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Community Foundations Build, Protect Their Communities

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

One of the backbones of American philanthropy is the community foundation, which plays a variety of critical roles in building and protecting a community. These community foundations operate in every state in the nation. Personally, I’ve been receiving an education since I joined the Board of the Community Foundation of Utah as a volunteer.

Community foundations may become significant players in the impact investing space in the coming decade. Many gifts to such foundations are in the form of donor advised funds, commonly abbreviated as DAFs. A donor advised fund operates a bit like a family foundation, allowing the grantor to “advise” the sponsor holding the assets about what to do with the money, all of which must ultimately be donated to charity.

Commonly, when an investor has a taxable windfall, with careful planning from advisors, assets can be donated to a DAF, allowing the investor to take a tax deduction and avoid tax on the gain on sale, while effectively continuing to influence the ultimate grant-making over a span of subsequent years.

Those DAF accounts have traditionally been invested in a variety of financial assets. More and more people in the DAF community are looking at these accounts as a source of impact investment capital to be deployed for social impact as investments while waiting to be donated.

One threat to this trend is a proposal from Michigan Congressman Dave Camp, who has proposed a requirement that DAFs distribute 20 percent of assets each year, effectively imposing a rapid liquidation schedule and preventing any meaningful impact investment. When compared to a foundation’s requirement that 5 percent of assets be distributed each year, the Camp proposal looks rather draconian to some in the community foundation world. DAFs have no distribution requirement today, though the Community Foundation of Utah has reported that about 13 percent of DAF assets are distributed to charities each year, well above the 5 percent level required of foundations.

On September 3, 2014 at 1:00 Eastern, the CEOs of three foundations, including Lorie Slutsky, CEO of the relatively massive New York Community NYCB -0.75% Trust. She will be joined by the CEOs of the Lincoln Community Foundation, Barbara M. Bartle and Fraser Nelson, head of the Community Foundation of Utah. Bartle will by joined by Paula Metcalf, Vice President for Gift Planning and General Counsel.

More about The New York Community Trust:

Since 1924, The New York Community Trust, the City’s community foundation, has helped make donors’ charitable dreams come true by funding the nonprofits that make our city a vital and secure place. We help donors find flexible, efficient, and rewarding ways to accomplish their charitable giving, and we work with lawyers and financial advisors to help their clients incorporate charity into financial and estate plans.

We also work with nonprofits, other funders, and government to craft solutions to problems. We make grants in the five boroughs, to organizations large and small, to those we’ve worked with over the years and those who are new to us. We are committed to sticking with significant issues that don’t lend themselves to quick or easy solutions, and look for projects that take fresh approaches to long-standing issues and that tackle emerging problems and opportunities.

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More about the Lincoln Community Foundation:

The mission of the Lincoln Community Foundation is to provide leadership and resources to help build a great city. Community foundations are well positioned to develop local solutions because they can engage the public, private and philanthropic sectors. We serve as faithful stewards for the many types of philanthropic gifts and help donors create a lasting legacy of giving. We serve as community leaders to identify needs and opportunities. We convene diverse voices from government, business, nonprofit organizations and citizens to craft responses and solutions. We encourage and support the many nonprofit organizations in our community that contribute so much to our quality of life.

More out the Community Foundation of Utah:

The Community Foundation of Utah is a catalyst for philanthropy that is innovative, inclusive and sustainable. We gather assets and ideas to serve the people places and causes of Utah for good, and for ever.

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Lorie A. Slutsky, The New York Community Trust

Slutsky’s bio:

Lorie has been the president of The Trust since 1990. She began her career at The Trust in 1977 as a grantmaker with responsibility for education, housing, government and urban affairs, and neighborhood revitalization. She was named executive vice president in 1987, when she assumed responsibility for strategic planning, personnel and budget management, and oversight of all departments.

Lorie received her B.A. from Colgate University, where she served for nine years as a trustee and chairman of the budget committee, and her M.A. from The New School, where she also was as a trustee. She sits on the Chief Judge’s Task Force To Expand Access to Civil Legal Services in New York State and chairs its RFP Work Group. She is also on the board of Independent Sector. She also is a director of two for-profit companies: Alliance Bernstein Capital Management and AXA Financial.

Lorie is a former board chairman of the Council on Foundations and BoardSource, and former vice chairman of The Foundation Center.

Bartle’s bio:

Barbara serves as the chief executive officer of the Foundation. She has 40 years of experience in fundraising, program development, public engagement and teaching. Barbara most recently served as the President of the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools for 18 years. She is a member of the Nebraska Partnership for Philanthropic Planning and served on the board for the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Barbara is past president of Rotary Club 14 and the Nebraska Repertory Theater and has served on numerous nonprofit boards in Lincoln. She is past president of the National School Foundation Association.

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Paula Metcalf, Lincoln Community Foundation

Metfalf’s bio:

Paula Metcalf was appointed Vice President for Gift Planning and General Counsel in July 2010. Prior to joining the Lincoln Community Foundation, Paula had a solo law practice in Lincoln focusing on business and estate planning, probate and business transactions. Before her solo practice, she practiced at Knudsen, Berkheimer, Richardson and Endacott in Lincoln for 24 years. Paula is a member of Lincoln Estate Planning Counsel and has served on the Lincoln Bar Association Board of Trustees. She has served as a speaker for multiple continuing legal education seminars. Paula is a 1979 graduate of the University of Nebraska Law College.

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Fraser Nelson, Community Foundation of Utah

Nelson’s bio:

Fraser has held positions of leadership in nonprofit organizations large and small across the United States. In Utah, she led the Disability Law Center for 10 years, helping to create ‘And Justice for All” and the Community Legal Center. In 2008, she founded the Community Foundation of Utah, building it from an idea to a $39 million catalyst for the common good. Fraser is a mentor, teacher, trainer, advocate and leader. She has been widely recognized for her contributions, including the Utah State Bar’s Community Member of the Year, one of Utah Business magazine’s ‘30 Women to Watch’, and, closest to her heart, the Pete Suazo Social Justice Award.

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Entrepreneur Joins Group Effort To Cure Millions

Jaykumar Menon is working to save the lives of millions of people, including those threatened by Ebola in Africa. The diseases that afflict the developing world don’t offer the revenue potential of rich country diseases and therefore lack investment dollars. Jay is leading an effort to apply crowdsourcing and open source concepts to find treatments for diseases that plague the Global South.

The Open Source Pharma project, by gathering hundreds or even thousands of researchers to work on open source drug development projects, can accelerate drug development and reduce the costs.

On Thursday, September 4, 2014 at 2:00 Eastern, Jay will join me for a live discussion about his inspiring work. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.

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

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Jay’s bio:

Jaykumar Menon is an international human rights lawyer, scholar, and social entrepreneur. Currently a Professor of Practice at the McGill University Institute for International Development, he focuses his research, teaching, and practice on open innovation approaches (e.g. crowdsourcing, innovation prizes, and open IP) to realizing human rights, especially next generation economic rights (e.g the rights to food, water, and health). He has pioneered a number of concepts recently backed by the international community (Gates, Rockefeller, Soros, Tata foundations; DFID; AusAid; CIDA; World Bank; with launches by the heads of state of the UK, Australia, and Canada) with a total funding of $110+M, aimed at making a large dent in severe problems affecting over a billion poor people.

Previously he led the international development and education programs at the X PRIZE Foundation, an radical innovation group funded by the founders of Google and Facebook that awards $10+ million incentive prizes to teams that achieve targeted “radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity.” He founded X PRIZE’s operations in India and has worked on innovation and development with WFP, IIT-Delhi, the UN Secretary-General’s Office, the Prime Minister’s Office of the Government of India, and other groups.

As a human rights lawyer at the New York City-based Center for Constitutional Rights, working alongside activists and community groups, he won a string of victories in high profile cases. He represented the student leaders of Tiananmen Square against the ex-Premier of China, helped win a $4 billion judgment on behalf of victims of the Bosnian genocide against Radovan Karadzic, helped represent the family of Nigerian environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa in a landmark corporations and human rights suit against Royal Dutch Shell ($15M settlement), freed a man from death row in Indiana, and as the fifteenth lawyer to take up the case, hunted through the prisons of New York for the real killer and helped exonerate a man named David Wong who has served over a decade of a life sentence for murder. As a scholar, he has written articles in top peer-reviewed international human rights law reference journals and books, including those published by the Oxford University Press. As an entrepreneur, he has co-founded a venture-funded Internet company with current seven-figure revenues. He is a published creative writer, having served as an editor of a book published by McSweeney’s, and written a short story in an anthology that collectively won the American Book Award. He has also worked at McKinsey. He holds a JD and a Master of International Affairs from Columbia and completed a BA and one year of medical school at Brown. He hopes to creatively effect large-scale and just social change.

Learn more about Open Source Pharma on Facebook.

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Advisor Predicts Rapid Growth In Renewable Energy

Clean Energy Advisors is helping investors to put their money to work to create a cleaner environment and a more sustainable world.

CEO Chris Warren explains:

CEA is committed to the fundamentals of impact investing. Simply stated, impact investing is deploying investment capital in places where beneficial social and environmental change can be achieved. Every dollar invested with CEA goes to work to build renewable energy projects that reduce our dependence on fossil fuels for electricity production. These projects create a more stable electric supply and help protect the environment for the benefit of future generations.

CEA creates innovative investment structures that are opening the door for a much larger group of investors to take part in direct ownership of renewable energy assets.

The renewable energy industry is undergoing a fundamental shift in project financing which will result in exponential growth during the coming decade.

On Thursday, September 4, 2014 at 6:00 PM Eastern, Chris will join me for a live discussion about impact investing and clean energy. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.

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

More about Clean Energy Advisors:

Clean Energy Advisors provides asset management and financial advisory services to impact investors in the sustainable energy sector. We conduct due-diligence on hundreds of renewable energy projects each year. Those that meet our requirements are matched with investors and funded. In addition to individual project financing we are creating innovative ways, such as our managed renewable energy portfolios, for a larger number of investors to participate in the exceptional returns and tax advantaged income streams provided by sustainable energy investments. By creating sound investment opportunities that meet the demand of today’s investors we are on a mission to “Make Clean, Green Energy a Reality”.

We are committed to the fundamentals of IMPACT INVESTING. Simply stated, IMPACT INVESTING is deploying investment capital in places where beneficial social and environmental change can be achieved. Every dollar invested with CEA goes to work to build renewable energy projects that reduce our dependence on fossil fuels for electricity production. These projects create a more stable electric supply and help protect the environment for the benefit of future generations.

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Chris’s bio:

Mr. Warren has over twenty-five years of experience in the financial industry and along the way he has acquired a unique set of skills and experiences through roles that include managing assets for high net worth investors, leading a major division of a Fortune 500 company, building three successful businesses from inception, and overseeing complex financial arrangements for over US $800 million in renewable energy assets. In addition to understanding the needs of the investor, Mr. Warren has achieved technical proficiency with all aspects of solar photovoltaic (PV) projects. Mr. Warren completed his undergraduate and graduate studies at Duke University. He holds a B.A., MBA, and M.E.M. His technical training includes a Certification in Renewable Energy Management from North Carolina State University and training in Basic and Advanced Solar PV Design from Solar Energy International.

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Award Winning Nonprofit Reports On Results

In early 2013, the Your Mark on the World Center, with support from an anonymous benefactor, awarded two prizes to small nonprofit organizations. The Senase Project was one of the winning nonprofits.

Founder Chris Toone reports on how the school project in Ghana has been completed:

Originally our organization began after studying abroad for four months and seeing the world. During our trip to Ghana, we found our way to the small rural village of Senase, where the people welcomed us with open arms. While here, we traveled to the village of Akatim for the school day where we found not only a lack of a school building, but also a lack of hope. This trip is what ultimately created The Senase Project.

I recently returned from a trip to Ghana in April after the school was commissioned and handed over to the village of Akatim on April 14th, 2014. During this trip we met with community leaders, teachers, and members of Government including the representative for Ghanaian Parliament and the Municipal Chief Executive Officer to discuss about ways to keep the school sustainable.

During this trip we also met with Ghana Health Services to start collaborations on a medical clinic in the village of Senase. Parliament recently released funds to rennovate a building in the village, so a four treatment room clinic is well underway. We are figuring out ways to provide the clinic with equipment needed in order to operate efficiently. The clinic will allow accessibile basic care such as outpaitent care, prenatal and midwife care, as well as outpatient care and other general medical needs.

On Thursday, September 4, 2014 at 5:00 Eastern, Chris will join me for a live update on the project, to share stories of the process and otherwise report on their success. Tune in here then.

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

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More about the Senase Project:

The Senase Project is a 100% volunteer non-profit organization that strives to eradicate poverty through community development. Through strategic partnerships with all levels of Government, from the community leaders to members of Parliament, we support projects that otherwise would not be financially possible. Our goal is to empower the people to help themselves and develop their communities. Building a school in a rural village will not necessarily, eradicate power, but it will provide the community with the gift of education in order to help their own people. We pride ourselves on the concept of Ubuntu, which translates to I am, because we are. We truly believe that in order to benefit the people as a whole, we must work directly with those in need. We have just recently finished a seven classroom primary school in the village of Akatim, Ghana, and are working closely with Ghana Health Services to find ways to contribute to a medical clinic in the village of Senase, Ghana.

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Christopher’s bio:

I’m originally from Buffalo, NY, however I graduated from Ithaca College in 2013 with a degree in Athletic Training, and I am now pursuing my Masters in sports medicine at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. I’ve grown up volunteering and I’ve known for a while that I’ve wanted to be a part of something special. For me, being a co-founder and current CEO of The Senase Project was just what I was looking for. After having the opportunity to travel the world for four months I realized just how interconnected everyone is, how there is so much wrong with the world, but also what is right with it and how easy it is to make an impact. All of that and more inspired me to team up with my peers to form what is now known as The Senase Project. Although we are a 100% volunteer organization, I’m incredibly fortunate to be working alongside of such dedicated individuals day in and day out.

Leader Leads from the Heart

My network was recently blessed by the addition of Hugh Ballou, who first hit my radar when my Forbes colleague and friend Cheryl Snapp Conner wrote about him, the musical conductor turned leadership guru.

Hugh’s real passion in life is helping faith-based organizations and other nonprofits to improve their performance. I share his passion and am grateful for his skills and leadership.

On Thursday, September 4, 2014 at 11:00 Eastern, Hugh, who is the president and founder of SynerVision Leadership Foundation, will join me for a live discussion about his work and his insights into leading nonprofits. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.

More about the SynerVision Leadership Foundation:

SynerVision Leadership Foundation provides a pathway of enlightened engagement for organizations seeking transformation. SVLF helps congregations, nonprofits, and communities seeking ways to serve well and respond to the tide of global change who feel lost and uncertain, battered and dispirited. These seekers look with dismay at the unproductive previous attempts they have made at organizational change and improvement. Consultants, seminars and books have promised much to these searching communities and delivered little more than reworked methods from times now long past. Indeed, we are in a time when methods and manuals, quick fixes and weekend seminars do not provide lasting transformation.

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Hugh’s bio:

Hugh Ballou is The Transformational Leadership Strategist and Corporate Culture Architect working with visionary CEOs, pastors, and nonprofit leaders and their teams to develop a purpose-driven high performance collaboration culture that significantly increases productivity, profits, and job satisfaction, through dramatically decreasing confusion, conflicts, and under-functioning. With 40 years as musical conductor, Ballou uses the leadership skills utilized daily by the conductor in teaching relevant leadership skills and showing leaders in business, church, or nonprofit organizations the power of creating a high performance culture that responds to the nuances of the leader as a skilled orchestra responds to the musical director.

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Nonprofits Partner To Foster Culture Of Health

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

A new partnership between the American Heart Association (AHA, for brevity’s sake) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (similarly, RWJF) aims to build a “Culture of Health” in America.

The initiative assumes a broader need for change than simply tweaking the healthcare system, massive as that task would be, in order to create an environment where Americans not only have access to healthcare, but also to healthy food and where people support one another in making healthy choices.

Together, the AHA and RWJF are working to accomplish several objectives:

  • Abundant access to healthy food
  • Safe access to opportunities for physical activity
  • Environments for eating, shopping and working that are smoke-free
  • Support from peers for making healthy choices
  • Greater access to quality healthcare

The AHA has a specific and related goal to improve cardiovascular healthy by 20% and reduce mortality from cardiovascular disease and stroke by 20% by 2020.

A spokesperson for the RWJF explained, “At RWJF we know that health is influenced by education, housing, income, and numerous other factors outside of health care. This acknowledgement drives much of our work to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all Americans to live longer and healthier lives, now and for generations to come. Among our broad areas of focus are: healthy weight for all children; high quality, cost effective health care coverage for all; improving the lives and opportunities of the nation’s most vulnerable populations; pioneering ideas, technologies and trends that can transform health and health care; and educating health care practitioners for the 21st Century.”

On Thursday, September 4, 2014 at 12 Eastern, Nancy Brown, AHA CEO, and Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF CEO, will join me for a live discussion about the joint initiative.

[At the time of the interview, I will insert a video player here. Bookmark this page and come back then to watch the interview live. Replays will be available here thereafter.]

More about the American Heart Association:

The American Heart Association (AHA) is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary health organization. Its purpose is to help prevent America’s number 1 and number 4 killers, heart disease and stroke. The AHA is an advocate of good health, promoting positive behaviors, nutritious eating habits and healthy lifestyles. It also funds innovative research, fights for stronger public health policies and provides tools and information to save and improve lives. Headquartered in Dallas, the nationwide organization includes 144 local offices and nearly 2,700 employees. The American Stroke Association (ASA) was created as a division in 1997 to bring together the organization’s stroke-related activities.

More about the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:

For more than 40 years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve the health and health care of all Americans. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted solely to the public’s health, we have a unique capacity and responsibility to address the most pressing health and health care issues facing our society. We are working to foster environments that promote health and improve how health care in America is delivered and paid for, and how well it performs for patients and their families. We promote change through partnerships and collaboration, with the goal of building a Culture of Health for all Americans.

Nancy Brown, AHA CEO

Brown’s bio:

Nancy Brown has been Chief Executive Officer of the American Heart Association since 2009. During her tenure as CEO, the association has become a global leader in the discovery and dissemination of heart disease and stroke science. Under her leadership, the association announced its bold 2020 Health Impact Goal: To improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent.

Brown has led the organization to significant advances, including a laser focus on prevention and improving cardiovascular health; instilling a culture of innovation spearheaded by the association’s Innovation Think Tank comprising staff executives and volunteer thought leaders; creating the Vision for Volunteerism initiative to generate even more significant opportunities for volunteers to impact our mission; developing the organization’s first-ever integrated global strategy; and launching new programs to expand individual giving/major gifts and increase AHA revenue and mission impact in small communities.

Brown has held multiple leadership positions at the association since her start in 1986, including eight years as Chief Operating Officer before being named CEO.

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF CEO

Lavizzo-Mourey’s bio:

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, is president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), a position she has held since 2003. Under her leadership, RWJF has researched, evaluated, and implemented transformative programs tackling the nation’s most pressing health issues, with the goal of building a national Culture of Health.

A specialist in geriatrics, Lavizzo-Mourey came to the Foundation from the University of Pennsylvania, where she served as the Sylvan Eisman Professor of Medicine and Health Care Systems. She also directed Penn’s Institute on Aging and was chief of geriatric medicine at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine. Lavizzo-Mourey also served as deputy administrator of what is now the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, and worked on the White House Health Care Reform Task Force, co-chairing the working group on quality of care. She has served on numerous federal advisory committees, including the Task Force on Aging Research, the National Committee for Vital and Health Statistics, and the President’s Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry.

Lavizzo-Mourey did her undergraduate work at the University of Washington and the State University of New York at Stony Brook and earned her medical degree from Harvard Medical School. Lavizzo-Mourey completed her residency in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania. She trained in geriatrics at Penn, and then earned an MBA from the Wharton School.

Lavizzo-Mourey is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the President’s Council for Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. She serves on the Smithsonian Board of Regents and several other boards of directors. She is the author of several books and dozens of articles. She is the recipient of numerous honorary doctorates and other awards, including commendations for her work from the Harvard School of Public Health, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the American College of Physicians, the National Library of Medicine, the American Medical Women’s Association, the National Medical Association, and the University of Pennsylvania. She and her husband of nearly 40 years have two adult children and one grandchild.

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Noora Health Named a Finalist in Gratitude Awards Competition; Winners to Be Chosen at SOCAP

Noora Health, led by Katy Ashe and Edith Elliott, has been named as one of nine finalists in the 2014 Gratitude Awards from the Gratitude Network to be awarded at SOCAP this coming week in San Francisco. The finalists were chosen from among 32 semi-finalists, who were chosen from among nearly 150 applicants. To learn more about the awards and SOCAP, see our story in Forbes. You can read all our coverage of the Gratitude Awards, including profiles of all nine finalists here.

Four winners will be announced on Thursday, September 4, 2014. We obtained a copy of the application from Noora Health so we could share it with you below:

Please describe your venture:

Noora Health trains marginalized patient families with the health skills they need to improve outcomes.

What is the problem are you solving and why is this important?

Noora Health delivers high-impact health skill training to at-risk patients and their families. By training families with simple, low-risk skills, we enable patients and their families to take care into their own hands and homes. Patients and caregivers around the world face a similar need - they are desperate for actionable healthcare information, but after Googling in desperation, are unable to find reliable, and easily digestible information. Leveraging human-centered design, Noora Health has developed a suite of services that can be implemented in both high- and low-resource settings. We meet our users where they are and, with our tools, are able to lower preventable readmissions, reduce length of stay, highly improve quality of care and patient satisfaction. Hospitals use our simple, interactive and low-cost platform, as an effective tool to prepare patients for a safe and speedy recovery at home.

What is your solution and business model?

As a non-profit, the core objective of Noora Health is to serve marginalized populations. Currently, through a partnership with a chain of low-cost hospitals in India, Narayana Health, we have trained over 7,000 patient family members with our caregiver training program. Coupling video-based lessons with in-person practice training, we teach family members how to coach basic physical therapy exercises, encourage proper dietary/lifestyle changes, and recognize early warning signs of medical emergencies. We create the opportunity for medically informed, round the clock support, improved recovery, and a safer transition home. Noora Health leverages the latest in digital education technology to deliver personalized, disease-specific education via a tablet-based application for patients and caregivers. Through our fun, interactive, skill-based learning, we make sure that patient families really have everything they need to succeed after a major diagnosis or surgery; replacing anxiety with competency and easing the transition from the hospital to the home. We cut out repetitive, generalized, scattered information from the workflow of doctors and nurses, freeing up more time to have meaningful, patient-specific discussions. We sell our technology in the domestic market and use the revenue to bring our tech to marginalized populations.

What is unique patentable, or otherwise not seen elsewhere about your venture?

Our technology platform that we developed using human centered design was created specifically to meet the needs of disenfranchised patient populations around the world. Our platform is available in 6+ languages so that despite language gaps, people can get the medical care and information that they need. We leverage the best in health tech talent and technology in the Bay Area with some of the biggest medical problems in India to solve massive problems at an astounding scale.

Please describe who your customers are and how you know they want your product?

Our customers are marginalized patient populations in India and the US, especially those who don’t have access to health education in their first language in a hospital environment. We know that people want this because we have spent the last 2 years working in Indian and US hospitals trying to solve this problem with a health knowledge gap.

In which country does the target population your company serves reside?

India

Please comment on the strength of the venture’s leadership:

We are a team of all stars and we met at the Stanford Design School while pursuing different graduate degrees. With several decades of experience our team brings together talents in design, engineering, global health, and medicine to form the dream team. We have led the team in India and US for the last 2 years

Please describe the impact your company will have or is having, the way that you measure your impact, and the scale you plan to reach?

We measure our outcomes obsessively. In our patient population in India we are: Reducing surgical complications by 36%, reducing readmissions by 23%, improving patient satisfaction by 54% and have saved 153 lives to date. We plan to reach 1.5M patients per year by 2016.

How is your organization innovative? Have collaborations with others enabled that innovation?

We are partnered with Stanford University, Narayana Health, Sutter Health, and other large health organizations that allow us to develop a best in class product and deploy it at massive scale.

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Sevamob Named a Finalist in Gratitude Awards Competition; Winners to Be Chosen at SOCAP

Sevamob led by Shelley Saxena, has been named as one of nine finalists in the 2014 Gratitude Awards from the Gratitude Network to be awarded at SOCAP this coming week in San Francisco. The finalists were chosen from among 32 semi-finalists, who were chosen from among nearly 150 applicants. To learn more about the awards and SOCAP, see our story in Forbes. You can read all our coverage of the Gratitude Awards, including profiles of all nine finalists here.

Four winners will be announced on Thursday, September 4, 2014. We obtained a copy of the application from Sevamob so we could share it with you below:

Please describe your venture:

Sevamob is fundamentally transforming primary healthcare via mobile clinics and a tele-health marketplace. Our mobile clinics deliver care to groups on an annual subscription model. Basic primary care, medicines and rapid testing are delivered on group’s premises. More advanced care is delivered via back-office doctors for family medicine, pediatrics & gynecology, 24x7 call center and cashless hospitalization benefits. Our marketplace enables patients to get video consultations, second opinions or in-clinic appointments from participating healthcare providers.

What is the problem are you solving and why is this important?

Average life expectancy in India is 64 years vs 78-81 years in Developed countries and 74 years in countries like China. A key reason for this is lack of availability of and little awareness about primary healthcare. Our mission is to fundamentally transform primary health care via mobile clinics and a tele-health marketplace.

What is your solution and business model?

We provide 2 services: a) Primary healthcare via mobile clinics to schools, employers, orphanages, old age homes and other groups on an annual subscription model - Our primary healthcare is delivered through mobile clinics staffed with doctors carrying Android tablets - At signup, team captures patient demographics and medical record in our software, which can operate offline in remote areas and gives subscriber a health card - Basic primary care, rapid testing and medicines for common ailments are delivered on group’s premises. Care includes OPD, dental, vision screening, BMI and diet plans, pathology test as needed (Blood group, Anemia, Blood pressure, Blood sugar, Arthritis, ECG), health education, sex education etc. As part of rapid testing, we are able to screen for HIV, Syphilis, Malaria, Hepatitis B/C, drug abuse starting for as little as Rs 20/test and give reports in minutes - Advanced issues are handled via back-office appointments for Family Medicine, Gynecology and Pediatrics and a 24x7 call center - Awareness is provided by monthly SMS health messages based on gender, age and location - Select plans include hospitalization benefits for up-to INR 50,000/year and accident insurance for INR 100,000 - Subscriptions starts from Rs 225 / year for children and Rs 600 / year for adults (Min 4 visits per year) b) Tele-health via market place - In Jan 2014, we launched India’s first tele-health marketplace, which enables patients to get video consultations, second opinions and in-clinic appointments from participating healthcare providers. Along with new revenue, healthcare providers get no-charge practice management, electronic health record and home care as part of the platform - Our revenue model is online transaction fees and data revenue.

What is unique patentable, or otherwise not seen elsewhere about your venture?

  • More touch points than any other provider in the market place (mobile van, call-center, SMS, back-office appointments, health marketplace)
  • Our subscription model is uniquely positioned to influence health outcomes instead of just ‘fees for service’
  • Unlike fixed clinics/kiosks, our mobile clinic model has much lower capex and higher flexibility
  • Unlike web/phone based models, in-person interaction with doctors helps us a) Service low income consumers in semi-rural and urban areas b) engage and maintain a long-term relationship with the customer
  • Our mobile technology, which can operate without network, helps streamline operations
  • Focus on group customers helps us service large number of patients per doctor in a short time  
  • By bundling healthcare with insurance, we provide end-to-end care - Our tele-health marketplace is the first service of its kind in India
  • Data analytics helps us manage and prove health outcomes

Please describe who your customers are and how you know they want your product?

Our target is Tier 2, 3 and 4 towns and cities in India. This is an addressable market of ~377 M users. Our target market is ~200M users and is defined as follows: a) Mobile clinics - Students (>= Rs 250 / month school fees) - Employees (service, sales, support, ad-hoc) - Other groups (sex workers, orphanages, old age homes etc) - Rs 5000 - 25,000 monthly family income b) Tele-health market place - Internet savvy consumers In just 2 years, we are serving 5000 subscribers in 3 states - UP, Karnataka, National Capital Region. Our renewal rates are above 70%.

In which country does the target population your company serves reside?

India

Please comment on the strength of the venture’s leadership:

  • CEO, Shelley Saxena: Managed several profitable multi-million dollar products for IBM. Co-founded profitable mobile technology company Saasmob
  • COO, Shyam Tandon: More than 25 years of experience managing large sales networks in rural and urban areas for MNCs like Glaxo
  • Chief Health Officer, Dr Darina Stankeyeva: Board certified in Internal Medicine. Trained at Emory University.
  • VP of Biz-dev, Bipin Arora: 15 years of sales, marketing and operations work experience in IT, ITtes/Telecom. Launched and operated Rural BPO in Uttarakhand 4 member advisory board:
  • Dr Barry Patel, CEO TTM Inc: Healthcare entrepreneur with 2 decades of experience in managing health outcomes
  • Saloni Malhotra, Founder/Director of venture backed DesiCrew
  • Nirav Desai, CEO HandsOnTelehealth: Accomplished telemedicine executive with 22 years of experience
  • Katie Elizabeth, Program Director TIE Atlanta: Founder and Co-Chair of TIE X and Program Director of TIE Atlanta

Please describe the impact your company will have or is having, the way that you measure your impact, and the scale you plan to reach?

We track a) Active subscribers b) Renewal rates We plan to scale from 5000 mobile clinic subscribers in March 2014 to more than a million subscribers by March 2019. Our goal is to get to 37.5 unique visitors on our tele-health marketplace.

How is your organization innovative? Have collaborations with others enabled that innovation?

We have partnered with the following organizations: a) Alere: Rapid testing kits for HIV, Syphilis, Dengue, Malaria, Drug Abuse, etc. b) New India Insurance: Accident insurance, cashless hospitalization insurance c) Swasti: Replicate model in other states in India d) Nationwide docs: Back-office doctors e) Azadi: Menstrual pads f) VisionSpring: Eye glasses h) Glaxo: Nutrition supplements.

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Drinkwell Named a Finalist in Gratitude Awards Competition; Winners to Be Chosen at SOCAP

Drinkwell, led by Minhaj Chowdhury, has been named as one of nine finalists in the 2014 Gratitude Awards from the Gratitude Network to be awarded at SOCAP this coming week in San Francisco. The finalists were chosen from among 32 semi-finalists, who were chosen from among nearly 150 applicants. To learn more about the awards and SOCAP, see our story in Forbes. You can read all our coverage of the Gratitude Awards, including profiles of all nine finalists here.

Four winners will be announced on Thursday, September 4, 2014. We obtained a copy of the application from Drinkwell so we could share it with you below:

Please describe your venture:

Drinkwell transforms the arsenic and fluoride water crisis affecting over 200 million people across rural India and Bangladesh into entrepreneurial opportunity by blending proprietary filtration technology with a franchise business model.

What is the problem are you solving and why is this important?

Drinkwell is tackling the largest mass poisoning in human history - the arsenic and fluoride water crisis - affecting over 200 million people in India and Bangladesh alone. 77 million people across Bangladesh are at-risk of arsenic poisoning in what the World Health Organization calls the “largest mass poisoning in human history.” Studies from Yale and Columbia find 1 in 5 deaths occurring due to arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh, resulting in 230,000 annual deaths. The crisis impacts the economy as studies found affected-households losing 20% of income due to arsenic. UNICEF anticipates a $13.1 billion loss in GDP due to the arsenic crisis over the next 20 years.

What is your solution and business model?

Drinkwell provides clean water through a “Select, Build, Sell, Collect” model. In the Select stage, a Drinkwell Committee comprised of local government officials, NGOs, business partners, and school and religious officials is formed. The Committee selects an entrepreneur who owns a contaminated tubewell. In the Build stage, an $8,000 system is installed over one month using local materials and workers. The system has been refined through over 200 successful deployments across India, Laos, Cambodia, and Nepal. The franchisee also hires 2 drivers and 1 caretaker to run the plant. Franchisees then Sell clean drinking water for $3 a month and earn 40% of monthly gross profits. Households can purchase a “Drinkwell Card” in local shops that have 30 punch holes for redeeming 20L jugs of water daily. Each system can, at a minimum, serve 600 households on a daily basis (capacity can be easily increased). Finally, Drinkwell “collects” customer data through Drinkwell water card and liter output data through a hard-wired meter to guard against false reporting. This output data fuels customer growth.

What is unique patentable, or otherwise not seen elsewhere about your venture?

Despite a collective spend of $800 million by NGOs (UNICEF, BRAC) and the government (Department of Public Health Engineering, Ministry of Health) over the past 20 years, 35 million Bengalis still drink arsenic-laced water. The UN cites three reasons for why 60% of all water systems fail within 2 years. First is the lack of locally-sourced solutions. While UNICEF’s systems require expensive import media to ensure maintenance, Drinkwell uses novel, patented filtration technology that is 100% locally-sourced, delivers 40% more water, is 66% cheaper than reverse osmosis, requires 17x less electricity, and reduces waste by a 6x order of magnitude. This technology has seen 200 deployments across 4 countries and been published in academic journals. Second is the lack of community buy-in. While BRAC uses a committee structure for buy-in, members rarely attend meetings due to a lack of incentives. Drinkwell uses profit-sharing to ensure buy-in. Third, government-installed wells are known to provide “poor people water” as they exist in crisis areas. Drinkwell uses celebrity endorsements under the “Drinkwell, Livewell, Bewell” motto to show how even the privileged enjoy our water. This approach is revolutionary in how it truly engages locals as co-creators of a development intervention.

Please describe who your customers are and how you know they want your product?

Drinkwell’s target market is the 12 million households in Bangladesh (5.5M) and India (6.5M) that demand arsenic-free water. Villagers have demonstrated a strong demand for clean water by showing their willingness to pay for arsenic-free water through the 200 pilot systems installed between 2008-2013. As the median monthly income is $62/month in rural Bangladesh, and $41/month in rural India, preliminary market testing in the Manikganj District of Bangladesh and West Bengal region of India show that villagers are willing to pay 10-14% of their monthly income for safe water. Aside from long-term health benefits, customers pay for our water not only because of its superior taste, but also because when used for laundry, Drinkwell water yields whiter whites (iron-laced water stains clothes red); provides tastier fish and rice when used for cooking due to less briny water; and gives smoother hair for women who currently use iron-laced water during showers.

In which country does the target population your company serves reside?

Bangladesh

Please comment on the strength of the venture’s leadership:

The Drinkwell team has over 30 years of execution experience deploying water systems in India and Bangladesh. CEO Minhaj Chowdhury has 5 years experience managing multi-stakeholder water projects in Bangladesh with BRAC, the largest NGO in the world, and Johns Hopkins. CTO Mike German, who has concluded a Fulbright operationalizing systems in India, Cambodia, as well as DZ development testing in Kenya. will ensure proper deployment of Drinkwell Systems across India and Bangladesh. R&D Director Dr. Arup SenGupta is the inventor of the system and will help in stakeholder engagement, commercialization efforts, and future product development.

Please describe the impact your company will have or is having, the way that you measure your impact, and the scale you plan to reach?

Drinkwell will create social, economic, and health impact for 100 million people in 10 years by converting 3% of the 1.4 million arsenic-laced tubewells in Bangladesh into enterprises. Socially, Drinkwell empowers women by delivering water to households, eliminating the need to spend 5 hours a day sourcing water and allowing girls to attend school and mothers to take part in income-generating activities. Arsenicosis victims are unable to attain jobs due to the presence of skin lesions on their bodies. Children are ostracized at school and daughters are unable to marry. Drinkwell removes iron (stomach aches/loss of appetite) and fluoride (joint pain and fluorosis). Economically, each plant creates 3 jobs. When used for laundry, Drinkwell yields whiter whites (iron-laced water stains clothes red); provides tastier fish and rice when used for cooking due to less briny water; and gives smoother hair for women who currently use iron-laced water during showers.

How is your organization innovative? Have collaborations with others enabled that innovation?

Drinkwell is innovative in how it has already attracted joint venture interest with large local for-profit partners such as Ananta Group, a $200M Bangladesh-based conglomerate who has the infrastructure to scale-up operations, and investor interest from a Principal at KKR thereby ushering in new partners into impact investing. Drinkwell uses arsenic removal technology that has been certified by the West Bengal Public Health Engineering Department. In 1999, Dr. Arup SenGupta installed the first arsenic removal system in West Bengal. Today, over 200,000 rural villagers across West Bengal (India), Laos, and Cambodia drink safe water from this technology through 200 installations. All 200 systems are still run by the community. Many have generated enough revenue to purchase a truck to grow coverage areas. Through this experience, we have learned how people are more willing to pay for water when their neighbor is selling the water, as opposed to a large NGO.

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Jail Education Solutions Named a Finalist in Gratitude Awards Competition; Winners to Be Chosen at SOCAP

Jail Education Solutions, led by Brian Hill, has been named as one of nine finalists in the 2014 Gratitude Awards from the Gratitude Network to be awarded at SOCAP this coming week in San Francisco. The finalists were chosen from among 32 semi-finalists, who were chosen from among nearly 150 applicants. To learn more about the awards and SOCAP, see our story in Forbes. You can read all our coverage of the Gratitude Awards, including profiles of all nine finalists here.

Four winners will be announced on Thursday, September 4, 2014. We obtained a copy of the application from Jail Education Solutions so we could share it with you below:

Please describe your venture:

We focus on increasing education access for individuals in the criminal justice system. Our tablet-based system enables self-driven learning and exploration in k-12/GED education, college classes, employment, community resources, treatment, and legal information. Our ultimate goal is to provide tools that will help formerly incarcerated individuals succeed upon release.

What is the problem are you solving and why is this important?

Over 50 percent of inmates return to jail a short time after being released (recidivism). This drives the corrections budget to over $74B and burdens communities, families, and taxpayers. Investment in inmate education leads to reduced recidivism (43% in aggregate) and lower taxpayer liability (400%+ return by year 3), however, programming is extremely limited because because it is politically challenging, operationally difficult, and expensive in the traditional model. Further, current programming does not meet inmate demand.

What is your solution and business model?

JES helps meet and expand inmate demand for edification by offering an incentive based learning platform that rewards inmates for engaging in educational, vocational, and treatment oriented programs. Benefits not only include transferable achievements like a GED, college credit, and time off their sentence, but also short term rewards like improved entertainment options on demand. Because JES rents the devices directly to inmates (who spend over $2B on discretionary items annually), there is no cost to the tax payer making this a politically feasible and even desirable solution for correctional leadership and elected officials. JES is further building in sponsorship opportunities and other ways to earn the tablet so that all can have access to such a vast set of resources.

What is unique patentable, or otherwise not seen elsewhere about your venture?

The custom incentive based platform, the secure tablet enclosure/case, and some of the educational content offered all represent unique IP of JES.

Please describe who your customers are and how you know they want your product?

We have two customers: the facilities and the inmates. Facilities have expressed their interest through signed agreements and funding from some of the largest institutions in the US. They see this as an incredible way to bring productive activities that increase safety and meet inmate demand while not burdening their budget. Inmates have also expressed their interest in similar offerings through engagement with costly and logistically challenging correspondence courses, long waiting lists for prison courses, as well as through high purchase rates of digital songs and other entertainment options in certain facilities.

In which country does the target population your company serves reside?

United States

Please comment on the strength of the venture’s leadership:

With my General Mills sales and marketing I know I can sell this into jails. Freya, former Chief of staff to now Mayor Deblasio, has extensive experience working with this underserved population and will guide content curation to create the most value for inmates. On the technology front, Mike is all things hardware. His experience in setting up secure networks like he did for Caterpillar and the banking sector will be critical for this high security environment. Igor as the chief architect on key projects for Groupon, Sears, and more over 15 years, reveals brilliant development and team leadership skills.

Please describe the impact your company will have or is having, the way that you measure your impact, and the scale you plan to reach?

We are committed to determining effectiveness in relation to a range of indicators. We are partnering with the Urban Institute to conduct a multi-site process and outcome evaluation of our programming. Working with the Urban Institute, we have identified pilot sites where the tablets can be studied in several comparable housing units/facilities. The study will include a control group that does not receive a tablet, and two experimental groups — one that receives tablets for free, and one that rents the devices. In addition to analyzing user engagement, the study would include a pre- and post- survey component and include administrative data. Following release, researchers will track and evaluate outcomes related to employment, education, and recidivism, among others. We plan to scale across the US and be financially available for any size correctional facility.

How is your organization innovative? Have collaborations with others enabled that innovation?

We’re innovative in two key ways, first our platform and second our financial model. We’ve developed a unique incentivized educational structure that encourages learning through access to earned entertainment content. By engaging in educational courses they personally select, participants earn credits they can spend on programs such as music, games and movies. Regarding funding, while some facilities will choose to fund the tablets through their own budgets or grants, JES is designed to be self-sustaining at no cost to the taxpayer. The programs were specifically tailored for our direct customers - incarcerated individuals. By using a rental model, we ensure that our content remains relevant and effective, and is free from the uncertainties of outside funding. Our collaborations inmates and experts in Philadelphia, Illinois, California and NYC prisons/jails have been extremely instrumental in driving this targeted innovation.

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Springboard Collaborative Named a Finalist in Gratitude Awards Competition; Winners to Be Chosen at SOCAP

Springboard Collaborative, led by Alejandro Gac-Artigas, has been named as one of nine finalists in the 2014 Gratitude Awards from the Gratitude Network to be awarded at SOCAP this coming week in San Francisco. The finalists were chosen from among 32 semi-finalists, who were chosen from among nearly 150 applicants. To learn more about the awards and SOCAP, see our story in Forbes. You can read all our coverage of the Gratitude Awards, including profiles of all nine finalists here.

Four winners will be announced on Thursday, September 4, 2014. We obtained a copy of the application from Springboard Collaborative so we could share it with you below:

Please describe your venture:

Springboard Collaborative closes the reading achievement gap by coaching teachers, training family members, and incentivizing learning such that our scholars have the requisite skills to access life opportunities.

What is the problem are you solving and why is this important?

Children spend 75% of their waking hours outside the classroom, yet our nation does shockingly little to capture educational value from this time for low-income kids. Our system treats their families as liabilities, rather than assets. School communities in high-income neighborhoods can be characterized by the relationships between teachers, parents, and students. Within this triangle, children are able to make academic progress inside and out of school. In low-income communities, the triangle is broken. Our educational system focuses exclusively on the interaction between teachers and students, writing off parents as unwilling or unable to help. The result is akin to a two-legged stool. Students in low-income communities lack continuous access to learning at home and school, resulting in slow progress during the schoolyear and chronic regressions over the summer. Research finds that two-thirds of the achievement gap among high school students is attributable to summer learning loss in elementary school.

What is your solution and business model?

Our primary offering is Springboard Summer, an intensive, five-week summer program that combines daily reading instruction for Pre-K through 3rd graders, weekly workshops training parents to teach reading at home, and an incentive structure that awards educational resources to families in proportion to student reading gains. We also just successfully piloted Springboard Schoolyear, which trains teachers to effectively engage the families of their struggling readers in order to accelerate progress during the academic year. Understanding that revenue will fuel growth, we charge a fee-for-service to our school partners. School revenue currently covers 70% of our budget, and we aim to break even by 2018. Despite seemingly insurmountable budget shortages in Philadelphia, Springboard has grown from 42 to 1,600 kids in two years. That a district facing a $440M budget hole still chose to invest over $500K in Springboard Summer speaks to the value they see in our outcomes. This year, we won a competitive bidding process to become the exclusive K-3 summer learning provider for the city of Camden. For Springboard, philanthropy functions as the wedge that will get us to a financially sustainable scale. Schools match every dollar invested with two dollars from their own budgets, creating 3:1 leverage.

What is unique patentable, or otherwise not seen elsewhere about your venture?

Springboard is the only organization in the country to have cracked the code on low-income parent engagement. Our national education conversation focuses exclusively on the 25% of kids’ waking hours spent in school. Springboard’s innovation is simple but powerful: we redefine parent-teacher collaboration as an engine for school transformation. With over 90% of parents consistently attending teacher-led workshops, Springboard is ahead of the field proving a simple fact: parents are the single greatest and most underutilized natural resource in education. Most of our competitors treat “summer learning loss,” which we view as a symptom of an even deeper problem: Low-income parents have been left out of the process of educating their kids. Our solution tackles the reading achievement gap at its root. The industry standard for a high quality summer learning program is to generate a 2-month reading gain for $1800 per student. Springboard averages a 3.3-month gain at half the cost. Because parents are willing and able to teach their kids reading at home-without expecting to come on payroll-our model delivers big impact at a low cost. This enables us to charge a fee-for-service priced to make Springboard financially sustainable (even profitable) at scale.

Please describe who your customers are and how you know they want your product?

Our customers are school networks, and we know they want our product because they are willing to pay for it. In FY13, we tested the market by introducing a partnership fee of $235 per student (not including teacher labor, which schools pay for directly). Despite this new fee, all of our 2012 school partners renewed their contracts, and each school increased enrollment. Furthermore, we gained approval of a landmark contract that made Springboard the only district-funded summer learning provide in the city of Philadelphia. That a district facing a $440M budget hole still chose to invest over $500K in Springboard Summer speaks to the value they see in our outcomes. This year, Springboard is signing on school partners at a new price of $550 per student. Despite the increase, we are on track to double our number of school partners and students served. Much of this growth is happening through an expansion to Camden, where we won a competitive bidding process (over established players like Pearson) to contract with their school district.

In which country does the target population your company serves reside?

United States

Please comment on the strength of the venture’s leadership:

When Alejandro Gac-Artigas was 7, his family immigrated to the US escaping political persecution. He published a memoir at 12 chronicling his challenges transitioning to life in America. After graduating from Harvard in 2009, he simultaneously did Teach for America, interned with McKinsey & Company, and attained an MS in Urban Education from Penn. As Springboard’s founder, Alejandro has been honored as an Echoing Green Fellow, Claneil Emerging Leader, and Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient. Springboard’s COO, Chrissy Houlahan, grew AND1 Basketball from an idea into a $250M global company. Before joining Springboard, Chrissy was the COO of B Lab.

Please describe the impact your company will have or is having, the way that you measure your impact, and the scale you plan to reach?

Last summer, our 642 scholars replaced what could have been a 3-month reading loss with a 3.3-month reading gain, lifting their literacy trajectories by more than 6 months. Weekly workshops training families to teach reading averaged 93% attendance, defying expectations and setting records in every school. A longitudinal analysis of our re-enrolling students found that a single Springboard Summer intervention nearly tripled their annual reading progress. Last summer we also piloted Pre-K enrollment, quintupling the percentage of Kindergarten-ready students. 4th grade reading proficiency is among the strongest predictors of high school graduation, college attendance, and earning potential. By catapulting students in low-income communities to and beyond grade-level expectations before this critical juncture, Springboard gives children the requisite literacy skills to access life opportunities and realize their full potential. We plan to continue our exponential growth until we solve the problem at the scale at which it exists (30M students).

How is your organization innovative? Have collaborations with others enabled that innovation?

See above for innovation. • We make very deliberate supply chain decisions to maximize our impact on the community (both locally and globally), and to minimize the impact on the environment (Better World Books for family books; Revolution Foods for workshop breakfast; Share Food for warehousing; iFoster for school supplies and computers/tablets, TS Designs for t-shirts, etc.) • We also have a partnership with Learning A-Z that gives our parents free access to “RAZ-kids,” an online leveled library of books that get progressively more challenging as students read more. Learning A-Z has only ever sold their products to teachers; we offer them a potential new market in parents. As a result of this mutual benefit, all our families have free subscriptions. A staggering 71,000 books were downloaded last summer.

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African Management Initiative Named a Finalist in Gratitude Awards Competition; Winners to Be Chosen at SOCAP

African Management Initiative, led by Rebecca Harrison, has been named as one of nine finalists in the 2014 Gratitude Awards from the Gratitude Network to be awarded at SOCAP this coming week in San Francisco. The finalists were chosen from among 32 semi-finalists, who were chosen from among nearly 150 applicants. To learn more about the awards and SOCAP, see our story in Forbes. You can read all our coverage of the Gratitude Awards, including profiles of all nine finalists here.

Four winners will be announced on Thursday, September 4, 2014. We obtained a copy of the application from African Management Initiative so we could share it with you below:

Please describe your venture:

AMI empowers and inspires African managers and entrepreneurs through practical and accessible learning and coaching tools, delivered online and offline. Our vision is an Africa transformed by 1 million managers performing effectively and responsibility by 2023.

What is the problem are you solving and why is this important?

Good management is a key missing link in Africa’s ability to become more competitive, create jobs, develop strong and growing small and medium sized businesses and to close the skills gap. Africa has reached a turning point: its economies are growing, investment is on the rise, and its population is young, large and increasingly affluent. But organisations are struggling to source the management talent needed to service this rapid growth, while many young Africans lack the skills needed to secure jobs or start successful businesses. If Africa is to translate the opportunities of the next decade into greater prosperity and economic inclusion, it will need skilled, effective and responsible managers and entrepreneurs to build competitive companies, efficient public services and a thriving SME sector. Effective management education and training will be critical. At least 10-15 million Africans are working in management or supervisory roles, most of these in SMEs and the vast majority are unable to access quality and relevant management education and support. Africa urgently needs innovative and sustainable models that leverage technology to reduce costs and reach underserved groups of managers at scale.

What is your solution and business model?

AMI is building Africa’s first social learning platform to deliver practical and accessible learning and coaching tools to managers and entrepreneurs, with a strong focus on small and medium-sized businesses. Accessibility: We deliver high-quality and engaging management skills training through an innovative and accessible web and mobile learning platform open to anyone, anywhere with access to the Internet. Our platform is built for a bandwidth-constrained environment and with mobile in mind. For those without reliable Internet connectivity, AMI delivers offline versions our courses through innovative Learning Labs - a blended learning approach combining online content with additional offline support. These are offered direct to companies and via local partners such as incubators and business associations. AFFORDABILITY: Courses are free, with an optional small fee to receive a certificate. Learning Lab workshops are significantly cheaper than current private executive education offerings, thanks to our low-cost and scalable blended learning model. LOCAL RELEVANCE: AMI has secured content partnerships with three of Africa’s top-ranked business schools: South Africa’s Gordon Institute of Business Science, Nigeria’s Lagos Business School and Kenya’s Strathmore Business Schools. Our courses feature Africa’s best teachers, who address Africa’s unique opportunities and challenges. PRACTICAL FOCUS: Most African business education is overly academic and out of step with the requirements of its dynamic economies. It is badly suited to small business and entrepreneurs. AMI learning resources are practical, and grounded in our deep understanding of local markets. Assignments require participants to apply what they have learned on the job. NETWORKING: ‘Social’ is at the heart of our work, thanks to the innovative AMI ‘buddy’ accountability system, which is integrated into courses and across the broader community. Managers and entrepreneurs join thousands across Africa in lifelong learning and practice. Our focus on interaction and accountability improves learning outcomes and engagement, and provides valuable networking opportunities to users.

What is unique patentable, or otherwise not seen elsewhere about your venture?

Proprietary platform: our platform is uniquely designed for an African context, with mobile in mind and light on bandwidth. Content partnerships: We have unique partnerships with the continent’s most respected management education brands. Price: Our innovative use of technology allows us to offer quality management learning tools and resources at a fraction of existing offerings by business schools and training consultants. Relevant: Most online offerings available in Africa are based on Western resources. AMI is the first to offer world class but uniquely African courses with African teachers and African case studies, at a price small businesses can afford. First to market: We already have a Virtual Campus with more than 6,000 African managers in our network. We piloted our approach with Africa’s first MOOC last year, attracting almost 1,000 participants from 25 African countries The data and experience we gained gives us a strong advantage over other potential entrants. Brand, network and reputation: As well as the referral power of our partner brands, we have secured high-profile press coverage in the FT, CNN, Bloomberg Businessweek, Fast Company, Euronews, the LA Times and in African media. We have secured grant funding and seed investment from the Lundin Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, the Tony Elumelu Foundation and the Isibindi Trust (funded by the Office of Jennifer and Jonathan Oppenheimer).

Please describe who your customers are and how you know they want your product?

We target managers and entrepreneurs across Africa. Our pilot course and existing online community showed evidence of strong demand from the following segments: - Owner/entrepreneurs or small businesses. About 1/3rd of our pilot users described themselves as entrepreneurs or small business owners. Most are start-up entrepreneurs, or owners of established small businesses on the cusp of growth. They want practical courses, tools and resources to help them grow their businesses. They told us they want to learn anywhere, anytime, online, and loved our pilot offering. Many entrepreneurs who attend our Learning Labs in Kenya end up booking AMI to train their whole team. - Middle managers at medium-sized companies: These managers like AMI’s business school brand partners. They accounted for a little over a third of our online pilot participants and account for about half of our Learning Lab participants. Many come to AMI through their companies, who tell us they love AMI’s practical and affordable approach to learning. - Junior managers at larger companies: These managers are well represented in our online community and made up a large percentage of online pilot participants. They like our certificates from top business school brands, and enjoy learning online. Their employers tell us they like AMI’s more affordable approach to management training, which allows them to extend learning and development to junior staff.

In which country does the target population your company serves reside?

Kenya

Please comment on the strength of the venture’s leadership:

CEO Rebecca Harrison has a decade of experience in Africa as a journalist, manager and then social entrepreneur. Chairman Jonathan Cook is the former director of one of South Africa’s leading business schools and has decades of experience in management education in Africa. Chief Product Officer Bronwen McConkey is a respected online learning professional and former MD of the UK’s Virtual School. Head of Business Development Martin Mbaya is a co-founder of MIT’s tech and entrepreneurship network in Africa and founding manager at Dalberg Research. Together, they have unrivalled experience and networks in management education, technology and small business development in Africa.

Please describe the impact your company will have or is having, the way that you measure your impact, and the scale you plan to reach?

AMI measures impact through: -Reach: how many individuals and companies take our courses and engage with our learning and coaching tools? (measured by counting course participants, workshop attendees, business clients and AMI members) - engagement: how many participants actually complete courses and engage more deeply with AMI processes (measured by tracking retention rates, conversion to AMI membership, number of managers and organisations engaged in AMI coaching and development processes) - knowledge transfer: to what extent to individuals improve their knowledge after taking an AMI course? (measured by comparing course pre and post course assessments) - improvement in skills/competence: to what extent to individuals actually acquire new skills or improve performance (measured by tracking improvement in skills and competence through AMI competency analysis and bencharking tool) - improvement in individual performance (measured by tracking performance of individuals engaged in AMI’s personal coaching and development 360 tool, vouched for by accountability partner and other peers) - improvement in organisational performance (measured by company scorecard currently being developed by AMI to show performance against a list of People Planet and Profit indicators) Our targets for 2014: - Reach 20,000 individuals - Completion and engagement of 10% (x3 global average for open online learning) - Tangible improvement in knowledge among 80% of participants - Tangible improvement in competence among 80% of individuals participating in competency analysis - Tangible improvement in on-the-job performance among 80% of those engaged in personal coaching/development - Company metrics to be introduced only in 2015

How is your organization innovative? Have collaborations with others enabled that innovation?

Innovation is at the heart of what we do. Tech: We are launching Africa’s first social learning platform. It is uniquely designed for maximum access in a bandwidth-constrained environment and with mobile in mind. Learning process - Our learning approach is innovative. We combine formal courses with peer learning and coaching. It is uniquely both scalable and personalised. Our courses themselves are innovative - we build them around practical tools that can be downloaded and used, not around textbook curricula. And we use an innovative approach to production, combining audio with engaging animation to keep both costs and bandwidth requirements lower than those of our global competitors.

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SunCulture Named a Finalist in Gratitude Awards Competition; Winners to Be Chosen at SOCAP

SunCulture, led by Samir Ibrahim, has been named as one of nine finalists in the 2014 Gratitude Awards from the Gratitude Network to be awarded at SOCAP this coming week in San Francisco. The finalists were chosen from among 32 semi-finalists, who were chosen from among nearly 150 applicants. To learn more about the awards and SOCAP, see our story in Forbes. You can read all our coverage of the Gratitude Awards, including profiles of all nine finalists here.

Four winners will be announced on Thursday, September 4, 2014. We obtained a copy of the application from SunCulture so we could share it with you below:

Please describe your venture:

SunCulture designs and sells solar-powered irrigation systems and agricultural extension services that make it cheaper and easier for farmers in Kenya to grow high-value fresh fruits and vegetables.

What is the problem are you solving and why is this important?

Kenya has 5.4 million hectares of arable land. 83% of this arable land is unsuitable for rain fed agriculture, thus requiring irrigation systems, yet a mere 4% is under irrigation. Diesel and treadle pumps are presently available in the market but the effectiveness of these technologies is constrained by high input costs and labor inefficiencies. SunCulture combats these problems, creating a more efficient and cost effective way to irrigate.

What is your solution and business model?

SunCulture’s AgroSolar Irrigation Kit combines cost-effective solar water pumping technology with high-efficiency drip irrigation. SunCulture is also the only “one-stop shop” for smallholder commercial farmers in Kenya, as it is the only company that provides a solar water pumping solution, an entire drip irrigation kit, agronomy services, educational training, access to capital, and access to markets in rural Kenya. SunCulture sells the AgroSolar Irrigation Kit, as well as technician surveys, components, and agronomic services directly to farmers. SunCulture also signed a partnership agreement with Equity Bank, Kenya’s largest retail bank. Since May 2014, Equity Bank finances and promote the AgroSolar Irrigation Kit.

What is unique patentable, or otherwise not seen elsewhere about your venture?

SunCulture has developed a novel and unique product by combining drip irrigation with a renewable energy source, which simplifies farming and increases crop yields up to 300%. SunCulture is also the only “one-stop shop” for smallholder commercial farmers in Kenya, as it is the only company that provides a solar water pumping solution, an entire drip irrigation kit, agronomy services, educational training, access to capital, and access to markets in rural Kenya. Its approach focuses on quality of both product and services. Thus, the advantages of SunCulture lie in the comprehensiveness with which it addresses food security and sustainability.

Please describe who your customers are and how you know they want your product?

SunCulture’s target market is the one million farmers in Kenya who have more than five acres of land. We have sold its products and services to over 150 of these farmers. However, we realize realize that there is a need for efficient technology at the Base of the Pyramid and have recently expanded our product line to address this market. We now offer products for farmers with as little as 1/32nd of an acre, at the most affordable price point in Kenya.

In which country does the target population your company serves reside?

Kenya

Please comment on the strength of the venture’s leadership:

Samir Ibrahim studied finance and international business at NYU, focusing on economic development. He worked in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Financial Services, Structured Products, and Real Estate Group. Charles Nichols studied mechanical engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology. He previously worked at IPP Solar, a commercial solar power developer that develops, finances, owns and operates large (500kW+) commercial solar photovoltaic systems.

Please describe the impact your company will have or is having, the way that you measure your impact, and the scale you plan to reach?

Farmers currently using the AgroSolar Irrigation Kit are (annually): saving 350,838,000 liters of water, generating 36,500 kilowatt-hours of renewable energy. reducing 96,543 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions, growing 2,162,700 kilograms of fresh fruits and vegetables, and realizing $671,590 in savings and increased yields. We look to increase this by 260,000x in the next five years.

How is your organization innovative? Have collaborations with others enabled that innovation?

SunCulture is also the only “one-stop shop” for smallholder commercial farmers in Kenya, as it is the only company that provides a solar water pumping solution, an entire drip irrigation kit, agronomy services, educational training, access to capital, and access to markets in rural Kenya. SunCulture sells the AgroSolar Irrigation Kit, as well as technician surveys, components, and agronomic services directly to farmers. We also offer all of these products and services at the the most affordable price in the region.

LivelyHoods Named a Finalist in Gratitude Awards Competition; Winners to Be Chosen at SOCAP

LivelyHoods, led by Tania Laden, has been named as one of nine finalists in the 2014 Gratitude Awards from the Gratitude Network to be awarded at SOCAP this coming week in San Francisco. The finalists were chosen from among 32 semi-finalists, who were chosen from among nearly 150 applicants. To learn more about the awards and SOCAP, see our story in Forbes. You can read all our coverage of the Gratitude Awards, including profiles of all nine finalists here.

Four winners will be announced on Thursday, September 4, 2014. We obtained a copy of the application from LivelyHoods so we could share it with you below:

Please describe your venture:

LivelyHoods creates jobs for youth in Kenyan slums so they can work their way out of poverty and actualize their potential. To achieve this, we employ youth from slums to sell life-changing products in their communities. Although we are a non-profit, we operate with the mindset of an entrepreneurial start-up.

What is the problem are you solving and why is this important?

While Kenya’s economy is expected to grow by 5.1% in 2014, youth unemployment has been identified as a major challenge that could critically hamper Kenya’s prosperity (World Bank, 2013). LivelyHoods is addressing youth unemployment and access to affordable and efficient cookstoves as well as other life-changing products for the 8million people who live in Kenyan slums. By addressing this challenge LivelyHoods is contributing to the economic growth of Kenya, reduction of extreme poverty as well as gender equality by offering equal employment opportunity. Youth unemployment contributes to social problems including civil violence, as seen in the 2008 post-election violence, where 80% of the perpetrators were unemployed or idle youth. Therefore, by reducing youth unemployment LivelyHoods will reduce this population’s involvement in crime and social unrest.

What is your solution and business model?

The LivelyHoods innovative model operates through a two-pronged approach, training youth on vocational and professional skills essential for employment in the formal sector, and providing employment to those trained. We operate a daily microconsignment model, which provides a low-risk mix of entreipreneurial and employment experience through selling socially transformative products in slum communities. Sales agents are responsible for managing their own businesses, including prospecting different locations, managing their resources, and selecting their basket of products from our range of solar lamps, clean-burning cookstoves, and houshold appliances. The professional skill development opportunities that youth access through the vocational training at iSmart assists them to break into the formal job market, and for many, provides their first job. Our branded retail network consists of customer service centers and uniformed sales representatives, targeting the most hard-to-reach households in urban slums and peri-urban communities. Similar to how Apple built a network of showroom stores and well-informed sales representatives, we are building the optimal customer service experience for Kenya’s BOP.

What is unique patentable, or otherwise not seen elsewhere about your venture?

LivelyHoods aims to attract and train youth from all backgrounds, genders and education levels. We offer the opportunity for illiterate, non-educated youth to be competitive in the labor market by teaching them a basic, important skill that is applicable in most retail jobs or consumer-facing endeavors. Our model also includes field training and the potential to earn a commission, allowing youth to see immediate results of their newly acquired skills. Finally, we are not training youth to sell soda or tomatoes. We train youth to educate consumers about green technology goods and other products relevant to their communities. An ability to introduce new products to the growing base of the economic pyramid market and sell high-end goods by communicating their value can be a lucrative skill set. Our key innovation is called the daily consignment model. This model takes all financial risk off our sales representatives and enables us to deliver any product in our catalogue to anywhere in the slums within 24 hours. Our agents do not make capital outlays or take loans with interest. Therefore, if an agent is unsuccessful, they will never be left in debt. Instead, we give our sales agents access to a daily consignment of $75 USD.

Please describe who your customers are and how you know they want your product?

Eight million people live in Kenyan slums, and the number is growing at a rapid rate as people flock to cities from rural areas in search of employment. According to an Accenture 2012 consumer report on Africa, Kenyans spend approximately $23 billion dollars per year on retail. In a 2011 report, the World Research Institute claimed that approximately 71% of all purchasing power occurs in the base of the economic pyramid. And the UN-Habitat estimates that 24% of informal Kenyan businesses operate within slums. By multiplying these three data points, we estimate that the annual consumer market in Kenyan slums is approximately $3.92 billion dollars, with the durable consumer market at about $1 billion dollars. Despite their vast, fast-growing purchasing power, slum consumers lack access to adequate cooking and heating technologies. According to a 2012 Kenya Market Assessment Report by the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC), “the market for improved stoves comprises mainly urban and peri-urban households living just above the poverty line.” The total addressable market for clean-burning cookstoves in urban Kenya, according to the study, consists of approximately 700,000 households.

In which country does the target population your company serves reside?

Kenya

Please comment on the strength of the venture’s leadership:

Tania Laden is the Executive Director and co-founder of LivelyHoods, having managed operations, staff and sales as COO for the last three years. Her previous experience includes an educational technology start-up in Brazil and financial advisor with Morgan Stanley. Brian Odhiambo joined as COO at the end of 2013 after having co-founded Zamsolar, a last-mile distribution company focused on creating employment and delivering energy solutions. Brian recruited and managed a staff of 20 full-time and 400 part-time personnel. With this team, he grew monthly revenues from $3000 per month to up to $40,000 per month in the company’s first year.

Please describe the impact your company will have or is having, the way that you measure your impact, and the scale you plan to reach?

The outcomes of the program on trainee graduates will be evaluated based on an individual’s progress against the baseline survey . The survey measures data related to the following project outcomes: (1) increasing access to economic opportunities; (2) developing professional and employable skills (3) improving quality of life. Specifically, the baseline data tracks employment status, education and professional skills repertoire, income level, savings, ability to meet living costs, and number of months unemployed in the previous six months. We define success in two ways: (1) if each individual trainee has experienced the three intended outcomes of the LH project based on an evaluation of progress from their baseline data; (2) if 75% of all training graduates, disaggregated by gender, are able to identify employment, education and entrepreneurial opportunities following the completion of the LivelyHoods training program.

How is your organization innovative? Have collaborations with others enabled that innovation?

LivelyHoods grew out of a failed attempt at a program to give youth entrepreneurial training and loans to start their own businesses. After two weeks of training, the pilot group of seven youth told us that that didn’t want loans to start businesses when they had no experience or confidence in their abilities to do so. These youth set out to discover what strengths their peers had and interviewed 300 youth to find out that every person they spoke to had sold something at some point in their lives, from mangos to drugs. We worked with our pilot group to survey their community to find out what kind of products they needed. As a result of this cooperation, we launched the program that we are still growing today and solidified this model of cooperation and ownership with the youth we work with.

 

Labor Link Named a Finalist in Gratitude Awards Competition; Winners to Be Chosen at SOCAP

Labor Link by Good World Solutions, led by Heather Franzese, has been named as one of nine finalists in the 2014 Gratitude Awards from the Gratitude Network to be awarded at SOCAP this coming week in San Francisco. The finalists were chosen from among 32 semi-finalists, who were chosen from among nearly 150 applicants. To learn more about the awards and SOCAP, see our story in Forbes. You can read all our coverage of the Gratitude Awards, including profiles of all nine finalists here.

Four winners will be announced on Thursday, September 4, 2014. We obtained a copy of the application from Good World Solutions so we could share it with you below:

Please describe your venture:

Labor Link is the first platform to leverage the disruptive power of mobile to give voice to the global workforce and deliver real-time data to companies like Cisco and Patagonia to align sourcing practices with worker needs - like SurveyMonkey for the 5 billion people without internet access.

What is the problem are you solving and why is this important?

In April, 1,100 workers were killed in a factory collapse in Bangladesh. Why? Because those workers were invisible. When they saw cracks in the walls, they had no channel to report it to the companies buying the clothing they sew, and hence no way to stop this totally preventable tragedy. Millions of low-wage workers endure poor working conditions everyday and suffer in silence because they have no way to communicate with decision-makers.

What is your solution and business model?

Labor Link gives workers a free and anonymous channel - through their own mobile phones - to report on working conditions, opinions and needs in real time. The voice-based system does not require literacy and runs in any language. Workers simply answer short, multiple-choice surveys with their touch-tone keypad and receive educational messages about their rights and local services. Surveys cover every aspect of working conditions - from child labor to fair wages, as well as access to financial services, health and nutrition, livelihoods, and community needs. Labor Link delivers actionable recommendations to decision-makers to address worker needs. Data has been used to address sexual harassment, enhance training and improve worker housing.

What is unique patentable, or otherwise not seen elsewhere about your venture?

Labor Link is the first of its kind. It combines open source IVR technology on simple mobile phones with business intelligence software in a completely new way, both for data capture and data visualization, to give marginalized, low-literacy workers a voice (that’s free and does not require literacy or introduce outside technology) and give companies real-time supply chain transparency to drive tangible improvements in working conditions and avoid the preventable tragedies that have killed hundreds of workers.

Please describe who your customers are and how you know they want your product?

Labor Link is already being used by leading companies like Cisco, Disney, HP, Vodafone, and Patagonia, and award-winning social enterprises like VisionSpring and Fair Trade USA. We have also partnered with the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, an historic consortium of 26 companies, including Walmart, Gap, and Target, to address the issue of worker safety in Bangladesh. Our Labor Link platform is the back-end technology for their Alliance Worker Helpline, which will reach half a million workers in the next 2 years.

In which country does the target population your company serves reside?

Bangladesh

Please comment on the strength of the venture’s leadership:

Listed on the Purpose Economy 100 (PE100), Co-Founder Heather Franzese has worked for 15 years to improve the lives of workers. She launched Fair Trade Certified Apparel in the US, managed CSR for Columbia Sportswear, and holds a Masters from Harvard Kennedy School. Co-Founder Tom Rausch is a tech-for-good expert. Tom designed and deployed a SMS platform to deliver market information to smallholder farmers and microfinance banks in Kenya. He holds degrees from the London School of Economics and University of Wisconsin. Under their leadership, Labor Link has grown to reach 100,000 workers and farmers in 12 countries.

Please describe the impact your company will have or is having, the way that you measure your impact, and the scale you plan to reach?

Since 2010, Labor Link surveys have reached workplaces that employ 72,365 workers, farmers and artisans in 9 countries. Our aim is to reach a million workers in the next 5 years. By giving workers a free an anonymous reporting channel, we boost livelihoods, enhance worker-management communication, increase financial security, and facilitate empowered decision-making. Vodafone and Accenture recently released a report called “Connected Worker: How mobile technology can improve working life in emerging economies.” The report specifically cites Labor Link as a model for a new type of mobile-enabled worker engagement. They estimate that by 2020, this type of mobile worker communication has the potential to benefit 18 million workers globally and boost livelihoods by $2.1 billion annually.

How is your organization innovative? Have collaborations with others enabled that innovation?

Labor Link is an innovation in the fields of labor standards and economic development. The voice-based approach allows even those with basic feature phones and/or without literacy to participate at no cost to them. Today, most companies rely on third-party social auditing to police working conditions - a top-down, costly, and highly subjective approach. Labor Link introduces interactive voice response (IVR) technology to achieve cost savings between 67%-80% over in-person interviews or pen and paper surveys. Unlike other platforms that capture data through smartphone or tablet, Labor Link uses basic feature phones and does not require any outside technology, which is more sustainable and appropriate in a village context. Unlike SMS-based interventions, Labor Link also does not require literacy.

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