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Crowdfunding Becomes Global Phenomenon

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Crowdfunding itself is going viral around the globe. It seems that everywhere you look, crowdfunding is popping up in a big way. This is top of mind for me as I jump on a plane to Moscow to deliver a keynote address at CrowdMap ’14.

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit with Sourabh Sharma, the CEO and Founder of Milaap, a crowdfunding site in India that is using the model created by Kiva, allowing people to invest in micro loans to the poor. Milaap focuses on lending for things that others often avoid, including toilets and education.

Earlier in the month, I had the opportunity to attend and share a few ideas at the Berkeley Symposium on Crowdfunding hosted by Richard Swart. The audience was surprisingly international and it is clear that at least with respect to investment crowdfunding the rest of the world is leading the way. Australia and the UK, with much of the rest of Western Europe following closely behind, launched investment crowdfunding legislation and practice as much as seven years ago. Most recently, I heard at the conference, that Malaysia has just legalized investment crowdfunding.

At the Berkeley Symposium, Swart said, “Since our first conference last year, we have seen an explosion in interest in crowdfunding and alternative finance from policy makers, academic experts, governments and think tanks around the world. As the leading research center in the field we have been privileged to get early access to these new tools and data sets that are shedding light on how this industry is transforming entrepreneurship, innovation and early stage capital formation globally.”

A World Bank report prepared by Jason Best, Sherwood Neiss and Swart of Crowdfund Capital Advisors (a one-time sponsor of my work in 2013) indicated that global crowdfunding would reach $95 billion annually. The more I see of crowdfunding globally, the more I think that number is unrealistically low. The Securities and Exchange Commission agrees with the industry that the moniker crowdfunding can apply to investment crowdfunding conducted under Title II of the JOBS Act as implemented under Regulation D 506(c), which allows for “general solicitation” of securities offerings under the rule. According to Chris Tyrrell, CEO of OfferBoard, the tally of such deals already reaches into the tens of billions.

Gust, the angel investor platform that can be counted among the largest accredited investor equity crowdfunding sites, recently announced a partnership with El Observatorio Nacional Del Emprendedor (One). CEO David Rose said in a statement regarding the announcement, “ONE is a key driver in the creation of a successful startup ecosystem in Mexico, and we are thrilled to help contribute to the growth of the startup community and its early-stage investors. Our strategic partnership will enable any entrepreneur and venture capital firm in Mexico to connect and manage the investment relationship, from initial pitch to successful exit.” Gust already reports having 45,000 investors from over 100 countries registered on the platform.

Given my focus on social entrepreneurship, I’m most excited to see the impact of crowdfunding on the most disadvantaged in the world. A relatively new platform called KriticalMass, launched from Italy, operates with a U.S. focus, but I discovered a truly global campaign there a few months ago that I covered here at Forbes last month. Alem Mumuni, a Ghanaian paracyclist is training to compete in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio and is raising money, with the help of his British coach, Alex Main, on KriticalMass. Mumuni is a polio victim who has recently become a spokesperson for Rotary International’s efforts to eradicate polio. This brings together multiple layers of social good brought about through the global expansion of crowdfunding.

While there are a few people left in the U.S. who don’t yet recognize the word crowdfunding and haven’t even heard of Kickstarter or Indiegogo, the crowdfunding wave is truly becoming a global phenomenon.

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Off to Russia!

Well, I’m heading “Back to the U.S.S.R” or at least back to Moscow. This time, I’m fortunate to be heading to CrowdMap ‘14, a crowdfunding and crowdsourcing conference where I will be delivering a keynote address and providing a one-hour training workshop on crowdfunding.

The other presenters include a prestigious list of CEOs and other luminaries from Russia and Europe, though it appears that I will be the lone American on the agenda.

This will be a great opportunity for me to learn more about the crowdfunding scene in Russia and, more broadly, in Europe. Crowdfunding sites represented by speakers at the conference will include and CroFun (from Belgium).

Crowdsourcing platforms including and will also be represented, creating a great energy among people who are looking for collaboration and cooperation.

This will represent only my second visit to Moscow. Having visited over 30 countries, my last visit to Russia stands out in my memory. I honestly cannot think of any place on earth with more beautiful churches. Much of the Kremlin is comprised, somewhat surprisingly to me, of churches. 


These old structures certainly inspire me and I suspect that they inspire the local people, infusing them with pride and confidence in the beauty of their churches. 

I’m looking forward to getting on the airplane tomorrow morning, dressed appropriately for fall in Moscow! I’ll be sure to report on what I learn!

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Make-A-Wish Founder Launching Ripple Effect, A Platform To Help Anyone Become A Hero

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Frank Shankwitz, a former highway patrol officer, seems like an unlikely person to have launched one of the most culturally significant nonprofit organizations in the country. The Make-a-Wish Foundation grew out of Shankwitz’s effort to grant the wish of seven-year-old boy with leukemia who wanted to be a Highway Patrol Motorcycle Officer.

Shankwitz is now working on a second act, launching Ripple Effect, a crowdfunding platform, to help anyone become a hero. He notes, “As a founder of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, I’ve seen an amazing phenomenon when people rally around a worthy cause. Perhaps the best thing about Ripple Effect will be that anyone can come up with an idea to benefit an important cause: Anyone can be a hero.”

Back in 1980, Shankwitz used his motorcycle to help Chris Greicius fulfill his dream shortly before he passed away. From that simple gesture, Shankwitz built an organization to deliver wishes. Today, the Make-A-Wish Foundation reports fulfilling a wish every 38 minutes on average.

On September 29, 2014 at 4:00 Eastern, Shankwitz will join me for a live discussion about Ripple Effect and his goal to scale impact again. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.

More about Ripple Effect: is a non-profit that creates and manages event, media and online benefits for all types of charities and important individual causes.


Frank Shankwitz


Shankwitz’s bio:

In 1980, while assigned to the Arizona Highway Patrol as a motorcycle officer, Frank was one of the primary officers who helped grant the “wish” of a 7-year old boy with leukemia, who wanted to be a Highway Patrol Motorcycle Officer like his heroes Ponch and John from the television show, “CHiPS”. Chris was made an honorary Arizona Highway Patrol officer, complete with a custom made uniform, badge and motorcycle wings. Chris succumbed to his illness and passed away a few days after receiving his wish. Chris was the inspiration for Frank to start and found the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

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What Difference Does A Bank Account Make? You’d Be Surprised

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

People who do not have access to the mainstream financial system are subject to a variety of fees for services that the rest of us either get for free or at negligible prices. According to Jonathan Mintz, founding President and CEO of Cities for Financial Empowerment (often called the CFE Fund) and the former Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs for New York says, “Using a traditional low-cost bank account could potentially save a full-time worker $40,000 over the course of his or her career.”

Mintz, who was recently featured in the documentary film Spent: Looking for Change, has attracted $16.2 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies to provide free one-on-one financial counseling. Additionally, the CFE Fund has received grants from JP Morgan Chase and the Citi Foundation to help cities provide resources to residents to access the mainstream banking system.

On September 29, 2014 at 3:00 Eastern, Mintz will join me for a live discussion about the CFE Fund’s work to expand access to affordable banking services for the unbanked and underbanked. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.

More about Cities for Financial Empowerment:

The Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund is a national non-profit organization that supports municipal efforts to help low-income families and individuals achieve long-term financial stability. The CFE Fund believes that cities and mayors are uniquely positioned to lead a national financial empowerment movement. To effectively deploy solutions through municipal governments, the CFE Fund works with private sector partners, including major financial institutions like American Express AXP -0.71%, Capital One, Citi Foundation and JP Morgan Chase to develop the most effective and efficient financial empowerment programs.

The CFE Fund uses its resources and experience to:

  • Advise mayors and city leaders on how to integrate financial empowerment programs into municipal services
  • Lead the national movement to professionalize the field of financial education
  • Establish partnerships between the public and private sectors

Integrating financial empowerment services in with existing municipal assistance programs such as workforce development or public housing for example, creates what the organization sees at the “Supervitamin Effect,” through which financial empowerment contributes to improved outcomes for residents seeking assistance and a more efficient use of city resources in the long term.


Jonathan Mintz

Mintz’s bio:

Jonathan Mintz is Founding President and Chief Executive Officer of the Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund, a national non-profit organization that supports municipal efforts to help low-income families and individuals achieve long-term financial stability.

He also founded and co-chaired the Cities for Financial Empowerment Coalition (CFE Coalition), which brings together 14 pioneering municipal governments from across the country to advance innovative financial empowerment initiatives on the municipal, state, and national level. At the CFE Fund, Mintz provides resources to local government leaders and their partners across the world looking to expand financial empowerment programs, policies, and research.

From 2006-2013, Jonathan served as the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), having been appointed to the role by former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. During this time, Mintz redefined the Department’s regulatory enforcement powers toward a focus on consumer financial stability, re-envisioning consumer rights in fields such as debt collection, process serving, employment, and finance.

He also launched the Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE), which has been replicated by local governments across the nation to systematically advance programs in financial counseling and education, asset building, and safe banking. Having joined the DCA in 2002 as First Deputy Commissioner, Mintz worked in the Bloomberg Administration for its full 12 years, and was the longest serving Commissioner in the history of the Department.

Building on these experiences in New York City government, Mintz has pioneered the “Supervitamin Effect,” a growing body of programs, policies, and research that measures the positive impacts of integrating financial empowerment services into mainstream local government antipoverty programs such as workforce development, public housing, domestic violence, prisoner reentry, and more.

Mintz has also worked as an attorney, professor of law, and Second Grade teacher, with graduate degrees from Cornell School of Law and Bank Street College of Education.


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Collaboration Yields New Course For Social Entrepreneurs

Warning: shameless plug ahead!

At the first Social Enterprise and Crowdfunding Conference, GoodCrowd13, I had the pleasure of meeting the founder of Heroconomy, Leesa Hubbard. Our meeting proved strategic.

Shortly after the conference, we began collaboration on a course to help startup social entrepreneurs learn the basics so they can have more impact sooner in the life cycle.

Our effort required a year to produce, but the course is now live on Udemy. In fact, if you use the code “LIVE!” you’ll get over 50 percent off the regular price!

On September 29, 2014 at 2:00 Eastern, Leesa will join me to talk about her work at Heroconomy and our new course (did I mention that it is live on Udemy now?).

More about Heroconomy:

  • We’re on a heroic mission to take on the world’s grand challenges.
  • To be the solution (not the problem) and turn business into a force for Good.
  • To accelerate the growth of a new economy where everyone wins.
  • To inspire and reshape the conversation around the future of business and our planet.

More about our new course:

Heard about social entrepreneurship and ready to start a business that’s new, exciting and makes a real difference in the world?

Begin here with our practical guide to building a world changing business. You’ll gain access to leading tools, resources and business models for starting your own social enterprise.

Social Entrepreneurship is the fastest growing social sector movement. This course will help you discover how YOU can create social change starting today.

Get Started in Social Entrepreneurship is a MUST for anyone interested in starting their own impact-driven, social enterprise.

We provide you with a solid understanding of social entrepreneurship, and the fundamentals for creating your own purpose driven business.

This course provides an excellent introduction to Social Entrepreneurship to getting started and how individuals have a role in creating social change.

In this course, you’ll learn…

  • What Social Entrepreneurship is about (Trends & Opportunities)
  • How to Uncover your PASSION and choose your CAUSE
  • How to Build your Dream Social Enterprise from Scratch

Leesa’s bio:

As a Change Catalyst, Leesa is committed to cultivating progress, sharing the ideas, tools, and trends that are rapidly changing our world.

Leesa is on a mission to help conscious entrepreneurs and businesses to createpowerful global transformation and build a sustainable new economy.

Leesa Hubbard empowers visionary entrepreneurs who are looking to expand their impact and create positive transformation in the world. Her mission is to ‘accelerate the evolution of capitalism - growing business as a force for good’. She’s a teacher, mentor and spokesperson for entrepreneurs and companies that are actively working to solve some of our most pressing social and environmental challenges.

Leesa has particular expertise in starting and developing early stage businesses. For more than a decade, she has been a marketing and business growth strategist, consulting to entrepreneurs and organisations across North America and the Asia Pacific.

Leesa has co-founded and run 4 ventures across Canada, the US and Australia, including the Heroes Economy(a global network of impact entrepreneurs focused on solving major social & environmental challenges through business), a Digital Marketing Agency, a Renewable Energy Company (now one of North America’s industry leaders), and a Technology Start-Up she built from scratch to a 7-figure global brand.

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Polio Has a New Foe; Polio Should Be Worried

Polio is an insidious disease that paralyzes children. Many people in developed countries are under the mistaken impression that polio, like small pox, has been eradicated. 

Polio remains endemic in only three countries, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. The number of cases globally has declined 99.9 percent over the last 30 years largely due to the efforts of Rotary International, the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and, more recently, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Despite the progress, our children are just a plane ride away from contracting the disease, so every child in the world continues to be immunized.

Read some of my past polio coverage here.

Now there is a new face in the war against polio. Susanne Rea, a retired teacher from Australia and a passionate Rotarian, has put polio in her sights and has helped raise almost $1 million over the last few years through an initiative she calls the World’s Greatest Meal.

Rotarians, and others, are encouraged to plan a meal, share the message of ending polio and donate the proceeds online at the site Susanne built in cooperation with Rotary.

Susanne always reminds donors to Rotary’s efforts that 100 percent of the money goes to the fight against polio and that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will match the donations on a $2 for $1 basis, turning a $100 donation into $300 immediately.


Susanne will join me on September 24, 2014 at 2:00 Eastern for a live discussion about the program. Tune in here to watch the interview live.

Learn more on Facebook.

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Mindfull Investors Seek Opportunities For Impact

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

More and more people are beginning to appreciate that investors can earn returns at the same time they drive social impact and solve social problems. Increasingly, people understand that solving a world problem like hunger not only presents a challenge, but also an opportunity.

Stuart Rudick is helping to lead this effort. Founder of the venture fund Mindfull Investors, he is now launching Mindfull Crowd, to bring more accredited investors into the impact investing movement.

Rudick notes, “Today, the most brilliant minds have access to innovative low cost technologies to build profitable businesses making our world a better place.”

Rudick will join me on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 4:00 Eastern for a live discussion about bringing more of the crowd into impact investing.

[At the time of the interview, I will insert a video player here. Bookmark this page and come back then to watch the interview live. Replays will be available here thereafter.]

More about Mindfull Investors:

Mindfull Investors is a venture fund investing in disruptive technologies solving our world’s greatest health challenges while providing investors top performing returns. We work with purpose driven entrepreneurs who are building technologies and companies having a positive impact on our health, our environment and our healthy lifestyles. The Mindfull team sources and funds these companies providing our investors a compelling opportunity to generate outsized returns while doing good in our world.

Stuart Rudick

Rudick’s bio:

Stuart Rudick has been a top performing investment manager for three decades, making money “making a difference.” His ability to identify emerging market trends has led Stuart to invest in first mover market leaders in their early days, reflecting past returns of 5x on investment and an IRR of 20%. He is currently founding Partner at Mindfull Investors Venture Fund, investing in the new breed of entrepreneurs creating disruptive health companies and technologies shaping our future. He is launching Mindfull Crowd, the crowdfunding platform enabling accredited investors to invest in innovative businesses providing health focused solutions to the most pressing issues in our lives.

He was most recently, the Founding Partner at Mindful Investors, LLC, a pioneering Private Equity fund focused on investments in healthy and sustainable consumer products companies including Seventh Generation and Organic Girl. Mr. Rudick’s prior investment experience includes founding in 2005 a private family office focused on investments in health and wellness. In 1993, Stuart founded, Mindful Partners, a top performing public and private market hedge fund. In the 1980’s, he served as Partner at Shearson, Lehman and Associate Director at Bear Stearns. Notable investments have included: Earthlink (IPO), Saba Software (IPO), Connor Medsystems (acquired by Johnson & Johnson $3B), Savacor Inc. (acquired by St. Jude Medical $200M)

Mr. Rudick earned a BS in Business Administration from the University of Colorado and attended the University of Lancaster, UK and MBA program at Golden Gate University.

Stuart’s sustainable industry Board involvement includes current Board Advisor to Blue Planet Network and past Chairman of Baykeeper of Northern California. He is actively involved with B Corporation, Environmental Entrepreneurs, Cradle to Cradle Institute, Global Impact Investing Network, NRDC, Greenpeace and Rainforest Action Network.

Stuart’s daily practice includes yoga, biking, Qigong and mindful living.

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Social Entrepreneurs Borrow From Tech Entrepreneurs To Accelerate Impact

Social entrepreneurs have been mimicking the tech accelerator model in recent years with great success. Invest2Innovate, a Pakistan-based accelerator for social entrepreneurs just launched its most recent class of seven entrepreneurs working in five companies.

i2i, as Invest2Innovate is known, is working to accelerate innovative products that support the broader entrepreneurial ecosystem in Pakistan.

On Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 11:00 AM Eastern, i2i Founder Kalsoom Lakhani will join me for a live discussion about the accelerator program, the entrepreneurs it supports and the impact they are having. Tune in here then to watch the show live.

More about Invest2Innovate:

Invest2Innovate, or i2i, supports startups and the broader entrepreneurial ecosystem in new & untapped markets, and have been operating in Pakistan since 2011. i2i selects impact entrepreneurs for the i2i Accelerator, an annual program designed to grow businesses and position them for seed investment via i2i Angels, our angel investor network. Invest2Innovate has accelerated 11 companies, with 5 additional companies in our latest class, has 35+ local mentors who are part of our network, and 15 investors who are part of our growing angel community. We aim to scale to a new country by late 2015.

Kalsoom’s bio:

Kalsoom Lakhani is the Founder/CEO of Invest2Innovate, or i2i, which supports startups and the broader entrepreneurship ecosystem in developing markets, beginning in Pakistan. She is also the co-founder of The Hero Project, a storytelling platform that celebrates and highlights everyday hidden heroes. Kalsoom has trained young entrepreneurs, changemakers, and civil society leaders in Cambodia, Ireland, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. She has been a Washington, D.C. co-ambassador for Sandbox, a global network of innovators under 30, and is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers. She was featured in Diplomatic Courier’s Top 99 Foreign Policy Leaders under 33 in 2012, and was named an Ashoka Changemakers/ American Express Emerging Innovator for 2013. Kalsoom also founded the popular blog, CHUP, or Changing Up Pakistan in January 2008, and has written for the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, Foreign Policy, NextBillion and Pakistan’s Dawn Newspaper. She has a B.A. from the University of Virginia in Foreign Affairs and Middle East Studies, and an M.A. from The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs in International Affairs/Conflict Resolution.

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Stepping Up for Peace

This is a guest post from Dawn Engle, Co-Founder and PeaceJam Executive Director

September 21st marks the 30th anniversary of International Peace Day, a day devoted to celebrating and strengthening the ideals of peace, among both individuals and nations. As co-founder of The PeaceJam Foundation, a global organization that partners youth with Nobel Peace Laureates to address the most pressing issues facing our planet, this has always been an important day.

For many, however, the idea of changing the world seems like an unattainable goal. The biggest challenge we face in today’s always-on society is simply getting people’s attention and making them understand how easy it is do something that matters. Somehow, we have created a society of no time. Everyone is “too busy.” I talk to my friends who are retired, and even they say they’re “too busy!” This is why for International Peace Day we are launching a campaign named “Peace Starts with Me!,” to give everyone a quick and simple way to join in. It is all about making the small things count. We are inviting everyone to participate by sharing a picture of themselves doing an act of peace on Facebook, Twitter, etc., and then asking their friends and family to do the same.



Dawn with husband and PeaceJam co-founder, Ivan Suvanjieff

Photo Credit: PeaceJam

We want to make it possible for people to make a genuine difference with as little as five minutes of their time. By providing people and organizations the resources to discover and track simple acts of peace, we hope people will be inspired to start small and eventually step up — and quickly learn how to become effective agents of change, and to make a real difference on the issues that are closest to their hearts.

We’re lucky enough to have Google as a Founding Partner for our “One Billion Acts of Peace” campaign, stemming from the support and encouragement of Chade-Meng Tan, a “Jolly Good Fellow” of Google and one of company’s earliest engineers. Meng’s official job description is: “to enlighten minds, open hearts, and create world peace.” It’s hard to think of someone smarter, more fun, or more inspiring than Meng! The first time my husband and I met Meng, he told us that it was his goal is to create the conditions for world peace in his lifetime, and that he was kidnapping us and taking us to Google until we could figure out a way to join forces. Our “One Billion Acts of Peace” campaign was born, and this is our goal — to tackle the toughest issues facing humanity. As Meng always says, through this campaign, “we are making history.”

We recognize that creating one billion acts of peace by the year 2019 is an audaciously ambitious goal, but we believe that our “Peace Starts with Me!” social media push will be one giant step towards launching this movement. It’s time for average people, just like you and me, to step up and create the most powerful and effective global citizens campaign the world has ever seen! Learn more and get involved on

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Advertising Private Offerings: Oxymoron? Successful? Yes and Yes

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

The Prodigy Network, led by Rodrigo Nino, is a real estate crowdfunding site that has already raised hundreds of millions of dollars. Since Title II of the JOBS Act was implemented one year ago on September 23, 2013, much of the money the company has raised in the U.S. has been under these new rules.

Title II of the JOBS Act allows “General Solicitation,” that is advertising, of private offerings with certain restrictions, most notably that the actual sale of securities under such an offering be limited exclusively to accredited investors. The Securities and Exchange Commission rules under Regulation D, 506c limit define the conduct of a general solicitation for a private offering. Best practices in the industry are still developing.

On Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 4:00 Eastern, Nino will join me for a live discussion about the effect of the rules on private capital markets in the U.S. Tune in here to watch the interview live.

[At the time of the interview, I will insert a video player here. Bookmark this page and come back then to watch the interview live. Replays will be available here thereafter.]

More about Prodigy Network:

Founded in 2003, Prodigy Network specializes in connecting its network of accredited investors with opportunities to participate in prime commercial real estate in Manhattan. With its proven crowdfunding model and use of a third-party fund administrator, Prodigy Network has shifted real estate investment opportunities and returns – that once were solely accessible to large investors – to smaller accredited investors. As the leader of the world’s largest crowdfunded skyscraper BD Bacata, Prodigy Network has raised more than $300 million from 6,200 investors globally with a projected value of over $850 million. Prodigy Network is headquartered in New York City.

Nino’s bio:

Rodrigo Nino, CEO and founder of Prodigy Network, is revolutionizing both the real estate and crowdfunding industries by being the first to meld the two worlds.

Nino developed a crowdfunding model as a safe and innovative way of giving smaller investors access to large real estate assets. The model is known for encompassing a third party fiduciary company to ensure full disclosure and added transparency to each project. With this model, Prodigy Network has raised a total of $68 million dollars in equity from investors in 12 states and 10 countries for projects in the United States. Since inception, they have raised $300 million to date for projects in the United States and Latin America.

The first project in New York, AKA Wall Street, is a $90 million project in Manhattan under the Reg-S exemption for foreign nationals. Nino pioneered crowdfunding in the U.S. with investors from over six different countries. His second project, 17 John, was purchased for $85.3 million and raised $25 million in crowdfunded equity. The extended stay hotel in lower Manhattan, upon completion, will stand 23 stories high and will have 191 furnished units. 17John was the first crowddesigned concept hosted by the Prodigy Design Lab. A third project, closing in the fall of 2014 will be an extended stay located in the heart of Manhattan.

With Nino’s direction, Prodigy Network leads a range of impressive crowdfunding projects in Colombia worth over $250 million including BD Bacata, Bacata Express, Aeropuerto Business Hub and Bogota Art District. My Ideal City, is an initiative sponsored by the project BD Bacata in Bogotá, the first skyscraper in Colombia. My Ideal City is an urban planning model that allows people to engage in a conversation with world-class experts on the future of the city thanks to a technology platform and social networks.

With 15 years of seasoned experience in real estate, Nino is often featured in leading publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Businessweek, Forbes, The Economist, The New York Times, Fast Company and Mashable. Also a distinguished speaker, he has spoken at worldwide conferences and was a noteworthy guest at the PSFK Conference, Harvard University and the AEDES gallery in Berlin.

Nino, a Colombian native and a Manhattan resident, has created and proven Prodigy Network’s crowdfunding model to deliver international real estate opportunities to accredited investors to access returns previously unattainable by most.

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Impact Investing Is Kind Of A Big Deal

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

The world is awaking to impact investing. Finally.

More and more we are seeing institutional investors allocating substantial sums to impact. Audrey Choi, CEO of Morgan Stanley’s Institute for Sustainable Investing explains the underlying drivers as a confluence of circumstances, “While the concept of adapting one’s investment philosophy to align with institutional or individual values has been around for centuries, today, a number of powerful political, economic and societal mega-trends are combining to produce a global investment landscape that increasingly demands more transparency, more accountability and more integration of beliefs and values into all spheres of activity. Taken together, these factors help accelerate the development of sustainable investing.”

Maya Chorengel, a co-founder of Elevar Equity, an impact investment fund that finances social ventures, notes, “Impact investing should be central in discussions about the future of capitalism. Wealth inequality is prominently featured in these discussions today; wouldn’t we rather turn attention to the democratization of capital, which is one important category of impact investing?”

Choi and Chorengel, both members of the US National Advisory Board on Impact Investing, will join me on Thursday, September 18 at 6:00 PM Eastern for a live discussion about impact investing. Tune in here to watch the interview live.

[At the time of the interview, I will insert a video player here. Bookmark this page and come back then to watch the interview live. Replays will be available here thereafter.]

More about Elevar:

Elevar Equity is a leading venture capital firm in the impact investment space. Currently on its third fund, Elevar invests in entrepreneurially-led, high-growth companies providing financial services, housing, healthcare and education services to underserved, low-income communities globally. Elevar is one of the few fund managers in the impact space to have realized top market financial returns while delivering substantial impact to millions of customers. With offices in Bangalore, Bogota, Seattle and San Francisco, the Elevar team focuses on early-stage equity investments, backing world-class management teams building companies with innovative, scalable business models.


Maya Chorengel, Elevar

Chorengel’s bio:

Maya Chorengel is a co-founder of Elevar Equity, a commercially-focused impact investment fund that makes equity investments in entrepreneurially-led, high-growth financial services, housing, healthcare and education companies serving low income communities (primarily in Asia and Latin America). Prior to Elevar, Maya was Managing Director of the Dignity Fund, where she managed fund structuring, investing and operations and completed local currency debt financing for microfinance institutions globally. Previously, Maya was at Warburg Pincus, a leading, global private equity investor, working in the firm’s New York, Hong Kong and Menlo Park offices. She invested in companies in a variety of industries spanning venture capital to leveraged buyouts to post-Asian-crisis balance sheet restructurings. She also worked as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley MS +1.51% (Hong Kong and Singapore) and James D. Wolfensohn, Incorporated. Maya is a Director of GloboKasNet, Caja Rural Los Andes, Aarusha Homes and LIGTT and serves as an advisor to several impact funds and organizations. She has served as Director on several boards, including Dignity Fund, the International Association of Microfinance Investors, Silicon Valley Microfinance Network, Comat, Wokai, North Pole Ltd., printChannel and vCustomer. Maya is a graduate of Harvard University and has an MBA from Harvard Business School.

More about Morgan Stanley:

Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is a leading global financial services firm providing investment banking, securities, investment management and wealth management services. The Firm’s employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions and individuals from more than 1,200 offices in 43 countries.

Launched in November 2013, the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing is dedicated to driving private sector capital to attractive investment opportunities that seek competitive financial returns as well as positive social and environmental outcomes. The Institute’s mandate reflects Morgan Stanley’s foundational commitment that capital markets can and should play a vital role in developing the innovative, scalable solutions that will help us meet some of the largest global challenges ahead.


Choi’s bio:

Audrey Choi is CEO of the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing and Head of the Global Sustainable Finance Group. In these roles, she oversees the Firm’s efforts to to build innovative, profitable and scalable sustainable finance solutions through the capital markets. In a career spanning the public and private sectors, Ms. Choi has become an expert and thought leader on the ways in which finance can be harnessed to address major social and environmental challenges while delivering competitive financial returns. She served in the Clinton Administration in senior policy positions, including as Chief of Staff of the Council of Economic Advisers and Domestic Policy Advisor to the Vice President. Previously, Ms. Choi was a foreign correspondent and bureau chief at the Wall Street Journal, covering German reunification and a wide range of industry beats. She is a member of WEF Global Agenda Council and serves on President Obama’s Community Development Advisory Board and the boards of several national non-profits focused on education, conservation, and impact investing.

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How Many Girls Can One Woman Teach? You’d Be Surprised

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Ann Cotton is one of the most recognized social entrepreneurs in the world for her work educating over three million children in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Her organization, Camfed, the Campaign for Female Education, has demonstrated that educating girls and young women has a significant, positive impact on a country by reducing the spread of AIDS and improving both infant and maternal mortality and increasing household incomes.

Camfed approaches its work built on the foundation of the following three value statements:

  1. Focus on the Girl: All of our programs begin with an individual girl in rural Africa. By looking at the world from her perspective, we work to dismantle the hurdles in her way to obtaining an education and living a healthy adult life. We’re answerable first and foremost to her.
  2. Involve the Community: Change can’t happen without community support. We believe people living in rural communities are best placed to solve the problems around them. Community members of all levels help with our program design and implementation.
  3. Operate Transparent, Accountable Programs: We place transparency at the core of our operations. Unique social and financial auditing systems are used in a monitoring process that safeguards girls and young women.

Built on this foundation, Camfed has been recognized repeatedly role in lifting families out of poverty.

On September 18, 2014 at noon Eastern, Cotton will join me here for a live discussion about her remarkable work and impact. Tune in here to watch the interview live.

[At the time of the interview, I will insert a video player here. Bookmark this page and come back then to watch the interview live. Replays will be available here thereafter.]

More about Camfed:

Camfed, the Campaign for Female Education, fights poverty and HIV/AIDS in Africa by educating girls and empowering women to be leaders of change. Since 1993, more than three million children have benefited from Camfed’s innovative education programs in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania and Malawi. Investing in girls and women is proven to improve the health and wealth of a nation. Camfed believes in every child’s right to an education, and knows that poverty is the greatest barrier to girls accessing an education in the communities where it works. Camfed International in based in Cambridge, UK and Camfed USA is based in San Francisco.

Cotton’s bio:

Ann Cotton is Founder and President of Camfed International. In these roles, she oversees Camfed’s holistic program, which has benefitted over 3 million children across a network of 5,085 schools in five African countries. She also created the Camfed alumni program CAMA. Cotton was named the UK’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2004. She has won numerous awards for her work including an Honorary Doctorate in Law from Cambridge University, an OBE in honor for her advocacy of girls’ education in Africa, and the Skoll and Schwab Awards for Social Entrepreneurship.

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Teen Entrepreneur Makes Giving Back Top Priority

Katelyn Lohr is not your typical teenager. At age 13, she launched her own company, Freetoes Brand, Inc., to sell her invention: socks without toes, which are now sold across North America in stores like Toys R Us, Hallmark and Learning Express. 

What really makes Katelyn special is her passion for giving back. She has donated hundreds of pairs of her socks to Project Aftershock, supporting the recovery in Haiti.


Nurse, Laura Whitney

On Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 6:00 PM Eastern, Katelyn will join me for a live discussion about her remarkable company and her passion for giving back. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.


More about Freetoes:

Freetoes Brand Inc. Is a limited Company, established in 2012 located in Vancouver BC Canada
The product and business was created in 2010 by Katelyn Lohr at the age of eight. The company Freetoes toe-less socks are a very versatile product that works for anyone ages 6-60 and are used in a wide variety of ways.
Freetoes are now sold in Ladies and children’s fashion and footwear, spas and salons, sports and dance supply stores, and are perfect for camping. Freetoes make the perfect gift for any age as they are fun, new and extremely practical.
Now sold in these major US chains: Toys are Us, Hallmark, Learning Express locations and 100’s of others across North America.


Katelyn’s bio:

In 2008 when I was eight, I created Freetoes toe-less socks. I wanted to wear my flip flops when it was cold outside and my mom said “No, you have to wear socks and shoes” So I came to her with scissors and socks. My way of following the rules and still getting what I wanted. I wore my Freetoes to school and and of my friends wanted some so I asked if I could use my own money, buy socks, cut the toes off and sell them to my friends. I made $100.00 in my first week. In 2009 with my Oma’s help we started cutting sewing and selling at local markets and festivals around the lower mainland. With the help of my Oma and the rest of my family, we cut sewn and sold over 10,000 pairs. In 2012 I was featured on CBC’S Dragons Den ( Canadian version of Sharks Tank) and shortly after partnered with local BC company Tickled Planet. Freetoes are now sold in 100’s of retail locations across North America and to customers around the world from

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Devin D. Thorpe

This Teen Feeds The Poor; You Won’t Believe When He Started

Joshua Williams became an advocate for the poor at age 4. No kidding. He’s the real deal. 

Now, at age 13, Joshua runs Joshua’s Heart Foundation, a nonprofit with 1,200 volunteers around the country working to feed the poor, delivering 650,000 pounds of food, having raised over $350,000 and having helped over 30,000 people.

Joshua says, “I say to kids in most of my speeches that you’re never too young to make a difference.

On September 10, 2014 at 5:00 Eastern, Joshua will join me for a live discussion about the inspiring work that he’s doing. Tune in here to watch the interview live.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

More about Joshua’s Heart Foundation:

Stomp Out Hunger:
Joshua’s Heart Foundation was born out of a five year-old’s simple wish to feed the hungry. Since then, the Foundation has distributed over 650,000 pounds of food to those in need. With one in six Americans facing hunger today, there’s still plenty of work to be done. By getting involved in Joshua’s Heart Foundation, you play a vital role in fulfilling our mission.

Joshua’s Heart Foundation values:
Joshua’s Heart Foundation (JHF) was founded by a young man named Joshua when he was almost 5 years old, it is a 501(c) 3 non-for-profit organization, which empowers, needy people to improve their quality of life, by providing items of basic necessities, such as groceries, and by effectively engaging and educating communities at home and abroad about committing to fight hunger and poverty on global basis. JHF is a youth run organization dedicated to stomping out hunger, we inspire young people ages 2 years old and older to take action to use their passion to change the world.

To date over 650,000 pounds of food has been given to people in need in both South Florida and Jamaica and over 150,000 Meals Served. He hopes to reach 1 million pounds by the end of the year. Help us to reach that goal

JHF hosts small weekly food distribution, provide food in backpacks for children on the weekends who otherwise would have no food, host seven large food distributions annually and healthy cooking demonstration around South Florida.


Joshua’s bio:

At the tender age of four and a half, Joshua became passionate about assisting the needy after viewing Feed the Children. He was in disbelief about the children who were suffering worldwide. His first solution to the problem was that his mother should adopt some of these unfortunate children and send money to help others. His mother was touched by his compassion and promised they would help in whatever way possible. Weeks after his initial interest in helping the needy, his grandmother gifted him some pocket money. Joshua’s true desire to help shined through when he chose to give the money to a hungry, homeless person on a local street. Though his mother advised him that she would prefer to give the able-bodied person food, Joshua insisted that it was his money and his decision to give the man his money. Following this experience, Joshua’s vision to aid the needy started to blossom.

Joshua was also inspired by the documentary War Dance, which focused on the atrocities faced by Northern Uganda children. With rebels taking the lives of their own people and using children to perform terrible deeds, many children were orphaned. Joshua was exposed to the dependence these children had on outside forces to sustain them. In the documentary, the children performed in a dance competition in Southern Uganda, and as a result, dancing helped to heal their suffering. The documentary motivated Joshua even more to help the less fortunate. Simultaneously, it stirred a desire to visit Africa at some point in the future.

These experiences prompted Joshua to want to start his mission to fulfill his vision; however, he had difficulty getting others to join him. He first sought adult assistance from his aunts. However, months of inactivity forced Joshua to “fire” them and to seek help elsewhere. Out of frustration, Joshua brought the situation to his mother’s attention. She had been unaware of the struggle he was having with getting her sisters to help him help the poor. Unfortunately, she too had an overloaded schedule and was unable to immediately assist him in his venture. Any other child may have become discouraged and given up, but Joshua resorted to new tactics. For several months, he prodded his mother daily for assistance impressing upon her the importance of having his goal attained. Finally, he made progress with his mother, and they began to give away food and other items to people in need. At this point, Joshua’s thought of starting a company related to feeding the hungry took hold. One of Joshua’s aunts rose to the challenge and pointed them in the direction to start a non-profit organization. The Joshua’s Heart Foundation (JHF) was born.

Joshua is always thinking about what is next? How can he continue to grow the foundation in ways that focus on people in need? As he travels throughout the country to speak to people about JHF, Making a difference and you are never too young to make a difference. He hopes to touch the hearts of young people so they become inspired to do something to make a difference for those less fortunate. He wants more people to have access to food. His idea is to help them learn about growing their own food and sharing what they grow with their families and others.

Joshua has attributed his mission to a vision he says he received from God. He feels that God has a purpose for everyone, and he has been given his. Joshua truly appreciates the assistance he receives from his family members, even his aunts he initially had to “fire.” Without them, he knows his vision would not have come to fruition. Joshua’s humbleness and hopefulness is an inspiration to all. Through JHF, his generosity has begun to make a difference in this world.

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Devin D. Thorpe

Entrepreneur Creates Impact But You’ll Never Guess How

Kohl Crecelius is a social entrepreneur with his eye focused on impact. He established his company, KK, Intl, better known as Krochet Kids, as a nonprofit so that consumers would recognize that the sole focus of the business is to have impact.

Kohl is working to empower people to rise above poverty by providing them with gainful employment crocheting and otherwise manufacturing headwear and other accessories.

On Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 3:00 Eastern, Kohl will join me for a live discussion about his company, his products and his impact. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

More about Krochet Kids International:

KK intl. (known as Krochet Kids intl.) is a non-profit lifestyle brand focused on empowering communities and engaging customers to make a sustainable impact on global poverty. KK intl. employs more than 185 people in Uganda and Peru through the production of their apparel, headwear, and fashion accessories. Now spanning three continents, their work connects the producer with the customer through a hand-signed label that accompanies every product. #knowwhomadeit


Kohl’s bio:

Kohl Crecelius and his team of close friends are on a mission to revolutionize what it means to do business and to do good. After his brother taught him to crochet in high school, he passed the skill on to his friends Travis and Stewart and began selling their crocheted masterpieces to anyone who would buy them. Officially dubbed the “Krochet Kids” by their local newspaper in Spokane, WA, they then founded KK intl. (known as Krochet Kids intl.) as college students in 2007. With the mission to teach people in developing countries how to crochet as a means of breaking the cycle of poverty, KK intl. now provides women in Uganda and Peru with work, mentorship, and education to empower them to have brighter future while creating unique gifts that give back.

Remember to “join the cavalry”by subscribing to our content here.

Devin D. Thorpe

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