Center for Science, Technology, and Society, News page

  •  The GSBI® Network Explained

    Wednesday, Jun. 18, 2014



    What is the GSBI Network and how many organizations are in it? 

    The GSBI Network is the lynchpin in our plan to multiply the positive impact that we’ve already seen our GSBI programs can have. At Santa Clara University, the Jesuit mission and ethos, combined with Silicon Valley ambition and entrepreneurial know-how, have produced a very powerful formula; we want to make that “open source” and enable others to capitalize on and expand what we have done.
    There are 11 members of the GSBI® Network with several other new members currently in the process of formally joining the Network. Most are Jesuit universities, but other members include non-Jesuit, but mission-aligned universities and non-governmental organizations. We’ve got some practices that are working exceptionally well, which we want to spread. Yet, there are important things for us to learn from the other Jesuit members. They are based in the developing nations we aim to serve and have a  better context to make change happen on the ground. 
    Can you give me the top accomplishments of the Network over the last 3 years of its existence? 
    The GSBI Network was founded in late 2011. In the three years of its existence, more than six new social enterprise incubator and accelerator programs have launched at member institutions. Students are also learning about social entrepreneurship through courses and experiential learning opportunities that let them engage with social enterprises in their communities or across the globe. Network members are also sharing best practices directly with each other in true South-South collaboration. Members of the GSBI Network have individually established themselves as thought leaders in social entrepreneurship through publications like the Journal of Global Management for Sustainability’s special issue on social enterprise. Network programs have already supported the efforts of dozens of enterprises.  
    In what specific ways would you like to see the Network evolve over the next five years?
    We want to grow dramatically in the number and breadth of members – engaging university and non-university members. We also want to see the collaborations and partnerships among members multiply. Finally, maybe most importantly, by seeing how certain practices work across multiple sites over time, we can pin down the best practices for building an ecosystem that enables social enterprises to flourish. 
    Given the recent global meeting of the Network on May 19-21, what are the action items/collaborations that come out of it?  How did this meeting differ from past Network meetings? 
    Some of the positive outcomes from the recent May meeting include an agreement for Santa Clara University to deliver a “train the trainers” program at Ateneo de Manila in the Philippines share our methodology with 8 Asian Jesuit universities. For the first time ever, we engaged domestic (US-based) Jesuit institutions with the GSBI Network and expect that some of them will go on to launch social enterprise programs.  
    Another outcome we’re especially excited about is a commitment among other GSBI Network members to pursue an innovative “Replication” idea, where we would orchestrate something akin to franchising successful social enterprise business models from their original communities to new sites using the GSBI Network members as Replication Hubs.  Many successful social entrepreneurs don’t seek to grow their business too far beyond a home community that is the focal point for their passion.  A Replication network would enable us to take already-proven business models, match those with carefully selected entrepreneurs, and give them training, support and mentorship at a GSBI Network member; this would dramatically improve their chances for success and investment-readiness.
    I read that the focus of the meeting was on having students spend their service learning time helping social enterprises solve practical challenges. Is this correct? Will this be a push to involve students more directly in the work of the Network? 
    As institutions of higher education, GSBI Network members have a special interest in global education and experiential learning for their students.  SCU shared our innovative Global Social Benefit Fellowships program, which raises the bar on traditional models of service learning; beyond giving students a chance to visit and volunteer in the developing world, our GSB Fellowships engage students in direct work with a social entrepreneur to provide a valuable business service or deliverable that helps the enterprise.  Other Network members are also innovating in this space, like Ateneo de Manila’s SE Consultancy course, in which student teams work as consulting teams for local social enterprises.
    Across the world, cash-strapped social enterprises frequently lament that getting and keeping competent personnel in uneducated communities is one of their greatest ongoing challenges.  Students and faculty offer a tremendous reservoir of volunteer talent, to help enterprises complete important projects at low or no cost.  The benefit is mutual:  for Universities with a mission to serve humanity, social enterprises offer a compelling opportunity for global education and learning through service.
    Students are eager for these opportunities, and the Network members see this as an excellent way to connect our centuries-old mission of education and service to humanity, with cutting-edge programs to foster social entrepreneurship.   
    How can I help or get involved?  
    One of our most pressing needs is to grow our pool of GSBI mentors.  Mentors are seasoned business professionals who work directly with social entrepreneurs to develop their business.  We are taking more social entrepreneurs under our wing, and more mentors are needed to support them.  We are especially seeking people with direct experience as entrepreneurs and investors. However, we are also in need of professionals at various levels who bring experience in areas such as finance, marketing, business strategy, and human resources.  Many of our social entrepreneurs have a great idea and a passion to help their community, but have limited knowledge of the mainstream business principles that Silicon Valley business professionals encounter daily.  
    The Center also relies on charitable contributions of every level to operate.  While the University covers our overhead, the Center’s programs are completely sustained by grants and donations.  We are counting on community support to enable the Network to reach its full potential. 
  •  Jack Bird Awarded Nobili Medal

    Wednesday, Jun. 18, 2014

    Established in 1876 by Joseph A. Donohoe in honor of John Nobili, S.J., founder of Santa Clara University, the Nobili Medal is given to the male graduate for his constructive contribution to the University as deemed by the faculty and the provost. Jack Bird won the historic award for outstanding academic performance, personal character, and student activities.

    The most defining of those activities was the Global Social Benefit Fellowship.

    “The Fellowship has truly been the most inspirational and stimulating experience I have had at Santa Clara University” remarked Jack.

     “My time in rural Zambia allowed me to synthesize what I had learned in the classroom with real world issues and gave me a chance to actualize my passions in service to humanity. The Fellowship has shaped my vocational perspective in ways that I never imagined were possible.

    Jack worked alongside fellow Santa Clara students Lynsey Cumberford and Laura Ruggles at the Jesuit Chikuni mission, four hours south of Lusaka, Zambia. The Fellows conducted action research projects to evaluate and further develop Chikuni mission’s agroforestry and energy education program.

    The three also worked with GSBI® trained social enterprise Lifeline Energy, which enhances the education of rural Zambians through the Lifeplayer, an interactive radio.


  •  Investing for the Poor Conference Concludes

    Wednesday, Jun. 18, 2014

     JUNE 17, 2014 - ROME: Catholic Relief Services and the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame, together with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (PCJP), closed its two-day symposium regarding Impact Investing today.

    Some of the highlights included

    ·       Dr. Carolyn Woo, President and CEO, Catholic Relief Services, began the day by providing an overview of day one highlights. She discussed the importance of measurement, details and the new framework we must work in to properly design and execute a successful Impact Investment program.  Woo also described the important role as a moral authority the Church needs to play moving forward.

    ·       Sr. Helen J. Alford, O.P., Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at The Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum), helped to shed light on Impact Investing in the Light of Evangelii Gaudium.  She explained that “the Church needs impact investors to be reliable, concrete and relevant,” and added “This is not a new issue—it’s old, it’s part of bigger movement—creating money and creating social good at the same time.”  Religiously inspired investors among religious communities such as the Methodists and Quakers were among the first to employ social benefit as a criteria in investing. Turning to Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, according to Evangelii Gaudium, the number one priority of our mission should be social inclusion. Pope Francis has talked about how exclusion is one of society’s biggest problems. 

    ·      Sean Callahan, Chief Operating Officer, Catholic Relief Services, led a panel on Sectoral Needs and Opportunities.  He made it clear that it’s not a question of whether we do these things—but when and how we do these things and added that we all must align in the same direction. Shaun Ferris, Director of Agriculture Programming, Catholic Relief Services, described agricultural livelihoods in Latin America and CRS’ Path to Prosperity model, moving beneficiaries from the status of Recovery (highly vulnerable); to Building (vulnerable, yet viable); to Growing (entrepreneurial  and thriving); Tom McPartland, CEO, ELMA Philanthropies Services, described some very successful Impact Investing programs for healthcare in Africa; and Paul Polak, Founder and CEO of Windhorse International, presented several case studies about his success designing water programs in India.

    ·       Dr. Mirza Jahani, CEO, Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A, ran a session about Blending Philanthropy and Impact Investments in a Faith-Based Model. He explained the goal of the organization: to improve quality of life through local, permanent institutional development and added that the key to his organization’s success has been in building institutions that take a long-term approach to addressing social issues.  These include banks in Afghanistan, a university in central Asia, a park service in Nairobi, Kenya, and a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan, among others.

    ·       Matt Bannick and Sal Giambanco from the Omidyar Network described the important collaboration that must take place between for-profit and non-profit communities.  We all have shared interest here.  We care deeply about disadvantaged and the poor and our core values very much aligned with Pope Francis and other universal principles. This begins with respect and ends with humility. They added that the three fundamental keys to profit investment are value, self-sustainability and massive scale.

    ·       Terry Mollner, Board Member, Calvert Family of Socially Responsible Investment Funds, presented on Emergence of Investing for Good, and Ernest von Freyberg,President of the Holy See’s Institute for Works of Religion, provided Vatican Bank perspective on Impact Investing.  According to Freyberg, the Catholic Church is well positioned to engage with Impact Investing. It has an impact vocation in promoting the dignity of the human person. It has great service providers in its global ministries in health care, education and social services. And the church has great potential impact investors: the Catholic Church in Europe and North America built up tremendous wealth in the 19th and 20th centuries, and as its institutions shrink, church groups are looking to put this patrimony to use.

    ·       Mark Palmer, Chief Financial Officer, Catholic Relief Services, moderated a panel about the outlook of Catholic institutional investors and introduced Steve Schott, CapTrust Advisors and Jimmy Ryan from Merrill Lynch/Bank of America. According to Schott, “There is an appetite among my clients to learn more about Impact Investing.”  Ryan explained that none of his clients are engaged in Impact Investing yet because he has not heard enough about the options available for his clients.  He added it will be important for everyone to become educated on this topic.

    ·       Andreas Widmer, Director of Entrepreneurship Programs at The Catholic University of America and President of The Carpenter's Fund, suggested that there should be very different teams for humanitarian aid vs. economic development, just as in a counseling relationship there are different providers who handle crisis and long-term counseling, so we don’t fall into the co-dependency trap. He explained that we need to find the best entrepreneurs on the ground in the countries to be role models.  He ended by saying the root of evil in companies does not come from the system but resides in individuals making bad decisions. We need to hold our business community to a higher standard and live our Christianity seven days a week, not just on Sunday. Because as Pope Francis has said, business is a noble vocation.

    ·       Dr. Patricia Dinneen, Chair, Impact Investing Council, Emerging Markets Private Equity Association, said that the conference had achieved its three objectives:

    o   Shared learning 

    o   Networking

    o   Discernment

    ·       His Eminence, Cardinal Peter K. A. Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, closed meeting by saying “everything we have done here is a way of responding to the Pope’s call for inclusive economics for the common good. In a very real way our discussion here on Impact Investing is a way of also addressing how we can make market-based business reach out to fashion an inclusive system of economics.” He added that we need to have a strong strategy and competent people on the ground to execute, and he sees CRS as playing a mediating role. The most immediate task is to present all that has been discussed during this conference to the local churches and the local bishops.

    He gave sincere thanks to all attendees and ended with a blessing for all attendees for safe travel back to their homes and their families. 


  •  Investing for the Poor Conference Concludes First Day of Sessions

    Monday, Jun. 16, 2014

    JUNE 16, 2014 - ROME: Catholic Relief Services and the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame, together with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (PCJP), convened its two-day symposium regarding Impact Investing today just outside the Vatican in Rome, Italy.

    Some of the highlights included:

    ·       A private meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican.  The Holy Father addressed all 100 participants of the conference and then met and shook hands with each attendee. “I offer you a warm welcome and I express my gratitude and appreciation for your Conference, which offers an important contribution to the search for timely and realistic strategies to ensure greater social equality,” Pope Frances told the conference participants. “A sense of solidarity with the poor and the marginalized has led you to reflect on Impact Investing as one emerging form of responsible investment.”

    ·       Dr. Carolyn Woo, CEO & President of CRS, called the gathering “a conference of high church and high finance.”  Regarding the issue of why we are engaging in Impact Investing, she added, “We must, we can and we will. Our Faith tells us we must do this, major studies prove that we can eradicate poverty and today we will learn how to do it effectively.”

    ·       Dr. Filipe Santos, Academic Director, INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Initiative, started the conference by introducing the concept and context of Impact Investing. He defined Impact Investing as “the purposeful allocation of financial resources to initiatives that can deliver measurable societal impact (social and environmental) alongside financial returns.” He noted that society is divided into three sectors: the commercial sector, the public sector (government) and the charity sector (foundations and philanthropy). The trend over the past 10 to 15 years has seen the public and charity shrink while the commercial sector has grown exponentially. At the same time, there has been an increased dissatisfaction with the role of both the financial system and the commercial sector in allocating resources in a productive way, and the inequality that results from a concentration of wealth. This has provided a motivation for the rise of Impact Investing. He also noted that in order to pursue Impact Investing, we must let go of prejudices, such as the discomfort many feel at seeing an entrepreneur who helps the poor receive high compensation.

    ·       Dr. Pat Dinneen, Chair, Impact Investing Council, Emerging Markets Private Equity Association, introduced three speakers who described successful Impact Investment projects that include insurance, healthcare and microfinance already taking place in Brazil, Nicaragua, Southeast Asia and several countries in Africa.

    ·       Sir Ronald Cohen, Head of the Social Impact Investment Task Force established by the G8, said we are on the brink of a revolution that will help developing countries. He described more than 26 Social Impact Bonds -- in which investors fund social services and are paid back by the government from its savings if certain benchmarks are achieved -- that are already working around the world to help prisoners, hospitals and microfinance.  Official aid is being dwarfed by private investors, and it’s time for us to step up and reshape the concept of philanthropy.  

    ·       Father Seamus Finn, OMI, Vice Chair of the Board, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, presented the concept of Impact Investing through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching. He described the responsibility of the Church as laid out in Catholic Social Teaching to help promote the common good. He noted that historically church communities, such as monasteries and universities, created cultural “spaces” in which new ideas could be tried, and that the Catholic Church might provide such a space for Impact Investing. He also described some of the challenges of the model, such as reputational risk and skepticism in some Church circles toward the corporate sector, as well as adherence to the Precautionary Principle, that this new approach must have a reasonable prospect of success without doing a lot of harm, especially to the poor, should it fail..

    ·       Margie Sullivan, COO Chief of Staff, USAID, moderated the next panel.  She said that 30 years ago 90% of development was generated by the government, and 10% from private investors.  Today it is the inverse, as the role and scale of government shrinks. The panel included Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, who said his $20 billion agency with a staff of 10,000 should use its resources in a catalytic way. “We can achieve transformational changes,” he said. Other panelists included Tom Steyer, founder of NextGen Climate and John Rogers, Executive Vice President, Chief of Staff, and Secretary to the Board of Goldman Sachs.



    About Catholic Relief Services:

    Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in 93 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. For more information, visit and on social media: Facebook, @CatholicRelief, @CRSnews, Goggle+, Pinterest and YouTube.

    Conference website: 


    Media contacts:

    Catholic Relief Services:

    Mendoza Business College:

    A daily summary will be posted on the conference website.

  •  New Partnership Aims to Channel Venture Capital Toward Promising Solutions to World Poverty

    Monday, Jun. 16, 2014


    SANTA CLARA, Calif., June 16, 2014— In 2010, Clínicas del Azúcar was a promising business that was discovering ways to drastically cut the cost of diabetes care for the estimated 12 million residents of Mexico who suffer from the disease. But it wasn’t until three years later, when a syndicate of investors discovered their progress and potential, that they received a crucial $1.3M investment that has enabled Clínicas del Azúcar to triple their beneficiaries, from 1,000 to 3,000. 

    Introducing investment-ready social entrepreneurs, such as Clínicas del Azúcar,  to investors who have experience in the field of “impact investing” is the idea behind a new partnership between Santa Clara University’s Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI®), which provides intense training and mentorship for social enterprises around the world, and Toniic LLC, a global network of investors focused on social enterprise.  

    “This partnership will connect a concentrated group of high-potential social entrepreneurs with one of the largest global networks of high-impact investors—channeling venture capital to fund sustainable solutions to our world’s most pressing problems,” said Thane Kreiner, Ph.D., executive director of Santa Clara University’s Center for Science, Technology, and Society (CSTS), home of the GSBI.

    At the heart of the agreement is a shared drive to provide those living in poverty with basic human needs, such as affordable clean energy, safe drinking water, quality health care, education, jobs, and economic opportunity.

    The GSBI-Toniic partnership will magnify each organization’s ability to effect meaningful change.  Impact investors are ready to use their resources for social good, but struggle to find investment-ready social enterprises that have a proven business plan, strong management team, and a viable business model.  

    “Doing due diligence on social enterprises thousands of miles away can be costly and lengthy,” notes Stephanie Cohn Rupp, CEO of Toniic. “GSBI provides a significant screen and enhanced quality control for Toniic investors that gives us an extra level of confidence.”

    In its annual program the GSBI Accelerator, high-potential entrepreneurs are offered rigorous training and mentorship to become investment-ready and able to multiply their reach and impact.  GSBI has worked with some of the finest social entrepreneurs operating today, including micro-lender Kiva, Husk Power Systems, and eyeglass provider VisionSpring.

    "Both Toniic and GSBI seek to address the global challenges of deepening poverty and increasing inequality by enabling more impact investors to use their capital to support and scale stronger social businesses. We are excited to partner with GSBI, whose partnership will provide us with high-quality investment opportunities for our global investors." said Toniic’s chief investment officer and head of Asia Pacific, Shalaka Joshi., based in Mumbai.

    The GSBI-Toniic partnership includes plans to create an executive education program for new and seasoned impact investors, as a way of sharing best practices in the sector.  The curriculum is currently in development with philanthropist-education group, The Philanthropy Workshop West, as a co-creator.

    “We are thrilled to team up with Toniic, one of the few  global networks of impact investors, to expand funding options for  our incredible line-up of social entrepreneurs,” said Pamela Roussos, director of strategic alliances at CSTS.   “Toniic is a pool of sophisticated investors with high expectations that matches and elevates our own work.”   


    About GSBI

    The Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI®) is a leader in accelerating global, innovation-based entrepreneurship in service to humanity. The GSBI currently offers two capacity development programs to global social entrepreneurs: 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, mentors and GSBI program staff.  To date, the over 200 social enterprises that completed the GSBI programs have gone on to impact the lives of 100 million people worldwide.


    About Toniic

    Toniic is a global network of action-oriented impact investors, both individuals and institutions. We increase the velocity of money and services into impact investing to address global challenges. Our members commit to discover, evaluate, nurture and invest in entrepreneurs, enterprises and funds that promote a just and sustainable economy.


    About Santa Clara University

    Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, theology, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see


    Media Contacts

    Jessica Loman | Director, Toniic | | 804-814-3195

    Jaime Gusching | CSTS | | 408-554-6048

    Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations | | 408-554-5121



  •  A Call to Magis

    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.

  •  Women, Nature, and Opportunity in Africa

    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.

  •  Impact Capital at the Vatican

    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. 
  •  Energy Map Spotlight: India

    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.
  •  Why Magis: Integrated Action at Santa Clara

    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. 


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