Alltop répertorie de nombreux articles sur l'entrepreneuriat social à travers le monde.

21.12.2014 Biocoding For Beginners

In Fast Company:
image courtesy of Fast Company
Cathal Garvey used to work in cancer research. Now he is the scientific director of IndieBio, a biotech accelerator based in Cork, Ireland which is about to open a branch in San Francisco. Garvey originally studied genetics. "I got into genetics after seeing a documentary about it when it was quite young." he says."I had already decided that I was going to be a biologist at an even younger age. And then I thought ‘Oh my God, living things operate on a code.’"

After graduating, Garvey became interested in the DIYBio movement of amateur biotechnologists. "I started seeing all these people doing really exciting stuff," he says. "They were just doing what they wanted to do. It was what I imagined I would do when I was going into college and what I imagined nobody ever got a chance to do when leaving college." So Garvey quit cancer research, built a lab in his mother’s spare bedroom, and started to conduct biocoding experiments using his own open source tools...[continue reading]

21.12.2014 Why kids should learn to code for Christmas

From Htxt's maker channel:
This Christmas, the best gift you can give your kids (or yourself for that matter), is an opportunity to learn how to code. In today’s competitive job market, digital literacy has become a highly sought after skill that virtually guarantees employability.

In its recent Salary Review for 2014, Career Junction found that Information Technology is one of the ten most popular industry sectors in the South African jobs market and that IT labour demand has continued to increase year on year. According to ITWeb’s Salary Survey for 2014, IT salaries continue to outstrip inflation, and managerial IT staff have enjoyed a 20% increase in pay since the end of 2013.

We are in the middle of a mobile Internet revolution. “Africa’s billion people are getting online faster than you can say ‘hit me on Whatsapp’”, says Elizabeth Gould, co-founder of codeX, whose mission it is to train 100,000 African developers over the next 10 years...[continue reading]
Image courtesy of Htxt

19.12.2014 Transforming Women’s Lives through Coffee Culture

Pamela Chng co-founded a web consultancy firm, but mid-career, she decided to launch a social business to empower disadvantaged women. Bettr Barista Coffee Academy trains women to become coffee professionals, tapping into coffee culture and the growing specialty coffee industry to help its students gain job skills and overcome significant life challenges.

read more

19.12.2014 Deeper Understanding of Chinese Donors Can Create Stronger Relationships

Through our recent research into the emerging donor base in China we developed a three-step approach that NGOs can use to more deeply understand, anticipate and respond to donors’ needs, based on the donor’s lifecycle of interactions with the organization. More than ever, NGOs need to demonstrate meaningful results. We believe a deep understanding of […]

19.12.2014 Five Ways to Tap the Crowd to Drive Change

On December 5th, the second annual Social Entrepreneurs Challenge, hosted on CrowdRise, came to an end. And what an ending it was! The goal was for social entrepreneurs to raise $3 million over a six-week campaign to unlock match and prize funding from the Skoll Foundation. By the final week of the Challenge, donations continued […]

19.12.2014 8 Books Every Entrepreneur and Growth Hacker Should Read

The following post is copyrighted by Return On Now - Austin Internet Marketing Consulting Services

I brandish myself a perpetual student of life, and of business. After all, life is about making mistakes, learning from them, and growing as a result of our life lessons. For most of us, the biggest lessons come from experiences themselves. But we can take a shortcut by reading and staying up to date on trends. Many business authors are… read more →

The post 8 Books Every Entrepreneur and Growth Hacker Should Read appeared first on Return On Now.

19.12.2014 Thank You Apple: $100M raised to fight AIDS

We're thrilled to announce that Apple has now raised a total of $100 million for (RED)'s fight against AIDS - $20 million in this quarter alone. 100% going to AIDS programs. Thank you Apple! 

This news comes on the heels of Apple's biggest fundraising efforts for (RED). This World AIDS Day the App Store was (RED) with Apps for (RED) and Apple turned two of the biggest shopping days of the year - Black Friday and Cyber Monday - into days to fight AIDS. 

With Apps for (RED) for 2 weeks 25 fan-favorite apps could fight flinging birds in Angry Birds, cooking up Mario Batali’s famous short rib pizza with Kitchen Stories, or finishing your to-do list with the app Clear. Every time a customer purchased a participating (PRODUCT)RED app or an exclusive In-App Purchase, all proceeds went to the Global Fund. In addition on Friday, November 28, Apple customers in the US received a special edition (RED) iTunes® gift card with the purchase of select Apple products and Apple made a donation. And on Monday, December 1— World AIDS Day—Apple donated a portion of EVERY sale at Apple’s retail and online stores to fight AIDS. 

The impact Apple has had in the fight against AIDS is incredible. $100 million can provide 250 million days of life-saving HIV/AIDS medicine. 

Thank you Apple. 

19.12.2014 13 Winning Ideas Chosen for the ACTIVE AT SCHOOL Challenge

Healthy living is about to become easier and more fun for children across Canada. The Play Exchange’s ACTIVE AT SCHOOL Challenge has named 13 winning ideas that help students increase their levels of physical activity every day! One winner was selected from each province and territory, and each will receive $3,000 to help implement their healthy living idea in local schools.

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19.12.2014 Fair Trade USA Campaigns to Make a $25 Million Investment for a $1 Billion Impact

(3BL Media and Just Means) - As you reflect on the year 2014 and begin thinking about 2015, don’t forget that your new, five-year goals are inclusive of the year 2020. What kind of impact do you hope to make by then? How about giving $1 billion to farmers, farm workers, factory workers, and fishermen in over 70 countries around the world? That’s the 2020 goal of Fair Trade USA. Since 1998 and the history of the Fair Trade USA label, Fair Trade USA claims to have helped farmers earn an additional $350,000,000, a combination of premiums and price above the market rates. Today, they are campaigning to raise $25 million, the investment they believe it will take in order to reach their $1 billion goal. And it’s a good possibility it might not take them five years. Bob Stiller, longtime Fair Trade USA supporter and Founder of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, recently gave them a personal, $10 million matching grant. Other big foundation names like Skoll, Rockefeller, Kellogg and Packard are considering investment, as well.

But where and how exactly will the $25 million be invested? How will Fair Trade USA measure the impact of the grants? More importantly, how will the producers benefit?  In a conversation with Fair Trade USA’s CEO, Paul Rice, I learned more about where the funds will be allocated, and how the hardworking people fair trade seeks to benefit will see their livelihoods and communities changed.

“When we looked at the opportunities around fair trade, expanding into more countries and impacting more workers, we knew we needed a number of key investments in order to unlock that growth,” says Rice. “Our primary indicator of impact is dollars we generate above market price which flows back to workers.”

Fair Trade USA has identified four areas of development for the $25 million dollar grant, each with estimated dollar allocations: $8 million to expand the entrepreneurial capacities of farmers and farmworkers; $8 million in launching an impact management and reporting system; $7 million for marketing and consumer engagement; and the last $6 million to work with retailers to procure and promote fair trade products. Rice says they do not have specific amounts of money earmarked for different types of producers, cooperatives versus farmworkers, for example, because they will invest depending on the demands of the market.

“The way we think about the farmer capacity opportunity is looking at where the industry is going in terms of strengthening supply chains and what it needs to make that happen. This will vary from one company to the next. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, for example, only buys Fair Trade coffee from co-ops. They don’t buy from estates. If you ask Green Mountain which producer sector to invest in, they will say the co-ops, of course. Different customers have different needs, so I can’t tell you exactly how it will be deployed. We won’t take a mechanical approach,” explains Rice.

And different funders have different expectations for their investments, too. Fair Trade USA is approaching many of the foundations and funders they’ve worked with previously. Many of these “investors”—as Rice calls them—are expecting to see a measurable ROI. The Skoll Foundation, a previous investor of Fair Trade USA, would want to see their contribution earmarked towards the development of an impact management and reporting framework. Rice says tracking the details of their work is critical to the promise they make to consumers and to companies when they choose fair trade.

“I can tell you how many dollars flow back to farmers as a result of our work.  But where those farmers spent their money, how many kids we kept in school, how many kids were vaccinated, how many liters of clean drinking water were produced as result of wells from fair trade premiums--that much richer story, the impact of fair trade—is right now only told through anecdotes. It doesn’t embrace the full scope of our work in 70 countries around the world. The SKOLL Foundation is particularly interested in helping develop a much richer and more detailed framework for impact measurement,” says Rice.

As for the $8 million estimated to empower the entrepreneurial capacity of farmers, a lot of that money will be used to ensure farmers have business acumen and a stronger commitment to product quality. This is partially connected to the demands of big retailers like Costco, who have recently begun selling fair trade produce from Mexico. Rice says Fair Trade USA will train farmers and farmworkers how to partner with the big brands and retailers they work with today. Training will include education on food and health safety, democratic organization, farm worker empowerment and production quality. Rice believes that the expansion of fair trade and growth in the movement happens when farmers and farm workers are empowered—and when big problems present big opportunities. 

“When I go to gatherings with producers, businesses and other stakeholders, what people are saying is that fair trade could and should be bigger and better. Few people in the movement are saying, ‘let’s keep things the way they were. Let’s stay small.’ What’s really being discussed is how fair trade can jump forward. Because again, like Rana Plaza, every time a factory burns up and workers get killed or we hear of slavery in the coffee fields of Brazil—in the face of huge problems there is also a huge opportunity. How is fair trade going to meet that?” says Rice.

Of the 1.5 million families with whom Fair Trade USA continues to work, 90 percent of them are part of farming cooperatives. And, as part of their ‘Fair Trade for All” campaign, Fair Trade USA is also committed to expanding the fair trade model more and more into factories, plantations and even fisheries. In fact, after being approached by large foundations and retailers to address the problem of slavery in the fishing industry, Fair Trade USA spent two years in research with the Marine Stewardship Council and World Wildlife Foundation to develop Fair Trade fish standards. And just this year, they certified the first Fair Trade fishery, a tuna cooperative in Indonesia.

“Fair Trade fish. That’s Fair Trade for all!” proclaims Rice. “When we think about an investment fund of $25 million that will unlock growth, it’s in large part a response to the consumers’ growing hunger for responsible products. Consumers don’t want to eat slave-made sushi,” says Rice.

Fair Trade USA is also partnering with large companies like Nespresso, West Elm and Patagonia. Rice says Fair Trade is rapidly moving from farm to factory and that their growth campaign is in response to seizing the consumers’ demands for more responsible products.

Stay tuned as I follow-up on this campaign and explore Fair Trade USA’s tangible impact.

Read about Fair Trade Fish. Learn about the $25 Million Campaign. Check out Fair Trade for All.

Friday, December 19, 2014 - 8:00am

18.12.2014 Three Big Myths about Big Data and Energy Management

Big data and data analytics are terms used increasingly to describe the current state and future opportunities of enterprise energy management. To gain greater insight, GreenBiz Group, in partnership with Siemens Building Technologies, surveyed energy managers from large corporations, hospital systems, governments and educational institutions.

The results highlight the early nature of using big data analytics for enterprise-level energy management and identified three common misconceptions. Join us for a discussion about how organizations are leveraging big data for energy enterprise management. During this webcast, you’ll learn:

  • Three common misconceptions are about using big data analytics for enterprise-level energy management
  • How to manage data quality and quantity to take “big data” and turn it into actionable information
  • Immediate actions energy managers can take today to advance their big-data analytics program


Bob Dixon, Vice President of Industry Affairs, Siemens Infastructure & Cities

Bob Dixon serves as the Director of Industry Affairs,  Building Performance & Sustainability for Siemens Industry, Inc – Building Technologies Division.  He is responsible for strategy development, market positioning, and Industry Leadership on efficiency and sustainability in buildings.

Dixon serves on the Board of Directors for the National Association of State Energy Officials, served as the Vice Chair for the Alliance to Save Energy, and is a past president of National Association of Energy Service Companies. Previously, he served as the Senior Vice President, Global Head, Energy and Environmental Solutions for the Building Technologies Division and was the first designated Senior Principle Expert for the 39,000 employee Building Technologies Division.

Dixon earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California, and is a graduate of the Minnesota Executive program at the University of Minnesota.


Chris Brophy, Vice President, Corporate Responsibility, MGM Resorts International

Chris Brophy is the Vice President of Corporate Sustainability for MGM Resorts International.  In this capacity, Chris has a leadership role in developing, executing and communicating the company’s programs for environmental responsibility. Chris also oversees the planning, analysis, and capital budget management for energy conservation projects at all MGM Resorts International properties, and is responsible for the company’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions inventory and reporting. 

Before joining MGM Resorts International in his current role in 2007, Chris was the Director of Technology Projects and Operations for The Breakers Palm Beach, a luxury resort and club in Florida.  In this role, he managed strategic technology and operational initiatives for departments throughout the organization.  In addition, Chris oversaw financial reporting and budgeting for the Technology Services Division, as well as the capital budget for all technology investments at The Breakers.  He previously served MGM as a Senior Associate in Corporate Strategy.

Chris earned his Bachelors and Masters of Business Administration degrees from the University of Arizona and the University of Arizona Eller College of Management.



John Davies, Vice President & Senior Analyst, GreenBiz Group

John Davies is vice president and senior analyst at GreenBiz Group, heading up independent research regarding green strategies and business operations and the sustainability profession. Davies also leads the GreenBiz Executive Network, a member-based, peer-to-peer learning forum for sustainability professionals.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015 - 1:00pm
Sponsored by: 
Webcast URL: 

18.12.2014 Focus on Pharma: Creating a Market for Disease Prevention

Flickr image by Victor

This piece was originally published in the autumn issue of Radar Magazine – Issue 05: Unusual Activists.

Society always will need medicines, and medicines always will require heavy investment in research and development. But signs indicate the pharmaceutical sector’s customers — governments, insurers, foundations and patients — are increasingly not willing or able to pay as much for its products. The $84,000 price tag for Gilead’s new Hepatitis C drug and the soaring price of vaccines in the United States has left many asking, “How much is enough?” Despite more tightly controlled pricing in Europe, pressure for drug price reductions also is mounting.

The existing margin-based pharmaceutical model neither will continue to yield traditional profits, nor will it meet the rapidly growing and changing demand for healthcare, particularly in relation to non-communicable diseases. Some new approaches are emerging, particularly in developing countries, such as GlaxoSmithKline’s low-margin, high-volume model that’s been applied in the 49 poorest nations. Yet overall, profits still rely heavily on established markets where the reimbursement system for cutting-edge products exists. Pharma companies remain focused on making the existing business model continue to yield expected profit levels and are failing to see opportunities for business growth elsewhere.

The business case for prevention

A recent report by The Vitality Institute — founded by South Africa’s largest health insurance company — estimates potential annual savings in the United States of $217 billion to $303 billion on healthcare costs by 2023 if evidence-based approaches to NCD prevention are rolled out.

At an estimated global cost of illness of nearly $1.4 trillion in 2010 for cardiovascular disease and diabetes alone, there is a market for prevention. In the U.K., the National Health Service spends 10 percent of its budget on treating diabetes, 80 percent of which goes to managing (partly preventable) complications. Reducing disease incidence represents a considerable value to governments, insurance companies and employers.

Some sectors are already eyeing the value of this market. Food companies such as Nestlé and PepsiCo are refocusing their brands around health and wellness. Mobile health has the potential to move us as a society from treating disease to preventing disease. Companies such as GE, Google, Samsung and Apple are investing in wearable technology and devices that can monitor health — from heart rate and blood pressure to blood sugar and cholesterol. Google is partnering with pharma company Novartis to develop and market “smart contact lenses” that can help measure glucose levels. The launch of the Apple Watch, with a big focus on health monitoring, is a significant step towards mainstream technologies that could enhance healthcare. While the growth of this market may be slowed by issues around data, privacy and maintaining use of the device, some estimate that the industry could be worth $3 trillion a year in the U.S. alone.

Some pharma companies are starting to focus on prevention, such as Novo Nordisk’s Changing Cities Diabetes, which looks at effective ways of addressing the diabetes burden at city level. The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have announced a partnership on NCD prevention to design a behavioral change-based toolkit.

But the general view in the sector is that prevention lacks a strong business case and is not a revenue generator. Companies are generally reluctant to raise their voice on, or to own, the issue; prevention continues to be seen as government’s responsibility.

Creating the prevention market

Innovative financing mechanisms such as Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) may offer a mechanism by which the market can be created by shifting incentives in the system. Since the launch of the first SIB aimed at reducing recidivism in Peterborough prison in 2010, 16 SIBs have been commissioned in the U.K. attracting a (still modest) total capital of $40.7 million to date.

SIBs secure investment for the implementation of interventions that aim to deliver improved social outcomes. Applied to primary or secondary preventative efforts, a specific intervention — to avoid complications that are costly to treat — would, if achieved, result in a pay-out lower than the cost of treatment would have been to the state, but high enough for the investor to want to take on the risk. It holds the potential to be a win for everyone involved: government; taxpayer; investors (which could include corporations such as insurance companies or healthcare companies); and individuals.

Some examples of SIBs modeled around preventative healthcare are starting to emerge, particularly in the United States at a small scale, such as an initiative in Fresno, Calif., focused on prevention of asthma-related complications. Challenges include scaling SIBs by making them attractive to mainstream investors, proving and attributing health outcomes, and the timeline of the return on the investment. Nonetheless, bright and willing minds will be able to overcome these obstacles or innovate to devise a different financing mechanism.

Intervention needs collective action

Delivering successful interventions will require a whole host of stakeholders to come together, especially when it comes to primary prevention to achieve behavior changes such as quitting smoking or changing diets. A model based on collective action is the only proposition that would be robust enough to deliver desired outcomes and stand a chance of warranting monetization of prevention efforts. To encourage lifestyle changes, potential partners in the private sector may include food companies, retailers, insurance providers, education services and tech companies.

Mike Barry of Marks & Spencer predicted, “The economy we have today in vertical silos — a banking industry, pharmaceutical industry, food industry — will collapse. If we think what the ‘food sector’ will look like in 10 years’ time, I can see pharmaceutical, well-being and food colliding together to create personalized products for the marketplace.”

Who will lead the effort to develop the market for prevention? Healthcare companies are a logical leader, but like businesses in other sectors who are rethinking their models, it requires taking a different lens to core competencies, relationships and business partners.

Healthcare companies must consider what part of disease prevention can be addressed with the core competencies held by their business. These companies hold a wealth of data that could be used to deliver and prove more effective health outcomes in society. They also have very strong relationships with healthcare professionals, and current sales and marketing practices and incentives are not making the most of these. Finally, governments are pharma companies’ primary customers in many markets; there is an existing relationship that many other sectors lack and this could be the basis for more meaningful collective action in preventative healthcare.

Disease prevention is an enormous societal need and a potentially lucrative market. If the pharmaceutical companies don’t step up to explore it, companies elsewhere will.

18.12.2014 Thank You Live Nation!

More than 675,000 days of life-saving medicine can be provided thanks to the efforts of Live Nation employees and fans worldwide this World AIDS Day.

On December 1, more than 4,000 Live Nation employees from around the world donned (RED)NATION t-shirts to show their support for the fight against AIDS. And from November 3 to December 14, fans purchasing tickets to live events on and could donate up to $25 to the Global Fund.

Thanks to Live Nation Entertainment for its tremendous support of (RED)’s fight for an AIDS FREE GENERATION this World AIDS Day.

18.12.2014 Malaysia: Migrant Workers in Their Own Words

For the last two years, Verité has been meeting with migrant workers in the electronics sector in Malaysia to understand their experiences. Our findings shocked us – one in three of the hundreds of thousands of migrants working in Malaysian electronics manufacturing is in a condition of forced labor. These Burmese, Nepalis, Indians, Bangladeshis, Vietnamese, […]

17.12.2014 Climate-Smart Farming Knowledge Helps Farmers Prosper

U Htun Wai was skeptical when a group of agronomists and farmers visited his village in Myanmar’s Irrawady Delta region and offered to help double his yearly income. Rising sea levels render his land infertile for half of the year, so while other farmers in the region could harvest two crops of rice each year, […]

17.12.2014 Using Business as a Force For Good: The Key to a Better Tomorrow

Reading the title of this article, you may be skeptical. Why is business the key? What about nonprofits or even government? Business is one of the most powerful forces on earth, having the potential to create systemic impact for everyone. While government and the nonprofit sector are necessary and an important part of creating change, […]

17.12.2014 The giving quants or "algorithmic philanthropy"

I spent the weekend preparing for, and then taping, a segment on digital activism for Philanthropy Talk. That's the public radio "car talk" program for philosophical questions. The segment will air in January.

So it's no wonder that I have thought experiments on my mind. Yesterday when I opened The New York Times (the actual paper edition) I read a range of stories. Sometimes when I read the paper my mind plays tricks on me - like, did the person who wrote the story on page A1 read the story on page B8? Today, several stories in the paper seemed to be speaking to each other - the first one was on robots and jobs. The other one was on artificial intelligence research.

Here's where my mind went (bear with me, this will be about philanthropy and civil society)

First, some background:
This year while I was working on the Blueprint, I kept wanting to do more imaginative work on digital technologies. It's one reason I regularly read newsletters from and the Singularity Institute, I go to campus lectures on neural networks and the block chain and other stuff I don't understand and I'm a member of the Long Now Foundation. All efforts to try to learn about far-edge technology. But the far-edge of technology is not the right topic for the Blueprint, since many people who read it are still coming to grips with hashtags and chat apps. So I keep a notebook of thoughts on edgy technology and civil society, trying to figure out what to do with them. This year, one of the pre-readers of the Blueprint said to me, " You know, this is all well and good, but what about the really interesting technological stuff - like neural networks and pattern recognition and AI and robots, and what not?"

So he and I went off and had coffee. And we're trying to figure out what to do with my notes, his observations, and the intersections and implications of cutting-edgier science and technology on philanthropy and civil society.*

Reading the two news stories noted above, I learn that many economists are no longer sure that   technological advances (such as robotics) will create more jobs than they destroy. And then, turn a few pages, and I read about a 100 year study to look at the real effects of artificial intelligence. That is, the study begins now and will run for 100 years. Where will the study take place? Stanford University (with lots of academic partners). It's called AI100

So how do you reconcile these two thoughts - "tech is changing the economy but not augmenting it" with "let's invest now in something to run for 100 years." You make a gift to a nonprofit. Admittedly, a nonprofit with a large endowment, but what is to say that this university (or any institution) will withstand the very forces this study aims to examine? In other words, if you make a 100 year bet to understand a technology's impact, how do you know the technology won't destroy the place you made the bet before the century is up?**

Now, the thought experiment (When AI ate philanthropy)
Assume some folks begin to apply machine learning and artificial intelligence, data and data analytics to the increasing amount of quantitative data being generated by and about social  organizations. This is a completely plausible step from where we are now - what with the effective altruism movement, random control trials, and the emerging data infrastructure for philanthropy. One possibility is such a trajectory leads to the Hedge Fund version of donors - "quant givers." Guided by algorithms and data (replacing program officers and philanthropy advisors) machines would match a donor's dollars with social causes. If we assume that the capacity to do this (at least in the short term) would take a lot of money to build out, we can also assume that the charitable dollars would be coming from wealthy people (or perhaps pools of money from donors, pushing further on the hedge fund metaphor), and so the gifts would also be large. As such, they'd be attractive to organizations, who would try to fit themselves into the models (just as organizations "optimize their search terms" to fit Google search algorithms). Because the algorithms "learn," they get better and better at finding and matching, data crunching and report generating. They create their own, powerful, self-sustaining feedback loop.

It's possible such algorithmic philanthropy could drive enough resources and draw enough attention from fund seeking nonprofits. The feedback loop thus grows to a larger force that begins to change the kinds of measures and metrics that lots of nonprofits track and provide. This leads to behavior change among the vast swath of nonprofits, changing the "marketplace" of options available to smaller, more passion-oriented (or simply less data-driven) donors (i.e. most of us). What would it do to the measures and data that were collected and fed into the machines?

How much would it take before the quant-driven feedback loop affected change throughout the ecosystem of nonprofits? How would parallel movements of impact investing and performance measures, earned revenue and double bottom lines play into this story? How would the more personal, direct-involvement approach of most donors counteract this approach? What countervaling influence could intuition, expression, personal passions, minority voice, and donor choice have on this feedback loop? Just how far can we rationalize/algorithmically structure giving? And how far should we? What if we took all the humanity out of philanthropy?

One likely answer to that question is that the measures would focus ever more on quantifiable, short term outputs that can be easily collected. From the perspective of the algorithm it would be harder to justify longer-term investments in hard-to- measure activities (it would also probably skip over startups with no metrics at all). Long term enterprises and startups might not even "make it into the data" being used by the algorithms.

What falls into this category of long-term hard-to-measure charitable opportunities? Well lots of things like advocacy, policy analysis, and basic research. Oh, and endowed universities.

So, are 100 year research efforts on technological change even possible? How do we factor in the effects of these digital technologies on the peripheral technologies like nonprofit universities that house them? What happens when the thing being researched consumes the place that conducts the research?

*What do you think we should do? A new blog? An annual look at just tech and philanthropy? A "hype cycle" analysis? A two by two?
**This paradox, by the way, is one of the reasons I believe so strongly in focusing on the effects of digital innovation on civil society. Most studies of digital change look at their implications for business or government and assume that nonprofits will just keep on keeping on. I think that's nuts.

17.12.2014 Core Customers Offer Value to Co-Creation

In 2001 Lego wanted to win over a new set of customers. They wanted to be relevant again during a time when kids were preoccupied with electronic video games. Children were no longer thinking about the “joy of building, pride of creation,” (Davis, Forbes.) Instead they had turned their backs on using their imagination only to be enticed by colorful graphics and loud interactivity on the most popular video games. Lego wanted to be relevant again, so they created a line of oversized minifigures which didn’t require any building, more like having a Barbie doll or a G.I. Joe action figure. The only problem with this idea is that the minifigures did not have a back-story, they didn’t have a history. Something video games provided to its players. Newer video games were like mini movies and interactive, they had a story line and children couldn’t wait to get to them! Needless to say, the minifigure project was not profitable, and Lego core fans were turned off. Core fans wanted Lego to maintain its values, that is, don’t try to be something you are not. Lego should have asked fans what their thoughts were about the project.

Minifigures were a good idea

I think the idea of minifigures was a good one; Lego just didn’t develop rational grounds for existence for these characters. Each one of the minifigures should have come with a mini-storybook that explained who they were, where they came from, who they belonged to and what they were doing now. Its human nature to ask the who, the where, the what and the why. Lego didn’t give its minifigures life. The core audience needed some reason to buy them, and Lego failed in that area. Co-creation would have worked in this instance. Lego should have done some research before releasing the minifigures as a product to buy. Invite core users to try them out and get their ideas on how to integrate the product into existing Lego products or whether it should have been a standalone product created to begin a new complementary item or a brand new item with their own cities, shopping, etc.

Here’s an idea: CoCreation

The moral of the story is, ask your customers what they want. There is no harm in asking for help. Customers can help you see another aspect of your product, one your company may not have considered. This is a good example of how co-creation could have been used to launch a complementary product alongside one with brand notoriety.

17.12.2014 Makers

A DIY microscope:
image courtesy of PLOS
Expensive tests for measuring everything from sperm motility to cancer diagnosis have just been made hundreds of thousands of dollars cheaper by a PhD student from Brunel University London who hacked his own microscope

Adam Lynch, from the university's College of Health and Life Sciences, created his own inverted microscope by adapting a cheap instrument he bought online to save himself time and money.

The tool is used to measure cell motility - how fast cells move from one place to another - but the high-quality equipment, used to automatically test multiple samples, can stretch to hundreds of thousands of pounds...[continue reading]
A Soft robotics ‘toolkit’:
Several Harvard University labs in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin have developed the Soft Robotics Toolkit — an online treasure trove of downloadable open-source plans, how-to videos, and case studies to assist users in the design, fabrication, modeling, characterization, and control of soft robotic devices...The kit will provide researchers with a level of detail not typically found in academic research papers, including 3D models, bills of materials, raw experimental data, multimedia step-by-step tutorials, and case studies of various soft robot designs...[more]
(Credit: Eliza Grinnell, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences)
SAAVAJ, The Rural Utility Vehicle, from Evomo:
via Make, The Future of Farming is Open Source:
While grassroots agricultural innovation is advancing by leaps and bounds, the public typically hears a great deal more about the biotech of the laboratory than the homespun-tech of the farmyard. Our collective understanding of how to recognize forwarding-thinking farming practices and technologies is just starting to catch up. While farmers who patent the results of their efforts are often acknowledged as inventors, most of them never make it that far. They invent out of necessity and life goes on, perhaps a bit more efficiently.
The Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) and Farm Hack aim to promote farmers as innovators and makers through a new project called Growing Innovation. The two organizations have launched a collaborative Kickstarter campaign to fund the creation of an open source online library of agricultural innovations and a new book documenting sustainable models developed by farmers. The online library will include a searchable database and interactive maps of farm projects, including detailed plans from blueprints to budgets. The book will feature exemplary farm projects from RAFI’s archive, projects that are highly replicable and adaptable to variety of contexts...[continue reading]

16.12.2014 Furniture from Mwanzi

via Make:

MWANZI - The Spotlight Series by Once Films from Once Films USA on Vimeo.St. Louis furniture builder Jermain Todd crafts beautiful industrial pieces in his studio at a converted brewery space.

16.12.2014 CEO’s Update: Fall 2014

My personal goal is to channel the aspirations of the technology community to do more social good. More and more of my time is spent around both raising money and raising awareness of how much more could be done with technology to increase social impact. In this update, I’m delighted to be able to share Benetech’s latest efforts to do both. First, I’ll cover our biggest fundraising effort of the year: individual philanthropy is crucial to us; it’s the portion that makes 10X impact possible! Then I’ll share the latest stories on the impact of our tech volunteerism and human rights tech efforts as well our new tech leadership.

Highlights of this Update:
Join Benetech in Making the World Better for All
At Benetech, we touch the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals in often-difficult situations. From people in Latin America who face severe water scarcity to at-risk human rights defenders and students with disabilities, our users and their families are the ones who best convey the impact of our work.

Bookshare student member Brennan Draves and his mother, Lindsay, posing to the camera.
Brennan Draves and his mother, Lindsay Draves, at school.
Consider third grade student Brennan Draves. Brennan has Retinitis Pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that causes severe vision impairment and blindness. His disability, however, does not stop him from flying through his homework assignments. He reads accessible ebooks from Benetech’s Bookshare library in braille format, and learns as quickly as his peers without disabilities. In fact, his reading skills are above average and he is on track to be an honor roll student. “Bookshare has made my homework easier,” Brennan says. And Brennan’s mom, Lindsay Draves, adds, “Bookshare has made it possible for my son to be excited about learning.”

We want students like Brennan—and disadvantaged people everywhere—to have equal opportunities to make their lives better. We’re thrilled that today’s rapid changes in technology are opening up tremendous new ways to address the problems they face. To do so, we definitely need your help.

That’s why we were excited to participate in the Skoll Foundation’s second annual Skoll Social Entrepreneurs Challenge, a fundraising campaign committed to strengthening the capacity of organizations like ours to accelerate impact on some of the most critical issues of our time. The Challenge ran for six weeks through December 5th. We competed against other participating organizations, racing against the clock to raise funds and secure matching funding from the Skoll Foundation. We did very well, and with the Skoll Foundation’s matching support, each gift to our campaign more than doubled its impact. As we look forward to 2015, we recognize that much work remains to be done, and we definitely need your continued support.

Are you excited about technology benefiting the world? It’s not too late to pledge your support for our work. To help now, please use the Donate Form on Benetech's website and give whatever you can. We build our tech-for-good products and reach dollar-by-dollar, and therefore every gift makes a difference for the people we serve. Thank you!
We are very excited about our SocialCoding4Good project, one of our Benetech Labs initiatives, which is working to increase the engagement of the technology sector with social good initiatives beyond just the scope of our own programs.

Within a short period, SocialCoding4Good has gone from a Labs pilot project to a growing community driving social impact. SocialCoding4Good brings together individual software professionals as well as corporate social responsibility teams from companies such as Cisco, Google, Hewlett Packard, LinkedIn, and VMware to volunteer their technical skills to nonprofit partners that develop and maintain free and open source software addressing critical social problems. SocialCoding4Good is a force multiplier: the nonprofit organizations we work with deliver the social impact; SocialCoding4Good makes them stronger.

For example, this summer, SocialCoding4Good organized “code sprints” at Google and LinkedIn during the companies’ volunteer service events, GoogleServe and LinkedIn for Good InDay. There it brought teams of Google and LinkedIn employees to contribute code fixes and key feature enhancements to the open source mobile tools of our nonprofit project partner Mifos, whose mission is to enable financial institutions to become modern and digitally connected providers of financial services to the world’s 2.5 billion poor and unbanked. Mifos can immediately deploy these new mobile features of its financial inclusion platform, which delivers world-class microcredit services that help open up new opportunities for the poor and their families.

To date, more than one thousand software professionals have signed up to lend their time and skills to SocialCoding4Good’s nonprofit project partners, and we are thrilled to support this growing contributor community with new leadership.

New Tech Leadership
Portrait of Benetech VP of Engineering, Mark Roberts
Benetech VP of Engineering, Mark Roberts
Since my last CEO’s Letter, we have also welcomed aboard a new Vice President of Engineering: Mark Roberts, former head of TiVo Engineering and Operations. Mark oversees the development, testing, and deployment of new technology across all of Benetech’s program areas, including Benetech Labs and SocialCoding4Good.

Portrait of SocialCoding4Good Developer Community Manager, Emma Irwin
Developer Community Manager, Emma Irwin
We are also delighted to have aboard Developer Community Manager Emma Irwin, who guides the SocialCoding4Good volunteers as they join and contribute to the growth and impact of our nonprofit software partners’ open source efforts. Under Mark and Emma’s leadership, SocialCoding4Good recently launched a new blog and forums, enabling its volunteers and nonprofit project partners to share their experiences and the community to better support our many new contributors.  

Human Rights
Our Human Rights Program continues to focus on helping activists and journalists securely document the stories of human rights abuses worldwide. Revelations about government interception of these confidential stories has caused us to redouble our efforts to lower the barrier to the use of strong, secure crypto software like Martus. Martus is our free, open source, secure information collection and management tool. Martus Desktop 4.5 and Mobile Martus 1.2 feature myriad updates, with a focus on improved usability. For example, Martus can now be configured in less than 10 minutes by anyone with basic digital literacy skills. These new releases take big steps forward towards helping communities interested in secure collection of crucially important stories of human suffering, whether on PCs, Macs, or Android smartphones out in the field. And we have even more improvements in our development pipeline.

As toolmakers, our ultimate impact is measured by what our users create with our products. Case in point is our team’s work with local LGBTI groups in Sub-Saharan Africa to help them establish independent human rights documentation initiatives. The capacity building assistance we have extended to our partners over the past three years towards organized data collection of human rights violations is truly bearing fruit. The documentation projects of our partners in Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe have yielded so far six high-quality publications or reports about violations against LGBTI individuals in their communities. These are major milestones in our collective effort to build a culture of systematic, evidence-based documentation and advocacy work, and in our journey to make the defenders of human rights stronger in their fight against injustice and abuse.  

Thanks to the commitment of our supporters, partners, collaborators, volunteers, and staff, Benetech is increasing both the scale and scope of our work. We are determined to do far more for the millions of people around the world who most need the benefits of technology and are often the least able to afford them! We want to address pressing social challenges by prototyping new tools in areas outside our established programs as well as better serving and empowering our current user communities. Lastly, we want to go beyond what we can do on our own by igniting the larger tech community to engage in deploying technology for good. As a lifelong geek, I can’t imagine a more thrilling time to make this happen. I hope you join us!

Jim Fruchterman
Founder and CEO, Benetech

16.12.2014 The (failure) and future of civil society

A friend forwarded this to me in an email - it's a link to an article in The Guardian, a letter from the head of Civicus, a global organization representing civil society organizations.

In it he notes the growth of the sector.
And its failures to solve the problems it seeks to address.

In his words:
"We – civil society – have been co-opted into economic and institutional processes in which we are being outwitted and out-manoeuvred. Our conception of what is possible has narrowed dramatically. Since demonstrating bang for your buck has become all-important, we divide our work into neat projects, taking on only those endeavours that can produce easily quantifiable outcomes. Reliant on funding to service our own sizeable organisations, we avoid approaches or issues that might threaten our brand or upset our donors. We trade in incremental change."
And so we find ourselves reinforcing the social, economic and political systems we once set out to transform. We have become part of the problem, rather than the solution."
The article links to an open letter signed by many of the founders and leaders of the organization - there they state:
"Around the world, ordinary people are losing trust in the global governance system.  They have little faith in elected governments and public institutions. They do not believe that big corporations tell them the truth. They see the international intergovernmental system as irrelevant at best and ineffectual at worst.  ...

Yet still they dream of equality and rights.  Indeed, beyond dreaming, many actively fight for it in their daily lives.  Across all continents, people rise up on the streets, in slums and villages and towns and cities, in protest to demand jobs and decent education and health for their communities.
They have done so to end corruption, they have marched to demand participation in the decisions that affect their lives and they have risen to demand basic services like water and sanitation. ...

Sadly, those of us who work in civil society organisations nationally and globally have come to be identified as part of the problem.  We are the poor cousins of the global jet set.  We exist to challenge the status quo, but we trade in incremental change.  ...

A new and increasingly connected generation of women and men activists across the globe question how much of our energy is trapped in the internal bureaucracy and the comfort of our brands and organisations.  They move quickly, often without the kinds of structures that slow us down.  ..."
This is a call for reflection, renewal and reconsideration. Of an entire sector. By its leaders. 

We need civil society. People and societies need the space to protest, to make change, to protect minority rights, to express differences, arts, values, and opinions that don't win the votes of a majority or the dollars of industry.

I take heart in this call for change. A call "from the top," to make necessary changes, to consider the activists, protestors, networks and new enterprise forms as allies not threats, as part of the future of civil society not just as threats to the past. We need to re-imagine how civil society will work and what it will look like, not give up on it. This is especially true right now, as we get smarter about digital tools and infrastructure, both of which can do great things but which also default to settings at cross purposes to many civil society values. We need to make the tools work for the values - this is what we mean when we talk about "ReCoding Good."

15.12.2014 Time to Call a Spade a Spade

Flickr image by Dennis Wilkinson

Reporting on an unsustainable business model

As I was reviewing the selections for “best report” for Corporate Register’s 2015 Reporting Awards I found myself thinking, enough is enough. The most recent round of finalists includes British American Tobacco (BAT). It is true that the company is doing progressive things and has long been used as an example of a highly transparent company in a challenging industry. But if we want to create a sustainable future, can we continue to give plaudits to companies that lead in transparency and disclosure yet have fundamentally unsustainable business models?

Good reporting focuses on the business model

A sustainability report is a reflection of a company—its purpose, its impacts and, ideally, its role in a flourishing future. An excellent report focuses on the core business model and how it generates value. The idea of value creation has been evolving as we seek to align business’ role in society with the needs of current and future generations, and within ecosystem limits. We see new language emerging to describe value, ranging from a list of a company’s “values” to more technical phrasing such as the IIRC’s “capitals.” Whatever the word choice, this gets at the point that there is more to “value” than money.

To continue picking on BAT for a moment, at the core of their corporate vision is “to satisfy consumer moments in tobacco and beyond.” With this purpose at the center, does the business model bring net value to society? Is this offer part of a sustainable future? I would suggest the very obvious answer to these questions is, “No.” Having a chapter in the report dedicated to “creating shared value” does not get around this fact.

Transparency reveals opportunities to evolve

The level of transparency needed goes far beyond reporting; it requires a willingness to explore, describe and address the basics of the business in a manner that considers the company’s role in a sustainable future. This is a fundamental level of transparency beyond describing programs and tactics. It means shedding light on how the business makes money, and how it creates (or diminishes) value for stakeholders now and into the future. And it requires real leadership where fundamental issues are revealed through the process.

There is some exciting evolution in the area of business model innovation, and it is being reflected in sustainability reports (and our research). Companies like aluminum products manufacturer Novelis are pioneering the circular economy and describing it well in their report. Brazil’s pulp producer Fíbria is using external engagement and a deeper exploration of externalities to evolve its business model, which it describes in great detail in its report. These companies are just two examples of global firms who have acknowledged—at the most senior level—that companies need to address unsustainable elements of their business model to deliver value to society into the future.

No more lipstick on a pig

If those involved in sustainability reporting don’t want to be accused of putting lipstick on a pig, they would do well to use their transparency efforts to inform decisions and drive meaningful change. If the company’s business model is a sustainable one, then reporting can deepen engagement, share learning and help a company lead by example. If the business model is not sustainable, then reporting needs to highlight the fundamental issues—an uncomfortable exercise but an important one, nonetheless—to inform ways to evolve and deliver real value and to let go of what simply does harm. That would be effective transparency. Not to be confused with award-winning reporting.

15.12.2014 Jellyfish to Shut Down Power Plants, and Other Weird, Ominous Predictions from the UN


The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just came out with a huge report--over 2,000 pages long, and based on 9,200 peer-reviewed studies. They could have summed it up with one sentence: The outlook is bleak.

The IPCC report is the single most important document in the world at the moment, but it’s pretty much unreadable. Who has the time to dig through--let alone understand--its thick technical prose and jargon?

A new interactive site called Global Weirding is here to help. The people behind the website have waded through the report and have figured out how to communicate its ominous message in a way that is accessible and, frankly, captivating.

Using the report, the Global Weirding team created climate simulations running to the year 2100. The website offers different scenarios: What happens if we choose to do nothing, versus having all hands on deck? Spoiler alert: The former yields an apocalyptic nightmare.

“Wave of Jellyfish shuts down Swedish power plant.” Yes, that will be a thing. We can expect it in 2023, say the folks at Global Weirding, who have summarized the impacts from the IPCC report into single sentences and ball-parked them within reasonable time frames.

So what kinds of choices should our decision makers be making? The economic simulator lets you filter scenarios through different policy and energy decisions, so you can think about what you would do if you were in charge.

Visit the Global Weirding site to see just how weird things might get.

Articles You Might Like: 
Climate change report means the most for those who have the least
Poverty and climate change: An interview with Eliot Levine, Mercy Corps senior climate change advisor
What is 'sustainable development'? A few words from the experts

15.12.2014 The whole social economy in one place

Nonprofit. Network. Benefit corporations. Peer-to-peer platforms, the sharing economy, social welfare nonprofits.... I've been writing about this mix for years - on this blog, in the Blueprint series, and at Stanford.

(photo: (c) Copyright Lucy Bernholz, All rights reserved.)

Today, Peers, a nonprofit membership association that owned and operated a for-benefit corporation - all in the service of the sharing economy - has now split into two organizations. One will be be a benefit corporation (and a B Corporation) and one will be a nonprofit organization. One will raise investment capital, the other will rely on memberships and donations. Both organizations have stopped focusing on the sharing economy companies and started focusing on the people who use those platforms for work (the drivers, shoppers, and room-renter-outers). You can read all about the transition here.

It's like all those little bubbles in one. Not your grandmother's nonprofit sector.

Oh, and on this topic, I'm pleased to have contributed the Foreword to a new book, Understanding the Social Economy in the United States, due out in February from University of Toronto Press.