Devin Thorpe, founder of the Your Mark on the World Center, calls himself a champion of social good. He writes about, advocates for and advises those who are doing good. He travels extensively to share his message as a keynote speaker, emcee and trainer. As a Forbes Contributor he covers social entrepreneurship and impact investing. His books on personal finance and crowdfunding draw on his entrepreneurial finance experience as an investment banker, CFO, treasurer, and mortgage broker helping people use financial resources to do good. Previously he worked on the U.S. Senate Banking committee staff and earned an MBA at Cornell.

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Social Entrepreneurs In Seattle Are Scaling To Change The World

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Michael “Luni” Libes is the founder of Fledge, an accelerator for social entrepreneurs in Seattle that has already launched some remarkable social enterprises.

Community Sourced Capital is one the “Fledglings,” the startup companies launched at Fledge. The company created a crowdfunding platform for making zero interest loans for local, community-based businesses.

Close to Home, another Fledgling company, is a marketplace for post-disaster shelters designed to keep people in our near their homes during reconstruction. Close to Home has three models, including one with kitchen and bathroom that can be used for up to two years.

On February 3, 2014 at 6:00 Eastern Libes will join me for a live discussion with some of the executives from his Fledglings, including Casey Dilloway and Rachel Maxwell of Community Sourced Capital and Rachel Stamm and Jennifer Williams of Close to Home.

Tune in and listen while you work.

Libes’s bio:

Luni is a serial entrepreneur who over the past two decades has helped build six start-ups, five of which he founded: Ground Truth (mobile analytics), Medio Systems (mobile search), Mforma (mobile gaming and applications), 2WAY (enterprise collaboration), and Nimble (pen computing).

Luni is an Entrepreneur in Residence and Instructor at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, and author of “The Next Step: Guiding you from Idea to Startup”

Luni is a co-creator and organizer of #SocEnt Weekend, a hands-on, action-based, 50 hour weekend event for creating impactful companies. http://socentweekend.org

Most recently, Luni is the founder of Fledge LLC, the “conscious company” incubator. Fledge accelerate companies meeting the needs of the large and growing number of environmentally, socially, community and sustainable conscious consumers. http://fledge.co

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Michael “Luni” Libes

Maxwell’s bio:

I’m all about giving back to communities. We need to move capital in the direction of things we value. CSC helps everyone create real value with their money.

DIlloway’s bio:

Right now, I’m focused on building a sustainable finance company that helps small businesses borrow money directly from people in their community. We launched the business in the summer of 2012 with the help of Fledge, the conscious company incubator.

Besides CSC, I’m excited to be part of some of the most vibrant socially and environmentally-focused business communities in Seattle including the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, HUB and Social Venture Partners.

Stamm’s bio:

Rachel has an MBA in Sustainable Systems & a Certificate in the Sustainable Built Environment, both from Bainbridge Graduate Institute, & 13 years experience in housing people as a Seattle Real Estate Broker.

An advocate for the necessary shift toward a sustainable built environment, Rachel understands the impact that the space in which we spend our time has upon our health, mindset and spirit. Rachel is invested in making the business case for sustainable, healthy housing that supports, in multiple ways, the people in need of emergency housing. She believes this work is a social justice issue.

Williams’s bio:

Jennifer has 18 years experience working in the mental health field (providing various clinical services such as therapy and care management.) She understands the importance of listening to clients’ needs as a way to assist them in discovering solutions and meeting goals. Here at Close to Home, she feels her role is very similar: tuning in to customer post-disaster housing needs and problems and matching them with the most appropriate shelter solutions.

Jennifer is excited to be a part of Close to Home because she believes disaster housing can be accomplished in a more cost-efficient, humane and sustainable manner.

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Please help me continue this conversation below, on Twitter or on my personal website.

Hooked on giving

This is a guest post from Meredith James, Program Director of the One Percent Foundation.

Why do we give?

This question flummoxed Darwin and puzzled social scientists. Parts of evolutionary and economic theory are based on the principal that in order to survive and be successful, people must put themselves first, so why do we forgo our personal gains for benefit of others by engaging in charity?

Quite simply, giving feels good.

Members of the One Percent Foundation (OPF), regular Joes and Janes, willingly part with at least 1% of their income each month to participate in an online giving circle. They pool their resources with peers who are passionate about the same causes and decide collectively how to award the money. The collaborative nature of giving circles both amplifies financial impact and fosters a chance for members to share and learn from each other. It’s social, fun, and comes with the warm, fuzzy feeling of doing good. The potent combination of benefits has members hooked.

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“Simply put — I’m addicted,” exclaims OPF member Marian Zizzo. “Becoming a partner at OPF has taught me how to give wisely and has exposed me to tons of nonprofits doing amazing work in this world. When I see how a small amount of money can make a big impact through our collective power, I get an overwhelming feeling of happiness. Today, philanthropy is a part of my everyday life and I crave it as much as a daily cup of coffee.”

Research from a recent study backs up what OPF hears anecdotally from members. It turns out that fuzzy feeling has a scientific basis and is very real. Dr. Bill Harbaugh at the University of Oregon researched how the brain activates during acts of charity, and was specifically looking for evidence of the “sense of agency associated with giving,” or in less technical terms, “warm glow.” According to Dr. Harbaugh, brain scans revealed that when study participants decided to be philanthropic, there was a neural response similar to that of receiving money. Further, the part of the brain that controls cravings for food and sex also activated during acts of charity. In a nutshell, the desire to help others is controlled by the same part of the brain that controls the desire to eat and procreate.

A separate study by Dr. Jordan Grafman showed that the brain might reward philanthropy so favorably because altruism and social relationships are connected. This makes sense because the benefits of social bonds motivate people to behave unselfishly. The OPF model taps into both giving and social networks, allowing members to not only connect with the causes they are giving to, but also to the people they are giving with.Former OPF circle member Janet Daly Bauman explains that she and her husband “like the feeling of community that comes with a giving circle because we can create friendships and have benefits beyond writing checks.”

The good feeling of giving can, quite literally, be habit-forming. Research shows that people who begin giving young are more inclined to give throughout their lifetimes. The OPF vision is to build the next generation of philanthropists and our circles are great places to start.Janet explains that prior to being in a circle, they rarely gave in an organized manner, but after joining OPF, “we were able to make philanthropy a habit and build it into our monthly budget.”

They have left the OPF circle, but are still actively involved in giving. “Now that we’re used to setting aside 1% annually, it’s easy to keep that going,” Janet notes.

Are you still unconvinced that giving makes you feel good? OPF operates a giving circle platform, where any group of people — from a book club, to a kickball team, to an alumni chapter — can sign up and donate together. Start your own! Or, take one of our established giving circles out for a spin. The Next Gen Circle, a national circle with rotating issue areas, is a great place to start. Start small, with 1% of your income, and experience for yourself how great it feels to give.

Meredith James, Program Director

Meredith holds a Masters of Public Policy from the University of Maryland, where she spent two years working as a graduate assistant for the Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership. Currently, she is on the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Road Runners Club. Prior to graduate school, Meredith worked for two years in the private sector for a print marketing firm. She has a dual-BS in International Business and Marketing from the University of Maryland. A Maryland native, she now resides in San Francisco, where she enjoys running in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge and sampling the finest coffee and chocolate the city has to offer.

The Nature Conservancy CEO On Entrepreneurship For The Environment

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

When Mark Tercek took the reigns as CEO of The Nature Conservancy in 2008 he brought a new perspective. As a Managing Director at Goldman Sachs, Tercek’s career evolved into a focus on sustainability, recognizing the vast economic value of nature and the ability of business to actually contribute profitably to the health of the planet.

In Tercek’s book, Nature’s Fortune, How Business and Society Thrive in Nature, he explains how his experiences at Goldman Sachs and at TNC prove that protecting the environment makes economic sense. For example, he called attention to a shift in attitude at CocaCola, noting that in 2002 water was not listed as an important input in its annual report and by 2012, water had become a key focus. CocaCola has adopted a policy of “replenishment,” with the goal of creating ecological means of returning as much water to the environment as the company uses. Not to be outdone, Pepsi has promised to become “water positive.” Tercek explains the economics that have driven the shift and how preserving and restoring the natural environment can be much more affordable than “gray infrastructure,” man-made remedies like levies, dikes and sea walls.

On Monday, February 3, 2014 at 3:00 Eastern, Tercek will join me for a live discussion about the role of business and entrepreneurs–and others–in the effort to protect the environment and turn back climate change.

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Mark Tercek, CEO of the Nature Conservancy (Photo credit: Fortune Live Media)

Tune in here and listen while you work.

According to a Nature Conservancy Magazine article about Tercek, first sought to leave Goldman Sachs in 2005 to pursue work focused on the environment, but Chairman Henry Paulson convinced him to stay by inviting him to form a new group, the Goldman Sachs’ Environmental Strategy Group, where he could work on his passion. When the opportunity came up, however, to head The Nature Conservancy in 2008, he jumped at the chance.

Tercek attributes his desire to work for the preservation of the environment to his role as a parent. “I want to be able to look my kids in the eye,” he says, “and tell them I did all I could to leave the world a better place.”

Before beginning his 24 years at Goldman, Tercek completed an MBA at Harvard after earning a BA at Williams College.

This interview is part of a series that will examine what can be accomplished in the fight to solve the world’s biggest challenges within the next thirty years. The solution to every big problem also presents opportunities entrepreneurs will exploit to change the world. From this series of interviews, a book, working title: Thirty Years to Peace, will emerge.

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Please help me continue this conversation below, on Twitter or on my personal website.

Where Does Crowdfunding Go From Here? Experts Explain

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Crowdfunding is a genuine phenomenon. If you include—as many people do—the newly created market for “private issuers publicly raising” or PIPRs using the new SEC rules allowing general solicitation of accredited investors allowed under the 2012 JOBS Act signed by President Obama, 2014 could see over $10 billion of crowdfunded transactions. Crowdfunding is going mainstream.

Beyond scale, the impact on the economy, the venture capital industry and on entrepreneurs—especially women and minorities—is intriguing. Slava Rubin, the founder of crowdfunding giant Indiegogo, put it this way:

2013 was a banner year for crowdfunding as we saw the world grow increasingly comfortable voting with their dollar to fund what matters to them. At Indiegogo, the number of campaigns on our platform grew across industries and geographies. Since equity crowdfunding hit the national agenda two years ago, Indiegogo has grown by more than 1000%, clearly demonstrating that democratizing funding is a great thing for our economy.

Last week VentureBeat published a list of the 100 most influential thought leaders in the crowdfunding community. They identified 800 people and ultimately ranked 30 as the most influential people in rapidly growing industry. I was excited to be included on the list at number 16 and took the opportunity to reach out to several of those on the list, including Rubin, to get their take on crowdfunding’s future.

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English: , founder of venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, widely recognized creator of “viral marketing” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In order to get a read on the impact that crowdfunding will have on the venture capital industry, I asked famed VC Tim Draper of Draper Fisher Jurvetson to comment.

I am excited by the possibilities of a broader marketplace for capital. I believe that there is a better way to raise money for startups, and crowdfunding shows great promise.

I expect a lot of entrepreneurs will have an easier time getting money for their businesses, and I expect venture capitalists to have more competition from angels. I also expect over the long haul that companies may be able to go public without actually going through the investment banking gauntlet.

I am excited to see the opportunities that crowdfunding creates. I expect venture capital to be completely transformed over the next decade. I hope the government gives clear direction here. We voted in the JOBS Act, but there is not clear direction on all the aspects yet.

Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC) receives much of the credit for helping to pass the JOBS Act in 2012 with broad bipartisan support in the House of Representatives. The historic legislation completely changes the landscape for small investors, including accredited investors who have not traditionally invested in privately issued securities. I reached out to him to gauge Congressional interest in tweaking crowdfunding rules. He seems ready to go.

Friction and costs determine which securities exemption our nation’s startups and small enterprises exercise when raising capital – or whether they can to begin with. Attentive to the comments and concerns by leaders in disruptive finance, who have expressed to policymakers and the Securities Exchange Commission that the Commission’s crowdfunding proposal shortchanges our nation’s potential to democratize finance and unlock opportunities for everyday entrepreneurs, I am prepared to revisit and rectify legislative missteps of the JOBS Act.

I firmly believe that the power of crowdsourcing and equity-crowdfunding has only scratched the surface as a democratic means to discovering our nation’s best and brightest. As charitable and donation-based crowdfunding continually matures and invests billions of dollars in small enterprises, I am ready to defend well-designed rules for equity-crowdfunding that empower traditionally overlooked innovators – such as women and minorities – and propel the democratization of finance, unlocking new opportunities for investors and startups for generations to come.

Indiegogo’s Rubin is certainly one of the most prominent voices in the crowdfunding world. He commented for Forbes on the company’s recent results and future strategies:

The potential for equity crowdfunding is very exciting. Indiegogo has been strongly in favor of equity crowdfunding since we pioneered perks-based crowdfunding in 2008. Equity crowdfunding is a key step on our mission toward democratizing finance by allowing people not only to fund, but to invest in what matters to them.

We certainly expect that equity crowdfunding has the chance to be a major part of our business. Adding equity crowdfunding would allow Indiegogo to welcome a new segment of funders motivated by profit. That said, we have a robust and rapidly growing perks-based business at Indiegogo without equity. Since one of the biggest reasons people turn to Indiegogo is to raise non-dilutive capital, we expect such range of needs to remain wide in a post-equity crowdfunding world.

We have been doing research on how to use equity crowdfunding since our inception and even represented the crowdfunding industry at the White House during the signing of the JOBS Act. Since then, we have played a crucial role working with the White House and the SEC to finalize the rules and regulations. Today, we continue to do research and seek clarity as we look to move forward.

At this point, it’s too early to tell how Indiegogo would incorporate equity crowdfunding into our platform. We are actively involved with the SEC and other key stakeholders, but will need to learn more before deciding how we might implement equity. This is something we plan on actively exploring in 2014.

Indiegogo will continue on its path toward becoming a permanent fixture of the financial ecosystem. We envision a world where access to capital is democratized and passionate people around the world are empowered to bring their dreams to life with the help of like-minded individuals. The pending change in regulations to allow equity crowdfunding will certainly expand opportunities for people within the United States. We have been consistently taking feedback from our customers and the general public about how we can improve Indiegogo, as it relates to investing and other forms of fundraising, and we will continue to optimize and modify the product with this customer focus.

Kendall Almerico, founder and CEO of FundHub, a firm that provides services to the crowdfunding community and operates his own crowdfunding site, ClickStartMe, commented on his passion for crowdfunding and the surprises he says we shouldn’t expect:

I have spent many years as a lawyer helping people start businesses. Before 2008, I could call a bank and help an entrepreneur get a line of credit or I could go to angel investors and arrange for startup capital. When banks stopped lending and angels moved away from startups, it left everyone who wanted to start a small business without startup capital.

When I read about the JOBS Act, I knew that equity crowdfunding done the right way could bring back the American Dream for those new small businesses. Since then, I have worked hard to educate the public about crowdfunding and the opportunities it brings for businesses, everyday investors and the economy in general. The thought of democratizing the investment process while building new businesses really excites me.

I constantly hear naysayers argue that selling securities online to everyday people through equity crowdfunding, instead of just to sophisticated investors as in the past 80 years, is going to create a great deal of fraud. I don’t believe it will. The SEC and FINRA will set in place safeguards making it difficult, and expensive, for anyone to raise funds for a fraudulent company. More importantly, “the crowd” has done a very good job policing fraud on rewards-based crowdfunding sites, and in equity crowdfunding offerings abroad. I think the instances of fraud occurring in equity crowdfunding will be few and far between.

Taken together, an interesting trend emerges. Traditional capital flows from nonprofits to investment banking are being disintermediated. People, causes and businesses that need capital have access through the internet, social media and crowdfunding platforms to capital that they simply could not access before. As this trend grows, crowds will demonstrate a different sort of wisdom, sometimes funding causes that foundations wouldn’t or entrepreneurs that VCs wouldn’t. Traditionalists argue that the crowd will simply make mistakes. We’ll see, won’t we?

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Please help me continue this conversation below, on Twitter or on my personal website.

Founder Of Authentity, Scott Tanksley, Working To Bring Good To Corporations

By working with corporations to engage employees in causes they actually care about, Authentity aims to change corporate social responsibility programs for good.

On Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 4:00 Eastern, Authentity founder Scott Tanksley will join me for a live discussion about the startup’s drive for social impact.

Tune in and listen while you work.

Scott’s bio:

Scott has 5 years experience in corporate real estate, 10 years in management and leadership coaching.
He loves a good game in almost any sport, and rarely meets an ice cream he can’t become best friends with. Scott and his family reside in Atlanta, Georgia.

Weirdest Food You’ve Eaten? Chocolate-covered ants and something in Romania I’m still not sure about.

First Music Concert? I think I was 10. Went to see Kenny Rogers with my mom and sister. Gambler!
Biggest Daring Thrill? Flying a fighter jet with a former Navy carrier pilot. Ready to go again!
Things That Make You Go, “Hmm?” Why is there only the word discombobulated? “I’m in a groove. I’m completely “bobulated!”

Video Interview Firm HireVue Launches WorldVue Project

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Salt Lake-based HireVue is an Inc. 500 company that provides digital interview services at enterprise scale to nearly 20 percent of the Fortune 500. The company is launching a new service package called WorldVue that will be absolutely free of charge for qualified nonprofits, allowing them to use the platform for hiring and other strategic interactions across time zones and around the globe.

On Friday, January 24, 2014 at 7:00 PM, HireVue CEO Mark Newman will join me for a live discussion about the new offering.

Tune in and listen while you work.

At the scheduled time, the video will be embedded here for live viewing. A replay will be permanently available.

“Technology should help facilitate social good. Non-profits have suffered just as much as enterprise companies when it comes to archaic ways of identifying, interviewing and interacting with the best talent,” Newman said. “WorldVue can help build the world’s best non-profits by allowing volunteers to better identify how they can contribute, and by creating a better volunteer experience along the way.”

According to the company, WorldVue is already being implemented by VSO, a leading international development NGO that fights poverty through volunteers, which recruited nearly 700 volunteers last year for placements in more than 30 countries worldwide.

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“Volunteers are at the heart of our organisation. We bring volunteers together with local partners to develop health and education services, opportunities to earn a living and to give poor people a voice. They share skills and experience to create lasting positive change worldwide,” said Ian Moffett, Selection and Induction Manager, VSO. “It’s important that volunteers have an excellent VSO experience from the moment they apply and that their skills are matched according to need with our local partners globally. WorldVue helps us achieve both missions.”

Can Your Coffee Save The World?

Thrive Coffee is working to change the world by helping peasant farmers growing coffee to participate in the ownership of the distribution channel, allowing them to share in the wealth they create.

Founder and CEO Michael Jones will join me on Friday, January 24 at 5:00 Eastern for a live discussion about their revolutionary work.

Tune in and listen while you work.

Michael’s bio:

After exiting a healthcare services company in January of 2011 that he had started ten years prior, Michael had planned to spend some long-needed time with his family while deciding what his next course in business would be. It was during this time that he was revisiting a conversation with his father-in-law, a long-time Blue Mountain coffee farmer in Jamaica, about the severe disadvantages in the value chain of coffee, that ultimately led to the creation of THRIVE Farmers – an innovative platform to change the world of coffee and align the interests of producers and consumers for the first time.

Michael is the quintessential entrepreneur, having founded and operated several privately held companies. He has managed high growth companies and has been successful in building significant market value for shareholders. Most recently, Michael founded Implantable Provider Group (IPG), a provider of market-based medical implant solutions that is delivered to payors, manufacturers, providers and patients. In his role as President/COO, Michael was named one of Atlanta’s top 25 entrepreneurs by Catalyst Magazine in 2008 (#4). Jones was selected because of his role in founding IPG and turning it into one of the country’s fastest-growing businesses. In 2008, Inc. Magazine ranked IPG as the sixth-fastest growing healthcare company in the country (1,500% three year growth rate) and the 138th fastest-growing overall. FORBES Magazine recently ranked IPG at #5 in its list of 100 Most Promising Companies in America.

Michael has been instrumental in raising capital from high profile private equity firms including Sequoia Capital, arguably the most revered venture capital firm in recent history due to its investments in Apple, Atari, Oracle, Cisco, Yahoo, Paypal, Google and others, who invested in IPG in early 2010. Michael’s background prior to IPG includes an early career in the financial services industry in corporate finance. He then segued into healthcare in the mid 90’s pursuing two other ventures.

Michael is married to Sharon, and they have three boys. They enjoy travel, cooking, and snow skiing.

Could We Incentivize Impact Investing?

UCLA professor Bhagwan Chowdhry thinks he’s got an idea that deserves some attention. He thinks he’s figured out a way for issuers of securities to impact investors to provide a guarantee of the social impact that would yield higher financial returns if social impacts aren’t met.

On Friday, January 24 at 1:00 PM Eastern, Professor Chowdhry will join me for a live discussion about his idea.

Tune in and listen while you work.

Professor Chowdhry’s bio:

Bhagwan Chowdhry is a Professor of Finance at UCLA Anderson where he has held an appointment since 1988.

Professor Chowdhry has also taught at the University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and the Indian School of Business. He received his Ph.D. in 1989 from the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago. He also has an M.B.A. in Finance from the University of Iowa and a B.Tech. in Mechanical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology.

His research interests, on which he has published several papers in finance and economics journals, are in International Finance and Corporate Finance and Strategy. He has been on the editorial board of a number of finance journals. He teaches International Finance, Corporate Finance and Financial Institutions at Anderson. He has also organized and taught Executive Education programs on Financial Derivatives, Corporate Risk Management and Valuation in Los Angeles, Singapore, Hong Kong, Mumbai, and Hyderabad.

Microfinance has been his recent teaching, research and applied interest. He has supervised several MBA student projects in Microfinance in the last several years and has taught an undergraduate seminar class and an MBA elective on the subject. He has developed a new model for “Franchising Microfinance” on which he has written a research paper and is studying the feasibility of implementing the model with a Microfinance Institution.

Professor Chowdhry has recently proposed Financial Access at Birth (FAB) initiative in which every child born in the world is given an initial deposit of $100 in an online bank account to guarantee that everyone in the world will have access to financial services in a few decades.

You can read about the initiative by clicking here..

Education

Ph.D. Graduate School of Business 1989, University of Chicago
MBA Economics, Graduate School of Business 1989, University of Chicago
MBA Finance, 1983, University of Iowa
B.Tech. Mechanical Engineering, 1981, Indian Institute of Technology, India

Interests

Microfinance, Corporate Finance, International Finance, Strategy

Ending Poverty And Corruption In Africa

This is a guest post from Samantha English, Jump Start Africa Communications Ambassador.

A lofty goal, but it’s one to which Ahmed Zrikem has dedicated his life’s work.

Over the last 60 years, developed countries around the world have donated more than $1 trillion to aid the development of society in Africa. Without a doubt, the majority of that aid has been pocketed by corruption, and as a result over half of Africa’s population lives in unimaginable poverty.

“Real per-capita income is lower in Africa today than it was in the 1970s, and more than 50% of the population — over 350 million people — live on less than $1 per day; a figure that has nearly doubled in two decades,” explains Zrikem. “Unmonitored assistance has encouraged corruption in Africa for decades.”

Zrikem’s crowdfunding platform, JumpStartAfrica.com, will jump start Africa’s start-up scene, delivering funding and resources directly to Africa’s most promising entrepreneurs, so they can build their own better world. Jump Start Africa is currently in development, and Zrikem and his team are raising funding through Indiegogo.

Unlike other crowdfunding platforms, JumpStart Africa will not stop at simply helping entrepreneurs access funding necessary to bring their visions to life, Zrikem and his team will also provide tools to help entrepreneurs succeed after their projects receive funding.

“Entrepreneurs that promote their projects via Jump Start Africa will have access to how-to guides, counseling and mentorship for the entrepreneurs,” Zrikem explained. “We want our visionaries to have all the information they will need to help ensure their business enjoys sustainable growth. Our passion is empowering Africa’s brightest minds, and that goes beyond simply funding projects. We want to give entrepreneurs the confidence and support they will need to operate and grow their businesses.”

Jump Start Africa has partnered with incubators and innovation centers to identify promising candidates. Zrikem and his team have identified four innovators that will debut with the launch of the site:

Rose Twines, dreams of providing every home in Uganda with an Eco-Stove. This stove – powered by smoke-free, reusable rocks – allows families to cook, light their homes and charge a mobile phone without electricity. Jump Start Africa will allow Twines to bring her dream to fruition, and help thousands of African families in the process.

One out of every five deaths in children under the age of five, is attributed to water-related disease. Professor Cloete and his team at Stellenbosch University have developed a water filter that is designed to fit in the neck of most standard-size water bottles. So far, Professor Cloete hasn’t found a bacteria his filter doesn’t kill. The team has created a working prototype, but they need funding to commercialize it so billions of African adults and children access to clean, safe drinking water.

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Jump Start Africa will also help Adam Camenzuli realize his dream of commercializing an affordable solar light to replace kerosene lights so many African families use to light their homes. Kerosene is a highly flammable and toxic gas, responsible for over one million deaths each year, according to the World Health Organization. Camenzuli’s solar light replaces kerosene, offering African families a safe and affordable alternative source of light and energy.

Moses Gichanga has invented a drone that flies for up to two hours at a time. This drone has been proven to effectively deter poaching, and preserve Africa’s wildlife population. In fact, the United States uses Gichanga’s drone to monitor its borders. He now needs funding to launch his business operations, targeted at monitoring Africa’s wildlife reserves.

From clean drinking water and safer lighting options, to affordable energy and wildlife preservation, Jump Start Africa is destined to revolutionize Africa’s economy. But Ahmed Zrikem is interested in much more than the platform’s economic impact.

“We truly want to empower African entrepreneurs,” Zrikem said. “We want to give these promising individuals the tools they need to deliver themselves from the strongholds of poverty, and create a bright, promising future. We firmly believe this is the most effective way to Jump Start Africa.”

Join forces with supporters around the world to empower Africa’s brightest minds by helping Jump Start Africa reach its funding goal at: indiegogo.com/projects/jumpstart-africa/x/3869675.

Promising Social Startup On Course For Big Things: The Story So Far

This is a guest post from Jay Boolkin, Founder of Promise or Pay.

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Like millions of other people around the world, on New Years Eve of 2013, I made some resolutions to change my life. And like millions of people around the world, by June 2013, I had followed through on exactly… none of them.

We all know sticking to self-improvement goals is really difficult. In fact, while 45% of people make resolutions, only 8% of people stick to them. It is no wonder that the self-help industry generated over $11 billion globally in 2013.The idea struck me that if I told others about my goals I would be more likely to achieve them. I did some research and found that the chances of me following through would be further enhanced if I put money on the line. Research in fact shows that the chance of achieving a goal increases 33% if it is shared with others and by 72% if money is put on the line. I realized that combining both approaches could be a very effective way to help people achieve their goals. But where should your money go if you failed to follow through on your commitment? What if your money contributed to positive social change?

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In July 2013 I founded Promise or Pay, a newly launched social enterprise that facilitates charitable donations by enabling people to make a public promise to do something, and if they fail to follow through, pay a nominated amount of money to a charity. Others have been quick to pick up on the potential of this simple idea to help reinvigorate charitable giving and engage people not previously inclined to donating: Promise or Pay was a finalist for the Sydney Genesis Entrepreneurship Challenge Best Social or Not-for-profit Start-up and received a honourable mention in the category of “Social Change” at The Guardian’s Activate Tech Talent Day, the Guardian’s platform for innovators working with the Internet to change the world.

Promise or Pay is the only platform that integrates both a commitment to goals and charitable giving, ensuring a win-win outcome is always achieved and people are left feeling satisfied. In doing so, Promise or Pay helps overcome the disappointing and discouraging feelings that are often the aftermath of failing to accomplish something important. Either you keep your promise thereby benefiting yourself, or you contribute towards solving a pressing social problem via your donation and thereby benefiting others.

I strongly believe that Promise or Pay’ has massive potential as appeals to the natural human instinct to set goals, to have dreams and to make resolutions. It leverages off the social trend to share experiences with others electronically and it speaks to a generation that have grown up in a world where social issues are impossible to ignore and are looking for a way to make a difference.Promise or Pay is also able to target a larger audience than just those people who wish to make a donation to charity. This is because the primary motivation of using the website is not to donate to charity but to achieve a personal goal. As a result, Promise or Pay will introduce to a new and young audience social awareness and the idea of donating to charities.

In late August 2013, Promise or Pay won the Social Start-ups MVP Program and received funding to develop a first proof of concept, which successfully went live with a soft launch just a few weeks ago.My vision is to create a platform that will inspire millions of people around the world to be the best that they can be, and, at the same time, to encourage and facilitate millions of dollars in donations to charities.

If you believe the power of social entrepreneurship can fulfill dreams, or, if you simply want to deliver on that commitment you keep making and breaking - then log onto www.promiseorpay.com to make a promise and make a better world.

Connect with Promise or Pay and see all the latest promises through Facebook or on Twitter @promiseorpay

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The Lovemark – An extraordinary love gesture for Valentine’s Day!

This is a guest post from The Lovemark team.

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People throughout history - desiring to express their love - have left their love messages and love marks everywhere - carved in trees, written on benches, sprayed on walls or locked to a bridge. Different cultures around the world have developed their own ways of expressing love underlying one common need; the need to express this unique instinctive human feeling!

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At the same time, the world has plenty of monuments dedicated to religions, war victories, human tragedies, historic personalities or simply human vanity. But when it comes to love the only thing we come across are collective expressions of love as mentioned above.

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So, we said let’s change this a bit - and build a different monument! And we deliberately use the word monument in order to try and give the word a different, a more positive meaning! The idea is to take the universal human need to express one’s love and use it in a creative way.

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That little love note you want to pass to your loved one will now have a little magic power, it will make a difference in the world this time: it will build a monument, a Love monument! Your little note will become your love mark in history! The message will be inscribed on a cube - a love cube as we call it - and the love cube will be the building block of the Love monument: The Lovemark!

This is the Lovemark: a unique canvas to express your feelings and a unique collective piece of architectural art at the same time! A landmark with a heart, a positive point of reference to inspire us, our kids and hopefully their kids - across geographies.

We needed an excuse to launch this idea. And Valentine’s Day could not have been a better one! We decided to add an option next to flowers and candy. A grand love gesture next to the typical love gifts!

We needed a platform to launch this idea. Non corporate! Thus crowdfunding was a natural and obvious choice. Contributors do not buy a love cube. They contribute it instead! Contributors are Founders, not clients in our case!

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Finally we want to use this opportunity and raise awareness on a sensitive subject: Ending violence against women. While most of us celebrate our love on Valentine’s Day, there are so many people whose lives have been affected by the lack of it - in basic terms, not in fairytale terms. The Lovemark will aim to shed some light on this very sensitive issue! Our way to share love with those less fortunate…

The team behind The Lovemark is truly diverse, supporting the international character of the project. Different countries, cultures, professional backgrounds, and 12 different languages are represented in our team. We have all come together, volunteered our time and effort and joined forces under this idea. To give everyone the opportunity to leave their lovemark in history!

Join us in making it happen: www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-lovemark

The Lovemark Team

www.thelovemark.org
Facebook Page
Google+ Page
Twitter @thelovemarkorg

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The Green Snowball Effect: How Teddy Rose Creates Cool, Smart Innovation

This is a guest post from Zach Bogoshian, Founder of Teddy Rose.

My name is Zach and I am an idealist, for better and for worse. When it comes to sustainability, I see many challenges, some seemingly without solutions, which can be discouraging. That being said, I believe that people want to do right by the earth, but they have an access problem.

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I’m the same way. I love the idea of being a sustainable citizen, but I’m humble enough to realize my intuition, research capacity, and understanding have their limits. This led me to start a company that offers a sustainable product packaged with Eco-entrepreneurial benefits.

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My company, Teddy Rose, just launched a line of simple, stylish, bamboo tees (Indiegogo campaign here: igg.me/at/teddy-rose). Bamboo, as a raw material, offers many unique benefits: minimal water usage, zero pesticides, fast growth, no mono-culture growth, among others.

In addition to offering a responsibly-made product, Teddy Rose also employs a unique business model, one that creates what we are terming the Green Snowball Effect. We build on business models like Toms’s that give a cut of their profits to charities, but we have an entrepreneurial spin. Instead, that cut goes to Eco-entrepreneurs who use crowdfunding to jumpstart their sustainable projects. We want lead by example and do what we can to simultaneously empower other do-ers. 

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We don’t claim to know everything, but we have learned a lot in the past year about manufacturing, greenwashing, design, and branding. And, in bringing a sustainable product to market, we can also act as a proxy for those looking to purchase cool products that feature an additional societal benefit.

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Our three initial featured campaigns all have unique and aggressive products that contribute to sustainability:

Rocks & Gravel Coffee: Organic Eco-Roasts To Your Door
Small batch, organic, fair trade coffee, shipped direct from roast in recyclable & collectible tins.

Wild Beauty Products: Biodegradable Shampoo Bottles
Natural, cruelty-free shampoo and biodegradable bottles for hotels and natural health stores.

HEATWORKS Model 1: Your Next Water Heater!
The most energy & water efficient, reliable & versatile water heater available.

To preserve our natural resources and live responsibly with the earth, we will have to approach problems from all angles. Teddy Rose is happy to join other leaders and jump into the fight.

Indiegogo Campaign: igg.me/at/teddy-rose

Twitter: @TeddyRoseCo

Facebook: Teddy Rose

About the Author: Zach Bogoshian is the Founder of Teddy Rose. He studied political science at UCLA and has since worked on various projects around politics, transparency, green building, and sustainable development. He currently lives in San Francisco, California, a global hub of innovation, style, and world-class American football.

Take A Picture Of Your Car — It’s Likely The Last One You’ll Drive That You Can’t Plug In

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Go out to your garage—after you finish reading this, of course—to take a picture of your car. Someday your grandchildren are going to ask you about it—the last car you drove that you couldn’t plug in. (Disclosure: my wife owns Tesla stock.)

Before you poo-poo this notion, I want you to consider the fate of the extinct beast known as the Hummer. You remember them; just a few years ago they dotted the highways, oozing testosterone as if they ran on the stuff.

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Hummer lineup, Wikipedia

But they didn’t. They ran on gasoline. A lot of gasoline. And there came a day in 2008, when suddenly it was no longer socially acceptable to drive a car that boasted about its fuel inefficiency. According to the New York Times, sales dropped 67% from 2008 to 2009 and the GM unit was shuttered in 2010 after a deal with a Chinese buyer failed. The vehicles were never cheap, so their extinction had little do with economics. The folks who owned them could afford to fuel them.

It just happened that all of a sudden you couldn’t be seen dropping off the kids at school in a Hummer. It was like spanking them in public, simply verboten. (This is not intended as an endorsement of privately spanking your children.)

There were a number of factors that combined to kill the Hummer—and they’re lining up to kill cars with traditional gasoline engines.

  1. The perception that gas is too expensive. Gasoline is expensive in the volumes we need it to drive the typical American commute of about 30 miles per day. But it isn’t really too expensive and won’t likely become too expensive for most Americans to afford to drive a plain old car with a gasoline engine. The cost of gasoline, however, is likely to remain high enough to keep reminding us that we should be driving more fuel efficient vehicles.
  2. Anti-pollution sentiment. You don’t need to be the least bit bent toward tree-hugging, radical ideology in 2014 to feel strongly about air quality. In most major cities it remains a major problem and in many, like mine (Salt Lake City) air quality issues seem to be getting worse. If everyone agrees—and we do—that our cars produce much of the pollution the social pressure to drive a car that is radically less polluting builds up in our minds.
  3. Social awareness of global warming. Despite the fact there is near universal consensus about climate change among scientists, much of the public remains skeptical. Having a sense that the consensus of opinion among our friends and neighbors is that global warming is real and human caused won’t require anything like the consensus in the scientific community; it will require only a clear, outspoken majority to quiet most naysayers, creating the impression that “everyone” is on board.
  4. Availability of alternatives. The Hummer died off quickly, in part, because there were plenty of viable alternatives. It wasn’t hard to go to the car store and pick up a more socially acceptable car because every other car on the road was more socially acceptable. Only a few years ago, it was difficult to name a car company other than Toyota that made a hybrid and virtually no one made a car you could plug in. Today Porsche makes a plug-in electric hybrid Panamara four-dour sports car. BMW makes a tiny all electric car with a range-extending gasoline engine option. Nissan sells the all-electric Leaf. Toyota makes more hybrid models than I can count. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to walk into a new car showroom today and not find at least one car you can plug in. We are not far from the point when it will simply become too easy to buy an all-electric or plug-in electric hybrid; there will be one for every taste and you’ll be left with no excuse.
  5. Convenient infrastructure. In order to abandon a Hummer, a driver didn’t need to find a entirely new fuel source or pattern for obtaining it. To switch from a gasoline engine driven car to one with an all-electric engine would. Tesla is working frantically to make that happen, but it may be unnecessary. In order to drive a plug-in electric hybrid with a 300 mile range and a fuel economy rating of 100 miles per gallon the only change required is an extension cord in the garage. Even I could handle that.

When all of these factors align, triggered perhaps by a shock to the supply of oil or perhaps by a natural disaster attributed to climate change, the shift will be unmistakable and sudden. Without a formal agreement, without a memo, without another blog post we will all decide that our next car will plug in to power up.

Cars with diesel engines may not die out as quickly as their gasoline-based cousins as they are substantially more efficient, but I suspect the death of the diesel engine-only cars will follow shortly behind their gasoline cousins. Old fashioned hybrids that you can’t plug in will also have lives that extend past the switch, but not by much. It just won’t be cool enough to say, “my car has batteries” when your neighbor says, “I plug mine in at night.”

The sudden shift I predict away from gasoline-only cars won’t happen as quickly as the extinction of the Hummer, but it will be remarkable. And it is coming soon. I will be shocked if we can’t recognize that it has happened before the end of this decade. While a few gasoline-only models will likely survive, they will include only low end, high-mileage small cars and some specialty cars and trucks.

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Consider the ramifications of being a manufacturer that is behind the curve. If you don’t offer a plug-in vehicle when the shift happens, something very much like that may end up scrawled on your shuttered doors.

Similarly, there are opportunities for companies like Tesla and other entrepreneurs preparing to service a market for electric cars.

So, if you are among the vast majority of Americans who drive a car like mine with a gasoline engine only, be sure to take some photos, make some journal entries and prepare to tell your grandchildren about the olden days when you didn’t plug your car in at night.

What do you think?

Please help me continue this conversation below, on Twitter or on my personal website.

1%: Small Percentage, BIG Impact

This is a guest post from Geri Mitchell-Brown, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Rally Software

When Rally Software, a Boulder, Colorado based company that provides cloud-based solutions for managing Agile software development, received venture funding and issued stock in 2006 and 2011, the company gave 1% of shares from each round to the Community Foundation Serving Boulder County. In the event the company ever went public, the shares would be sold to benefit social impact organizations. That day came in October 2013 — to the tune of $1.38M.

For me, being new to Rally and dedicated to making us best-in-class for corporate social responsibility, it was a thrilling beginning. For employees and friends of Rally who have been connected to the company over the last ten years, it was a satisfying realization of a plan set in motion years ago. The plan to was to connect the company’s financial success to giving back the community — a plan that worked out brilliantly.

About half the total amount was donated to two Community Foundation programs: the Community Trust Fund, which donates annually to nonprofit organizations that improve the quality of life in Boulder County through a competitive citizen-led review process; and the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado (EFCO), of which Rally is a founding member.

The other half of the total created the Rally For Impact Foundation, our corporate social responsibility initiative with a vision to mobilize citizen engineers to solve some the world’s toughest problems. By leveraging Agile software and the expertise of Rally Software users and Agile coaches, we believe we can accelerate the growth and adoption of citizen engineering projects to benefit people around the world. The Rally For Impact Foundation now has startup funds to begin investing in nonprofit organizations aligned with our purpose.

An additional — and essential — part of our BIG 1% Give Back involved Rally employees, who number over 400. We included Rallyers in two ways: by involving them in the selection of donation beneficiaries, and by asking them to volunteer their “1% time off” throughout the quarter.

An important part of our social mission is to inspire other businesses to commit their support to their communities and make a positive impact on our world. That the company set aside a portion of its founding equity to donate to local nonprofits and to fund our strategic social impact program has created an invaluable culture of giving at Rally.

To stay tuned to Rally For Impact, follow my blog or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

You Don’t Have To Be Rich To Change The World

This is a guest post from Katharine Esty.

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Can only billionaires like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett can change the world’s economic landscape?

Muhammad Yunus, the Bangladeshi professor-turned-banker who has been called the father of microcredit founded Grameen Bank, is proof that the answer is “no.”

A middle-class social entrepreneur living in Bangladesh, Yunus has no car, no house, no second home, no inherited wealth, and no accumulated capital. His stunning success was based on a foundation of six key elements. These elements made it possible for him to launch the microcredit movement that flung open the doors to financial services to the billions at the bottom of the economic ladder. Now over 100 million people worldwide have received microcredit. I identified the six elements while interviewing Yunus and conducting research for my new book, Twenty-Seven Dollars and a Dream: How Muhammad Yunus Changed the World and What It Cost Him.

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1. A Vision

Yunus had a single, compelling vision: to end poverty — first in Bangladesh and then throughout the world. He has devoted himself to mission alone, and stuck with it over the long term.

2. A Tool

Yunus believes that the poor have a right to credit and that providing small loans to poor people to start or grow a business is an important tool for addressing poverty. He is not the only one to have thought up the idea of extending credit to the poor, but he saw the concept’s promise as a means toward ending poverty and made it his job to promote it.

3. Fundraising

Yunus is a master at raising money from international agencies and donors to fund his ideas. Without funds from outside sources at the start-up, he could not have succeeded.

4. A Successful Prototype

By starting small and slowly building the Grameen Bank from a minor pilot project to a large bank lending to over 8 millions borrowers, Yunus was able to accumulate accomplishments, proving that Grameen was sustainable and profitable and showing the world that his idea worked.

5. A Compelling Story

Yunus has taken the story of microcredit and the Grameen Bank to the world at large through speeches, newsletters, videos, conferences and articles. He has told his story over and over until the concept of microcredit became widely recognized and accepted.

6. Resilience

Yunus has bounced back time and again from defeats and betrayals. Bangladeshi bankers initially thought that microcredit was not feasible and for years they refused to support him. Yunus’ 2007 bid to launch a new political party was foiled by hostile government officials who made sure a few years later that he was ousted from his position at the Grameen Bank. At that point Yunus shifted his focus to social businesses. Now he is circling the globe promoting social business with the same dazzling energy he used to get the idea of microcredit accepted worldwide.

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Yunus has won the Nobel Peace Prize (2006), the US Presidential Medal of Freedom (2009), and the US Congressional Gold Medal (2013) for his success in alleviating poverty. Only seven people in the world, including Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela, have won this Triple Crown. Remember Yunus when things look bleak, and learn from him how to change the world yourself.

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Katharine Esty, Ph.D., is a social psychologist and founder of Ibis Consulting Group, a leading international diversity and organizational development firm. A former consultant to the United Nations Development Program and UNICEF, Katharine has spent time in a number of developing nations, including Bangladesh, where she conducted a series of one-on-one interviews with Muhammad Yunus while writing her new book, Twenty-Seven Dollars and a Dream: How Muhammad Yunus Changed the World and What it Cost Him.

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