By Julian Fishman
I had the pleasure of hearing some of the Bay Area’s most innovative social entrepreneurs share their stories and peer into the future at the recent Idea People: Thinking for Good event held at the SFJazz Center in San Francisco.
The event was curated by Five Thot, a forward thinking design and event organization that encourages people to imagine the world as it could be, rather than as it is today. As a shout-out to Five Thot, here are five themes that will help big thinkers and dreamers get their ideas off the ground:
1. Problem + Passion = Opportunity
The vast majority of the entrepreneurs on show took an unconventional path to arrive at the helm of their social enterprise. IndoSole’s founder, Kyle Parsons, spent his teens working in a recycling center with the occasional surfing trip to Bali. Kiva’s founder Matt Flannery was inspired by Mohamed Yunus to search for a more impactful job and found himself giving up the corporate world for microfinance in Uganda. Lauren Walters (pictured), founder of 2 Degrees Food, witnessed first-hand the extreme malnourishment of Rwandan children at a time when Tom’s Shoes’ ‘one for one’ business model was starting to gain traction.
By Annika Hoeltje
The Social Innovation Summit in NYC brings together organizations that aim to scale their social impact, such as the two large bakery chains Greyston Bakery and Panera Bread. Both are utilizing their core competencies in order to drive positive social change and community development. Greyston Bakery provides jobs and training opportunities for people, who haven’t been given a chance before, and Panera Bread addresses the problem of food insecurity in their community cafes.
Greyston Bakery creates apprenticeships for people who might otherwise not get the opportunity, so that they can move forward on their path to self-sufficiency. The certified B Corporation provides integrated training programs for individuals such as Dion Drew. After leaving jail in 2008 it was very hard for Dion to find a job that paid a salary he could survive on or that would enable him to start a family. Greyston Bakery took him on as an apprentice. During his yearlong apprenticeship he learned patience, self-discipline and a new attitude. He successfully completed the training program and was later promoted to the position of Lead Operator in the Research and Development Department. Dion finally had the means to support a family and his first child, a daughter, was born in 2010. The training program provided structure, taught him applicable hands on skills, and let him contribute to the making of high quality products.
Greyston Bakery shows how vocational training can open up opportunities for people that want to turn their lives around. This is a great example of how a company can tackle one of America’s most pressing social challenges, while operating a profitable business.
Another example for creating social impact is Panera Bread. Panera founder and CEO Ron Shaich believes that everyone deserves a dignifying dining experience in an uplifting environment regardless of their means. According to Shaich, one out of six people in the U.S. live in food insecure homes. At the Social Innovation Summit, he explained how this unique purpose guides the organization’s new initative, Panera Cares: At Panera Cares cafes guests will find the same menu of freshly baked goods, but no set prices. Instead they pay what they can into a donation box based on the honor system.
By Lina Constantinovici
At the Global Philanthropy Forum last week, MacArthur Foundation and MasterCard Foundation shared insights from the funder collaborative launched in 2012 that seeks to increase secondary education access and improve learning outcomes for marginalized populations.
The Partnership to Strengthen Innovation and Practice in Secondary Education (PSIPSE) has issued $24 million in grants to 40 projects in seven countries: Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and India. Project durations are one to three years. In addition to the two foundations, several other partners have joined to support the initiative – Intel, Human Dignity Foundation, Comic Relief and Dubai Cares.
This month, PSIPSE announced its third Request for Proposals from NGOs focused on delivering secondary education programs. Proposals can be submitted at www.macfound.org/PSIPSE.
By Lina Constantinovici
The Global Philanthropy Forum (GPF) convened in Redwood City, Calif. April 23-25, with participation from foundations, NGOs, and international development and aid agencies. In its fourteenth year, the forum is produced by the World Affairs Council.
The event launched in 2001 with a regional Silicon Valley focus, then evolved to a focus on American philanthropists and more recently a focus on global philanthropists, according to Jane Wales, CEO of Global Philanthropy Forum and World Affairs Council, and vice president of the Aspen Institute. In the past couple of years, GPF has launched three regional events: Brazilian Philanthropy Forum and Philanthropy Asia Summit in 2012, and the African Philanthropy Forum in February of this year. “GPF is expanding its reach through the creation of the regional affiliates and partnerships in emerging economies where strategic philanthropy is on the rise.” according to Cory Porter, communications director. The Global Philanthropy Forum currently numbers 1,800 members that span every continent.
This year’s theme is “Global Goals, Citizen Solutions,” with three main areas of focus: Planet (Earth’s Changing Physiology), People (Demographic Change) and Philanthropy (Redefining Philanthropy). Foundation collaboration, leadership, women and girls, and venture philanthropy/impact investing were reoccurring trends in the panel discussions, keynotes and breakout sessions over the three days. MacArthur Foundation and MasterCard Foundation shared insights from their two-year, $24 million partnership focused on secondary education, while the president of the World Bank Group called for a broader spectrum of funding options and models for international sustainable development.
Interview by Julia Xu (Brown ’17) and Lainie Rowland (Brown ’17)
We were fortunate enough to be able to sit down and talk with Ira Magaziner, Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chairman of the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and Chairman of the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI), and hear about his journey as a social entrepreneur and activist. Here is what we learned!
“I think the meaning of our life is being able to do something that transforms things.” -Ira Magaziner
Julia Xu: Hello, Mr. Magaziner. We are excited to interview you in anticipation of the SEEED Summit 2014, which you’re speaking at on April 26. We have learned a lot about you in our Social Entrepreneurship class, and we especially admire you for the sustainable approach of using scale to cut down prices and eventually create a virtuous cycle.
Lainie Rowland: We would love to know more about what skills you’ve learned and acquired that you’ve used to become a change-maker. We are especially interested in talking to you because you have the Brown background and because you’re the architect of the open curriculum.
Ira Magaziner: The most important thing is the values, and whether you make a decision to live a life by your values. To me, what we are doing now is trying to deal with the terrible income inequality existing in the world, and trying to help the poorest people with health care.
By Jenna Blumenfeld
Though Slow Money’s Gatheround event was intended to be primarily online, nearly 20 Boulder-based food enthusiasts gathered in a community meeting space last week.
“When planning the event, we knew we had to use the internet to do something around the country,” explained Woody Tasch, founder and chairman of Slow Money, an organization that advocates for decentralized investment around food. “This is about small groups of people using the power of local knowledge, and real relationships.”
Around the room, wine and beer were served. Introductions were made.
Gatheround is a live online event hosted by Slow Money that raises money for small food businesses across the United States. At it’s core, the event is an investment club—attendees pay $25 to hear a main speaker, listen to three food entrepreneurs pitching their business, and vote who their registration money should go to. Nearly 100 people nationally registered for the event, which focused on building soil fertility. Eventually, Slow Money hopes to host Gatheround events on a monthly basis.
By Marlena John
As a woman entering the finance world, the title of the session at the Slow Money National Gathering, Female Investors: The Most Important Change Agents on Earth, certainly sparked my interest.
Don Shaffer, President & CEO of RSF Social Finance started by telling the story of when he was a golf caddy in New Jersey, slinging golf clubs for Wall Street traders and bankers. Back then, women were not allowed on the golf course, which reflected the situation of most of Wall Street and the finance industry as a whole. The few women who did work in finance got paid a lot less than the men.
Fast-forward twenty or so years. There are a lot more females in the field, taking leadership in investment opportunities, and playing golf. The Equal Pay Act of 1963, signed by President Kennedy, prohibited pay differences based on sex. Great! But, if you think that everything is hunky dory, then you’d be wrong. As it turns out, women are still making less money than men on average, and this is particularly true on Wall Street. Shaffer claims that females on Wall Street make 55-62 percent as much as males do, though I’ve seen statistics that claim it is as high as 77 percent. Even if the 77 percent stat is accurate, women in finance are experiencing a significant, and unwarranted, pay gap.
So, women are getting paid less, and that’s not cool. We also have many more men than women investing and working in finance. But why should we care how many women investors there are? Don Shaffer laid it out well. He noted that female investors see investments as a whole, understand them as a system and their implications. Thus, we (women) are more likely to be able to see the short- and long-term outcomes of investments.
By Marlena John
At the Slow Money National Gathering, there was a lot of talk about sustainable food systems, local food sheds, healthy soil and healthy people.
There was also a lot of talk about how challenging it is to attain these ideal food systems. Small farmers often run into trouble finding financing. The question is, when traditional financing doesn’t offer support, where do small, local farmers go? How can these farmers grow their businesses and support their families when they only receive six to fifteen cents on the dollar for their products? The drive, passion and aspiration are there, but in so many instances, the money is not.
Enter Gary Nabhan, an author, professor and pioneer in food systems. Dressed in a suit jacket, white button-up shirt, and a cowboy hat, Nabhan argued that the nutritional cliff is the real fiscal cliff, citing that $1.3 trillion are spent every year on band-aid treatments for diabetes, which affects 25.8 million people in the United States.
He spoke of the necessity of structural diversity for food financing so that we can bring fresh, healthy, local, sustainable foods to communities throughout the country. Nabhan gave an example of an organization that he works with – Borderlands Habitat Restoration Initiative. The organization is focusing on food chain restoration, soil fertility and biodiversity restoration in one of the poorest counties along the Mexico – U.S. border. This area is considered a food desert, where people have little or no access to fresh, healthy foods.
By Alina Koch Lawrence
A whopping 40 percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector. That is about one and a half times more than emissions from the power sector. A host of statewide energy policies, such as Energy Efficiency laws and ambitious Renewable Portfolio Standards are effectively reducing energy-related emissions. Many would agree that the energy policies in California are among the world’s most progressive.
Supply versus demand
Achieving a similarly impressive success within the transportation sector is a bit more challenging. Unlike in the highly regulated energy sector, transportation policies deal with individual consumer choice. In reality, most of us don’t choose where our energy comes from. However, we choose whether we travel by car, the type of car we purchase, the fuel we use and how far we travel. With an expected population increase (30 percent growth between 2010 and 2040 in the Bay Area), progressive transportation policies and infrastructure planning is imperative for the future. Regulations aimed toward the supply side, such as the Clean Car Pavley Standards, ZEV Program, SB375, and Low Carbon Fuel Standard Program (LCSF) are targeting transportation-related emissions reductions in various ways. But, achieving behavioral change on the demand side is more difficult. Ultimately, consumers are the decision makers – and they are the ones that have a significant stake in transforming our infrastructure to one that is less polluted, less congested and less oil-dependent.
By Bonnie Hulkower
Los Angeles, a city more often known for its celebrity sightings and Hollywood stars, also shines bright in the solar arena. The City of Angels has dazzled in the last decade with a strong record of sustainability. So much so that on April 19th, local and national government representatives as well as business leaders gathered to celebrate the launch of the city’s solar Feed in Tariff (FIT) program (Clean L.A. Solar Program) at the Los Angeles Business Council’s (LABC) Sustainability Summit. The program focused on how to harness sustainability programs and regulatory initiatives for job growth.
Essentially, the idea of the FIT is to make solar competitive in what naturally is one of the nation’s sunniest communities. Similar to President Kennedy’s mission to the moon, L.A.’s moonshot moment is to benefit from solar energy in a region blessed with sunny weather year round. Solar energy is especially appropriate in hot climates, as air conditioning demand coincides with the period of peak solar radiation.
By Alina Koch Lawrence
As California prepares to form a strategic partnership with Quebec to link its cap and trade program, it is fascinating to examine developments in the global carbon market.
The “leader” took a hit
The European Union made news this week experiencing a major setback on its proposal for back-loading, a measure to shift carbon allowances to the back end of the compliance period in order to stabilize the EU ETS carbon price. The European Parliament blocked the back-loading proposal, brought forward by the Parliament’s Environment Committee in an effort to tighten the cap. As a result, the carbon price plummeted to EUR 2.46. Analysts warn that the price could fall even lower to nearly zero in the coming weeks. Over the past few years, the world has been scrutinizing the EU as the first mover in deploying a sizable cap and trade mechanism. While many applauded the efforts, just as many criticized its numerous flaws. The EU ETS serves as a “guinea pig” for other regions to explore what and what not to do. Over-allocation of allowances arguably falls into the category of “don’t do’s.”
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, stated in her keynote speech at this week’s Navigating the American Carbon World conference, that the vote was “disappointing […] and a blow to the market, though not a death blow.” In her motivating oratory, she encouraged market participants to remain optimistic as the EU ETS is a “powerful instrument, but not the only one as there are many other policies” supporting emissions trading markets.
By Alina Koch Lawrence
In this week’s Navigating the American Carbon World pre-conference workshop on California’s cap and trade, carbon experts discussed the potential linkage between California and Quebec. After linkage was delayed by nearly a year, due to concerns raised by the California legislature addressing the necessity for additional requirements, it appears that the time has finally come.
The proposal recently received the much-anticipated Governor’s sign-off. Today, Friday, April 19, the California Air Resources Board will meet and vote on the linkage. Experts anticipate the proposal to pass as the vote represents more or less a formality at this point. This would signify that beginning January 1, 2014, California and Quebec entities could start trading carbon allowances across borders.
Why do we need to link in the first place?
As its name indicates, a cap and trade system only works with an adequate cap and prospering trade. Enlarging the market helps increase trading opportunities and facilitates market stimulation. Furthermore, as Matt Rodriguez and Dirk Forrister, stated in the international plenary session at the Navigating the Carbon World conference, a regional cap and trade program can only sustain itself in the long term if other regions move along with similar mechanisms to curb emissions, otherwise the economic prospective in terms of global competitiveness may start to look grim down the road.