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CHOICE Claims Solution To Ending Poverty

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Dr. James Mayfield has spent much of his life working to end poverty and he thinks he’s got it figured out.

“Go to the people, live among the people, learn from the people, plan with the people, work with the people, start with what the people know, and build on what the people have,” he says.

In 1982, after years as an academic and a consultant, he helped found CHOICE Humanitarian, a nonprofit organization, to work actively to end poverty. CHOICE is working now in Nepal, Mexico, Guatemala, Bolivia and Kenya.

The CHOICE model has three distinct phases:

  1. Organizing: All projects are village based and begin by having the village identify leaders and key community resources to build upon; this process can take up to one year.
  2. Mobilizing: The village, over the course of two to three years, develops and completes discrete projects with the help of local government leaders, NGOs and CHOICE resources; the key is what the village learns about completing projects and making change happen.
  3. Institution Building: After three or four years, the village begins to develop a stronger local economy and greater independence with better connections to the national government and national economy, allowing the village to carry on the work of lifting itself out of poverty.

In February 2015, I will be traveling with CHOICE on an expedition to Nepal to further the work of poverty eradication there. I’m excited to get see the work in action and to actually be a part of the solution to poverty.

On July 23, 2014 at 6:00 Eastern, Dr. Mayfield will join me for a live discussion about ending extreme poverty and the work of CHOICE Humanitarian. Tune in right here then 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 Choice Humanitarian:

CHOICE Humanitarian believes in the value and dignity of all human beings. We are a nonprofit organization with more than 30 years experience working to end poverty in Bolivia, Guatemala, Kenya, Mexico, and Nepal. We do this by empowering villagers to determine their own path for self-reliance, by building village leadership and by uniquely leveraging local and international investments. Working side-by-side, together we end poverty.

Dr. James Mayfield

Mayfield’s bio:

  • Co-founder, CHOICE Humanitarian
  • Author
  • Professor Emeritus ESC +0.44%, Public Administration & Middle East Studies, University of Utah
  • Consultant to governments in 15 Countries

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Prudential Promises To Build $1B Impact Portfolio

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

At a meeting of the U.S. Advisory Board and G7′s Social Impact Investing Taskforce at the White House last month, Prudential committed to build a $1 billion impact investment portfolio by 2020.

“Impact investing uses the power of markets to unleash private capital for public good. Done well, it can scale sustainable solutions to some of our toughest social challenges, such as affordable housing, clean energy, quality education, and workforce development,” said Matt Bannick, Co-Chair of the US National Advisory Board and Managing Partner at Omidyar Network, in a statement following the event. “Impact investing has been a part of the fabric of social and community development finance in the US for decades. But we have only begun to see a glimpse of its promise, and smart public policy will help us get where we need to be.”

Following the event, the National Advisory Board made several policy recommendations:

  1. Remove regulatory barriers
  2. Increase the effectiveness of government programs like the Overseas Private Investment Corporation
  3. Provide incentives for new impact investments
  4. Support social entrepreneurs
  5. Standardize impact metrics

On Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 4:00 PM, Ommeed Sathe, Director of Social Investments for Prudential, will join me for a live discussion about impact investing and the firm’s $1 billion commitment. Tune in here then to watch the interview.

[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 Prudential:

For more than 135 years, Prudential Financial, Inc., has helped individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth. Today, we are one of the world’s largest financial services institutions with operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. We also have one of the most recognized and trusted brand symbols: The Rock ®, an icon of strength, stability, expertise, and innovation.

We strive to create long-term value for our stakeholders through strong business fundamentals, consistent with our mission guided by our vision and directed by our company’s core values. We are committed to keeping our promises and to doing business the right way.

Sathe’s bio:

Ommeed is responsible for underwriting, origination, pipeline development and portfolio management activities. He also is director of the Newark Investment Fund, which provides investment resources to support the Strong Healthy Cities Initiative. Before joining Prudential in June 2011, Ommeed was director of real estate development for the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, a quasi-public entity that alleviates blight, redevelops residential and commercial properties and implements crucial public projects in New Orleans. Previously, he was a real estate and land use attorney with Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson in New York City. Ommeed has an undergraduate degree in neuroscience and urban planning from Columbia University; a Masters degree in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

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Educator Brings Innovation To Utah Valley

Luke Peterson returned to his alma mater three years ago, he came to drive social innovation in the community and beyond—not just on campus.

Luke graduated from Utah Valley University before attending Harvard’s Kennedy school and then took a series of jobs working in small town governments, before returning to Utah County. He’s become a driving force for social innovation there and his influence is extending.

He will be speaking at the Social Innovation and Crowdfunding Conference (#GoodCrowd14) on September 26, 2014.

On Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 5:00 Eastern, Luke will join me for a live discussion about his work. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.

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Luke’s bio:

Luke Peterson is an expert in innovation, specializing in cross-sector partnerships and innovation. 
 
After receiving a B.A. in history from Utah Valley University, Luke completed a master’s in public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He then worked in local government management and economic development for the City of Davenport, Iowa, the Town of West Warwick, Rhode Island, and Wasatch County, Utah.

Luke returned to UVU in 2011 to direct the formation of cooperative partnerships between UVU and its external partners. Luke works with individual companies, nonprofits, communities, government agencies, and entire sectors to provide engaged learning opportunities for students and faculty while creating deep value for the university’s external partners. His current project is the development of the Innovation Academy at UVU — a center designed to teach the principles of design thinking, and opportunity identification to cross-sector teams of public, social, and private sector entrepreneurs.

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Activist Walks To End Poverty

Author Jordan Phoenix is so serious about saving the world that he’s walking from Canada to Mexico to bring attention to his work and to share his unique message of personal responsibility with everyone he meets.

Jordan created Project Free World to support projects that provide food, rights, education, and work to protect the environment.

On Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 2:00 Eastern, Jordan will join me from the road for a live discussion about his one-person crusade. Tune in here then to watch the interview.

More about Project Free World:

Project Free World facilitates the creation of collaborative grassroots projects in order to provide the proper food, rights, education, and environment to every person on the planet. It aims to connect local changemakers who have similar passions and complimentary skill sets with the most effective ideas for social change being implemented worldwide.

Jordan’s bio:

Jordan Phoenix is an author, social entrepreneur, speaker, and scalability consultant. He is the founder of Project Free World, an organization that facilitates the creation of collaborative social innovation projects in order to provide the proper food, rights, education, and environment to every person on the planet.

His book, It’s All My Fault: How I Messed Up the World, and Why I Need Your Help to Fix It describes paradigm shifting ideas to address the biggest global challenges we face as a species; such as poverty, homelessness, and underemployment.

He also writes a personal development blog called Uncommon Sense for 21st Century Living to examine the rapidly evolving landscape of life in the modern era. Jordan’s work has been featured in The New Yorker, The Times of India, RT, The Huffington Post, Lifehack, MindBodyGreen, The New York Observer, The Social Journal, GOOD, and The Spark Documentary. He was recognized as a Quora Top Writer in 2013.

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New Platform To Crowdsource Water Conservation

Lisa Gunn Adams, a professor at Kennesaw State University, is working to organize an active, real-time collaboration platform for people working to enhance waterways through crowdsourcing—and she’s crowdfunding the money to do it!

Her new platform, SPLASSH, provides a space where anyone interested in water can learn and share, from those engaged day-to-day in water conservation, to volunteers, researchers and residents of waterways. 

On Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at noon Eastern, Lisa will join me for a live discussion about her effort. Tune in here then to learn more.

More about SPLASSH:

SPLASSH is a socially driven network that crowdsources the condition of our waterways. The mission of SPLASSH is to inspire water conservation through awareness by engaging students, citizen scientists, and researchers to share, discuss, connect, and visually consume information about water. SPLASSH is a framework that collects information about water in real-time, allows dialogue, and most of all fosters the building of communities that share an interest in water. SPLASSH accepts all posts about water from anyone who has an interest in, observation of, or concern about water. In essence, SPLASSH is an education and dissemination tool for anyone that wants to share water projects or learn more about the most important resource we have: water. To join the SPLASSH community, just log onto http://splasshdata.meteor.com and share your water project or news.

Lisa’s bio:

Adams is an Associate Professor in the Biology Department at Kennesaw State University. Receiving a Ph.D. from University of California, Los Angeles, a M.S. from San Diego State University, and a B.S. from Fairleigh Dickinson University, Adams’ research has involved studying fish, marine and freshwater ecosystems, otters, and coyotes. Upon moving to Georgia, Adams focused her research on watershed studies, primarily water monitoring issues. She is passionate about increasing awareness of the importance of healthy waterways with the goal of inspiring water conservation and the protection of aquatic ecosystems. Adams has published several papers in her field and serves on the board for SECOORA (Southeast Coastal Ocean Observation Regional Association).

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World Looks Anxiously To Pakistan, Afghanistan And Nigeria To Eradicate Polio

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Polio, once a global monster, is now a cornered rat, lashing out in hopes of repopulating. Reduced 99.9 percent from an average number of cases around 400,000 thirty years ago, the number of global polio cases has been cut to around 400 annually. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative hopes to see the final case of polio either late this year or early next year. All polio cases, regardless of where they are found, now originate from three countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. You can count the number of cases this year in Afghanistan or Nigeria on your fingers; the end of polio there is clearly within reach.

All three countries have been impacted by conflict in recent years, making the battle against polio at this critical stage challenging. The battle is so pitched that the World Health Organization or WHO, declared a “public health emergency” in an effort to garner greater cooperation among countries to prevent the spread of polio, especially from the three endemic countries.

Rotary, one of the partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, along with the CDC, WHO and UNICEF with tremendous financial support from The Gates Foundation, has brought the three national Polio Plus Committee heads from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria to its global headquarters in Evanston, Illinois this week. Forbes has received an exclusive opportunity to visit with them live on Tuesday, July 22, 2014 at 4:10 PM Eastern. Aziz Memon of Pakistan, Dr. Abdulrahman Olatunji Funsho of Nigeria and Mohammad Ishaq Niazmand of Afghanistan will join us then.

More about Rotary:

Rotary is a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members from more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work impacts lives at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world.

More about PolioPlus:

Rotary launched its PolioPlus program, the first initiative to tackle global polio eradication, in 1985. Since then, Rotary and its partners have helped reduce the number of annual cases from 350,000 to fewer than 250 and remain committed until every child is safe from the disease. Rotary has contributed more than US$1.2 billion and countless volunteer hours to protect more than 2 billion children in 122 countries. In addition, Rotary’s advocacy efforts have played a role in decisions by donor governments to contribute over $9 billion to the effort.

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Aziz Memom, Polio Plus Chair, Pakistan

Memom’s bio:

Rotary’s National PolioPlus Chair for Pakistan: Aziz has been involved with Rotary for more than 20 years, and has lead Rotary’s polio eradication efforts in Pakistan as Rotary’s National PolioPlus Chair for the country for the past five years. During his term, he has worked closely with a range of partners and stakeholders to end polio in his country, including WHO, UNICEF, the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), government officials and departments, ulemas and religious scholars, celebrities, corporate executives from multinational companies and Rotarians from around the world. The Pakistani government recognized his efforts towards humanitarian and public service by awarding him the “Pride of Performance” award in March 2011, a recognition given by the President of Pakistan. Mr. Memon is also Chairman of the Kings Group, a conglomerate of five companies and one of the leading manufacturing and exporting groups in Pakistan. Aziz is based in Karachi, and is a member of the Rotary Club of Karachi.

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Mohammad Ishaq Niazmand, Polio Plus Chair, Afghanistan

Niazmand’s bio:

Rotary’s National PolioPlus Chair for Afghanistan: Ishaq has been a dedicated member of the Rotary Club of Jalalabad since it was established in 2005, and he has been involved with Rotary for more than 15 years. He started his tenure as Rotary’s National PolioPlus Chair for Afghanistan in 2013. In this role, Ishaq has worked closely with partners such as the National Expanded Immunization Program of the Ministry of Health, USAID, AUAID, CIDA and GPEI partners such as WHO, UNICEF and CDC. Ishaq has a strong professional background working with educational institutions (Nanharhar University; Borlaug Institute of Texas A&M University) and NGOs (UNESCO; International Foundation of Hope).

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Dr. Abdulrahman Olatunji (Tunji) Funsho, Polio Plus Chair, Nigeria

Dr. Funsho’s bio:

Rotary’s National PolioPlus Chair for Nigeria: Tunji, a cardiologist based in Lagos, Nigeria, has been a Rotary member since 1985. Dr. Funsho is a past member of the Rotary Club of Kano, and is currently a member of the Rotary Club of Lekki. He has been Rotary’s National PolioPlus Chair for Nigeria since 2013, and in that role, has worked closely with GPEI partner organizations (WHO, UNICEF, CDC and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), as well as the Dangote Foundation, the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation, the Traditional Leaders Council and the Federation of Muslim Women’s Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN). As a member of the Presidential Task Force on Polio, he also works with the Minister of State for Health, the Inter-Agency Coordination Committee for Polio Eradication, and more.

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Skateboards Used To Foster Young Leaders In Lebanon

This is a guest post from Devon Smiley.

Beneath the bombed out shell that hides the “Paris of the Middle East”, thousands fear that tomorrow won’t come and many believe that the only hope for Lebanon is in the youth.

The Operation Change team saw this need to invest in the future leaders of Lebanon and hoped to provide a place where the youth of this community could build their confidence and escape the stress and danger of their current environment. For many local youths, skateboarding is just that escape. 

Steven Sawalich, the Senior Director of Global Media and Philanthropy of Starkey Hearing Technologies, along with volunteers joined local activists in Lebanon to build a skate park and come to the aid of a community center at risk of being torn down for good.

Tonight’s episode (Monday, July 21) features Maya, a local woman of the community, who fears that there is nothing to be done to save the community she has lived in her whole life. Upon seeing the restored community center, Maya exclaims, “There is still goodness in this world and for that I am grateful. The dream is coming true.”

Operation Change is a 10 part television docu-series airing on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) that provides an intimate view of the challenges people in developing countries across the world face as well as the inspiring efforts being made by volunteers, philanthropists and celebrities to address them. Operation Change is all about empowering people to empower themselves. In each episode, the team does just that. The countries featured include Colombia, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Israel & Palestine, Lebanon, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, and Tanzania.

Tune in to OWN every Monday 10/9 Central to see how Operation Change is making in impact in some of the most tumultuous regions of the world. To learn more about Operation Change or view past episodes, please visit the official website here. In addition, viewers can immerse themselves in featured countries while experiencing social good projects and regional culture via the interactive online web platform. Each week, a viewer can also win a trip for two to join the Operation Change team and its partners in the field to help make an impact in a featured country.

Wealthy Increasingly Focused On Social Impact

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Fully 92 percent of high net worth individuals think driving global impact is important, according to a survey conducted for Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management.

Other observations from the report include:

  • 75 percent of high net worth individuals or HNWIs 40 and younger believe that social impact is “very” or “extremely” important
  • HNWIs in emerging markets like China, India and Indonesia were more likely to rate having social impact as “very” or “extremely” important

The survey also identified the top five ways that HNWIs give back:

  1. Making investment choices with a clearly defined social impact objective
  2. Giving on an ongoing basis to charities
  3. More general community involvement
  4. Volunteering knowledge and expertise
  5. Making strategic business decisions with a clearly defined social impact objective

The survey results show that the top three reasons HNWIs seek to give back are their personal and family values, their desire to pass their values along to their children and their sense of responsibility to give back.

On Friday, July 18, 2014 at 3:00 Eastern, David Wilson, Head of the Strategic Analysis Group at Capgemini, will join me for a live discussion about the implication of this social activism among the wealthy. Tune in here then to watch the interview.

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More about Capgemini:

Capgemini is one of the world’s foremost providers of consulting, technology, outsourcing services and local professional services. Present in over 40 countries with more than 130,000 employees, the Capgemini Group helps its clients transform in order to improve their performance and competitive positioning.

We offer an array of integrated services that combine top-of-the-range technology with deep sector expertise and a strong command of our four key businesses.

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David Wilson

Wilson’s bio:

David Wilson is Head of the Strategic Analysis Group, for Capgemini’s Financial Services Global Business Unit. David has professional services and financial services experience spanning the areas of strategic research and analysis, management consulting, and marketing.

David focuses on wealth management and in addition to client engagements, has co-authored leading reports such as the Capgemini RBC Wealth Management World Wealth Report, the Capgemini RBC Wealth Management Asia-Pacific Wealth Report, and the Capgemini U.S. Metro Wealth Index.

Previously, David was a strategy consultant for Capgemini Consulting’s Strategy and Transformation practice where he worked on projects across a variety of sectors.

Prior to joining Capgemini in 2007, David worked for the U.S. wealth management divisions of UBS Wealth Management and Merrill Lynch Global Private Client Group.

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Teen Social Entrepreneur Leaves His Mark On The World

Henry Miller launched his social venture (with a little help from his parents) at age eleven. He’s never looked back.

His company, Henry’s Humdingers, makes all natural condiments using raw honey. He recently appeared on Shark Tank.

He shared his story with me:

It all happened one day when me and my mom got on a plane and sat next to this bee farmer. He talked about helping bees and the dreadful hive collapse disorder. He told me humans couldn’t live seven years if bees disappeared. We wouldn’t have enough food because the bees wouldn’t be there to pollinate the corn or the wheat or even tomatoes. OK, I don’t like tomatoes, but I know we need them for stuff like pizza. At the end of the flight my mom said we could get bees and I could start my own company. I told her, Henry’s Humdingers. She laughed and called my dad and now its a real-life thing. The more I learn about bees the more interesting I think they are. Did you know only the old bees collect pollen? I love bees and all the good they do and it makes me crazy to think about all the bad things happening to them. It’s just ughhh, so I am donating part of what I make to my friends over at The Foundation For the Preservation of Honey Bees.

On July 18, 2014 at 7:00 Eastern, Henry will join me for a live discussion about his remarkable journey and his passion for using business to leave his mark on the world. Tune in right here to watch the interview live.

More about Henry’s Humdingers:

Henry’s Humdingers is a quirky, imaginative food products company aimed at offering high quality, moderately priced, always unusual foods using only natural ingredients. Henry’s Humdingers is raw, natural condiment. Made of raw honey & spices. Henry’s Humdingers line has 4 different unique blends. Grumpy Grandpa made with honey, red pepper & garlic, Naughty Nana is a spicy ginger mixture, Phoebe’s Fireball is a combination of chipotle & cinnamon and Diabolical Dad features habanero & lime.

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Henry’s bio:

When I was 11 years-old living on a farm in Western Washington, I learned about Colony Collapse Disorder from a beekeeper. I asked for a beehive for my birthday because I wanted to make a difference. So I started selling honey by the side of the road to raise money. Then I started adding spices to make my honey different from other raw honeys. My main goal was to help save the bees - and our family farm - so a portion of the proceeds are donated to The Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees.

Recently, I was on ABC’s Shark Tank which has completely changed my business. Now people are excited to try my products and my business is really taking off.

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Architect Spends Life Building Community

Utah architect Soren Simonsen has spent his career using his unique skills to build his community in a multitude of ways. 

Recently retired from the Salt Lake City Council, Soren now serves as the President of the Impact Hub Salt Lake and as the Executive Director of Community Studio.

Soren will also be speaking at the Social Enterprise and Crowdfunding Conference (SECFC14) on September 26, 2014 at Snowbird.

On Friday, July 18 at 6:00 Eastern, Soren will join me for a live discussion about what inspires him and why he’s devoted so much of his career to building his community.

Soren’s bio:

Søren Simonsen is an urban designer, architect, educator and community-builder. Over the past 25 years, including over a decade of public service as an appointed and elected official, he has focusedon creating sustainable buildings, livable cities and prosperous communities in Utah and throughout the western United States.

Søren earned a Master of Arts in Community Leadership at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, with a focus on public policy and community organizing. His research focused on urban development and sustainable resource for cities in the 21st century. He previously received a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin, with an emphasis in urban development, community and regional planning, public interest design. 

Søren is the Executive Director of Community Studio, and President of Impact HUB Salt Lake. He is an accomplished professional and has received broad recognition for his design, policy and advocacy work. Honors include the national AIA Young Architect Award, four Best of State Gold Medals in Community Development, and 28 projects, plans and initiatives that have received an Envision Utah Governor’s Quality Growth Award. He has received numerous citations from chapters of the American Institute of Architects, American Society of Landscape Architects, American Planning Association, and U.S. Green Building Council. Over the past decade, Søren has also launched 6 non-profit organizations engaged in social entrepreneurship, art and cultural development, environmental stewardship advocacy, civic engagement, and sustainable urbanism. 

Søren served on the Salt Lake City Council in from 2006 to 2014. He chaired the city council in 2012—a year that was called “dynamic” by the Salt Lake Tribune. He also previously chaired the Salt Lake Historic Landmark Commission and the Mayor’s Environmental Advisory Committee. He has served on numerous local and national boards and committees for professional and community organizations, where he has been a champion for urban design, ecology and environmental stewardship, water and energy conservation, sustainable development, arts and culture, alternative transportation, public health, and human rights.

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Social Entrepreneur Hopes To Replace LinkedIn

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Author Aaron Hurst has a plan to replace LinkedIn with a purpose-driven alternative called Imperative.

Hurst is the author of The Purpose Economy, which helps to understand the global shift from an information economy to a purpose economy. He sees the sharing economy and companies from AirBnB to ZipCar as examples of a more purpose-focused ethos that millennials especially are adopting.

More broadly, Hurst sees a world in which people manifest a sense of purpose with virtually everything they do, from where and how they work and socialize to how they consume products from the daily coffee to the exotic vacation. We are infusing everything with purpose.

On July 18, 2014 at 2:00 PM, Hurst, who serves as the CEO of Imperative, will join me here for a live discussion about his book and his new venture and their impact on the future of business.

Hurst will be speaking at the Social Enterprise and Crowdfunding Conference (SECFC14) on September 26, 2014 at Snowbird, Utah, which I am organizing.

About Imperative:

Imperative is a movement to evolve the economy into one driven by purpose. We believe in a more human world where by better understanding our purpose, we are able to unite to better solve the world’s problems.

We are building a network of bold and authentic people and connecting them to purpose at work and in their community. It involves helping people discover their purpose profile, connecting them to others in their professional community and activating city-based projects for local social impact. As society increasingly prioritizes personal growth, relationships and impact, Imperative is becoming the catalyzing force behind the transition to a Purpose Economy.

We are entering a really exciting time as our team grows and our vision comes together in an actionable product. It’s a dynamic, fast-paced environment where we love what we do and have a lot of fun together.

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Aaron Hurst

Hurst’s bio:

Aaron Hurst is an award-winning entrepreneur and globally recognized leader in fields of purpose at work and social innovation. He is the author of three books including The Purpose Economy, which redefines how we think about work and the economy. He is the CEO of Imperative, the new career development platform for professionals seeking purpose at work. Previously, Aaron founded the Taproot Foundation where he was the catalyst and lead architect of the $15 billion pro bono services market.

Aaron has been an advisor and consultant to leading global brands like LinkedIn, Elance, Etsy, Deloitte and Twitter. He speaks regularly at companies like Google, Citi and BMW and at the campuses of leading business schools around the world.

He is the recipient of the LS&A Humanitarian Award, the highest distinction bestowed on alumni of the University of Michigan. He lives with his family in Brooklyn.

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Entrepreneur Infuses Careers With Purpose

Arthur Woods has joined forces with Aaron Hurst to revolution online networking to infuse it with purpose. Together, they have launched Imperative, a social networking site focused on professionals and helping them to identify and leverage their genuine purpose for being.

On July 18, 2014 at 4:00 Eastern, Arthur will join me for a live discussion about the business and on social entrepreneurship more broadly.

Arthur will be speaking at the Social Enterprise and Crowdfunding Conference (SECFC14) on September 26, 2014 at Snowbird, Utah. 

More about Imperative:

Imperative is a movement to evolve the economy into one driven by purpose. We believe in a more human world where by better understanding our purpose, we are able to unite to better solve the world’s problems.

We are building a network of bold and authentic people and connecting them to purpose at work and in their community. It involves helping people discover their purpose profile, connecting them to others in their professional community and activating city-based projects for local social impact. As society increasingly prioritizes personal growth, relationships and impact, Imperative is becoming the catalyzing force behind the transition to a Purpose Economy.

We are entering a really exciting time as our team grows and our vision comes together in an actionable product. It’s a dynamic, fast-paced environment where we love what we do and have a lot of fun together.

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Arthur’s bio:

Arthur Woods is an entrepreneur, speaker and writer on the future of work in the purpose economy. He is the co-founder of Imperative, the first professional platform for people find and manage purpose at work. Before co-founding Imperative Arthur led operations for YouTube EDU at Google where he oversaw operations of YouTube for Schools. He later managed the development of YouTube’s first guide for education and co-organized YouTube’s inaugural Education Summit. He previously co-founded the Compass Fellowship, a social enterprise training program in over 18 universities worldwide.

Arthur studied Operations and information Management at Georgetown University and Project Management at Stanford University. His efforts have been featured in Fast Company, Huffington Post, Washington Post and ABC7’s Washington Business Tonight. He is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper and sits on the Boards of the Sierra Institute, Georgetown Technology Alliance and Compass Partners.

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FundingCircle Announces $65M Series D

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

FundingCircle, a British crowdfunding site that provides business loans in the UK and the US that banks generally won’t make has announced a $65 million equity investment, perhaps the single largest venture round in the history of the crowdfunding industry.

The company has indicated that the funds will be used to accelerate growth in existing markets and to explore additional international markets.

According to a statement, the recent funding round was led by Index Ventures and includes existing investors. Bob Steel, CEO of Perella Weinberg Partners and former Under Secretary for Domestic Finance of the United States Treasury, will join the Funding Circle board.

On July 17, 2014 at 11:30 AM, Funding Circle CEO Samir Desai, will join me live from London for a discussion about the round and its implications for the company and the industry.

More about Funding Circle:

Funding Circle (www.fundingcircle.com) is the world’s leading online marketplace for business loans, enabling investors to directly lend to small businesses in both the UK and the US. Since launching in the UK in 2010 Funding Circle has now lent more than $500 million to over 5,000 businesses, and currently lends $50 million per month.

In the US, Funding Circle’s online marketplace allows accredited investors and institutions to invest in small businesses seeking to borrow $25,000 to $500,000 through whole loans or a passive fund. By combining cutting edge technology with industry-leading risk management models, Funding Circle provides small businesses with access to fast, fair and transparent finance and investors with the opportunity to access attractive returns at fixed income risk levels through an online marketplace. In 2014, Funding Circle expects to lend $100 million to American small businesses.

In the UK, businesses can borrow between £5,000 and £1 million, while investors can earn a 6.1%* average return after fees and bad debt. Since launching in August 2010 Funding Circle has helped over 5,000 businesses borrow more than £300 million. Investors include thousands of individuals, the Government-backed British Business Bank, local councils, financial organisations and Huddersfield University. Funding Circle was the first marketplace lender to announce a formal referral partnership with Santander, one of the UK’s leading high street banks.

Desai’s bio:

Samir is responsible for driving the company strategy, overseeing the company’s finances and managing the day to day operations at Funding Circle. Samir has worked extensively in the financial services sector.

Before founding Funding Circle, Samir was an Executive at Olivant, a private equity investor in financial services businesses in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Prior to this, Samir was a management consultant at BCG advising a number of major UK and global banks and insurers on strategy, new product initiatives, and operational efficiency.

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Combination Creates A Leader In Crowdfunding Market

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

RockThePost, an accredited investor crowdfunding portal announced this morning its merger with CoFoundersLab, an online and in-person matchmaking network that scientifically builds startup teams, creating a platform with 35,000 startup founders and 15,000 accredited investors where entrepreneurs have raised over more than $65 million. The combined company will be called Onevest.

Shahib Kaviani, CEO of CoFoundersLab and CMO at Onevest, explained the motivations for the merger, saying, “Over the last few years, CoFoundersLab’s mission has been to help entrepreneurs succeed. Once we were able to find a scalable way to bring more compatible teams together we began asking our community of founders what their next big challenge was. With an overwhelming response they shared that access to capital was the biggest need they have, particularly for teams located outside the major startup hubs like Silicon Valley and New York.”

He went on to explain that the team was intrigued by crowdfunding and was considering adding crowdfunding to the business model. Before doing so, they decided to raise their own seed round that way.

Kaviani added, “My research of the industry players led me to choose Onevest (formerly RockThePost) where we were able to meet and close a number of investors that we otherwise would have never met. This was a real eye opener for me and I thought to myself, this equity crowdfunding really works—in fact it is a total game changer for entrepreneurs.”

“After having success raising funds on Onevest it became clear to me that we must pursue this avenue and quickly realized that a partnership with Onevest would be meaningful on a number of levels. Once we learned more about both of our team’s synergies, culture, and broader solution, a merger was blatantly obvious,” Kaviani concluded.

“The best way to ensure that two cultures combine successfully is to validate they are compatible from the onset, making this a material consideration and condition for a deal to close,” noted Tanya Prive, former COO and founder of RockThePost and COO and Founder of OneVest. “The culture of both teams is absolutely aligned and complementary so we don’t anticipate any issues. Our weaknesses are their strengths and vice versa, so it really couldn’t have worked out any better.”

Equity crowdfunding is just now in its infancy. The JOBS Act, passed in 2012, created the industry, only rules for accredited investor crowdfunding have been issued in final form by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC later published draft rules for crowdfunding from ordinary investors and accepted comments on them for 90 days. Final rules have not yet been promulgated.

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Alejandro Cremades, formerly CEO and Founder of RockThePost, currently CEO and Founder at Onevest

“Equity crowdfunding is the most exciting and perhaps most significant development in recent history taking place in the capital markets,” Alejandro Cremades, formerly CEO and Founder of RockThePost, currently CEO and Founder at Onevest said. “Undoubtedly there will be wrinkles the industry will need to address as this new avenue for capital flow continues to emerge – but the tremendous benefits will far outweigh any hiccups along the way.”

Cremades concluded with a word of caution about regulation, “However, for equity crowdfunding to really take off and approximate its full potential, it needs to be truly accessible to everyone, and more built around the reality of startup investing compared to initially circulated regulatory standards.”

Erick Brimen, formerly COO of CoFoundersLab, currently CFO at Onevest added, “Onevest is already compliant with applicable regulations as we currently operate in partnership with a registered broker dealer. We will continue to ensure as the industry evolves that we remain 100% above board and fully compliant with relevant laws.”

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SEC Mulls Changes to Accredited Investor Standards, 18 Crowdfunders React

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is considering an update to the accreditation standards used to determine eligibility to participate in private securities sales. (Disclosure: Ellenoff Grossman & Schole LLP has agreed to sponsor my upcoming crowdfunding conference and along with Crowdfund Capital Advisors sponsored the publication of my crowdfunding book in 2013.)

Today’s standards require that most investors in startups, real estate limited partnerships and other investments that are not traded on exchanges be accredited. To qualify as an accredited investor, one must meet one of the three following criteria:

  1. Have had an individual annual income of $200,000 for the past two years with an expectation that it will continue
  2. Have had a household annual income of $300,000 for the past two years with an expectation that it will continue
  3. Have a net worth of at least $1 million, excluding a primary residence

Apart from excluding the primary residence, which change was made in [2010], the financial levels have not been adjusted in over 30 years, meaning that inflation has steadily eroded their original significance, allowing millions more people over time to join the ranks. According to SeedInvest, an equity crowdfunding site, indexing these levels for inflation could reduce the number of accredited investors from 8.5 million to just 3.75 million.

The implications for the nascent crowdfunding industry is significant. Title II of the JOBS Act signed by President Obama in 2012 allowed general solicitation for investors, a change that ushered in what many are calling accredited investor crowdfunding. By allowing entrepreneurs and others to announce via social media and other internet avenues (though not restricted to the internet) issuers can suddenly attract many more investors, often investing smaller amounts than might have been required in the past.

A change in the definition of accredited investors could materially reduce the pool of investors eligible to make such investments, potentially reducing the amount of capital raised by the issuers and the platforms that support them.

In a quick, unscientific poll of leaders in the crowdfunding community for this article, 94 percent of respondents favored a change in the standard that would allow investors to qualify by virtue of education or experience alone, without regard to financial position. Such a rule could be applied either as the only means of qualification, eliminating the financial standards or as an alternative qualification method alongside the traditional—or updated—financial standards.

In the same survey, 50 percent of respondents indicated that there should be no change to the individual income standards and 38 percent responded the individual income standard should be eliminated altogether. Similarly, 40 percent of respondents says that the household test should be left alone and 47 percent says that the rule should be eliminated altogether.

Furthermore, 40 percent says the current net worth test should be left untouched and an equal percentage suggested that the net worth test should be eliminated.

No one thought a full ratchet to correct for inflation would be appropriate, though a few suggested smaller upward increases.

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Ryan Feit at podium, Sherwood Neiss, behind at a 2013 press conference

The following 18 reactions are representative of the comments gathered for this article:

  1. Grady Thrasher, CEO, CrowdVested articulated the consensus view, “The income and net worth tests have long served as a proxy for financial sophistication, but they consistently exclude sophisticated investors and include unsophisticated investors. Financial resources does not equal financial sophistication.” Thrasher concluded, “Just as you have to take a test to get a driver’s license, or rent scuba gear, or engage in any number of risky activities, you should be permitted to prove you have adequate financial knowledge to participate in private offerings available to accredited investors.
  2. “Around 5% of the US population could qualify as accredited investors today. Instead of reducing the number of people who can invest in privately held companies, we should be seeking ways to expand the growth of investments in small businesses,” commented Ken Marienau, CEO of Mission Markets. “The Dodd-Frank bill passed in 2010 excluded the value of personal residences from the calculation of net worth. This change in the 1982 calculations reduced the number of people who could qualify as accredited investors, since the net equity of principal residences represents 25% of mean personal wealth (and 75% of median personal wealth).”
  3. “Angel investors contribute over $20 billion each year to startups and are what truly fuels innovation in America,” says Ryan Feit, CEO and Co-Founder of SeedInvest. “Reducing angel funding by instituting a higher accreditation bar would undoubtedly be devastating to startups, to jobs and to the entire U.S. economy.”
  4. Scott Purcell, CEO of FundAmerica, commented succinctly, “An entire industry is being created to enable job creation and capital formation, changing the rules would seriously undermine the intent of the Act.”
  5. The “accredited investor definition is an anachronism,” according to Steven Cinelli, Founder of Primarq. “Trying to morph an old law into the digital generation is an inherent waste of time, and focus should be spent on improving disclosures.”
  6. “The bottom line is that angel funded companies hire often and hire aggressively,” says Kiran Lingam, General Counsel of SeedInvest. “To stifle angel investments in this manner [by raising accreditation standards to adjust for inflation] would be akin to shooting our economy in the foot.”
  7. “There could be a test to demonstrate a person’s experience/understanding of finance that shows they know what they are doing and the risks they are taking by making private company investments,” notes Jason Best, Co-Founder of Crowdfund Capital Advisors. “The Internet makes information more liquid and more available to everyone.”
  8. “I think that the standards should be eliminated,” says Karen McRae, Editor in Chief, CrowdfundingGuide.com. “Raising the standard amounts would be upholding the barrier to entry, which is the exact opposite of what these new rules should be doing.”
  9. “It is ridiculous that income and net worth alone are used as the litmus test for an investors sophistication,” says Jason Fritton, CEO of Patch of Land. “In today’s information based economy, an individual’s knowledge base can be completely disconnected from their current financial status. Sophisticated, knowledgeable persons should be able to make their own financial decisions regardless of whether or not they are already currently wealthy. If accredited status is meant to protect an investor by judging their ability to absorb a loss, then perhaps putting a max ratio or ceiling on the total amount of capital they should be able to commit to any one project,” Fritton adds. “As it stands, an accredited investor can still lose everything on an unfortunate investment decision, regardless of how high the cutoff is for accredited status.”
  10. “This is about letting individuals make responsible decisions with their lives,” notes Sherwood Neiss, Principal, Crowdfund Capital Advisors. “In this case, it includes financial decisions. Some people should have government protection (like the poor by keeping them from risking more than they can afford to lose) while others should be allowed to act as adults and take the responsibilities of their action without paternalistic government oversight.”
  11. “I believe the current standards are meant on one hand to show that the investor has some liquidity, ie, can ‘afford’ a loss,” says Nancy Hayes, CEO of MoolaHoop. “That may or may not be true, depending on the investor’s other financial activities. On the other hand, the idea that these standards demonstrate that the investor is ‘sophisticated’ and therefore less likely to fall prey to poor investments or worse, ‘scams,’ does not hold water.”
  12. “It would be a shame to see the definition of an accredited investor become even more onerous,” says Jilliene Helman, CEO of Realty Mogul. “The JOBS act was meant to open up the private markets for investors, and adjusting the income or net worth requirements for accredited investors upward would serve the opposite purpose.””It’s incredibly important that investors are protected, and a core focus of ours at Realty Mogul, but what we’ve found is that the majority of our investors are highly sophisticated. I’d hate to see those investors lose out on the opportunity to invest in private markets if income requirements are increased by the SEC,” Helman concluded.
  13. “A good education in financial issues should allow an individual, even if not accredited according to the present law, to invest in high risk but profitable securities,” Fabio Bancalà, CEO at Xeelion.com. “What really matters is the amount of worth invested in risky securities, since the basis of the risk management is related to the differentiation of a portfolio.”
  14. “We are not protecting smaller investors by precluding them from participating in opportunities of their choice,” says Rodrigo Nino, CEO and Founder of Prodigy Network. “Everyone should have access to the same investments irrespective to the amount of wealth they have. This will level up the playing field and our duty would be to ensure transparency, full disclosure and education for the potential investor.”
  15. “Why can anyone invest in the stock market but they can’t invest in startups or emerging private companies via crowdfunding?” asks Wendy Robbins, CEO of Redcapes.com. “The regulation doesn’t seem to be to ‘protect the average person’ it is to protect the top 1 to 10 percent’s interests. I’m excited for the time (coming soon) that anyone who has taken time to educate themselves on a company can invest in a product or service and be rewarded.”
  16. “I believe that the accredited investor qualifications are long overdue for reexamination and overhaul,” says Vincent Molinari, CEO and Founder of Gate Global Impact, Inc. “I would pose the consideration that many wealthy individuals lack the sophistication to fend for themselves as money by itself does to equal financial sophistication. How many mega athletes and entertainers have gone bankrupt? On the counter side, licensed securities professionals, CPA’s, Attorneys, [and] MBAs who regularly advise wealthy people on strategy who may have decades of experience in the financial sector, don’t qualify as accredited investors themselves simply based upon their own income or net worth.”
  17. While I recognize it has been many years since the definition has been established, I actually don’t believe any change to the numeric components of accreditation is necessary, although a much more modest tinkering would be acceptable (much less than is being sought),” says Douglas S. Ellenoff of Ellenoff Grossman & Schole LLP. “I am a proponent of including other methods of measuring sophistication to satisfy the standard such as actual experience and academic credentials as well.”
  18. Manolis Sfinarolakis, Founder and Producer of Reality Crowd TV Corporation, argues for the broadest inclusion, “Common sense is something that is learned over time. Even a CPA might have no common sense, so having an arbitrary title which only takes into account ‘Book Smarts’ is not adequate and would impede the investing opportunities for the Common sense ‘Street Smarts’ investors.”

This week, SeedInvest is rallying its community to lobby the SEC via social media using a “Thunderclap.”

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