Start right now! Tips for aspiring social entrepreneurs

Being graduation season, we asked some of the most innovative thinkers in Colorado to share some advice with young and aspiring social entrepreneurs. Check out what they had to say, why Colorado a great place to let your imagination flourish, and how you can get started right now.

Innovationchalkboard

Photo via Hampton Roads Partnership on Flickr’s Creative Commons.

I’m an aspiring social entrepreneur. What should I be considering?

Tamra Ryan, Social Enterprise Alliance Colorado Chapter Chair and CEO, Women’s Bean Project: Look to what others have done, and when seeking advice, be specific about what you need. The community of those who have already done this work is invaluable; at Women’s Bean Project we have 24 years of mistakes to reflect upon and learn from – and help others avoid.

Nathaniel Koloc, CEO, ReWork: Make sure you love and are invested in the idea you’re working on. Building a company is really hard work and you’ll need the motivation to get through the rough points and the uncertainty. Also, it’s going to take a lot of your time, so you might as well spend that time on something that feels very worthwhile.

Banks Benitez, VP of Partnerships, Unreasonable Institute: Be proactively coachable – open to receive advice when offered; some of the best entrepreneurs we work with have this quality. They go out and ask for advice, recognize what they don’t know, are aware of their blind spots, and seek understanding about what’s coming. They seek out mentors who can help and have walked the same path. Proactively coachable entrepreneurs recognize the limitations of their knowledge and have the humility to ask for help.

Micah Williams, Marketing + Special Projects, TEDxMileHigh: Be useful to others. Be a connector. Go out on a limb for someone. Aspiring entrepreneurs do most for themselves when they strive to do the most for others. Selfish, power-hungry, and narcissistic are characteristics of 20th-century iron-fisted leadership. We’ve arrived to a new century, where seeking avenues to do good for others is what sets people, and organizations, apart.

What makes Colorado so fertile in innovation? It seems like many businesses and ideas are first taking root here.

Tamra: We’ve always been pioneers in Colorado, with lots of energy and creativity, and it carries over into social enterprise.

Nathaniel: I think the quality of life in Colorado (very high), the outlook (progressive), and the style (laid back and accessible) has combined to make it a place where the “activation energy required” for innovation is low. It’s easy to get people to try pilots and prototypes, it’s easy to connect with decision-makers and get advice, etc. So things that elsewhere would get killed by inertia (and judgment), are able to take off and learn to fly in Colorado.

Micah: The massive growth and excitement in Colorado is a realization of years of backend work on improving its infrastructure, managing its growth, keeping money local, and protecting what makes Colorado intrinsically awesome: the 300+ days of sunshine, the towering snow-capped mountains, the endless outdoor activities less than an hour from major cities, and innovative research institutions that churn out jobs and educated young minds.

What can I do to get started right now?

Tamra: Look into the Social Enterprise Alliance; they have many resources for social enterprises. The Colorado Chapter has local events throughout the year. Follow us on Facebook!

Nathaniel: If you are starting a company and haven’t taken the time to understand what lean methodology is all about, you should stop everything you are doing and do that. Also look at design thinking and agile.

Banks: Attend entrepreneurial events and get embedded in the entrepreneurial community.

Micah: Seek meaningful relationships. That’s the number one resource we have as entrepreneurs. Don’t rely on a ‘great network;’ rely on great friends. Surround yourself with curious people who dream big. Finally, always remember the words of Ben Franklin: “Well done…is better than well said.” Yes!


Want to learn more? Micah also recommends reading Unreasonable Institute’s blog and PandoDaily, as well as attending the TEDxMileHigh event on June 15.

In Colorado? Banks thinks you should check out New Tech; Ignite Boulder; Silicon Flatirons Center; and the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship at CU Boulder. 

Learn more about Colorado month at Idealist!

Tags: , , , , , , , ,



Are the happiest people changing the world?

Photo credit: photobank.kiev.ua, Shutterstock

Photo credit: photobank.kiev.ua, Shutterstock

Here’s a question for you: are you happy changing the world? Does that spur you on to do bigger and better things? In an article on Harvard Business Review, Rosabeth Moss Kanter talks about how people who have the toughest jobs tackling worldwide issues and causes are often the happiest, because they can see how their work has meaning.

The happiest people I know are dedicated to dealing with the most difficult problems. Turning around inner city schools. Finding solutions to homelessness or unsafe drinking water. Supporting children with terminal illnesses. They face the seemingly worst of the world with a conviction that they can do something about it and serve others.

For many social entrepreneurs, happiness comes from the feeling they are making a difference.

In research for my book Evolve!, I identified three primary sources of motivation in high-innovation companies: mastery, membership, and meaning. Another M, money, turned out to be a distant fourth. Money acted as a scorecard, but it did not get people up-and-at ‘em for the daily work, nor did it help people go home every day with a feeling of fulfillment.

I see that same spirit in business teams creating new initiatives that they believe in. Gillette’s Himalayan project team took on the challenge of changing the way men shave in India, where the common practice of barbers using rusty blades broken in two caused bloody infections. A team member who initially didn’t want to leave Boston for India found it his most inspiring assignment. Similarly, Procter & Gamble’s Pampers team in Nigeria find happiness facing the problem of infant mortality and devising solutions, such as mobile clinics that sent a physician and two nurses to areas lacking access to health care.

People can be inspired to meet stretch goals and tackle impossible challenges if they care about the outcome.

While obstacles will arise, working together on human issues can be emotional and bring people closer together. Additionally, Kanter said, such large issues can diminish day-to-day annoyances and issues.

What do you think? Does your work give you a purpose and make you happy even when faced with adversity?

Tags: , , , ,



How one nonprofit pub is giving back, one pint at a time

Each day, people like you have ideas on how to make the world a better place, but don’t know how to put their ideas into action. To help you take the first step, we’re profiling budding social entrepreneurs who are tackling issues that are important to them, one step at a time.

The idea

Photo of Ryan from ©Neighborhood Notes in Portland, Oregon: www.neighborhoodnotes.com.

Ryan Saari, an Oregon native, knows that Portlanders love their beer as much as they love helping others. But given the amount of nonprofits that already exist in the city, Ryan realized that another nonprofit, while wonderful, may not be needed. “Instead we thought, what can we do to partner with the existing nonprofits?” he says.

Three years ago what started off as a discussion between Ryan and his friends about what good they could do in their communities turned into something bigger: The Oregon Public House—a soon-to-open nonprofit pub that will serve local beer and seasonal, locally sourced food, pay employees fair wages, and donate all its profit to charities.

Ryan foresees The Oregon Public House growing and hopes after a year or two of running successfully they can open another in Portland, eventually with plans to brew their own beer and sell six packs in stores where 100% of the money goes to a charity.

Obstacles

Ryan’s first step was to bring a team on board and find a building to set up the brew pub. To buy an already existing business, the team would need a minimum of $200,000. Instead, they found a fix it up rental attached to a ballroom that was still used as an event space.

Now that they had the building, they took the next steps toward owning the first brew pub of it’s kind. Here are some of the many obstacles they encountered over the past few years to get this unique nonprofit up and running:

Obstacle: Community push back
Solution: Worried about bringing a bar into a community, Ryan didn’t want to contribute to the already existing problem of people abusing alcohol. “At first people questioned what we were doing. People wanted to change the idea into a coffee shop, or take the idea and brew craft root beer instead,” he says. He knew it was important to establish the nonprofit as a public house and not a bar, a place where friends and family can come together to enjoy a beer and food in a friendly environment.

Obstacle: Never been done before
Solution: Without a model to learn from, Ryan knew trust was key when opening a nonprofit like this, which is the first of its kind in the country. “Customers need to know where the money is going,” Ryan says. Their books are public so customers can see where the profits go to help combat any skepticism. With the idea to one day expand and turn the pub into a brewery, The Oregon Public House is continually aware of maintaining the balance between giving to local charities and the operational costs for the pub.

The ballroom. (Photo from ©Neighborhood Notes.)

Obstacle: Opening without debt
Solution: With the largest donation only being $2,500, there needed to be other ways to raise funds. One way was to start a ‘Founders’ program, where people give to the nonprofit and in return receive a free beer each day, or week, depending on their contribution level.

Another way they stayed debt-free was not building until the money was available, a strategy they plan on continuing. While they received a grant from the city of Portland for the store front, they also didn’t take out any loans.

They likewise relied on volunteers to help reconstruct the building: pour the cement, paint the walls, and do whatever they could to help. Opening with zero debt will allow them to immediately begin donating the profits to worthwhile charities and to positively influence the community around them.

Obstacle: Staying profitable
Solution: Ryan says there are lots of questions about how to make a public house a viable business while giving away most of the earnings. He and his team pay rent by renting out the event space attached to their brew pub location for weddings, movie screenings, and more. “An event space is extremely profitable,” he says. They also plan on having the leadership all-volunteer run, with paid staff to cut down costs.

Advice

featured

Future home of The Oregon Public House. (Photo from ©Neighborhood Notes.)

After two years of countless hours from 100 volunteers, The Oregon Public House is in the final stages of officially opening it’s doors to the community.

“We’ve received emails from people all over the country saying they’ve had the same idea, and asking how they can do this where they are to help their own city,” says Ryan. “We want people to steal this idea.”

Whether or not you plan on opening your own brew pub for charity, here’s how Ryan thinks you can move forward on your idea:

  • Don’t be afraid to share your ideas, even if they seem silly.
  • Take it one step-by-step, and don’t worry about the time it takes you. People will still be invested in your idea.
  • Be cautious with money. Debt-free is the way to be.
  • Take initiative. Helping the community you live in isn’t as hard as you think.

“Make a living,” Ryan finally says. “But instead of pocketing the extra cash, why not give back to your city?”

__

Want to steal this idea? Feel free to reach out to Ryan at ryan@oregonpublichouse.com.

Tags: , , , , ,



Help Samuel send supplies to schools worldwide

An ongoing experiment: can our community’s collective brainpower help an idea become reality?

Meet Samuel

After a service trip to a Guatemalan school during his junior year of college, Samuel McPherson knew he wanted to do something more to improve education worldwide.

“Going to the school with a group of 25 people and seeing the amount of change and impact we could have changed my perception of what was possible,” he says.

The 23-year-old Gainesville, Florida native is obsessed with all things social entrepreneurship. As an undergraduate Samuel studied entrepreneurship at Pace University, then got his Master’s at University of Florida. Everything he does is seen through this lens. Whether it’s interning for UNICEF or working in sales for an educational research company, Samuel views each experience as a learning opportunity for his new venture, Reciprocity.

The intention

The idea for Reciprocity is inspired by the one-to-one model made famous by TOMS shoes. When you buy a USA-made canvas bag, an international school of your choice receives a custom bundle of educational supplies. Bags because Samuel noticed on that on college campuses it was the one thing students all had in common, and education because he believes it’s essential for freedom of choice.

“Education is the bottomline of everything,” he says. “I strongly believe people should be able to make their own decisions about how their life plays out and the opportunities they take. That becomes very difficult without an education.”

Samuel is still figuring it out, but right now roughly 50% of the bag proceeds will go to the schools, who will keep the consumer update about how the supplies are positively impacting the students. Consumers who have contributed to the same school will also be connected to one another.

Obstacles

The concept of Reciprocity has gone through many iterations, and so far Samuel has a website and one of three bag designs ready to go. Currently in Washington, D.C., he is working on refining his idea and turning Reciprocity into an organization, seeking partners, and encouraging schools to participate.

“I’ve learned everything I can learn and now it’s time to put the feet to the ground,” he says.

Here are the challenges he is currently facing:

  1. For Reciprocity to work, Samuel needs to find schools worldwide to provide context about their institution, communicate with the consumer, and be the point person for the delivery of supplies. Schools say they are interested, but fail to follow through.
  2. Currently Samuel is solo, but would love a team of people who could give advice and mentorship about creating organizational structure and guidance, as well as working with youth and/or educational institutions.
  3. Since the company will have different bag styles, the development and production of the product can be expensive, the cost of which Samuel is currently self-financing. From investors to crowdfunding to grants, any potential avenues of funding would be beneficial.

How you can help

featured

School in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala where Samuel volunteered at. (Photo via Samuel McPherson.)

  • Do you know of any schools Reciprocity might be able to help support?
  • Samuel is considering moving toward a more project-based approach i.e. 150 individuals purchase bags and proceeds go to installing a well in a school/village as opposed to providing finite supplies that will run out. What do you think?
  • How can Reciprocity stay away from creating a dependency and instead have a lasting impact on the students?
  • How can schools can best keep in touch with consumers given tech limitations and time constraints?
  • Samuel is planning on launching a Kickstarter campaign. If you’ve done one before, do you have any advice on launching a successful one, especially when it comes to video creation?
  • Marketing folks: Recommendations on how to best spread the word?
  • Do you have any general feedback about the business model or website itself?
  • Do you know of any organizations that might want to develop a strategic partnership?
  • Are you interested in collaborating, mentoring, or giving any of your time to Reciprocity?

Leave a comment below or send him a message through Idealist and if the project progresses, we’ll keep you posted!
_

Do you have an idea that’s just starting to brew? If you’d like us to consider posting it as part of this series, email celeste [at] idealist [dot] org.

Tags: , , , ,



How one woman is connecting all of Chicago

Each day, people like you have ideas on how to make the world a better place, but don’t know how to put their ideas into action. To help you take the first step, we’re profiling budding social entrepreneurs who are tackling issues that are important to them, one step at a time.

The idea

I’m horrible at improv comedy. If someone were to tell me that I should sign up for a class by myself, with a bunch of random strangers, and perform to a crowd of 700 plus people at the end, I’d tell them they were crazy.

Which is why I probably need to do it. Saya Hillman from Chicago-based Mac ‘n Cheese Productions agrees. After she convinced friends who didn’t know each other to dance a hip-hop routine on stage with her so she could check it off her life to-do list, she saw the immediate bonding that came with shared vulnerability. Fear Experiment, where you perform an art form that terrifies you, was thus born.

Dancers from the first Fear Experiment show at Park West Theater in April 2010. (Photo via Rich Chapman: richchapmanphoto.com/rwc)

There’s no one succinct way to describe Mac ‘n Cheese Productions. Besides Fear Experiment, other offerings include: minglers, an ideas salon, meetups, dinner parties, events for women entrepreneurs, a newsletter of referrals for local businesses, and most recently, retreats. Her long-term dream, though? A summer camp for adults.

“It can be awkward to go to stuff. I try to remove all the “ick” factors in traditional ways of meeting people and getting out there so to speak,” she says.

Saya is also big on giving back. Fear Experiment participants volunteer as pen pals and teachers to an underserved population, and the students are treated to dinner and the show. Folks from her network, called Cheese-Its, also regularly sponsor a Rwandan boy’s education, and she started a Chicago chapter of BC Cares, the volunteering arm of Boston College alum.

Whether it’s providing opportunities for community service or confronting your own perceived limitations, Saya is all about getting others to “Live a life of yes!”

“I’m trying to help people not be paralyzed by fear and low self-esteem. It’s really hard for people to see the positives in themselves often,” she says. “I hope I’m able to bring that out in themselves. And not only recognize it, but to own it and do something good with it as well.”

Obstacles

Eight years ago Saya got laid off from her job as a video producer. She had no plans of being an entrepreneur; the only thing she knew was she didn’t want “boss” in her vocabulary anymore.

Motivated by having to pay rent and the possibility of being forced to move back home, Saya’s first step was to figure out how long $300 in savings and unemployment checks would last. Turns out not long; Saya had to just jump and figure it out along the way.

Here are some of the challenges she faced:

Obstacle: Plan or no plan?
Solution: Saya started out wanting to create her own video company for special events. She didn’t know the first thing about running a business, and people advised to have a plan. But while she loves lists, having a plan wasn’t her thing. So she researched other companies. Shadowed videographers. Contacted a local business development center. Used collaborative tech tools like Creative Cow.

A year into being self-employed Saya was continuing  with her tradition of throwing dinner parties for friends who didn’t know each other when strangers began wanting in. It was then Saya realized she could make it into a business. Mac ‘n Cheese soon morphed from a media company to a people connector company. “I didn’t imagine any of it, but that’s what I love about it. There’s always something new and exciting,” she says.

Obstacle: Financial insecurity
Solution: From buying video equipment to coordinating events, Saya continually opted for the most economical ways to get things done. She was careful not to get herself into situations that would cause a huge debt to hang over her head.

She would also occasionally do pro-bono video jobs, and anytime she has given something away for free or low-cost, it has always come back to her in a positive way. “More often than not people say ‘yes’ to my outlandish requests and go above and beyond what I was expecting,” she says.

Obstacle: Working solo
Solution: Saya knew not having co-workers to bounce ideas off of was going to be hard for her, so she immediately started reaching out to her networks. She kept with this trend, and a few years later, began going to events in the city by herself as part of an experiment called the “The Solo Life.

The amount of people she knew in Chicago increased exponentially, and now connecting and collaborating with people from all walks of life is her bread and butter. “When you go into situations where you’re meeting people, I learned the power of listening, and the power of not going into something just thinking about what you need out of the situation,” she says.

Advice

Saya is thrilled that she was fired all those years ago. From meeting her fiancé to inspiring a woman to start a dog walking business, the amount of friendships, partnerships, and startups she has encouraged through her events are numerous and far-ranging.

“I love infecting people with ED, entrepreneurial disease,” Saya says. “It’s the best thing in the world.”

Saya introducing Fear Experiment. (Photo via Rich Chapman.)

Here’s how she thinks you can move forward on your idea:

Starting out

  • When you can’t find something that you want, create it. Or attempt to create it at least.
  • Make lists. What would you love to get paid for no matter how crazy it sounds, what your ideal job looks like, super-connectors you know, skills you have.
  • Ask. Once you have your lists, email the super-connectors. “People won’t know how to help you if they don’t know you need help.”
  • Steal ideas. “When you’re designing your own life of yes, there are a lot of smart people who’ve already created a lot of amazing things.”
  • Figure out what your priorities are. Know what you can and cannot sacrifice, because you’re not going to do or have everything you want in the beginning.
  • Don’t worry so much about money. “If you can find other things that you do have, such as a skill, people are really willing to trade and barter these days.”

For the ladies

  • Refer, refer, refer. “Word of mouth is something women are really good at. This will come back to benefit you ten-fold, as it’s usually win-win-win.”
  • Don’t be afraid to self-promote. It’s totally fine to boast.
  • View others as collaborators, not competitors. There’s always an opportunity to work with someone new.

Staying motivated

  • Meet people without expectations. “If you go to a networking event with the idea that you want to get three new clients, it will be a total disaster.”
  • Don’t wait for the perfect time. Stop coming up with excuses; it’s never going to feel like the right time.
  • Take the leap. What’s the worst that can happen?

“You have to figure out what’s good advice and what’s bad advice. What’s good for someone else might not be good for you,” Saya finally says. “Trust your gut.”

_

Want to live your own life of yes? Feel free to chat with Saya about entrepreneurism and self-employment through @sayahillman on Twitter. She is also available for speaking engagements.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,



How one business is helping female entrepreneurship grow

Each day, people like you have ideas on how to make the world a better place, but don’t know how to put their ideas into action. To help you take the first step, we’re profiling budding social entrepreneurs who are tackling issues that are important to them, one step at a time.

The idea

Chris Baker first traveled to the Himalayas when he was 18, and hasn’t stopped going back ever since.

featured

Chris Baker spending a day at the office in Nepal. (Photo via Chris Baker.)

In college, Chris researched rock carvings in the area surrounding Mt. Everest, and held the position of President of the Yale Mountaineering Club. Shortly after graduating he became a Kiva fellow in Nepal, working closely with Patan Business and Professional Women (BPW Patan), a micro credit program that provides women with business development resources.

From his experience in Nepal, Chris saw a real opportunity in linking the mindful traveler with local communities and entrepreneurs. Combining his passion for social enterprise and the mountains, he created OneSeed Expeditions.

OneSeed invests 10 cents of every incoming dollar directly into microfinance initiatives that provide capital to women entrepreneurs in Nepal. You take an amazing trip to Everest Base Camp; a local woman launches or expands her business.

Obstacles

Chris’s first step was laying the groundwork. As a teacher with Teach for America, Chris would spend his summers off in Nepal getting to know the people and land even more.

But as with any idea, Chris ran into a few challenges along the way:

Obstacle: Committing to the idea
Solution: After things started rolling, every founder had to make the decision to commit full time, which meant quitting jobs and possibly moving. Once everyone did there was no turning away from OneSeed.  “It’s easy to waver and and find reason not to do something, but at a certain point you have to commit and do it wholeheartedly,” Chris says. “There’s a level of momentum that comes with that complete commitment.”

Obstacle: Getting on the same page
Solution: When starting the social enterprise, the other two founding members were from Nepal. It was important to be clear and figure out what OneSeed’s core values were right away. It helped cause less confusion when communicating about the details over many Skype calls and to this day, Chris and his team are careful not to lose sight of their original principles. “The conversations and connections that come from sitting around a stove and drinking tea form the foundation of our company,” he says.

Obstacle: Fear of the unknown
Solution:  “It’s easy to be blinded by optimism,” Chris says of being an entrepreneur.  He had to become a true realist and take a self-assessment of the projections, which meant sitting down and asking himself and the team if they were going to meet their targets and goals. Once they evaluated their chances of success, Chris said they just had to jump. “When you’re making your idea a reality there is always a high risk and reward,” he says. He now has a thriving social enterprise that’s expanding, and everyday he loves his job. “I get to spend time in beautiful places with amazing people and we do a little bit of good along the way.”

Advice

Discovering the Annapurna trail in Nepal. (Photo via Chris Baker.)

Chris is now busy bringing the OneSeed name to Chile, offering expeditions in Patagonia beginning in January 2013. To date, OneSeed has raised over $16,000 for women entrepreneurs, and has trained and hired more than 30 local guides in Nepal and Chile.

Chris is of the belief that making a plan can’t be overstated enough. “Ideas are plentiful; execution is rare,” he says. “Some things wind up easier than you think.”

Specifically, here’s how he encourages you to move forward on your idea:

  • Know your limits of what you can and cannot do.
  • Be aware when you need to bring in other team members to collaborate.
  • Draw upon your networks to find true experts.
  • Recombine and link ideas across contexts e.g. travel and microfinance.
  • Ask a lot of questions.

Finally, Chris advocates for acting on your idea no matter what.  “Remember you’re always going to have people warning you of the constraints, challenges, and impossibles,” he says. “But if you’re willing to follow through, you find that you can do things that seem out of reach.”

_

Starting your own social enterprise and need some advice? Feel free to reach out to Chris: chris@oneseedexpeditions.com.

 

 

Tags: , , , , ,



Why supporting kid entrepreneurs might solve the world's problems

School’s out for summer! But that doesn’t mean ideas are on break. Help the creative kid in your life dive headfirst into entrepreneurship.

featured

Caine built a sweet arcade and is inspiring kids to be entrepreneurs. How can you support them? (Photo credit: Caine's Arcade)

You probably already know the story of Caine’s Arcade thanks to this Internet film that I’m sure left tears of joy all over your keyboard.

If you didn’t see it, the story goes a little something like this: Caine is a nine-year-old boy who built a DIY cardboard arcade in his father’s used auto parts shop in Los Angeles. The games went unplayed until one day, a filmmaker named Nirvan happened to need a car door handle. He bought the first Fun Pass. Then made a film.

Fast forward a few months later and Nirvan’s film has garnered Caine thousands of fans from around the world, inspired countless kids to make arcades of their own, generated a theme song, and get this, raised $500,000 for Caine’s college scholarship fund.

But not every little kid is as lucky as Caine.

Caine’s Arcade has made me more aware of the fact that there are budding entrepreneurs running around us everywhere — even though we might think they’re just listening to Justin Bieber and making awkward jokes.

So how we can help them bring their ideas to life? Besides heaps of encouragement, patience, and knowledge, here are some ways to get that creative kid in your life some dough to play with:

  • Caine’s Arcade Imagination Foundation: With help from the Goldhirsh Foundation, the newly founded foundation’s goal is to “find, foster, and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in young kids.”
  • YesKidzCan: Their Social KidPreneurz Program gives kids in grades 3-8 the opportunity to receive $100 to start their own business, with proceeds going to a cause of their choice.
  • Ashoka Youth Ventures: Once limited to the U.S. but now expanding internationally, this nonprofit “inspires and invests in teams of young people to design and launch their own lasting social ventures.”

It’s not just money that’s needed; we also need a shift in thinking. “If we can get kids to embrace the idea of being entrepreneurial at a young age, we can change everything in the world that’s a problem today,” says Cameron Herold in a TED talk about raising kids to be entrepreneurs.

He’s got a point: they might just be the ones with the brilliant ideas to help the needy or save animals from extinction.

So think about the Caines in your life. Are you game to help him or her succeed?

_

For fun: Check out 10 Things 80s Kids TV Taught Me About Being a Social Entrepreneur on Pinterest.

Tags: , , ,



Contests and fellowships, from entrepreneurship to design

featured

Image by GlobalX, who helped review Echoing Green applications in 2007 (Flickr/Creative Commons)

Need funding and mentors to get your social change project off the ground? Here’s a handful of contests and fellowships we’ve spotted recently. If you know of others we should promote, leave a comment below.

Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition

  • WHO: University students
  • WHEN: Deadline is November 9
  • WHAT: The University of Washington invites student teams from around the world to propose businesses to reduce poverty in developing world. Semi-finalists are invited to Seattle to visit regional companies, receive expert coaching, present their business ideas to hundreds of professionals, and compete for up to $30,000 in prizes. Details here.

desigNYC Collaborators

  • WHO: New York City nonprofits, city agencies, and pro bono designers
  • WHEN: Deadline is November 10
  • WHAT: This competition pairs NYC organizations with all types of pro bono designers (landscape, interior, communications, architectural, you name it). The designers create solutions to make the organizations’ projects more beautiful and functional – and thus, their neighborhoods more livable, workable, and fun. Nonprofits and designers can find entry info here.

Women for Social Innovation’s Turning Point Prize

  • WHO: Philadelphia-based emerging social entrepreneurs
  • WHEN: Deadline is December 28
  • WHAT: Ladies, got an idea to make Philly the city of sisterly love? Apply for this grant and you could win a $15,000 grant to improve the lives of women, girls and families in the area. Residents and local college students are eligible. Learn more.

Echoing Green Fellowship

  • WHO: English speakers age 18+ whose organizations are in the start-up phase.
  • WHEN: Applications accepted December 5-January 9.
  • WHAT: Calling all visionaries around the world: have a new organization in the works but need some support? This highly competitive program supports its fellows with start-up cash, an $80,000 stipend, technical assistance, and a powerful network over the course of two years to make their idea the next big thing. Criteria and info here.

Tags: , , , , ,



Idea File: Three creative ways to address homelessness

Georgetown University and Ogilvy recently released a study about which causes Americans care about the most. Not surprisingly, unemployment/low wages are number one. But homelessness isn’t too far behind.

The other day while browsing my favorite entrepreneurship-focused site, Springwise, I came across three innovations that seemed like they could be replicated beyond their pilot cities and have a positive impact elsewhere:

featured

In the U.S. alone, as many as 3.5 million people make benches and streets their home in a given year.

1. Homeless-led city tours

Sock Mob’s Unseen Tours of London employs homeless guides to show you the nooks and crannies you might not ordinarily explore. Along with British history, the guides interweave their own stories and experiences from the area – surely making the tour less yawn-worthy. At the end, you can go to a pub or cafe and chat more.

Most of the profits go to the guides, and eventually Sock Mob hopes to turn all of the leadership over to them, too.

A thought: Consider letting the guides choose where to go at the end of the tour, as they may be recovering from substance dependence issues.

2. Green gym + job generator = healthier Detroit?

Recognizing that good health is just as important as a good meal, Cass Community Social Services in Detroit erected a gym in an old warehouse where homeless people can work out. The equipment ranges from treadmills to boxing bags – not to mention stationary bikes that generate electricity.

It’s the first of its kind in the U.S. And not only does the gym raise environmental awareness, but it helps create jobs. Clients pull their weight by rescuing illegally dumped tires, for example, and making mud mats out of them.

A thought: Gyms don’t exist in a vacuum. There’s a whole exercise panorama to consider, from workout clothes to appropriate food to medical care for potential injuries.

3. Refashioned parking meters that collect donations

When parking meters are ready for retirement, what happens? Usually, they find their way to antique shops, are sold on eBay or, sometimes, are turned into bike racks. But here’s an interesting idea: piggy banks to raise money to end homelessness. Last fall the city of Montreal teamed up with a local magazine to park 70 colorful ParcoDons, or meters, around one neighborhood. Local celebrities also helped by jazzing up the change collectors. The hope is to raise $40,000 over the next three years.

It’s a win-win situation: meters get a second life, and loose coins go to a good cause.

A thought: What if people who are homeless could participate in each step of the project? Celebrities are a great way to raise the profile, but is there a way to involve others in the painting and installation of the meters?

What do you think?

Are these innovations helping the cause? Do you have more examples of successful projects where you live?

Tags: , , , , , ,



Submit your idea. Create more jobs. Win $50,000.

Right now, over 200 million people are without a viable way to make a living, and millions more are in less-than-desirable working conditions around the globe.

Yet it’s not hopeless. With so many brilliant entrepreneurial minds out there, Ashoka’s Changemakers and the eBay Foundation believe solutions are possible.

featured

Image via changemakers.com

The Powering Economic Opportunity: Creating a World that Works competition is open to individuals, organizations and collaborations who think they have what it takes to create sustainable employment opportunities in vulnerable communities around the world. Anyone can submit their idea in English, French, Spanish, or Portuguese.

Five winners will each receive US $50,000. The deadline to submit is June 15. Enter the Changemakers-eBay Empowering Economic Opportunity Competition here:

http://www.changemakers.com/en-us/economicopportunity

Stand-out entries will be those that have shown impact, are ready to be replicated elsewhere, and play nicely with others to expand their reach. The creativity is astounding so far. There’s everything from a historic center in Cuba to a farming magazine in Tanzania to a women’s swimming project in Sri Lanka.

So, entrepreneurs: get to it. Employ your imagination, and be a part of helping to bring the jobless millions down to zero. Coming up blank? Share your opinions on the entries themselves, and wage your bets on the best ideas by voting for who will make it to the first round.

Update, 5.13.2011: Ashoka Changemakers recently let us know about a new way to participate in the competition: ChangeSpotting. Until May 25, ChangeSpotters can nominate organizations and social entrepreneurs who are already creating jobs. All you need to do is take a picture of yourself with their logo, or something that makes it clear who you’re nominating, and send it to connect@changemakers.com or upload it to your Facebook or Twitter account. Five randomly selected ChangeSpotters will each receive a $50 gift card to WorldofGood.com.

Tags: , , , ,