Seven Strategy Questions: Nonprofit Edition

Seven Strategy Questions by Harvard b-school professor Robert Simons is a good guide to keeping boards of directors focused on strategy and planning. This is critical because the primary value a board provides is strategic direction.

His book is understandably focused on the for-profit corporate world, so I thought it would be useful to pose his seven questions and provide my […]

11 things we learned about social enterprise in international development

1. The scale of social enterprises varies globally

2. Social enterprise is about impacts

Positive impacts can be seen in a number of ways: in what a social enterprise produces or sells, for example, or by the way it does business. “Most of our work is agricultural so we are particularly interested in enterprises that go out of their way to include […]

A Seven Step Guide To “Net Positive”

Net positive is far more transformative and ambitious than corporate social responsibility.

It’s not just about reducing impacts here and there, rather it requires a systems-based approach and the involvement of the entire business.
1. Net positive is about giving more than you take
2. Boundaries are important
3. It isn’t just repackaged CSR
It also allows businesses to engage employees and customers with a […]

Young Investors Favor Socially Responsible Investments

More than 25 percent of investors under the age of 45 have at least one-quarter of their investable assets in socially responsible companies. That’s the key finding of a new report by Spectrem Research, which surveyed 3,000 investors with assets ranging from $100,000 to $25 million.

These young investors are drivers of a rapid rise in total SRI assets, which have […]

Social Impact 101: Building Companies That Make a Difference

Joey Hundert — social entrepreneur, start-up consultant and founder of the “Sustainival,” the world’s first green carnival — has been working for a decade and a half to promote ventures that both make money and make the world a better place.

Wry: We talk about social enterprise, and we talk about social entrepreneurship. But when you start to really dig into […]

6 Billion Pounds Produce Is Wasted Every Year Because It’s Ugly

An estimated six billion pounds of fruits and vegetables are wasted every year in the U.S. because they are ugly, according to report by the Natural Resources Defense Council. That means more than 20 percent of the produce grown for human consumption is rejected by grocery stores and goes uneaten because of its appearance.

Founders of a crowd-funded company called Imperfect […]

Out with The Sustainability Snobs

Sustainability’s emerging popularity has enthralled many young people, interested in dedicating their lives to work in the field, developing privileged understanding of the term’s meaning. The new wave of forward-thinking professionals possess sustainability knowledge, but they treat the knowledge like a special right granted only to a select few. Sustainability professionals, by and large, need to develop empathy to understand […]

Harnessing Social Impact Investing

For many, Latin America is associated with a laundry list of negatives: drugs, corruption, gang violence and transnational crime. However, our new report Harnessing Social Impact Investing in Latin America, helps to dispel some of these myths. In fact, in the realm of social impact investing, it is on the forefront of rapidly-changing global trends.

The report, published by the Atlantic […]

Social Venture Success: On Stance, Story and Strategy

Everybody has a story. Throughout my 20s, I was a workaholic. I was never present, and my dream was to sell my business. It wasn’t until I achieved my goal and made lots of money that I realized that this kind of success didn’t make me happy. In fact, it made me miserable.

This experience – and hiring an amazing business […]

Redefining Sustainability

Sustainability must be reframed as an opportunity if it is to take hold.

We’ve heard the word sustainability a lot lately. Climate change scientists warn countries and companies of the dangers of current levels of carbon emissions. Board directors are being called upon to be more transparent and punish bad behaviour. NGOs and social groups want companies to earn a licence […]

How To Achieve Staff Diversity

In order to make the widest impact possible, your organization needs to appeal to a wide audience. This audience should include people from all backgrounds, including race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, income level, and so on. Otherwise, it may appear that your organization is being exclusive with one particular group and perhaps even discriminatory toward others. In order to create […]

Women Are Naturally Suited To Social Enterpreneurship

Elizabeth Schaeffer Brown, founder of Uncommon Union wrote in Forbes, “The new field of social entrepreneurship is ideally suited to women, who have always had to meet complex demands that pit community against individualism. In short, we understand the necessity of seeing the economy and the world as an interconnected and interdependent system.”

Social enterprises are organizations that apply commercial strategies […]

Want To Succeed? Listen To Those You Serve

Social enterprises need to put customer satisfaction and beneficiary feedback at the center of everything they do. Making what beneficiaries think the most important metric of success is both good management and the right thing to do. My research for REDF this summer as a graduate student intern started with two basic truths. First, the business community recognizes that focusing […]

The Rise of Social Entrepreneurs Is Egypt’s Silent Revolution

Tuning in to news channels, browsing through social media sites, or engaging in a chit-chat with one of Egypt’s ever-so talkative taxi drivers can leave even the biggest optimist heavy-hearted. High illiteracy rates in Egypt’s primary and middle schools, blood-covered hospital beds shared by multiple patients, and increased suicide rates among men unable to provide for their families are tragically […]

The Embedded Social Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs who operate in impoverished regions of the world face a quandary: Even though the need for their products and services is enormous, the challenge of bringing those products and services to market can be nearly insurmountable. Without access to mass media or even mass communications, entrepreneurs have no established channels through which to reach potential customers. Few of those […]

Prioritizing Social Enterprise Sustainability

Despite the conventional wisdom that organizations that invest in developing a robust infrastructure are more likely to succeed and recognition of financial support for capacity building as a philanthropic best practice by Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, social impact funders have yet to collectively make a substantial financial commitment to building organizational capacity. In an article published by Stanford Social Innovation […]

An Approach to Ending Poverty That Works

“Ending extreme poverty by 2030 is the BHAG – the big, hairy audacious goal – of our generation. While skepticism abounds, momentum is on our side, with poverty rates falling in every region of world.

Unfortunately, these trends still have little to no impact on the lives of a critical and chronically marginalized subset of the extreme poor around the world, those living […]

What Defines A Social Innovator Anyway?

Social innovation is undersold when it’s introduced as marketing and used interchangeably with corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR can be good philanthropy, but don’t look to a CSR department for transformational systems change — the likes of which we need to truly tackle our world’s wicked problems. Social innovation means permanent and irrevocable disruption. It is not marketing; it is […]