In memory of those who lost their lives in the terrible and unnecessary violent attacks at the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi, today I thought it would be appropriate to share some good news from Kenya about a business working to transform the sanitation business model in Nairobi slums. Sanergy a company founded by a group of MIT MBA alums has created a sustainable business model to turn “poop into profit” literally turning human waste into biogas and fertilizer and selling it for a profit. The company has earned its share of accolades and press coverage including being profiled in the FT special edition on urban ingenuity and in the most reputable science magazine in the US; the Scientific American. Read on to learn more. Continue reading
I normally like to listen to podcasts (yes I still listen to podcasts) when I go for my long runs on the weekend. One of my favorite podcasts is the Stanford University entrepreneurial thought leaders podcast. It is an audio recording of live lectures given to some of the brightest young and aspiring entrepreneurs in Stanford’s undergraduate engineering program. In addition to having top names come and give lectures it also often features some very thought-provoking material from the social impact space. So I figured it might be interesting to share the story of one of the NGOs it recently featured. The Last Mile is an entrepreneurship accelerator for prisoners in San Quentin state penitentiary in California. It is a program designed to help ex-offenders become technology entrepreneurs. Sounds interesting, right? Well it has also gotten a lot of positive attention having been written up in the likes of Forbes Magazine, Tech Crunch and the Atlantic Monthly. It also has been successful enough that they now plan to expand the program to 5 other prisons. With a final goal of partnering with the government and technology luminaries to launch a nationwide program to alleviate the financial mess in prisons once and for all. Read on to find out more.
Have you ever wondered who does those annoyingly repetitive tasks of data validation, number checking and content moderation? I may have found the answer. This week I’d like to profile a technology company which has come up with an innovative “win-win” solution to connect some of the world’s biggest and most sophisticated tech companies with the jobless poor in developing countries. The company Samasource which means “equal” in Sanskrit does this through a concept called microwork or the division of big tasks into smaller ones which can be performed by unskilled labor online. It is a brilliant idea that proves people from villages and urban slums can be reliable parts of the global knowledge economy supply chain. It is so good that it has as the Financial Times described really taken off and thrust the company and its creator into the limelight being labeled Wired magazine as one of the 50 people who can change the world and by the Wall Street Journal as one of businesses rising stars.
On a recent visit to New York City I had a chance encounter with a very interesting co-founder who has helped create a business he prefers not to call socially oriented but definitely has the potential to be a game changer in the education and employment generation space. General Assembly is a new education and networking medium for young people looking to get a practical education or knowledge boost for today’s job market needs in the areas of technology, business and design. Started in New York City, it is now operating in eight cities around the globe including the recently opened campus in London – which was strongly endorsed by Prime Minister David Cameron.
I have recently been on a reading kick after adding myself and exploring friends book preferences on Goodreads. So I thought it would be appropriate to profile an interesting American social business venture called Better World Books that focuses on selling recycled books in a responsible way and making enough money to be able to contribute to environmental and social causes. This triple bottom line company is a well-known story having been named by Fast Company as one of the 45 social enterprises that was changing the world and been the subject of a recent Harvard Business School Case Study. So read on to learn more.
This is a business many of you might already know about, but if you don’t it is well worth checking out in whichever city you live in. The best way to describe the The HUB is perhaps as a global movement in social entrepreneurship. I first encountered The HUB through its Singapore HUB – a wonderful center of collaboration and entrepreneurial innovation. But I am not the only one who is impressed. The HUB has also received recognition from Forbes Magazine and The Guardian and has grown to have more than 5,000 members worldwide.
Ever feel like you learn more from your friends at school than from the teachers? The for profit business venture OpenStudy funded by the United States National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Georgia Research Alliance has come up with an interesting business model building on just that idea. Showing us that Education Entrepreneurs can do well and do good at the same time.