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The mission of the Your Mark on the World Center is to solve the world's biggest problems before 2045 by identifying and championing the work of experts who have created credible plans and programs to end them once and for all.

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Devin D. Thorpe
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Monthly Archives: October 2015

Closed Loop Fund Closes 3 Deals; Founder To Comment On NYT Op-Ed Touting Death Of Recycling

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Closed Loop Fund, an impact investment fund, recently closed its first three deals, providing financing for municipal waste.

Rob Kaplan, Managing Director, explains the reason for the fund’s existence, “Lack of infrastructure is one of the greatest barriers to more recycling in the country. The Fund plans to invest $100 million in the U.S. recycling infrastructure by 2020. The Fund invests in the form of zero-interest loans to cities and low interest loans to recycling companies, to prove that recycling business models are financially sustainable now into the future.”

Kaplan described the recent transactions, saying, “On Sept. 24, Closed Loop Fund, an impact investment fund that makes below-market loans for recycling infrastructure, including household recycling carts, facilities, and technologies, announced its first three investments to bolster recycling infrastructure and reduce the over $5 billion dollars spent by cities annually on landfills.”

“The initial capital includes $7.8 million from Closed Loop Fund, which helped to unlock an additional investment of $17 million from other public and private co-investors, totaling $24.8 million. All three investments demonstrate replicable economic and environmental returns that recycling can bring to communities across the United States. This is the first of over $500 million the fund expects to unlock to invest in American recycling over the next five years,” Kaplan concluded.

Sunday’s New York Times included an op-ed by John Tierney that seemed almost to be an obituary for recycling under the headline, “The Reign of Recycling.” The piece argues that the environmental impact of recycling is modest when properly calculated.

On Thursday, October 8, 2015 at 2:00 Eastern, Kaplan will join me for a live discussion about these recently completed deals and we’ll get his take on the death of recycling as well. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about Closed Loop Fund:

Twitter: @Loopfund

Founded in 2014, Closed Loop Fund is a social impact investment fund that provides cities access to the capital required to build comprehensive recycling programs. Closed Loop Fund aims to invest $100 million by 2020 with the goal to create economic value for cities by increasing recycling rates in communities across America. Closed Loop Fund brings together the world’s largest consumer product, retail financial companies committed to finding a national solution to divert waste from landfills into the recycling stream in order to be used in the manufacturing supply chain. Key supporters include 3M, Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies, Keurig Green Mountain, PepsiCo, Pepsico Foundation, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation. For more information, visit www.closedloopfund.com.

Kaplan’s bio:

Twitter: @robbyk

Rob Kaplan proves that creating business value and passion for protecting the environment can peacefully co-exist. As Managing Director of the Closed Loop Fund, an innovative platform for impact investing, sustainability, and the circular economy, Rob oversees strategy and new business model development, as well as day-to-day operations. The Fund aims to scale recycling through zero interest loans to cities and investments in waste companies.

Prior to joining the Fund, Rob served as Director of Sustainability for Walmart Stores, Inc. where he was responsible for packaging, customer engagement, and integration with the Consumables business, including personal care and household cleaning. Rob led the creation of the Sustainability Leaders shop on Walmart.com to help consumers make responsible purchasing decisions online, built a unique collaborative initiative with competitors called the Beauty & Personal Care Innovation Accelerator, and cofounded The Closed Loop Fund. Rob previously led Walmart’s cross-functional efforts to eliminate 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas from the supply chain.

Rob’s career has always been fueled by his passion for sustainability and social issues. Before joining Walmart, he helped lead corporate responsibility and brand strategy for Brown-Forman Corporation, which produces and markets spirit brands such as Jack Daniel’s. Rob developed marketing strategies to engage consumers, improve social and environmental performance, and advance business objectives.

Rob received his MBA from the Haas School where he studied marketing, corporate responsibility, and social entrepreneurship. Prior to graduate school, Rob was State Communications Director for Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California and a political consultant for M&R Strategic Services in Washington, DC. Rob received his undergraduate degree in political communication from the George Washington University where he learned that perception is reality. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two children.

 

Weild & Co. Working To Give Companies Greater Access To Capital

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

“The United States was once had IPO markets that made our stock markets the envy of markets throughout the world,” according to David Weild IV, Chairman and CEO of Weild & Co.

He continues, “With the move to electronic markets beginning in 1998, the small IPO collapsed. The US should be averaging 950 IPOs a year and we muster only 150 IPOs on average since 2000–a number that doesn’t even replace what is lost in an average year. This cost the US economy 10 million jobs.”

Weild, the former vice chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market and an expert on capital formation who worked on many aspects of the 2012 JOBS Act. His concern about where the markets have gone is matched by his enthusiasm for where they could go.

“Of course, the JOBS Act was passed and that helps to drive down costs for corporate issuers. In the meantime, we were the catalysts for the SEC Tick Size Pilot which launches this spring and the current discussions in Congress for ‘Venture Exchanges’–a totally new type of stock exchange that would be optimized for the needs of small (sub $2 billion market value) capitalization stocks,” Weild adds. “In addition, Weild & Co. is working to crash the cost of helping corporations market to much larger numbers of the right investors over the internet. To date, we’ve been able to as much as double institutional investor interest on IPOs and we think this is the beginning of something revolutionary.”

Weild’s enthusiasm for the markets is matched by his desire to see social enterprises flourish.

“If we can get the United States (and the rest of the world) to structure markets that are friendlier to entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers, that increased access to capital could contribute over 10 million net new jobs to the US economy over a decade while solving some of the great challenges of our time in areas including healthcare and global warming. We believe we are the single most important social impact company on the planet, because what do we helps to enable vast numbers of social impact companies.”

On Thursday, October 8, 2015 at noon Eastern, Weild will join me here for a live discussion about the markets and the work that Weild & Co. is doing to give social entrepreneurs and others greater access to capital. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about Weild & Co.:

Weild & Co. develops and applies scalable technology platforms and services to increase demand for offerings and aftermarket support. We do this for private placements, IPOs and follow-on offerings. Our clients include public companies and investment banks who engage us to expand distribution. As the world’s leading experts in how market structure impacts company fortunes in capital markets, Weild & Co. leads the way in driving improvements in capital formation for corporations that will lead to enhanced economic and job growth.

Weild’s bio:

David Weild is Chairman and CEO of Weild & Co., the investment bank that develops and applies technology to help companies and other investment banks increase institutional investor demand on private placements, IPOs, follow-on offerings and in the aftermarket. He is a noted expert in capital markets who has testified in Congress numerous times in front of the House Subcommittee on Capital Markets and the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC). He has spoken at the G-20, Federation of European Securities Exchanges (FESE), the Budapest Economic Forum and addressed the 34 member nations and the European Commission for the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). He is known as the ‘Father’ of the JOBS Act for studies that he co-authored with Edward Kim that were the first to identify and characterize the long-term structural decline in the IPO and listed companies markets. These studies inspired most of the bills that were later wrapped into the JOBS Act.

Subsequent work by Weild catalyzed the SEC tick size pilot (scheduled to launch in spring 2016) and current legislative interest in “Venture Exchanges.”

Mr. Weild was formerly Vice Chairman of The NASDAQ Stock Market in charge of the Corporate Client Division with line responsibility for NASDAQ’s 4,000 listed companies. Mr. Weild also headed equity capital markets and corporate finance at a top ten underwriter of IPOs and follow-on equity offerings. During the course of his career he worked on over 1,000 of these transactions. Mr. Weild holds an MBA from the Stern School of Business and a BA from Wesleyan University. He has studied on exchange at The Sorbonne, Ecole des Haute Etudes Commerciales and The Stockholm School of Economics. Mr. Weild is a former Treasurer of The Bond Club of New York. He currently holds FINRA Series 7, 24, 63, 79, and 99 licenses. He is Chairman of the Board of Tuesday’s Children, the noted 9/11 organization that now also serves victims of mass gun violence (Resiliency Center of Newtown) and families of the fallen.

Vacation Time Giving | Finding Today’s Lost Einsteins

This is a guest post from Michael Vo, a former engineering director at Tesla.

The premise is pretty simple… Most extrapolations had Einstein’s IQ at 160. The probability of having a IQ of 160+ is about one in 11,307. Now with over a billion people living in poverty today, the simple math estimates that there are well over 88,000 potential Einsteins out there, struggling to find their next meal for themselves and their family. Understandably that a certain population reading this will make the argument that through some way of natural selection, this group of impoverished people do not have the same probability of having such a high IQ. Or, even if there were 88,000 potential Einsteins, their impact to humanity would be minimal as there’s still an abundance of genius in the world. Well, we’ll walk through why the former assertion is wrong and the latter thinking is mathematically incorrect.

For those who think that people in poverty do not have the capacity to be intelligent or have children with that potential, here’s a quick sanity check;

  • For most of us that migrated to the US or had parents that migrated, ask this question — if your parents hadn’t made the move, would you have the same opportunities you have today? Some of the most influential people of our era migrated from distressed countries, and regions all over the world. What if they weren’t presented the opportunity to escape the harsh conditions? Would they still be working to solve some of humanity’s toughest challenges today or would working at a fruit stand be their calling?
  • Einstein’s parents weren’t geniuses. In fact most ‘geniuses’ had rather ordinary parents and to compound the point, also had ‘normal’ children. Nature tends to level the playing field with such ironies.

Now to the population that don’t see the significance. Imagine a world without Einstein. His work has had an immense impact on our everyday lives ranging from today’s TV’s, digital cameras,

GPS, nuclear energy, and even the alarm clock. Yes…your alarm clock! Now would other intelligent people eventually come to the same solutions, maybe… but on what time

scale? How behind would humanity be today? With 88,000 more potential Einsteins out there, imagine the impact they would have working to solve today’s biggest issues on healthcare, poverty, energy and education. Believing that 1/7th of our intelligent resources being wasted away has little impact is not only naive, but also foolish. While it can be argued that 88,000 may not be absolute or precise, it can’t be argued that the impact is not significant or perhaps even catastrophic.

The question now becomes what can we do to ensure that ALL Einsteins out there have the same opportunities to do future GREAT things? Where do the resources come from to solve this 1 Billion | 88k problem? Before we roll up our sleeves, let’s look at the current landscape..

  1. Philanthropy and charitable giving has been stagnant at 2% of US GDP since the ’70s.
  2. Philanthropy and the charity space as a whole, lack innovation and technology that excites and inspires.
  3. Last year, there was $52.4 BILLION worth of unused vacation time in just the US.

Yes, these are staggering and sobering points, however, they also lead us to the solution. With philanthropy and charitable giving stagnant at 2% GDP, how do we find new buckets of money to move that needle to 3%, 4% or even higher? Yes! Ding ding ding! Imagine, if we were able to take just 1% of the $52.4 billion of unused vacation time every year and funnel that to charities around the world that does impactful work. That would mean, an additional half a billion dollars a year going towards feeding the hungry, providing education to the underprivileged, give hope to climate change, perhaps even medical research to cure cancer. And of course, the underlying technology that integrates, make the user experience wonderful and fulfilling. we2o was spawned to help expedite this vision, solve those two fundamental equations, 1. funnel new buckets of money to facilitate charities and 2. innovate on technology necessary to bring philanthropy to equal footing to all other industries. we2o helps unify charities, companies and donors through a social giving community. The platform allows employees to use vacation and salary to support the charities they truly care about. How many Einsteins would we be able to find if everyone donated just an hour of their time across the world? Finding all 88k right away would be unrealistic, but starting with 500 or even 1000 would be great progress for humanity. The question then no longer is ‘how many Einsteins lost’ but rather ‘What’s An Hour?’

Michael Vo

Michael Vo

About Michael Vo:

Michael Vo, a former engineering director at Tesla who is passionate about technology and now focuses on bringing technology disruption to philanthropy.

Coddle the Critics, Tolerate the Trolls, and Hug the Haters

Before I begin to make my case for putting up with the haters in your life more graciously, let me come clean. I hate, I mean detest, “feedback.” I’d rather go to the dentist than read feedback after I give a speech or publish an article. I’m easily insulted by faint praise so imagine how I feel with real criticism.

Recently, and I’m showing my age here, someone slammed one of my recent YouTube vids with a one word insult, “Noob.” I had to look it up to confirm that in fact, I had just been called a 21st century idiot. To be fair, the interview he commented on, was not my best. It was a painful reminder that I don’t have anyone’s permission to waste their time, insult their intelligence or preen.

And that is the point. If this hater had not taken the time to call me a noob, I wouldn’t know that my work didn’t live up to expectations and I wouldn’t be inspired, if only to avoid being called a noob again, to do better work.

Recently, I did a piece about a voluntourism start up. Some of the hardcore impact folks mocked the piece and the program rather mercilessly on social media. Ouch! When I piped up in defense of the piece and the program, the tone changed—but only slightly. Rather than make pithy quips about the failings, the crowd of trolls provided meaningful essays on the failures of the program and the piece. Ouch again!

Yes, a few conceded a few points and a few fans showed up in support, but the consensus was that the program wouldn’t have the desired impact and that the piece was deficient in its analysis and reporting. I was ticked off. How could anyone be critical of my writing when, obviously, I am just a nomination cycle away from a Pulitzer!  And how could anyone be critical of this well-intentioned program that I’d spent almost ten minutes vetting!

troll

After sulking for a few days (can you imagine what a pain I am to live with?) I decided to invite one of the haters to be on my show. She was brilliant. The article for the show got five times more reads than the first piece and the show got 10 times more views in the first 24 hours.

What happened here? I had a better subject, I wrote a better piece and I had a more consequential discussion on air. Why? Precisely because I listened to the critics.

Trust me, I’m the first person to think of everyone critical of my work in any way, shape or form as a hater or a troll, but despite the fact that they infuriate me, I concede that I could not improve my work without them.

Positive feedback will only go so far. It is vitally important to know what works, but that idea is almost meaningless without the word “better.” That is, I need to know what works better than the crap, well, let’s say less brilliant content I produce. That means I need to know what doesn’t work. If all I know is what works, I can only plateau. To improve, I need to know both what works and what doesn’t work.

So, we need the haters and the trolls to tell us frankly and honestly what our fans, friends and mothers won’t tell us, when we suck, when we’ve got it wrong, when we make mistakes. The fear of negative feedback will naturally force us to improve our work.

If we are, and we definitely are, trying to solve big world problems like hunger, poverty, AIDS, malaria, cancer and every other public health menace, then we need—we desperately need—the negative feedback to identify the weaknesses in our plans.

The world’s biggest problems won’t solve themselves and they won’t get solved by processes built only on positive feedback. We need to love the haters because they are a vital part of accelerating our progress.

 

Investor, Activist Seeks To ‘Transform Finance’ For Good

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Impact investment will be huge, but not necessarily good, says Transform Finance co-founder and Board Chair Morgan Simon, who is passionate about using money to create social justice. Investors controlling $550 million have signed on to her program, she says.

“Microfinance leading to huge debt cycles. Wind farms causing land grabs,” are signs of the problem, she says. “Impact investment is seen as a panacea to the challenges of aid and philanthropy, yet its promise is often unrealized, lacking engagement with and accountability to the people it is intended to serve, at times even harming its intended beneficiaries. Expected to eclipse aid by 10x with over $500B, the field needs principled course-correction to maximize its transformative potential for hundreds of millions of people.”

Transform Finance offers three programs designed to help impact investors course-correct:

  1. Converting impact investors into social justice advocates: We help investors (family offices, foundations etc.) managing $556 million integrate the TF approach through our Investor Network launched at the White House in 2014. We co-develop tools to deepen impact and ensure accountability, stronger, more relevant metrics, and shared-benefit deal structures.
  2. Working with accelerators worldwide to empower entrepreneurs to maximize community benefit: we “train the trainers” to ensure community accountability and shared ownership as common practice.
  3. Helping social justice leaders leverage the power of finance: to keep investments accountable as they flow into their communities, and to generate their own revenue-building activity. Our initial training of 65 leaders in U.S. serving over 5 million individuals are being replicated from Mexico to Haiti as the only of this kind.

Simon has a clear vision to go along with her passion for impact investing done according by her standard. “Transform Finance creates a world where impact investment lives up to its transformative potential. Our multi-stakeholder work ensures that investors deploy capital in the real interest of communities, and that communities can take advantage of finance as a critical tool for social change.”

On Thursday, October 1, 2015 at 3:00 Eastern, Simon will join me for a live discussion about Transform Finance and its work. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about Transform Finance:

Twitter: @transformfin

Transform Finance helps build a just world by making capital a force for real transformative change, bridging the spheres of finance and social justice. We help investors, communities, and entrepreneurs incorporate a social justice, community-centered approach to finance; train and support social change agents to harness finance as a highly effective tool for change; and leverage their collective power to realize the true promise of the $500 Billion impact investment ecosystem.

Simon’s bio:

Twitter: @MorganSimon1

Morgan has spent the last decade engaged in impact investment, emphasizing community accountability and ownership. She currently co-leads Pi Investments, building a 100% impact portfolio with an emphasis on community empowerment and environmental sufficiency. In that capacity, she evaluates investments across asset classes, including early stage investments, private equity and debt, and real assets.

Morgan is a co-founder of Toniic, where she served as founding CEO from 2010-2013. She is on the investment committee for The Working World, a fund for worker-owned cooperatives in the US, Argentina and Nicaragua, and co-chairs the board of ROC UNITE, organizing 10,000 restaurant workers nationwide. She is a Founding Board Member of CARE Enterprises Inc, a venture fund supporting quality job creation globally in partnership with CARE International. To complete her full calendar of volunteer activities, she is also a founder and chair of the Transform Finance, bridging impact investment and social justice (www.transformfinance.org).

Previously, as the founding Executive Director of the Responsible Endowments Coalition, Morgan brought together 100 colleges and universities, helping to move their $200 billion in endowment dollars towards impact investment. Morgan has also worked with grassroots organizations and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Mexico, Honduras and Sierra Leone, and in domestic microfinance with Women’s Initiative for Self Employment. She received a B.A with High Honors in Economics and Political Science from Swarthmore College, and serves as an Adjunct Professor at Middlebury College’s graduate school program.

Three Surprising Legal Tips for Nonprofits

Ask anyone in the nonprofit world and you’ll hear that budgets are constrained. Running a nonprofit, however, is not easy. Brent Andrewson, an attorney at our sponsor Kirton McConkie, offers these three surprising legal tips to help.

  1. Be mindful of conflicts of interest. If you have a great board of directors, officers and employees it is likely you’ll find your organization navigating conflicts of interest from time to time. The existence of a conflict does not mean that you cannot proceed with a proposed project or transactin, but it does mean that you need to proceed carefully in this nuanced arena.
  2. Be sure to know when you need to register with a state for fundraising there. Forty states require nonprofits to register. Just having a website doesn’t trigger registration requirements, but other normal solicitation activities, including crowdfunding may.
  3. Being a nonprofit triggers regulation; it doesn’t exempt you from it.The tax, fundraising and other implications of nonprofits subject organizations to increased–not reduced–scrutiny from regulators.

On Thursday, October 1, 2015 at 1:00 Eastern to talk about these three tips. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

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

More about Kirton McConkie:

Kirton McConkie is Utah’s largest law firm. It provides excellent service in helping clients solve problems, achieve results and realize opportunities. We serve individuals and businesses, from large multinational organizations to small start ups. As the largest law firm in Utah, we represent a depth of collective knowledge and skills, clients desire. We also know, for the most part, clients tend to hire individual lawyers they have heard about, who have been referred to them or who they already know. We know it is true because it happens for us all the time. Many of our new clients come from referrals. To us, this is the highest form of recognition for the work and service we provide as lawyers and as a law firm.

Brent Andrewsen, Kirton McConkie

Brent Andrewsen, Kirton McConkie

Brent’s bio:

Mr. Andrewsen is a member of Kirton McConkie’s Corporate, and Tax and Estate Planning sections. His practice includes estate planning, probate and trust administration, gift taxation, tax-exempt organizations, charitable trusts and planned giving. Mr. Andrewsen also has advised clients with respect to business matters and has assisted in forming various business entities and transactions. He is a frequent speaker on issues regarding tax-exempt organizations, planned giving, estate planning, and related topics. In addition to his professional work, he has sat on the boards of various charitable organizations over the years. Mr. Andrewsen has an AV PreeminentTM peer rating from Martindale-Hubbell and is recognized as one of Utah’s Legal Elite for estate planning, a Mountain States Super Lawyer for estate planning and non-profits and a Best Lawyer for trusts/estates and nonprofit/charities. He was also honored by Utah Business magazine as a 40 Under 40 Rising Star.

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