Peaceworks In Business Week: Making Social Entrepreneurship Matter

Here’s a article about Peaceworks, a “successful global business that promotes peace through commercial ventures among Israelis, Palestinians, Egyptians, Turks, Indonesians, and Sri Lankans”. They are pioneering a different flavor of social entrepreneurship that is promoting peacemaking through business.

“We are using market forces to achieve the goal of peace and coexistence,” says Lubetzky. Having foes unite in business, he explains, works on three levels: First, it helps break down stereotypes; second, it creates an incentive to continue to work together; third, in doing so, it helps puts an end to regional violence and fundamentalism that feeds off despair.

The article discusses the story of the founder, Lubetzky, and how he started PeaceWorks.

Synergos Social Innovators Program

The Synergos Institute, based in New York City has launched a Social Innovators Program in the Middle East and North Africa and sends the following message:

Are you making a difference in your community?

We can help give you the tools and funding to do it better.

Synergos Social Innovators Program

We’re hoping to make a difference to your difference. The Synergos Social Innovators Program is a three-year program created to identify and support twenty creative individuals who are implementing successful social projects in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco or Palestine.If you are selected as a Social Innovator, you will receive a financial award of US$17,000 per year for two years. You will also receive training, mentoring and peer learning as well as connections to business, government, philanthropic and other civil society leaders across the world.

To Apply

We are accepting applications through September 15, 2008.

Please visit www.synergos.org/socialinnovators/ for additional information, eligibility requirements and access to our application form, available in Arabic and English.  Please email us with questions at socialinnovators@synergos.org.

www.synergos.org/socialinnovators/

OLPC Makes It To India

It was a disappointment when India didn’t show any interest in the OLPC, but it looks like the non-profit has made considerable progress in the country with some local help:

Two years later, Negroponte is back to open a new office in New Delhi and launch the OLPC program in India on Aug. 4. Despite all the rebuffs, Negroponte’s urge to sell in India is stronger than ever. “India is the largest market for us, and I had to be here,” he says. More important, Negroponte has a new partner—one of India’s politically influential private-sector conglomerates. The Digital Bridge Foundation, part of Reliance ADA Group, owned by Indian billionaire Anil Ambani, is providing the technology backbone and logistics for the installation of OLPC’s white and green XO laptops in primary schools.

Socially Responsible Investment Firm Bought Shares In Defense, Tobacco, and Gambling Businesses

Forgot to link to this article last week from the WSJ:

Pax World Management Corp., one of the best-known “socially responsible” investment firms, settled Securities and Exchange Commission charges that it violated its own rules against purchasing shares in companies involved in such businesses as defense, alcohol, tobacco and gambling.

The settlement — in which Pax agreed to pay a $500,000 fine — marks the first time the SEC has taken action against a purportedly socially responsible fund for failing to live up to its mission. The SEC said it uncovered the problems in a routine examination.

The Problem Brewing In Microlending

There’s been a long running rift in the micropayments world, with Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Prize winning founder of Grameen Bank, on one side and for-profit counterparts such as Compartamos on the other side. Yunus has accused these for-profit lenders of being nothing more than loan sharks. Compartamos defends themselves and say that they create real value. That hasn’t stopped Yunus from promoting a global truth-in-lending standard with the creation of an organization to monitor banks’ behavior.

In an effort to head off a potential crisis in the fast-expanding microfinance industry, its leaders are adopting global truth-in-lending standards and creating a system for comparing loan terms offered by competing lenders. To manage the effort, a new self-monitoring organization, MicroFinance Transparency, is being set up as the industry’s policeman. The goal is to prevent companies from taking advantage of poor people with high interest rates and misleading credit offers.

The initiative was announced on July 28 at a microcredit conference in Bali by Chuck Waterfield, a professor at Columbia University who spearheaded the initiative, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, who launched the microcredit revolution in Bangladesh 30 years ago with his Grameen Bank. “Microfinance emerged as a struggle against loan sharks, so we don’t want to see new loan sharks created in the name of microcredit,” Yunus tells BusinessWeek.