Applications are now being accepted for the 2009 SVN Innovation Awards! Deadline: June 15, 2009

For more than 22 years, SVN members have transformed the way the world does business. From the organic revolution to fair trade to socially responsible investing and so much more, our members pioneered a movement that has proven that business can truly be used as a tool for making the world a better place.

As SVN looks to the future, we’re committed to inspiring and supporting the next generation of innovative, socially responsible business and nonprofit entrepreneurs. That’s why we created the Innovation Awards. The goal of the Awards program is to recognize the leaders of emerging enterprises, bring them into the SVN community, and give them access to a network of 500 successful socially responsible business and nonprofit leaders, investors, and other resources and connections that can help them achieve success with their own enterprise.

For more information please check out svn.org

The International Youth Initiative Program

YIP is a new social entrepreneur training in Järna, Sweden, for youth aged 18 to 25 who want to create a positive social change in the world. It’s basically a course in how to bring your own initiative into being. YIP brings in experienced international course leaders to teach a wide array of topics, teaching the skills needed to run a project. There is also artistic work and internships.

The first year started up last August, and we have 39 participants from 18 countries (all continents represented), speaking 25 different languages. From the very first day, the participants have shown that they abound with initiative. (I am amazed they get time to sleep!) The impressions from friends and relatives following the participants from home is strong: some have tears of joy when seeing how participants are blossoming and taking responsibility for the world and their own life.

You can also read more about the program at the web site: http://www.yip.se (You can read participant contributions here) I can also recommend you the public lectures podcasts. The participants are currently organizing the conference “360° Exploring Community” (http://www.360theconference.se/), 11-17 July.

Application for the next YIP year closes 30 June 2009.

The Engineers for Social Impact Fellowship

The Engineers for Social Impact Fellowship is a unique program that connects top engineering talent to credible social enterprises driving market-based solutions to development in India. It serves a dual need: matching talented students with worthy social enterprises and increasing awareness of for-profit approaches to development.

The Engineers for Social Impact (E4SI) fellowship program has commenced its second annual rigorous recruitment process to match the most talented ten undergraduate students from fifteen elite Indian engineering schools with partner social enterprises that focus on development by means of sustainable for-profit entrepreneurship. E4SI fellowships promise to be highly entrepreneurial in a way that combines the best of consulting, technology, and social innovation. Fellows will gain unprecedented access to the development sector as they work with leading social entrepreneurs, attend leadership workshops at the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad, and pitch their ideas to thought leaders as they join an outstanding cohort of exceptional young leaders.

Please see this press release (PDF) for more information.

Gleitsman International Activist Award Nomination [Deadline: April 17, 2009]

Deadline: April 17, 2009

The Gleitsman Program in Leadership for Social Change encourages individual commitment and leadership by recognizing the exceptional achievement of those who have initiated positive social change. We seek those individuals whose vision and courage inspire others to join with them in confronting and challenging injustice.

As we begin our search for nominees for the 2009 International Activist Award, we invite you to advise us of those individuals whose efforts you feel should be recognized.

The 2009 International Activist Award will honor those who have struggled to correct social injustice in the world (US activists are the focus of our award in alternate years). The honorees will receive $125,000 and will receive a specially commissioned sculpture designed by Maya Lin, creator of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC. The award is not presented posthumously, nor is it granted to groups or organizations.

Please complete this nomination form and forward it with supporting materials to us postmarked not later than APRIL 17, 2009. The honoree for the 2009 International Activist Award will be announced in the summer of 2009 and must be available to travel to Cambridge, MA for the award presentation in early fall.

Social Investing and the Modern Market- Guest Post

A guest post from Ann Logue, author of Socially Responsible Investing for Dummies.

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Social Investing and the Modern Market

By Ann Logue

Social investing is a fine idea: investors get to flex their capitalist muscles to help fund companies that are changing the world while pressing companies that are a little less than perfect to improve their policies. As I write this, though, it’s early 2009 and capitalism is a mess. Businesses with great ideas are having a hard time attracting shareholders and lenders because everyone is so darn scared!

Of course, the name of the game is buying low and selling high, so a beat-up stock market can be a great opportunity to buy into companies that meet your social objectives and that also are likely to do fine once the economy settles back into its groove. How do you find these? Start by knowing what your social goals are: is your interest the environment? Human rights? Religion strictures? That will affect the universe of companies that you will want to look at.

Then, you want to go to the financial statements and news reports to see how the company is responding. Is it cutting back its work on green technologies in order to save money? Or is it expanding its efforts because it has some cash, sees where the markets are going, and knows that its competitors are a bit weak?

As a general rule, the companies that will get through this recession best are those that have little debt and a lot of cash and equivalents on their balance sheets, as those companies will be able to do the best. Likewise, families that have little debt and good savings will also fare better than their profligate neighbors!

If you aren’t up to doing the research on specific companies, the many socially responsible mutual funds and exchange traded funds are available at bargain prices because the securities in them have been beaten up. (There are exceptions, mainly funds that target Muslim investors and thus have no exposure to bank stocks. Alas, social investment is no protection against market forces.)

Finally, the low prices on so many stocks are going to force changes in transparency. The federal government, which has become a de facto shareholder in many banks, is raising questions about executive compensation. (Hint to CEOs: if your company needed a federal bailout, you did not do a good job.) Those hedge funds, private equity, and investment firms with money to invest may look at troubled companies and press for changes that lead to a more sustainable business for decades to come.

If you don’t have money to invest right now, at least pay attention: this bargain-basement market will create interesting events for socially minded investors who want to watch and learn.

The Invent Your World Challenge, sponsored by Ashoka’s Youth Venture

The Invent Your World Challenge, sponsored by the Lemelson Foundation, is a competition in which we are calling for ideas and project
proposals from young innovators, 12-20 in the North America and Europe, and 12-24 in all other regions, using a new or adapted technology to improve the lives of others. There will be several prizes, including a $20,000 scholarship, the competition closes on March 15th, for more details please visit: http://genvcampaigns.org/campaigns/invent/

Upstart Bay Area hopes to nourish next generation of Jewish innovators

UpStart Bay Area is new organization that is helping Jewish social entrepreneurs in the San Francisco Area. It launched last summer and aims to cultivate new ideas and support entrepreneurs in opening their non-profit social enterprises.

Check out their new website here. They are currently taking applications for the next round of UpStarters:

Are you the next ‘UpStarter’?

The staff of UpStart Bay Area wants to incubate leaders who exhibit a variety of qualities, including those who:

• Articulate a clear vision for their organization.

• Demonstrate creativity, curiosity and interest in learning.

• Are unafraid of taking risks.

• Have innovative ideas to engage more Jews in Jewish learning, ritual, community and service.

• Can secure human and/or capital resources to get started.

For more information or to apply, contact UpStart Bay Area at (415) 536-5918 or via e-mail at info@upstartbayarea.org. Applications are due Feb. 13.

The Engineers for Social Impact Fellowship

The Engineers for Social Impact (E4SI) fellowship program has commenced its second annual rigorous recruitment process to match the most talented ten undergraduate students from fifteen elite Indian engineering schools with partner social enterprises that focus on development by means of sustainable for-profit entrepreneurship. E4SI fellowships promise to be highly entrepreneurial in a way that combines the best of consulting, technology, and social innovation. Fellows will gain unprecedented access to the development sector as they work with leading social entrepreneurs, attend leadership workshops at the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad, and pitch their ideas to thought leaders as they join an outstanding cohort of exceptional young leaders.

For more info, refer to this pdf.