Alltop

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

30.10.2014 On Becoming a Social Entrepreneur for Life: FitSpirit’s Founder Shares Her Story

Claudine LaBelle, founder of FitSpirit, shares what inspires her and offers tips for up-and-coming social entrepreneurs who are seeking to launch their own projects. FitSpirit helps girls, ages 12  to 17, embrace physical activity and discover the positive health benefits of staying active for life.  The program has impacted over 67,000 girls throughout Ontario and Quebec since 2007.

How did I become a social entrepreneur for life? It started with one small step.

read more

30.10.2014 Welcome, Mark Roberts!

After an intensive search period, I’m delighted to share that Benetech recently appointed seasoned executive Mark Roberts as our Vice President of Engineering. Mark is former Senior Vice President of Engineering, Consumer Products, and Operations at TiVo Inc. He’s leading the development, testing, and deployment of Benetech’s tools and services across all its program areas.

Headshot of Benetech VP of Engineering, Mark Roberts.
We’re thrilled to have Mark join us in this leadership role. With his proven execution in scaling business systems and infrastructures that shaped the growth of award-winning service products for multiple high profile Silicon Valley technology companies, he has the perfect pedigree to spearhead engineering at Benetech as we continue to innovate in the technology-for-good space.

Until 2011, Mark spent twelve years growing and developing TiVo. Under his leadership, TiVo’s engineering team received many awards for technical innovation, including an Emmy and several CES Best of Show, and the company was in the top 1% of fastest growing stocks on NASDAQ over a five-year period. Most recently, he served two roles at Next Issue Media, a magazine service platform founded by five global publishers (Rogers, Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, and Time Inc.) that designs, develops, markets, and delivers interactive magazine content to consumers through the digital device of their choice. As Vice President of Service Operations and CMS Web Development and General Manager of the Canadian MSO (Management Services Organization) partner, Mark saw the company through rapid subscription growth.

You can learn more about Mark and what led him to Benetech from his bio on the Benetech site.

29.10.2014 Learnings from the 2014 Responsible Leadership Summit

Social Innovation panel - Trevor Langdon of Green Standards, Amanda Minuk of Bmeaningful, John Paul de Silva of Social Focus Consulting


As an alum, I'm always excited to return to Queen's and Kingston, but the 10th Annual Summit this October had the added benefit of occurring the same weekend as homecoming. The town was painted tri-colour and the energy was pulsing just as enthusiastically outside the school's hallowed halls as it was inside.

This year's conference was themed "Passion + Purpose", but ultimately we want that to translate into results and impact. My key takeaway from the conference is that impact requires three things: breaking the rules, collaboration, and time.

1. Breaking the rules

Albert Einstein has been quoted as saying "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Mr. Einstein is one of history's greatest examples of not following the rules and look what that lead to. The same thing can be said for social impact and the rules broken by the conference's speakers. For example, Johann Koss of Right to Play broke the rules by bringing soccer balls to starving kids. You must be asking yourself, shouldn't he have brought food? Johann's reasoning is that "the soccer balls humanizes the kids and empowers them to overcome poverty." With this approach, his organization is helping millions of children worldwide. 

Similarly, Geoff Cape and Evergreen Canada broke the rules of what it meant to be a non-profit organization. To succeed in its mission of creating greener and healthier communities, it had to employ the same techniques as a real estate developer and collaborate with multiple architects and other stakeholders. As a result, the organization has won multiple awards and continues to impact schools and communities across Canada.

While Johann and Geoff have demonstrated that breaking the results can lead to great things, Mikael Meir reminds us that there are still certain lines that shouldn't be crossed. Namely, doing fraudulent things and being dishonest are not means that justifies any end. When you do find yourself doing something dishonest, Mikael suggests to first admit it to yourself and then others because "humility is where all your power is."

Pause speaker - Mikael Meir

2. Collaboration

One of the reasons I chose Queen's MBA is that it is very focused on teams and illustrates through projects how collaboration leads to the best results. Similarly, Right to Play uses a collaborative approach where adult coaches are involved, but peers too, "kids are teaching one another and testing scores have improved dramatically."

David Wilkin and Ten Thousand Coffees use a more urban approach by connecting the leaders of today with the leaders of tomorrow over coffee in an effort to bridge the gap between generations. David remarks "coffee is the currency of opportunity."

Opening keynote - Johann Koss of Right To Play

3. Time

Change takes time as evidenced by Evergreen which took 11 years for planning and development alone. David Wilkin articulates why anyone would work on something that long, "the best ideas are tough challenges that you become obsessed with solving." Even when you do develop a solution, it often takes time to implement according to Geoff Cape, "ambiguity is the greatest challenge to moving ideas forward." This is especially true of solutions that "break the rules" as other may find it difficult to connect the dots between the problem and your solution.

One of the ways Johann and his organization has dealt with this ambiguity is by being adaptable, "Right to Play has undergone a constant evolution of change." Regardless of how long it takes, Geoff Green of Students on Ice encourages you to "keep your dream alive and don't stop." Amanda Minuk of Bmeaningful adds, "decisions in life are commas, not a period."

While I was very honoured to be a speaker at the event as part of the social innovation panel, I felt I got a ton more out of the conference than I put in. I'm trusting the primarily student-attended audience was just as inspired and incorporates their takeaways into their practices as future business leaders.



Social Focus Consulting
when it comes to your cause, we mean business


29.10.2014 Which Google AdWords Conversion Rate Should You Be Tracking?

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

After working with Google AdWords for over a decade, I’ve seen many changes rolled out to their user interface. It seems they make an update nearly every week. Earlier this year, they made a nomenclature change to how data is reported on an account’s AdWords conversion rate. In the old reporting UI, they had the following: Conversions (1-per Click) Conversions (Many-per Click) These were pretty… read more →

The post Which Google AdWords Conversion Rate Should You Be Tracking? appeared first on Return On Now.

29.10.2014 New questions for nonprofits and philanthropy

Among other things, the digital age is bringing us new kinds of nonprofits. I've been talking about this for several years, using examples of the Internet Archive, Mozilla, Creative Commons, and Wikimedia Foundation as "anchor institutions" of digital civil society. Each of these organizations is at least a decade old and each one exists to protect and promote some form of digital asset. If there weren't digital data and infrastructure, none of these nonprofits would (need to) exist.

There are other examples, newer ones, working on newer versions of shared social challenges in the digital age. One of those challenges is privacy. The founder of Privacy International announced today that he will launch a new organization, Code Red, in 2015 that is focused on protecting human rights advocates and whistleblowers in the digital age. This is an example of a social mission particular to the digital age.

Philanthropy is also challenged by attributes unique to the digital age. Take something like this effort to donate satellite imagery - How do we donate something and still own it, which is what happens with digital data? Who owns the data that get donated? is it really a donation or more of a loan? What are the licensing restrictions that will make sense for the donated data? Who is liable for a use of the data that puts someone in danger? These are all examples of questions that we've had answers to when it comes to donating time or money and we need new answers for donating data.

There are also new challenges for longstanding social sector organizations. Domestic violence is one area where the dangers of digital surveillance are keenly felt. There are tools custom built to facilitate stalking and off-the-shelf digital capacities (find my phone, for example) that make tracking people much easier.

What we're facing are questions of how to obtain the public benefit (new medical breakthroughs, new datasets that can inform poverty eradication efforts, whole new resources like up-to-date satellite imagery) of these digital tools without compromising or endangering people. I don't think the math behind this is going to be as simple as weighing one kind of benefit (public) against another (private) - it's going to be some form of multivariable calculus that includes issues of consent, ownership, liability, perpetuity, privacy, and security.

These are the questions that interest me. The ones that represent fundamental shifts in how civil society, nonprofits and philanthropy work. Much more interesting and important than the latest fundraising challenge on social media.


29.10.2014 Is Anyone Better Off? A Global Movement to Track Community Impact



(
3BL and Just Means)- Two weeks ago, community leaders from around the world came together in Johannesburg, South Africa to share tools and experiences with NGOs committed to deepening a culture of organizational accountability in Africa.  The summit called, RBA Africa Summit 2014, focused on Results Based Accountability (RBA), a tool designed to measure the impact of organizational activities and goals.

In his book “Trying Hard is Not Good Enough,” Mark Friedman details RBA as a framework for establishing “population level” outcomes– or big picture social goals– for policy makers, communities and coalitions.  RBA is also designed for the agency and program level, helping to track efforts and contributions to larger goals. RBA asks three questions to measure the impact that programs and organizations are having: “How much did we do?” “How well did we do it?” and most critically, “Is anyone better off?”

Among the delegates presenting at the conference was a group of individuals from Vermont including State Senator, Diane Snelling. RBA has been field tested in Vermont since 1993, but over the last two years a renewed, multi-stakeholder commitment to RBA has set the stage for unprecedented, collective action on issues of wellbeing in the state.

Diligently supporting this work is Benchmarks for a Better Vermont (Benchmarks), a partnership between Marlboro College Graduate School and Common Good Vermont. Benchmarks enlists a team of twelve, RBA coaches to offer training and guidance to nonprofits, state government, and the legislature. By providing high quality training, Benchmarks ensures that organizations have the capacity to creatively measure the impact they have on their communities. Hillary Boone, Benchmarks’ Program Manager and Alum of Marlboro College’s Masters in Managing Mission-Drive Organizations, says this:

“The best part of my job is connecting with Vermonters who manage mission-driven organizations. We dig deeper than just measuring the amount of service they provide – we get to the heart of their work.”

In an example of a mentoring program, Boone says that RBA asks for information about the student mentees’ connectedness and level of trust in their mentor instead of asking only about the number of participants.

“It’s inspiring to help find data that corroborates the amazing stories and experiences created by mission-driven organizations in Vermont,” says Boone.

Benchmarks also insists on the necessity of collective action to make population level change and that no single organization can be held responsible for the outcomes.

“For example,” says Boone, “we all want children to be ready to succeed in school, but it takes more than one agency to accomplish that goal. We need families, teachers, pediatricians, nonprofits and government working together. It’s a community effort.”

According to Boone, at every stage of implementation, Results-Based Accountability pushes organizations to think about partnerships in order to complement and reinforce community work.

“When we all come to the table ready to invest, play to our strengths, and support each other, that’s when real change can happen,” says Boone.

Signed into law this June, Vermont legislature passed landmark legislation that put accountability and performance management into law. Senator Diane Snelling, with the support of Representative Anne O’Brien and the Government Accountability Committee, developed and introduced Act 186. Act 186, known informally as the Outcomes Bill, is designed to increase accountability and create a structure for data informed decision-making in state government. It identifies eight quality of life outcomes for Vermonters, such as “Vermonters are healthy” and “Vermont’s environment is clean and sustainable.” These quality of life results will be measured using proxy indicators.

“The Outcomes Bill is the result of many thoughtful minds working together and setting a vision and a process to collaborate on the best future for Vermont,” says Senator Snelling.

The work being done in Vermont is getting noticed on an international level. At the RBA Africa Summit 2014, a Vermont contingent, including Senator Snelling, Boone, and Lamoille Family Center Executive Director Scott Johnson, shared the Vermont experience and lessons learned in a series of workshops. The presentations and connections will help communities throughout Africa work collectively to improve conditions of wellbeing. Back home, there is still work to do to ensure that Act 186 is implemented successfully.

“The passing of the Outcomes Bill was a victory for accountability in Vermont. Now we’ve got to do the hard work of using the framework to create real, positive outcomes for Vermonters,” says Boone.

Watch a video about RBA from CNBC Africa. Read about the International RBA Summit and the Results Leadership Group. Check out Benchmarks for a Better Vermont and the Guide to the Outcomes Bill

Credit: Thanks to Hillary Boone for her contribution to the writing of this piece.

 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 2:30pm

28.10.2014 OUT TODAY: New (RED) Revolution Video ft. Music by Catey Shaw

Two brackets. One revolution.

Today we’re releasing the
new (RED) video  – BRACKETS  – to raise awareness of the fight against AIDS. Watch:


What makes these (BRACKETS) so powerful? It’s YOU.

It’s the (PRODUCTS) our (RED) partners produce. The (MUSIC) our audiences dance to. The (RECIPES) our chefs prepare. The (AUCTIONS) our artists create. And the (EVENTS) people support. Millions of people around the world BUY (RED). DANCE (RED). EAT (RED). SHARE (RED). All to help fight AIDS. Thank you.

650 babies are born every day with HIV. Now we get get that number close to zero with life-saving medicine that costs as little as 40 cents a day.

Let’s use the power of two simple brackets to make an AIDS FREE GENERATION a reality.

A big thank you to our friends who created the video – Hill Holliday – and to Catey Shaw who’s song ‘Revolution’ is our anthem. Catey and her team are generously giving proceeds of sales from the song to (RED) – you can buy it here.

28.10.2014 Monopoly No More: New Players Threaten M-Pesa's Mobile Money Dominance

Image: 

M-Pesa’s mobile money-transfer service has been a sweeping success story in Kenya. But advances in the banking sector are catching up and new rivals are joining the race with their own mobile platforms.

Kenya is the global leader in mobile money. Of the 45 million people living there, over 30 million have mobile phone subscriptions and over 23 million are mobile money users. This is largely due to internationally renowned M-Pesa, founded by Vodaphone for Kenyan telecommunications giant Safaricom in 2007. By 2010, it had become the most successful mobile phone financial service in the developing world, and has held onto that supremacy ever since.

But two events last April are shaking the status quo. First, the Kenyan banking lobby, hoping to force M-Pesa to review its pricing, invited rival banking firms to offer services in direct competition with M-Pesa. Second, the Communications Commission of Kenya licensed new mobile virtual network operators to provide mobile money services.

And now it starts to get complicated. Before the results of this shake-up, some quick facts about the players:

  • Telecommunications company Safaricom founded M-Pesa without help from formal banking institutions. To complement M-Pesa with a savings and loan platform, Safaricom partnered with the Commercial Bank of Africa to create M-Shwari.
  • Kenya Commercial Bank runs two mobile banking platforms: Mobi Bank and M-Benki. These services are phone device agnostic, meaning they can be accessed with any telecommunications provider.
  • Finserve Africa Limited, a subsidiary of Equity Bank, is one of the April recipients of a mobile virtual network operator license. 

Equity Bank was M-Pesa's first challenger, teaming with telecommunications company Airtel, combining the bank's savings and loan expertise with Airtel’s 8 million customers. Equity Bank touted its services as less expensive than those of the Commercial Bank of Africa, namely M-Shwari. In a game-changing move, Equity offers microloans at 1 to 2 percent interest per month, while M-Shwari charges 7.5 percent.

Now Equity, Commercial Bank of Africa and Kenya Commercial Bank are all jockeying with Safaricom's M-Pesa for the biggest slice of the mobile money pie. Commercial Bank of Africa's M-Shwari has overtaken Equity in number of borrowers; yet, it is the least profitable of the three banks. Why? Commercial Bank of Africa executives admitted in February that 140,000 M-Shwari customers had defaulted on their loans–bringing the expediency of their high interest rates into question.

In their bid for customers, Equity and Kenya Commercial Bank adopted some unconventional strategies. Kenya Commercial Bank, running two mobile banking platforms, allows its customers to transfer money to bank accounts with other lenders, making its services accessible to a larger customer base. Meanwhile, Equity hopes to partner with other banks, as well as issue its branded SIM cards to all of Airtel’s subscribers. With patented new technology, the Equity super slim SIM actually sits on top of an existing card provided by any operator, so customers can access the mobile money services with any phone.

This competition is all good news for the poor, who benefit most from new banking options that don't require a trip to a brick and mortar bank. One study found that incomes rose 5 to 30 percent in rural Kenyan households that used M-Pesa.

But Equity managers think financial inclusion will expand even further if the M-Pesa monopoly crumbles, claiming that healthy competition among the mobile banks would make services more accessible, flexible, convenient and affordable. So far, it looks like they're right.

When Equity announced cheap transaction costs for money transfers – between one cent and 28 cents – Safaricom responded by slashing its transaction costs by up to 67 percent to compete.

Industry leaders now have their sights set firmly on improving the problems of access for the poorest customers.

“The biggest problem with accessing a bank is not bank charges, it is the cost of access,” said James Mwangi, Equity Bank’s CEO. He explains how traditional brick and mortar banking structures affect the poorest customers: “I will have to go 70 kilometers to where the bank is; I will have to pay public transport; I will have to spend the whole day to get to the bank.

“If we really want the masses and low-income people to join banking, then we should make financial products more affordable, and that is the value proposition that we are making to the market.”

But with increased competition come new challenges. Price wars could create confusion for customers trying to navigate products with new features and standards of service.
Safaricom also asked Kenyan courts to review its contractual commitment to its customers who choose to use Equity’s SIM card, claiming that the SIM could expose Safaricom subscribers who use it to financial fraud.

As the battle for control of the mobile money market heats up in Kenya, one thing is clear: The world’s most advanced mobile money market is about to become the most competitive. And with mobile money spreading to other regions in Africa and elsewhere, the insights gleaned from Kenya’s experience may have far-reaching implications. Your move, M-Pesa: 30 million mobile phone subscribers are on the line.
 

Articles You Might Like: 
Interview: How M-Pesa innovates new business models for its base of the pyramid customers
Global Ideas News Brief: Money Talks
When rural clients can't get to the bank, mobile banking vans bring the bank to them

27.10.2014 Skoll Foundation Launches Second Annual Social Entrepreneurs Challenge

On October 27 the Skoll Foundation launched the second annual Social Entrepreneurs Challenge. Hosted on CrowdRise, the Challenge is designed to provide some of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs with an innovative platform to raise funds. This year, more than $3 million in prize and match funding will be available to participants. Organizations participating in the […]

27.10.2014 Bagass Ash to Cement

A profile from SciDev's PhDs in Focus:
Sugar cane is one of Kenya’s most important cash crops. Currently, most of the pulp, or ‘bagasse’, left after the cane’s juice is extracted goes to waste. In this film, John Mwero, an engineer at the University of Nairobi, talks about his PhD research on adding the ash left after burning bagasse to cement. Not only does doing so recycle this readily available by-product, but it also strengthens concrete.

27.10.2014 Join Benetech in the Skoll Foundation’s 2014 Social Entrepreneurs Challenge!

Zach Bryant loves reading non-fiction. This wasn’t always the case, though. Zach has Cerebral Palsy, which causes movement and coordination problems, and which keeps him from speaking and walking. To communicate his thoughts, he uses an alternative augmentative communication device. Tasks like turning a printed page are difficult for him, which makes reading standard print discouraging. According to his mom, this experience is common to children with Cerebral Palsy. “They get frustrated and don’t want to read,” she says, “but access to digital books and reading technologies changed all that for Zach.”

Bookshare member Zach Bryant, wearing college graduation cap and gown, seen sitting in a wheelchair.
Zach Bryant
The change happened when Zach was in high school and his Assistive Technology teacher introduced him to Benetech’s Bookshare library. With Bookshare’s accessible ebooks and reading tools, Zach made a successful transition to college. When our team last caught up with him, he was a busy student at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, rejoicing in his ability to read independently and reach his full potential. “Without Bookshare, my academic life would have been much harder for me and my caregivers,” he said. “It’s amazing that I can find most books I want in the Bookshare collection, even post-secondary textbooks, and no one has to scan them for me. I don’t wait for my books for new classes; I search the library and find them myself.”

Zach’s encounter with accessible ebooks is but one example of how Benetech empowers people who often face difficult challenges and whose needs are neglected. Our software tools change the ways in which individuals with disabilities can effectively read; enable frontline human rights defenders to safely document abuse; and support environmental practitioners in their efforts to protect species and ecosystems.

Our work is made possible thanks to the generosity of our supporters. To continue to provide our services, and to explore new ways in which targeted technological applications could address unmet needs of disadvantaged communities, we definitely need your help.

Please join us 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.

Hosted on the Crowdrise platform, the Challenge launched today, October 27, and runs through December 5th. We are competing against other participating organizations—and racing against the clock—to raise funds and secure matching funding from the Skoll Foundation. We build our tech-for-good products and reach dollar-by-dollar, and therefore every gift makes a difference for the people we serve. Now, with the Skoll Foundation’s matching support, your gift will have far more impact!

Logo of the Skoll Foundation's Social Entrepreneurs Challenge.
To help now, please visit Benetech’s Challenge campaign and give whatever you can. Here are some examples of what we can accomplish with your contribution:
Join us, and together we can realize the potential of technology to make the world a better place for everyone. Thank you for your support!

This post also appeared on the Benetech blog.

27.10.2014 October is Health Literacy Month

October is Health Literacy Month

By Vanessa Mason Monday, 27 October 2014 - 10:57am

Health literacy is defined as the ability to obtain, process and understand health information. It consists of skills needed to do everything from selecting the right food to eat to understanding a doctor’s orders and one’s medical bills. Without understanding health information, individuals struggle to make smart decisions about their health and health coverage plans.

Low health literacy is a huge and costly health issue, costing between $106 billion to $238 billion each year. Medically vulnerable or underserved populations such as racial and ethnic minorities, low income people, and immigrant populations are disproportionately affected by low health literacy, though only 12 percent of the American population has proficient health literacy. 

While the Internet provides convenient, inexpensive access to health information and resources, written content is often targeted toward consumers with higher educational levels and native English proficiency. Additionally, online health information typically lacks sufficient cultural competence to ensure underserved communities receive health information relevant to their needs and living circumstances.

In honor of Health Literacy Month, ZeroDivide wanted to highlight a few of our current projects aimed to bridge the gap in health literacy for underserved communities:

  • As a finalist for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Plan Choice Challenge, ZeroDivide is developing a tool to build not only health literacy, but specifically health insurance literacy. Plan Pilot will ensure that underserved health consumershave access to easy-to-understand information and resources to make better decisions about their health care coverage to save them money and keep them healthier.

  • Text4Wellness and Mobilize-4-Fitness are two text messaging interventions that inform and support African American women in faith-based communities about information and resources for better heart health. These programs are supported by the Aetna Foundation in partnership with the Institute for eHealth Equity.

  • In partnership with the Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center, ZeroDivide is developing a novel text messaging intervention for youth living in the Tenderloin in San Francisco. The program will help to increase awareness of sexual and reproductive health information and connect youth to family planning resources at the health center.

ZeroDivide is excited to share lessons learned from these interventions through two presentations at the mHealth Summit in Washington, DC, in December. While these programs do not represent a comprehensive solution to low health literacy, ZeroDivide hopes to guide the conversation about how leveraging technology can help underserved communities better understand health information and lead healthier lives.

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27.10.2014 Radar: Issue 05

A corporate client once commented on how she welcomed the pressure that NGO campaigns put on her company. She observed how activism made it easier for her to demonstrate the need to embed sustainability into every aspect of the business.

Campaigners do a great job of putting the spotlight on environmental and societal imperatives and traditional activist organisations such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam and Amnesty have been at the heart of this. But we are now seeing the emergence of some very different types of activism and in this autumn/fall issue of Radar we take a look at the rise of the ‘unconventional campaigner’ and how they are inspiring and creating change.

Stepping out of the shadows are companies themselves with business starting to become increasingly outspoken on issues (Business Finding its Voice: The Rise of Campaigning & Advocacy in Sustainability Strategies). The most progressive are using their clout and influence to help shape more sustainable behaviour and choices across the economy (In Focus: Aaron Frank, The Walt Disney Company / From Base Camp to Summit: Mike Barry, M&S). However, such activity is still relatively rare and some sectors need to step up and take a stronger position on issues that are critical to the future of society (Focus on Pharma: Creating a Market for Disease Prevention).

We also take a look at the rise of ‘people-powered’ movements as citizens step out from behind membership organisations to target companies and other institutions more directly (Meet the Activists: 38 Degrees). The media sector’s ability to challenge, investigate and inspire (all the hallmarks of a good campaign) have long held promise for the sustainability agenda and we examine the important and still evolving role the sector plays in calling out corporate malpractice as well as showcasing more sustainable solutions (The Journalist’s View: Sarah Murray).

We also feature an interview with our co-founder John Elkington on his new book, our regular Quarterly Trends and the latest survey with GlobeScan on how transparency drives performance.

We hope you enjoy this latest edition of Radar and as always look forward to hearing your comments and feedback.

27.10.2014 Potentially a $15.5 billion industry - African Fashion

From CNBC:
The recent Africa Fashion Week New York is an annual showpiece that signifies the emergence of Africa in the global fashion scene. It shows that Africa is no longer a passive spectator but an active player in the world's top league of innovators and producers. But why should investors is looking at the African fashion industry? Joining CNBC Africa for more is Deola Sagoe, founder of the House of Deola Sagoe.
http://www.deolasagoe.net/
image courtesy House of Sagoe
via CP Africa

26.10.2014 How Many More Must Die on Frontline of Environmental Defence?

The bodies of Edwin Chota and his three colleagues were discovered on a jungle path deep within the Amazon, near the point where Peru cedes to Brazil. The four Peruvians were trekking to Brazil to meet fellow tribesmen and discuss how to expel gangs of illegal loggers from their ancestral lands. In the dense rainforest […]

26.10.2014 Ceres Report on Insurers Response to Climate Change Gets Noticed

Last week Ceres published a report that ranked more than 300 of the largest insurers in the United States on their responses to growing climate risks. The study found that fewer than a dozen companies are demonstrating strong leadership. For all the details, read the full text of this groundbreaking report, Insurer Climate Risk Disclosure Survey Report & […]

26.10.2014 Responding to Ebola Crisis out of Enlightened Self-Interest

The event was Opportunity Collaboration – the 2014 edition happening in Ixtapa, Mexico. The session was an impromptu one – not even imagined weeks prior to the event. The subject was Ebola in its latest manifestation in three African countries – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Ebola has no known cure. Needless to say, the […]

25.10.2014 Mud House Design Winners

Results are in from a previously highlighted competition held by NKA foundation:

Reinventing the African Mud Hut Together
The competition was open to recent graduates and students of architecture, design and others from around the world. The challenge was to design a single-family unit on a plot of 60 x 60 feet to be built by maximum use of earth and local labor in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. The client of the design entry is the middle-income family at any township in the region. Total costs of constructing the design entry was capped at $6,000; land value was excluded from this price point. The competition was designed to: (1) to generate mud house design alternatives to be available free to everyone to appreciate, use, or improve them to generate more practical and contemporary design solutions for the region; and (2) to make possible the construction of the best design entries through building workshops to realize prototypes, as examples to the local people that mud architecture can be durable and beautiful.
More here

25.10.2014 HiviSasa

Crowdsourced news from Kenya:
HiviSasa (or "HiviSasa.com") is an online, local, county-level Kenyan newspaper that crowd-sources all content from local citizen reporters paying them per published story. Funded by the internet startup seed fund 88mph, HiviSasa.com has been running since early 2014. "Hivi sasa" can be translated into "right now" in Kiswahili. As of October 2014, HiviSasa publishes more than 60 articles daily written by more than 620 citizen reporters.-Wikipedia

24.10.2014 Entrepreneurship development from the Songhai Centre

In Benin:
This video presents the SONGHAI center, a sustainable center of micro-enterprise which also trains many young Africans. It is considered as a model of best practices for rural development, sustainable development, employment and training of youths, and self-financing of a company.

This sustainable African initiative is recognized as a 'centre of excellence'. It employs over 400 people and trains more than 500 students and receives more than 20,000 visitors a year. SONGHAI has trained more than 2,650 people, most of whom have created their own companies. In addition, the center has created a network between local farmers, which provides training and knowledge sharing. Apart from the original center in Benin, there are four more in Benin, five in Nigeria, two in Congo, one in Liberia, and one in Sierra Leone.

24.10.2014 Be open to Big Vision photobombs

While visiting New Mexico this summer, I raised my phone to take a photo of some pink flowers against a blue sky when this happened:


This hummingbird flew right into my frame and posed for a long time (at least by hummingbird standards). It was a magical moment, especially because hummingbirds have always been an "auspicious symbol" for me.

Sometimes when we're working on our big vision: noticing what sparkles, letting go of old visions to be open to the new, and running towards what excites us, something unexpected shows up right in front of our face. It might even be more wonderful than the vision we imagined. Why not focus on it, before it flies away?

24.10.2014 How to engage millennials? Appeal to 3 core values, 3 core traits

How to engage millennials? Appeal to 3 core values, 3 core traits

Bridget Croke
9:00am
Featured Image: 
How to engage millennials? Appeal to 3 core values, 3 core traits featured image

Popular opinion says that millennials are different animal from the rest of the populace. And with millennials quickly moving through their 20s and 30s, the yet-to-be-definitively-labeled Gen Z'er is coming of age and becoming a more critical decision maker.

With all the conflicting information on millennials' relationship with social change, how do we successfully engage these generations in positive behavior change? Do they care about your brand's social impact? Do they actually align their spending with their values? Or are they so cash-strapped and overwhelmed with information that clicktivism is the most we can expect?

In reality, all generations share a set of core motivations that drive our decision-making (hint: it's not our rational thought). But millennials and Generation Z have grown up in a different context and with a new set of digital tools that also influence behavior.

To best mobilize this audience around your brand and mission, we need to understand what core values and trends that drive behavior change.

Core value 1: Belonging

This basic human instinct isn't something we comfortably discuss, but ultimately most people want to fit in. We want to be seen as socially conscious only so much as it sits within the expectations of our peer group.

Millennial embrace of the Toms Shoes brand is an example of a peer-driven business growth where social impact becomes synonymous with cool. Toms made it easy to take an impactful action, attracting a socially conscious millennial audience who take easy social actions such as online petitions, likes and shares.

Toms leveraged these influencers to mobilize their friends who wanted to be part of the club. The shoes became a proof of belonging.

Suddenly, the one-for-one model wasn't just another stodgy cause marketing program. One-for-one became a new category of social action, where the product becomes a badge of honor. With this in mind, we can treat behavior change like an innovative product launch, where we target early adopters first and use their influence to make that behavior feel like the default behavior in their community of peers.

Core value 2: Recognition

Within the confines of belonging, we like to also feel special and unique. If a particular behavior is perceived in our social circle as cool, we want to be recognized for that. Peruse your social media feeds and you'll likely notice your online community filled with "humblebrags" — casual shares of images and recent achievements that their peer group is likely to value and recognize through likes and comments.

 MaridavWant your audience to recycle? Recognize that action in contexts and sharable formats that make them look cool.Global Citizen and EKOCYCLE did this skillfully with their #ADayWIthoutWaste mug shot campaign, showing fun pictures of friends at trendy events like SXSW and the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park confessing their crimes of waste and pledging to go waste-free for a day. The content is sharable with a fun backdrop and the context of events that builds social currency.

Core value 3: Need for ease

Outside of our deep-seated values, we will take the path of less resistance — the default action given to us.

You want people to recycle? Make your package easily and clearly recyclable and work with communities to make recycling the default action. To get people to recycle, communities should make their recycling container bigger than the waste receptacle, make sure recycling is picked up as or more frequently than trash and properly incentivize the behavior.

None of this means that generational differences don't exist. There are also some characteristics and trends unique to millennials and younger audiences. A few examples follow.

Millenial/Gen Z trait 1: Natural hackers

This is a generation of makers with their own Etsy stores. They've seen a shift from Hollywood celebrity to young celebrity entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg. Teenagers are finding their own solutions global problems from the great Pacific ocean patch to clean water and energy .

 mangostock via Shutterstock

Unilever wisely leverages these great minds with their young entrepreneurs program, thereby driving greater youth engagement. Let them help create the solution and build far more brand relevance and likely impact. Otherwise they might leave your company behind and start their own businesses that solve social issues and change the behavior of their generation.

Millenial/Gen Z trait 2: Diminished influence of geographic borders

The sphere of influence of young people includes good friends, neighbors and their vast digital community. According to a ShareThis report , Millennials are 3.6 times more likely than their elders to share online, so peer pressure extends far beyond local communities. This generation has seen the advent of the self-made social media and reality TV celebs.

Influencer status is well within reach of the average social-savvy teenager and 20-something and therefore the line between leader and follower has blurred. Instead of focusing on a single celebrity to motivate consumer action, distribute the message amongst a larger number of everyday influencers with strong social followings. It's like the Avon model for the twenty-first century.

Millenial/Gen Z trait 3: New lifestyles demand less ownership

These generations are driving the sharing economy. Our population continues to urbanize and live a less traditional lifestyle. Older millennials are getting married less and are making major purchases like houses and cars at lower rates than older generations.

New lifestyles and limited budgets have paved the way for new business models that leverage a service-based economy, requiring less individual ownership. Growing businesses such as Rent the Runway, car sharing serviceGetaround, and emerging player Yerdle all succeed at driving new behaviors based on these trends. Brands need to appeal to these new lifestyles. Brands getting wise to this shift are the ones skillfully claiming this new audience and staying on trend.

Home Depot, Walgreens and BMW are some of the companies dabbling in this movement. But the trend of big brands participating in the sharing economy is still nascent. To engage millennials and Gen Z in behaviors you want to drive, ride the waves of new behaviors that are already beginning to take hold. To drive the greatest impact, be sure to understand and consider the core human values driving behavior and the new contexts shaping these generations.

Top image of young designers by Dragon Images via Shutterstock.

24.10.2014 Three kinds of code

Imagine it's 1913. John D Rockefeller has gone to the U.S. Congress to charter an innovative new philanthropic enterprise. He's been turned down. He turns instead to the State of New York, which says yes, and the modern philanthropic foundation as an enterprise form is born.

(OK, so I left all the juicy bits out of that story but you get the point)

2014 and beyond is the same moment for philanthropy. We need to invent the new enterprises that will carry civil society forward in the coming century, an age which will be defined by digital connectivity (data and infrastructure). As Rockefeller wanted a new enterprise form to manage a resource (money) for good (philanthropic giving) at scale we need to be similarly creative. We need three kinds of code:
  1. Software code
  2. Organizational code
  3. Legal code
The software code will need to default to the values of civil society (free association, private action, protest and dissent) not the values of government or business. This can be seen in efforts as different as
DuckDuckGo and the Martus Project of Benetech.

Organizational codes will include terms of service, data management policies and privacy settings that align with the values and mission of the organization. They won't be cut and pasted from commercial web services and they will be as representative of an association's mission as are it's corporate charter or bylaws. You can see examples of policy and practices codified to represent core values at PublicKnowledge.org/privacy/.

Organizational code will also take the form of common practices for sharing data safely across sectors. Data philanthropy will come to mean something specific, with consent, liability, ownership, and value issues explained rather than assumed.

Legal code will come. We can either inform it or fight it, but it's naive to assume that our legal structures for using digital resources will stay as they've been.  The change might come in response to scandal or damage done or it might come as regulators step up to proactively protect vulnerable people from unscrupulous ones. This may take many forms. It might be data privacy standards such as recently enacted in many US states regarding student data or, as Rockefeller imagined 100 years ago, it could be a new type of enterprise to manage a new resource at scale. It could be new requirements for data governance built into corporate code or it might be something akin to a whole new form of enterprise - data co-ops or benefit corporations built around data.

Together these three codes should embody the values that make civil society vital parts of democracies. These values may not always be exclusive of those that matter to the public or private sector, but we are wrong to assume that the defaults of business or government are also the defaults of the independent associational space where we choose privately to act publicly.

At the Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford PACS we'll be working on all three. Having spent the last months traveling to Australia, Canada, China, and the UK,  meeting people at the Ethics of Data Conference, and connecting with research partners looking at digital social innovation around the world for the upcoming Blueprint 2015, I feel confident in saying these are global issues and we need global partners. I also feel confident in thinking that those partners are out there.

24.10.2014 Why understanding the true value of water is smart business

Why understanding the true value of water is smart business

Steve Bolton
8:00am
Featured Image: 
Why understanding the true value of water is smart business featured image

Concerns about water availability are increasing around the world. Water scarcity threatens the ability of companies and communities to operate as they have in the past. Business value may be at risk if they do not have insight into these natural capital considerations and adjust their operations accordingly.

Understanding the true value of water and pinpointing limits to growth is a growing global trend. Companies that quantify their natural capital dependencies will benefit from a more complete picture of the most effective ways to allocate water and other resources.

Current market pricing disconnected from risks

In many regions, the market price of water is inversely proportional to how much is available. For example, water-scarce regions of China can have a low price for water which does not reflect its relative availability. Forbes India magazine has an informative world map showing local water prices based on data from Global Water Intelligence.

The market also does not consider the risk to business value of water availability, nor the benefits that water provides communities and ecosystems. As water demand rises around the world resulting in shortages and increased operating costs, it will be difficult to conduct business in the same way as before. Without measuring the hidden risks to business value of insufficient water, a company cannot perceive the potential losses or respond to them.

The full value of water should be measured by incorporating its broader social and environmental significance within the market price. By using this value, companies can identify hidden water risks and make more informed decisions, such as locating facilities based on water availability and selecting water-efficient technologies to use in production processes.

Facing water scarcity

Trucost’s research for GreenBiz’s State of Green Business 2014 report found that the average US business uses over 49,000 cubic meters of water per million dollars of revenue. In a world faced by increasing water shortages, we must identify and implement ways of decoupling commercial growth from natural capital dependency, so that economic success does not overwhelm natural resource capacity.

This year’s drought in California reflects the impact of resource scarcity on quality of life, economic activities and public services. As of September 2, 2014, a total of 58 emergency proclamations for water conservation have been issued by municipalities, counties, tribal governments and special districts. The State Water Board is providing technical and funding assistance to communities facing drinking water shortages. The state also has responded to 25 percent more wildfires than during an average year, which have burned 15 percent more acreage, equating to increased costs for firefighting and natural resource damage.

Focusing on the true value of water

Water is not valued properly according to the gaps between supply and demand. For instance, the low market price of water in dry regions is a perverse incentive to grow water-intensive agricultural products despite the high risk of drought or damage to long-term water supplies.

Since market water prices do not capture the full costs of extracting water, these costs are borne by society and the environment — so-called ‘externalities.’ These externalities are becoming more visible as water shortages threaten local communities, ecosystems and economies, droughts shrink crop yields and increase food prices, and desertification takes over farm land.

Applying the true value of water for business growth

How do we monetize water risk so it can be factored into investment decisions and considered alongside other business metrics? Trucost estimates that the true value of one cubic meter of water ranges between $0.10 where it is plentiful and $15 in areas of extreme scarcity. Forward-thinking businesses should apply this true value of water to inform their operating strategies, such as aligning water use with its availability and evaluating new infrastructure investments, procurement strategies and product portfolios. Companies can focus on the true value of water to prepare for having to absorb costs that were once off the books, but are now being internalized due to new regulations, higher water prices or water shortages.

One example of this approach is work by Yorkshire Water in the U.K., which applied natural capital valuations to inform its 25-year corporate strategy so that it could meet the needs of one million new households. The company created an environmental profit and loss account so that it could allocate resources and manage commodity costs for the long term. In the EP&L, negative environmental impacts are shown as losses, such as water extraction, waste disposal and pollution, while environmental benefits are identified as profit, such as the company’s water recharge and energy recovery facilities. Applying monetary values helped the company communicate its water efficiency strategy to stakeholders, including suppliers, customers and regulators, in a way that is easy to understand.

Another example is the use of shadow water pricing by Nestlé, so that the company includes the full value of water in its operational decision making. A recent article in The Financial Times outlines how the food company applies an internal water value to spur more efficient use in its factories. Under this policy, water is priced at approximately $1 per cubic meter for facilities located where water is readily available and $5 in more arid regions. Nestlé applies this value when considering purchasing new equipment, making tangible the impact of water availability within capital expenditure decisions. Shadow pricing has also been applied to greenhouse gas emissions by Microsoft, Disney, and at least 27 other US companies, to factor climate impacts into their business decisions.

Monetary valuation for improved decision making

Monetary valuation enables a business to include the true value of water — not just its current market price—alongside traditionally priced items such as labor in capital budgeting, as well as adjusting the net present value of capital and operational expenditure. Applying monetary values to projected water consumption and deducting the environmental costs from future cash flows can reveal which option has a lower risk. By expressing all of its environmental impacts in the single metric of monetary value, a company can easily identify and manage its most significant environmental risks and opportunities. Water valuations also can be used to map commodity flows and quantify risks across a company’s brand portfolio or business unit.

As a result of understanding the true value of water, a company can make more informed decisions which maintain business value by avoiding or minimizing the risks associated with water scarcity and other natural capital constraints.

Top image by Wollertz via Shutterstock.

23.10.2014 For Sprint, communications is core to climate resilience

For Sprint, communications is core to climate resilience

Ann Goodman
8:45am
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For Sprint, communications is core to climate resilience featured image

In what surely is a glaring understatement, Tanya Jones, manager of Sprint Corp.’s vital Emergency Response Team Operations, observed, “We learned quite a bit from Hurricane Sandy.”

Indeed, Sprint, like all telecommunications carriers, lost cell sites on the northeastern seaboard and in New York City in the 2012 superstorm, which hurt its cellular operations. Fortunately, Sprint’s ERT was able to provide critical communications services to various first responders and emergency agencies using vehicles such as COWS (Cell On Wheels) and COLTS (Cell on Light Trucks), including those near the World Trade Center in New York, where the vehicles were parked right in front of the Freedom Tower, after police blocked it off for the Sprint workers.

Among the key learnings from the debacle, said Jones: How better to rebuild; where better to stage; how better to “future-proof our technology to ensure our equipment is upgraded and our personnel equipped” for disaster.

Her team of disaster emergency workers in multiple U.S. locations, including Dallas and Sterling, Va., is at the center — and on the front lines — of Sprint’s emerging approach to climate resilience. Having overseen the company’s disaster response for 10 years and found herself on the spot during 2,500 events — from hurricanes to fires to tornados to floodsher interpretation of such events is telling:

“While a disaster is a disaster, I subscribe to the theory that the climate is changing weather patterns. You see more forest fires in the west and more hurricanes; you see increased water and air temperatures and storm activities; and there’s been an uptick in severity of storms,” Jones said.

A communications approach to resilience

Jones’ thoughts on disaster and climate echo the observation of Sprint's director of corporate responsibility and sustainability, Amy Hargroves, who heads the company’s approach to climate resilience: “The same risks exist for climate-related events as for other disasters, but there’s a greater range of events and more of them.”Amy Hargroves

Of acute importance, Hargroves noted: “In our field, as a communications company, disaster resilience has to be core to our business, because there’s so much dependence nationally on communications.”

Indeed, while now majority owned by Japanese parent Softbank, Sprint’s network is United States-centric, serving federal, state and local governments as well as emergency responders — and, of course, the company’s 50 million-plus business and individual customers.

Because emergency response is at the core of Sprint’s resilience approach, the company is always at the cutting edge of communications technology: “LTE, high-speed data, 4G, emergency response — we can provide that now, but most of what we do is make sure we’re on top of technology, because it’s not if but when a disaster will happen,” Jones explained.

Keeping its emergency response team up to date with special equipment and mobile communications — as well as learning from each disaster — is only one part of Sprint’s four-pronged approach to implementing climate resilience, a business priority of Hargroves’ sustainability team, which has won the company a number of accolades, including the recent Compass Intelligence Eco-Focus and EPA Climate Leadership awards.

Other priorities in Sprint’s resilience approach include:

• Frequent assessments of the company’s network risks.

• Improving backup power with less carbon-intensive sources, including research on hydrogen-fuel cells, in part with the Department of Energy.

• Reviewing lessons learned to find new business opportunities, including those related to customer offerings.

Overarching goals include reducing the company’s greenhouse gas emissions and electricity use by 20 percent by 2017 from 10 years earlier and ensuring 90 percent of its supply chain meets Sprint’s environmental and social criteria. The goals are complementary, particularly given Sprint’s massive network overhaul, at a cost of nearly $5 billion over three years, now coming to an end.

That renewal has allowed Sprint to achieve its 2017 GHG reduction goal and come within 1 percent of its electricity reduction goal. Sprint provided free guidance on greenhouse gas measurement, reporting and reduction strategies to its top suppliers, including those involved in the network overhaul.

Network risks: cell sites, signaling, fleets, response prioritization

To ensure the network stays up to date — and up and running — in case of disaster, the company runs quarterly risk assessments. And Sprint expects more extreme events.

On planning for potential climate risks, Hargraves noted that since Sandy, “it’s not so much that we’ve done anything new, but that there’s increased risk recognized through insurance [coverage] and assessment. That’s how we adjust and plan.”

Fleets: Network risks also include the company’s fleet of vehicles for a range of conditions that could affect the cell sites, the most vulnerable part of the network. Fortunately, Hargroves noted, insurance companies have been building climate risk into their corporate risk models, assessing the level and nature of risk per site. With that information, Sprint can determine which sites may be most vulnerable and potential candidates for relocation. “We look at 500-year flood levels when we build our sites,” she said.

Cell sites: With some 55,000 cell sites across the country, Sprint has a lot to keep track of. The signal from the site must be accessible in order for wireless customers to complete calls. Cell site traffic is aggregated at over 100 major satellite switching sites that allow calls to be terminated between various wireless and wire-line networks. Much of the IP-based (Internet Protocol) control functionality is handled by some 30 Core sites that act as traffic directors for voice and data services.

“Networks are complicated beasts, and risk varies according to the site,” said Hargroves. “But the most important parts to protect are the switch sites, mainly because they aggregate traffic from thousands of cell sites. A single switch outage can isolate a complete market, leaving customers without critical wireless services over a large geographical area.”

Emergency response: Of rising importance to the company’s resilience plan, said Hargroves, is the sort of emergency response to disasters that Jones manages. “We anticipate greater demand for the services of our Emergency Response Team because of the increase in the number of disruptive events,” Hargroves said.

Essential to the response is the specialized mobile equipment, such as mobile communications centers, including COWs and COLTs. These are whole vans or trailers especially useful in places that are hard to access. “Demand for COWs and COLTs has increased over the past several years, so our fleet has been [growing] and is expected to continue to grow in response,” she explained.

A big part of emergency response is sequencing and prioritization: That entails determining who is “in charge” of disaster management (from a government perspective), which communications capabilities are intact and which are needed — and then developing a prioritized list of communications services and infrastructure that the company will provide.

Sprint may send out its ERT to work with government and provide critical communications services initially for the first responders — government personnel, military, FEMA, Red Cross — to enable them to communicate, especially if a lot of infrastructure, such as cell site towers, signal repeaters or switching centers, has been disabled. The Sprint ERT always works with local government, including sheriffs and firefighters. Next in line are customers.

Risk, site planning and backup power: response to storms, fires, flooding

While Sprint always has had backup power initiatives, those have expanded throughout the United States over the past few years — as has the need for backup, which has risen, along with the frequency of disasters.

“Provision of backup power is very much motivated by both natural and manmade disasters,” said John Holmes, who, as Sprint’s manager of network planning, is responsible for the company’s strategic planning efforts involving backup power, energy efficiency and sustainability for the company’s network.

The need for backup power varies by region. “In the eastern and southern coastal regions, hurricanes and tropical storms can cause widespread damage,” he said. “In the Midwest and upper Midwest, ice storms can result in widespread outages.

“Wildfires can be a problem anywhere there’s a combination of very dry weather and a lot of combustible ground or tree cover. As a general rule, they are more frequent out west. Places like California or the Pacific Northwest are susceptible to earthquakes.

“Also, don’t count out tornadoes. Heavy rainfall can result in flooding, and many times that will occur downstream of where the majority of the rainfall occurred."

Sometimes the power stays on, but Sprint “can still have widespread outages, if, say, a major backbone fiber carrying multiple backhaul circuits (which connect the BTS equipment to the switches) is cut,” Holmes pointed out. “That would prevent calls from being completed … and is often manifested to the wireless subscriber as a fast busy signal.”

What’s more, Hargroves added, the question of where to build cell sites has been complicated in recent years by the increase in frequency and severity of storms, as well as the availability of energy and water sources.

“A few years ago, we studied the impact of climate change on water scarcity and cost in the U.S. The results were shared with the C-suite and operational teams so they could use it as input for site planning. For instance, if you need a big building, you should expect it to have a water chilling system, which is a big driver of water use. If you know where water will be scarcer, and thus more expensive, you should avoid building in those areas,” Hargroves explained.

In 2013, water cost the company a mere $1.2 million, compared with $300 million for energy, “so it’s a far lower economic priority,” she said. “However, given the importance of water globally, it would be foolish not to consider drought forecasts in your site-planning process.”

By contrast, Sprint has a strong economic incentive to reduce its energy usage, which is primarily electric. The company has cut its internal electricity use by 22 percent since 2007 and reduced its electricity costs by $87 million annually. Including Clearwire, acquired — along with its emissions output — in 2013, Sprint’s electricity costs are still down by 19 percent.

Power backup and hydrogen fuel cells

When disaster strikes, electrical power from traditional sources is likely to go down, as recent climate-related events, including Superstorm Sandy, have shown. That’s why backup power is essential for telecommunications providers such as Sprint. A backup plan is needed for all critical components in the network. Because Sprint is committed to lowering carbon emissions, the company looks to cleaner backup power sources.

“Our second priority for carbon reduction is back-up power, which is a leading contributor to Sprint’s Scope 1, or direct, emissions,” said Hargroves. “Scope 1 emissions represent only 3.5 percent of our aggregate Scope 1 and 2 emissions. Within the 3.5 percent, 10 percent is emissions from back-up power sources, such as diesel fuel and propane.

“Sprint includes its Scope 1 emissions in its goal to absolutely reduce GHG emissions by 20 percent by 2017, and in fact, has reduced them by more than 41 percent so far. Increasing our use of hydrogen fuel cells and propane — and decreasing use of diesel generators — as backup power sources at cell sites has contributed to this success.”

Hargroves noted that Sprint’s fleet, with 1,000 vehicles, has a substantially smaller GHG footprint than the fleets of its direct competitors, which have 40,000 or more vehicles.

“When we talk about network resiliency, we mean the ability of the network to maintain power and functionality, particularly at the switching and cell site level,” she said. “There are multiple lines of defense, the first of which is batteries. Since we have the greatest dependency on batteries, much of our focus is on reducing the environmental impact and duration of use of our network batteries. We have partnered with the National Renewable Energy Lab and the Department of Energy on battery technology, which is so critical for a communications company.”

The second line of defense is using both a diesel generator and natural gas feeds, even propane and methanol, to access multiple core electricity streams in a single place to provide backup power. While solar and wind power are sparsely used where possible, neither technology is practical, given risks (when wind is strong, a disaster could be in the making), lack of continuous availability of energy and cost-benefit balance.

Sprint is maximizing its use of hydrogen fuel cells in part through work with the DOE, whose $7.3 million grant in 2009 has supported the company’s development and deployment of 260 additional fuel cells to support its backup power systems, network planning manager Holmes said.

The innovative fuel cells use an on-site, refillable, medium-pressure hydrogen storage system, which has eliminated bottle swaps, required in earlier generations of the technology, while boosting the standby runtime of the cells to parity with that of other backup solutions such as diesel generators. The company’s 500-plus hydrogen fuel cells help Sprint ensure that its Scope 1 emissions related to back-up power stay low despite significant increases in network resilience, achieved via more sites with longer back-up power.

Customers and business opportunity

Perhaps the biggest business opportunity in climate resilience for the company is on the consumer side of the business, said Hargroves. “We’re trying to identify additional services we can provide to help customers” understand and prepare for potentially disruptive events.

So far, most of the company’s focus has been on the “survivability of network infrastructure,” Hargroves said. The company’s Japanese parent Softbank has exceptional experience in this arena, gained during the Great East Japan earthquake of March 2011.

Explained Hargroves: “Up to now, the main things we’ve done involve the survivability of our services, directly helping first responders, supporting customers on billing, and managing our service, versus providing information that can help them manage through the disaster — things like how to extend the life of your phone battery and recharge with limited electricity sources available, which is different from relaying information during a disaster, as people become more and more dependent on cell service.”

But the company imagines the opportunity to change that. Sprint may have a competitive advantage in consumer engagement, if it can leverage some other assets of Softbank such as Yahoo (in Japan) and provide disaster-related content on its customers’ phones.

She added: “We do think there are some interesting opportunities with emergency alert systems and disaster content support. So if someone can figure out a good way to do it, this is a terrific opportunity.”

Top image of Sprint store in New York City by Northfoto via Shutterstock

23.10.2014 Our Building Blocks of Early-Stage Support

Echoing Green’s approach to supporting groundbreaking, early-stage social entrepreneurs runs much deeper than a two-year stipend and health insurance.

Over the past several years, Echoing Green has worked to deepen our support for our Fellows, even as we expand the Fellowship program as part of the strategic growth of the organization. Through working with–and learning from–over 600 Fellows, we’ve developed a standard rubric and clearly defined building blocks for approaching and measuring our support. We’ve also identified the need for any standardization to be flexible enough to accommodate the unique set of challenges of each individual Fellow and their innovative approaches, often unproven models, and distinct and disparate regions of impact.

With the support of USAID, we’re proud to present Our Philosphy of Fellow Support, in which we outline our Individual Fellow Plan (IFP)—an internal system for stewarding the social entrepreneurs with whom we work. Each year, new Fellows are matched with a Fellowship Associate, known internally as Portfolio Managers, who will use the IFP to support them through the following universal goals:

1. Raising money in appropriate amounts for their stage and size of need.
2. Operating according to clear, written short-term plans and goals.
3. Internalizing a philosophy of regular measurement against a documented theory of change.
4. Remaining committed to working on their issue and/or organization, at a high level of passion and energy, beyond the first two years of their Fellowship.
5. Identifying and mapping solutions for two to three additional areas that may only be relevant to that particular Fellow at that time, such as hiring an executive team or building a thought leadership capacity.

The IFP is an ongoing work in progress, and Echoing Green is committed to learning and iterating on our processes. However, we do believe that an individualized plan and dedicated support, combined with early-stage seed funding and the engagement of the Echoing Green network, leads to greater long-term successes of early-stage social entrepreneurs. In addition, by creating a dashboard of comparable data–both qualitative and quantitative–our team can see trends in both challenges and opportunities in order to constantly fine-tune our own work and goals to meet those of our Fellows and the broader social impact community.

The Echoing Green Fellowship:
Our Philosophy of Fellow Support

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23.10.2014 Denis Hayes: From Earth Day to the Bullitt Center

Denis Hayes: From Earth Day to the Bullitt Center

Mike Hower
7:30am
Featured Image: 
Denis Hayes: From Earth Day to the Bullitt Center featured image

Catch Denis Hayes in person at VERGE SF 2014, Oct. 27-30.

The Seattle Bullitt Center has been touted as one of the world's greenest commercial buildings. Spearheaded by the Bullitt Foundation, which offers grants to organizations working to advance environmental initiatives in the Pacific Northwest, the six-story, 50,000-square-foot building was completed last year and is undergoing certification for the Living Building Challenge — a standard more ambitious than LEED.

To be declared a Living Building, a structure must be self-sufficient for energy and water for a full year and meet standards for the materials used and the indoor environment. The standard also requires that the building helps restore the natural environment.

The Bullitt Center is the brainchild of Denis Hayes, president of the Bullitt Foundation, who has been at the forefront of the sustainability movement since serving as national coordinator of the first Earth Day in 1970. Since then, he has fought countless legislative, cultural and courtroom battles and authored several books and articles aimed at advancing the interests of human, urban and industrial ecology.

Next week at VERGE SF, Hayes will showcase the Bullitt Center and how it embodies the concept of human, urban and industrial ecology. I recently had a chance to chat with Hayes to learn more about the project ahead of his presentation.

Mike Hower: Can you please explain how the Bullitt Center is a 'living building'?

Denis Hayes: The Bullitt Center is an example of biomimicry in the built environment. It more or less functions like an organism. For example, it has a nervous system that senses what the temperature is outside, what the temperature is inside, whether the wind is blowing, what direction it's blowing from, how fast it's blowing, whether or not it's raining, how intense the sunlight is and how much carbon dioxide is built up inside. Just like your autonomic nervous system, the computer absorbs all of this information and plugs it into a few fairly simple algorithms that determine whether the external venetian blinds should be up or should be down and — if down — whether they should be shut or angled upward, whether they are trying to keep heat out of the building or merely reflect light further into the building and eliminate glare. The same system determines whether the windows should be open or shut just like the pores on your body.

Like an ecosystem, the Center gets all of its energy (and in fact, it's net energy positive) from sunbeams that fall on its roof in Seattle. It is a six-story office building that last year produced 50 percent more electricity than it used. It captures rainwater that falls on the roof, filters it, uses it for all purposes, including potable drinking water. It's the first commercial building in America that treats gray water and re-injects it right into the soil and the water table, right inside a city.

 cactusbones via Flickr

Hower: What other sustainable features does the Bullitt Center boast?

Hayes: We identified 362 materials that are harmful for people and other living things that are common in buildings — things that are carcinogenic or mutagenic or endocrine disrupting or something — and we kept them all out of the building. The facility has composting toilets and uses a flush toilet system that is foaming, so that in a typical flush, it uses less than a half a cup of water. All of the waste is composted right on site. It's the first office building in the United States to be project-certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which is to say every piece of wood in the building is FSC-certified, so it's from a forest that has much larger buffers around its drains, doesn't cut any old growth, has longer rotation times, doesn't use herbicides and should be able to produce wood 1,000, 2,000 years from now, unlike a typical industrial forest model.

Hower: A key objective of VERGE SF is creating a dialogue between cities and tech companies to help scale solutions that ultimately will help them achieve their sustainability and resilience goals. What do you personally believe it means for a city to be resilient?

Hayes: It means that the city is redesigning itself with an awareness that the world around it is now inevitably changing and will continue to do so no matter what we do for several more decades into the future, as a consequence of changes that already have been made in the atmosphere. A resilient city is able to accommodate those — whether it's floods or droughts or hurricanes or whatever the changing climate throws at it. Resilience in human ecosystems, just as in natural ecosystems, is a measure of the flexibility to endure and prosper, regardless of what challenges arise.

 Eugene Kim via Flickr

Hower: How do you believe cities can develop successful public-private partnerships and create a marketplace for things such as smart city products and services?

Hayes: There are several things within the city that historically have been and continue to be public sector responsibilities, such as roads, transit, sewage systems, water mains. There are opportunities to privatize some of that, but it's not clear that there is much advantage in doing so, at least in American cities today. But there are a bunch of other places in the built environment, and especially in buildings and cultural institutions that give life and dynamism to a city, where the private sector, if not influenced by incentives and disincentives, will be driven by market forces to something suboptimal. The typical developer, to be financially successful, spends no more than is absolutely necessary to produce a building that will attract the tenants that it's designed to attract. He can then fully lease up the building and flip it, ideally within a year or two, to an insurance company or real estate investment trust. The developer moves on to the next project — so it's about minimizing a building's initial cost, without regard to its lifetime operating costs. That's why, for example, cities have energy codes and fire codes, and why America banned lead paint.

We have an enormous amount of wood in our building; the ceilings are all wood and the substructures of the floor underneath it and the external beams are all wood. It's the first wood beam construction in Seattle for a six-story building since 1927. We paid 10 percent more for all of that wood because it is all from FSC forests. If you're a tenant and you look at it, what you see is simply wood. If you're a structural engineer looking for its characteristics, it has the characteristics of wood. All of the additional benefits accrue to the forests where it came from and to the workers in those forests; none of them adhere to the developer or the tenants in the building. Yet if we want to continue to have forests 1,000 years from now, we need to have something that incentivizes that.

So you can have governments that encourage developers to use wood that is sustainably harvested, either by providing them a swifter path through the regulatory maze or providing them a little bit of additional space on the lot, transferable development rights, some kind of preferential treatment in real estate taxes. There are all kinds of tools available to cities, and they use them for a variety of good purposes. They use them principally for low income housing, but also to bring parks and recreational space into underserved neighborhoods. Some cities insist upon urban art.

Only rarely do cities use their tools to promote resiliency and sustainability. But the same tools should be used for those purposes, in a partnership where the private sector can say that "we would love to do this but we can't make it pencil-out unless we have this incentive." As long as everyone is honest, it can be a pretty productive partnership.

Top image of Denis Hayes by David Hiller.

23.10.2014 Stericycle, DOT and CDC help hospitals prepare for Ebola waste

Stericycle, DOT and CDC help hospitals prepare for Ebola waste

Janet Howard
7:15am
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Stericycle, DOT and CDC help hospitals prepare for Ebola waste featured image

How do hospitals prepare for the potential Ebola virus waste stream with science-based decision-making and start off with a best management approach to this waste?

While this is an emerging topic with evolving practices, the most important resource is The Center for Disease Control and Prevention Web page for interim guidance on the best approaches for protective equipment, segregation, storage, packaging and removal of this Category A infectious material. While this waste stream may not become an issue for most hospitals, preparedness is key.

Special process for waste disposal

Stericycle, a member of Practice Greenhealth, began working with the CDC and the Department of Transportation in August when the first Ebola case entered the United States. As a result of the collaboration, DOT released a special permit process along with requirements for proper segregation, containment, packaging and removal of this Category A infectious waste to address the needs of Dallas Presbyterian Hospital while maintaining overall public safety.

Stericycle, DOT and CDC continue to work together to evaluate the process and prepare to address additional Ebola-related waste needs. At present, each incident is addressed on a case-by-case basis.

To prepare for waste disposal, hospital staffers should work with their waste hauler for specific packaging procedures and ensure appropriate supplies are on-hand in the hospital and that their hauler is prepared to manage waste removal and disposal. Additional special permits likely will be required from the Department of Transportation to remove the Category A infections waste (PDF), a different category from traditional infectious material (Category B).

The CDC reports that Ebola requires standard, contact and droplet precautions. It is spread by contact with one or more of the following: infected animals; blood or body fluids (including urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk and semen) of a person sick with Ebola or objects (such as needles and syringes) contaminated with the virus.

Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, by food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bush meat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats. There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only mammals (humans, bats, monkeys and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus.

According to the CDC site providing guidance for clinicians, the Ebola virus enters the patient through mucous membranes, breaks in the skin or other parenteral means. It infects many cell types, including monocytes, macrophages, dendritic cells, endothelial cells, fibroblasts, hepatocytes, adrenal cortical cells and epithelial cells. The incubation period may be related to the infection route (six days for injection versus 10 days for contact). Ebola virus migrates from the initial infection site to regional lymph nodes and subsequently to the liver, spleen and adrenal gland.

 vm via Shutterstock

The CDC reports on the details regarding personal protective equipment. For waste collection, environmental services staff are recommended to wear, at a minimum, disposable gloves, gown (fluid resistant/ impermeable), eye protection (goggles or face shield) and face mask to protect against direct skin and mucous membrane exposure of cleaning chemicals, contamination and splashes or spatters during environmental cleaning and disinfection activities.

Additional barriers (leg covers, shoe covers) should be used as needed. If reusable heavy-duty gloves are used for cleaning and disinfecting, they should be disinfected and kept in the room or anteroom. Be sure staff is instructed in the proper use of personal protective equipment including safe removal to prevent contaminating themselves or others in the process, and that contaminated equipment is disposed of appropriately (included in the Category A waste collection). Any mattresses or pillows that are not covered with an impermeable plastic covering should be treated as Category A infectious waste, as well.

Check the CDC website frequently for any updates. The CDC also recommends that any room with a patient on isolation for the Ebola virus should be free of cloth materials such as carpeting, curtains or furniture. EPA-registered hospital disinfectants with a label claim for a non-enveloped virus shall be used on all surfaces and all waste should be collected as Category A regulated medical waste, including reusable linens.

Sustainability and infection control

Sustainability teams, led by infection control, work together to educate new and existing employees, develop posters, strategically place waste bins and monitor waste segregation practices.

According to the Practice Greenhealth Sustainability Benchmark Report, award-winning hospitals average a 9 percent regulated medical waste generation with top performers at a 2.3 percent compared to total waste. With waste fees at least five times more than for solid waste, it's worth the effort, saving anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in waste removal and treatment fees.

Top image of biohazard symbol by Maxal Tamor via Shutterstock. This article first appeared at CSRwire.