story begins with Jacqueline Novogratz’s favourite blue sweater…

Jacqueline Novogratz: Founder of Acumen Fund

And so this amazing tale inspired Jacqueline’s ambitious venture into social good with her creation of Acumen Fund: an organization dedicated to investing in social entrepreneurs and enterprises focused on providing critical goods to the world’s poor.

Investing Patient Capital in Social Entrepreneurs

By using the idea of patient capital (where investors are willing to make a financial investment in a business with no expectation of turning a quick profit) and investing this into people trying to solve vital problems for the poor in their region, this essentially creates a system that combines both businesses (whose bottom line is profit) and philanthropy (a focus on creating a positive impact on society), ultimately breaking the cycle of poverty.

Since a social entrepreneur’s model is based on not one but three bottom lines – People (society), Planet (the environment) & Profit Read more…

FiveByTwenty: Coca-Cola’s Pledge to Empower Women

When I say ‘Coca-Cola’s reputation’, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

Coca-Cola may not have the greatest reputation for its business practices around the world, but for thousands of women in many developing countries, the Company’s business decisions aren’t looking so unjust!

When It All Started

At the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative Meeting in New York City, Coca-Cola’s CEO Muhtar Kent announced the Company’s FiveByTwenty project – their pledge to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs in the developing world by 2020. The idea is to integrate profit-making with local community support, not through charity, but through innovative and inclusive business models. For women entrepreneurs around the world, this means access to the skills training, small-business loans and professional networks that are crucial to the prospect of a bright future for themselves and their families.

By 2020, The Coca-Cola Company aims to partner with civil society and other private sector actors Read more…

Start Some Good!

Social entrepreneurs – What if you could capture the power of a crowd to fund your next big project?

Donors – What if you could connect with the organization that you help in a more personal way?

StartSomeGood provides a community platform where social entrepreneurs and enthusiastic supporters can connect.  It uses a hybrid crowdfunding model (think Kickstarter but with a tipping point and a social entrepreneurship twist) to help organizations fundraise various projects.

How does it work?

Each venture has a profile on StartSomeGood where it can write about its story, a social problem, and its proposed solution to the problem.  The venture also has a campaign page where it can lobby for support for a current project that it is working on.  It defines a tipping point goal and an overall fundraising goal.  The tipping point is the minimum amount the venture needs to truly start its project—without that amount of money Read more…

Soccket – Harnessing the Passion of Soccer

It’s been a hard day’s work in school and all you want to do is kick the soccer ball around with your friends.

The Copa America and Women’s World Cup games are in full flow and your favourite teams are raring to go. Passion is in the air. You can smell it. You can breathe it.

And now you want to play it.

After a tough win on the dusty field it’s time to do some reading. But you live in a poor neighbourhood and you do not have any electricity at home to read your favourite book. Not only that, you are limited in what you can do at home due to this damning unavailability of a reliable source for electric power.

But that’s fine, because now you have the sOccket.

Half Soccer Ball. Half Power Generator.

sOccket is an eco-friendly portable generator built into a soccer ball.

25% of all kids worldwide do not have Read more…

Get off your butt: DoSomething.org

They walk among us.

We all know one. We admire their tenacity, their determination and their leadership abilities. They amaze us with their capacity to make informed, mature decisions. Their passionate desire to make the world a better place to live is truly inspirational. The agents of change I am talking about are not heads of state, corporate CEO’s or even executive director’s multi-national charitable organizations.

They are teenagers.

I consider myself very lucky to have one such teenager in my family. My cousin Mallory and her friends believe that they can make a difference in their community and they aren’t letting anyone stop them from helping those in need. From organizing winter clothing drives to anti-bullying campaigns, these girls are taking charge and showing adults, including myself, just how it’s done. They shatter the stereotype of disengaged teenagers who are selfish and uncaring. And they are not alone. There are Read more…

33 Needs: Helping Socially Conscious Start-ups Off The Ground

First, check out these 3 socially conscious upstarts

Half United: a clothing company fighting global hunger. Every time you purchase a HALF product, you feed a child in need.

More than Me, Inc. funds the education of girls in Liberia by selling laptop covers, which are made by local Liberian women.

Sweet Notions: Up-cycle’s and sells fashion accessories, channeling the profits into organizing design camps for vulnerable women.

Now, what do all three of these organizations have in common?

If you answered, “They’re all business ideas that are trying to make the world a better place, need some help (money) starting up, and are using 33Needs to do so”, then you are absolutely right.

What exactly is 33Needs?

By definition, 33needs is a web application that connects the entrepreneurs solving our world’s biggest needs to micro-investments.

Sounds like an ambitious mantra, and a crowd-sourcing concept that we might have heard before Read more…

ASHOKA: Innovators for the Public

In a world of capitalist businessmen and women whose main interest lies in their green bottom line, Ashoka goes against the grain by bringing the rare individual – whose purpose is to save the world – into the spotlight.

Ashoka describes itself as the “global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs.” It invests in people.

Wherever there is a need, in any part of the world, Ashoka strives to bring support and solutions.  One primary way of doing that is by offering three-year fellowships to people who have worked to bring justice to their part of the world over the course of their entire adult life.  Their fields of work are in civic engagement, economic development, environment, health, human rights, and education.  Ashoka aims to approach social change in a comprehensive way for all their projects.

A Socially Conscious Strategy

Ashoka works on three levels Read more…