From Innocence to a Political Future
The grand narrative of social entrepreneurship is everywhere: heroic individuals build innovative solutions to transform the texture of the world’s social fabric. What have we learned in a decade of emergent debate on the topic? What are the effects of a topic nobody, be it policy makers, professors, students, or parents, can avoid touching upon one way or another? A decade ago the topic was eclectically discussed, infusing small circles of dispersed professional communities such as development experts, nonprofit managers, and small elites of foundation visionaries and its beneficiaries. Today professional communities, career trajectories, and financial and political resources navigate around the topic.
BERLIN, Germany – For someone who still believes he has trouble articulating his ideas and vision for the future, Juergen Griesbeck, CEO and founder of streetfootballworld has gained enormous clout in the football industry for effectively illuminating the tremendous potential football has in social development. In 2002 Griesbeck created streetfootballworld, an organization that employs a network model to connect organizations all over the world that use football as a tool to tackle social issues such as homelessness, HIV/AIDS and landmine awareness. Ten years later, streetfootballworld has become synonymous with the idea of sports as an agent for change. The non-profit organization has grown to include close to 100 separate organizations in over 60 different countries and has even formed a partnership with football’s global governing body – FIFA. Yet even with the progress that has been made, Griesbeck admits that work still needs to be done to embed the idea of football as a tool for social development in the heart of powerful governing organizations, clubs and players that shape the football industry.
ZURICH, Switzerland – Many people dream of starting their own business. Some do it to make money and some want to make a difference to the social and environmental issues that matter to them. How does one then become a social entrepreneur? What is the story behind those who managed to do it? The path of the successful entrepreneur, Renat Heuberger, is a perfect Hollywood story.
When you talk with her, it’s hard to find the moment that you could use to ask your following question. Albina Ruiz is one of those. She has the drive and focused energy of the ones who have fought for their vision to come true. For nearly three decades she has been building up a model of social enterprise, at first in Peru and progressively all over South America. She is now working to develop it in Asia.
For Refugees United, 10 minutes is worth more than 10 dollars. It may sound like an odd approach for raising money, when it is a product that the majority of the donors will never have any use for. But to CEO Jens Briksten, it is a matter of having a product that appeals to something more than needs and desires. It is about having a product that appeals to one of the strongest human emotions: the fear of losing your family. The reason he would rather have ten minutes is therefore quite simple and pragmatic.
Children in Maasai Mara, Kenya use technology deployed by Inveneo, a nonprofit social enterprise. Photo courtesy of Inveneo. A rumor that the FCC released a proposal last month for nation-wide, free, public Wi-Fi was quickly dismissed as wishful thinking, but sparked a much-needed national conversation about the digital divide. Kristin Peterson, co-founder and CEO of Inveneo, has been preoccupied with disparities in technology access at a global level since 2004. Inveneo, a nonprofit social enterprise, delivers affordable (but not free), reliable, and sustainable broadband to communities in developing countries.
When Njideka Harry answers the phone, her voice is warm and smooth. As she begins to tell me about the foundation she started twelve years ago, her tone conveys both humility and confidence. Before long, it becomes clear that these qualities are a trademark; something embedded in the very fabric of her organization and passed on to the youth who come through the Youth for Technology Foundation’s programs in six developing countries across Africa and Latin America. (more…)
“Don’t say no to plastic. Say no to plastic which is non-degradable.” Speaking at a TEDx conference in his home country of Indonesia last year, Sugianto Tandio – President Director of PT Tirta Marta – shared what he is calling his “redemption story.” Formerly in the conventional plastics business, he explained his current passion for solving the global plastic waste problem as both an activist and a social entrepreneur. The 3P’s of people, planet, profit – also known as the Triple Bottom Line – is the holy grail for business sustainability practitioners. Can plastics, Mr. Tandio’s redemption story, fit in? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jON7MvJ1xOk&w=640
According to a report commissioned by PlasticsEurope, and authored by British futurologist Ray Hammond, plastics will continue to play an important role in meeting many of the world’s crucial future challenges.
NARAYANGANJ, Bangladesh–“I never reach for the stars,” says Runa Khan during our interview. As the founder and director of Friendship, a Bangladeshi non-governmental organization (NGO) in a country of more than 20,000 NGOs, this is quite the statement. “I look at the stars, I see the stars—I want that. But…the key to the work that Friendship does is simplicity.” Khan, an emerging leader in satellite health and social service provision to the coastal areas of her home country, is not afraid to cause a commotion. Khan, born and raised in Dhaka, is the brains, and beauty, behind Friendship, an NGO that began work converting river barges to sustainable health clinics in the vulnerable chars, islands made of sediment in the North.
Istanbul – where the East and the West collide – is the only city in the world to sit on two continents. This city has seen scores of people fighting to call this land their home, shining light on another great battle that is being waged all over Turkey today. Currently, the vast majority of the population is Muslim – obviously to varying degrees of piety. Also, due to its position as a conduit of trade and culture between the East and the West, it has also developed a strong secular mentality. Thus, it is hard to differentiate which norms are based in religion, and are thus more difficult to alter, and which are social, and consequently more amenable.
For a long time, the environmentalists’ mantra was Thoreau’s declaration, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.” Increasingly, however, environmentalists have become preoccupied by the concrete jungle: the city, dressed in glass, concrete, and steel. The city’s importance can’t be over-stated, because half the world’s population now lives in urban areas, and because the city consumes for more than 75 percent of resources, worldwide. In some parts of the world cities are growing rapidly; in others they are losing population and falling into disrepair. Yet, cities everywhere are being forced to reimagine themselves due to variability in population and climate. The way they do so will have massive consequences for our communities and collective ecological resilience.