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 The mission of the "Your Mark on the World Center" is to solve the world's biggest problems before 2045 by identifying and championing the work of experts who have created credible plans and programs to end them once and for all.
Crowdfunding for Social Good
Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: February 2016

Former Haitian PM Works For Social Impact In Two Ways

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Former Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe recently announced the formation of a foundation named in honor of his father, The Dr. Louis G. Lamothe Foundation. The Foundation will fight social injustice in Haiti and complement the work he is already doing through LSL World Initiative.

“The Dr. Louis G Lamothe Foundation is an organization that aims to carry on my father’s work as a socially responsible activist in the fight for an inclusive and united Haitian society,” Lamothe said. “Decades of poverty, squalor, violence, economic insecurity and dictatorship have ravaged our country. As a result, Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere with a limited capacity to respond to the effects of political and social instability and natural crises. This Foundation is essential and long overdue as it will focus on providing the Haitian people with opportunities to transform their own country – something my father believed in and fought for.”

Lamothe is also a social entrepreneur and impact investor who leads the LSL World Initiative, which works to arrange innovative financial resources for developing countries around the world. The Foundation will give Lamothe another tool for helping the people of his homeland.

He told me, “I started LSLWI to provide solutions for innovative financing based on my personal experience in the private sector as well as former Prime Minister of Haiti where I had to a do a lot with little, and innovative financing helped a great deal.”

He notes that the success of LSLWI will give “governments the resources to reduce poverty and level the playing field for all their citizens.”

On Thursday, February 11, 2016 at 4:00 Eastern, Lamothe will join me for a live discussion about his work in Haiti and around the world, via both the Foundation and LSLWI. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about the LSL World Initiative:

Twitter: @lsl_wi

LSL World Initiative is a global organization dedicated to the socio-economic empowerment of emerging countries, with a proven track record of results that benefit the most vulnerable populations. We help governments attain their sustainable development goals in line with national needs and priorities.

Laurent S. Lamothe, former Prime Minister of Haiti, courtesy of LSL World Initiative

Laurent S. Lamothe, former Prime Minister of Haiti, courtesy of LSL World Initiative

Lamothe’s bio:

Twitter: @laurentlamothe

Former Prime Minister, Republic of Haiti

President and Founder of LSLWI, Laurent S. Lamothe successfully served as Prime Minister of Haiti between May 2012 and December 2014, the longest tenure of any Prime Minister in the last three decades. During his time in office, Lamothe presided over the design and implementation of an important social policy agenda that targeted the poorest sectors of the Haitian population. Lamothe also presided over the largest infrastructure development in recent memory that included schools, bridges, roads, and which are now clearly visible throughout Haiti.

Additionally under Lamothe foreign direct investment increased to the highest level since the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship in the mid 1980s. Under his leadership Haiti pursued reforms that made Haiti a safer and more business-friendly country including 15-year tax holidays and tax breaks to companies investing in the island nation, and increasing the police force by 30 percent.

Lamothe brought to the office of Prime Minister an entrepreneurial spirit and dynamism that earned him the title of “Entrepreneur of the Year” by Ernst and Young in May 2008. More recently in November 2014, Latin Trade magazine recognized his innovative skills by naming him the year’s Innovative Leader of the Americas. Latin Trade noted that Lamothe “helped establish a paradigm shift for Haiti as a destination for investment, rather than simply for humanitarian aid.”

Having grown up in a country affected by poverty and lack of resources at all levels, this savvy businessman has developed throughout his life a deep sense of social responsibility and a strong tendency to assist those in need. Lamothe is a pragmatist who throughout his role in the public sector emphasized practical solutions over partisan politics to address the urgent needs of Haiti. Lamothe obtained a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Barry University in Miami and in 1996 earned his MBA with honors from University of St. Thomas. In 1998 Lamothe founded Global Voice Group SA (GVG) considered today a world-leading provider of ICT solutions for telecom and fiscal authorities. He served as CEO of GVG until he stepped down to assume his public sector duties with the government of Haiti.

Leader Builds Ecosystem For Social Entrepreneurs

Laurie Lane-Zucker is building an ecosystem for social entrepreneurs in the Berkshires region of Massachusetts. Laurie hopes the model can be replicated across the country and ultimately around the world.

He explains the need for creating a healthy environment for impact-driven entrepreneurs. “The conventional business paradigm lacks global sustainability context and mission-driven entrepreneurs seeking to innovate solutions in general do not have a supportive ecosystem within which to grow their social and environmental impact businesses.”

The ecosystem begins with a new way of looking at things. “I am working with others to build an ecosystem, indeed an entirely new paradigm, for business founded upon ‘the rigorous application of blended value’ — my definition, and that of my Impact Entrepreneur Network, for the term ‘impact.’ I am currently advancing a new regional impact ecosystem model, which integrates aspects of the Impact Hub with the enterprise/empowerment zone — the ‘Public Benefit Enterprise Zone.'”

Laurie has a clear vision for the future of his effort. “The prototype Public Benefit Enterprise Zone that I am working to build in the Berkshires of Massachusetts will be replicable in other regions around the country and world. When enough mature PBEZs are active, then a process can be undertaken of knitting together PBEZs to create macro-regional, national and global impact economies that have authentic sustainability context, effectively serving the needs of the planet and its peoples.”

On Thursday, February 11, 2016 at 1:00 Eastern, Laurie will join me here for a live discussion about the PBEZ. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

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

More about Impact Entrepreneur:

An outgrowth of the global Impact Entrepreneur Network, founded in 2011. Impact Entrepreneur, LLC is a business and industry development company motivated by global sustainability context and triple bottom line principles. Impact Entrepreneur, LLC consults “between the seams” of the Network, working with entrepreneurs, investors and scholars of social and environmental impact around the world. I am also a lecturer/mentor at universities (i.e. MIT, Brown, NYU) and a speaker at impact-related conferences (Sustainatopia, Social Venture Partners, etc.). Impact Entrepreneur is currently pioneering “public benefit enterprise zones” and has proposed an Impact Entrepreneur Center for Social and Environmental Innovation, to be based in the Berkshires.

Laurie Lane-Zucker, courtesy of Impact Entrepreneur, LLC

Laurie Lane-Zucker, courtesy of Impact Entrepreneur, LLC

Laurie’s bio:

Twitter: @LaurieLZ

Laurie Lane-Zucker has spent over 25 years as a nonprofit executive, social enterprise founder and CEO, publisher, editor and writer focused on social and environmental impact. He is currently the founder of the Impact Entrepreneur Network on LinkedIN, which has 9700 members in over 150 countries, and Impact Entrepreneur, LLC. He is the former Executive Director for the national environmental organization and magazine, Orion. He is the Founder and President of the Triad Institute, a think-tank and publisher focused on environmental citizenship, as well as the Founder and CEO of Hotfrog, a digital media company that was a founding B Corporation and the first company to transact a shares offering on a designated impact investment exchange (Mission Markets). He is also the former Executive Director of Seven Pillars, a nonprofit organization that cultivates individual and collective wisdom to respond to the social and environmental needs of our time.

Lane-Zucker is currently pioneering a new regional model for the incubation and acceleration of social and environmental impact businesses and an “impact economy,” the Public Benefit Enterprise Zone (PBEZ), and has proposed a new Impact Entrepreneur Center for Social and Environmental Innovation that will be the epicenter for the first prototype PBEZ in the Berkshires of Massachusetts.

Lane-Zucker did his undergraduate studies at Middlebury College and the University of Edinburgh, and graduate work at Columbia University and the Bread Loaf School of English. He has published, edited and written the forewords for a number of books, including bestselling and award-winning volumes by Wendell Berry, Terry Tempest Williams, David James Duncan and other leading environmental writers.

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

Devin D. Thorpe

African Girl Rises To Become Global Leader

You never know when the poor child in Africa you help to educate might grow up to be the next Nelson Mandela, Bill Gates or Mother Teresa. Vivian Onano is living that story.

Raised in rural Kenya, she joined Africa 2.0 and has become a major player in international circles at a young age. Last year, she was invited to address the United Nations General Assembly. She is an activist working for the rights of women and girls around the world.

Understating things a bit, she says, “I grew up with so little and many people have contributed to my journey, granted me opportunities that have ended up transforming my life in major ways. As a result, I have decided that my purpose in life is to give hope and enable others to have similar opportunities.”

She sees the plight of others as her primary cause. “I have seen women all over the world continue to fall victim to: gender violence, lack of access to education, inequality and discrimination at work, female genital mutilation, and lack of economic empowerment–among many others.”

To better understand her story, I asked about the challenges she’s faced. “Having been born in a community that did not value girls education was a major challenge. This, coupled with coming from a family that had so little, it was almost a given that I was going to be married off like many other girls that I saw.”

“Luckily, that did not happen. My mother strived to make sure I had access to quality education that has enabled me to grow into a global citizen. It was really tough for a girl from an impoverished family to make it, for a girl from the village without an education and I am so thankful that I am no longer a statistic,” she added.

As a result of her good fortune, Vivian feels an obligation to help others. “Having been given that opportunity, I strive every day to pay it forward and enable many other girls to have access to this basic human right of education .”

“I have taken it upon myself to be an agent of change,” she says. “I have been doing this through lending my voice and time to these causes that I am passionate of. Also, now I have the opportunity to interact with top leaders and government officials, thus lobbying them to give these issues major attention. Every change starts with a simple action.

As I tried to understand her remarkable story, I asked to what she credits her success.

I attribute my success to my strong educational foundation, hard work, determination, family support, access to the right network and steadfast faith. Education has enabled me to develop a voice of my own and be a role model for many young girls from my village and even globally. I am a resilient person who constantly dreams big and because of my dreams, I have an action plan and direction in my life. To be honest, sometimes I do feel like my dreams are just too grandiose but I am also of the firm belief that with hard work everything is possible. Since birth, I have been of strong faith and so is my entire family, and that keeps us going even during tough times.

Vivian is optimistic, despite the horrors she works to address every day. “I believe soon all these issues will be a myth,” she concluded.

Vivian will join me for a live discussion about her work in Africa and around the world. Due to technical difficulties, we’ve had to postpone the live interview. When we reschedule we’ll update this page and alert you via social media. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

[At the time of the interview, I will insert a video player here. Bookmark this page and come back then to watch the interview live. Replays will be available here thereafter. If you have a question you’d like asked tweet me (@devindthorpe).]

More about Africa 2.0 Foundation:

Twitter: @Africa2point0

Africa 2.0 is a Pan-African civil society organized that has footprints across the African continent and into the diaspora. The organization has been in existence in just over 5 years and so far we have managed to create a reputation as the leading institution in bringing together young and promising Africans. We are also known as the D-Think-tank, a Think-Tank that does things. We are very action oriented around advocacy such as Re-branding Africa by Africans and empowering young people through access to entrepreneurship training and mentorship.

Vivian Onano, courtesy of Africa 2.0

Vivian Onano, courtesy of Africa 2.0

Vivian’s bio:

Twitter: @vivianonano

Vivian Onano is a women and girls’ advocate and youth leader who was born and raised in rural Kenya. Her arduous upbringing has forged her strong commitment to education, to women, and to leadership. Vivian has a deep interest in re-defining Africa’s growth and development. A Moremi fellow, she is recognized as one the top 25 emerging women leaders with the courage to lead change on the African continent.

Vivian recently graduated Carthage College and currently is the Community and Partnerships Manager at Africa 2.0 Foundation. She is a Youth Advisor to the UN Women Global Civil Society Advisory Group, Women Deliver Young Leader and a Global Youth Advocate for the Mara Mentor Program.

Vivian has held various leadership positions, including serving as a Congressional District Leader for ONE Campaign in Wisconsin, a campus advocate for the United Nations Association-USA, and a Half the Sky Movement community ambassador. She is also the Education Spokesperson for Moremi Africa, a Global Youth Ambassador for A World At School, and a 2014 Change Maker Fellow with the Nantucket Project.

Vivian has a diverse background working with a variety of organizations, including the MasterCard Foundation, where she served as an external reviewer for their scholarship program in Sub-Saharan Africa. As a blogger for Huffington Post, she uses her oral and written communication skills in service of her passion –– providing holistic and innovative approaches to solving community problems. Vivian actively advocates for women and girls’ issues and youth entrepreneurship in Africa.

Vivian is a respected speaker who often speaks on global education, finding one’s passion and purpose, gender equality, youth entrepreneurship/empowerment, and international development. She has presented at the United Nations General Assembly, Nexus Global Youth Summit, and the Clinton Global Initiative, among others. She also served as a United Nations Youth Representative and was profiled as one of the 70 outstanding leaders of United Nations Association -USA. Intel featured Vivian as a Girl Rising hero. Vivian has a vision and dream to help create an inclusive world for everyone. She can be reached via Twitter (@vivianonano).


Profile: Successful Entrepreneur Joins Breast Cancer Battle

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Wheels Up is a membership-based private aviation enterprise founded by Kenny Dichter, a successful entrepreneur. Recognizing the suffering that so many families experience due to breast cancer, Dichter is using a clever campaign to bring more money to the cause.

Dichter explains, “As we all know, breast cancer affects one in eight women in America and that unfortunately means it touches all of us. Statistically, we all know someone’s mother, wife, sister, aunt, cousin or friend who will be diagnosed.”

Wheels Up has launched a program around a pink plane from the Wheels Up fleet to serve as the centerpiece of the campaign to raise funds to fight breast cancer. The program is in partnership with Textron Aviation along with the NFL, Avon and Estée Lauder.

The Wheels Up Pink Plane is the first-ever pink Beechcraft King Air 350i. Proceeds benefit the Dubin Breast Center at Mount Sinai in New York City. Photo courtesy of Wheels Up.

The Wheels Up Pink Plane is the first-ever pink Beechcraft King Air 350i. Proceeds benefit the Dubin Breast Center at Mount Sinai in New York City. Photo courtesy of Wheels Up.

“In October 2015, we debuted the first-ever pink Beechcraft King Air 350i as a flying symbol of breast cancer awareness, along with a Fly-A-Thon, our fundraising effort, inviting members and the general public to donate to the cause,” Dichter continued. “The Pink Plane will remain in the Wheels Up fleet indefinitely to continue to raise ‘air-wareness’ all year long among our members, employees, and anyone who sees it; it’s something to see on the tarmac for sure!”

It is notable that Dichter himself appreciates the role of social media in advancing the social cause. “We also sent Wheels Up pink hats and shirts to all of our members and ambassadors and implemented a social media campaign on the Wheels Up Facebook and Instagram pages along with a hashtag to get the word out. So far, J.J. Watt, ESPN GameDay and many of our members have featured the Pink Plane on their social media accounts which helps to spread awareness of the Pink Plane and breast cancer.”

“We partnered with Dr. Elisa Port and Dr. Eva Dubin at the Dubin Breast Center at Mount Sinai Hospital, a cutting-edge institution that delivers that highest level of care and serves women of all socio-economic backgrounds, regardless of their ability to pay. Through our fundraising efforts, we are supporting research, patient screenings, and daily care to women from all over the world who seek out Dubin’s expertise and innovative model.”

On Thursday, February 11, 2016 at noon Eastern, Dichter will join me here for a live discussion about the Wheels Up effort to fight breast cancer. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about Wheels Up:

Twitter: @WheelsUp

Wheels Up is a revolutionary membership-based private aviation company that significantly reduces the upfront costs to fly privately, while providing unparalleled flexibility, service and safety. Created and led by renowned entrepreneur Kenny Dichter, Wheels Up operates with a 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year culture, offering guaranteed availability to its private fleet of new Beechcraft King Air 350i and Citation Excel/XLS aircraft to individual, family and corporate members. With the cutting-edge Wheels Up mobile app, members can seamlessly book flights, manage their accounts and participate in ride-share opportunities. Members also have access to Wheels Down, a program featuring exclusive events and experiences, unique partner benefits and a full-service luxury concierge.

Kenny Dichter, courtesy of Wheels Up

Kenny Dichter, courtesy of Wheels Up

Dichter’s bio:

Twitter: @KennyDichter

Kenny Dichter is Founder and CEO of Wheels Up, the revolutionary membership‐based private aviation company that minimizes the upfront investment needed to fly privately. A lifelong entrepreneur, Dichter has built numerous successful companies, including his first aviation company, Marquis Jet, which he sold to Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway for $4 billion in 2010. Since his youth, he has been known for being a trend spotter and trendsetter and always has his eye on early-stage businesses where he sees potential for hyper growth. Among other ventures, he has an active role and has invested in Juice Press, a Manhattan‐based, multi‐location, grab‐and‐go organic, raw food and juice company; and in 2010, co-founded Tequila Avion, an ultra-premium brand that is now distributed by Pernod Ricard. Dichter co‐founded Action America, along with AOL Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong, to unite and activate Americans everywhere to turn the events of 9/11 into positive action. He chairs the Council of Advocates at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital for Dr. Ken Davis, Mount Sinai’s Chairman and CEO, and sits on the Board of the Jack Martin Fund, which currently works with the hospital’s cutting‐edge pediatric oncology department. Dichter is also a major supporter of his alma mater, University of Wisconsin‐Madison.

The Power and Illusion of Self Reliance

There is real power that comes from doing something yourself. Think of those moments when you graduated from college, finished a 10k race setting a personal record, or completed a home improvement project successfully. You probably felt like Rocky Balboa sprinting to the top of the steps.


Liberals are often criticized by their conservative counterparts for supporting government programs that create dependence among the people they serve. Those same conservatives, however, are often guilty of supporting nonprofit organizations that do the same thing. At the same time, an increasing number of people from across the political spectrum see the importance of helping people develop self-reliance.

That self-reliance, however, is often an illusion.

No one is perfectly self-reliant. Most of us—when we’re honest—can barely make the case for it because we’ve had so much help from parents, friends, teachers, colleagues, employers, investors, fans, followers and, yes, government. As the Reverend Peter Raible penned, “We warm ourselves by fires we did not light. We sit in the shade of trees we did not plant.”

Could George W. Bush ever have become President if his father hadn’t? Could Mark Zuckerberg have grown Facebook without investors willing to fund operating deficits for years before the first dollar of advertising revenue? Could Warren Buffet have become so wealthy without the existence of well-regulated and reasonably transparent financial markets, allowing him both to earn returns on and provide access to capital? It seems that even the most revered among us is, at least in part, dependent on others.

Sam and Diane, not their real names, are my neighbors and dear friends. Both have intellectual deficits, Sam from birth and Diane as a result of a brain injury early in life. They live together in a condo in the same building where I live. Sam works two part-time jobs and serves regularly as a community volunteer. They act and feel genuinely self-reliant in the same sense that most all of us do. Their earned income, however, doesn’t come close to covering their living expenses. They are heavily subsidized by their parents. When they reached their mid-thirties and started to thicken around the middle, their parents provided a personal trainer. With his help, they hit the gym for an hour every day and are quite healthy. They have to do the exercise to get the benefit, but their parents saw the wisdom of providing a coach to hold them accountable.

Katelyn Dalton, courtesy of Teen Force

Katelyn Dalton, courtesy of Teen Force

Recently, I visited with Katelyn Dalton, a STEM staffing specialist for Teen Force, a San Jose, Calif., nonprofit that helps at-risk youth finish high school and get into college. Katelyn is a recovering addict who was homeless for two years. During much of that time she lived in a scavenged tent and had no reliable source of food or income. For her, the breakthrough was getting a job. Having a job gave her back a self-image that allowed her to think she was worthy of living, that she could overcome her addiction and become a productive part of society. She was hired by a social enterprise that employs the unemployable and provides training. It started by helping her learn the basics of employment, like how to show up to work every day and take responsibility for foreseeable transit problems. Today, she is a productive member of society who feels fully self-reliant. She is as independent today as anyone.

Jeffrey Sachs, the famed professor who advises developing countries and works to eradicate extreme poverty, has been a champion of and a lightning rod for the idea that poor countries and individuals simply need a leg up to the first rung of an economic ladder that leads to prosperity. There can be little doubt that a person, community or country comprised of people that lack food, water and shelter needs a leg up. What Sachs seems to be missing is that they also need the sense of self-reliance as much as they need help with food, water and shelter. Pulitzer-prize winning author and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has observed that the best form of aid is a j-o-b. That fact, however, ignores the problem that folks like Katelyn may not be employable in their present situation.

Much of our development and aid discussion both at the international and community level today revolves around the premise that self-reliance is a factual condition. In fact, it is an illusion that gives us all self-confidence and the courage to get up each day to fight our battles to the best of our ability. Virtually everyone has or will face challenges to which we simply were or are not equal. Someone has or will step in to help us over such obstacles.

One key to establishing the critical illusion is to give aid that builds dignity. There are times when aid, conditioned on work or participation in a drug treatment program or staying in school, can enhance self-respect. On the other hand, if too much work is required for too little aid, the result can be dehumanizing and tantamount to a form of slave labor.

For instance, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints routinely provides food and other support to people in need, often explicitly in exchange for “volunteering.” When the expected number of volunteer hours matches up well with the value of the goods and the talents of the recipient, the program works to preserve self-respect. When, however, the volunteer hours required for help exceed its perceived value, the exchange robs participants of their dignity. This is complicated by the fact that two similarly situated participants may react differently to the same program, one feeling indignant while the other feels dignified. To be effective, a program must be flexible enough to build self-worth in the participants. If the program doesn’t build confidence, it isn’t working.

Whether we are talking about helping individuals, families, communities or countries, building a sense of self-reliance is more important than their actually becoming so. We need to stop thinking of our aid in terms of whether it actually fosters independence or dependence and focus on whether it creates the sense of capability. The power of people to rise above their challenging circumstances is more closely tied to their feeling self-reliant than it is to actually being self-reliant. Everyone needs to feel like Rocky once in a while.

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

Devin D. Thorpe

This Software Reduces Soft Costs For Solar Installations

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

According to an NREL report, about half the cost of a residential solar installation is non-hardware soft costs. Reducing those costs is the mission of Sighten, a software tool set for solar installers.

Co-Founder and CEO, Conlan O’Leary explains, “To date, most solar companies and financing providers have had to use horizontal software like Microsoft Excel or had to build software of their own. Those approaches were ultimately too unwieldy, inefficient and not scalable.”

“As the solar market has become more competitive and profit margins have been squeezed, the industry has recognized that significant efficiency gains are needed. Recent years have seen a growing focus on reducing soft costs, but only marginal progress has been made,” he adds.

O’Leary says Sighten is on a mission to reduce the soft costs. The company’s software platform provides a “comprehensive solution,” he says, to manage the solar project lifecycle from CRM to design, proposals and asset management.

The impact of the software could potentially reduce consumer costs, O’Leary says. “Solar installers and developers now have access to advanced tools across sales and project management that will drive greater sales effectiveness and significant gains in operational efficiency, taking cents per watt out of virtually every step in the solar lifecycle.”

He boasts, “Lots of solar software startups have been working on specific nodes in the solar workflow like design, but Sighten is an application that a company could truly run their business on.”

O’Leary notes that the software also has finance and accounting modules, enhancing the reporting capabilities for the asset managers and investors. “This is a dramatic improvement for investors who are used to getting monthly Excel reports. In fact, some investors have called our platform a ‘Bloomberg Terminal’ for the solar asset class,” he continues.

“I care deeply about the environment, and I think climate change is the seminal issue of our time, so I have aligned myself with interesting, challenging work and innovative companies that are addressing these issues. I think Sighten is the culmination of that focus. I know that as we’re successful and as our customers are successful, we’re making a big dent in carbon emissions and positively impacting society,” O’Leary concludes.

On Thursday, February 4, 2016 at 4:00 Eastern, O’Leary will join me here for a live discussion about the software and the impact it is having on carbon emissions and the residential solar industry. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about Sighten:

Twitter: @sighten_io

Sighten has built the most advanced software toolset for solar. Built with care by a team of solar industry veterans, the Sighten platform helps solar companies and investors optimize their businesses, driving growth and efficiency through technology. Customers include leading investors, lenders, financing companies, installers, and originators. For more information, please visit

Conlan O’Leary, courtesy of Sighten

Conlan O’Leary, courtesy of Sighten

O’Leary’s bio:

Conlan O’Leary is CEO and co-founder of Sighten, a leading solar software provider. Prior to Sighten, Conlan helped manage the structuring and pricing desk at Clean Power Finance, a leading residential solar financing platform. He has prior experience in technology and cleantech investment banking as well as environmental commodities trading. He has also helped manage a salmon cannery in Alaska and lived in a Buddhist monastery in Thailand. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.


Wealth Managers, Start Paying Attention To Social Impact

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Each year, Capgemini, in partnership with RBC Wealth Management, conducts a formal survey of high net-worth individuals (HNWIs) and shares the data publicly. One of the striking features of the report in recent years, is the increasing interest among wealthy individuals regarding social impact.

David Wilson, head of the strategic analysis group for Capgemini’s financial services strategic business unit gave me three highlights for consideration. If you are a wealth manager, pay attention!

  1. Be Aware: Social impact (defined as “an investment of time, money and/or expertise with the goal of generating positive social impact, which may or may not have a financial benefit”) is highly important to High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs). However despite their interest in driving social impact, HNWIs do not have a single preferred source to help them navigate the complexities involved. Currently they are getting advice from two distinct groups: their family and friends, and their wealth managers, and many are receiving no advice at all.
  2. Acknowledge the Opportunity: HNWIs are seeking more advice on social impact overall, and wealth managers are the most sought after professional source of advice. HNWIs are looking to their wealth managers for support in setting clear social impact goals, determining which investments are the most appropriate in their area of interest, structuring their investments, and measuring the impact of their social impact efforts.
  3. Prepare: Embedding social impact discussions into the overall wealth management approach and making tactical investments to build out their social impact offering will help firms to better meet the opportunity. Several challenges will need to be overcome, such as a lack of clarity on social impact definition and goals, inconsistent or unqualified sources of advice with inadequate levels of expertise, lack of specialized products and solutions, and lack of standard metrics.

On Thursday, February 4, 2016 at 9:00 AM Eastern, Wilson will join me for a live discussion about these insights and their implications for wealth managers. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about Capgemini:

Twitter: @capgemini

With people in over 40 countries, Capgemini is one of the world’s foremost providers of consulting, technology and outsourcing services. The Group reported 2014 global revenues of EUR 10.573 billion. Together with its clients, Capgemini creates and delivers business, technology and digital solutions that fit their needs, enabling them to achieve innovation and competitiveness. A deeply multicultural organization, Capgemini has developed its own way of working, the Collaborative Business Experience™, and draws on Rightshore®, its worldwide delivery model.

Wilson’s bio:

Twitter: @david_p_wilson

David Wilson is Head of the Strategic Analysis Group, for Capgemini’s Financial Services Strategic 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, Asia-Pacific Wealth Report, U.S. Wealth Report, and the Capgemini RBS World Payments Report.

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.

David was born in England and graduated with degrees in economics and French from universities in the USA and France. In addition, he played professional basketball in Toulouse, France.

David is currently based in Asia.

Leader Engages Men To Improve Gender Diversity

Janet Salazar, CEO and Co-Founder of Impact Leadership 21, says “women are marginalized” not only by men who actively oppress women, but in effect, by the men who fail to show up in their defense. She identifies the problem as including the “lack of engagement from men in leadership and influential positions to accelerate gender diversity and women’s equal representation at the top level across sectors.”

Janet was introduced to me by Vince Molinari, the CEO of Gate Global Impact, our sponsor.

“Men are part of the solution. Men are critical in accelerating women’s leadership and achieving gender equality at the top leadership,” she added.

Janet is working to engage more men in the discussion. “I created ‘Conversations with Men,’ a forum to engage men in leadership and influential position on issues of women’s leadership, breaking down barriers of collaboration in the workplace, board room, decision making table,” she says.

She is optimistic about a future with greater gender diversity. “When men and women in leadership roles in societies understand each other and work collaboratively, the economic impact of harnessing women’s contribution at all levels is going to benefit millions of people and open unlimited channels of opportunities for more inclusive, sustainable and thriving economies and societies,” she concludes.

On Thursday, February 4, 2016 at 1:00 Eastern, Janet will join me here for a live discussion about her efforts to improve gender diversity. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

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

More about Impact Leadership 21:

Twitter: @impactl21

IMPACT Leadership 21 is a global platform providing leadership solutions that drive change. As a global social enterprise, we are committed to inclusive and sustainable leadership at the top level.

Janet Salazar, courtesy of Immpact Leadership 21

Janet Salazar, courtesy of Immpact Leadership 21

Janet’s bio:

Twitter: @JanetCSalazar1

Janet C. Salazar is a social innovator, human potential activist, global thinker and a humanist. She is the CEO and Co-Founder of IMPACT Leadership 21™, a global leadership platform that provides solutions that drive change. Janet also serves as the Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Permanent Observer to ECOSOC at Foundation for the Support of the United Nations (FSUN). Janet is the creator of the innovative dialogue series, Conversations With Men™, the pioneering and groundbreaking executive forum with the mission of engaging men in leadership roles to accelerate women’s leadership at the top, and achieving gender equality. She created Conversations With Men™ One on One: Navigating Gender Dialogue in a Woman’s World, an intensive executive coaching platform where she advises male leaders on how to effectively handle gender-related challenges in the business environment, and thrive in today’s increasingly diverse workplace.

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Devin D. Thorpe

The Christensen Fund Finds Grants Management Software To Grow As The Funder Grows

This is a guest post from Aaron Lester, Demand Generation Manager at Fluxx

The Christensen Fund was started in 2004 to help promote biological and cultural diversity to sustain and enrich a world faced with great change and uncertainty. Through place-based work, impact investing and funding, the Christensen Fund supports international efforts to recover global diversity and locally-recognized community custodians of heritage.

The Fund works primarily through grantmaking by awarding $15 million a year to people and institutions who believe in a biodiverse world. By early 2013, the Christensen Fund realized it needed a more flexible and forward thinking grants management solution for their large grant program. The foundation knew there was a smarter, more efficient way to award its grants. It was time for a change.

“A lot of the products we were looking at, including Cyber Grants, felt old and rigid. They seemed to be trying to shoehorn new technology into an old outdated structure,” says Brian Burgin, a grants manager at the Fund who specializes in processes and systems at the foundation. Christiansen was searching for a “more dynamic” grants management software solution.


The San Francisco-based foundation focused its efforts in regions chosen for their potential to withstand and recover from the global erosion of diversity. Most of the foundation’s program officers are located in these regions, including the African Rift Valley, Northwestern Mexico, Melanesia, and Central Asia. These far-flung grantmakers needed a system that understood grantmaking from the ground up. Burgin discovered Fluxx, and was attracted to the platform because it “was designed by grantmakers for grantmakers.”


The Christensen Fund went live with Fluxx in August 2014. Since then, Fluxx’s configurable dashboards and intuitive interface has allowed the foundation to cut down on extraneous ­– and, at times, cumbersome – processes to streamline their workflows. “Communications with grantees prior to Fluxx was done largely through email,” Burgin says. “Proposals, reports, and the like would come in and have to be manually added to the record.”

Christensen also realized new visibility into their work. “Fluxx makes it far easier for our staff to track where records are in any given process and to readily see which records are ready for their action without extraneous communication.” Previously, its staff needed to email back and forth about the status of a request, grant, or report.

“Now we can see what’s on our plate at any given time,” Burgin says. “Our processes can become complex. The intuitive dashboards are extremely helpful in helping us see where we are in the grants process at all times.”


A year after implementation, Christensen is still finding great way that Fluxx’s full suite of features benefit the Fund. The software has the ability to grow with the foundation as its processes evolve. “It’s going to be the driver of helping us do things a lot more efficiently in the future,” Burgin says. For example, Bugin is particularly interested in exploring more reporting capabilities. “The way we are preparing reports for the IRS and for our Board right now is quite tedious. Specifically, I want to create something that creates exactly what we need for 990 IRS reports.”

Burgin continues: “Our Directors are also keen on being able to view at a glance the status of where we are in grantmaking at any point in the year to ensure that we are on track to meet our goals. December was really hectic because we had to push a lot out before the end of the year, and they want to be able to see that coming and try to prevent it.” Additionally Burgin looking forward to using Fluxx’s new Microsoft Word Plug-in and the DocuSign integration. The foundation also wants to set up a process and workflow to handle grant amendments, which now causes undue amounts of manual work for Christensen.

With ambitious goals for the future, Christensen is secure in the knowledge that they have the tools in place to go where they want to go. It’s great peace of mind for any grantmaker who does not relish the chance to live through multiple technology implementations as a matter of course.

Aaron Lester

Aaron Lester

About Aaron Lester:

Aaron is the writer and demand generation manager at Fluxx.

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