Center for Science, Technology, and Society, News page

  •  Reflections on Opportunity Collaboration 2013

    Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013

    Many people I know and respect had told me that Opportunity Collaboration was the best conference they went to. Being an unconference, the guidance was “it is what you make of it”.  

    From the moment we were all boarding the flight from Mexico City to Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, I knew I was in for something different.  It felt like we were going to summer camp.  The plane was abuzz with conversations. Fellow conference goers were already meeting and engaging one another.  The conversations ensued on the bus ride from the airport to the conference facilities, Club Med.  Even though most of us had been on red-eyes to get to Mexico City, the air sparked with energy and enthusiasm.  

    Upon arrival at Club Med, we were taken to Communications Central where each of us had mail slots.  This was one way of connecting with each other.  I came to refer the slips of paper I would find in my box, asking to meet, as love notes.  It proved to be an efficient method of scheduling time with interesting people.  The only difficult part was where to meet.  By the pool?  In the bar?  Walk on the beach?  One of my favorite moments was scheduling a meeting using my iPhone.  The location of the meeting?  “Beach”.  I laughed typing that in.  

    I can safely say that every conversation I had throughout the week, be it in a breakout session, before or after colloquium (homeroom class), by the pool, or saddled up at the bar, were fascinating learning moments.  I have been to hundreds, if not thousands of conferences throughout my professional career; that never happens.  There is a magic combination of attracting 350 passionate people from around the sector and the relaxed environment that allows for truly interesting discussions.  The transactional nature of “typical” conferences has no place at Opportunity Collaboration.  I went from one impromptu discussion on what role BIG banks can play in this sector to a dinner breakout on spiritual activism.  

    The connections I made at the conference go way beyond having a business card.  I have already had a number of conversations with people I met, some of which were “thank you”, others “see you soon” and others still “let me connect you with people I believe can help you”.  And who knows where other connections I made will go.  There were many stories of people meeting several years ago at Opportunity Collaboration and now they are working together.  

    Opportunity Collaboration is an unconference about continuing to build a strong and resilient social impact sector through relationships.  Like good wine, it takes time.   

    From the Desk of Pamela Roussos, Director of Strategic Alliances

    Opportunity Collaboration
  •  CSTS October Newsletter is out!

    Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013

    The CSTS October Newsletter is out!

    This Month's topics include the GSBI Accelerator, Alumni in the News, and Opportunity Collaboration.

    Read and download the PDF here

  •  Global Social Benefit Fellow Reflects on Collaborating with Peers

    Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013

    Even though it has been over three months since I returned from my Global Social Benefit Fellowship placement in Zambia, I still have not processed all that I learned.

    When we were told about the roundtable presentations, we chose a theme and were charged with presenting cross cutting themes of social entrepreneurship based on our experiences in the field. We were put in teams of 3-4 fellows with the rule being that none of our roundtable members could have been part of the same fellowship placement.

    The Sunday before our presentation, Emily (Solar Sister/Angaza Design in Uganda), Phil (Anudip/Imerit in India), and I gathered sluggishly in a conference room. Our title was “Clean Energy: Unlocking Economic Potential”, but aside from that, we had nothing. The three of us had been in three different countries, with three different enterprises, conducting research in three very different areas.  Yet there we were trying to string together our experiences into a coherent presentation with cross cutting themes, all while trying to remain interesting and engaging.

    The first few hours of preparation was a cycle of thinking we had gotten somewhere only to realize that we were wrong about something and had to start back from square one. Pacing back and forth, slowly but surely, however, we began to cover all of the whiteboards in a colorful splattering of words, arrows, questions, and comments. Little by little, with the help of many cups of tea and some much needed Thai food, we began to piece together what we thought would be a suitable presentation. We then wrote down a list of open ended questions and tacked them on to the end of the presentation.

    When the day of the presentation rolled around, I was apprehensive about what was going to happen. I was worried that we would sound disjointed and fail to get to the level that was expected. As we began rolling however, I became more comfortable and realized that we didn’t in fact sound too bad. At the end of our presentation, we entered into a discussion with the audience, posing the open ended questions that we had written down. This led to an exciting debate about the usefulness of the social entrepreneurship in addressing the needs of off grid communities. I came to realize that we had in fact, learned quite a lot from our many hours locked in the conference room. Not only did each of us have some experience that was relevant to the topic, but we were able to articulate it in such a way as to broaden one another’s understanding of this theme.

    After watching the second round table presentation from three other fellows, the fact that we had all learned so much from our placements became even more apparent. Despite our wildly different experiences in the field, through a few hours of serious discussion, we were able to come together and generate some very interesting questions and theories.

    Again, even though it has been three months, I am still learning from my experiences, and I can say that I am very grateful to have 13 other fellows whose experiences I can learn from as well.

    Jack Bird
    Team Zambia
    GSBF 2013

  •  Global Social Benefit Roundtables

    Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013

    Arriving in India was a sensory overload. It has hot. The food was spicy. I couldn’t understand the language and it was a twelve and a half hour time difference.

    Even with extensive preparations through the Global Social Benefit Fellowship, it was hard to process all the experiences we were emerged in daily. Utilizing my film background, I worked with sister enterprises Anudip and iMerit, who focus on rural education and job placement in Eastern India, documenting their methods, processes, and social impact. I regularly took three to four hours trains rides to rural villages to film interviews with both the employees and students of the sister organizations.

    The excursions were enlivening, eye-opening, and my favorite part of my trip providing a true insights into life in rural India. My fellow fellows and I sifted through a lot this information through discussion and blogs over the summer, but the Social Entrepreneurship Action Research Roundtables (SEARR) gave us another opportunity to analyze our time abroad in a more discussion-based manner.

    Our mentors and teachers, Thane Kreiner and Keith Warner, helped fashion us into groups for the roundtables with each team focusing on a different aspect of Social Entrepreneurship. I teamed up with Emily Albi, who worked in Uganda with Solar Sister and Angaza Design, and Jack Bird, who worked with Lifeline Energy in Zambia. As Jack and Emily are very passionate about energy poverty, we decided to center our roundtable on the idea of clean energy in developing nations. While I personally had not dealt with clean energy while working in India with Anudip and iMerit, Jack and Emily were experts on it. After a brief consultation we came up with our name, “Clean Energy: Unlocking Economic Potential,” and we were off.

    The Sunday before our presentation Jack, Emily, and I found our way in to a conference room, opened our laptops and our minds and began to talk, think, discuss, and debate clean energy in the developing world. In setting up the lecture, we decided to play to our strengths. Jack and Emily focused on explaining the idea of energy and the power sustainable energy has as a catalyst for change, while I talked about how energy access in rural areas allowed Anudip and iMerit, the companies I worked for, to enact their business strategy and help rural poor transform their lives.

    After Jack, Emily and I spoke, we planned to open it up to discussion with the audience. This was the part I was most nervous for, relying on audience participation to fuel discussion always makes me nervous because there is no way to predict what might be said or if anything will be said at all. We posed two main questions to the audience, “What defines an energy Social Enterprise?” and, “Does holding Social Enterprises to a triple bottom line hinder their growth and impact?”

    With the first question we hoped to provoke discussion by debating whether PG&E could be considered a social enterprise as they provide energy to ‘underserved’ populations in rural areas. In the second question, we speculated whether clean energy was unlocking potential, or actually undermining potential by restraining scalability in order to keep the enterprise environmentally sustainable.

    The answers for the spectators were phenomenal putting all my fears to rest. The audience was passionate, engaged and voiced defenses of both sides of the issue. The excited discussion and connection of the audience turned our lecture on clean energy into a true roundtable.

    The Social Entrepreneurship Action Research Roundtables were a fantastic opportunity for my fellows and I to organize all the knowledge we had gained while abroad in our respective placements, draw some conclusions, and compare perspectives on key issues. It allowed us voice the experiences we had, and apply them to the materiel we learned developing out action research projects.

    Moreover, the talks helped raise awareness of the fellowship as it ends its second placement and begins to recruit a third class. Hopefully, you attended one, but if you didn't keep an eye out for the talks next year with the next installment of Global Social Benefit Fellows.

  •  Women's World Banking: Founding a Movement

    Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013

     On October 30th, a role model for women around the world shared her story with Santa Clara students.  Michaela Walsh, a pioneer woman manager for Merrill Lynch in Beirut in the 60’s, the first woman partner of Boettcher in the 70’s, and Founding President of Women’s World Banking, inspired students with her story of tenacity, passion, and determination.  As one of the first women on Wall Street to be named partner, Walsh shared her vision for the next generation to be tenacious and willing to bend the rules to create change.  Students were encouraged to go beyond seeking set paths and blaze their own.   

    Michaela Walsh, childhood friend of CSTS Senior Research Fellow of Emile McAnany from Kansas City, is best known for her founding of the Women's World Banking organization in 1980 and leading it as CEO until 1990 where she remains on its board. WWB was the first all-women's global financial organization to serve women in developing countries with access to small and medium loans. Today it has more than forty national affiliates with assets of  a billion dollars. But the founding of WWB was only the culmination of a journey that included many turns in her life. She was was an early female employee of Merrill Lynch, and the first woman to serve abroad with that organization in Lebanon form 1960-64, also on her return one of the first women to earn a broker's license on Wall Street. Her work at the Rockerfeler Brothers Fund lead her to attend the UN Conference on Women in Mexico City in 1975. There she met women from developing countries with whom she created a working group to help women attain financial independence. The history of that work from 1975 to 1990 is included in her 2012 book Founding a Movement. Michaela's mission today is to encourage young women to become involved in the issues of development and change with a special focus on helping women in developing economies to access the financial means to prosper. She was very interested in the work of the Social Benefit Fellows and their future careers as global change makers. 


    From the desk of Emile McAnany


  •  Lions and Tigers and Social Entrepreneurs, Oh my!

    Friday, Oct. 18, 2013


    “This is the most gratifying thing I do all year.” Dennis Rekker, GSBI mentor, told a group of 16 social entrepreneurs representing 10 startups from 9 countries in Africa and Southeast Asia on Friday, Oct 18th.


    During October, ten tech startups DEMO 2012 Award Winners from Africa and Southeast Asia traveled to the Silicon Valley on an innovation Tour to meet with industry leaders, incubators, and other entrepreneurs before pitching their ideas at the DEMO Global Showcase in front of investors and tech innovators.


    The congregation of entrepreneurs listened intently as Program Director, Cassandra Staff led the group through the workings of the GSBI Online program, targeting early stage social enterprises, as well as GSBI Accelerator, the program designed around gap analysis to eliminate obstacles that prevent organizations from achieving scale and investment.


    Mike Looney Director of the GSBI Mentor Network then discussed the roles of mentors in GSBI. He opened by asking how many of the entrepreneurs in the room had a mentor. One hand stood in the air. GSBI mentors are similar to sports coaches, previous players who know their position very well and now teach others how to play the entire field. Our mentors specialize in building business that scale and bring that insight into the program to help the entrepreneurs grow.  GSBI veteran mentor Brad Mattson talked about the full extent of the relationship formed during GSBI and how often mentors and mentees stay in contact past the program. Participants can relate to the mentors who know what they are going through and who provide push-back and honest feedback to help them succeed.


    GSBI provides an experience where mentors and mentees can share with the entire group their insights and experiences. Upon asking those assembled, "how many of you plan to find a mentor?" all sixteen hands shot up.



  •  Congratulations John Kohler, ANDE Member of the Year!

    Monday, Oct. 7, 2013

     It takes a lot to make a grown man blush.

    Yet, the cheeks of John Kohler, Director of our Impact Capital Program, flushed red when the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) honored him as Member of the Year at their annual conference.

    John thought he was going to give a talk on his ground-breaking Demand Dividend, an innovative investment tool designed to accelerate investment in enterprises serving the world's poorest village communities.

    He simply didn’t see it coming.

    “Well, the award was a surprise! Since ANDE is such a big tent covering all aspects of impact, this is a huge honor. It is peer recognition from a community of practitioners that I care deeply about. It’s just fabulous. I couldn’t be more honored.”

    John is one of the brightest stars of the impact sector. He brings over 30 years’ experience to the Center, gained from his executive leadership at Hewlett Packard, Silicon Graphics, and Convergent Technologies/Unisys and his extensive venture experience. John provides guidance as a mentor and impact advisor to the social entrepreneurs of the GSBI Accelerator and GSBI online community. 

    Congratulations, John! We are happy to have you!


  •  Evolution and Adaptation of the Flagship GSBI Yields Promising Results

    Tuesday, Sep. 17, 2013

    Evolution and Adaptation of the Flagship GSBI Yields Promising Results  

    As part of its vision to positively impact the lives of 1 billion of the world’s poor by 2020, the Center is successfully experimenting with ways to scale social benefit.

    We explained the design of these experiments in a Huffington Post blog earlier this summer. The GSBI Online experiment met with terrific success and we’ve just announced a third cohort. Through GSBI Network, we help “incubate incubators” for social enterprises, and are pleased by the recent addition of two new members, Birla Institute of Management Technology (India), and Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey (Mexico).  But our most ambitious experiment was the GSBI Accelerator to prepare proven social enterprises for scaling their impact and help them secure appropriate capital.

    We think of the Center as an open-source learning laboratory for scaling social entrepreneurship and impact investing. As we learn from our experiments, we endeavor to share the knowledge with the broader ecosystem. Data from our GSBI Accelerator experiment suggests that optimal capacity development paradigms will vary depending on the stage of the social enterprise. We discussed some key emergent parameters just before the social entrepreneurs arrived on the Santa Clara Campus for the in-residence component of GSBI.

    Immediately after the GSBI Showcase in a NextBillion blog, we explained both the GSBI Accelerator design and what Silicon Valley can learn from social enterprises that are preparing to scale. This year’s highly customized program for more advanced social entrepreneurs was extremely well received by mentors, content leads, impact investors, and critically, the social entrepreneurs themselves. As Venture Beat noted, our central theme of investment-readiness includes helping the entrepreneurs learn how to find appropriate capital. Impact investors are engaged in the continued evolution of our GSBI Accelerator experiment. We are accepting applications for the next cohort! 

    From the Desk of Thane Kreiner


  •  CSTS September Newsletter

    Sunday, Sep. 1, 2013

    Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI®

    Evolution and Adaptation of the Flagship GSBI Yields Promising Results

    As part of its vision to positively impact the lives of 1 billion of the world’s poor by 2020, the Center is successfully experimenting with ways to scale social benefit more


    GSBI Accelerator Showcase Videos Now Available

    Meet 12 social entrepreneurs who are shape shifting the scaling and impact investment environment.
    Watch the Videos

    2014 GSBI Accelerator Applications Open Through October 31, 2013

    Social entrepreneurs – the GSBI Accelerator can help prepare your venture to scale its impact and be ready for the investor due diligence. 
    Impact investors – maximize social and financial returns by encouraging your portfolio ventures to participate in our capacity development program.  
    Apply Now

    GSBI Online 2013 Fall Cohort Welcomes 15 Organizations

    With a focus on clean energy solutions, this cohort includes organizations serving populations in Haiti, India, Jordan, Madagascar, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Uganda, and the United States. 
    Fall 2013 GSBI more

    GSBI Alumni News – A Snapshot of Our World

    - Promethean Power:  Full Cream Ahead!
    - Juhudi Kilimo: only social enterprise to win CIO 100 Global Award!
    - Husk Power Systems featured in Obama’s Power Africa Initiative!

    - Manoj Sinha CEO of Husk Power Systems on his Accelerator Experience 

    GSBI Alumni: have any news or enterprise updates? let us know by emailing 

    Of Note

    Demand Dividend Builds Momentum In Impact Investment Space
    Looking for an investment vehicle optimized for small and growing businesses in frontier markets? Check out the Demand Dividend and generate your own term sheet.

    Special Issue on Social Entreprenuership

    A special issue of The Journal of Management for Global Sustainability edited by Thane Kreiner is devoted to the notion of social entrepreneurship as practical social justice and is now available online

    Accelerating Adoption of Off-Grid Energy

    Based on its work with more than 60 social enterprises addressing energy poverty, the Center posits that matching off-grid energy sources to productive use will accelerate economic development by creating sustainable livelihoods in poor rural and urban communities...Read more
    BOP Summit October 21-23

    BOP SUMMIT: Creating an Action Agenda for the Next Decade 

    200 leaders will meet at the William Davidson Institute to develop a robust roadmap for building better BoP enterprises October 21-23. Executive Director Thane Kreiner and Founding Executive Director Jim Koch will represent the Center and its GSBI and impact investing programs. 
    BOP Summit October 21-23

    Experienced CEO Pamela Roussos Named Strategic Alliances Director 

    "Having been a GSBI mentor for 5 years, I’ve been very impressed with how this organization has grown and truly established itself as a leader in the social entrepreneurship and impact capital space.” Read Pamela's bio here

    SOCAP Recap

    The Center Shines at SOCAP13
    The Center reinforced its position as a thought leader and practitioner in social enterprise. Read about our role in mentoring entrepreneurs and advancing impact more

    Read blog entries from workshop panel organizers John Kohler, Thane Kreiner, and Andy Lieberman

    AT A GLANCE: GSBI Statistics 

     •    202 enterprises have completed GSBI programs
     •    Nearly 100 million people’s lives have been positively impacted* by these
     •    40% of the enterprises are scaling, meaning that impact is growing in
          a financially sustainable manner

    •     This scaling rate is more than three times that of conventional
          for-profit ventures
     •    $89 million of funding has been raised by enterprises post-GSBI programs
     •    90% of GSBI alumni are still in business

    *Social impact is challenging to measure, especially since GSBI alumni impact lives in many different ways. As part of their participation in GSBI, entrepreneurs identify a metric for tracking the number of lives their venture positively impacts, such as number of people with clean drinking water or number of people using clean cookstoves.  The impact of each enterprise is displayed on its alumni profile.

  •  Call for Fall 2014 GSBI® Accelerator Program Applications

    Monday, Aug. 26, 2013

    Up to 20 Scholarships for Social Enterprises Available

    SANTA CLARA, Calif., August 26, 2013 — Applications for the Fall 2014 GSBI Accelerator Program open on September 2, 2013, and will be accepted through October 31, 2013.  Up to 20 ventures will be selected and enrolled in the lauded ten-month social enterprise capacity development program.  The 2014 GSBI Accelerator program runs from February 2, 2014 through November 30, 2014, and includes a ten-day in-residence “accelerator boot camp” at Santa Clara University, a leading Jesuit university in the heart of Silicon Valley, California.  Information on the application process can be found at:

    The GSBI Accelerator helps social entrepreneurs understand and fill gaps in their organizations that prevent them from achieving scale, and prepares them for appropriate capital to rapidly increase their impact. Investment readiness is a central theme of the Center’s Impact Capital program, which provides thought leadership and financial innovations to drive impact investing into underserved sectors.

    The GSBI Accelerator combines best practices of online learning with a proven curriculum (over 11 years of experience), complemented by experienced in-country and Silicon Valley mentors, to provide social entrepreneurs the tools to help them scale their enterprises and prepare them for financial investment.  “The GSBI Accelerator brings together mentors, experts, impact investors, and social entrepreneurs to collectively identify and overcome gaps in their operating businesses,” said Cassandra Staff, GSBI Program Director.

    At the end of the in-residence or “boot camp” portion, entrepreneurs present to a select audience of impact investors, philanthropists, corporations, and government agencies.  With GSBI’s successful track record, Accelerator program draws the best practitioners in the social impact world. The 2013 GSBI Accelerator Cohort recently presented to almost 200 premiere investment professionals, corporate and foundation executives, and Silicon Valley leaders with entrepreneurs returning home having tapped into Silicon Valley acumen and potential funding.

    For more details about the GSBI Accelerator program, visit For questions regarding the program, please send an email to

    About the Center for Science, Technology, and Society
    The mission of the Center is to accelerate global, innovation-based entrepreneurship in service to humanity. Its flagship GSBI® programs include the GSBI Accelerator, GSBI Online, and GSBI Network, which have served over 200 social enterprises over the past 11 years. The Impact Capital program improves the capital match between social entrepreneurs and impact investors. The Global Social Benefit Fellows Program provides practice-based action learning opportunities for undergraduates with GSBI Alumni.

    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.Ds. 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:
    Beverly Nuako | Marketing Manager | 408-551-6048 |
    Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations | 408-554-5121 |




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