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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.
Crowdfunding for Social Good
Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

Api Podder

Philippe Cousteau Continues Famous Grandfather Jacques’ Environmental Legacy

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

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

The assumption that Philippe Cousteau, 38, had no choice but to follow in the footsteps—er, wake—of his famous, sea-exploring grandfather Jacques Cousteau is wrong. While the younger Cousteau revere’s his grandfather, it was his own experience exploring that connected him to his grandfather’s work.

The senior explorer died in 1997 at the age of 87. By the time the grandson was ready to explore the world, the grandfather was resigned to the role of “elder statesman” rather than intrepid explorer.

An expedition to New Guinea at age 16, with Eugenie Clark, known as the Shark Lady, convinced Philippe Cousteau that there was simply no other way to live.

As with his grandfather, his love for the sea and the natural world includes a passion for protecting it. One of the ways that Cousteau manifests his environmentalism is through the nonprofit organization he founded called EarthEcho, focused on engaging young people in the environmental movement.

Jill Belasco, an entrepreneur who served on the board of the organization for six years, including a term as the Vice Chair, says, EarthEcho is about education; they not only develop programs for the next generation of environmentalists but work closely with teachers and schools to get kids involved with hands-on projects.”

“I have worked with other environmental non-profits and have yet to find any organization that connects directly to our youth in the way EarthEcho does,” she adds.

The full-time staff at EarthEcho is small—just six people—and the budget of “over $1 million” is modest but leveraging the Cousteau brand and passion to build partnerships, the small organization is able to play above its weight class.

Philippe Cousteau, continues the legacy of his famous grandfather, Jacques Cousteau.

Cousteau says, “We don’t like to reinvent the wheel. There’s far too much of that already in the environmental movement—in most movements actually.” He believes the partnerships provide leverage to allow the small organization to maximize its impact.

In addition, EarthEcho has a Youth Leadership Council with 15 people from age 16 to 22 from around the world that also support the organization’s programs.

Watch my full interview with Cousteau in the video player at the top of the article.

Cousteau hopes that his nonprofit will help to galvanize a generation of activists. He notes with obvious frustration, “We saw in the last election, climate change wasn’t even a topic that came up in the debates.” He observes that environmental issues have become politically divisive.

“I always like to remind people that Richard Nixon passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. He founded the EPA,” Cousteau says. “We can argue about foreign policy, we can argue about economic policy when it comes right down to it clean air and clean water are non-negotiable.”

In recent years, EarthEcho recognized an opportunity in the movement to improve STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—education in schools. The science-focused curriculum EarthEcho provides aligns well with the movement so the organization has adapted its materials to emphasize this connection.

“What better way to study biology chemistry and engineering than nature because that’s where it all comes from,” Cousteau says.

The young Cousteau is also continuing some of his grandfather’s work in front of the camera and has been nominated for multiple Emmy Awards. He is the star of Caribbean Pirate Treasure on the Travel Channel.

Alex Morrison, a current board member at EarthEcho and SVP of Business Development at Strada Education Network, says he met Cousteau while working at the Discovery Channel.

Morrison says EarthEcho is empowering a generation of young people through education to identify threats to oceans and bodies of water in their own communities and to address them. “That type of approach has tremendous magnification.”

The late Cousteau said, “The sea, the great unifier, is man’s only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: we are all in the same boat.” Now his grandson is trying to get a new generation aboard.

Click here to get my free webinar showing the three myths that hamper and the two keys for nonprofit crowdfunding success.

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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

JP Morgan Chase Foundation to Increase Giving to $1.75B

JP Morgan Chase Foundation recently announced that it would be increasing it annual grantmaking to $1.7 billion. Much of their philanthropic giving is paired with supportive lending as well, potentially increasing the impact. (Disclosure: I have a small investment in JPM stock.)

Foundation president Janis Bowdler said in our interview (watch the full interview in the player at the top of the article) that the increase in funding is part of a broad corporate strategy to increase equality.

Interview with Janis Bowdler, the President of JPMorgan Chase Foundation of JPMorgan Chase.

The following is the pre-interview with Janis Bowdler. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

Our mission is to enable more people to contribute to and share in the rewards of a growing economy. We believe that reducing inequality and creating widely-shared prosperity requires collaboration of business, government, nonprofit and other civic organizations, particularly in the cities and metropolitan regions that power economic growth.

We take a comprehensive approach to increasing economic opportunity, using our firm’s global scale, talent and resources to make investments and create partnerships in four priority areas: Jobs & Skills, Small Business Expansion, Financial Health, and Neighborhood Revitalization. The firm’s $150 million investment in Detroit’s economic recovery continues to make an impact and establish a model for how to help more people share in the rewards of a growing economy. Going forward, the firm will continue to apply this investment model in other cities. For example, the firm recently announced a $40 million investment in Chicago’s South and West sides and a $10 million investment in Washington, D.C.’s underserved neighborhoods.

The firm also nearly tripled the size of the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund in Detroit from $6.5 million to over $18 million and is expanding the Fund to San Francisco and the South Bronx next month. Other examples of some new and successful philanthropic investments in the U.S. include:  Transforming America’s education and job training systems through increased investment in skill building for adults and young people in cities across the U.S. such as Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami and dozens of others. JPMorgan Chase is supporting proven and new training strategies and policies and partnering with community colleges, career technical education programs, and business to build career pathways to well-paying jobs in growing fields such as healthcare, advanced manufacturing and transportation, distribution and logistics. Expanding The Fellowship Initiative, an intensive academic, leadership and professional development program that contributes to increased education and career opportunities for young men of color, in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and New York. This effort helps them build their skills, networks and ability to access resources. The JPMorgan Chase Service Corps is a three-week, skills-based volunteer program that engages top-performing employees from around the world who share their expertise to help nonprofit partners expand their impact in the community. The Service Corps will be expanded to support more nonprofits in 2018 including in Chicago, Detroit and the South Bronx.

JP Morgan Chase CSR:

More about JPMorgan Chase:

Twitter: @jpmorgan



JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.5 trillion and operations worldwide. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, and asset management. At the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, we believe that reducing inequality and creating widely-shared prosperity requires collaboration of business, government, nonprofit and other civic organizations, particularly in the cities and metropolitan regions that power economic growth. We take a comprehensive approach to increasing economic opportunity, using our firm’s global scale, talent and resources to make investments and create partnerships in four priority areas: Jobs & Skills, Small Business Expansion, Financial Health, and Neighborhood Revitalization.

For-profit/Nonprofit: 501(c)3 Nonprofit

Revenue model: The JPMorgan Chase Foundation is funded by JPMorgan Chase.

Scale: In 2017, the firm and its Foundation gave nearly $250 million to nonprofit organizations across the U.S. and in 40 countries around the world, and has committed to invest $1.75 billion by 2023. In addition, last year, 56,000 JPMorgan Chase employees provided 383,000 hours of volunteer service in the communities where they live and work.

Janis Bowdler
Photo Credit: Janis Bowdler

Janis Bowdler’s bio:


Before joining JPMorgan Chase in 2013, Janis spent two decades advancing economic opportunity for families at risk of being left out of growing global prosperity. She began her career in her native Northeast Ohio, working to rejuvenate Cleveland’s east side neighborhoods. Following that, she spent ten years in Washington, D.C. advocating on behalf of Latino families at UnidosUS (formerly National Council of La Raza). Under her leadership at JPMC, the firm has launched several high profile initiatives, including Financial Solutions Lab, PRO Neighborhoods, Entrepreneurs of Color Funds in Detroit, South Bronx and San Francisco, and blight mitigation initiatives in Detroit. Janis has been a leader on much of our community development work in Detroit, where JPMorgan has committed $150 million to revitalize the city, including our neighborhood mapping work.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

Nonprofit Employment Agency Works To Disrupt Slave Trade In Hong Kong

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

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

Scott Stiles, 29, began learning about modern slavery while attending school at Brigham Young University – Hawaii. He decided to simply put slave traders out of business by competing with them in Hong Kong.

His thesis: both the workers caught in debt bondage and their domestic employers there are unsatisfied by the typical arrangements so why not provide competing services that both parties value? The new Fair Employment Agency was born.

The International Labour Organization estimates that 40 million people globally are subjected to some form of modern slavery, about 25 million of whom are subjected to forced labor. The other 15 million are in forced marriages.

The traditional employment model in Hong Kong starts in the Philippines and Indonesia where women, often living on less than $2 per day, are recruited with promises of almost unbelievable wages—about USD$500 per month. The women agree to pay $3,000 to $4,000 of their future wages to the employment agency, locking them into debt that they can barely hope to repay if all goes well.

It often doesn’t go well. Stiles says about 30 to 40% of domestic workers are fired by their employers before their initial contract expires. Out of work and deeply in debt, the domestic worker calls her employment agency for help only to learn that they can place her again—for another fee of about $1,500—even though the balance of the original fee remains unpaid.

The new fee must be paid in cash so the agency will direct the worker to a lender who will provide the money at an interest rate of 59.9%, “the most common number for these loans,” Stiles says.

Now the worker is trapped with no reasonable way out.

Caroline Kracht, a mentor and advisor to Fair Employment Agency, explained by email:

FAIR to date has placed >2,000 domestic workers without charging them placement fees and indebting them to their employment agencies and forcing them to work to pay off this debt. At the same time FAIR does two more things:

  • FAIR gives the domestic workers they place a better start to their employment by preparing them for their new job and the new environment they’ll be joining (new country, new living environment and standards, employer expectations), as well as educating them on their rights and where to turn to in conflict situations.
  • FAIR has recognized that many employment situations deteriorate because employers don’t have sufficient management skills or haven’t had much precious experience managing staff. FAIR helps employers become better managers by teaching them about some of the common pitfalls, many of which are grounded in misunderstandings and/or a lack of trust and open communication channels between employer and employee. FAIR provides both employers and employees a better start to the working relationship, and by doing so achieves industry leading employment statistics in terms of the low percentage of failed or terminated employment contracts.

Now, when a woman placed by Fair Employment Agency finds herself in an untenable position, she can quit and get a help from them to find a better one. She’s not trapped by her circumstances.

The training helps, too. Stiles explains a typical trouble spot. The new domestic helper, unable to read care instruction tags on clothes might launder a shirt wrong. Which one? The employer’s favorite or most expensive shirt–the one that needs special care.

Scott Stiles, Fair Employment Agency

Seeing the damage, the employee might throw the shirt out, fearing a conflict with the employer, who notices the expensive shirt is missing and having had no explanation, concludes that the helper stole the shirt, leading to an end to the employment arrangement and a catastrophe for the family of the helper.

By helping the domestic workers and their employers both to improve communication, they avoid many of the challenges that bring an end to the contracts.

Ending a contract early can be perilous for the helper as Jane McBride, a long-term Hong Kong resident and employer of domestic helpers, learned. Having hired several but always workers who had successfully completed contracts, McBride wanted to hire a woman who was working for someone else.

McBride, a lawyer, reviewed the employment contract and noted a 30-day notice requirement for termination and suggested the woman give her notice. She was deported for breaking her contract.

“When the rest of us give the requisite notice under our employment contracts to our employers, we are simply exercising our contractual right to resign and there are no negative connotations. We simply find a new job (and transfer our working visas to our new employers if we are not permanent residents). A helper who resigns mid-contract is ‘breaking’ her contract, i.e., doing something bad, and the fact is her visa cannot be transferred. She must go back to her country and start the whole process again.”

McBride learned that the agencies play a pivotal role in determining residency. The more she researched, however, the more she appreciated that their business practices were typically unethical. Some of their practices are illegal but the domestic workers aren’t in a position to know let alone enforce the law.

She began looking for a reputable one that she could use for her next placement. A Google search turned up Fair Employment Agency. “I think they do a great job. They treated my helper with respect and as an employee and not as a slave. Hopefully, their business will thrive and other agents will follow and employers will stop using the bad agents,” McBride said.

Stiles, for his part, is optimistic. “This is a completely solvable crisis. Some world problems are far more complex. This one is not.” Almost 25 million people hope he’s right.

Click here to get my free webinar showing the three myths that hamper and the two keys for nonprofit crowdfunding success.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

SoLo Funds Will Disintermediate Payday Lending With Its New App

Travis Holoway and Rodney Williams hit upon a brilliant strategy to disrupt the payday lending business with a tool that would be much more borrower-friendly. That tool is the SoLo Funds app, available from both the App Store and Google Play.

The app lets borrowers set the terms. Remarkably, lenders are generous. That may have something to do with the fact that in the company’s short operating history they’ve seen the same people become both borrowers and lenders. The community they are building can completely change the short-term lending business.

One key to their success is a new credit scoring model the company developed to measure a borrower’s ability to repay a short-term loan according to the terms they propose.

Interview with Travis Holoway & Rodney Williams; Travis CEO & Co-Founder, Rodney Co-Founder of Solo Funds Inc.

The following is the pre-interview with Travis Holoway & Rodney Williams. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?


Today 78% of American workers are living paycheck to paycheck and 47% of Americans cannot solve a $400 emergency cash need without borrowing from someone else or selling a personal asset. Access to loans under $1k are extremely scarce. Borrowing from friends and family puts strain on personal relationships and are embarrassing to ask for. Since banks do not lend in small-dollar increments people are forced to take high-interest loans or go without basic necessities due to financial hardship. Payday and title lending institutions are creating debt-traps daily by charging 400% average interest rates for small-dollar loans. These predatory lenders report loan history to credit bureaus to negatively impact a borrower’s credit, but never to positively impact their credit. In the U.S. wage stagnation and fluctuation has created the need for lower income workers to use payday loans more frequently. Annually, 12 million people turn to payday lenders with average borrowers taking 8 loans per year at $375 each. As a result, $9B dollars in fees alone are generated annually. It’s well documented that payday loans are predatory and many have advocated for a complete ban, but no viable alternative solution has been presented. SoLo is here to change that.


SoLo is a completely mobile lending exchange which is the first of its kind. We’re peer-to-peer lending in the purest form ever. We’ve eliminated the institution barrier between people and allow individuals to create their own terms. Ultimately, what we have created is a one-time per transaction credit score. The FICO score has been used to determine an individual’s ability to make multiple payments over a long duration of the time. We’ve created a credit rating system that determines an individual’s ability to make one-payment on one specific date. We analyze data such as cash-flow, alternative credit history, social data, and behavioral data to create a score which lenders use to determine how credit- worthy a borrower is. We believe people’s financial stories are more robust than the narrative presented by the traditional FICO score. Our technology provides mobile convenience, affordable access, and through our free financial literacy curriculum, we provide a direct path to a more financially stable life for those who have been forgotten and exploited.

More about Solo Funds Inc.:

Twitter: @solofunds




SoLo was created to disrupt the predatory payday lending industry. SoLo’s mobile marketplace directly connects individual lenders and borrowers with pre-set terms created by the borrower. Lenders determine a borrower’s creditworthiness using SoLo’s proprietary social credit score. Loans are interest-free, range between $50-$1000, and have a 30- day maximum duration. Lenders can earn returns on lent dollar amounts. Borrowers solve their short-term cash needs conveniently and more affordable than ever. SoLo prevents the strain on personal relationships that borrowing from friends and family creates and eliminates the debt-traps that payday and title loans create. SoLo is poised to solve the needs of the 78% of American workers that live paycheck to paycheck and the 47% of Americans that cannot solve a $400 emergency cash need without borrowing or selling a personal asset.

For-profit/Nonprofit: For-profit

Revenue model: SoLo makes money from donations paid by users on the platform.

Scale: Raised $1.2M dollars (Seed Round), 9 Full-Time Employees, Since April 2018 Total users – 3.5k

Travis Holoway
Photo Credit: Solo Funds Inc.

Travis Holoway’s bio:

Twitter: @travisholoway

Travis Holoway is the CEO and co-founder of SoLo Funds Inc. a mobile-based lending exchange created to provide more affordable access to small-dollar loans under $1,000. Travis is passionate about providing resources and improving the overall financial wellness of the world’s unbanked and underbanked populations. Originally from the greater Cleveland, OH area Travis is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati. Prior to founding SoLo, Travis built his career in the financial services industry first as a financial advisor and later as Director of Training and Development at Northwestern Mutual.

Rodney Williams
Photo Credit: Solo Funds Inc.

Rodney Williams’ bio:

Twitter: @rodneybwilliams

Rodney Williams, Co-Founder of SoLo Funds Inc. and Founder/CEO of LISNR, leads one of the most disruptive companies in the IoT space and the world of mobile connectivity with a new communication protocol that is the most efficient way to connect any device with a speaker or microphone.  Fresh off of their $10M Series B raise lead by Intel Capital, LISNR took the stage in 2015 racking some the world’s most coveted awards such as a Gold Lion @ Cannes for Most Innovative Mobile Technology and a three-time member of CNBC’s Disruptor 50 list to just name a few. Prior to LISNR, Williams spent over 4 years at Procter & Gamble as a brand manager and is most noted for being the first marketer there to co-write digital patents. Williams, originally from Baltimore, MD holds 4 degrees but most notably two masters, one of which is an M.B.A. from Howard University.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

The Founder’s Story Who Left The Comfortable Job To Start a Non-Profit

This is a guest post from Uchechi J. Okonmah, the Founder / Public Health Communications / WASH Instructor

In October 2015, I did something very ‘stupid’. I left my comfortable job as a marketing executive at a reputable insurance company in Abuja, and took out a loan to start a non-profit organization called PHAAE (Public Health Aid Awareness & Education Organization).

When I broke the news to my family and friends, I felt like I had paid to get ‘stupid’ inked on my forehead. ‘Why don’t you just focus on starting your floral business, run the non-profit when you are profitable’, my sister suggested. ‘You’re too young to take this on. This is Nigeria. Non-profit founders are usually over 60 and very wealthy. How will you even pay back the loan?’, a close friend asked. Even though I couldn’t logically justify my actions at the time, I knew in my heart that I had made the right decision. Their concerns were valid; stable money is important. But I couldn’t let money rule over my decision to follow my dreams and make an impact.

It’s been 2 years and 8 months since I registered PHAAE. In that time, I have learned more about myself, and how to make an impact on a shoestring budget.

I lost my mother to breast cancer when I was 9 years old. Her death was especially hard on my family because she would have had a surviving chance if we could afford some form of cancer treatment. With no money to get professional medical help, my family turned solely to western and traditional religion. Unfortunately, our blend of spiritual rites and prayers did not save my mother. Her death was an even bitterer pill to swallow when news broke that a family friend who was diagnosed at the same time survived. Unlike my mom, her family could afford the treatment she needed. Today, she remains cancer free.

While I didn’t realize it in 2015, my mom’s passing planted the seeds of my motivation to start an organization focused on closing the gaps of health inequality in Nigeria. Everyone deserves a fair shot at life irrespective of their socioeconomic status. With PHAAE, I realized my life’s work.

A year after I registered PHAAE, news broke that 30 children died from a cholera outbreak in the Damagaza Community, a rural municipal in Abuja. A septic wastewater route had contaminated their only access to water. The tragedy hit home for me because PHAAE’s first project was at this warm underserved community. To support the efforts of public health officials, I rallied the PHAAE Angels (our volunteers) to figure out cost-effective solutions that would help prevent and prepare the community for any future outbreaks. With our limited resources, we decided to focus on implementing a hand hygiene program at LEA Elementary School, a public school in the community. In addition to poor knowledge on good hygiene practices, we found that the school had no running water and functional toilets.

To improve knowledge on good hygiene practices, we taught hygiene lessons implemented a ‘when kids teach kids’ hygiene education program. Handling the running water and toilet issue was more of a challenge because of our financial limitations. Struggling to help LEA Elementary School took me back to my friend’s comment on how I needed to be older and richer to run a non-profit successfully. I felt guilty that we would have to leave the students with the knowledge of good hygiene, but no tools to practice. Thankfully, after some research, we came up with the idea of building a ‘tippy tap’, a cost effective and simple hand-washing device. With sticks, ropes, and empty water bottles, we constructed a way for the school to practice good hand hygiene.

Arthur Ashe, the first African American to win the men’s singles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, once said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” The experience at Damagaza opened my eyes to the importance of using the resources you have to solve your problems. You don’t need to be a 60-something year old billionaire to make an impact. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, like I did, seek out your ‘tippy tap’ solutions using what you do have.

In the 2 years 8 months PHAAE has run, I have had challenging experiences that make me reconsider my ‘stupid’ decision. Somehow, I have stayed on the ship. After seeing the possibilities of PHAAE, my family and friends have been nothing but supportive. I have been particularly blessed with the best volunteers from different parts of the world, who commit their time to promoting PHAAE’s mission to close the gaps of health inequality in Nigeria. I am forever thankful to them.

If you made it to the end of this article, let these words from Arthur Ashe stay with you – “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

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How This Fund Leverages Its Nonprofit Structure To Make Profitable Impact Investments

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

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

Eva Yazhari, co-founder and CEO of Beyond Capital, a nonprofit organization that makes profitable, seed-stage investments in India and East Africa, says the nonprofit status “is vitally important for us.”

Operating as a nonprofit has allowed the organization to attract pro bono resources that made the fund operationally possible.

“If you think about a fund of our size, the economics don’t work when you’re taking a two and twenty,” she says referring to the standard venture fund model of charging investors a 2% management fee plus a carried interest of 20% of the profits.

The Beyond Capital fund is just $1.8 million, meaning that a 2% management fee would pay only $36,000, not enough to run a fund.

Eva Yazhari, Beyond Capital

Beyond Capital was born as a family philanthropy. “About two years in, we realized that there was a tremendous appetite from our networks to focus their own philanthropy on what we were doing,” Yazhari says. You can watch our entire interview in the player at the top of the article.

The firm had its first exit near the end of 2017, yielding the fund a 26% IRR. The fund invested in ERC Eye Care, a low-cost eye care operation in Northern India that provides eyeglasses and cataract surgeries to people living below the poverty line.

Using a hub and spoke model, the company operates two “hub” hospitals where surgeries are performed. Clinics in small villages where residents could go for screening provided the spokes. Yazhari says the $20 cataract surgeries are the most profitable line of business.

Osman Khan, a member of the Beyond Capital board, highlights the fund’s structure. “It has developed a rigorous and systematic framework to identifying and evaluating enterprises and readily quantifying and assessing those that are currently making, or are expected to make, the greatest impact at the ‘bottom of the pyramid.’”

Yazhari outlined four aspects of the framework:

  1. “We’re investing in people.” She says this is a lesson she learned while working on Wall Street.
  2. “We’re really looking for simpler solutions to complex problems.” As an example, she points to their investment in Kasha, a mobile retail platform that sells women’s health products, including sanitary pads and contraceptives in Rwanda.
  3. “We also are very strict on having an impact first lens.” Before investing, Beyond Capital ensures that the management team of the company has inculcated their mission into the business model to avoid mission creep in the future, especially if and when investors without an impact first approach bring funding to the table.
  4. Prove the unit economics and scalability. She highlighted the need to ensure that the unit economics work so that the business can scale up, generating cash flow to help fund the growth.

The fund’s average deal size is just $75,000. Investing such small amounts in faraway places could put a burden on financial returns. This is where the nonprofit comes to the rescue. By donating her own time for several years and getting due diligence services donated, the firm has been able to keep diligence costs to near zero. One key is the volunteer services of a board member based in Bangalore.

Another tool that helps maintain low cost and high effectiveness, she boasts, is her phone. A quick “what’s up” on Whatsapp yields, “the best update and really more information than we would get in the monthly or quarterly reporting,” she says.

Yazhari says the fund is now in the process of raising a $2 million round of grant funding, she hopes to close in October, noting that $800,000 is already committed. That should allow the fund to make another 18 investments.

So far, the first fund has a paper return of 30% IRR, based on the valuations of the companies that have gone on to raise additional funding. The goal, she says, is to be able to reinvest the profits from the fund in more companies, ultimately allowing the nonprofit to become “financially sustainable” by 2024.

Yazhari’s heart is in this work. She says she has been inspired by her grandfather who started a hospital in Tanzania in the late 1950s. She’s found a way to honor his legacy by leveraging her Wall Street experience to build a nonprofit that is now reaching more than 2.3 million people.

Click here to get my free webinar showing the three myths that hamper and the two keys for nonprofit crowdfunding success.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

Inspired By Brother’s Death, Stanford Grad Uses Human-Centered Design To Change World

Durell Coleman wanted to be an inventor since he was a young child. His brother, five years his senior, died from cancer after graduating from high school. Before he did, he challenged his younger brother to make cancer treatments better. That request was seared into Durell’s memory and changed the direction of his life.

Today, the two-time Stanford grad combines his passion for invention with the spirit of his brother’s challenge. He employs human-centered design skills to develop processes, system and technology that improve people’s lives. Watch the full interview in the player at the top of this article.

Interview with Durell Coleman, the Founder and CEO of DC Design.

The following is the pre-interview with Durell Coleman. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

We design services, systems, products, processes, and experiences that better improve outcomes for those who have not been well designed for. In Design the Future, we are solving a few different problems.

  1. We’re teaching young adults the “How” behind changing the world by teaching them how to make a direct impact on the life of one person.
  2. We’re showing young adults that there are issues they can direct their energies toward that go beyond the innovations of Instagram, Facebook, snapchat and laundry apps that help those who are well-off do their laundry without interacting with those who aren’t. In other words, that there are big issues all around them that really affect people’s quality of life that they can get involved with.
  3. We’re breaking down barriers across difference, in particular between those with disabilities and those without them. We’re teaching young adults to engage with things that are uncomfortable and how to navigate difficult conversations.
  4. Groups of high school students are creating real products that directly improve the quality of life of their project partners in a lasting and meaningful way. Many of the projects the students have worked on have gone on to be directly implementable and used over the longterm by those they were designed for.
  5. We’re bringing this education to students who normally wouldn’t be able to experience it by offering scholarships and actively recruiting students from different backgrounds. That means we recruit students from underrepresented racial backgrounds, students of different ability levels with both sighted students and those with visual impairment, mix socioeconomic levels, skill sets, and have a greater number of girls in this STEM program than boys.

Design the Future:

More about DC Design:

Twitter: @dcdesignltd



DC Design is a social impact design firm. We use human centered design to help solve the world’s biggest problems. Our work includes redesigning aspects of the foster care system in Silicon Valley, partnering with governments to develop and implement strategies for reducing jail recidivism, consulting architects, physicians and nurses on designing optimal emergency departments, and developing award winning educational programs to address challenges around physical disability. Our specialty is in multi-stakeholder design, which involves understanding the needs of diverse groups of people, finding key points of agreement, and identifying opportunities to create novel solutions to the challenges those stakeholders face. Our consulting services, educational design workshops, and products are aimed at creating a lasting positive impact on society and helping others do the same.

For-profit/Nonprofit: For-profit

Revenue model: Design Consulting Services – Strategy, Service Design, App Design, Product Design.

Design the Future – Charge students

Scale: Our core team consists of 5 people. Our work has focused on impacts for populations of various size ranging from 1 person when designing for an individual with a disability to 1.9 million when designing for the criminal justice system of a government. For Design the Future, our team scales up to 25 paid contractors and employees. This year 85 high school students will produce 17 different products that impact the lives of 17 different individuals with physical disabilities.

Durell Coleman

Durell Coleman’s bio:


Durell Coleman is the founder of DC Design, a social impact design firm that uses the design thinking process to address the world’s biggest problems. In his journey as a designer, Durell has collaborated with international non-profits, large tech companies, and small businesses to create products and services that solve the problems they face. Trained in mechanical engineering (B.S) and sustainable design (M.S.), he is a two-time alumnus of Stanford University and its famous Institute of Design (the Stanford He partners with diverse clients to help them successfully overcome challenges and capitalize on the opportunities before them. His clients include governments, foundations and nonprofits working to address challenges in the criminal justice and foster care systems, Syrian refugees designing solutions to challenges in refugee camps, students at Stanford University designing a more inclusive campus, and corporate executives from Sony, Oracle, and Santander. He is an expert in multi-stakeholder, human-centered design and is one of the subjects of the PBS documentary: “Extreme by Design,” which is used as a design thinking teaching aid all over the world.

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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

This App Saves Lives–Share It With Kids You Love In Utah

Teen suicide risk in Utah is multiples of the national average. During the school year just ended, seven students at one Utah high school died at their own hand. The problem isn’t new this year. Many people are working at strategies to end the pattern. One initiative is the SafeUT app.

Utah kids are encouraged to download the app to their phones and to keep it where they can see it in hopes that the constant reminder will get them to use it when they need it–when they’re thinking about harming themselves.

Anecdotal evidence suggests the app is working. One youth, contemplating a suicide attempt, decided to text a last note to a loved one. Upon opening the phone, he saw the app, opened it and engaged with a professional counselor and decided not to harm himself. He’s thriving today.

Interview with Missy Wilson Larsen, the Founding Chair of SafeUT.

The following is the pre-interview with Missy Wilson Larsen. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

More about SafeUT:


The SafeUT Crisis Text and Tip Line is a statewide service in Utah that provides real-time crisis intervention to anyone in need, especially youth, through a smartphone app. The app allows users to chat, text, or call licensed clinicians 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, the app has a function for students to report safety concerns to school administrators or law enforcement anonymously. The crisis line clinicians respond to incoming chats, texts, and calls by providing supportive or crisis counseling, suicide prevention tools, and/or referral services. Anyone with needs rooted in emotional crises, bullying, relationship problems, mental health, or suicide related issues is invited to reach out through SafeUT.

SafeUT is free and confidential.

If an “active rescue” is necessary where the crisis counselor believes the user is in immediate danger, the clinician will alert emergency services to attempt a face-to-face safety evaluation based on the information provided by the user.

For-profit/Nonprofit: Government Resource

Revenue model: Funded through the State of Utah

Scale: SafeUT is a critical resource for those in mental health crisis and students who have safety tips throughout Utah and beyond. It is also the basis for a national 3-digit call number that Senator Hatch is introducing in DC

Missy Wilson Larsen
Photo Credit: Farris Gerrard

Missy Wilson Larsen’s bio:


Over the past 25 years Missy has become recognized for her collaboration and results-focused work in business, non-profit, and government leadership. She has built a successful career on a passion to connect resources for community-building initiatives. Before joining the innovative team at doTERRA International this year, she served as Chief of Staff to Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes where she oversaw policy issues, office administration, community outreach, and partner alliances.

In the early 1990’s, Missy served as Press Secretary, Spokesperson & Business Liaison for the late U.S. Congressman Bill Orton (UT, 3) and in 1994, she solely launched INTREPID PR, an award-winning firm based in Salt Lake City. After a decade of success, she left the agency to care for her four children and continued to represent some of Utah’s most valued businesses and organizations at their request. In 2009, after mentoring a Somali-Bantu refugee family, Missy co-founded the Utah Refugee Coalition (now Utah Refugee Connection) as an organization to connect government offices, non-profit organizations, and businesses with a core mission of helping incoming refugees integrate into Utah communities and build self-sufficiency. Today the organization connects refugees and refugee providers with needed resources and volunteers.

Missy is the founding Chair of the statewide SafeUT Crisis and Tip Line Commission and currently chairs the Utah Refugee Connection Board, serves as Vice President of Government Relations for the Boy Scouts of America Greater Salt Lake Council, and serves on the World Trade Center Utah Board, Salt Lake Chamber Board of Governors, Anti Bullying Coalition, and on the Hale Centre Theatre Board. She has served on numerous boards over the past 25 years and continues to volunteer as a refugee mentor to a Somali Bantu family. Missy and her husband, Sam, are the parents of four children.

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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

Young Entrepreneur Hopes To Tell A New Story In Haiti

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

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

Resenting the prevailing narrative about poverty in Haiti, Marc Alain Boucicault, 30, a Fulbright Scholar, and a former economist for the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank, is putting his experience to work as a social entrepreneur, hoping to change the story and the economy.

Boucicault recently launched Haiti’s first coworking space for technology entrepreneurs in Haiti. He kicked off Banj, as he calls the new venture, with a tech conference that included representatives from Facebook and Google. He hopes to see technology infuse the traditional economy, giving more farmers and business owners access to international markets, eventually narrowing the country’s overwhelming trade deficit.

Banj already has 100 members with four of 13 available offices rented—and it’s profitable, according to Boucicault. He’s built the business with sponsorships rather than loans or equity. The members and tenants cover the infrastructure costs and the partners fund program costs.

Marc Alain Boucicault

The business sprang directly from Boucicault’s experience as an economist. “As a young economist, I was frustrated by writing about the macroeconomics of Haiti marked by a negative real growth over the past 30 years. I saw hope in the young entrepreneurs I was meeting every day but knew there was a long way to go before they can bring a change to the economy. I knew that, if one day, I could find a working model to help, I would want to go and do that full time,” he says. Now he has.

Christine Souffrant Ntim, a Forbes 30 Under 30 winner and founder of the Haiti Tech Summit, hosted her Haiti Tech Summit at Banj on April 26, bring Facebook and Google to Haiti. She is excited about the impact it will have on the country. “It serves as a true example of entrepreneurial leadership,” she says.

She notes that basics like internet access and electricity remain challenges for many entrepreneurs and Banj solves that problem for entrepreneurs, allowing them for focus on their projects. In addition, Banj provides entrepreneurs with access to experts and mentors.

She also notes that Banj has made so much progress so quickly that it is changing the perception of what is possible in Haiti. “Within a year, Banj has been a partner or space for Google, Facebook, Startup Grind Port Au Prince, Hult Prize Haiti and more.”

Haiti’s history is difficult. The CIA’s World Fact Book describes Haiti as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The indigenous Taino people were nearly wiped out by Spanish settlers within 25 years of Columbus landing on the island. More recently, exports have not yet recovered to pre-earthquake levels and the country continues to run a large trade deficit.

“But that’s the narrative we’re trying to change. We want people to see Haiti differently,” says Boucicault. From his perspective, technology has the potential to enable even the most basic industries in Haiti to grow. For instance, the agricultural sector can increase output and exports by getting help from technology.

His strategy is to pair the “traditional rich Haitian bourgeoisie who have access to assets, have access to capital and combine them with the lower, middle-class Haitian who doesn’t have access to capital, doesn’t have access to money but have access to ideas.”

There is no question that Haiti needs a new narrative. Here’s hoping that the story Boucicault wants to write in its place proves to be nonfiction.

Click here to get my free webinar showing the three myths that hamper and the two keys for nonprofit crowdfunding success.

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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

How to Save for College

This is a guest post from Bryan M. Kuderna, A Certified Financial Planner and founder of the Kuderna Financial Team.

Millennial Millionaire’s insight on common and uncommon college savings programs.

Anyone who’s ever been to a toddler’s first birthday can relate to a few common themes… a clown or superhero, crying babies (especially if Mom and Dad picked the clown), a Smash Cake, and someone offering up a college fund. This gift from Grandma or your Brother-In-Law that works at the bank might be the most boring, but any recent college grad will agree it’s one awesome gift.

In today’s day and age, it’s not uncommon for a 4-year college tuition to cost over $100k, and that’s not including room and board ! If you have more than one child, just start multiplying that 6-figure bill. So as the price of attending college continues to skyrocket, averaging about an 8% increase per year and in some years being as high as 6.5x the general inflation rate , how does a family plan ahead?

The most common and heavily marketed savings vehicles is the 529 College Savings Plan. Each state sponsors their own plan. There is a “Prepaid Tuition” variety, that some in-state and public colleges offer, which allows an account holder to buy credits at the participating college and lock in today’s cost of tuition. However, if the beneficiary does not attend that college, the account holder will receive his/her money back with a small return. The more common “Education Savings Plan” provides investments in mutual funds or ETF’s with tax-deferred growth and tax-free distribution if used for Qualified Higher Education Expenses. Savers should notice each individual state’s potential matching grants or income-tax deductions. Beware, any withdrawals not used for higher education will be subject to income taxes and a 10% penalty on earnings, and these accounts may impact financial aid.

The less popular Coverdell Education Savings Account (commonly called an “ESA”) only allows a saver to contribute up to $2,000 per year, offering similar tax advantages as the 529. The draw here used to be that funds could be used for college OR K-12 expenses. However, since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, 529 plans may now be used for K-12 as well. These accounts do permit much more investment options, including stocks, than the 529 counterpart. As ESA’s go by the wayside, they are now allowed to be rolled over to 529 Plan’s to simplify things.

The third often looked at option is an UGMA (Uniform Gifts to Minors Act) or UTMA (Uniform Transfer to Minors Act), typically called a custodial account. These investment or cash accounts are funded by irrevocable contributions to a beneficiary that can never be changed. Once the child reaches age of majority in their state (typically 18-21) they have full access to the account. Parents need to be aware of potential tax implications as investment earnings over $2,100 will be taxed at their rate (the Kiddie Tax) . The other drawback is that for college financial aid, a custodial account is considered an asset of the child and will be more heavily weighted.

Some other frequently used, but rarely planned for, vehicles of college funding include real estate. More and more parents are taking out 2nd mortgages or Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC’s) to tap their biggest asset on a tax-free basis to pay for education. The family home and any of its secured debt is not considered for FAFSA. Another tool not included in financial aid formulas is Cash Value Life Insurance. Such policies can provide self-completion in the event of death or disability, tax-favored access to cash values, parental control to any age, guaranteed growth, and usable for any goal. Roth IRA’s also provide multiple solutions, typically used as a tax-free retirement investment account , contributions can also be withdrawn for higher education tax and penalty-free.

Hopefully this snapshot will help you start saving for your kids’ or grandkid’s education and put an end to the rampant student loan epidemic.


Bryan M. Kuderna is a Certified Financial Planner and founder of Kuderna Financial Team. He is the best-selling author of Millennial Millionaire, available on Amazon or at

[1] 2017. Private, non-profit 4-year college without room and board.
[2] 2018. “Tuition Inflation”
[3] 2018. “An Introduction to 529 Plans”
[4] 2018. Tax Topics.
[5] “Using Roth IRA to Pay for College”. Scott Hanson.

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