Archive for the ‘Social Entrepreneurship’ Category

10 SOCAP Scholarship Entrepreneurs Share About the Value of the Social Capital Markets Conference

March 23rd, 2017

Now is the time to apply for the 2017 SOCAP Entrepreneur Scholarship. Every year hundreds of entrepreneurs from around the world apply for the SOCAP scholarship, from all sectors and stages of growth. This year up to 150 of the most innovative ventures will be selected to receive:

  • Free SOCAP17 full conference pass (valued at $1495)
  • Exclusive access to the Impact Accelerator @SOCAP
  • Hostel accommodations for the duration of the conference
  • Recognition and high visibility at SOCAP17

Year after year SOCAP scholarship awardees tell us that they received so much more than anything we can list in bullet points. We asked the 2016 class of entrepreneurs to tell us in their own words about the things they valued most about their SOCAP experience.

My SOCAP Experience

Of all the wonders of SOCAP, the most interesting is the entrepreneurs you will meet through the scholarship program. This is perhaps the most valuable yet undervalued aspect of the scholarship. Entrepreneurs are truly passionate about their work and learning about yours, they become a sounding board and resource throughout the rest of the weekend. Cuthbert A. Onikute, Dechets a l’Or

The entrepreneur scholarship was a fantastic experience for me – the insight I got from the speakers and my fellow entrepreneurs was super helpful in improving my pitch before I took it into the market. You can’t help but get better being in the same place with so many other smart, inspiring entrepreneurs. Mike Geddes, The Third Half

Attending SOCAP is a highly valuable experience for a variety of reasons. You…have access to thought leaders, investors, program administrators and entrepreneurs. As a result, you can take away new knowledge and perspectives on approaches to making social impact as well as for making your program attractive and beneficial. Ira Sockowitz, Learning Game Studios

It was a life changing experience, as we were able to understand how the capital markets work and the scale we can reach with our companies if we combine the right elements. Inspiring entrepreneurs already reaching millions of people, tons of connections and new friends from all around the World. Antonio Nuno, Someone Somewhere

As a sole founder, one can feel a bit isolated so I loved the opportunity to interact with so many entrepreneurs with similar goals and challenges! Naa-Sakle Akuete, Eu’Genia Shea

The SOCAP scholarship allowed me to affordably attend a world class conference and connect with mentors and other entrepreneurs. Eli Mitchell-Larson, Sun Farmer

Being an scholarship entrepreneur truly made the SOCAP experience great!  We were recognized by other participants, got to network with our peers, and got great tips to prepare for the conference. Afzal Habib, Kidogo

SOCAP ’16 was an incredible experience. TruClinic was given a great opportunity to expand our technology and impact to a global audience. I can’t wait to attend next year! Justin Kahn, TruClinic

Being a scholarship entrepreneur helped me forge lasting relationships with fellow mission-driven entrepreneurs. It’s great motivation to meet others working so hard to make a positive impact, and commiserate about the challenges of building a business that turns a profit and changes the world! The one-day accelerator really helped me make the most out of the rest of SOCAP. If you’re an entrepreneur thinking of coming to SOCAP, applying to be a SOCAP scholarship entrepreneur is really a no-brainer.” Cullen Schwarz, DoneGood

There were lots of accomplished social entrepreneurs and innovators who are working on projects or facing challenges similar to mine, presenting amazing opportunities to listen and learn. Sam Gwer, Ubuntu-Afya Project

Entrepreneurs: Ready to Join us at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco 2017?

Apply for a SOCAP Scholarship Here

If you know an innovative social entrepreneur that would benefit from the SOCAP Entrepreneur Scholarship, please share this information with them or encourage them to apply.

2017 Application Deadlines

The deadline to apply is June 1st for internationally based entrepreneurs who need an early decision (for visa application purposes). The final application deadline for all entrepreneurs is June 30th.

*Please note: Scholarship does not include travel expenses.

Announcing Early Scholarship Dates

March 21st, 2017

In response to recent events, SOCAP is opening applications for the Entrepreneur Scholarship program earlier this year than ever before.

The early launch for scholarship applications will help give accepted international entrepreneurs and non-US citizens enough time to obtain visas to enter the United States. Now through June 1st, international applicants can apply for the SOCAP17 Entrepreneur Scholarship program for early consideration. For stateside applicants, the deadline is June 30, 2017. Accepted entrepreneurs will be notified in early July.

Since the first convening of SOCAP in 2008, 547 social entrepreneurs from 71 countries have received scholarships to attend SOCAP, coming from Asia, Europe, Africa, North, Central, and South America, and Australia. Last year SOCAP welcomed over 2,800 attendees, including 150 entrepreneur scholars from over 30 countries.


The Future of Social Capital Markets

“We prioritize support for inspiring entrepreneurs, as they are the future of the social capital markets,” said Lindsay Smalling, Producer and Curator of SOCAP.

Sam Gwer, a SOCAP16 scholarship entrepreneur from Nairobi, Kenya, traveled 19 hours to attend the program last year. He scheduled his visa appointment two months in advance, and paid extra to secure a 5-year visa with the option for future travel.

“I am not quite sure about the implication for visa applications [for 2017]  but I would advise that there is no loss in applying considering the likely gain in attending SOCAP17,” he said.

Gwer rated the overall SOCAP Scholarship experience as “highly valuable.”  

“There were lots of accomplished social entrepreneurs and innovators working on projects or facing challenges similar to mine, presenting amazing opportunities to listen and learn,” he said. In a follow up interview directly after the conference, he added that he had the chance to meet with potential investors, and make valuable connections.

“I made friendships that will last a lifetime,” said SOCAP16 entrepreneur scholar Isabel Rauh Hain, who attended the program from Mexico. Her top three takeaways from the scholarship included the realization that it’s possible to exponentially increase her impact; the opportunity to increase her mindset (“there are a lot impact investments and grants”); and seeing that impact businesses have the possibility of being very profitable.


Details & Application

Successful scholarship entrepreneurs are selected for their outstanding ideas, inspiring stories, and passion for creating sustainable business models. Up to 150 entrepreneurs will be awarded scholarships to SOCAP17, along with the following benefits:

  • Free SOCAP17 full conference pass (valued at $1495)
  • Impact Accelerator @SOCAP – tailored entrepreneur programming pre-conference
  • Hostel accommodations for the duration of the conference
  • Recognition and high visibility in the SOCAP program
  • Dedicated mentorship from notable impact leaders

Interested international applicants can apply at the following link now through June 1st, for early consideration: Application Form. For all other applicants, the deadline is June 30, 2017. Selected scholar entrepreneurs will be notified at the beginning of July.

Notes on Movement Building from a Convener

March 16th, 2017

By Kevin Jones

Movements happen when people who thought they were alone discover valuable strangers who become unlikely allies. I am flying to Armenia tomorrow to keynote the Impact Investing for Development Summit (IID) convened by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and knowledge partner INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Initiative. The Summit will bring together development agencies, sovereign funds from the Nordics, Eastern European and Middle Eastern impact investors so that development practitioners can figure out how to work seriously with impact investors. The reality of climate change and societal risk has led IID Summit participants to recognize that public funds and philanthropic funds are not enough to handle the task.

At the same time, we at SOCAP are convening a session in June in Manhattan to see what it will take to integrate impact investing with Wall Street at scale. That initiative, The Good Capital Project, (GCP) will be a two year online mapping project that will convene people from Wall Street, the financial sector, impact investing and the social capital market to catalyze collaboration and accelerate capital flows into purpose driven investments. After our first meeting in June, GCP participants will convene again at SOCAP in San Francisco in October, and on other event platforms as the participants require. These people may have never worked together before GPC, but SOCAP’s secret sauce is bringing the people out of their tents at the oasis; valuable strangers discovering they can be unlikely allies. Movement building, even among strangers, is right up our alley.

5 Ways to Be a Clean Money Revolutionary in 2017

February 24th, 2017

A SOCAP Guest Post by Joel Solomon

My first book, The Clean Money Revolution, is coming out in May. So, you may be asking, what is clean money? 

Clean Money is money aligned with purpose: money that is about more than self-interest; money that prioritizes the commons; money that makes the world better. Clean money regenerates ecosystems, builds fairness and equity for people, and helps achieve a healthy balance between people and planet.

Clean Money is revolutionary, and it’s also evolutionary. It expands our view of finance from a bank balance, or net worth calculation, or the name of a company you own stock in.

Clean Money builds true security and real prosperity, based on long-term thinking, and a safe, fair resilient future.

Clean Money considers where materials came from, who assembled them, and whether that process was just, regenerative, or destructive. From there, choices can be made. Choices that factor in the future of civilization.

We are in the midst of a great economic shift. It is a time of big challenges but also huge potential. The clean money revolution is the biggest opportunity for making money in history. Reinventing how we steward resources, feed, house, educate, transport, keep healthy, and employ humanity, while protecting natural systems, and the biosphere, are the prosperity drivers that can give us 500 more years of generative civilization.

This revolution can be peaceful, joyous, and smart. You will make it real.

5 Clean Money Practices

1. Invest as if lives depend on you.

Because they do. Be proactive. Research options. Socially Responsible Investing (SRI): screening global stocks and bonds for “less bad”, is a basic first step. Clean money thinks through where materials came from, who assembled them, and whether that process was just, or unjust, regenerative or destructive.

2. Ask annoying questions.

Wealth managers are seeing the trend. More insistent questions will lead to new products in mutual funds, retirement plans, bank accounts, insurance, and wealth management. Cleaner consumer goods, sourcing policies, environmental regulations, fair pay, and reduced discrimination, will follow.

3. Spend + invest locally.

Strengthen community. Recirculate dollars. Make better jobs. You can choose where you shop. Make choices that align with YOUR values.

4. Agitate, agitate, agitate.

Stand for what you believe in. Research. Get informed. Insist. Model it. Tell your friends. Be courageous. Use your influence. Take risks. Then go further. A movement is well underway, gaining momentum. It’s early. You are a leader.

5. Remember your ancestral responsibilities.

We are all ancestors, bloodline procreators or not. The people of many tomorrows are watching us. They want us to be smart and own responsibility for how we live our lives, what we consume, who we disadvantage, how we participate as citizens, and how our actions contribute to a safer, more loving, more just future.

Transitioning to clean money is no dutiful, painful exercise in morality. It is inspiring, invigorating, satisfying, life-enhancing. It gives meaning, purpose, and personal agency.

That’s what I mean by the Clean Money Revolution.

See you there.

Joel Solomon will be hosting the SOCAP 365 event “Capital Shifts for a Regenerative Economy: A Holistic Approach to Trends & Opportunities” at Impact Hub Berkeley on Thursday, March 2, 2017 from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM. Join Joel and a panel of leading thinkers and practitioners to discuss coming shifts in capital and how a “clean money revolution” might help us build a regenerative economic system that works for all. Learn more and get your tickets here.



Joel Solomon is Co-Founder and Chair of Renewal Funds, Canada’s largest mission venture capital firm, with $98MM under management. Renewal Funds invests in Organics and Envirotech.

With Founder + Funder Carol Newell, Joel implemented a “whole portfolio activation to mission” strategy as leader of her “activist family office”. As ED of the Endswell Foundation they spent down a $20M endowment, leaving Tides Canada Foundation and Hollyhock as legacy charities while supporting BC’s renowned environmental community. As CEO of Renewal Partners’ seed capital fund over $10M was placed into dozens of green companies.

SOCAP Conversations: Martin Burt on the Poverty Stoplight Approach to Ending Poverty

February 7th, 2017

Martin Burt represented Poverty Stoplight at the SOCAP 365 event “Welcome Party: Poverty Stoplight comes to Washington, D.C.” on Friday, February 10. We were able to talk with Martin prior to the event.

Poverty Stoplight is working to eliminate poverty, household by household, in countries around the world. They do that by talking directly to people who are living in poverty conditions. They’ve developed a measurement tool and a methodology that helps impoverished families map their needs so they can navigate a way out. Since its inception in 2011, Poverty Stoplight has helped thousands upon thousands of families lift themselves out of poverty globally, from Paraguay, where the program started, to 25 countries including South Africa, Taiwan, Ecuador, UK, Tanzania, Nigeria and the U.S. (in New Orleans, Louisiana).

We talked to Martin Burt, founder of Poverty Stoplight and the NGO Fundación Paraguaya about his innovative “bottom up” approach to ending poverty around the world.

SOCAP: How does the Poverty Stoplight approach to eliminating poverty differ from other organizations with the same goal?

Martin Burt: Poverty is multidimensional. By looking at poverty beyond income you can find many additional solutions. Poverty Stoplight is a new measurement tool that helps people self diagnose their level of poverty, across 50 indicators. That is 50% of the work. Poverty Stoplight also allows people to convert that diagnosis into a family action plan. The unit of analysis is not the individual, but rather the household. So you have a bottom up approach to self diagnosis (that involves) taking stock of what you are good at and what you are lacking. It is a self awareness approach that is quite empowering.

The difference between Poverty Stoplight and other approaches that are out there is that it is not a poverty index, but a dashboard. It is not an aggregation of data, but a disaggregation. The information can be aggregated to analyze the data, but the prime decision maker here is not the head of a welfare agency, but the head of the household. What you have here is a survey that is not extractive. It is not that somebody goes to the house and sucks the information away, the person is doing her own survey–compiling data for herself and developing a dashboard that can help her prioritize her actions.

Can you give an example of how the measurement process works at the household level?

The head of a household, either at home or in the workplace, fills out the survey using a computer or tablet. At the end of that 20 minute visual survey you get your own dashboard which gives you an idea of where you are in everything: weight, income, housing, transportation, violence, self esteem, family budget, financial health…etc. The dashboard shows each indicator as red (extreme poverty), yellow (poverty) or green (not poverty) for the entire household. If the adult has a child, the adult cannot overcome poverty without the child being well taken care of and vice versa. You cannot get a child out of poverty if the mother is chronically unemployed.

Your solution is also described as a coaching methodology. Does a mentor work with the head of household to develop their plan to get out of poverty?

Yes. Once the person sees their dashboard, then the program facilitator, who could be a social worker or the head of HR in the company, helps them to identify the top three priorities they want to address. Usually the solutions are locally applicable. Every country has its own way to get wheelchairs or to fix teeth. People are sometimes not aware of those solutions or don’t know where to start. So we have a coaching methodology that is based on helping people answer two questions: Is it worth it? and Can I do it?

Is it worth it? has to do with motivation. Can I do it? has to do with skills. So they develop some practices for motivation and skill building in order to help lift themselves up out of poverty. We also use peer pressure, group support, prizes and incentives. It’s a holistic approach, based on a concerted effort.

What opened your eyes to the need for people who are living in poverty to be asked to participate in the measurement process and to speak to what outcome they want for themselves?

We started with a microfinance program here in Paraguay. We saw that some people actually overcame poverty very easily and some people, despite financial assistance, did not. So we started consulting with them to ask, what does it mean not to be poor? So we defined locally what it means for people not to be poor or for people to be ok. They very quickly helped us define the 50 indicators and what the thresholds are.

Everybody in the UK or in the U.S. or in Spain or South Africa knows what it means not to be poor on income, which is the easy one, or in transportation or in housing. Once you have local definitions of what it means to be ok, then people can relate and say, I can do that.

No one is poor in everything. Like (the idea) in Anna Karenina, (that) all happy families are alike but each unhappy family is unhappy in their own way, every poor person is poor in their own way. That has to be respected. The overcoming of poverty (should be) a personal commitment with the support of society.

Where do you see the future of the program going?

I think that today’s technology allows poor families to take over and control their situation. Before there used to be paper files, which would have made that impossible. But the internet and increased digital capacity allows poor families to self diagnose and come up with their action plan, really take control of their situation and take advantage of all the services that are available. It is meeting supply and demand, but from the demand point of view. It is not like the hospital wanting to know who needs health services, but the patient wanting to know what type of services are available for her.

We are interested in starting a pilot program in DC to adapt the poverty indicators to what it means not to be poor in DC, what is the standard that families living in poverty aspire to, locally. We’ll be working with the community to find out what kinds of local solutions there are. Usually there are solutions, but the people in poverty don’t see them.

What is inspiring you most in your work right now? What is giving you hope for the future?

We are doing two types of competitions. In one students are competing to see who can get their parents out of poverty first. Engaging high school students to measure their family’s well being and convince the parents to overcome whatever problems they are having, is really turning youth into great assets. Another type of competition empowers poor families to help other families get out of poverty. So working with poor communities: with workers in companies (our biggest client here in Paraguay is a supermarket with 7000 employees–so that is 7000 families), with students, and with poor families helping other poor families.

It is not about the war on poverty, as defined by the top. It is victory over poverties as defined by each family. We use the words “poverty elimination” because it is the process of going from red or yellow in an indicator to green. Each family self defines when they are green, when they can move that little sticker in their dashboard to green, in each category. So we are results and impact focused.

Visit to learn more.

Martin Burt is the Founder of Fundación Paraguaya (the Paraguayan Foundation for Cooperation and Development) and Poverty Stoplight. He is a pioneer in applying microfinance, microfranchise, youth entrepreneurship, and financial literacy methodologies to address chronic poverty. Burt has been honored with the 2016 Latin American Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the Microfinance Award from the Inter-American Development Bank, the Outstanding Social Entrepreneur Award from the Schwab Foundation, the Skoll Foundation Social Entrepreneur Award, the Ashoka Changemakers Award, the Oikocredit Award, the Templeton Freedom Award, and the distinguished alumni Award from the George Washington University and University of the Pacific, among other distinctions. He is an Avina Foundation leader and a Synergos and Eisenhower Fellow. He has published books on economics, development, municipal government, poetry, and education.