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Center for Science, Technology, and Society, News page

  •  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. 

  •  Discerning My Vocation: the Influence of Entrepreneurship

    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.

  •  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, dlohse@scu.edu, 408-554-5121
    Jaime Gusching, CSTS Marketing Manager, jgusching@scu.edu, 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. 
 


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