Archive for the 'Social Enterprise' Category

Say Hello to Mkama

Feb 24 2008 Published by under Social Enterprise

A new addition to my Kiva portfolio, Mkama is a 43 year old Tanzanian entrepreneur. He started his clothing business 8 years ago. Mkama works 12 hours a day, has taken one Kiva loan already and is now looking to scale his business.

He’s also the first entrepreneur in a developing country that will benefit from my new incentive program.

Regular readers know of my love for Kiva and how they’re reshaping the world of philanthropy and helping to change the world by creating an “online lending platform” that connects lenders to entrepreneurs in developing countries. The service aggregates small amounts of money from individuals in the developed world and distributes micro-loans to individuals in developing nations, allowing them to find a path out of poverty. A remarkable thing.

Mkama, I’m glad to help you out. Looking forward to following your progress over the months.

kiva - 2 24 08

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Kiva: An Update

Sep 28 2007 Published by under General,Social Enterprise

Just over a year ago I made my first investment into Kiva. In the initial post I said I made the first small investment to familiarize myself with the process before getting further involved. Well, I felt comfortable enough shortly after to give again and have loved all of my interactions with the group.

There’s something special going on with Kiva, and not only because they’ve given $11M in loans in two years. No, it’s something more special than that. Something bigger. They’re reshaping philanthropy and will have a profound impact on the shape of the world in the years to come.

The first loan that I contributed to was repaid in full about two months ago. I have to say that I found the entire experience enjoyable. Even though there were few updates on the entrepreneurs progress, there was a great feeling that developed over the period of the loan.

Maybe it’s strange, but I loved that even the few emails strengthened the social proprioception with the entrepreneur in the developing country. I agree with David that more blog posts during the loan, and a final post communicating how the loan helped would be eagerly received.

I encourage you to get involved with Kiva if you haven’t already.

Also, recently I received two wonderful gifts from my good friend Ken and Matt who authors the excellent Sharkride. The gifts were Kiva gift certificates and I can’t think of a better gift than that. Thanks guys, your kindness means a lot and will bring benefit to me and others for a very long time.

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Gates’ Excellent Commencement

Jun 08 2007 Published by under Social Enterprise

Bill Gates gave an excellent commencement speech at Harvard, touching on themes of why I’m optimistic. It’s inspiring and worth the read.

“The barrier to change is not too little caring; it is too much complexity. To turn caring into action, we need to see a problem, see a solution, and see the impact. But complexity blocks all three steps.”

“In line with the promise of this age, I want to exhort each of the graduates here to take on an issue – a complex problem, a deep inequity, and become a specialist on it. If you make it the focus of your career, that would be phenomenal. But you don’t have to do that to make an impact. For a few hours every week, you can use the growing power of the Internet to get informed, find others with the same interests, see the barriers, and find ways to cut through them.

Don’t let complexity stop you. Be activists. Take on the big inequities.”

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Social Enterprise in Vancouver

Apr 08 2007 Published by under Social Enterprise

While we were in Vancouver we were fortunate enough to meet with a number of people heavily involved in BC’s social enterprise community.

I continue to be fascinated with the funding continuum that is emerging in the province to support social enterprise. Mark and I were fortunate enough to spend time with David LePage from Enterprising Non-Profits, Kathleen Speakman from BCT Social Venture Partners, and Michael Strutt a founder of Urban Binning Unit, a local social enterprise that has received funding from BCT|SVT.

The most positive part of the meetings was when it was reinforced that Ontario has many of the pieces already in place, it’s simply about connecting the dots and filling in a few that may be missing.

Thank you David, Kathleen, and Michael for taking some time to meet with us.

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The Star on Social Enterprises

Mar 24 2007 Published by under Social Enterprise

Ken sent me this great article from The Toronto Star titled, Beyond Profits.

The article provides a great introduction to social enterprise and it’s inspiring to see how advanced the social enterprise system is in Quebec. It’s also nice to see the movement getting attention in Ontario.

Some good quotes:

“”Our goal is not to make billions of dollars,” says Jerry Thistle, kitchen manager at the Raging Spoon. Instead, profits are used to build the business so more people can be helped in more ways, not to simply generate more profits.”

“These enterprises are self-run, self-financing and just as entrepreneurial as any small business, but with a guiding philosophy closer to a social service agency.”

“Most people continue to have trouble pinning down what exactly the social economy is, this much is certain: the projects are run like businesses, but the profit motive comes second to helping such groups as the mentally ill, the homeless or struggling immigrants.” [I'd say the profit motive comes second to addressing social issues]

“Social economy enterprises… can be as single-minded about growing their businesses as the most ardent capitalist, but they measure success differently. It’s not about the bottom line, but about making society a little better any way they can.”

Finally, two great things to take away from the article:

1) “We are building a movement,” Absolutely the movement is growing, and for good reason. Retune’s focus is to build the movement in Hamilton and the surrounding Golden Horseshoe region.

2) “Neamtem’s group now administers a $53 million fund, made up of contributions from corporations, pension funds and the federal and provincial governments, that provides seed money for social economy enterprises”.” This is a huge thing to understand – the ecosystem that supports for-profit start-ups can be mirrored to support early-stage social enterprises. More on this later.

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