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Monthly Archives: January 2016

Impact Investing Sector Moving From ‘What?’ to ‘How?’

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Over the past several years as impact investing has captured the attention of the world’s wealthy, people started by asking “what is impact investing?” Today, the question more people are asking is “how do I do impact investing?”

The Global Impact Investing Network, co-founded by Amit Bouri who serves today as the CEO, sits near the center of this discussion. The GIIN (pronounced like jean or gene) is building a database of impact measures in hopes of creating a resources that will help standardize impact measures.

Investors of all sorts are relatively good at measuring return on investment. Many investors, myself included, check their portfolio values daily. Some monitor them throughout the day–even if they aren’t trading. Others fall back to reviewing quarterly and annual statements, but however financial returns are measured, such measures are easy to gather.

The GIIN is helping to make impact measurement just as easy. Impact investors will achieve target impacts unless they have good data with which to measure the impacts.

And let’s be clear, much of what we initially think of as impact is just activity. An investment that increases the number of books in children’s hands isn’t really an impact so much as an intermediate outcome. The impact is the changes, positive we hope, that are yielded in the lives of the children. Are they doing better in school, reading at or above grade level, graduating from high school, matriculating into college, etc.

The GIIN is working to help us measure impact in all its forms.

Bouri is bullish on the future. “Impact investing has the potential to channel significant amounts of private capital to solutions to the worlds most intransigent challenges. Last year was a banner year for impact investing and set the stage for 2016 to be a year of tremendous growth and progress.”

On Thursday, January 28, 2016 at 1:00 PM Eastern, Bouri will join me here for a live discussion about the GIIN and its work to make impact investors more effective. 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 The GIIN:

Twitter: @theGIIN

The Global Impact Investing Network is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the scale and effectiveness of impact investing. Impact investments are investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.

Amit Bouri, courtesy of The GIIN

Amit Bouri, courtesy of The GIIN

Bouri’s bio:

Amit Bouri is the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of the GIIN. His work in impact investing began when he was a strategy consultant with the Monitor Institute. At Monitor he was part of the team that produced the Investing for Social & Environmental Impact report, and he left Monitor to co-found the GIIN in 2009.

Amit’s other projects at the Monitor Institute included strategic planning and organizational development work for nonprofit organizations and foundations. Amit previously worked in the private sector as a strategy consultant with Bain & Company. He left Bain to work in global health at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. He also worked in the corporate philanthropy units of Gap GPS +0.00% Inc. and Johnson & Johnson JNJ +0.98%. Amit holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, an MPA from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and a BA in Sociology and Anthropology from Swarthmore College. Amit serves on the Board of Directors for Investors’ Circle and SJF Institute.

REDF Works To Employ The Unemployable

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Katelyn Dalton was a homeless addict. She considered herself to be “unemployable.”

She says she was hurt and frustrated when she was rejected by prospective employers who rejected her application even when they said they were hiring. She boasts, “ I overcame it with self-perseverance and the support of social enterprises giving me the support and tools necessary to be successful.”

The social enterprises she mentions were supported by REDF, a nonprofit that supports social enterprises that employ the “unemployable.” Founded in 1997 by KKR’s George Roberts, the organization is led today by Carla Javits.

Dalton explains what it felt like to re-enter the workforce. “When I finally learned that I had the ability to be successful, I was worth it and I had value, I was able to put my 100 percent into my life and therefore become a star in the workplace.”

Javits exults, “Katelyn’s experience reflects exactly what REDF aspires to do for tens of thousands of people – demonstrating the power that a job can have in transforming the life of an individual and making it possible for them to contribute in a positive way to their family, while also improving their community.”

REDF works to replicate Dalton’s experience. Economic mobility, the process of moving up the socioeconomic ladder, is much more difficult in the U.S. than most of us appreciate. A surprising 43 percent of children born into poverty will remain poor over their entire lifetimes, according to REDF.

Dalton has now joined the effort to help people who are where she was. Today, she is a STEM Staffing Specialist with Teen Force, a nonprofit that works with foster youth and others from 14 to 24 who are at risk. She says, “My success lead me to help others succeed. I continue to do so every chance I get.”

REDF focuses on helping those at greatest disadvantage, like those who are released from prison. Without a job, the odds of returning to prison rise. This population also experiences high rates of homelessness. The organization works using a cross-sector approaching, engaging business, philanthropy and government to address these problems.

On Thursday, January 28, 2016 at 6:00 PM Eastern, Javits and Dalton will join me for a live discussion about the REDF programs and its successes. 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 REDF:

Twitter: @REDFworks

REDF creates jobs and employment opportunities for people facing the greatest barriers to work–like young people who are disconnected from school or work, people who’ve been homeless or incarcerated, and those with mental health disabilities. Founded in 1997 by George R. Roberts (KKR), REDF provides funding and business expertise to mission-driven organizations in California to launch and grow social enterprises, which are businesses with a “double bottom line” that make money in order to employ people with multiple barriers to employment. REDF has helped over 10,000 people in California get jobs and find hope. Now REDF is taking best practices learned from 18 years of experience to grow their impact nationally.

Carla Javits, courtesy of REDF

Carla Javits, courtesy of REDF

Javits’ bio:

Twitter: @cjavitsredf

REDF’s President and CEO, Carla Javits, provides the leadership and vision that drives its mission to provide equity-like investments and business assistance to social enterprises, mission-driven businesses focused on hiring and assisting people facing barriers to work. Inspired by the leadership of REDF’s founder, George R. Roberts, Carla focuses on achieving measurable results by leveraging the business community’s knowledge, networks, and resources, and the mission of the nonprofit to create jobs and tackle the challenges of homelessness, incarceration, mental health, and addiction.

In overseeing strategy, relationship building, and fundraising, Carla works directly with the leadership team as well as the Board of Directors and Advisory Council that are instrumental to REDF’s success. In leading an expansion from the Bay Area to new horizons in Southern California, Carla has laid the foundation for REDF to impact the lives of many more people nationwide. Under Carla’s leadership, REDF was awarded a federal Social Innovation Fund grant by the Corporation for National and Community Service, and the Los Angeles Business Times Nonprofit Social Enterprise of the Year award in 2013. San Francisco Magazine recognized Carla in their list of innovative Bay Area Philanthropists.

Before coming to REDF, Carla was the national President and CEO of the Corporation for Supportive Housing, where she was responsible for providing grants, loans, and technical assistance to service-enriched housing initiatives that ended homelessness for tens of thousands. She was Program Analyst with the California Office of the Legislative Analyst and Director of Policy and Planning for the San Francisco Department of Social Services.

Carla holds a BA and Master’s in Public Policy from UC Berkeley. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Social Enterprise Alliance and the Melville Charitable Trust and as an Advisor to the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship at Duke University. She is a member of the Advisory Committee of The Philanthropic Initiative as well as the Insight Center for Community Economic Development National Advisory Board. Away from work, Carla likes spending time with her partner, her grown children, and her dog. She enjoys music, movies, theatre, cooking, and spending time outdoors.

More about TeenForce:

Twitter: @teenjobsprogram

TeenForce is a non-profit, social enterprise that ensures teens (ages 14-24) gain work experience. We provide work readiness training, skills development and job placement services. Our staffing agency model makes it convenient and cost-effective for employers to hire teens and generates revenue to support our activities. Teens in our program gain confidence and skills while improving adult/teen relationships. Teens become healthy, caring and responsible young adults who have important roles in the community. We help teens increase important developmental assets and help schools in developing “career ready” youth, while addressing the problem of teen employment.

We plan to create a business model that will be replicated throughout the country to help a variety of diverse communities facing these challenges.

We have a special emphasis on foster youth. We recently made a commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative America to provide our services in the STEM program we offer to 100% of the foster youth in Santa Clara County.

Katelyn Dalton, courtesy of Teen Force

Katelyn Dalton, courtesy of Teen Force

Dalton’s bio:

Katelyn is a STEM Staffing Specialist with TeenForce who brings knowledge of retail, non-profit, and case management. Her prior experience with Goodwill of Silicon Valley brings a strong foundation of helping individuals break difficult barriers to employment. She is personally familiar with social services and the foster care system and has a deep passion for helping people. Katelyn is certified in Arts and Sciences of Coaching and utilizes positive reinforcement to help individuals realize their full potential. She recently switched roles and is now assisting with the STEM program with Teenforce. This program is designed for high school foster youth. Youth gain STEM training, job readiness skills and job placement in a paid summer internship in Santa Clara County.

Pay For Success: Impact Investing’s Answer to #BlackLivesMatter

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

It seems that hardly a day passes without headlines about unarmed black men being killed by police in our country. If there isn’t a new case, we’re trying an old one either in court or in the media.

Ben Hecht, the CEO of Living Cities, a nonprofit group that makes and facilitates impact investments in cities around the country, including my own here in Salt Lake City, explains the broader problem:

US cities are places of great opportunity, hope, change, resilience and energy. Unfortunately, they are also places of great inequality. Home to more than 80% of the population, cities reflect the incredible income, wealth and educational disparities between rich and poor, white and people of color. These disparities not only threaten to hold back the economic prosperity of the nation but threaten our democracy.

Hecht’s colleague, Eileen Neely, Director of Capital Innovation, heads up the Pay for Success program efforts for Living Cities.

Neely says, “We need to blend all types of money–government, philanthropic and private sector capital–together to address growing social disparities and economic inequality in the United States.”

Pay for Success programs focus on paying for results rather than activities and typically are oriented toward prevention rather than remediation. Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams has likened it to building guardrails at the top of the cliff rather than operating a hospital at the bottom.

Neely explains further, “While preventative programs that tackle issues like youth recidivism and chronic homelessness can make a real difference, these programs lack the funding needed to reach all the populations that need them. We need to attract private capital to help expand and scale programs that work.”

She adds, “Financing vehicles such as Pay for Success (PFS) can offer competitive rates of return, which is more attractive to private investors, and can help move impact investing into the mainstream.”

Neely explains the basic economics of a PFS deal structure: “In a PFS deal, philanthropic and private investors provide funding for social programs and government only pays them back if the project meets certain agreed-upon outcomes. This means that government resources and taxpayer dollars are only spent on effective programs that measurably improve the lives of community members.”

One of the big challenges with the model is the cost to put a program together. Bringing all of the parties together, organizing metrics for measurement, finding program providers, contracting among the local government, the investors and the program providers and all of the people working on the deal takes time and money.

Living Cities, she says, is “now striving to increase the scalability of the model with our recently announced Pay for Success Construction Loan. The Construction Loan covers the upfront costs necessary for service providers, project managers and evaluators to construct a PFS project, which had traditionally been a grant fund and a barrier preventing the PFS field from growing more rapidly.”

Neely says she would like to see more PFS deals done so that the model can be fine-tuned so it can be applied more efficiently across the country.

Hecht’s vision for cities is nothing short of a complete overhaul of tradition.

This will take overhauling outdated models of citizen engagement and cumbersome bureaucratic structures. I believe that governments will cease investing precious resources and energy into programs that don’t work, and start scaling the programs that are making real impact in the lives of low-income people. Finally, I see experimentation and commitment to harness both philanthropic and private capital to make a material difference in underserved communities and to invest not just in physical infrastructure, but also in human capital.

On Thursday, January 28, 2016 at noon Eastern, Hecht and Neely will join me here for a live discussion about the role that impact investing and Pay for Success can play in addressing the challenges of America’s inner-cities, including especially the concerns of the #blacklivesmatter movement. 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 Living Cities:

Twitter: @Living_Cities

Living Cities harnesses the collective power of 22 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions to develop and scale new approaches for creating opportunities for low-income people and improving the cities where they live. Its investments, research, networks, and convenings catalyze fresh thinking and combine support for innovative, local approaches with real-time sharing of learning to accelerate adoption in more places.

Hecht’s bio:

Twitter: @benhecht

Ben Hecht was appointed President & CEO of Living Cities in July, 2007. Since that time, the organization has adopted a broad, integrative agenda that harnesses the collective knowledge of its 22 member foundations and financial institutions to benefit low-income people and the cities where they live. Living Cities deploys a unique blend of more than $140 million in grants, loans and influence to re-engineer obsolete public systems and connect low-income people and underinvested places to opportunity.

Prior to joining Living Cities, Mr. Hecht co-founded One Economy Corporation, a non-profit organization focused on connecting low-income people to the economic mainstream through innovative, online content and increased broadband access. Immediately before One Economy, Mr. Hecht was Senior Vice President at the Enterprise Foundation.

Mr. Hecht received his JD from Georgetown University Law Center and his CPA from the State of Maryland. For 10 years, he taught at Georgetown University Law Center and built the premier housing and community development clinical program in the country. Ben is currently Chairman of EveryoneOn, a national initiative founded by the Federal Communications Commission to connect low-income Americans to digital opportunity. He also sits on the National Advisory Board for StriveTogether and Duke University’s Center for Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) Advisory Council.

Eileen Neely, courtesy of Living Cities

Eileen Neely, courtesy of Living Cities

Neely’s bio:

Twitter: @EileenNeely

Eileen Neely joined Living Cities in December 2012 as the Associate Director of Capital Formation. She was named the Director of Capital Innovation in May 2014. Prior to joining Living Cities, she was the Director of Strategic Planning at the District of Columbia Housing Authority since May 2011. In this position, Eileen oversaw the development, implementation and measurement of the Agency’s Strategic Plan and Moving to Work Plan.

Previously Eileen was the Chief Operating Officer of the Fresno Housing Authority in Fresno, California. Eileen assisted the Executive Director in the transformation of the Housing Authority – changing the corporate culture, establishing a broader role within the community, modernizing business practices, tightening financial controls, and expanding their programs to serve more low- and moderate-income families. She was responsible for all the internal operations of the Housing Authority, including Accounting and Finance, Information Technology, Human Resources, and Communications and Public Relations.

Prior to moving to Fresno, Eileen was the Director of Public Entity Lending at Fannie Mae in Washington, DC. At Fannie Mae she provided technical assistance and financing to cities, counties and housing authorities throughout the country to help them address their pressing housing needs. Eileen started at Fannie Mae as the Manager of Economic Forecasting where she developed the company’s forecast for the economy, including interest rates, housing indicators, and other measures of the economy.

Eileen has her Master’s Degree in Economics from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, and her Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics and Economics from Hiram College in Hiram, OH.

Matt Damon Jokes About ‘Toilet Strike,’ Then Things Get Real With The Water.org Co-Founder

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Three years ago, using a fake press conference posted on YouTube, in a humorous effort to raise money and attention for clean water and sanitation, Matt Damon launched a “toilet strike,” promising not to go to the bathroom “until everyone has access to clean water and sanitation.”

As part of the Sundance Film Festival, Water.org cofounders Matt Damon and Gary White held a real press conference with Stella Artois executive Todd Allen. This gave me an opportunity to ask Damon why he is so passionate about water issues.

Damon responded, “ I have four daughters. It comes at me emotionally from a lot of different angles. I think when you start having kids it is hard not to see other children as your own. ”

He went on to explain that Bono initially got him interested about ten years ago in by taking him a trip ago to help him with his work, believing that if he simply showed Damon what extreme poverty looks like, Damon would have no choice but to engage. “He rightly assumed that if he stuck me in extreme situations with extreme poverty my life would change and that is exactly what happened,” he says.

“ I saw that I could have an impact. ”

He related the story of a teenage girl in rural Zambia with whom he walked for a mile to the nearest source of water. As he visited with her, he asked about her plans for the future. She said she wanted to leave her village to become a nurse. “I realized it was like when Ben Affleck and I were in high school and we said, ‘We’re going to New York to become actors.’” He began to appreciate that people without access to clean water and sanitation were really living a “less than human existence.”

Finally, he explained, that it comes down to the question of a legacy, “It has always felt like I should always do what I can within my own sphere of influence to effect positive change for people. I’m looking at all these issues and this one is so massive it felt like there is so little awareness about it, it felt like the best place to put my time and energy.”

Damon cofounded Water.org with Gary White in 2009. The organization really resulted from the merger of nonprofits that each had created previously. Damon joked that at the time, he went looking for the world’s greatest expert on water and “when that guy wouldn’t take my call, I called Gary.” He went on to say that in fact, White is the world’s leading expert on water issues. White later returned the compliment, first suggesting that he should have called Ben Affleck, but later explaining that Damon has truly become an expert on water as well.

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Damon sees access to clean water as a part of what he said that Bono calls “stupid poverty,” referring to the causes and contributors to poverty that we know how to fix, like how to deliver clean water.

At the press conference, Damon plugged the Stella Artois “Buy a Lady a Drink” campaign that suggests people buy a chalice from the brewer with proceeds supporting Water.org. One chalice purchase, Damon noted, will provide five years of clean drinking water for a woman who lacks access to clean water.

Damon explained how access to clean water is a gender issue, noting that the vast majority of the time required to collect water, which totals hundreds of millions of hours every day, is spent by women and girls. As a result, women are kept from more productive tasks and girls are frequently prevented from attending school simply to make time for collecting water.

Damon’s passion for this effort came through as he explained that “We can be the generation to do this,” referring to providing clean water and sanitation to everyone on the planet. He noted that we know there are solutions and “ Americans, regardless of their politics, want to do what works. ”

One of the solutions Damon highlighted is “water credit,” the innovation developed by White to use microfinance to support people living in poor urban areas who often live atop a functioning clean water supply without access to it. By lending them the money to put taps in their homes, their time is freed to do more productive things than collect water, making it easy for them to repay the loans. Damon notes that 94 percent of the loans are to women and that more than 99 percent of the loans are repaid. I’ve previously visited with White about water credit here and here.

Matt challenged the world to help solve this issue, “What is our mark going to be? What are we here for? What are we going to do with our chance?”

Three Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Future

Tracy Saville, founder of My Swirl by Queentia, is a social entrepreneur who has completely bought in to the idea that the best way to see the future is to create it. She offers three keys to living in the future:

  1. Think people, planet and profit. The most valuable global brands and companies in the new economy will be those built on enlightened and “for the human race” principles; companies operating with authentic triple bottom-line values and culture. To capture the new economy consumer in a climate-crisis world, it will take the world’s companies commitment to new human-centric values.
  2. The world is at a tipping point in its gender inequality. We’re moving past revolution to evolution – from table-leaning to table-building – from fighting to change our male-centric economic and social sandboxes to accomodate women – to using technology and collective feminine influence to create new sandboxes that are built from the values of the feminine lens. This new way forward is collaborative, human-centric, values-based, and multi-purpose and skill-based, that values diversity, uniqueness, labor flexibility, human compassion, and cooperation. This is where we’ll find an acceleration of solutions for the world’s problems.
  3. Women, be yourselves. It isn’t necessary to reshape yourself as a woman in tech or business today. Shaving our edges or making our start-ups look like what Silicon Valley or Wall Street is “used to” may help us sit at some tables, but arguably those tables who can’t get past their own intended or unintended biases won’t help us get to where we’re going either. It doesn’t mean that biases don’t exist. They do. The real tip is to create relationships with the emerging minds and talents that are working in the leading edge of impact investment and technology. That’s where the new ecosystems that value people for their genius and their abilities live.

On Thursday, January 21, 2016 at 4:00 Eastern, Tracy will join me for a live discussion about her three predictions for living in the future she envisions. 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 My Swirl by Queentia:

Twitter: @QueentiaCorp

My Swirl by Queentia, LLC, a disruptive, global and emotionally intelligent technology platform that converges Community, Collaboration, and Productivity for the first time; designed the way women want their digital and online experiences to be, built to unlock the global women-based economy. Building 3 product editions – a Personal, Business, and Group Edition – My Swirl is set to roll out their products in beta and GS editions between Q3 2016 and Q1 2018 post closing their Series A round of financing in early 2016. With a three-fold business model including re-occurring subscription, product and service, and transaction revenue My Swirl has a highly experienced, women-founded and co-founding team of 6, using a human centric design ethos that respects the one woman, and the cultural, gender, and geographic uniqueness of all people’s real time desires and expectations about their online experiences and what they want out of their lives – personally and professionally. For the first time, her social, business, and productivity will be inside one “mother of all app” artificially intelligent ecosystem that asks us all to meet her where she lives and works, that offers experiences of collaboration, community, and productivity with her and for her connections – male and female – that respect who they are.

Tracy Saville, courtesy of My Swirl

Tracy Saville, courtesy of My Swirl

Tracy’s bio:

Twitter: @tksaville

Tracy Saville is the ‘imagineer’ at the heart of My Swirl and sets the vision and strategic goals for the company. She directs the My Swirl management team with great energy and passion, committed to operating under an enlightened management model with a triple-bottom line (people, planet, profit) approach. Her fellow co-founders possess a strong social impact vision for improving lives and economic outcomes for their customers, employees, partners, and the communities they serve and collaborate with.

She leads a team dedicated to building a new, mindful corporate culture that is in the service of helping people to achieve their goals and aspirations, that helps people live lives of wellness, and helps them fulfill their human purpose, while delivering more relevant and efficient productivity, powering others to do the same in their own companies, families, and communities.

Prior to My Swirl, Tracy served as a key member of the management team for CleanWorld, a leader in anaerobic digestion technology and remains an advising CFO, shareholder of a building products company she owns with her husband. As a lifelong entrepreneur and policy leader, she also served in key influence roles for women, energy, and children during the administrations of California Governors Pete Wilson and Gray Davis. She subsequently founded and developed companies in leadership development, entertainment, publishing, renewable energy technology, and mobile software. In 2015, she was the recipient of the National Association of Women Business Owners “Outstanding Women’s Leader” award for her pioneering entrepreneurship of MySwirl.

Tracy holds a BA in Management, an MFA, a Negotiations Certificate for Senior Executives from the joint certificate program administered by Harvard Law School, MIT, and Tufts University, and was a participant of West Point Military Academy’s Global Leadership summit in 2011. She has advised for Angel Hack, Social Venture Partners, Women’s Start-up Weekend, and is a member of the board for TEDx Sacramento. She also advises for California State University Continuing Education programs and teaches as a passion. Mentoring other women will always be a lifelong pursuit.

Her goal is to make My Swirl the most powerful and relevant woman’s brand in the world.

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

Devin D. Thorpe

Award-Winning Social Entrepreneur Leads Nonprofit To Support Caribbean Nations

Pierre Hines recently won a $20,000 grant from the Atlantic Council in recognition of his remarkable nonprofit startup, Caribbean Returning Nationals Foundation, which he joined to support economic development in Caribbean countries. The organization was founded by Arlene Graham.

“‘Brain drain,’ the process by which a country loses skilled labor through emigration to developed countries, is a significant challenge for Caribbean countries. Many countries have lost more than 70 percent of their educated workforce,” Pierre explains.

For Pierre, this is a personal cause. “I am one of 1.2 million children in the United States with at least one Caribbean-born parent. My Jamaican father and his entire family immigrated to the United States in the 1970’s, and that decision is one the reasons I’ve had world-class educational and professional opportunities.”

“However,” he continues, “I understand that the migration of skilled labor creates challenges for local governments because they lose tax revenue that emigrants would have generated and human capital that emigrants would have contributed.”

Those who return to the Caribbean with quality education from the US or other more developed countries also face challenges. He notes, “It is problematic to have persons with MBAs working as bank tellers. And, for example, I have met a promising person with a master’s degree in engineering who took a job as a locksmith upon returning to the Caribbean.”

With 3.5 million immigrants from the Caribbean living in the U.S., Pierre hopes to tap into that Caribbean diaspora to foster economic development in the region. They are working on two specific initiatives now.

First, he says, “CRN recognizes that Caribbean countries must diversify their economies—particularly because of their heavy reliance on tourism—and recognizes that creating entrepreneur opportunities is a tried-and-true method of bridging the gap between the developing and developed countries. Through the ‘Challenge Cup-Caribbean‘ and related activities, CRN is expanding opportunities for startups to seek international investments and business relationships. CRN’s entrepreneur initiative also allows those with expertise in the diaspora to participate in skills-based volunteering by mentoring startups in their area of expertise—turning the ‘brain drain’ into a ‘brain gain.'”

“Another way that CRN is working to solve the problem is through youth empowerment initiatives. CRN formed the ‘Students for Students Initiative,’ which connects students and young professionals through social media into a support network that facilitates their professional development and enhances cultural awareness,” Pierre continued. “One of CRN’s immediate goals is to establish a physical Caribbean Coworking Campus for entrepreneurs and young people to work, connect, and learn.”

Pierre has a big dreams for CRN, “Our vision for the Caribbean Returning Nationals Foundation is for it to become a trusted gateway for the Caribbean Diaspora to connect with and contribute to their home region. We also want it to serve as a gateway for those living in the Caribbean to obtain educational and professional opportunities in the global marketplace. Ultimately our goal is for a tech entrepreneur in Kingston, a product manufacturer in Port of Spain, and a service provider in St. Lucia, to have the same educational and professional opportunities as their counterparts in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.”

On Thursday, January 21, 2016 at noon Eastern, Pierre will join me for a live discussion about CRN. 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 Caribbean Returning Nationals Foundation:

Twitter: @CaribReturning

The Caribbean Returning Nationals Foundation is a grassroots non-profit that supports economic development in the Caribbean to reverse the effects of the “brain drain.” It connects financial and intellectual capital from the Caribbean Diaspora back into the region.

Pierre Hines, courtesy of Caribbean Returning Nationals Foundation

Pierre Hines, courtesy of Caribbean Returning Nationals Foundation

Pierre’s bio:

Pierre Hines was born in the United States and is of Jamaican heritage. He is a Board Member of the Caribbean Returning Nationals Foundation, a non-profit that connects financial and intellectual capital from the Caribbean Diaspora back into the region. Pierre is also a corporate attorney based in the Washington, D.C. office of global law firm Jones Day. Prior to joining the legal and non-profit sectors, Pierre served as a Captain in the intelligence branch of the U.S. Army, where he served in a tactical unit and on an IT program. He is also a Fellow with the Atlantic Council, through its Millennium Leadership initiative for veterans under age 35. Pierre received his B.S. from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

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

Devin D. Thorpe

Eagles Care: How the Philadelphia Eagles Maximize their Community Impact

This is a guest post from Julie Hirshey, Director of Community Relations for the Philadelphia Eagles.

When I tell people that I work for the Philadelphia Eagles and what I do, I usually get one of two reactions: “That sounds amazing!” or “That sounds hard.” My answer is always yes. One of our biggest challenges is how to balance the desire to be of service to as many people as possible while still creating genuine impact. For years, it seemed impossible to do one without sacrificing the other.

Three years ago, we got a gift from Eagles leadership that doesn’t often come along, particularly in business. We got the opportunity to take a step back, reevaluate our strategic giving and then move forward in whatever new way we saw fit. (Like I said… a gift!) In doing this, we reviewed our giving and calculated the value of our donations in contrast with the true impact we were having on the community. Let’s just say the equation was off.

So we went back to the drawing board. We reviewed our mission, our core issue areas and looked at what we considered to be our biggest assets. We also wanted to make sure that we were representing the values of partnership and teamwork that are so important to our organization. What we learned through this process was that if we broadened our view of our assets and narrowed the focus of our giving, we could amplify our impact. Eagles Care was born.

Through Eagles Care, we focus on capacity building in nonprofits, working to provide great nonprofts with the assets they need to evolve into their best selves. We do this through some traditional giving but the focus is now on non-traditional giving, nonprofit staff development and creative problem-solving.

Throughout the season, our Eagles Care partners receive our full support via education, mentoring and resource allocation. In addition to traditional giving – money, player appearances, autographed items that they might auction off for fundraisers – we provide leadership training, marketing support, public relations counsel and development help, guidance with social media platform management and more. All of this support comes from Eagles staff who are eager to truly engage with these nonprofits to provide meaningful help. In order to get to the heart of how our staffs can help them increase their capacity to help others in the community, we encourage these nonprofits to start by asking themselves not what they THINK we can do for them, but what they could actually benefit from. We then go through a process of matching our resources with their needs.

The range of aid we have given is wide from arranging for donated furniture from our corporate partners to help with computers, graphic design and messaging sessions that help the leadership and often the boards of these nonprofits boil down their missions in creative ways. Our facility management team even helped a partner with construction needs by building a wall in their work space – a simple task that overnight doubled the nonprofit’s ability to serve its community.

At its core, the Eagles Care program is a year-long partnership between the team and the nonprofit that allows both organizations to grow and learn about the shared community we all call home. This partnership has created profound impact not just on the nonprofits but on the community at large because we see that strong nonprofits do indeed build strong communities. But the impact does not stop there, our employees have been touched by this new program as well in ways we had not expected. The staff is eager to help, to learn more about the way the nonprofits work and to offer help based on their knowledge. It feels good for both partners.

With every passing year, our Eagles Care Network continues to grow larger and larger. Now in our third season, we have developed relationships with 15 local non-profits who we continue to support even after their year-long partnership is over via connections and special support when needed. We have become a resource for them and they have become a resource for us as well. But perhaps more importantly, those non-profits have developed relationships with each other that will allow them to support each other for years to come. They are now working together because they experienced firsthand the lessons of community partnership.

Although we believe this is an approach that is unique in the NFL and sports in general, we hope that it is a model that other organizations can mimic. Through our nonprofit partnerships, this new approach has allowed us to meet our challenge and provide meaningful aid and service to our community.

Julie Hirshey

Julie Hirshey

Julie’s bio:

Julie Hirshey is the Director of Community Relations for the Philadelphia Eagles where she works to execute the team’s mission to serve as proud partners of the Philadelphia community.  In this role she leads the team’s efforts to support generations of Eagles fans and works to partner with non-profits throughout the region.

This Impact Investor In Ethiopia Fills Financing Gap

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

There are more and more people doing impact investing in Africa, seeking both to be of help to the people there and to take advantage of the rapidly growing economies there. Matt Davis of RENEW LLC is one of this breed of impact investors.

RENEW has invested in several companies in Ethiopia, including METAD, a coffee grower, and Mama Fresh, a producer of Ethiopian food, including the staple injera.

Davis says, “There is both a development challenge and a market challenge in Africa that we are addressing.”

“The development challenge is that the financial systems in many countries in Africa are fragmented, and little to no capital is available to finance the growth of small and mid-size businesses (SMEs),” he explains. “At the top of the economic pyramid, bank and institutional financiers tend to back large multinationals. At the bottom, microfinance institutions lend only small amounts at high rates to micro-enterprises. But there is nothing to finance small and growing businesses. Thus, we have what is called the ‘missing middle’ in these economies, and SMEs are inhibited from growing into large companies, creating jobs, generating tax revenue, and stabilizing the economy along the way.”

Moving to the second challenge, Davis says, “The market challenge is related to supply and demand. The supply of private equity is growing across Africa, as international investors move in seeking higher risk adjusted returns. Yet these investors are not able to find enough companies able absorb the minimum investments they are willing or able to make. Addressing both challenges requires a new financial actor and intermediary to stimulate financing and growth for SMEs.”

Davis led the creation of the Impact Angel Network (IAN) to invest in Africa, with an initial focus on Ethiopia. “The IAN addresses the problem of the ‘missing middle’ by being a source of financing for SMEs. The IAN invests in professionally vetted and managed companies in Africa that are led by strong management teams looking to scale. RENEW manages the IAN’s portfolio in-country and addresses a trust and skill gap that has kept many U.S. investors from being active on the continent of Africa.”

RENEW is operating at a relatively small scale, filling the gap in the missing middle. This space is thinly populated in part because the administrative and logistical costs of running a small fund making six-figure investments overwhelms returns. Grants from development agencies make the economics work for RENEW.

Davis says, “And the development community (organizations like USAID), makes these investments economically feasible by lowering the transaction and management costs that would normally be borne by the investors. This model, or public private partnership between the IAN, RENEW, and the development community, is working, and the IAN is now one of the most active and largest investors in Ethiopia on a transaction basis.”

Davis sees their role in Africa as a catalyst to help struggling countries there gain greater independence from multi-lateral and other aid organizations. “RENEW intends to scale our model and implement it in other countries across the continent. Over time we would like to see offices in 20 countries, and professional teams in each country managing hundreds of companies that are creating thousands of jobs. As the companies that the IAN invests in grow, they will provide jobs and taxable revenue to the government, which can then finance the programs that are currently being covered by international aid organizations,” Davis concludes.

On Thursday, January 14, 2016 at 4:00 Eastern, Davis will join me here for a live discussion about their work in Africa. 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 RENEW LLC:

Twitter: @renewllc

RENEW LLC founded and manages the Impact Angel Network (IAN); the largest U.S. angel network for Africa. The IAN’s mission is to invest in high quality, high potential companies in Africa, support their growth, and achieve attractive financial returns and sustainable social impact from their investments. RENEW is a U.S. investment adviser that manages the IAN’s portfolio from its office in Africa. RENEW’s team of lawyers, financial analysts, and business consultants find and vet promising businesses in Africa, present them to the IAN, and grow them into world-class companies. The IAN and RENEW believe that many growing businesses, together, can create the engine that lifts entire nations out of poverty.

Matt Davis, courtesy of RENEW LLC

Matt Davis, courtesy of RENEW LLC

Davis’s bio:

Twitter: @mattpdavis

Matthew Davis is founder and partner at RENEW LLC. Mr. Davis has extensive experience working with U.S. and African government leaders, and structuring and facilitating international private equity investments. Mr. Davis is a founding member of RENEW’s Impact Angel Network. Prior to founding RENEW, Mr. Davis worked as a principal consultant at the Touchstone Consulting Group, a strategy and management consulting firm. As a consultant he advised executives and government leaders on strategies for environmental sustainability, international development, health policy, information technology, and finance. Mr. Davis has an undergraduate degree in physics and a master’s of science in physics and business from the University of Utah, and is a CFA charterholder.

Dr. Andrew Weil Works To Focus Healthcare System On Health

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Dr. Andrew Weil is the Harvard-trained physician who led the holistic health revolution of the last fifty years. Whatever you think of alternative medicine, he has been successful at building a following and a community.

Recently, Dr. Weil created The Weil Foundation to fund educational programs at medical schools around the country, teaching integrative medicine.

Dr. Weil explains the healthcare problems we face today, “We are all suffering from a broken health care system and medicine that is too dependent on expensive technology and pharmaceutical drugs that often cause as much harm as benefit.”

As a solution to this broken healthcare system, Dr. Weil is funding education of alternatives. “I am training physicians and allied health professionals in Integrative Medicine, which emphasizes prevention, self-care, reliance on the body’s innate healing capacity, and low-tech, low-cost interventions along with judicious use of conventional medicine,” he says.

Dr. Weil seeks to create a new model for healthcare with an emphasis on health. “It will result in a transformation of medical education and a new generation of health professionals knowledgeable about nutrition, lifestyle influences on health, mind/body interactions, natural remedies, other systems of medicine (like Chinese medicine). These doctors of the future will create a functional system of health care for our population,” Dr. Weil concludes.

On Thursday, January 14, 2016 at noon Eastern, Dr. Weil will join me for a live discussion about his efforts to improve the healthcare system. 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 The Weil Foundation:

Twitter: @weilfoundation

Founded on the belief that patients feel lost in the high-tech, less personalized healthcare landscape, Weil’s mission is to change the face of traditional medicine by creating, educating, and actively supporting the next generation of medical professionals who embody the philosophy and practice of personalized prevention and integrative medicine. Through extensive training, research and education, The Weil Foundation seeks to:

  • Improve the way physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and allied health professionals treat clients through extensive training procedures
  • Educate the public about health, healing, and lifestyle
  • Reform public policies governing health care and the practice of medicine
  • Expand and deepen research in integrative medicine

Since its inception in 2005, the foundation recently announced that it has awarded more than $5 million in grants to medical centers and other non-profits nationwide to make a difference in patient-centered care. Dr. Weil donates all of his after-tax profits from royalties from sales of Weil Lifestyle licensed products to make grants to advance the healthcare space through the practice and education of Integrative Medicine, primarily to medical schools and other non-profit organizations. The Weil Foundation has given grants to medical schools and residency programs so that new graduates will have additional training in nutrition and prevention and non-traditional therapies that are not included in the traditional medical school programs.

To date, the organization has awarded 139 grants to more than 2000 physicians in 23 states with a program that features a broad range of comprehensive fellowship training programs, online educational courses on specific topics, an integrative clinic, and an NIH-supported research group. As a founding member of the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health, which was founded by eight US medical schools including the University of Arizona in 1999, he’s now expanded to 63 medical schools in the US and Canada. Dr. Weil can discuss his plans for expanding and strengthening the integrative medicine field to help transform health care in North America and the world.

Dr. Weil’s bio:

Twitter: @drweil

Andrew Weil, M.D., is a world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, a healing oriented approach to health care which encompasses body, mind, and spirit. Combining a Harvard education and a lifetime of practicing natural and preventive medicine, Dr. Weil is Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, where he also holds the Lovell-Jones Endowed Chair in Integrative Rheumatology and is Clinical Professor of Medicine and Professor of Public Health. The Center is the leading effort in the world to develop a comprehensive curriculum in integrative medicine. Graduates serve as directors of integrative medicine programs throughout the United States, and through its Fellowship, the Center is now training doctors and nurse practitioners around the world.

Dr. Weil is an internationally-recognized expert for his views on leading a healthy lifestyle, his philosophy of healthy aging, and his critique of the future of medicine and health care.

Dr. Weil is the editorial director of the popular website, DrWeil.com, and appears in video programs featured on PBS. He can be found on Facebook FB -4.21% and Twitter. Dr. Weil is the founder and Chairman of The Weil Foundation, and the Chairman of Weil Lifestyle. He is also a founder and co-owner of the growing group of True Food Kitchen restaurants. Dr. Weil writes a monthly column for Prevention magazine. A frequent lecturer and guest on talk shows, Dr. Weil is an internationally recognized expert on medicinal plants, alternative medicine, and the reform of medical education. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.

This Guy Is Responsible For Reducing The Impact Of CES

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

CES, that is, nerd heaven, 2016 just wrapped in Vegas. Over 6,000 members of the media attended. More than 170,000 people were at the event that covered over 2 million square feet of exhibition space. It was huge.

Now, I want you to imagine cleaning up that mess. Think about all the waste going to the landfill. My eco-friends are crying as they think about the environmental impact.

This is where Jeff Chase , V.P. of Sustainability for Freeman, the event planning organization that supports CES for the Consumer Technology Association, enters the picture. Chase explains, “Working with CTA, Freeman helped to create and manage a waste/recycling plan to help reduce the footprint of the event. Working with several recycling vendors and partners of the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands Expo Center we help find new ways to reduce the amount of items going to the landfill by working on an awareness campaign to exhibitors on how to reuse or repurpose left over materials.”

Chase says they even found ways to benefit local charities with their environmental programs. “Furniture, flooring, fixtures and building materials were all given to several different charities,” he says.

Some of the milestones reported this year include recycling half a million square feet of carpet, up 70 percent from the previous year. The balance over 1.1 million square feet was reused. Almost 28,000 square feet of vinyl banner materials were repurposed into tarps, hockey rink liners and outdoor movie screens.

The effort extended community-wide. “The Consumer Technology Assocation held a wonderful E-Waste program on Sunday at the Las Vegas convention center for the local residences to bring their old electronics to be recycled. This is the first year to offer this service and will continue next year,” Chase says.

On Thursday, January 14, 2015 at 3:00 Eastern, Chase will join me here for a live discussion about the efforts to reduce the environmental impact of CES. 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 Freeman:

Twitter: @FreemanCo

Founded in 1927, Freeman is the leading global partner for integrated experiential marketing solutions for live engagements including expositions, conventions, corporate events, and exhibits. Headquartered in Dallas, with over 70 offices in North America and the U.K., Freeman produces more than 4,300 expositions annually, including 135 of the 250 largest U.S. trade shows, and 11,000 other events worldwide. Customer-driven, Freeman offers a total package of solutions, with a scope of products and services unmatched by the competition. An employee-owned company, Freeman places an emphasis on respect for people and providing unparalleled customer service. Freeman has received numerous trade show industry awards for excellence in leadership, creative design, community service, innovation and customer-driven partnerships.

Jeff Chase, center, with representatives of charity partners from Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, Teachers Exchange and Opportunity Village, courtesy of Freeman

Jeff Chase, center, with representatives of charity partners from Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, Teachers Exchange and Opportunity Village, courtesy of Freeman

Chase’s bio:

Twitter: @GreenChase73

Jeff has been a passionate driving force on many sides of the trade show / event industry for 28 years. He spend his first 5 years as a General Services Contractor working in Nashville/Washington DC, and then got a job in California to take the position of Show Director for one of the largest tradeshows in the industry, and over the next 8 years he helped grow that show in the United States and launched it in Europe and Asia. Then he started his own event production agency which he ran successfully for 10 years and worked with clients such as eBay EBAY -4.00%, PayPal, Visa, Google and many others, then sold it to FreemanXP, the premier Experiential Marketing Agency. His current focus and passion is working as the Vice President of Sustainability. He works closely with many Fortune 100 companies like McDonalds, Oracle, Salesforce, SAP, and Autodesk to help them meet their goals for green/sustainable events. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Green Meetings Industry Council (GMIC)

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