Be an Acumen Fund Fellow

From the Acumen Fund Fellows Program:

We are excited to announce that the application process for the 2009-2010 class of Acumen Fund Fellows is now open. Applications will be accepted online until noon EST on October 20, 2008. Detailed information about the program and application the process, as well as bios of current and past fellows, can be found on our website. To apply directly, please click here

We are looking for dedicated individuals with the moral imagination, the practical skills and the leadership potential to effect real change. The program thus far has been a resounding success – both for the Fellows and the Acumen Fund enterprises they support. Fellows have called their time with the program a life-changing experience, allowing them to build critical business skills and a better understanding of the challenges involved in serving low-income consumers around the world.

We are also excited to welcome our new class of 2008-2009 Fellows later this month. They will soon join Acumen Fund in New York to begin training and to prepare to support Acumen Fund investments New York and is actively preparing to support Acumen Fund investments. The Fellows have committed to sharing their experiences both from New York and on the ground, so expect to see frequent posts from them on the Acumen Fund website and blog.

If you know exceptional individuals who should be part of our 2009-2010 class, please encourage them to apply.

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/

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.

Sundance Institute: Stories of Change: Social Entrepreneurship In Focus Through Documentary

Sundance Institute has initiated a Request for Proposals for STORIES OF CHANGE: SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN FOCUS THROUGH DOCUMENTARY. The one-time funding initiative will provide $1.2 million in film project grants to enable the development and/or production of new feature-length independent documentary films that frame, examine and amplify social entrepreneurship as an innovative approach to the central questions of our time.

STORIES OF CHANGE is part of a $3 million, three-year partnership with the Skoll Foundation designed to explore the role of film in advancing knowledge about social entrepreneurship. The initiative builds on earlier work between the Skoll Foundation and Sundance Institute to combine the art of storytelling with the impact of social entrepreneurship. This partnership will help create new opportunities for leading social entrepreneurs and outstanding documentary filmmakers to collaborate and to create new projects that advance the innovative approaches found in both fields. The initiative anticipates funding up to 8 films in the range of $30,000-$150,000 per project, with editorial control being retained by the filmmaker(s).

“Documentary filmmakers and social entrepreneurs have much to contribute to the challenges we currently face as a global society,” said Cara Mertes, Director, Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program. “This initiative is the first of its kind to bring the two fields together to seek inspiration, innovation, and creative experimentation around our most urgent social concerns.”

Those with proposals for documentary films on topics in social entrepreneurship, including the work of specific social entrepreneurs, are encouraged to apply directly to Sundance online.

Deadline for Submissions: August 15, 2008

Awards Announced: December, 2008

The Rise of Social Venture Funds

So many goodies in this article about the rise of social venture funds:

This year, socially conscious venture funds are ramping up at an unprecedented scale. At least seven new and follow-on funds billed as mission-driven investment vehicles are on track to raise about $750 million this year

“It’s really peaked in the last six months,” says David Chen, founder of Equilibrium Capital, a planned $200 million fund focused on the cleantech and wellness sectors. Since he began raising the fund last fall, Chen has seen a marked increase in interest levels from investors of all stripes in the social venture asset class.

The rise in social venture comes as institutional and accredited investors are putting significantly more money into so-called socially responsible investment (SRI) vehicles. Today, roughly $2.71 trillion—or 11% of assets under professional management in the United States—are now involved in SRI, according to the Social Investment Forum, a trade group.

via Venture Capital Journal.

BUILD: Summer Intern and Manager Positions

BUILD’s mission is to provide real-world entrepreneurial experience that empowers youth from under-resourced communities to excel in education, lead in their communities, and succeed professionally. By supporting students in developing and actually running their own small businesses, BUILD puts entrepreneurial education far beyond the classroom into a tangible context. BUILD students come from neighborhoods where the high school drop-out rate ranges from 50% to 70%; yet, to date, 100% of BUILD graduates have graduated from high school and enrolled in college. Interested candidates can learn more about the organization at www.build.org.

Go here for more information.