Center for Science, Technology, and Society, News page

  •  Thirteen Global Social Entrepreneurs Connect to Silicon Valley through GSBI® Online Program

    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. 

    Media Contacts: 
    Deborah Lohse, SCU Media Relations,, 408-554-5121
    Jaime Gusching, CSTS Marketing Manager,, 408-551-6048
  •  Fresh Faces Get Hands Dirty

    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
  •  February's Newsletter

    Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014


  •  GSBI Connect

    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.

  •  Impact Capital in Nicaragua

    Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014

    Impact Capital program has been moving forward with expanding financial access for social entrepreneurs. As part of an Argidius Foundation grant, we have been developing and promoting the Demand Dividend vehicle.

    Recently, we have been working closely with a group in Nicaragua: Enclude, Agora Partnerships, and a local bank, BAC Nicaragua. Led by Enclude, they have developed a variant of the Demand Dividend. The bank, in conjunction with impact investors, will form a trust to issue loans to local enterprises based on the Demand Dividend structure.

    Access to bank lending for small and growing businesses in many Central American countries is difficult, since extensive collateral is required. The BAC program will lend based primarily on cash flow criteria. Access to capital is doubly difficult for women, and the trust will focus on female-led or owned businesses.

    Development of the BAC program is underway; the group is currently writing the legal documents for the trust.

    We are extremely excited about the potential for the program to expand financial inclusion, not only in Nicaragua, but in additional countries and impact sectors.

  •  Engineering Social Innovation

    Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014

    To provide support to the “engineering journey” faced by social innovators, Santa Clara University has teamed up with ASME (the American Society of Mechanical Engineers), the Lemelson Foundation, and ANDE  (Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs). 

    Beginning with an invitation-only leadership summit at Santa Clara University in March, the "Engineering Social Innovation" project will focus on the “pioneer gap” faced by social entrepreneurs with an aim to facilitate access to the physical resources, financial resources and knowledge networks needed to maximize the scaling potential of socially-focused ventures. 

    Stay tuned for more news on this important new initiative.

  •  GSBI Welcomes Pears Challenge

    Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014

    There are 3.7 billion people in the world living under $3 a day, representing a largely untapped market with an estimated $5 trillion in purchasing power waiting for quality products that improve their lives. Israel’s entrepreneurs are admired all over the world for their ability to innovate beyond their borders, and it is the marriage of this innovativeness and desire to serve others that has led the Pears Innovation for International Development Program at the Hartog School of Government and Policy at Tel Aviv University to launch the "Pears Challenge" in partnership with GSBI.

    The Pears Challenge seeks to identify, support, and nurture the talent of entrepreneurs devoted to alleviating poverty in the developing world through innovation. The Challenge will support up to ten teams of Israeli entrepreneurs addressing challenges rooted in the fields of health care, education, agriculture, water, energy, and ICT.

    Over the course of the three-month program in Tel Aviv, the teams of entrepreneurs will gain valuable insights on building a sustainable and financially successful business that will impact the world's poorest people. Then, select participants will win trips to the developing world to further implementation of their innovations.

    Rather than designing their program from scratch, The Pears Challenge decided to join the GSBI Network and leverage the proven GSBI Online curriculum and platform.  Thanks to the financial support of Grand Challenges Canada, the GSBI team has been working with the Pears Challenge to develop a program that will be delivered from March to June. GSBI Director of Strategic Alliances, Pamela Roussos, will travel to Israel in April to contribute as a mentor and subject matter expert.

    We are pleased to share our first-hand experience and in-person guidance to propel this noble effort forward.  Together, we take another step towards meeting the needs of all.

  •  The Dalai Lama Touched My Nose Ring

    Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014

    Having the opportunity to meet the Dalai Lama truly was an experience of a lifetime. For a man so world renowned, he interacted with all those around him with incredible humility and patience.  Despite an audience of thousands of people clinging to every word he spoke and eagerly soaking in his message of compassion and peace, Hi s Holiness presented himself in a way that made you feel as if he was speaking directly to you.

    Following his presentation I was given the opportunity to meet him personally as part of a group of students selected to represent Santa Clara University. Anxiously awaiting his arrival, I wondered what he would be like without the stage, the microphone and thousands of people. Regardless of what I was expecting, he was simply normal. The Dalai Lama was refreshingly and humbly normal. Despite his religious, political and cultural significance, he interacted with the group of students as if we were equals. He shared a special message with us, reminding us that it is our generation that must act to spread compassion and peace to all parts of the world.

    This compassion, he emphasized, can best be achieved through education. The knowledge we gain through education creates understanding between cultures and society, destroying barriers that prevent the spread of compassion. Feeling empowered, I eagerly shook his hand before leaving. Much to my surprise His Holiness took his hand and reached up to my face. His finger landed on a small stud in my nose and he broke out into a lively chuckle. He then walked away, surrounded by security, leaving our group in laughter. I think I’ll be leaving that stud in for a while. 
  •  Global Social Benefit Fellow Student Reflection

    Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014

     Kolkata, India and the social enterprises I worked with there, Anudip and iMerit are alive, engaged, genuine, and passionate and that is how I want to live my life. I want to be engaged with my society, genuine in my interactions with others, and confident and consistent in my beliefs.

    I did not hold these lofty goals when I applied to the Global Social Benefit Fellowship. I was simply excited for the opportunity to go abroad and continue to work on my skills as a filmmaker.  These goals were developed in the research and reading in the preparatory fellowship classes and then reinforced in my experiences in Kolkata.


    The classes taught me about the different theories of development, social entrepreneurship, and the great need for innovation and technology in service to humanity.  Anudip and iMerit showed me why all that information matters.


    I saw what earning triple an average family income looks like, and how economic empowerment of women in conservative communities can change perspectives.  It was a synthesis of idea and action. I think many educational institutions strive for, but Santa Clara achieved. The Global Social Benefit Fellowship showed me a way of life radically different from the one I was living, and then gave me the opportunity to enact it.


    Everything I did within GSBF was highly structured. I had brilliant and exceptional mentors throughout the entire experience helping me both define, realize and execute my research plan. It will not always be so.  So, as I enter what college seniors scarily term "Real Life," I intend to do my best to take the education that Anudip, iMerit, and GSBF gave me and continue to act upon it outside of the supportive academic system.

  •  Sixteen Global Social Entrepreneurs Selected for Pioneering GSBI Accelerator

    Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014

    Sixteen Global Social Entrepreneurs Selected for Santa Clara University’s Pioneering GSBI® Accelerator

    10-month program to advance social enterprises includes August 14-22 in-residence in the heart of Silicon Valley.

    SANTA CLARA, Calif., Jan. 14, 2014— Sankara Eye Care Institutions aims to eradicate preventable and curable blindness in India by providing free high quality eye care to millions of rural poor. Eco-fuel Africa converts locally sourced farm and municipal waste into clean cooking fuel and organic fertilizers.  Medical Technology Transfer and Services (MTTS) develops, manufactures, and distributes durable devices for intensive newborn care for poor communities in Vietnam. 

    These three well-established “social enterprises”— non-profit organizations or for-profit businesses that seek to address social and environmental problems—are among the 16 chosen for the 12th annual Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI®) Accelerator program at Santa Clara University. 

    The acclaimed 10-month program pairs one leader from each social enterprise with two experienced, start-up savvy Silicon Valley executives as advisers. The aim is to help the entrepreneurs focus on and solve the largest obstacles keeping their businesses from “scaling,” or reaching more beneficiaries in their home countries or new ones. 

    “This year we received the strongest applicant pool of leading social entrepreneurs to date,” said Cassandra Staff, GSBI’s program director. “This speaks to the value of the GSBI Accelerator program and the impact the program has on preparing mature entrepreneurs for additional investment capital and growth.” 

    Sponsors of the GSBI Accelerator 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. 

    After six months of online work with GSBI staff and two Silicon Valley mentors apiece, the cohort will come to Santa Clara University’s campus Aug. 14 for nine days of intensive training that culminates in an “Investor Showcase” Aug. 21. The showcase has become an inspiring event attended by hundreds of impact investors and others interested in accelerating the work of social entrepreneurs. 

    The 16 organizations in this year’s GSBI class operate in countries across the world including Mexico, South Africa, Jordan, and Vietnam. Among the other members of the GSBI Class of 2014 are: a company that makes biodigesters for small scale farmers in Mexico; a Peruvian employer of unskilled labor, whose workers are delivering data services to international clients; a South African company that teaches disadvantaged youth to be self-directed learners and chart careers; and a Chinese provider of renewable solar energy.

    The list of GSBI mentors can be found at

    Reporters interested in interviewing any of the entrepreneurs while they are in town or Silicon Valley mentors may contact Deborah Lohse of SCU Media Relations, or 408-554-5121. 

    GSBI® Online is a similar program, tailored to early-stage social enterprises, that leverages Silicon Valley acumen and features online modules on business strategy, operational planning, metrics, and financials. Applications are open through Feb. 21 for the next cohort:

    The follow is a list of 2014 GSBI Accelerator organizations:

    · Buen Manejo del Campo, dba Sistema Biobolsa 

    Sistema Biobolsa revolutionizes small scale agricultural by empowering farmers with high quality, patented biodigester technology, which allows them to convert animal and organic wastes into natural gas and organic fertilizer. 

    · Digital Divide Data 

    Digital Divide Data (DDD) is a social enterprise that delivers solutions with impact to meet the data services needs of businesses and institutions worldwide.  DDD pioneered a new model called Impact Sourcing in Cambodia from 2001.

    · Eco-fuel Africa Limited 

    Eco-fuel Africa empowers communities in Africa to use tailor-made technology to convert locally sourced farm and municipal waste into clean cooking fuel (green charcoal) and organic fertilizers (biochar). This slows the rate of deforestation, reduces indoor air pollution, improves educational opportunities among girls and women by eliminating the need to search for wood, and reduces malnutrition by providing farmers with organic fertilizers.

    · Ecofogão Ltda

    Ecofogão is a woodstove manufacturer, which introduced the innovative concept of ecological clean and efficient stoves to the Brazilian market in 2004. Ecofogão was mainly created to serve low income market that depends on woodstoves for daily cooking, but also has taken advantage of the middle class market that uses woodstoves for recreation purposes.  Ecofogão now wants to scale up toward the larger low income market of the northeastern Brazil.

    · Esoko

    Esoko is Africa’s leading communication platform for the agriculture sector, with a range of mobile based solutions, and serving a diverse array of partners in 10 countries.

    · IkamvaYouth 

    IkamvaYouth enables disadvantaged South African youth to pull themselves and each other out of poverty through education. The core program is the provision of after-school tutoring support to self-selected learners in grades 8 to 12 three times a week. This results in an actively engaged self-directed learner.

    · iKure Techsoft Private Limited 

    iKure is establishing a chain of Rural Health Centers using innovative technology. Patients receive quality primary healthcare in their community, including doctor consultation, medicine, and basic check-ups. In case of any secondary or tertiary care, the patients are connected seamlessly to hub hospitals using proprietary software.

    · JITA Social Business Bangladesh Limited 

    JITA Bangladesh is a joint venture of CARE International & Danone Communities dedicated to empowering women through a network of enterprises to create employment opportunities and improve access to markets for BOP consumers.

    · Komaza 

    Komaza is an agro-forestry company working to provide African dry land farmers with planting inputs, training and maintenance services, and processing-sales support. The goals are to cultivate a life-changing income for farmers, curb rampant deforestation, and earn investor returns.

    · Mali Biocarburant SA (MBSA) 

    Biofuel Mali SA (MBSA) is the first company producing biodiesel in West Africa. It is a private company that makes farmers shareholders in the company. By producing, processing and marketing biodiesel locally, Mali Biofuel SA contributes to the development of the local economy.

    · Medical Technology Transfer and Services (MTTS) 

    MTTS is a social enterprise that develops, manufactures, and distributes intensive newborn care medical devices, specifically designed for the needs of low-resource countries. They exist to ensure that all children, irrespectively of the place of birth, have the chance of a healthy upbringing.

    · One Earth Group Ltd. (Brand Name: One Earth Designs) 

    One Earth Designs creates clean, sharable energy. They began by working alongside nomads in the Himalayas, where they developed 54 solar cooker designs to combat fuel scarcity and household air pollution. Now, their R&D portfolio includes collaborations with governments and corporations to develop renewable energy solutions with the potential to improve living standards. 

    · Prospera 

    Prospera empowers female-led micro businesses and connects them to conscious citizens and consumers looking to create a more equal and engaged society.

    · Sankara Eye Care Institutions 

    Sankara Eye Care Institutions through its network of hospitals across India is one of the largest communities of eye care providers in the country. Sankara’s mission is to eradicate preventable and curable blindness in India by providing free high quality eye care to the millions of rural poor through a strong service oriented team.

    · SMEFunds 

    SMEFunds produces a proven, cleaner, and lower-cost alternative to dangerous cooking fuels in Africa that can also be sold as transport fuel at economies of scale.

    · World Wide Hearing 

    World Wide Hearing Foundation International is a non-profit organization that provides access to affordable, high quality hearing aids to children and youth with hearing loss in developing countries. Their goal is to empower people with hearing loss so that they can realize their full potential.

    The GSBI program is unique for several reasons: 

    *The program has built up a strong group of nearly 70 Silicon Valley mentors who are CEOs, venture capitalists, marketing experts, experts in solar or other forms of alternative energy, and other seasoned executives who find it rewarding to work with social entrepreneurs free of charge, as a way of paying it forward.  Some of them have volunteered at the GSBI for 10 years or more. 

    *While many university-based social entrepreneurship programs seek to help their own students become social entrepreneurs, the GSBI Accelerator helps entrepreneurs who are on the ground around the world helping communities. 

    *Undergraduate students leverage the relationships with the social entrepreneurs through research fellowships in countries like Brazil, India, Nepal, Uganda, and Paraguay. 

    *The GSBI has spawned the GSBI Network, composed of mission-aligned universities and programs around the globe that work directly with on-the-ground social enterprises.

    *Earlier stage social enterprises learn the tenets of the GSBI methodology through an online-only version, GSBI Online. Through web modules and video conferencing, participants receive guidance from their Silicon Valley mentors, as well as mentors in their home regions. 

    A Billion Lives 

    It is the ambitious goal of Santa Clara University’s Center for Science, Technology, and Society — home to GSBI— to positively impact the lives of a billion people by 2020, by catalyzing the growth of social enterprises who provide the poor with affordable life-saving or life-enhancing products; new jobs or livelihoods; or information and tools to help themselves. 

    “Our GSBI Accelerator, Online, and Network programs could enable social entrepreneurs to collectively improve the lives of up to one-fourth of the global poor,” said Thane Kreiner, Ph.D., executive director of the Center. “Our Global Social Benefit Fellows program is creating the next generation of ‘changemakers’: it provides SCU undergraduates transformative social justice learning experiences through practical action research projects with GSBI Alumni social entrepreneurs.” 

    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: 

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

    Jaime Gusching, CSTS Marketing Manager,, 408-551-6048


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