The Economist Surveys Wealth, Philanthropy, and The Rise of the Social Entrepreneur

The Economist magazine has a section in the Feb 25th issue that is a survey on wealth and philantropy (Subscription is required to view the webpage). There is an article included within that survey titled, “The rise of the social entrepreneur” that offers a nice lay of the land of social entrepreneurship. Here is the abstract:

UBS, a Swiss private bank that counts many of the world’s richest people among its clients, is conducting an interesting experiment in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina. It has formed an alliance with Ashoka, a global organisation that identifies and invests in leading social entrepreneurs. The alliance is offering a new prize for social entrepreneurship, which UBS’s Martin Liechti admits is an excuse to bring together two groups of people who might otherwise never meet.…

Social entrepreneurship is a young movement so its hard to get a holistic view of everything that’s going on, but the article does its best.

It mentions Ashoka, Omidyar, Skoll, Schwab Foundation. It gives an overview of what is happening within the various US-based business schools. It also has a list of “Leading Entrepreneurs,” which I can’t figure out how they arrived at.

David Bornstein is well quoted in the article– he wrote a book charting the rise of social entrepreneurship called “How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas.”

Jim Collins is also well quoted. Jim recently wrote “Good to Great and the Social Sectors: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great

Try and check out the full length article at the Economist. If you are serious about leadership in the social sector, I would also highly recommend reading the Jim Collins monograph, along with his best selling work, Good to Great, to get some background.

Nifty Collection Of Social Entpreneurship Links at The World Bank’s Private Sector Development Blog

The World Bank’s Private Sector Development Blog put together a blogroll (which is basically a list of blogs and their URLs) of various sites that focus on issues in development.  Categories include Aid Effectiveness, Corporate Governance, and Social Entrepreneurship.

There’s a nice collection social entrepreneurship blogs in that blogroll so definitely check it out.

Thanks to Pablo Halkyard and company for adding Social ROI to the PSD blogroll!

Harvard Social Enterprise Conference- Mar 5th, 2006

Social Enterprise Conference

Harvard is hosting the 7th Annual Social Enterprise Conference this weekend. The panel topics are more interesting than ever, and the schedule is packed with events such as the “Pitch for Change” Competition (which is a business competition with a slight twist), various networking opportunities, and a career fair.

I’ve created an “events” category on the right-hand column and populated it with other events like this that are relevant to social entrepreneurship. If you have any that you want me to link to, email me at john at social roi dot com.

Net Impact 2005 Conference Webcast Online

Net Impact
Private Sector Develop Blog informs us that the Net Impact 2005 Conference webcasts and audio files are available for download via the Stanford Business School website (Stanford Graduate School of Business hosted the event).

There’s a lot of material there so knock yourself out. Of course I immediately drilled down to the social entrepreneurship section (its the second to last section on the website)

There are three topics in the social entrepreneurship section, and only the first topic has a webcast:

– What Does It Take to Get Off the Ground? A Profile of Successful Social Entrepreneurs
– Social Entrepreneurs Enjoy More Opportunities
– Ecotourism May Be Travel Field’s Wave of the Future

Go check it out!

Add Charity Shopping To Your Website To Generate Funds

Charity Funds
Check out this post on TechSoup, called Add Charity Shopping to Your Web Site which details how to add a charity shopping mall to your website. If someone ends up buying something through your shopping mall, you get a small percentage of the profits. For some motivation, TechSoup provides some numbers from a case study:

It’s possible to make good money using a charity mall. The Larkin Street Youth Center in San Francisco made $1000 worth of profits in a few months with, according to the SF Gate article A New Way to Give .

It doesn’t sound easy, but if you are driving enough traffic to your website, it sounds like something that could take off without that much work.

How Charities Can Get FREE Online Advertising

Stephen Baker of Businessweek writes on Blogspotting that:

When advertisers research the effectiveness of an online advertisement, they typically populate half of the pages with the ad–and the other half, the control group, with a filler ad, a placebo. This is valuable advertising real estate that is often given away.

He ends the post by asking whether advertisers get to write-off this sponsorship of charities. Very good question–

Its sounds like an interesting little niche and I’ll try to explore it and hopefully come up with some answers for us. Stay tuned.

Social Entrepreneurship: Recycling Old Cell Phones

Recycling Old Cell Phones
I just read an article in Red Herring about a company called ReCellular, which is the number one U.S. cell phone recycling company. ReCellular refurbishes and resells cell phones instead of scrapping them for their metals. Although, the article focuses on a new technology that ReCelluar has developed to help triple its profits this year, I can’t help but be enamored with the core business itself and the profit opportunity of this niche market.

[The market is] expected to be worth $225.35 million by 2008, said Michael Blumberg, CEO of DF Blumberg Associates, a consultancy that published a report on the U.S. wireless phone recycling market.

Growing cell phone usage and turnover, as well as “green laws” restricting the disposal of electronic waste, are driving the market, he said. U.S. consumers replace their phones every 18 months, on average, he added.

I guess when the profit opportunity is as big as this, you don’t need social entrepreneurs to intervene. Some opportunities (like this one) work out perfectly so that entrepreneurs can make a buck, and do something good for the world at the same time!

Google Appoints Executive Director for Its Philanthropic Arm

Link to press release here.

Google today announced the appointment of Dr. Larry Brilliant as Executive Director of, which administers Google’s philanthropic activities. In this role he will work with the company’s co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to define the mission and strategic goals of Google’s philanthropy. Dr. Brilliant is a founder and director of The Seva Foundation, a Policy Advisory Council Member at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health, and a member of the Strategic Advisory Group of Kleiner-Perkin’s Pandemic and Bio-Defense Fund.

The Wall Street Journal says:

Google said Dr. Brilliant’s accomplishments in public health and technology were key to his selection. “There were a lot of people out there with passion to change the world, but there aren’t a lot of people out there with the proven ability to change the world,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Google’s vice president of Global Online Sales and Operations. Google declined to disclose the compensation it will pay Dr. Brilliant in his new role.

Everyone is pretty excited to see the good things that can come out of!

Social Entrepreneurship In The News- Venture Capitalists Are Investing in Educational Reform

The NYTimes recently ran a piece titled “Venture Capitalists Are Investing in Educational Reform,” (sub. req.) which discusses John Doerr’s role in founding the New Schools Venture Fund in San Francisco. Although New Schools has been covered pretty well by the press, this article is a good piece about social entrepreneurship:

Unlike Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the venture capital firm where Mr. Doerr is a partner, New Schools does not earn the standard three to five times its investment in five years. It earns nothing, because it is “a philanthropy held accountable by the rigors of venture capital financing,” as Mr. Doerr describes it. The financial professionals of the fund oversee the business operations of the schools it backs.

The article goes on to describe how New Schools works and what its done so far in California. Its an informative piece, but the most interesting parts to me are the quotes of Doerr on social entrepreneurship. The article ends with a good one:

“The education entrepreneurs have it harder. They must overcome massive institutional resistance,” he said. “And if the high-tech entrepreneurs succeed, they get rich. The educators’ rewards will be more important in life, but they’re not going to get rich.”

Investment in Biofuels

Renewable energy
Cnet reports that Xerox PARC, a technology research powerhouse, and Kleiner Perkins, a venture capital powerhouse have increased their commitment to “the emerging field of clean technologies.”

Kleiner Perkins has created a $100 million fund dedicated to green technologies, and Xerox PARC announced a collaboration with a venture called SolFocus, to develop and improve solar panel technology.

Cnet also reports that this has been a field of growing interest in the past two years from investors and entrepreneurs.

Its great to see more interest and money being directed towards socially responsible causes but what’s important to note here are the economic forces that are driving investment into “socially responsible” energy sources. Lets face it, venture capital firms, like Kleiner Perkins, are aware of the profit opportunity in energy– all the big oil companies are reporting record profits.

Although high fuel prices have hit all of us, the profit opportunity that comes along with it is the only motivation that seems to spur meaningful interest and investment into alternative fuels.