This post was originally produced for Forbes.
James Lee Sorenson, whose late father was listed among Forbes’ billionaires and left his fortune to charity, has focused his significant personal wealth accumulated through his own entrepreneurship on driving impact around the world, by “building a comprehensive impact ecosystem that has the appropriate tools whether that is a philanthropic grant, a social impact bond, or an equity investment to address different societal challenges and create sustainable scalable impact.”
At present, Sorenson, via the Sorenson Impact Foundation, is working on three separate but closely related projects, including the Sorenson Global Impact Investment Center (commonly known as the SGII Center), pay for success financing and an impact investing fund.
Of the SGII Center, he says, “For a variety of reasons, there are limited amounts of risk capital going to support companies of social impact to bridge the gap between purely philanthropic and commercially oriented capital. The SGII Center has played a catalytic role in helping to address such issues and facilitate these program-related investments.”
He’s excited about pay for success financing, about which he notes, “It’s really a new day dawning for nonprofits, for governments that are major funders for social services, as well as a growing number of investors that are interested in investing in something that has a positive benefit to society”
“We are currently raising a commercial impact fund that will address the capital gap social enterprises face domestically and scale promising businesses in sectors like education and financial inclusion that will have a profound impact,” Sorenson explained.
“I hope that our efforts will accelerate the growth of the sector at-large and help lead to improved societal change on a global scale,” Sorenson concluded.
Krista and Jim Sorenson in Nepal
Sorenson recently visited Nepal with CHOICE Humanitarian founder James Mayfield and his staff. Next month, I will be visiting Mayfield in Nepal with CHOICE.
On Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at noon Eastern, Sorenson will join me here for a live discussion about his work at advancing impact investing opportunities. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.
More about the Sorenson Impact Foundation:
The Sorenson Impact Foundation funds a variety of worthwhile endeavors including charitable, educational, scientific, environmental, health care and religious purposes. Of primary interest are those grants and program related investments that have the potential to become sustainable, scalable projects that maximize positive impact on the lives and societies they touch.
A world-renowned entrepreneur, business leader and societal innovator, James Lee Sorenson serves as chairman of the Sorenson Impact Foundation, which funds sustainable, scalable endeavors that maximize positive impact on the lives and societies they touch. Most recently, Sorenson contributed $13 million to the University of Utah to the creation of a global impact investing center.
Sorenson was instrumental in developing several new industry categories, including digital compression software that helped usher in the online video revolution at Sorenson Media, and video relay services that transformed opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing individuals through Sorenson Communications.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
“There’s nothing more fundamental than the need for safe water and sanitation,” says Gary White, who partnered with Matt Damon to create Water.org.
White notes that “a staggering number of people lack access to these things. Many die as a result. Communities and countries stay trapped in poverty. About 750 million people – one in nine-lack access to safe water. More than twice that many, 2.5 billion people, do not have access to a toilet.”
“In just one day, women spend 200 million hours collecting water for their families. That is equivalent to the amount of time it would take to build 28 Empire State Buildings—in one day. Imagine the wealth these women will create when they can use these 200 million hours in productive employment, rather than foraging for water,” White adds.
Water.org has observed that many people who live in urban slums live on top of water systems to which they don’t have access. White explains that they have developed a new strategy for giving the poor access to existing systems.
White says, “We created WaterCredit to unleash the power of the poor. By enabling the poor to finance toilets and taps in their own homes, we’re spreading capital costs across a broader swath of stakeholders. Progress goes up at an exponential rate.”
“This approach is working. It’s transforming lives. And it’s ready to really take off. WaterCredit has so far made it possible for over two million people in six countries to gain access to water or build toilets in their homes. Forty-eight microfinance institutions help us administer the loans. The loans are repaid at the rate of 99%. And over 90% of our borrowers are women. Since 2004, we’ve invested over $10.9 million in WaterCredit. This has in turn leveraged an additional $97 million in commercial and social capital. Traditional charity, by its nature, is unable to achieve this kind of impact,” White concludes.
On Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 4:00 Eastern, White will join me for a live discussion about WaterCredit and its impact on the world’s poor. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.
More about Water.org:
At Water.org we envision the day when everyone in the world can take a safe drink of water and experience the dignity of a toilet. For 25 years, we have been at the forefront of developing and delivering solutions to the water crisis. Founded by Gary White and Matt Damon, Water.org pioneers innovative, community-driven, and market-based solutions to ensure all people have access to safe water and sanitation; giving women hope, children health, and communities a future. To date, Water.org has positively transformed millions of lives in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean by providing access to safe water and sanitation.
Gary White is chief executive officer and co-founder of Water.org, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering people in the developing world to gain access to safe water and sanitation, (Water.org is the resulting organization of the July 2009 merger between WaterPartners, co-founded by White in 1990, and H2O Africa, co-founded by actor Matt Damon). White’s entrepreneurial vision has driven innovations in the way water and sanitation projects are delivered and financed, and these innovations now serve as a model in the sector. Water.org is on track to have served one million people by the end of 2012.
Since 1994, White has led Water.org through more than twenty years of sustainable growth, while positioning the organization as an innovative leader in the global water supply and sanitation space. He developed the organization’s WaterCredit Initiative, creating new financing options for poor populations to meet their water supply and sanitation needs.
White is a leading advisor in the water and sanitation space, counseling organizations such as the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, MasterCard MA +0.59% Foundation, PepsiCo PEP -0.38% Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, and Diageo on responses to the global water crisis. White is a founding board member of the Millennium Water Alliance and Water Advocates.
In 2002 he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award presented by the School of Public Health at the University of NC-Chapel Hill. In 2003, he was named a fellow of the British American Project. In 2008, he was inducted into the Philanthropy World Hall of Fame. In March 2009, WaterPartners received the Skoll Foundation’s Award for Social Entrepreneurship and White was inducted into the community of Skoll Social Entrepreneurs. In October 2009, White received the ONEXONE Difference Award for his work over the past two decades in addressing the global water crisis. In 2009, he was named an advisor to the Clinton Global Initiative. In 2010, he was named the Kansas City Global Citizen of the Year by the mayor of Kansas City, MO. In 2011 he was named to the TIME 100 list of the world’s most influential people. Also in 2011 he was named one of 28 Alumni of Distinction among a pool of more than 50,000 living graduates of Missouri University of Science and Technology. In 2012 White received the World Social Impact Award from the World Policy Institute as well as being named one of the Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurs of 2012. Most recently he became a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council White’s educational credentials include three degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of NC-Chapel Hill and the University of Missouri-Rolla (now Missouri University of Science & Technology).
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Dr. Sudip Bose received a Bronze Star and was recognized as a “CNN Hero” for his role in treating Saddam Hussein following his capture from the spider hole and for serving one of the longest tours of duty for a medical doctor since World War II.
Dr. Bose’s experiences in the military served to catalyze a desire to serve veterans. Still a respected, practicing emergency room physician, he founded The Battle Continues, a nonprofit organization that works to improve the health of veterans–and all Americans.
On Thursday, February 19, 2015 at noon, Dr. Bose will join me for a live discussion about his experiences and his mission to help veterans. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.
More about Dr. Bose:
Dr. Bose saw firsthand how soldiers suffered from combat stress after returning from war. Many soldiers came back only to fight another battle, perhaps harder than they had ever fought before…their own. Many struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and devastating physical injuries sustained during the course of their service to our country. Whether veteran or civilian, preserving our health and well-being is the number one battle we must all fight if we want to live the American dream.
Dr. Bose’s mission is to use his knowledge and experience to reach people around the nation through education. Our Board of Directors will allocate donated funds to veterans and their families to help them fight their battles after returning from combat. Donated funds will be used to connect injured veterans with physicians. The motivating force behind www.TheBattleContinues.org is to progress education so that we can improve healthcare on a larger scale and to help patients that even Dr. Bose has not met; to throw a stone into an ocean of people and create a ripple effect for a healthier America.
Dr. Bose is:
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Jules Kortenhorst, CEO of Rocky Mountain Institute noted, “The energy revolution is accelerating; the implications for businesses around the world are enormous. Now is the time to be part of this change.”
“Climate change is the challenge of our generation. The good news is that increasingly the technologies are there, and are rapidly becoming commercially viable to shift our economy to low carbon,” he concluded.
On Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 6:00 PM Eastern, Kortenhorst will join me for a live discussion about the partnership with Carbon War Room and how they’ll work together to accelerate a global shift away from fossil fuels. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.
More about Rocky Mountain Institute:
Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is an independent, non-partisan nonprofit that drives the efficient and restorative use of resources. Co-founded in 1982 by Amory Lovins, its Chairman Emeritus and Chief Scientist, RMI now has approximately 80 full-time staff, annual operations of $16 million, and a global reach and reputation. RMI advances market-based solutions, engaging businesses, communities, and institutions to cost-effectively shift to efficiency and renewables. Employing rigorous research, analysis, and whole-systems expertise to develop breakthrough insights RMI convenes and collaborates with diverse partners—business, government, academic, nonprofit, philanthropic, and military—to accelerate and scale solutions.
Jules Kortenhorst is the Chief Executive Officer of RMI. He is a recognized leader on global energy issues and climate change. His background spans business, government, entrepreneurial, and nonprofit leadership.
Prior to RMI, Jules was CEO of Topell Energy BV, a company that developed a cutting-edge process for the production of solid biofuel. He also served as the founding CEO of the European Climate Foundation (ECF), the largest philanthropic organization dedicated to policy development and advocacy on climate change in Europe. Jules led a major effort at ECF to develop the roadmap for decarbonized power generation.
Before launching ECF, Jules was the CEO for International Operations of ClientLogic Corporation, a global leader in outsourced customer relationship management (CRM) solutions. Jules also served as a member of the Dutch parliament. Earlier in his career, he worked for eight years for Royal Dutch Shell, including as managing director of Shell Bulgaria. He began his career as an analyst at McKinsey & Co. in Amsterdam.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
As more and more people, including investors, increasingly focus on performance measures that aren’t captured in the financial statements, it is important to have some objective standards by which to measure social and environmental impacts and ethical corporate governance. Enter the SASB.
Dr. Jean Rogers, CEO of the SASB, explains, “The information investors need to make decisions has changed. In today’s world, how effectively a company addresses sustainability issues can impact its financial position and future prospects. But investors lack access to standardized information on these increasingly significant factors.”
“SASB standards are created for the markets, by the markets. SASB is a response to investor demand for comparable, decision-useful information on material sustainability factors,” she continues.
“SASB standards help companies comply with existing regulatory requirements. They’re the only sustainability accounting standards that are compatible with U.S. securities law,” she concludes.
On Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 5:10 PM, Rogers will join me for a live discussion about the work of the SASB. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.
More about SASB:
The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) is an independent non-profit organization that develops sustainability accounting standards for publicly-listed U.S. companies. The standards are designed to guide the disclosure of material sustainability information in the MD&A section of SEC filings, such as the Form 10-K and 20-F. As such, SASB standards help companies comply with federal securities law. With the data resulting from SASB standards, investors will be able to compare the sustainability performance of companies within an industry and direct capital to the most sustainable outcomes. SASB is issuing standards for 80+ industries in 10 sectors by 2016.
Dr. Jean Rogers is the Founder & CEO of SASB. Since 2010 SASB developed from an idea formulated in collaboration with the Harvard University Initiative for Responsible Investment at the Kennedy School of Government into a globally-respected, ANSI-accredited, independent standards-setting organization.
Jean draws upon her 20 years’ experience in sustainability and management consulting across a wide range of industries including utilities, extractives, financials, and real estate. She has worked with international clients to integrate sustainability into strategy and operations, minimizing risk and maximizing returns across the triple bottom line. Jean’s leadership experience includes 10 years as a Principal at Arup, a global engineering consultancy focused on sustainable development. Jean was also a management consultant at Deloitte, working in the environmental and manufacturing practices to help leading companies improve business and product performance through sustainability.
Jean is a former Loeb Fellow at Harvard University and holds a PhD in Environmental Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and an ME in Environmental Engineering and a BE in Civil Engineering from Manhattan College.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Mark Horvath has found an unusual calling in life. He’s taken to creating videos of people experiencing homelessness.
His organization, Invisible People, produces videos of Horvath’s visits with people living on the streets, in shelters and otherwise down on their luck. The videos, posted on YouTube, are shared across social media.
By humanizing and personalizing homelessness, Horvath hopes to move society closer to ending the scourge of homelessness.
On Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 4:00 Eastern, Horvath we’ll turn the tables on Horvath by interviewing him live to talk about his video crusade. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.
More about Invisible People:
Since its launch in November 2008, Invisible People has leveraged the power of video and the massive reach of social media to share the compelling, gritty, and unfiltered stories of homeless people from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. The vlog (video blog) gets up close and personal with veterans, mothers, children, layoff victims and others who have been forced onto the streets by a variety of circumstances. Each week, they’re on InvisiblePeople.tv and high traffic sites such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, proving to a global audience that while they may often be ignored, they are far from invisible.
Invisible People goes beyond the rhetoric, statistics, political debates, and limitations of social services to examine poverty in America via a medium that audiences of all ages can understand, and can’t ignore. The vlog puts into context one of our nation’s most troubling and prevalent issues through personal stories captured by the lens of Mark Horvath – its founder – and brings into focus the pain, hardship and hopelessness that millions face each day. One story at a time, videos posted on InvisiblePeople.tv shatter the stereotypes of America’s homeless, force shifts in perception and deliver a call to action that is being answered by national brands, nonprofit organizations and everyday citizens now committed to opening their eyes and their hearts to those too often forgotten.
Everyone talks about social media’s potential to democratize and empower those less fortunate. Mark actually makes that happen. Mark, or @hardlynormal as the Internet knows him, is an internationally recognized activist who tells the story of the countless individuals without a voice– those living in shelters, motels, tents, alongside streets and under highway bridges. His platform InvisiblePeople.tv is one of the most revolutionary and poignant storytelling destinations we’ve ever seen on the web. Mark’s work is extraordinary because he not only helps solve the systemic, scaled problems of homelessness by destroying stereotypes, but he also helps singular individuals, every day.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Unitus, one of the early entrants in microlending in the developing world and, as a result, in impact investing, is continuing to innovate. The Unitus Seed Fund provides venture capital for people near the base of the pyramid in India.
Yesterday, Unitus announced a partnership with Pfizer PFE +0.76%, PATH , Manipal Hospitals and Narayana Health to provide up to $85,000 each to healthcare entrepreneurs in India in the form of “non-dilutive” capital.
Dave Richards, Managing Director of Unitus Seed Fund, said, “There is a massive seed funding gap in most emerging markets due to a lack of a local culture for high-risk ‘angel’ investing by those with wealth. This is particularly true for high demand/low supply emerging sectors such as education, healthcare, retail, agriculture, water and even many technology driven businesses that have substantial brick-and-mortar elements.”
Richards went on to explain their thinking about making these investments to make money for investors. “Some people have suggested that this type of seed funding can only be done by philanthropy. We believe that this can only be done well and scaled if it’s on a for-profit basis. We invest mostly in first-time entrepreneurs seeking to build a venture-backed business. So, we spend a lot of time helping them to understand the whole investor world and perspective and then function as their investment bankers as they seek to raise scale-up capital.”
“We believe that many of the next billion dollar businesses delivering affordable products or services in areas such as education, healthcare and livelihoods will be built in India … and then exported,” Richards concluded.
On Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 11:00 AM Eastern, Richards will join me for a live discussion about the investment strategy the Unitus is using in India. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.
More about Unitus Seed Fund:
Unitus Seed Fund is the leading venture seed fund supporting startups innovating for the masses in India. Unitus invests in healthcare, education, mobile commerce & value-added services, marketplaces & e-commerce, retail & distribution, agriculture, and water & energy sectors. Founded in 2012, Unitus Seed Fund is part of the Unitus Group, a premier financial services group operating in India and other emerging markets since 2000. Unitus Seed Fund is based in Bangalore and Seattle.
Dave Richards is an experienced entrepreneur, executive and global early-stage investor. He has been an early investor in microfinance and other emerging market sector businesses serving the masses. Dave has been part of the Unitus Group since 2005, helping to lead efforts to select, invest in and support in entrepreneurs in many developing countries. He led the Unitus Labs incubator for 2 years including the successful research and spinout of both Unitus Impact (livelihoods venture fund) and Unitus Seed Fund. Dave also oversaw Unitus Investment Management, the General Partner of Unitus Equity Fund (microfinance venture fund), was a board member of Unitus Capital (Bangalore-based investment bank) and on the investment committee for Unitus Impact (venture fund). Previously, Dave developed multiple high-growth technology (software, mobile, digital media, SaaS) businesses at RealNetworks, Sybase and Symantec from startup to multiple hundred million dollar global enterprises. He also is a partner with Social Venture Partners Seattle and is a co-founder of the Social Innovation Fast Pitch startup angel fund. Dave received his Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of British Columbia.
This is a guest post from Hernán G. Vicuña, Brand Manager of Zenni Optical
For artists, vision is essential in more than one sense: Creating art requires an artistic vision, of course, an expressive framework to communicate with an audience and challenge conventional ways of thinking and seeing the world. But for visual artists, it also requires the ability to see clearly in the physical sense, which can be a challenge for people who already struggle to meet their daily needs, like the disabled and disadvantaged artists served by the ArtLifting program.
ArtLifting empowers homeless, disabled and disadvantaged individuals through the celebration and sale of their work. Artists who participate in shelter and community service art therapy programs can work with ArtLifting to sell original art, prints, images to incorporate in greeting cards and iPhone cases, with the majority of the proceeds going to the artist.
In addition to a unique opportunity to showcase their talentfor a wider audience, working with ArtLifting can be life-changing for artists whose work captures the attention of galleries and art aficionados. Allen Chamberland, an ArtLifting artist, received an invitation to display his work in a solo art show after his art was featured on the ArtLifting site, giving him new hope to achieve financial independence despite his disability.
Hernán G. Vicuña
But many ArtLifting artists struggle with vision problems that hamper their ability to produce the artwork that sustains their creative drive. Not all have the resources to obtain medically necessary eye exams or purchase prescription glasses. And that’s where my company, Zenni Optical, was able to help. We reached out to this community and offered to provide free prescription eyeglasses to San Francisco-based ArtLifting artists.
Since our founding more than a decade ago, Zenni has been committed to the idea that everyone deserves a chance to see clearly. That’s why we provide a simple, convenient way for people to obtain affordable, fashionable eyewear online for as low as $6.95 a pair. We were proud to visit the Hospitality House Community Arts Program in San Francisco to deliver free eyeglasses to artists in need this fall, and we hope the gift will encourage them to continue producing art.
No matter how you look at it, vision is essential. The artistic vision expressed by ArtLifting artists enriches the lives of art lovers and has the potential to change the circumstances of the artists. And vision enhanced with the right prescription eyewear helps homeless, disabled and disadvantaged artists see more clearly. At Zenni, we’re proud to support the vision of the ArtLifting organization – in more ways than one.
George Lewis is an octogenarian who has no plans to slow down. So what’s he doing that keeps him going? He’s changing the world one glass of water at a time.
George is better known as the Water Man. He’s using his membership in Rotary to really make a difference in the world.
He explains, “6,000 children die every day from water born diseases.”
By leveraging his Rotary Club, his Rotary District and Rotary International’s Rotary Foundation, he’s learned how to turn one dollar into $3.5 of impact for water.
Over his lifetime, George reports helping over 1.5 million people gain access to clean water.
On Thursday, February 5, 2015 at noon Eastern, George will join me for a live discussion about his water works. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.
More about Water Team International:
Our mission and vision: We want to help every less fortunate person in the world to have clean drinking water. More than one billion people lack this most basic commodity. Having safe drinking water helps to liberate people so they can live healthier, fuller, and more productive lives. 6,000 children die every day from water borne diseases. We want to help solve this problem and lessen the suffering.
George Lewis, better known as the Water Man, was born in New York City and grew up in New Jersey. After graduating from Wagner College and serving in the Army, he played professional baseball for several years in the Boston Red Sox organization.
George was a stock broker, mostly with Merrill Lynch, until he retired in 2000 while living in San Diego.
In 2002 he moved to Florence, Oregon and immediately joined Rotary for the first time. The next year he was Treasurer and Membership Chair. In 3 years the membership grew from 75 to 118. In 2006/7 he was President and the club was named the Most
Outstanding Club in the District.
His real passion is to help the less fortunate around the world to obtain clean drinking water and he is the Founder and President of Water Team International. The Rotary Global History Fellowship recently named him the first charter member of the HEROES which honors those Rotarians whose deeds and dedication to the ideals of Rotary are recorded for posterity.
He is a Major Donor and a member of the Paul Harris Society.
George presently lives in Sarasota, Florida and is a member of the RC of Lakewood Ranch.