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Monthly Archives: August 2013

Socks that Start Businesses

Guest post by Mitch Taylor.

In life, it is sometimes the smallest things that make the biggest difference. It is those small “aha!” moments that completely alter your perspective, and change the course of your life. If you’ve spent time traveling, you know that these moments come in abundance once you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone.

It was on a trip to Colombia that Jeff House laid the foundation for one these epiphanic moments. He was struck by the generosity of the people, who by North American standards, had very little to give. They earned a living that barely allowed them to make ends meet; yet they were willing to open their homes and share what ever they had.

At the time Jeff was working with Opportunity International, and was experiencing the difference that their micro-financing programs were making in these peoples lives. In the majority of cases these loans meant the difference between the recipients being able to sustain a business and earn a living, or going into absolute poverty.

When Jeff returned home he teamed up with Diana Charabin, a successful young entrepreneur, and an ambassador of all things entrepreneurial. They were both passionate about supporting individuals who were starting and operating businesses, both locally and abroad. Moreover, they were both really into bold creative socks… Aha!

By identifying the immerging market and need for colorful radically designed socks, and combing that with their passion for entrepreneurship, Jeff and Diana founded Cole and Parker. They offer a collection of socks intentionally designed to inspire entrepreneurs. What makes their product even more special is that the socks themselves actually start businesses!

Cole and Parker partnered with Kiva, one of the worlds largest non-profit micro-finance organizations. Cole and Parker’s 1-for-many business model designates proceeds from each pair of socks sold to be loaned to an entrepreneur in need through Kiva. Once that loan is repaid, it is then re-invested to fund another Kiva micro-loan. This creates a revolving door effect in which one pair of socks has the ability to fund multiple businesses over time.

In their first quarter of business Cole and Parker was able to lend over $10,000, funding over 50 entrepreneurs in need, landing them in the top 1% of Kiva lenders. It is Jeff and Diana’s hope that with time and growth their socks will have a massive impact on entrepreneurs who require financial assistance.

Head over to their shop, and become part of that impact! 

Free Download of My New Book, Crowdfunding for Social Good

I want everyone to have a copy of my new book, Crowdfunding for Social Good, even if that means I have to give it away. While I can’t afford to give everyone a printed copy of the book, I am eager to share a free download with those who are willing to do one of two simple things.

If you would like to receive a free download, just do one of the two following tasks:

1) Subscribe to my blog via email by clicking here. You will automatically receive instructions for downloading your free copy!

2) Follow my Twitter feed at @devindthorpe and tweet the following “I’m looking forward to reading @devindthorpe’s new book #Crowdfunding for Social Good. http://amzn.to/14E9PT4” Then I will follow you and send you a direct message on Twitter with instructions for downloading the book.

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Easy as pie, you’ll be reading how you can raise the money you need to do the good you want to see in the world.

W.K. Kellogg Foundation Seeking $100 Million Of Social Impact Through Investments

W.K. Kellogg Foundation Seeking $100 Million Of Social Impact Through Investments

How One Woman is Changing Children’s Lives in Cambodia by Jamie Amelio

Guest post by Jamie C. Amelio, author of Graced with Orange.

It all began with a dollar.     

When Srelin, an eight-year-old Cambodian girl approached me and asked for a dollar so she could afford to go to school, I was skeptical. Was this just another beggar’s ruse? I was visiting Cambodia for the first time and was shocked at the filth and abject poverty. Entire villages lacked plumbing or electricity.  Mothers on the streets pleaded with her to take their babies so they might have a chance at a good life.  And this child wanted a dollar for school?  I was doubtful but nevertheless told Srelin that if she would take her to visit the school, I would give her the dollar. What I found at the school changed my life.

I discovered 75 hungry, impoverished Cambodian children crowded into a single room with bars on the windows, waiting patiently for a teacher who never showed up. The students shared a pencil they had broken into small pieces, and had few other school supplies.  And this was a school that students had to pay to attend! The situation was less surprising when I learned that Cambodia was still reeling from the murder of 2 million people by the Khmer Rouge a few decades ago –- including anyone who was educated —. All teachers, and even anyone with glasses, were ruthlessly disposed of.

Overwhelming? Yes! But I took it as a challenge. I invested myself into making lasting change in a country that cried out for it. I vowed to make a difference, and was able to. I then established “Caring for Cambodia (CFC),” that in the next 10 years built 21 life-changing schools and the opportunity for young people to learn in a safe, nurturing environment with motivated teachers.

The organization’s signature orange color is based on the color of the Buddhist monks’ robes in Cambodia, and as you read Graced with Orange, you’ll discover the power of “orange moments.” in which serendipity, a higher power, or “just dumb good luck” help bring things together in miraculous ways to accomplish the mission of CFC. 

Being orange means you’ll talk less, do more, give a hand up, not a hand-out, and go deep, instead of wide.  One of my key orange phrases is: As one person, I cannot change the world, but I can change the world of one person.

Jamie C. Amelio’s book, Graced with Orange, tells her story of travelling to Cambodia, adopting two Cambodian girls, founding Caring for Cambodia (CFC), a non-profit, non-governmental charitable organization, and changing her own life and the lives of those around her. It is now available on Amazon.com. 

Creating Change in Haiti

Guest post from Andy Jeanty of Cutco.

On January 12, 2010, a massive earthquake struck the already fragile and impoverished island of Haiti, which also happens to be my homeland. I live in South Florida now, and like many people in the United States, I watched the destruction with deep sadness in my heart. But it wasn’t until fate intervened that I realized I didn’t just have to sit back and watch as a helpless spectator; I had the power to become involved and facilitate change.

That realization came shortly after the hurricane struck, when I received a call from my number one client, a nurse named Myrlande Affriany (I am a Cutco Sales Professional/Senior Field Sales Manager in South Florida for Vector Marketing Corporation, the direct sales division of Cutco Cutlery Corporation). Myrlande is a native of Jacmel, Haiti, who lives in the United States. In 2007, Myrlande founded a non-profit organization called Angel Wings, which is dedicated to providing much needed medical care to the impoverished citizens of her home country. Myrlande is truly an angel herself.

After the earthquake, Myrlande brought 23 doctors to Haiti on a chartered private plane so that they could provide much-needed medical care. However, when they arrived, the charter company informed her that the price she paid was for a one-way trip! Someone else had booked the trip, and Myrlande had of course assumed that they had paid for a round-trip. The person who booked it denied any knowledge or wrong-doing. Now, she and the 23 volunteer doctors were stranded in Haiti with no money to return. She called me for help, stunned and crying, and asked if I could connect her with someone who could transport her and the doctors back home.

At this time, I had known Myrlande for seven years, and could not turn my back on her or the amazing work she was doing, so I called a good friend of mine in the Cutco Business named Carl Drew. Between all of our efforts, we found a military transport that agreed to take the Angel Wings group home free of charge.

This was a turning point for me; it was the time when I realized that I DID have the power to help, and that I could do even more. Even though I wasn’t a doctor or nurse, I could provide valuable help in other ways. For example, in February 2010, I had watched Anderson Cooper and a team of his people in Haiti donating food, but because nobody on his team spoke Creole, the local people thought they were BEING POISONED! I speak four languages—English, French, Creole and Spanish—and I knew that I could have provided an important communication bridge.

It was then that I decided to accompany Angel Wings on a trip to Haiti. I also asked five of my closest Cutco friends to come, and to my delight, they jumped right on board with the idea! So off we went at the end of March 2010, and when I left eight days later, I was so moved by the impact we had made that I knew I could do even more. The dream of Angel Wings was to build a hospital in Jacmel, which of course takes a lot of time and money. But Carl Drew and I thought: what if we could more quickly create a clinic that could provide quality health care to these needy people on a daily basis?”

We asked the powers-that-be at Cutco if we could share our dream, along with a video, at their upcoming annual sales representative conference in May 2010. They are a very giving group of people and of course said “yes.” Within 48 hours of showing the video we had raised $50,000 from Cutco sales reps! This was when we realized that we weren’t alone.

We bought a half acre of land in Jacmel and got right to work. The first thing we did was hire an architect and a company that could build a clinic with insulated panels capable of withstanding up to a Category 5 hurricane as well as a strong earthquake. Our goal was to build something virtually indestructible and we didn’t waste any time. We broke ground on the clinic in November 2010. In that same year, we also participated in nine medical mission trips with Angel Wings. During each trip, the group treated between 300-500 people.

It’s challenging enough to raise money and facilitate such a project close to home, but it is even harder doing it far away from where you live. It’s a huge project, but it has been worth every minute.

We finished the first phase of construction in 2012. We are now doing the finishing touches, such as the cabinetry, plumbing and electricity. During a recent health care day, we treated 300 people—a reminder of the great need for such a clinic.

I am so excited, as this fall we will open one day a week while we finish up the plumbing and electricity. This alone costs $50,000, because of course in a medical setting it must be done right.

Since the mission is to provide health and hope for the people of Haiti, we wanted to also create jobs, so we hired local workers to do the construction. It is so nice, because now we really have a community of people who support us there, and when we go we feel like we are at home.

Before we arrived in Jacmel, one of the construction workers lived in a tent with his wife and three kids. Now, he was able to buy a small house with the money he made helping construct the clinic. It is this type of positive effect on such wonderful, caring and hard-working people that makes it all worthwhile. Just like the rest of us, they have dreams to take care of their families and to live worthwhile lives.

If I can convey one message through this post, it is to never, ever feel helpless or to make excuses. I was just 30 years old when I began this project, but I did it. Discover what touches your heart, and search within to find the skills and talents you can contribute. Everybody has something they can do to help. It doesn’t matter how small you begin; just begin, because you never know where that first step will take you. Be the change you want to see. You have the power to make a difference. 

The Leap Year Project

Guest post by Victor Saad, author of The Leap Year Project.

Two years ago, I was at a crossroads: should I pursue a traditional MBA or explore another route to learn more about the intersection of business and social impact.

I have always been interested in exploring and doing work that serves individuals and communities. The roots to curiosities lie in the fact that I’ve always been hopeful. At a young age hope seemed sparse after my family life deteriorated due to a divorce and subsequent challenges. However, a group of teachers, mentors, and friends in my small town of Nixa, Missouri, became incredible supports. Their influence was so great that I wanted my career path to follow their footsteps.


During my senior year of high school, I brought my Middle Eastern parents into the same room to share that I wouldn’t be pursuing the expected route of becoming a doctor. They were less than pleased, to say the least, but they gave their blessing and I left home to pursue a degree.

I also began working for a student program at a church in the west suburbs of Chicago. For the next five years, I served on a team focused on building a 40,000 square foot student community center, complete with a theatre, cafe, and hangout space.

My work made me curious about further education in business, design, and simply learning how I could make a difference. Over time, the idea of earning an MBA surfaced. But the more I studied for the GMAT and researched programs, the more I wondered if the options and price tags fit.

I began interviewing hundreds of friends, family, peers, college students, and professors, asking droves of questions about learning methods, practices, ideas, and personal dreams.

When I explained I was thinking of creating my own education, people were partly intrigued and perplexed. All of that changed, however, when I ended the interviews with one final question: “If you were me, what risk would you take to change something in your life, your community, or your world?”

The question led to several incredible conversations around creative projects, personal goals, family events, and community endeavors. It caused me to wonder what would happen if more people embraced risk to pursue their passion.

I took my findings from the conversations and created a simple format of learning based on spending time in the spaces and with the people I admire in design, business development, and social change: 12 experiences and apprenticeships in 12 months.

I also carried that final question about risk-taking throughout the year. After countless interviews, I had a system and structure to learn on my own, and a community of people to learn with. I gave my self-made experiential education and the corresponding community project a name: The Leap Year Project.

I started by helping a Chicago-based design agency, Doejo, explore how to be more involved with cause-based organizations. Then my journey led me all over the world: a journalism trip to Cairo; a stint on the community management team at Threadless with their founder, Jake Nickell; a startup ad agency with advertising guru Alex Bogusky; an experience design apprenticeship with an architecture firm in Seattle; a business trip to China with a socially conscious clothing company; and so forth.

All of this helped me learn practical skills in marketing, business development, project and client management, and community building. I shared valuable experiences with a wide network of like-minded individuals, several of whom are now friends and mentors. And I learned more about myself than I imagined. My hopes turned to action and my convictions matured and grew into values. Afterwards, I staged my graduation at TEDxWindyCity and compiled our community’s leap stories into an end-of-project book.

Throughout The Leap Year Project, I began hearing feedback from employers, mentors, and friends that my self-made experiential education could become a helpful model for others. There is a general, overarching understanding that real-world experiences are incredibly valuable to one’s learning objectives and personal formation, but there are countless questions surrounding how to evaluate, assess, and guide the learning process within such an organic structure. The feedback became so prevalent that, rather than accepting one of several job offers, I’ve decided to explore how experiential education can become a more prevalent and highly regarded route for students ranging from high school to graduate level programs. Experience Institute is that effort.

The mission is simple: establish experiences as a credible form of education. I believe that people who complete this type learning process will gain the tools necessary to transform our world with an inventive spirit.

The game plan is even simpler: begin with a pilot class of six students this fall who are interested in design, business development, technology, and/or social innovation.

We’ll begin by meeting in Chicago to learn problem-solving processes that we can apply to our apprenticeships, and then establish each of our tracts for the year. We’ll also begin working through a curriculum developed by friends from Kellogg, Apple, IC Stars, Stanford, and Sapient.

Together, we’ll join with others in elevating real-world experiences to be seen as a valuable form of education while providing fresh, valuable work and insights to partner companies. As we grow, this will open the doors for students of all ages and types to find their place in this world in a way that is affordable, helpful, and transformative—all while building meaningful relationships.

To help us get started, the proceeds of The Leap Year Project Book will create a scholarship fund for Experience Institute. You can purchase it on AmazoniTunes, or Kindle. OR use visit the Leap Year Store and input this special code YOURMARK to order the paperback version for $20 + free shipping.

In his 1973 work Reflections on the Human Condition philosopher Eric Hoffer writes, “The central task of education is to implant a will and a facility for learning; it should produce not learned but learning people.” Hoffer goes on to note, “In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.”

Those words may have been written nearly 40 years ago, but they couldn’t be truer today. I believe that my small project and the generosity of several bright, caring individuals have not only surfaced a new type of degree, but more importantly, a new space to equip people to live in today’s world and learn ways to make it better.

Video:

http://bit.ly/lyptrailer

RedCapes Interview Features Passion For Having Social Impact

This interview with Wendy Robbins and Karen Paul was originally recorded for CrowdFundBeat.

Wendy Robbins and Karen Paul are the founders of RedCapes, a crowdfunding site for social causes. They visited with me to share more about their new site and their long-term vision for it. Wendy will be joining us for the Social Enterprise and Crowdfunding Conference on September 27, 2013 at Snowbird, Utah–seats are still available.

WENDY ROBBINS – CEO/Co-Founder of Red Capes

Superheroes: Wonder Woman, Nelson Mandela, Oprah

Here are a few of Wendy’s accomplishments:

Bloomberg Television says, “Robbins is America’s Next Top Entrepreneur.” Co-invented and marketed The Tingler head massager selling a million of them.  Co-starred with Kelly Ripa as a business coach/host on Discovery/TLC on the TV series, “Homemade Millionaire.”  Author of the bestseller, “Why Marry  A Millionaire?  Just Be One!”  Writes for The Huffington Post.  She wrote, directed, produced reality shows for 13 years and the shows won 2 Emmy’s and was nominated for a 3rd one.  She attended The Juilliard School for acting, member of DGA, SAG, and AFTRA.  Popular speaker and panelist. She is a crowdfunding expert, writing a book about crowdfunding and she looks fab in a red cape.

Online media kit – http://wendy.instantmediakit.com.
Linkedin:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/thewendyrobbins
Personal FB:  http://www.facebook.com/wendyrobbins
Red Capes Twitter: @redcapesmedia

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kk-7xP9XUk4


karen
Co-Founder and CMO
Super Kaz Karen Paull
Hometown: New York
Superheroes: My Grandma, Rosa Parks, and Wonder Woman

Thanks for supporting our new (and improved) crowd-funding site!  I am excited to leverage my 15 years experience as an Executive in the Digital  Marketing and Sales space! We founded Red Capes with the idea of wanting to bring more good news to the world. Wendy had incubated this entire concept several years ago, and we tossed it around, did a year of research to discover what people loved and disliked about the current model, and improved it. RedCapes.com is not just a crowd-funding site, it’s a Interactive Social Media Fundraising Site for anyone who believes in paying it forward! Every single campaign that we attract, is about doing good for others, and leaving this world a better place than how we found it; which is why we are seeking to fund progressive, sustainable, unique, original, cool ideas and businesses that have a deep impact, with a small footprint.

Live Interview From Africa To Prepare For World Lion Day

Live Interview From Africa To Prepare For World Lion Day

Fundly CEO David Boyce Describes Best Practices for Social Crowdfunders

David Boyce and I originally did this interview for CrowdFundBeat.

Fundly CEO David Boyce will be speaking at the Social Enterprise and Crowdfunding Conference on September 27, 2013. (You may register here.)

In this interview, David describes how Fundly is all about crowdfunding for social enterprises and nonprofits. In fact, Fundly was turns up several times in my book, Crowdfunding for Social Good, and was quoted in the book.

Dave’s bio from the Fundly website:

Dave is a serial entrepreneur who lists his favorite start-up as his own family (he is married with six kids). Dave’s previous start-up, ProfitLogic, sold to Oracle, where Dave stayed for four years as a VP of Product and Strategy.

Entrepreneur, Musician, Speaker, Father

  • ProfitLogic from $300K to $30M; sold to Oracle
  • Oracle Retail from $130M to $300M
  • BYU Vocal Point from zero to World Championship
  • Consultant to South African and Cambodian governments
  • Harvard MBA
  • Co-Founder of Fundly

Fun Fact:Was a professional beat-boxer

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