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.

WorldChanging Tries To Bring Out the Social Entrepreneur In Us All


WorldChanging is a great website I recently found and added to the “Blogs I Read” section on the right. WorldChanging is one of those websites where I knew exactly what it was about as soon as I saw it BUT even after reading the “About Us” page, I had trouble putting together the words to describe it.

However, after thinking about it for a few minutes, I think I came up with a title that perfectly describes what it tries to do– bring out the social entrepreneur in all of us.

WorldChanging works on the premise that everything that we need to build a better future already exists– we just need to take those things, whether they be tools, models, or ideas, and apply them properly.

When a profit motive exists, the act of pulling together disconnected things to create value is called entrepreneurship. But when the profit motive is missing, (or is not as big enough to be motivation), those who step up to the challenge to pull everything together to create value is called social entrepreneurship.

WorldChanging aims to act as a repository and a “market” for all information that can enable social entrepreneurship and make it easy for us to see.

I’m not sure if everyone at WorldChanging agrees with my interpretation but the reason why I see it this way is because those were some of the reasons that motivated me to start SocialROI!

Lily Pad –Closing the Digital Divide in Cincinnati

Lily Pad Free Wi-Fi
A few days ago, I wrote this post on social entrepreneurs trying to close the digital divide.  Well, here is another free wifi initiative that seems to be working, but using a slightly different approach.
Project Lily Pad is a free wifi initiative based in Cincinnati, Ohio.  What differentiates Project Lily Pad from other free wifi initiatives is that it copied the “Adopt-A-Highway” model to build out and fund its network.  InformationWeek reports that:

the partnership combines efforts from the City of Cincinnati, Time Warner Cable, and the Lily Pad non-profit organization. The endeavor has already resulted in the establishment of more than 20 Lily Pads or “pods,” each with numerous hotspots and still more access points. Another 55 or more are slated to be established in the coming weeks.


Following a model popular on many U.S. highways — the “Adopt A Highway” program — the Lily Pad group enlisted volunteers and designed a system that called for small donations to sponsor individual hotspots for three years. “A family might sponsor a community square for $150 a month,” said Rybold, “or a larger area for $500.”

Also notable is that Time Warner Cable is serving as the sponsor of the riverfront hotspot.  Its great to see big cable and telecom companies sponsoring initiatives that they typically would label a threat to their business.

The article also emphasizes the grass roots nature of the project, stating that the goal is not to blanket the entire municipality with wifi, but to place access points in key social spaces.

There is A LOT going on in this space, so I’ll try to report on the best and most interesting cases.

Social Entrepreneurs Focused On Closing the Digital Divide

Free Wi-Fi
I’ve been spending a bit of time researching free and advertising-supported wi-fi because I think its a practicial solution for the digital divide issue that we face today.

The 100 dollar laptop project is related but focuses on international, whereas I am concentrating specifically on solving the problem in the inner cities of the US. There are many independent initiatives happening across the US, and one of the technologies I’ve been keeping a close eye on is the RoofNet project over at MIT.

This low cost mesh network technology has been deployed by various non-profit organizations across the country, including networks built by MIT itself. Aside from their Cambridge campus hotspot, MIT’s feature hotspot is a deployment in the downtown Boston housing complex called Tent City.

On the other side of the country, NetEquality is deploying low income internet access in NE Portland, Oregon based on MIT’s RoofNet technology.
As you can see, its a very grass roots oriented movement, complemented very well by a technology thats low cost, and built from parts available at any Radio Shack.

Check out both the MIT and NetEquality website to get inspired and also to get instructions on how to build your own wifi hotspot!

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!