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Wealthy Increasingly Focused On Social Impact

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Fully 92 percent of high net worth individuals think driving global impact is important, according to a survey conducted for Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management.

Other observations from the report include:

  • 75 percent of high net worth individuals or HNWIs 40 and younger believe that social impact is “very” or “extremely” important
  • HNWIs in emerging markets like China, India and Indonesia were more likely to rate having social impact as “very” or “extremely” important

The survey also identified the top five ways that HNWIs give back:

  1. Making investment choices with a clearly defined social impact objective
  2. Giving on an ongoing basis to charities
  3. More general community involvement
  4. Volunteering knowledge and expertise
  5. Making strategic business decisions with a clearly defined social impact objective

The survey results show that the top three reasons HNWIs seek to give back are their personal and family values, their desire to pass their values along to their children and their sense of responsibility to give back.

On Friday, July 18, 2014 at 3:00 Eastern, David Wilson, Head of the Strategic Analysis Group at Capgemini, will join me for a live discussion about the implication of this social activism among the wealthy. Tune in here then to watch the interview.

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More about Capgemini:

Capgemini is one of the world’s foremost providers of consulting, technology, outsourcing services and local professional services. Present in over 40 countries with more than 130,000 employees, the Capgemini Group helps its clients transform in order to improve their performance and competitive positioning.

We offer an array of integrated services that combine top-of-the-range technology with deep sector expertise and a strong command of our four key businesses.

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David Wilson

Wilson’s bio:

David Wilson is Head of the Strategic Analysis Group, for Capgemini’s Financial Services Global Business Unit. David has professional services and financial services experience spanning the areas of strategic research and analysis, management consulting, and marketing.

David focuses on wealth management and in addition to client engagements, has co-authored leading reports such as the Capgemini RBC Wealth Management World Wealth Report, the Capgemini RBC Wealth Management Asia-Pacific Wealth Report, and the Capgemini U.S. Metro Wealth Index.

Previously, David was a strategy consultant for Capgemini Consulting’s Strategy and Transformation practice where he worked on projects across a variety of sectors.

Prior to joining Capgemini in 2007, David worked for the U.S. wealth management divisions of UBS Wealth Management and Merrill Lynch Global Private Client Group.

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Teen Social Entrepreneur Leaves His Mark On The World

Henry Miller launched his social venture (with a little help from his parents) at age eleven. He’s never looked back.

His company, Henry’s Humdingers, makes all natural condiments using raw honey. He recently appeared on Shark Tank.

He shared his story with me:

It all happened one day when me and my mom got on a plane and sat next to this bee farmer. He talked about helping bees and the dreadful hive collapse disorder. He told me humans couldn’t live seven years if bees disappeared. We wouldn’t have enough food because the bees wouldn’t be there to pollinate the corn or the wheat or even tomatoes. OK, I don’t like tomatoes, but I know we need them for stuff like pizza. At the end of the flight my mom said we could get bees and I could start my own company. I told her, Henry’s Humdingers. She laughed and called my dad and now its a real-life thing. The more I learn about bees the more interesting I think they are. Did you know only the old bees collect pollen? I love bees and all the good they do and it makes me crazy to think about all the bad things happening to them. It’s just ughhh, so I am donating part of what I make to my friends over at The Foundation For the Preservation of Honey Bees.

On July 18, 2014 at 7:00 Eastern, Henry will join me for a live discussion about his remarkable journey and his passion for using business to leave his mark on the world. Tune in right here to watch the interview live.

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

More about Henry’s Humdingers:

Henry’s Humdingers is a quirky, imaginative food products company aimed at offering high quality, moderately priced, always unusual foods using only natural ingredients. Henry’s Humdingers is raw, natural condiment. Made of raw honey & spices. Henry’s Humdingers line has 4 different unique blends. Grumpy Grandpa made with honey, red pepper & garlic, Naughty Nana is a spicy ginger mixture, Phoebe’s Fireball is a combination of chipotle & cinnamon and Diabolical Dad features habanero & lime.

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Henry’s bio:

When I was 11 years-old living on a farm in Western Washington, I learned about Colony Collapse Disorder from a beekeeper. I asked for a beehive for my birthday because I wanted to make a difference. So I started selling honey by the side of the road to raise money. Then I started adding spices to make my honey different from other raw honeys. My main goal was to help save the bees - and our family farm - so a portion of the proceeds are donated to The Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees.

Recently, I was on ABC’s Shark Tank which has completely changed my business. Now people are excited to try my products and my business is really taking off.

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Architect Spends Life Building Community

Utah architect Soren Simonsen has spent his career using his unique skills to build his community in a multitude of ways. 

Recently retired from the Salt Lake City Council, Soren now serves as the President of the Impact Hub Salt Lake and as the Executive Director of Community Studio.

Soren will also be speaking at the Social Enterprise and Crowdfunding Conference (SECFC14) on September 26, 2014 at Snowbird.

On Friday, July 18 at 6:00 Eastern, Soren will join me for a live discussion about what inspires him and why he’s devoted so much of his career to building his community.

Soren’s bio:

Søren Simonsen is an urban designer, architect, educator and community-builder. Over the past 25 years, including over a decade of public service as an appointed and elected official, he has focusedon creating sustainable buildings, livable cities and prosperous communities in Utah and throughout the western United States.

Søren earned a Master of Arts in Community Leadership at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, with a focus on public policy and community organizing. His research focused on urban development and sustainable resource for cities in the 21st century. He previously received a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin, with an emphasis in urban development, community and regional planning, public interest design. 

Søren is the Executive Director of Community Studio, and President of Impact HUB Salt Lake. He is an accomplished professional and has received broad recognition for his design, policy and advocacy work. Honors include the national AIA Young Architect Award, four Best of State Gold Medals in Community Development, and 28 projects, plans and initiatives that have received an Envision Utah Governor’s Quality Growth Award. He has received numerous citations from chapters of the American Institute of Architects, American Society of Landscape Architects, American Planning Association, and U.S. Green Building Council. Over the past decade, Søren has also launched 6 non-profit organizations engaged in social entrepreneurship, art and cultural development, environmental stewardship advocacy, civic engagement, and sustainable urbanism. 

Søren served on the Salt Lake City Council in from 2006 to 2014. He chaired the city council in 2012—a year that was called “dynamic” by the Salt Lake Tribune. He also previously chaired the Salt Lake Historic Landmark Commission and the Mayor’s Environmental Advisory Committee. He has served on numerous local and national boards and committees for professional and community organizations, where he has been a champion for urban design, ecology and environmental stewardship, water and energy conservation, sustainable development, arts and culture, alternative transportation, public health, and human rights.

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Social Entrepreneur Hopes To Replace LinkedIn

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Author Aaron Hurst has a plan to replace LinkedIn with a purpose-driven alternative called Imperative.

Hurst is the author of The Purpose Economy, which helps to understand the global shift from an information economy to a purpose economy. He sees the sharing economy and companies from AirBnB to ZipCar as examples of a more purpose-focused ethos that millennials especially are adopting.

More broadly, Hurst sees a world in which people manifest a sense of purpose with virtually everything they do, from where and how they work and socialize to how they consume products from the daily coffee to the exotic vacation. We are infusing everything with purpose.

On July 18, 2014 at 2:00 PM, Hurst, who serves as the CEO of Imperative, will join me here for a live discussion about his book and his new venture and their impact on the future of business.

Hurst will be speaking at the Social Enterprise and Crowdfunding Conference (SECFC14) on September 26, 2014 at Snowbird, Utah, which I am organizing.

About Imperative:

Imperative is a movement to evolve the economy into one driven by purpose. We believe in a more human world where by better understanding our purpose, we are able to unite to better solve the world’s problems.

We are building a network of bold and authentic people and connecting them to purpose at work and in their community. It involves helping people discover their purpose profile, connecting them to others in their professional community and activating city-based projects for local social impact. As society increasingly prioritizes personal growth, relationships and impact, Imperative is becoming the catalyzing force behind the transition to a Purpose Economy.

We are entering a really exciting time as our team grows and our vision comes together in an actionable product. It’s a dynamic, fast-paced environment where we love what we do and have a lot of fun together.

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Aaron Hurst

Hurst’s bio:

Aaron Hurst is an award-winning entrepreneur and globally recognized leader in fields of purpose at work and social innovation. He is the author of three books including The Purpose Economy, which redefines how we think about work and the economy. He is the CEO of Imperative, the new career development platform for professionals seeking purpose at work. Previously, Aaron founded the Taproot Foundation where he was the catalyst and lead architect of the $15 billion pro bono services market.

Aaron has been an advisor and consultant to leading global brands like LinkedIn, Elance, Etsy, Deloitte and Twitter. He speaks regularly at companies like Google, Citi and BMW and at the campuses of leading business schools around the world.

He is the recipient of the LS&A Humanitarian Award, the highest distinction bestowed on alumni of the University of Michigan. He lives with his family in Brooklyn.

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Entrepreneur Infuses Careers With Purpose

Arthur Woods has joined forces with Aaron Hurst to revolution online networking to infuse it with purpose. Together, they have launched Imperative, a social networking site focused on professionals and helping them to identify and leverage their genuine purpose for being.

On July 18, 2014 at 4:00 Eastern, Arthur will join me for a live discussion about the business and on social entrepreneurship more broadly.

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

Arthur will be speaking at the Social Enterprise and Crowdfunding Conference (SECFC14) on September 26, 2014 at Snowbird, Utah. 

More about Imperative:

Imperative is a movement to evolve the economy into one driven by purpose. We believe in a more human world where by better understanding our purpose, we are able to unite to better solve the world’s problems.

We are building a network of bold and authentic people and connecting them to purpose at work and in their community. It involves helping people discover their purpose profile, connecting them to others in their professional community and activating city-based projects for local social impact. As society increasingly prioritizes personal growth, relationships and impact, Imperative is becoming the catalyzing force behind the transition to a Purpose Economy.

We are entering a really exciting time as our team grows and our vision comes together in an actionable product. It’s a dynamic, fast-paced environment where we love what we do and have a lot of fun together.

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Arthur’s bio:

Arthur Woods is an entrepreneur, speaker and writer on the future of work in the purpose economy. He is the co-founder of Imperative, the first professional platform for people find and manage purpose at work. Before co-founding Imperative Arthur led operations for YouTube EDU at Google where he oversaw operations of YouTube for Schools. He later managed the development of YouTube’s first guide for education and co-organized YouTube’s inaugural Education Summit. He previously co-founded the Compass Fellowship, a social enterprise training program in over 18 universities worldwide.

Arthur studied Operations and information Management at Georgetown University and Project Management at Stanford University. His efforts have been featured in Fast Company, Huffington Post, Washington Post and ABC7’s Washington Business Tonight. He is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper and sits on the Boards of the Sierra Institute, Georgetown Technology Alliance and Compass Partners.

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FundingCircle Announces $65M Series D

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

FundingCircle, a British crowdfunding site that provides business loans in the UK and the US that banks generally won’t make has announced a $65 million equity investment, perhaps the single largest venture round in the history of the crowdfunding industry.

The company has indicated that the funds will be used to accelerate growth in existing markets and to explore additional international markets.

According to a statement, the recent funding round was led by Index Ventures and includes existing investors. Bob Steel, CEO of Perella Weinberg Partners and former Under Secretary for Domestic Finance of the United States Treasury, will join the Funding Circle board.

On July 17, 2014 at 11:30 AM, Funding Circle CEO Samir Desai, will join me live from London for a discussion about the round and its implications for the company and the industry.

More about Funding Circle:

Funding Circle (www.fundingcircle.com) is the world’s leading online marketplace for business loans, enabling investors to directly lend to small businesses in both the UK and the US. Since launching in the UK in 2010 Funding Circle has now lent more than $500 million to over 5,000 businesses, and currently lends $50 million per month.

In the US, Funding Circle’s online marketplace allows accredited investors and institutions to invest in small businesses seeking to borrow $25,000 to $500,000 through whole loans or a passive fund. By combining cutting edge technology with industry-leading risk management models, Funding Circle provides small businesses with access to fast, fair and transparent finance and investors with the opportunity to access attractive returns at fixed income risk levels through an online marketplace. In 2014, Funding Circle expects to lend $100 million to American small businesses.

In the UK, businesses can borrow between £5,000 and £1 million, while investors can earn a 6.1%* average return after fees and bad debt. Since launching in August 2010 Funding Circle has helped over 5,000 businesses borrow more than £300 million. Investors include thousands of individuals, the Government-backed British Business Bank, local councils, financial organisations and Huddersfield University. Funding Circle was the first marketplace lender to announce a formal referral partnership with Santander, one of the UK’s leading high street banks.

Desai’s bio:

Samir is responsible for driving the company strategy, overseeing the company’s finances and managing the day to day operations at Funding Circle. Samir has worked extensively in the financial services sector.

Before founding Funding Circle, Samir was an Executive at Olivant, a private equity investor in financial services businesses in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Prior to this, Samir was a management consultant at BCG advising a number of major UK and global banks and insurers on strategy, new product initiatives, and operational efficiency.

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Combination Creates A Leader In Crowdfunding Market

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

RockThePost, an accredited investor crowdfunding portal announced this morning its merger with CoFoundersLab, an online and in-person matchmaking network that scientifically builds startup teams, creating a platform with 35,000 startup founders and 15,000 accredited investors where entrepreneurs have raised over more than $65 million. The combined company will be called Onevest.

Shahib Kaviani, CEO of CoFoundersLab and CMO at Onevest, explained the motivations for the merger, saying, “Over the last few years, CoFoundersLab’s mission has been to help entrepreneurs succeed. Once we were able to find a scalable way to bring more compatible teams together we began asking our community of founders what their next big challenge was. With an overwhelming response they shared that access to capital was the biggest need they have, particularly for teams located outside the major startup hubs like Silicon Valley and New York.”

He went on to explain that the team was intrigued by crowdfunding and was considering adding crowdfunding to the business model. Before doing so, they decided to raise their own seed round that way.

Kaviani added, “My research of the industry players led me to choose Onevest (formerly RockThePost) where we were able to meet and close a number of investors that we otherwise would have never met. This was a real eye opener for me and I thought to myself, this equity crowdfunding really works—in fact it is a total game changer for entrepreneurs.”

“After having success raising funds on Onevest it became clear to me that we must pursue this avenue and quickly realized that a partnership with Onevest would be meaningful on a number of levels. Once we learned more about both of our team’s synergies, culture, and broader solution, a merger was blatantly obvious,” Kaviani concluded.

“The best way to ensure that two cultures combine successfully is to validate they are compatible from the onset, making this a material consideration and condition for a deal to close,” noted Tanya Prive, former COO and founder of RockThePost and COO and Founder of OneVest. “The culture of both teams is absolutely aligned and complementary so we don’t anticipate any issues. Our weaknesses are their strengths and vice versa, so it really couldn’t have worked out any better.”

Equity crowdfunding is just now in its infancy. The JOBS Act, passed in 2012, created the industry, only rules for accredited investor crowdfunding have been issued in final form by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC later published draft rules for crowdfunding from ordinary investors and accepted comments on them for 90 days. Final rules have not yet been promulgated.

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Alejandro Cremades, formerly CEO and Founder of RockThePost, currently CEO and Founder at Onevest

“Equity crowdfunding is the most exciting and perhaps most significant development in recent history taking place in the capital markets,” Alejandro Cremades, formerly CEO and Founder of RockThePost, currently CEO and Founder at Onevest said. “Undoubtedly there will be wrinkles the industry will need to address as this new avenue for capital flow continues to emerge – but the tremendous benefits will far outweigh any hiccups along the way.”

Cremades concluded with a word of caution about regulation, “However, for equity crowdfunding to really take off and approximate its full potential, it needs to be truly accessible to everyone, and more built around the reality of startup investing compared to initially circulated regulatory standards.”

Erick Brimen, formerly COO of CoFoundersLab, currently CFO at Onevest added, “Onevest is already compliant with applicable regulations as we currently operate in partnership with a registered broker dealer. We will continue to ensure as the industry evolves that we remain 100% above board and fully compliant with relevant laws.”

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SEC Mulls Changes to Accredited Investor Standards, 18 Crowdfunders React

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is considering an update to the accreditation standards used to determine eligibility to participate in private securities sales. (Disclosure: Ellenoff Grossman & Schole LLP has agreed to sponsor my upcoming crowdfunding conference and along with Crowdfund Capital Advisors sponsored the publication of my crowdfunding book in 2013.)

Today’s standards require that most investors in startups, real estate limited partnerships and other investments that are not traded on exchanges be accredited. To qualify as an accredited investor, one must meet one of the three following criteria:

  1. Have had an individual annual income of $200,000 for the past two years with an expectation that it will continue
  2. Have had a household annual income of $300,000 for the past two years with an expectation that it will continue
  3. Have a net worth of at least $1 million, excluding a primary residence

Apart from excluding the primary residence, which change was made in [2010], the financial levels have not been adjusted in over 30 years, meaning that inflation has steadily eroded their original significance, allowing millions more people over time to join the ranks. According to SeedInvest, an equity crowdfunding site, indexing these levels for inflation could reduce the number of accredited investors from 8.5 million to just 3.75 million.

The implications for the nascent crowdfunding industry is significant. Title II of the JOBS Act signed by President Obama in 2012 allowed general solicitation for investors, a change that ushered in what many are calling accredited investor crowdfunding. By allowing entrepreneurs and others to announce via social media and other internet avenues (though not restricted to the internet) issuers can suddenly attract many more investors, often investing smaller amounts than might have been required in the past.

A change in the definition of accredited investors could materially reduce the pool of investors eligible to make such investments, potentially reducing the amount of capital raised by the issuers and the platforms that support them.

In a quick, unscientific poll of leaders in the crowdfunding community for this article, 94 percent of respondents favored a change in the standard that would allow investors to qualify by virtue of education or experience alone, without regard to financial position. Such a rule could be applied either as the only means of qualification, eliminating the financial standards or as an alternative qualification method alongside the traditional—or updated—financial standards.

In the same survey, 50 percent of respondents indicated that there should be no change to the individual income standards and 38 percent responded the individual income standard should be eliminated altogether. Similarly, 40 percent of respondents says that the household test should be left alone and 47 percent says that the rule should be eliminated altogether.

Furthermore, 40 percent says the current net worth test should be left untouched and an equal percentage suggested that the net worth test should be eliminated.

No one thought a full ratchet to correct for inflation would be appropriate, though a few suggested smaller upward increases.

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Ryan Feit at podium, Sherwood Neiss, behind at a 2013 press conference

The following 18 reactions are representative of the comments gathered for this article:

  1. Grady Thrasher, CEO, CrowdVested articulated the consensus view, “The income and net worth tests have long served as a proxy for financial sophistication, but they consistently exclude sophisticated investors and include unsophisticated investors. Financial resources does not equal financial sophistication.” Thrasher concluded, “Just as you have to take a test to get a driver’s license, or rent scuba gear, or engage in any number of risky activities, you should be permitted to prove you have adequate financial knowledge to participate in private offerings available to accredited investors.
  2. “Around 5% of the US population could qualify as accredited investors today. Instead of reducing the number of people who can invest in privately held companies, we should be seeking ways to expand the growth of investments in small businesses,” commented Ken Marienau, CEO of Mission Markets. “The Dodd-Frank bill passed in 2010 excluded the value of personal residences from the calculation of net worth. This change in the 1982 calculations reduced the number of people who could qualify as accredited investors, since the net equity of principal residences represents 25% of mean personal wealth (and 75% of median personal wealth).”
  3. “Angel investors contribute over $20 billion each year to startups and are what truly fuels innovation in America,” says Ryan Feit, CEO and Co-Founder of SeedInvest. “Reducing angel funding by instituting a higher accreditation bar would undoubtedly be devastating to startups, to jobs and to the entire U.S. economy.”
  4. Scott Purcell, CEO of FundAmerica, commented succinctly, “An entire industry is being created to enable job creation and capital formation, changing the rules would seriously undermine the intent of the Act.”
  5. The “accredited investor definition is an anachronism,” according to Steven Cinelli, Founder of Primarq. “Trying to morph an old law into the digital generation is an inherent waste of time, and focus should be spent on improving disclosures.”
  6. “The bottom line is that angel funded companies hire often and hire aggressively,” says Kiran Lingam, General Counsel of SeedInvest. “To stifle angel investments in this manner [by raising accreditation standards to adjust for inflation] would be akin to shooting our economy in the foot.”
  7. “There could be a test to demonstrate a person’s experience/understanding of finance that shows they know what they are doing and the risks they are taking by making private company investments,” notes Jason Best, Co-Founder of Crowdfund Capital Advisors. “The Internet makes information more liquid and more available to everyone.”
  8. “I think that the standards should be eliminated,” says Karen McRae, Editor in Chief, CrowdfundingGuide.com. “Raising the standard amounts would be upholding the barrier to entry, which is the exact opposite of what these new rules should be doing.”
  9. “It is ridiculous that income and net worth alone are used as the litmus test for an investors sophistication,” says Jason Fritton, CEO of Patch of Land. “In today’s information based economy, an individual’s knowledge base can be completely disconnected from their current financial status. Sophisticated, knowledgeable persons should be able to make their own financial decisions regardless of whether or not they are already currently wealthy. If accredited status is meant to protect an investor by judging their ability to absorb a loss, then perhaps putting a max ratio or ceiling on the total amount of capital they should be able to commit to any one project,” Fritton adds. “As it stands, an accredited investor can still lose everything on an unfortunate investment decision, regardless of how high the cutoff is for accredited status.”
  10. “This is about letting individuals make responsible decisions with their lives,” notes Sherwood Neiss, Principal, Crowdfund Capital Advisors. “In this case, it includes financial decisions. Some people should have government protection (like the poor by keeping them from risking more than they can afford to lose) while others should be allowed to act as adults and take the responsibilities of their action without paternalistic government oversight.”
  11. “I believe the current standards are meant on one hand to show that the investor has some liquidity, ie, can ‘afford’ a loss,” says Nancy Hayes, CEO of MoolaHoop. “That may or may not be true, depending on the investor’s other financial activities. On the other hand, the idea that these standards demonstrate that the investor is ‘sophisticated’ and therefore less likely to fall prey to poor investments or worse, ‘scams,’ does not hold water.”
  12. “It would be a shame to see the definition of an accredited investor become even more onerous,” says Jilliene Helman, CEO of Realty Mogul. “The JOBS act was meant to open up the private markets for investors, and adjusting the income or net worth requirements for accredited investors upward would serve the opposite purpose.””It’s incredibly important that investors are protected, and a core focus of ours at Realty Mogul, but what we’ve found is that the majority of our investors are highly sophisticated. I’d hate to see those investors lose out on the opportunity to invest in private markets if income requirements are increased by the SEC,” Helman concluded.
  13. “A good education in financial issues should allow an individual, even if not accredited according to the present law, to invest in high risk but profitable securities,” Fabio Bancalà, CEO at Xeelion.com. “What really matters is the amount of worth invested in risky securities, since the basis of the risk management is related to the differentiation of a portfolio.”
  14. “We are not protecting smaller investors by precluding them from participating in opportunities of their choice,” says Rodrigo Nino, CEO and Founder of Prodigy Network. “Everyone should have access to the same investments irrespective to the amount of wealth they have. This will level up the playing field and our duty would be to ensure transparency, full disclosure and education for the potential investor.”
  15. “Why can anyone invest in the stock market but they can’t invest in startups or emerging private companies via crowdfunding?” asks Wendy Robbins, CEO of Redcapes.com. “The regulation doesn’t seem to be to ‘protect the average person’ it is to protect the top 1 to 10 percent’s interests. I’m excited for the time (coming soon) that anyone who has taken time to educate themselves on a company can invest in a product or service and be rewarded.”
  16. “I believe that the accredited investor qualifications are long overdue for reexamination and overhaul,” says Vincent Molinari, CEO and Founder of Gate Global Impact, Inc. “I would pose the consideration that many wealthy individuals lack the sophistication to fend for themselves as money by itself does to equal financial sophistication. How many mega athletes and entertainers have gone bankrupt? On the counter side, licensed securities professionals, CPA’s, Attorneys, [and] MBAs who regularly advise wealthy people on strategy who may have decades of experience in the financial sector, don’t qualify as accredited investors themselves simply based upon their own income or net worth.”
  17. While I recognize it has been many years since the definition has been established, I actually don’t believe any change to the numeric components of accreditation is necessary, although a much more modest tinkering would be acceptable (much less than is being sought),” says Douglas S. Ellenoff of Ellenoff Grossman & Schole LLP. “I am a proponent of including other methods of measuring sophistication to satisfy the standard such as actual experience and academic credentials as well.”
  18. Manolis Sfinarolakis, Founder and Producer of Reality Crowd TV Corporation, argues for the broadest inclusion, “Common sense is something that is learned over time. Even a CPA might have no common sense, so having an arbitrary title which only takes into account ‘Book Smarts’ is not adequate and would impede the investing opportunities for the Common sense ‘Street Smarts’ investors.”

This week, SeedInvest is rallying its community to lobby the SEC via social media using a “Thunderclap.”

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Do You Know How To Live On $1 Per Day? 1 Billion People In Poverty Do

This is a guest post from Professor Thomas A.Nazario

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Professor Thomas A.Nazario with book

When I was four years old, and on my way to have Thanksgiving dinner with my parents and brother, in what is now called Spanish Harlem, I noticed a woman and her small child going through a garbage can in the hopes of finding something for dinner. I had seen this before, even at four years of age, but something felt different that day, for after all it was Thanksgiving. You see, Thanksgiving was the only day of the year that my family went out to dinner, and I thought it was the day that everyone was supposed to eat a nice meal and give thanks for their blessings in life. It struck me that if this was how this lady and her child were going to celebrate Thanksgiving, that there must be something wrong in the world.

Fast forward some 60 years, today I find myself teaching law at a university, running a small foundation and flipping through the pages of a book I just wrote called Living on a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of the World’s Poor. I created this book largely with the help of a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist because I never forgot that lady and her child, and in the same way that I never forgot them, I don’t want the world to forget the world’s poor. In short, I believe we spend too much time focusing on the lives of the rich and famous and nowhere near enough time trying to relieve the suffering of one sixth of the world’s people who, in fact, live on less than a dollar a day.

While the reasons for poverty may be different across geographic regions and political circumstances, the results are much the same everywhere: poverty robs people of options in life. While the poor often work very hard at jobs many of us would not even consider doing, they earn close to nothing. Not having access to basic health care and education keeps them at the bottom of the economic ladder, usually for generations.

Living on a Dollar a Day shares the personal stories of some of the poorest of the poor in our global community and encourages compassionate action on the part of those who care to help. The stories and photographs in the book offer a glimpse into the everyday realities of individuals and families facing extreme poverty. These profiles give voice to their experience and their struggles, while honoring their lives and their human dignity. The accompanying text provides accessible information on the root causes of global poverty and offers suggestions on how each of us can get involved to help the world’s poor.

I am neither a billionaire nor millionaire, but simply an individual who is trying to encourage others like me to do a little good in this world. The truth is that most of us have the capacity to help a child, a family, a school, or an orphanage, that but for the help and kindness of others, would not have the tools to escape extreme poverty. (See: http://theforgottenintl.org/documentary.html)

My foundation, The Forgotten International, was built on the premise that we all have the ability to leave this world better than how we found it. I created our “Twelve Simple Beliefs” as a guide to how we approach our work. While we focus on helping impoverished women and children around the world, there are so many other ways of doing good. In fact, one doesn’t have to go around the world to find those in need; the truth is that we can simply go around the block.

I believe it is important to keep thoughts of giving and caring in mind as we move through life if we wish to create a life that is fulfilling and meaningful. These are important lessons to teach our children as well, for often too much time these days is spent playing video games, trying to look a certain way, or simply getting way too enthralled in consumption and / or taking, rather than giving.

I should point out that giving is not a totally selfless act, for in helping others, we often feel better about ourselves and feel a sense of unity with others in our world. Volunteering one’s time to serve those in need can be done with friends and colleagues, and parents can introduce the idea of service to their children, and giving can become a family tradition. It brings added meaning to our lives, and it is a valuable use of our time and energy. It is truly a blessing to be in a position to help.

I do hope you that you will consider the needs of others in your everyday life, whether you are a person of great wealth or someone who occasionally has to give up a nice dinner out for yourself in order to donate a simple meal to others. I also hope you will take the time to learn more about the world’s poor, either through your direct service to others or by picking up a copy of Living on a Dollar a Day.

Connect with Tom Nazario @ThomasNazario

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Young Social Entrepreneur Rebuilding Education

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Chase Winder, a young social entrepreneur whom I recently met through my local Rotary Club, is working to dramatically improve education in the United States through his nonprofit Digital Learning Alliance or DLA, which advocates the use of technology that personalizes the learning experience for each student.

Launched less than two years ago, ”DLA is working to scale this model nationally in all 50 states and we are currently working in some capacity in 44 states,” Winder says. “State legislatures have the power to quickly and effectively implement quality technology enhancements that are improving student and teacher outcomes.”

DLA has assembled a high quality board and a deep management team, including a board members Stephen Lasters, who serves as McGraw Hill Education’s Chief Digital Officer, and Tom Schenck, the President of Follett School Solutions.

Winder,who is officially the Managing Director of DLA, will join me on Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 4:00 Eastern for a live discussion about his ambitious effort to improve education. Tune in here then to watch the interview.

More about the Digital Learning Alliance:

To improve economic growth across America by advocating for personalized education through the use of digital learning technologies as we empower legislators with the resources to pass new legislation—state by state—integrating technology solutions in pre-K–12, higher education, and adult learning, resulting in the skilled workforce of the future.

Winder’s bio:

Social impact is an integral part of my life and inspiration for what I do every day. After graduating from the University of Utah and moving home to Salt Lake City from Washington DC two years ago I co-founded a national education nonprofit called the Digital Learning Alliance (DLA). The vision of DLA is to help students of every age by providing education research and program templates to solve dozens of educational issues by leveraging proven digital learning technologies, which can multiply the effectiveness of teachers and enable students to achieve their full potential. Prior to DLA I spent two years in Washington DC and Virginia working in policy and politics. My experience in policy comes from supporting legislation as a Research and Policy Fellow on water, oil, and Middle Eastern issues for U.S. Congressman Jim Matheson. And during the heat of the 2012 Presidential election I had the fortunate opportunity to become a congressional Communications Director for Retired Air Force Brigadier General John Douglass in Virginia’s battleground 5th District.

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Crowdfunding Leaps Forward Beyond Hype To Solve Big-World Problems

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Much of the hype around crowdfunding has frustratingly proved to be so much hot air. The United Nations Global Compact and the U.S. State Department are working to change that by bringing crowdfunding forward to finance projects in the developing world, especially projects designed to address the social problems endemic there.

U.S.-based crowdfunding site Gate Global Impact is partnering with the UN Global Compact to launch Gateway 2.0, a site that will allow members of the UN Global Compact’s Social Enterprise Hub to access capital of from $500,000 to $10 million.

Rosedel Davies-Adewebi, project manager for social enterprise and impact investing at the UN Global Compact, explained that through this innovative partnership the UN Global Compact hopes to advance this form of equity crowdfunding as a new approach to impact investing, addressing gaps in the missing middle of finance and connect capital to impactful businesses addressing critical areas related to the UN-Post 2015 agenda.

Similarly, the U.S. State Department will soon launch a partnership with the crowdfunding site RocketHub to accelerate social impact projects from 60 countries around the world.

On Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 1:00 Eastern, Davies-Adewebi, Vincent Molinari, CEO of Gate Global Impact, and Daniella Foster, the director of public-private partnerships for the U.S. State Department, will join me to talk about the potential for crowdfunding to play a critical role in international development and the eradication of poverty. Tune in here then to watch the interview.

More about the UN Global Compact:

The UN Global Compact is a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. Endorsed by chief executives, the Global Compact is a practical framework for the development, implementation, and disclosure of sustainability policies and practices, offering participants a wide spectrum of workstreams, management tools and resources — all designed to help advance sustainable business models and markets.

To further promote the advancement of sustainable business models, the UN Global Compact has launched a workstream focused on the concepts of Social Enterprise and Impact investing. The aim of the workstream is to build an enabling environment for corporations within the Global Compact, investors and social enterprises that will facilitate the formation of partnerships designed to advance innovations addressing development challenges.

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Rosedel Davies-Adewebi

Davies-Adewebi’s bio:

Rosedel Davies-Adewebi is the Project Manager for the Social Enterprise and Impact Investing workstream of the United Nations Global Compact. The workstream is designed to build an enabling environment to support the formation of partnerships among social enterprises, corporations and investors . The partnerships have the aim to advance innovations addressing global development challenges. At the UN Global Compact, Rosedel is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the workstream and leading its operations globally.

Rosedel has spent the last eight years developing programs and managing projects designed to connect social innovators with financing and technical assistance to scale impact. Prior to joining the UN Global Compact, she served as a consultant on impact measurement data to the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN). Rosedel’s other professional experience includes developing the investment strategy for a seed fund providing financing for maternal and child health innovations at the Tony Elumelu Foundation, a Lagos, Nigeria based foundation. The seed fund served as the foundation’s commitment to the United Nations Secretary General’s Every Woman, Every Child Campaign. In addition to this, she worked with Project Enterprise, a New York City based- micro-finance fund to grow their loan portfolio. For her work at Project Enterprise, she received the United Way’s Emerging Junior Leader Fellowship in 2007.

She began her career in 2003 as a commercial banker for Wachovia and served on the team responsible for launching Wachovia’s first commercial operations in New York City.

Rosedel received an MBA from the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business, where she was a recipient of the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Scholarship and served as a fellow on the Frankel Commercialization Fund, a student-run pre-seed venture fund. She also holds bachelors’ degrees in Economics and International Relations from Boston University.

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Daniella Foster

Foster’s bio:

Daniella M. Foster is a policy innovator and social entrepreneur. She has worked in government, business and the non-profit sectors. Ms. Foster serves as a Director of Public-Private Partnerships at the U.S. Department of State, where she leads the establishment of partnerships which commit skills and capital for social impact projects in over 165 countries.

She previously served as the Chief of Staff for the Secretary of State’s Senior Advisor for Civil Society and Emerging Democracies, where she managed the work of the office to implement policy initiatives and partnerships designed to strengthen emerging democracies and civil society worldwide. She has spearheaded a variety of Presidential initiatives, including global public-private partnerships that help grow small and medium businesses, connect entrepreneurs from around the world, and develop job skills via mobile technology.

A respected authority on strategic partnerships, Ms. Foster has worked in six continents, tripling growth in agreements with Fortune 500 companies and international organizations, and was named one of the Diplomatic Courier’s “Top 99 Under 33 Foreign Policy Leaders” and featured in Washington Life Magazine as one of Washington’s most influential leaders in 2013.

She is passionate about social entrepreneurship and serves as the CEO and Co-founder of the Emergent Leaders Network (ELN), a non-profit that provides scholarships and mentoring to community college students. She currently serves on the advisory board for Noodle, the first and only life-long education related search company in the world.

Ms. Foster holds a M.A. in Social and Public Policy from Georgetown University and a B.A. in Intercultural Communications and Business from Pepperdine University.

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Vince Molinari

Molinari’s bio:

Vince Molinari has been recognized by Forbes as one of the “Top 10 Most Influential People in Crowdfunding.”

The consummate visionary and serial entrepreneur, Vince has always been a driving force in creating new market infrastructure bringing efficiency, transparency and liquidity to the unstructured global alternative asset markets.

Vince’s vision of opening the private market for investment can spearhead economic growth and job creation, leading him to be on of the early voices and champions of the recently passed JOBS Act.

Vince’s most recent start-up is GATE Global Impact whose mission is based on a core belief that actionable knowledge drives investments, and that technology can close the gap between traditional and emerging alternative markets. GGI is fast becoming the leading electronic marketplace platform that is helping the world’s leading organizations tale impact investing to the next level. GGI enables investors to identify and transact in securities, which provide sustainable social and environmental benefits in addition to a financial return by bringing efficiency, transparency and liquidity to historically fragmented processes. GGI partners include the UN, OPIC, Microsoft, Yunus Social Business, Prudential and other leading financial and technology organizations.

Vince is an active speaker on issues related to capital markets and early-stage companies, and regularly speaks at events around the world. He has been invited to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services, Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises, and regularly consults with both members of Congress and regulatory agencies on these issues.

Vince is a founding board member of the Crowdfund Intermediary Regulatory Advocates (CFIRA), a self-regulating association that works with governmental and quasi-governmental entities to help establish crowdfunding industry standards and best practices. He is also a co-founder of the Crowdfunding Professional Association (CfPA), a leading trade organization for the Crowdfund industry and sits on the board of CF50 a global think tank of 50 of the leading minds from academia, policy and industry.

Vince is also the founder of Global Access Holdings LLC, a financial media and analytics company, which identified a global trend line of illiquid securities and the potential market need for alternative asset trading platforms. Prior to Global Access Holdings, he was chairman and CEO of Burlington Capital Markets LLC, a financial services company specializing in institutional execution services and investment banking activities. In addition, he co-founded Inculab, a technology business incubator.

Vince began his career at Lehman Brothers Inc., and has held senior positions at Janney Montgomery Scott Inc. and Ridgewood Capital Funding, LLC.

He has been featured on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Lang and O’Leary Exchange” and been quoted and published in a wide range of business media including the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Bloomberg News, Advance Trading and Securities Technology Monitor.

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Sustainability Moves This Social Entrepreneur

Stephanie Stettler takes doing good seriously. Beginning with a masters degree in Leadership for Sustainability from Portland State University, she has built her career around having impact. Today, she helps lead the Salt Lake Impact Hub.

Stephanie will be speaking at the Social Enterprise and Crowdfunding Conference (SECFC14) on September 26, 2014 at Snowbird.

On Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 5:00 Eastern, Stephanie will join me for a live discussion about her passion for social impact. Tune in right here then to watch the interview live.

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

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Stephanie’s bio:

Stephanie Stettler is Programming Director and on the founding team of Impact Hub Salt Lake.  Stephanie is working to build an ecosystem of social enterprise that cultivates learning, mobilizes stakeholders, and accelerates new ventures. She brings to Impact Hub Salt Lake 8 years of experience developing programs for purpose driven organizations that improve environmental, economic and social impact. 

Previously, Stephanie developed programs for sustainable business conferences and social cause summits across the United States, at Portland-based event company Social Enterprises, Inc. There she led sustainability initiatives and impact measurement to become a certified B Corp and a leading sustainable event production company.  Stephanie holds a BS in Economics from the University of Utah and an MS in Leadership for Sustainability Education from Portland State University. 

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Devin D. Thorpe

Skier Flips Perception Of Disability, Proves Capability

Chris Waddell, world-class athlete and founder of One Revolution, is turning perceptions of disability upside-down.

Chris was a competitive skier in college when he broke his back, rising to become the most decorated mono-skier in men’s Paralympic history. He launched One Revolution to redefine disability.

Tweet: Chris Waddell launched @One_Revolution to redefine disability. - http://ctt.ec/fc8Bp+ via @devindthorpe

On Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 3:00 Eastern, Chris will join me for a live discussion about his work. Tune in right here to watch the interview live.

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

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More about Chris:

Chris Waddell always thought that the lessons he learned in sports would provide the foundation for later success. As a ski racer at Middlebury College in 1988, he had no idea how profoundly one moment could change and paradoxically enhance that conviction. On December 20th his ski popped off in the middle of a turn. He fell, broke two vertebrae, and damaged the spinal cord. Paralyzed from the waist down he learned and achieved more than he could have imagined.

He returned to college just two months after the accident, started monoskiing in less than a year and was named to the US Disabled Ski Team a little more than two years after that paradoxical moment. With 12 Paralympic medals, he became the most decorated male monoskier in history. Also a track athlete, he’s one of a handful to have won World Championships in both the winter and the summer. He competed in four Winter Paralympics winning 12 medals and three Summer Paralympics winning a silver medal in the 200 meters in Sydney. In World Championship competition, Waddell won 9 total medals: four gold, one silver, one bronze; six in the winter and three in the summer.

Waddell was inducted into the US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and the Paralympics Hall of Fame. The Dalai Lama honored him as an “Unsung Hero of Compassion”. People Magazine named him one of the “Fifty Most Beautiful People in the World.” Skiing Magazine placed him amongst the “25 Greatest Skiers in North America.” Middlebury College presented him with a Doctorate in Humane Letters.

In September of 2009 Waddell became the first paraplegic to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro almost entirely under his own power. His team carried him for approximately 100 feet of the 19,340 mountain. The film documenting the climb has won awards throughout the world. He has appeared on Dateline, Oprah and 20/20.

He is the founder of the One Revolution Foundation and speaks throughout the country sharing his universal message, “It’s not what happens to you. It’s what you do with what happens to you.”

Currently Waddell resides in Park City, Utah where he can be seen out and about keeping fit on his hand cycle and racer. He travels the country year round presenting the Foundation’s Nametags school program, speaking to corporate groups and screening the documentary. Waddell is working on a book to chronicle his journey while also planning his newest adventure – a cross country bike tour to highlight the foundation. He also continues to be actively involved with the Paralympics as an ambassador for the International Paralympic Committee and is a color analyst for the Games.

Highlights

  • Dalai Lama Unsung Hero of Compassion
  • Thirteen Paralympic medals
  • World Champion in both winter and summer sports
  • Most medals of any American male Paralympic skier
  • Doctor of Humane Letters, Middlebury College
  • First Ambassador International Paralympic Committee
  • Founder One Revolution Foundation
  • First unassisted paraplegic to summit Mt Kilimanjaro
  • Paralympic Hall of Fame
  • US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame
  • People Magazine “50 Most Beautiful People”
  • Skiing Magazine “25 Greatest Skiers in North America”

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One Woman Working To Free 15 Million Refugees

Over 15 million people in the world are living as refugees. According to Emily Arnold-Fernandez, the executive director of Asylum Access, the average time in a refugee camp is now almost 20 year.

Less than 1% of refugees reach the US, Canada, Europe and Australia combined each year,” she says. “In many places, refugees aren’t allowed to move freely, work, attend school, or open a bank account, so they can’t rebuild their lives. They’re forced to depend on aid.”

Tweet: “Less than 1% of refugees reach the US, Canada, Europe and Australia combined.” -@asylumaccess via @devindthorpe http://ctt.ec/w0knA+

Emily says, “Asylum Access is changing this, by focusing on refugees’ rights. We believe that when refugees enjoy their rights, they can fulfill their own needs.”

On Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 2:00 Eastern, Emily will join me for a live discussion about the work of Asylum Access. Tune in here then to watch the interview.

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

More about Asylum Access:

Asylum Access is an innovative international nonprofit dedicated to making refugee rights a reality. Asylum Access empowers refugees in Africa, Asia and Latin America to live safely, work, send children to school and rebuild their lives. Asylum Access is the only international organization solely dedicated to making refugee rights a reality in first countries of refuge. By helping refugees assert their rights, we are putting power back into their hands. We provide direct legal assistance and education to over 10,000 refugees annually in Ecuador, Thailand and Tanzania, reaching hundreds of thousands more through policy advocacy and strategic litigation. Our work transforms the traditional approach of endless humanitarian handouts to a sustainable solution that gives refugees the tools to provide for themselves and make choices about their own lives.

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Emily’s bio:

Emily Arnold-Fernández, the founder and executive director of Asylum Access, is a social entrepreneur and human rights pioneer. A lawyer who has advocated nationally and internationally for the human rights of women, children, and other vulnerable individuals, Emily first became involved in refugee rights in 2002, when she represented refugees in United Nations proceedings in Cairo, Egypt. Recognizing that refugees throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America – some of whom flee with nothing more than the clothes on their backs – were almost always unequipped to go into a legal proceeding in a foreign country, alone, and explain why they should not be deported, Emily founded Asylum Access to advocate on behalf of refugees seeking to assert their rights.

For her innovative approach to the global refugee crisis, Emily was honored by the Dalai Lama as one of 50 “Unsung Heroes of Compassion” from around the world (2009), Waldzell Institute’s Architects of the Future Award (2012) and Grinnell College Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize (2013). She has also been recognized as Pomona College’s Inspirational Young Alumna (2006), awarded the prestigious Echoing Green fellowship (2007), and recognized as the New Leaders Council’s 40 Under 40 (2010), among others. Emily holds a B.A. cum laude from Pomona College and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

A visionary human rights activist, Emily Arnold-Fernández takes her inspiration from a line in a June Jordan poem: “We are the ones we have been waiting for.” Emily is particularly passionate about Asylum Access because it has the power to transform refugee rights from paper promises to on-the-ground reality. “For half a century, international law has given refugees the rights to live safely, seek employment, send children to school and rebuild their lives. But those rights are meaningless unless they are respected on the ground,” she says. “Asylum Access provides a rare opportunity to fill a gaping hole in our human rights system – by making refugee rights a reality for real people.”

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PopNod Reinvents Online Shopping, Donates to Nonprofits

Social entrepreneur Stephanie David has reinvented the online shopping experience, by magically offering shoppers both a discount and the promise that her company, PopNod, will donate a portion of proceeds to a cause you choose.

On Thursday, July 10, 2014 at noon Eastern, Stephanie will join me here for a live interview to talk about the innovative new site. Tune in here then to watch the interview.

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

More about PopNod:

PopNod is a social good online shopping destination that enables you to save money at your favorite stores while supporting the causes you care about. Members choose from hundreds of popular handpicked stores and numerous nonprofits and organizations. With every purchase, members earn cashback rewards, and PopNod matches 20% and donates to your favorite causes. PopNod does all the hard work so that you can focus on saving money and making your impact - a win/win for you and your causes. The e-commerce platform has expanded with the launch of PopNod for Employers, a Corporate Social Responsibility solution.

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Stephanie’s bio:

Stephanie David is an entrepreneur and explorer of life with a passion for building solutions for social impact and revolutionizing the way e-commerce connects with social good. Stephanie was selected by Business News Daily as one of “10 Female Entrepreneurs Who Inspired Us in 2013.”

As an intrapreneur, Stephanie drove new business growth in large Fortune 50 corporations. Stephanie brings with her 12 years of experience in technology, business development, sales, operations management, partnership development, client management, marketing, and branding. She was fortunate to have worked at major corporations with highly innovative charitable giving and corporate social responsibility programs.

A chance trip to an elephant farm in Chiang Mai, Thailand propelled her to leave her most recent career with Microsoft in 2013 to revolutionize the way people make their impact on the world. Currently, Stephanie is helping people discover how to live at the intersection of style and social good. PopNod has been featured in major media outlets, including ABC News, US News & World Report, Netted by Webbys, Trend Hunter, and Business News Daily.

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