Center for Science, Technology, and Society, News page
Monday, Jun. 16, 2014
On May 18, Santa Clara University hosted our inaugural Magis event, celebrating the social entrepreneurship movement and its leaders. It was a warm Sunday evening that brought more than 300 special guests to campus, uniting modern Silicon Valley entrepreneurship and the centuries-old Jesuit drive to serve humanity.
St. Ignatius of Loyola used the Latin word magis to encourage us to live and give more generously, asking the question, What more can I do for others? At the Center for Science, Technology, and Society, our goal is to help social entrepreneurs provide essential goods and services to more people living in poverty around the planet. At Magis, we asked the broader Santa Clara University community, What more can we do? What more can Santa Clara do to eradicate poverty?
According to the World Bank, 4 billion people live in poverty, including more than 46 million here in the U.S. The UN projects the global population will grow to 10 billion by 2050. It appears unlikely that planet Earth can sustain further population growth and the consequent environmental pressures that fuel climate change. The convergence of population growth and global warming make the poor even more vulnerable. We are at an inflection point. More clearly needs to be done for others – and for the planet.
Charity is not enough. While essential following natural or human-made disasters, charity doesn’t stimulate economic growth, empower local communities, create lasting change, or scale. In fact, meaningful scale has eluded most poverty alleviation efforts. Development paradigms applied to reconstruct Europe after WWII have proven largely unsuccessful in Africa, India, and Asia where most of the global poor reside. The “fortune at the bottom of the pyramid” philosophy has yielded few sustainable solutions to the most pressing problems of poverty.
A social entrepreneur is a pioneer of innovation, someone who recognizes a problem and uses business principles to create and run a venture to yield positive social change. Social entrepreneurship has emerged as a scalable alternative with greater potential to effect sustainable change in poor communities while preserving the environment.
One of the sector pioneers along with Skoll Foundation and Acumen Fund, the Center now serves as an open-source learning laboratory for scaling social impact.
Our leadership team, Advisory Board, and GSBI Mentor corps include many start-up executives and venture capitalists: the DNA of Silicon Valley. What unites us is the Center’s mission: to accelerate global, innovation-based entrepreneurship in service to humanity. The convergence of Silicon Valley entrepreneurial acumen and Jesuit tradition both distinguishes Santa Clara and offers us a unique opportunity to do more to eradicate poverty and slow global warming.
Three pillars form the Center’s integrated social justice platform. Our GSBI® (Global Social Benefit Institute) programs help social entrepreneurs apply Silicon Valley entrepreneurial thinking to their ventures that serve the poor. In the first 12 years of GSBI, we’ve worked intensively with more than 200 social enterprises, which have collectively impacted the lives of nearly 100 million people in 55 countries around the planet. Second, our Impact Capital program facilitates financial investments to help social enterprises scale. Third, our Education and Action Research program educates future leaders who can apply the principles of social entrepreneurship in whatever vocations they pursue.
In the spirit of this unique convergence, Magis honored social entrepreneur and impact investor Graham Macmillan and renown leader of the social entrepreneurship movement, Skoll Foundation President & CEO Sally Osberg. Both remarked that the values of Santa Clara University infused Magis; indeed, the Secretary of Higher Education for the Society of Jesus, Fr. Michael Garanzini, welcomed guests that evening.
Leaders from social enterprise incubators and accelerators at Jesuit universities and other mission-aligned organizations around the world joined Fr. Garanzini at Magis as we convened the fifth GSBI Network meeting. The GSBI Network can multiply Santa Clara’s marriage of Silicon Valley DNA with Jesuit ethics in several ways. First, GSBI Network partners share best practices in social enterprise incubation and acceleration, making real our vision to help more social entrepreneurs. Second, by engaging students and faculty in practical action research with social enterprises, we can collectively help those ventures scale to serve more of the global poor. Third, these experiential learning opportunities help our students become future leaders who can create a more just, humane, and sustainable world.
We are at an inflection point. The convergence of population growth and global warming make the poor more vulnerable. At the same time, young people around the world are demanding career options that offer more than money: they want a better world. Santa Clara is humbly at the heart of this transformative time. We are striving to do more, and we invite you to join us.
Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2014
BaNaPads demonstrates an inclusive economy
The transformation of a social problem into an opportunity for mutual benefit is the kernel of social entrepreneurship. One need not look further than BaNaPads (GSBI 2012) to illustrate how social entrepreneurs recognize a social need and create a business with a mission to serve their fellow human beings. As he was finishing up his studies at university, Richard Bbaale learned about the significant social and economic problems caused by the lack of access to women’s sanitary products in Uganda. Many teenage girls miss school days during the menstruation cycle, and this becomes a leading cause of girls failing to complete their studies. The inability to complete school has lifelong consequences, keeping women at an economic and social disadvantage. Most Ugandans are quite poor, and no multinational corporation perceived any opportunity to market these products to them.
Where others saw problems, Bbaale perceived economic opportunities. He identified an agricultural waste product, the banana stem (technically, a pseudostem) as a free resource. Uganda grows a lot of bananas, and after the fruit are harvested, the banana stalk is chopped down to decompose in the field. Bbaale identified a process for transforming this into different kinds of fibers that are assembled and sterilized into sanitary napkins.
BaNaPads’ marketing and distribution system is just as innovative and important. Bbaale has recruited BaNaPads Champions: village women – mothers and grandmothers – who sell the sanitary products and foster community education among girls. These micro-entrepreneurs are deeply rooted in village communities, and have the trust of locals. They sell products on consignment, often using local schools as their venue.
Thus, BaNaPads has been able to keep its costs very low and yet is able to reach and benefit customers very far from the beaten path. At the same time, they provide a modest income for African women villagers.
When I saw Bbaale give his business plan presentation at GSBI two years ago, I thought: this is very nice, feel-good project, but unlikely to do very much. Later that year, I had the privilege of visiting the BaNaPads facility in Uganda, and came away impressed with the passion, determination, and entrepreneurial approach of Bbaale and his team. He has a bold vision: to scale up significantly and expand to other East African countries. Recent reports indicate he is gaining traction! They have opened a facility in Tanzania and begun operations there, with plans for more.
In December 2013, Thane Kreiner and Pamela Roussos brought an executive social benefit immersion delegation to visit Bbaale. That night, Thane emailed me and insisted we send Global Social Benefit Fellows to support BaNaPads in their expansion. The enterprise received a grant from the Swedish International Development Agency to scale up their production and expand their networks of BaNaPads Champions. A European investor has expressed interest in funding further expansion.
This summer, three Global Social Benefit Fellows will spend 7 weeks in Uganda with Bbaale, conducting action research to document how BaNaPads is expanding. BanaPads is replacing their hand machines with an integrated set of biogas-powered production system, and this needs to be analyzed and optimized. The enterprise is scaling up its recruitment and training of village-based micro-entrepreneurs and needs to formalize those processes in a manual. They have demonstrated that demand far outstrips their current capacity, but they are seeking a mobile app that can effectively track their distribution activities. Our fellows will conduct a needs assessment and partner with the Frugal Innovation Lab to recruit engineering students to develop this.
Women have made good progress toward equal opportunities in the US and Europe over the past fifty years, but many obstacles clutter the path of African women toward equality. Many media reports reinforce Afro-pessimism, the belief that Africa’s problems are unsolvable. Yet Bbaale and BanaPads show us that with entrepreneurial thinking, women can indeed find their place in an inclusive economy.
Wednesday, Apr. 2, 2014
The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in collaboration with Catholic Relief Services and the Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame is hosting a two-day, invitation-only symposium. The Center's Director of Impact Capital, John Kohler, was one of the select few invited to discuss the topic of "Investing for the Poor: How Impact Investing Can Serve the Common Good in the Light of Evangelii Gaudium."
The conference is an opportunity to learn core concepts of impact investing and how it aligns with the Catholic Church's mission. The goal is to discern how the Church might use or promote impact investing to serve the poor. Several global leaders in the impact investing field from business, government, academia, and philanthropy will be in attendance. The conference may even have an audience with Pope Francis himself.
Tuesday, Apr. 1, 2014
We are happy to announce the launching of the new Energy in India Spotlight on the Energy Map.
India is home to nearly a sixth of the global population and has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Yet there are still over 400 million people living without access to clean, safe, and affordable energy. As a result some of the most exciting and innovative social enterprises working in the energy sector are based in India.
This Spotlight details the realities of the energy environment in India and sheds light on the many issues that social entrepreneurs must deal with when working in this complex and fascinating country. Here is a sneak peek at what is featured in this spotlight:
Energy Access: Learn about who has energy in India and where they live. What are the major sources of energy? What are the many issues preventing the grid from reaching the 400 million people without energy? What promise do renewable energy sources hold?
Government and Policy: Learn about the major energy agencies and government programs that deal with energy. Who is responsible for providing energy? What legislation has been passed to help the 400 million people without energy? What are the problems with the government's approach to energy?
Energy Providers: Find out who the major players are in the Indian energy sector including the government, large independent power producers, and distributed energy enterprises. Where are social enterprises working? What are they doing? Who are their competitors and where does opportunity exist?
Investment and Trade: Discover information about the financial environment in India that new social enterprises must understand. Learn about trade and tariffs, non-tariff barriers, subsidies, financing organizations and other topics that shed light on what an investment in Indian energy would entail.
Barriers to Entry and Scale: Learn about the many different issues that social enterprises in India face including geography, distribution, financing, affordability, and knowledge dissemination and discover how some enterprises are overcoming these barriers.
This exciting new spotlight can be found on the Energy Map here
Tuesday, Apr. 1, 2014
The three Centers of Distinction at Santa Clara embody our mission to create a more just, humane, and sustainable world. At the Center for Science, Technology, and Society, we focus on practical, action-oriented ways to eradicate global poverty. Since 2003, our GSBI® (Global Social Benefit Institute) has helped more than 200 social enterprises fashion and implement business plans that have collectively benefited the lives of nearly 100 million of the global poor. But, there are 4 billion people living in poverty, including 43 million in the United States, so in the Jesuit spirit of “magis” we have to do much more to have a meaningful impact.
The global poor lack basic services such as energy for light and cooking, sanitation, safe drinking water, nutrition, education, and job training. Social entrepreneurs seek to close these market gaps through innovative technology solutions and business models adapted to the local context – culture, politics, geography, and so forth. In our GSBI programs, we match the social entrepreneurs with experienced Silicon Valley executive mentors, many of whom are Santa Clara alumni. The mentors help the social entrepreneurs ask the right questions to build financially sustainable ventures that can scale to help more of the global poor.
The right technology innovation and business model alone are not enough to drive impact, however; just as in Silicon Valley start-ups, it takes financial capital to scale a business. Investing for social and environmental impact is gaining momentum as a younger generation seeks to deploy capital in ways that fashion a more just and sustainable world. The Center’s impact capital program is piloting new investment vehicles that are more appropriate than equity for social enterprises, including our “demand dividend”, a structured exit that creates higher leverage opportunities for philanthropic and impact capital while enabling the entrepreneurs to retain ownership of their social ventures.
The Center leverages the obvious synergies between helping social entrepreneurs build sustainable businesses that are investment-ready and helping impact investors deploy capital in ways that satisfy the twin demands of financial and social returns to mutual benefit; what further distinguishes our work, though, are the social justice learning experiences created for Santa Clara students through these programs. Our Global Social Benefit Fellowship, for example, places interdisciplinary teams of students in field locations with GSBI to conduct action research projects that benefit the social enterprise. This summer, we’ll have students in Uganda, India, the Philippines, Mexico, and Indonesia.
How can we help more social entrepreneurs help more people living in poverty, and expose more students to practical social justice learning experiences? The answer lies in our origins. As a Jesuit university, we have launched a GSBI Network to share best practices in incubating social enterprises – and fashioning future leaders - among our 150 brethren institutions of higher learning around the planet. The GSBI Network will hold its fifth meeting May 19-21 on the Santa Clara campus, preceded on Sunday, May 18 by our inaugural Magis event. We feel this is a sure start to answering Pope Francis’ call for service to the poor.
Tuesday, Apr. 1, 2014
This period of study has both furthered an area of academic interest for me, and challenged me to thoughtfully consider how I will integrate what I have learned into my vocational path. Coming into this class, I was interested in alternative development models, but also skeptical of how beneficial business (what I now would more appropriately call social entrepreneurship) could be in advancing development. It has also been a period of careful consideration in my next steps after graduating this year. I am confident that this period of study has helped inform this decision, and will continue to inform my vocation as I bring together my intellectual interests, my career choices, and my motivations.
Most concretely, this time has given me a true appreciation for the role of social entrepreneurs in the development process. Having come from a period of NGO work, I was interested in alternative methods of development and economic engagement. At the same time, the only private or NGO operations I had witnessed had been quite negative – profit was put over the people they supposedly served. I was skeptical as to the change that one individual could make, no matter how motivated, talented, or financially endowed.
Reading the various accounts put forth in the Power of Unreasonable People was important in my understanding and initial inquiry into models of social entrepreneurship; it was the first time I began to understand how the private sector could manipulate its business models to serve a social purpose with such clarity. It was on the platform put forth by this book that I was able to appreciate the individual research and case studies that I carried out. Having the opportunity to research cases – especially the personal motivations driving Kiva and the organizational aspects of Juhudi Kilimo – afforded me the opportunity to put all of the pieces together and recognize how these organizations do put the people at the center of their model. I began to appreciate their ability to bring about real change that addresses many of the issues I had encountered with the international aid and development paradigm.
In retrospect, these cases were the very forms of alternative development that I had been trying to grasp; prior to this class, I wouldn’t have expected to find them in various forms of social entrepreneurship. Perhaps even more surprising to me has been the ability of many organizations, such as Kiva, to harness the innovation environment of Silicon Valley to great effect in promoting development in developing countries so far from where the organizations were founded. They successfully bridged this gap between a place of vast creativity and resources and areas most in need of these services. For me personally, these case studies have had a larger impact than I anticipated – they will certainly follow me outside of the classroom upon graduation. In thinking about development, I was approaching it solely in terms of government capacity and high-level organizations. There has been a fundamental shift in how I approach this overwhelming idea of ‘development,’ in large part due to engaging with these cases. I do plan to spend my life working in the field of aid and development – at the level of institutions and government. I plan to work at this level because of the resources this sector encompasses, and how much good could come from these resources if properly aligned with the real needs of those they aim to serve.
I greatly appreciate the changes that took place for me during this period of study. This class – the ideas presented in it, the motivations, and the need to thoughtfully consider my path in light of my learning – disrupted many ideas I was settled on. It has undoubtedly informed it in ways that will make it more rewarding for me personally, and most importantly, more beneficial for those I intend to serve.
Wednesday, Mar. 26, 2014
Thirteen Global Social Entrepreneurs connect to Silicon Valley through Santa Clara University’s GSBI® Online Program
6-month, online program advances social enterprises and opens the door for social entrepreneurs anywhere in the world
SANTA CLARA, Calif., Mar. 24, 2014—Santa Clara University is leveling the playing field for social entrepreneurs from Haiti to the Democratic Republic of Congo and beyond by providing online business mentoring to early-stage social entrepreneurs.
These social entrepreneurs surmount deeply entrenched, complex challenges—human trafficking, lack of potable water, low grade health care--- with fresh, creative, context specific solutions.
“We are ever impressed by the breadth of applicants and their innovative solutions to local challenges,” said Andy Lieberman, Director of New Programs and GSBI’s Online Program Director. “Entrepreneurs---men and women---from all around the world are now being virtually transported to the Silicon Valley to take its best practices and incorporate them into their businesses.”
Five of these entrepreneurs are tackling the health and environmental issues caused by cooking on open fires or rudimentary cookstoves. “Building the capacity of clean cooking enterprises is an integral part of the Alliance’s strategy to catalyze and scale markets worldwide,” said Radha Muthiah, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. “In partnership with GSBI, the Alliance is working to unlock the potential of local enterprises and develop a strong pipeline of investment opportunities across the clean cooking solutions value chain.”
The Global Social Benefit Institute, the flagship program of Santa Clara University’s Center for Science, Technology, and Society, aims to foster such sustainable solutions into sustainable organizations with a social mission, whether nonprofit, for-profit, or hybrid.The GSBI currently offers two capacity development programs to global social entrepreneurs, regardless of sector and at no cost to the entrepreneur: the GSBI Accelerator, for more advanced social enterprises seeking to scale their business, and GSBI Online, for earlier stage ventures seeking basic business training. Both programs are designed for high engagement between entrepreneurs and program staff and mentors.
GSBI Online was piloted in partnership with World Bank, to employ online learning technology to distill and disseminate lessons via webinars and online modules. The program is achieving high reviews from the participating social enterprises and an 84% completion rate, far above the average of 6.8% for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).
This 6-month program pairs one leader from each social enterprise with one experienced, start-up savvy Silicon Valley executive as hands-on adviser. The result is a robust business model, more confident team members, and a plan for reaching the next level of scale.
Sponsors of the GSBI Online program include: eBay Inc. Foundation, Applied Materials, Skoll Foundation, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, and the GSBI Endowment Fund supported by Jeff and Karen Miller and Howard and Alida Charney.
The follow is a list of 2014 GSBI Online organizations:
We Farm, Global, runs a platform in which members can ask questions and share farming tips and advice by sending a simple, local SMS message. WeFarm uses the Internet, and a unique peer translation system to share farming knowledge by SMS with other WeFarm members around the world over the Internet.
Estufa Doña Dora, Guatemala, manufactures, distributes and installs safe, clean, and efficient wood-fired cooking stoves that utilize a rocket type high-efficiency combustion chamber. This cookstove helps Guatemalan families save money, time, and trees, while improving health and safety in the home.
IRDA, Kenya, produces and markets clean, zero carbon monoxide and smoke emissions cookstoves that are fueled by a biofuel produced from the stalk/stover of hybrid sorghum that is farmed by local communities for food, fodder, and fuel feedstock. Adapting the clean cooking solution prevents household air pollution, related illnesses and fatalities, creates jobs, increases food security, mitigates climate change and environmental degradation."
Limyè Pa w ("You Light" in Haitian Creole), Haiti, converts agricultural waste into carbon neutral electricity using innovative gasification technology. They then sell this in off-grid rural farming communities through their own distribution system.
Wana, Uganda, distributes liquefied petroleum gas as a clean, reliable and thermally efficient energy to rural, peri-urban and urban customers. Wana also distributes accessories for the use of the liquefied petroleum gas including clean cookstoves.
Emerging Cooking Solutions, Zambia, manufactures and sells cooking pellets made from rice, wheat husks, straw, peanut-shells, saw-dust or maize stoves to replace wood in cooking stoves. The product provides solutions for home cooking stoves and large scale industrial cooking facilities. Use of the product decreases Co2 emissions, prevent deforestation, decrease health risks and save people money on cooking fuel.
Takamoto Biogas, Kenya, designs and manufactures biogas systems that takes farm animal waste product to produce a biogas, which acts as crop fertilizer and electricity for the home. The electricity is purchased in a pay-as-you go fashion and credit can be added using SMS.
Wisdom Stoves, Kenya, provides the people of Kenya with improved indoor air quality, financial stability, and an improved quality of life through the manufacturing and distribution of wood gasification cook stoves.
Learnifi, India, is a social e-commerce platform that sells chapters of textbooks to Indian university students. The platform also doubles as a learning social network for students to discuss questions and get tutoring.
South Vihar Welfare Society for Tribal, India, runs programs that provide entrepreneurship and cooperative opportunities for victims of labor trafficking. They also provide preventative programs to prevent the labor trafficking of young girls from a high trafficking regions of the country.
Jacaranda Health, Kenya, is a network of private maternity clinics in underserved communities. They are innovating in areas such as mobile technology and electronic medical record keeping in order to provide patient-centered care that combines quality and affordability.
Jibu, Uganda, Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of Congo, functions as both a franchisor and bank to help entrepreneurs launch successful safe water businesses. They provide seed-financing for franchises to create a widespread network of profitable drinking water businesses to serve the thirsty urban poor.
Water for Good, Central African Republic, is an organization which drills, maintains, and services hand pumps in the increasingly violent region of the Central African Republic. Currently in CAR, it is estimated that 60% of hand pumps are not functional. Water for Good seeks to remedy this problem by setting up a program that in which communities cover their own hand pump maintenance. Additionally, Water for Good is collecting water pump maintenance data through a tablet based program to increase the quality and efficiency of their services.
Deborah Lohse, SCU Media Relations, email@example.com, 408-554-5121
Jaime Gusching, CSTS Marketing Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org, 408-551-6048
Monday, Mar. 24, 2014
Please join me in welcoming our third cohort of student fellows!
Our GSBI social enterprise partners are a tremendous educational resource for Santa Clara University.
The Global Social Benefit Fellowship places student teams with GSBI enterprises to conduct action research. They will conduct research in Mexico, Uganda, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, investigating the social impact and operational improvements with our enterprise partners.
These 15 undergraduates are from 8 majors, with multiple fellows from political science, economics, sociology, and public health sciences. Among these are 3 honors students and 4 first generation college students.
We give them a crash course in social entrepreneurship this spring, and then send them to the field for 7 weeks between June and August. They will participate in GSBI-Accelerator during the in-residence program this August, and then write up their research.
We don’t expect these fellows to become social entrepreneurs, but we are convinced that they will learn how to apply entrepreneurial solutions to society’s greatest challenges. Ultimately, they will learn from our partners about transformative leadership and a personal vision for positive social change.
Social entrepreneurship may be a new field, but we believe it has the potential to inspire a new generation of leaders, which is what Jesuit education has been about for 500 years. Look for these students to -- in the words of St. Ignatius -- light the world on fire!
Keith Douglass Warner OFM
Director of Education and Action Research
Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014
Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014
Over the past few months, the Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI) has been developing a new tool to continue to provide value to our extraordinary network of GSBI alumni. Built with constant input from our community, we used feedback from alumni in separate Alpha and Beta stages to enhance its utility. It was even named by a response to our open call for names in the previous newsletter. So, without further ado, please welcome GSBI Connect.
An online social community, GSBI Connect enables members of the GSBI community to discuss best practices, discover competitions and grants, access GSBI’s vast set of resources, and offer support to other alumni.
Thinking of creating a mobile app for your enterprise? GSBI Connect features a five-part toolkit, Mobile for Humanity, to guide social enterprises through the innovation, testing, and implementation of a mobile solution. Have a question about finances? Ask your question to GSBI’s own Impact Capital team. Need legal help with an issue? Check out GSBI Connect’s list of legal services.
GSBI Connect becomes an even more powerful resource with an engaged and thoughtful community behind it. So, please - jump online, join the discussion and connect with your fellow change makers.