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Friday, Oct. 21, 2011
On October 19-21 the GSBI Network Partners convened at Santa Clara University for the very first GSBI Network Conference. Eight representatives from six Jesuit institutions were represented; Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, the Center for Research and Peace Advocacy in the Ivory Coast, ESADE Business School in Spain, Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan, Pontifica Universidad Javieriana, Cali in Columbia, and XLRI Jamshedpur in India were all engaged in discussions based around leveraging the network of Jesuit Universities to promote social entrepreneurship as a means for addressing the world's most pressing problems. Included in the discussion was Fr. Michael Garanzini, the Secretary of Higher Education for the Society of Jesus, who traveled from his presidential duties at Loyola University, Chicago to participate.
We kicked off the GSBI Network Conference with Wednesday's Nexus Conference, where our guests were able to see what CSTS does through their collaboration with The Tech Awards. Thursday began with a welcome by Fr. Engh, President of Santa Clara University, and was followed by presentations by the visiting GSBI Network Partners on their institution's social entrepreneur program, their key challenges, and what they want to get out of the GSBI Network. Fr. Engh hosted the group for lunch in the President's Dining Room in Adobe Lodge with a very special guest, Ann Bowers of the RNN 1999 Foundation and The Tech Museum's Board of Directors. Thursday night's agenda included attendance at The Tech Awards - presence at the gala was made possible by a generous table donation by Judy Swanson of the Swanson Foundation. Friday's agenda included presentations by GSBI staff and faculty on CSTS and the various components of GSBI (processes, operations, mentoring, and sector strategy).
We wrapped up the dialogue by discussing how the GSBI Network will collaborate in the coming months leading up to the next GSBI Network Conference, which will precede the July 2012 IAJBS Conference in Spain, and establishing specific action items. Included in the deliverables are translations of selected GSBI curriculum into Spanish and French, distribution of useful GSBI content and videos to Network members, and survey GSBI alumni and GSBI Network alumni, both as a means for data collection as well as establishing a framework for eventual case study creation.
Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011
The 2011 Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI) cohort features 18 social enterprises from 14 countries around the world, includes 8 women entrepreneurs, and 8 enterprises from Africa, our highest representation in both categories. In addition, 2011 marks the second year of our focus on renewable energy for the underserved; more than half of the 2011 cohort comes from this sector.
The press has been as impressed with our entrepreneurs as we are. Check out these great stories featuring 3 social entrepreneurs from this year's GSBI class.
The GSBI empowers socially-minded entrepreneurs to build sustainable, scalable organizations that solve problems for people living in poverty around the world. Since its inception in 2003, the GSBI has mentored nearly 140 entrepreneurs from more than 20 countries. More than 90% of these ventures are still extant, more than 50% are scaling, and collectively they’ve positively impacted the lives of over 70 million people in base-of-pyramid communities.
Social entrepreneurs who apply and win GSBI scholarships participate in an experiential capacity development program that combines online and in-residence exercises with training and mentoring from academic leaders and Silicon Valley visionaries over an intensive 8 month period. Our mentors help social entrepreneurs sustain and scale their ventures, sell their products and services, and solve problems.
We collaborate with a diverse group of partners including successful Silicon Valley executives, foundations, government agencies, corporations, and a global network of Jesuit universities.
Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011
Tuesday, Jul. 26, 2011
Each year at Santa Clara University’s Center for Science, Technology, and Society, we review hundreds of applications from social entrepreneurs who wish to participate in our fully subsidized capacity development program, the Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI™).The GSBI is designed for entrepreneurs in the field - including many from Africa, India, South America, and the Philippines – to access an actionable business model curriculum in just eight months.
During this year’s discovery process, we found the large number of biofuels ventures out of Africa striking. There isn’t enough arable land to feed the growing population there, distribution and other challenges aside. So why are so many field-based social entrepreneurs growing fuel in Africa instead of using the sun?
Could economics be the reason? It is well known that corn-based ethanol production in the United States has resulted in increased food costs for the developing world. In fact, the IMF reported that in 2007, almost half of the increase in production of major food crops was related to biofuels. And, European energy companies may pay for source materials, as evidenced by the Agroils model, a social enterprise that produces sustainable biofuels from non-edible forestry species.
But we do not believe that economic reasons alone are driving African biofuel social enterprises. Our experience with more than 40 ventures in the sector reveals that a large majority of social entrepreneurs are delivering power directly to the communities they serve, not supplying power to the developed world.
An advantage of our practice orientation is that we can ask the social entrepreneurs naïve questions, and they give us great latitude, as well as deep insights. Why grow biofuels in an environment that is much better suited to technologies such as solar power generation? The answer is in the context: many African governments impose enormous tariffs on the importation of solar panels. Solar thus becomes an untenable technology solution for local energy production.
In an informal discussion, one of our professors at Santa Clara, Alexander J. Field, Ph.D., the Michael and Mary Orradre professor of economics and author of the book A Great Leap Forward, proposed two alternative drivers for the governmental tariffs:
1. Corruption: a known factor in African politics. Just this week,Omidyar Network announced $5 million to fund organizations that foster government accountability and transparency in Africa. But is corruption the entire rationale behind the development of biofuels?
2. Innovation stimulation: could the local governments be driving innovation by making solar panels cost prohibitive? Again, this contextual factor may contribute to the implementation of tariffs in Africa, and may work well for some needs of the underserved (such as agriculture) but have unintended negative consequences for technology diffusion in cases of extreme economies of scale, e.g., solar panel manufacturing.
The answers are not black and white. In a recent New York Times article, Anand Giridharadas poses a hypothesis that ‘Real Change Requires Politics.’ We’ve experienced this first hand at the GSBI. The bottom line is that in order to effectively help social entrepreneurs solve issues for those living at the base of the pyramid, we need to better understand the contextual factors, including politics, which influence the successful adoption of optimal technology solutions and business models.
Posted by Thane Kreiner, Ph.D., executive director of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Santa Clara University |
Thursday, Jul. 14, 2011
We just received word from GSBI '09 alumni organization Gifts & Graces that on June 17th, 2011 they received WFTO - Philippines accreditation. The recently launched WFTO - Philippine Certification and Labeling Initiative aims to promote and distinguish Fair Trade products from Filipino producers specifically for the Philippine consumer market.
What is Gifts and Graces all about?
Gifts and Graces, headquartered in the Philippines, has a global presence and is the brand of choice for handcrafted quality gifts made by livelihood communities of marginalized members of society.
Their Mission is to improve the quality of life of marginalized members of society, by providing product development, technical training on enterprise management, and global market access to livelihood communities under the Gifts and Graces brand.
Through a strong partnership with other NGOs and non-profits, and with the help of committed and passionate board of trustees, staff, and supporters who believe in our cause, we help communities and individuals reach their full potential and break free from the cycle of poverty.
What does this new certification mean?
It means that Gifts & Graces abides by the 10 principles of Fair Trade:
1. Creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers.
2. Transparency and Accountability
3. Fair Trading practices
4. Payment of a fair price
5. Ensuring no producer is using child labor or forced labor
6. A commitment to non-discrimination, gender equality, and freedom of association
7. Ensuring good working conditions
8. Providing capacity building
9. Promoting Fair Trade
10. Respect for the Environment
Gifts & Graces can now display the WFTO - Philippines label on their products to guarantee that they adhere to social, economic, and environmentally responsible business practices. This is a great achievement for one of our GSBI alumni and we congratulate them!
Visit the Gifts & Graces website to see their product gallery and follow them on facebook!