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In 1983, Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus visited a Bangladesh village where he loaned $27 to stool makers who paid him back with interest. After that he created the Grameen Rural Bank which has lent over $983 million to over seven million borrowers.
Kiva.org, a person-to-person microfinance website, defines microfinance as “the supply of loans, savings, and other basic financial services to the poor.” The 2005 Commission for Africa report pointed out that access to financial services, including credit, is very hard for poor people. Microfinance gives small entrepreneurs access to credit.
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Philanthropy comes in many forms. It can manifest as corporate giving or cause-related transcations or volunteer programs. It can be donations of time, money or expertise. Or, in the case of Karmic Leads, it can be a database of job listings designed to help individuals and small business owners connect with relevant opportunities, at no cost. With the challenging economy and lay offs reaching record numbers, founder, Nipa Shah decided to utilize her resources to create a community of employers and job seekers that is highly targeted, accessible, and best of all, completely free. Her goal is two-fold — get people employed and form professional connections that will help them stay employed by tapping into a network of contacts all committed to an employ-it-forward approach to hiring. And that’s good karma you can take to the bank on pay day. Click to continue reading »
Next to the Dr. Bronner’s soap, it’s hard to think of a consumer packaged product that wears its makers’ political and social stance more on its sleeve (or rather, label) than Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. The delicious treat is an iconic sustainable product. So when Ben and Jerry sold their company to multinational consumer packaged goods producer Unilever in 2000, did they become iconic sell-outs?
That’s a good question, and one that was addressed during Tuesday’s Investors’ Circle Spring Conference in a session called “The Sell Out.”
When we ask “what is a sell-out?” we have to use a common standard for measurement, said the panel’s moderator Mark Albion, founder of Net Impact and best-selling author of True to Yourself and More Than Money. His suggestion for a metric was to ask whether the acquired company continues the founder’s efforts to create social good in its efforts to run the business. In other words: Is today’s Ben & Jerry’s ice cream doing as much or more good work than the privately-held company run by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield achieved? Panelist Pierre Ferrari, chairman of the board of Ben & Jerry’s, responded that from a purely utilitarian point of view, when you consider profitability only, then the answer is a clear yes. But when viewed through the lens of social responsibility, the firm in some respects is “not as good as it was under [the original] Ben & Jerry’s management,” he admitted.
Water is fast becoming top of mind, joining oil as a precious resource, and carbon as something companies ought to pay attention to. A panel of water investors and experts discussed opportunities in water at the Investors’ Circle conference. My takeaway from the conversation is that water is a difficult (read: fragmented, inefficient, and complex) issue, but one that demands our attention and our intelligence. The panel featured David Zetland, a Postdoctoral Fellow in Natural Resource Economics and Political Economy at UC Berkeley, Brian Dunn, CEO of Growth Capital Services, and Dominic Kulik, founding Principal of Dakai Enterprises.
We just scratched the surface of the complexities of water. Panelists generally agreed the term “water market” is a misnomer, as we really don’t have any sort of market for water. Rather, monopolies rule, Zetland explained.
“Water is on a 10 year lag to alternative energy,” Kulik explained. Water is undervalued, and the system is inefficient. The field is begging for clear competitive mapping and analysis, but this does not exist as yet.
After 3 years of pitching networks, meeting with various producers, and all of the other Hollywood headaches we finally have our own TerraCycle Reality TV Show. Garbage Moguls, which debuts on the National Geographic Channel on Earth Day (4/22) at 9pm EST/PST, follows our team at TerraCycle as we take waste (in Episode 1, Oreo Wrappers and Coca-Cola Billboards) and figure out how to upcycle them into products (Oreo wrappers will become kites and billboards will be messenger bags) and then finally sell them to a major retailer (Oreo wrapper kites to Wal-Mart and Billboard messenger bags to Office Max). So tune in and also don’t forget to spread the word.Click to continue reading »
Contrary to analysts’ forecasts, the global trade in “green” products continues to grow strongly, according to Alibaba.com. Predictions that collapsing banks and financial markets, along with widespread recession would prompt consumers to cut back spending on green products are proving to be way off-base, at least when it comes to traffic running through their Internet platform, according to the Hong Kong-based B2B e-commerce provider.
Searches for alternative fuel and power–such as solar and wind power systems, electric cars and bio-diesel–as well as organic products of all types continued to increase steadily during the latter part of 2008 and through the first quarter of 2009, according to Alibaba.com data.
Oil prices spiking as high as $147 a barrel in Q3 2008 led to a surge in searches for renewable energy products, which rose 67% on a year-to-year basis. Even more encouraging, interest in green products has continued into 2009. Solar power energy and organic products were the fastest growing segments on Alibaba.com in this year’s first quarter, increasing 71% and 68%, respectively.
There are good signs that that corporate sustainability is moving beyond mere PR and blue-sky vibes. It might even be true, descending at last from somewhere past Mars to an Earth-based reality.
Speaking of Mars, the candy company of the same name claims it is the “first global chocolate company to commit to fundamentally changing the way sustainable cocoa farming practices are advanced by aiming to certify” that its entire cocoa supply is produced in a sustainable manner by 2020.
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Thank you, Richard Nixon.
I’d like to begin this post by thanking Richard Nixon for creating the historic opportunity for the US to work with China on the two most critical global issues challenging our world today: Economy and the Environment. Although current US – China relations have opportunities for improvement, Nixon laid the groundwork for political collaboration with China through his 1972 visit to Beijing.
The opportunity that the US now has to work collaboratively with China to solve the economic and environmental crises may well be our greatest hope for change. The goal of this post is to highlight where we are today with regards to high level political cooperation between China and the US on the issue of a global climate change treaty. I will also add a few comments on the role of US consumers in Chinese GHG emissions.
I’m pleased to tell you that I’ll be representing 3P at this year’s Greener by Design conference, May 19th-20th in San Francisco. The conference is being put together by our friends at Greener World Media.
Greening the design process is an important challenge for the sustainability movement – and a critical piece of any business that makes anything material. Designers need to worry about dematerialization, the source of raw materials, incorporation of recycled and recyclable materials (at costs that will appeal to the big box crowd), where products will be manufactured, durability, and end of use deconstruction. Plus they have to design things that are needed and desirable, so customers will buy them. I don’t have the slightest idea how they do that, but I’m excited to find out.
To top it off, William McDonough of Cradle to Cradle fame, is the keynote. This conference is not to be missed!
Ready to register? 3P readers can get a generous $550 discount by registering here and using discount code triplepundit.
Leave a note in the comments if you’re planning to attend! I love the chance to connect with 3P readers in person.
As I was exploring possible summer internship positions, a professional colleague suggested that I meet with Mark Reiner, President of Birambye International (BI). I found Mark’s work to be so impressive that I wanted to share it with a wider audience. Mark is an extraordinary person who commits his time, energy and money in alignment with his values (truly a triple bottom line individual). Mark founded BI, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3), to help communities in need reach economic self-sufficiency without sacrificing culture or the environment. Mark’s vision is to create sustainable projects that can be maintained by locals after volunteers have left.
BI is currently planning the “Birambye Lodge” (“Birambye” is Kinyarwandan for “Sustainability”), to be built in the Western Province of Rwanda. Conceptual plans have been developed for the Lodge to be constructed on the shore of Lake Kivu, adjacent to the Children’s Village Kigarama (CVK) orphanage, one of BI’s partners. Revenue from the lodge’s business will support its operation and maintenance, with a portion also committed to funding education and sanitation for the orphans at CVK. Having this additional support will provide CVK important funding to supplement the donations on which it currently relies, while also offering vocational training for orphans – something that has not been done in the past. Furthermore, the lodge will be constructed using an approach that is expected to make it the first US Green Building Council’s LEED Platinum structure in Africa.