April 2013

Head of the Class: The Global Social Benefit Incubator Announces 2013 Social Enterprise Recipients, Spotlights Investment-Ready Focus

SANTA CLARA, Calif., April 4, 2013 —When pressing social problems and innovative entrepreneurs collide, dramatic change in the humanitarian landscape is possible. That’s exactly what is happening at Santa Clara University’s Center for Science, Technology, and Society (CSTS), which today announces the latest group of 15 social enterprises chosen to receive training through its signature Global Social Benefit Incubator or GSBI™.

The newly named GSBI Accelerator program has been revamped to focus on investment-ready social enterprises that have the potential to vastly increase their impact on the lives of the poor—as CSTS strives to improve the lives of 1 billion by 2020. This year’s cohort of 15 was selected through a competitive process that began last November.

"As the GSBI enters its eleventh year, we have intensified our focus on helping successful social enterprises scale,” said Thane Kreiner, Ph.D., executive director of the CSTS. “The 2013 GSBI Accelerator will develop, train, and guide investment-ready social enterprises to rapidly expand their reach."

"As a long-time GSBI mentor, I have worked with hundreds of social enterprises over the last decade. This is unequivocally the most accomplished cohort I have ever seen,” said Paul Meissner, Ph.D., senior director of the GSBI. “Their momentum reflects how quickly social entrepreneurship is expanding, and how many millions of lives can be impacted by their work."

Leaders from 15 enterprises have been selected to take part in the eight-month GSBI Accelerator program, beginning in April and ending in December 2013.  Participants will receive mentoring from top-level Silicon Valley executive experts, highly specialized instruction, and intense on-campus education. For the first time this year, the social enterprises are being directly monitored by an elite group of interested funders, the GSBI Impact Investing Partners. While not necessarily committing to funding the ventures, the partners will help participants evaluate their organizations from a funding perspective.

The in-residence portion of the program will take place August 15–23 at Santa Clara University, culminating in a networking event with the impact investors. The GSBI Impact Investing Partners include:  Accion, Acumen Fund, Bamboo Finance, Beyond Capital Fund, The Eleos Foundation, Emcor Securities, Grassroots Business Fund, Halloran Philanthropies, Hub Ventures, Invested Development, Khosla Impact Fund, KL Felicitas, Skoll Foundation, Toniic, and Village Capital.

This year’s GSBI class members are building businesses including "biodigester systems" that help small farmers treat animal waste and convert it into powerful organic fertilizer and methane-rich biogas for cooking and heating; "100-percent biomass waste gasification" to generate electricity and distribute power to rural households; water pumps that run on solar power; two-way, on-demand mobile platforms that teach reading and writing skills to poor families; low-cost, pre-paid electricity meters that enable the extension of renewable energy to global communities living off-the-grid, and many more.

In addition to launching this year’s GSBI Accelerator, the CSTS joined with longtime GSBI sponsor Applied Materials last year to make a Clinton Global Initiative commitment to support 18 clean energy social enterprises over the next three years. Including this year’s GSBI Accelerator class and the related online program, GSBI Online, the partners have already reached 15 clean energy enterprises.

“We want to thank Applied Materials for its ongoing support of the Center and GSBI,” said Meissner. “We are also delighted that eBay Foundation is sponsoring four enterprises in this year’s cohort: AVANI, Drishtee Development and Communication Ltd., Juhudi Kilimo, and Kinara Capital.”

For more details about the program and the 2013 GSBI class, visit the Center for Science, Technology, and Society’s website at www.scu.edu/socialbenefit/.

About the GSBI
The GSBI is the signature program of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Santa Clara University. The mission of the Center is to accelerate global, innovation-based entrepreneurship in service to humanity. The GSBI empowers socially-minded entrepreneurs to build sustainable, scalable organizations and solve problems for people living in poverty around the world. For over a decade, the GSBI has helped mission-driven enterprises build, sustain, and increase the reach and impact of their businesses. The GSBI is currently funded in part by a grant from the Skoll Foundation, corporate gifts from Applied Materials, and generous support from individual donors.

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 www.scu.edu.

Media Contacts:
Beverly Nuako | CSTS Marketing Manager | 408-551-6048 | bnuako@scu.edu
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations | 408-554-5121 | dlohse@scu.edu