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.
Like many of us, I spend a large chunk of my day staring at my smartphone messaging with family and friends, emailing, using social media or just goofing off playing games. Turns out according to one study of the estimated more than 200 million new smartphone users in 2012 each spends roughly 10% of their time on the phone playing games. I had often wondered in the past if there was a way to take advantage of this large and growing mobile gaming market for social good. Well it turns out one company; Decode Global is doing just that. The company recently featured in Forbes is an incubator of mobile applications for social change. Its latest game called Get Water! is starting to capture buzz not only because it won the United Nations UNAOC Challenge and brings the important issue of water, gender and education to our daily lives but also because the game is fun.
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.
A post surfaced across my Facebook feed today highlighting the 2012 results of an organization started by another classmate and friend of mine. It is a very interesting organization doing cutting edge work in behavioral finance and microfinance and well worth examining here. In fact Entrepreneurial Finance Lab (EFL) which has built a psychometric testing methodology to measure the credit worthiness of the unbanked has been so innovative last year it won the G-20 SME Finance Challenge, has also been featured in global media giants like the Financial Times and partnered with the likes of the IFC and Aspen Network of Entrepreneurs.
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.