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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: January 2016

‘WaterCredit’ Turns World’s Poor Into Paying Customers

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Water.org is leading a revolution in the provision of clean drinking water in the developing world, turning the recipients of charity into regular water customers through microloans funded by impact investments.

Gary White, CEO of Water.org, explains the problem, noting, “The poor are not a problem to be solved, they are the solution. I see constant innovation in the financial sector—new models, new products. Water.org is applying that kind of thinking to the philanthropic sector—creating new opportunities for private and philanthropic capital to make systemic change. Access to water and sanitation has been the focus of charity. But there’s a market-based solution. We realized that if we could provide the poor with access to small loans at reasonable rates, we could get them into the water system. And not as charity, but as customers.”

White explains further, “Changes in the water supply & sanitation (WSS) market at the Base of the Economic Pyramid (BOP) have unleashed significant new demand for WSS services. There have been significant gains in reducing poverty over the last two decades, and the trend will continue with support from the international community to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. These socioeconomic changes are driving an increased willingness and ability to pay for improved water access and water quality as well as improved sanitation.”

“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,” he adds.

While these are still early days, Water.org is past the pilot phase and is scaling up its WaterCredit initiative. White explains the progress and impact:

Evidence from Water.org’s and WSP’S existing programs in Bangladesh, India, Kenya and the Philippines demonstrate that a viable market can be made for financing water and sanitation improvements. MFIs have developed and launched water and sanitation lending programs that have disbursed over $120 million in loans. A conclusion from the programs have shown that as access to water and sanitation credit became available, low-income clients chose to take out loans and were able to repay those loans.

Water and sanitation lending programs have demonstrated benefits for financial institutions, development partners and most importantly clients and their households. These findings indicate that microfinance principles can be successfully applied to the water and sanitation sector and leverage funding to achieve greater reach than traditional subsidy based models. Governments and NGOs can work with MFIs, as both demand generators and financiers, to help accelerate access to safe water and sanitation.

On Thursday, January 7, 2016 at 4:00 Eastern, White will join me here for a live discussion about WaterCredit. 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 Water.org:

Twitter: @water

For more than twenty years, Water.org has 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 initiatives 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 the lives of more than three million people living around the world.

Gary White, courtesy of Water.org

Gary White, courtesy of Water.org

White’s bio:

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.

White has led Water.org during a period of rapid expansion, growing revenue by an average annual rate of 50 percent since 1994 and positioning Water.org 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 Foundation, PepsiCo 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 Gary was invited to join the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Water.

White’s educational credentials include three degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Missouri University of Science & Technology.

Bitcoin Alternative Pays You To Walk

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Franky Imbesi and Nissan Bahar, social entrepreneurs working in Africa, have created a new app that will pay you to walk. Rather that use computing power to “mine” bitcoin, the app allows you to generate Bitwalking Dollars by walking.

The practical limit to earnings is about $3 per day. That probably won’t motivate many people in the U.S. to walk more, but for people living on a few dollars per day and walking and hour or more to and from work each day in the developing world, this could be life changing.

Bahar notes that problems go beyond not just having money, but access to the banking system. “Large populations in the developing world are still left unbanked. They don’t have the opportunity to access currency and take part of the global economy.”

“Inspired by the words of Nelson Mandela, ‘Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will,’ we created a technology to allow anyone to generate currency by basic human movement – walking,” Bahar adds.

The potential of the new app to change lives is compelling. “Leveraging and combining digital currency technologies with mobile diffusion will allow us to create financial network accessible to anyone,” Bahar concludes.

On Thursday, January 7, 2015 at 2:00 Eastern, Bahar and Imbesi will join me for a live discussion here about the potential of the app to change lives in the developing world. 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 Bitwalking:

Twitter: @bitwalking

Bitwalking gives you the freedom and opportunity to make money by walking.

We believe that everyone should have the freedom, and ability, to make money. Bitwalking empowers each individual by converting steps into digital currency. A step is worth the same value for everyone – no matter who you are, or where you are. What matters is how much you walk.

Most people are unable to generate and benefit from digital currencies, and large populations in the developing world are still left unbanked. We’re inviting everyone to take the next step.

Bitwalking allows everyone not only to generate money, but to manage and use it as well.

The money you generate accumulates each day, and remains in your account until transferred or spent. Users have equal opportunity to trade money with each other, to make purchases at Bitwalking’s marketplace, and to connect with our third party partners – local businesses, online retailers, brands, charities and local governments – that share our belief in an economy for all.

Nissan Bahar and Franking Imbesi with a student in Africa, courtesy of Keepod

Nissan Bahar and Franking Imbesi with a student in Africa, courtesy of Keepod

Bahar’s bio:

Bahar, Nissan | Cofounder & CEO Prior to Bitwalking, Nissan co-founded Keepod in 2011 and directed the company as chief executive officer.

Imbesi’s bio:

Imbesi, Franky | Cofounder & CMO Prior to Bitwalking, Franky co-founded Keepod in 2011 and directed the company’s strategy as chief of marketing.

VC To Help Egypt Develop Startup Ecosystem

Steve Grizzell, one of the most experienced venture capitalists in Utah is heading to Egypt to help create an ecosystem for entrepreneurship to provide more jobs for young, educated people. He hopes that the model they create in Egypt can be exported to other developing countries.

Steve, who runs InnoVentures Capital, says, “Traditional businesses are not creating enough jobs anywhere in the world. This is particularly true in developing countries with a large population of young educated people. The solution being pushed is entrepreneurship. But entrepreneurship occurs within a much larger system. How do you create the system?”

He says he’s designing a system to fund entrepreneurs. “I’m attempting to create a funding structure from seed to private equity. I am also trying to put in place the components necessary to mentor entrepreneurs to build significant companies.”

Steve, who has lived and worked around the world, makes the case that solving this problem is vital for the future of the world. “Much of the unrest in the world is caused by the lack of opportunity and the subsequent loss of faith that your life will ever get better. Hopelessness leads to revolution which is usually violent like we see in the Middle East today,” he says.

On Thursday, January 7, 2016 at 1:00 Eastern, Steve will join me for a live discussion about his upcoming trip and his mission to develop the systems necessary for entrepreneurs to succeed. 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.

Steve was a guest on an earlier iteration of my show nearly ten years ago. Watch that here.

More about InnoVentures Capital:

InnoVentures manages funds to provide loans and venture debt. The capital is used for growth by innovative businesses that can’t get loans from conventional sources.

Steve’s bio:

Twitter: @sgrizzell

Steve has worked on the issues of creating an entrepreneur focused economy in the United States and internationally in countries including Indonesia, Romania, Morocco, Norway and Trinidad. Steve manages two funds in Utah and has made dozens of investments over the last twenty years. He is leaving for Egypt in January 2016 as a consultant for moving the Egyptian venture industry forward. Steve’s goal is to figure out how to create success in a developing economy.

Steve is a member of the Social Venture Network.

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

Devin D. Thorpe

Nearly Drowning Inspires Social Entrepreneur to Choose Love

“My story starts with a near drowning when I was 15 years old. This experience clarified in my mind the urgency to make an impact while we can,” begins Tony Loyd, the podcaster who produces “Social Entrepreneur.”

He continues, “As an adult, I was successful by many standards. I was an executive with a handful of Fortune 500 companies. However, at times I was conflicted. Some of the companies that I worked for had a powerful mission, but a toxic work environment. Other companies had a wonderful environment with great camaraderie, but their mission was not producing the kind of world I want to live in. I have been asked by these companies to lobby for causes that went against my values.”

He explains how he made the leap to podcasting, “In late 2013, I had a crisis of conscious. I began to write a series of blog posts called ‘My Jerry Maguire Moment.’ Through writing, I began to clarify my thoughts. It was then that I really understood the power of business to do good in the world. I left my corporate job and began to explore my options. I mentored early stage social entrepreneurs through a program at the University of Minnesota called Acara. I began to write a book. I was interviewing experts for the book and I realized that these interviews would make a good podcast.”

Tony didn’t start out in his career on the top of the pile. He says, “I was born in Arkansas in fairly simple circumstances. In high school I graduated 250th of 259. As a younger man, I drove a truck and worked as a janitor. I did not obtain my college degree until my mid-thirties.”

He went on to have a brilliant career, which he describes in more modest terms, “However, I made some good decisions too. I worked hard, read positive content every day and boldly led teams to create value for some large corporations. I really specialized in leading teams in times of transformation. So, having earned my executive role the hard way, it was difficult to walk away from that life. It was quite the lucrative life. In order to begin again, I had to walk away to nothing. No job. No team. No financial security.”

“I am not alone. Let me explain,” he says. “I honestly believe that there are only two forces in the world: fear and love. At this point in history, technology magnifies whichever of these two forces we choose to focus on. If you want to find examples of fear, you don’t have to look far. Technology delivers reasons to fear to our inbox and our social media streams. Self-serving individuals are finding ways to magnify that fear and to exploit our fear. It seems that fear is growing by the day.”

He acknowledges that there is reason to fear. “Yes, our problems are larger than ever before: climate change, social injustice, shortages of clean water and more. By the time we hit the year 2050, we’re going to have to more than double our global food production. How are we going to do that without destroying the planet?”

On the other hand, he notes, there is reason to choose love. “However, technology also allows us to express love in ways that were never before possible. Breakthrough technologies are making new realities possible. Global communication allows positive ideas to spread quickly around the world. People can find ways to help like never before in history.”

“As for me, I choose love. I believe there is a massive tribe out there who is also choosing love. Because I am interviewing standard bearers of love, people are attracted to the podcast, Social Entrepreneur. I am not alone. It feels to me like there is a great awakening.”

The data seem to suggest that love is the right course. “Several times since we launched, Social Entrepreneur has been #1 in four New & Noteworthy iTunes categories simultaneously. That is not something that I have accomplished. I cannot put myself at the top of these categories. That only happens if people are subscribing, rating and reviewing the podcast. Our audience has grown by an average of 80% per week for every week since we have launched. In the end, love wins,” he concludes.

On Thursday, January 7, 2015 at noon Eastern, Tony will join me here for a live discussion about his journey. 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 Social Entrepreneur:

Social Entrepreneur is a podcast for aspiring and early-stage social entrepreneurs, and for those who want to make an impact on the world. Three times per week we interview social entrepreneurs, founders, investors and thought leaders. We hear the stories that led them to becoming change makers. We talk about the grand challenges in the world and the solutions that they are creating. The guests give advice for early stage and aspiring social entrepreneurs. We always end each episode with a call to action. If you’re ready to change the world, join us.

Tony Loyd, courtesy of Social Entrepreneur

Tony Loyd, courtesy of Social Entrepreneur

Tony’s bio:

Twitter: @tonyloyd

Tony has provided leadership to Fortune 500 and mid-size organizations for over 25 years. He has extensive experience working with senior executive leaders to direct global initiatives that align talent solutions to corporate goals. Through his innovative approaches, he has enabled his clients to achieve significant improvements in processes, productivity, quality, and customer satisfaction while reducing costs and improving bottom line results.

Tony is currently the Host of Social Entrepreneur where he spends his time with changemakers who are making an impact on the world.

Before launching Social Entrepreneur, Tony worked with global brands such as Buffalo Wild Wings, Medtronic, Diversey and John Deere. He has conducted strategic planning, led organizational design, created talent management strategy and conducted high potential development workshops. Tony created the learning strategy and led the start-up and operation of two world-class corporate universities. Tony has directed the development of up to 120,000 personnel in sixty countries. His breakthrough ideas enabled companies to dramatically increase worldwide training participation, while transforming the training organization from a cost center to a revenue neutral operation.

Prior to his work at John Deere, Tony was a Human Performance Improvement consultant, working with customers as varied as the US Department of Energy, AT&T, Alcoa and the State of Colorado.

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

Devin D. Thorpe

The Day That Defined My Life, Documented 40 Years Later

You know that today, if something happens, if anything happens, even if nothing happens someone will take a picture of it. That wasn’t the case 40 years ago.

An old friend just sent me this photo he took in 1976. My father had recruited my help on a service project. We went with hundreds of other people, including my friend (then youth leader) Kraig Clawson who snapped a few photos. I have frequently and honestly described the experience as the defining event of my life. I’d never even dreamed that a photo existed from that day, and out of the blue it appeared today.

Devin Thorpe, Phil Thorpe, courtesy of Kraig Clawson

Devin Thorpe, Phil Thorpe, courtesy of Kraig Clawson

You see, Rexburg, Idaho was flooded by the failure of the Teton Dam the first time the reservoir was filled; about 80 percent of the structures in Rexburg were damaged or destroyed by the flood. All summer long, people from around the Western US loaded into buses to help the people of Rexburg dig the much and mud out of basements.

When my father came to me at the end of the summer and invited me to join him on the trip, I was eager to go. It sounded like an adventure.

We loaded on buses about 2:00 AM, arrived in Rexburg around dawn and worked all day until dark. We got back on the buses then and went home.

As you can see in the photo, given my size and age, I had trouble lifting the empty shovel. I probably didn’t do much good that day, but I sure felt like I had done some good.

The next day, I promised myself that I would never miss an opportunity to serve others again.

Of course, I have missed plenty of opportunities to serve over the years, but when I got fired from the best job I’d ever had back in 2011, I channeled that enthusiasm for service and went to China for a year to launch a new career focused on serving others.

I still don’t do all the good I should, but I’m grateful for the opportunities I take to help others. Those experiences bless my life more than I bless others.

Today, I’m especially grateful for Kraig’s taking this photos nearly 40 years ago and sending it to me today.

P.S. You can see me tell this story (without the photo) here:


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

Devin D. Thorpe

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