Aseda, a producer and distributor of honey, chocolate and shea butter, has a mission to protect and build bee populations globally in the face of declining numbers in the developed world.
Co-founder Bessie McIntosh says, “Bees are disappearing in the developed world at an alarming rate. Here in the US, we have seen an overall decline of at least 30% of our bee population. Gone. In some areas, we have lost over 70% of our precious bees. It has gotten to the point that farmers in the US import bees from Australia to tend to our country’s pollinating needs.”
The problem, which is not well known or understood, could potentially lead to an existential crisis. Many of our food crops require a pollinator, Bessie explained to me, and if we don’t have enough bees, we won’t have enough food.
Bessie partnered with Anthony Baron Kirk to launch the company. Their core business activity is operating co-ops located in a protected forest.
She says, “Our efforts in this region help maintain the protection of the land, which in turn insulates the bees from the chemical problems of modern man. This situation allows the bees to live wild, as nature intended. Their population is thriving and the area benefits from biodiversity.”
Aseda brings dark, raw honey to market from this forest and provides education to its customers both about the honey and the bees.
“Our job is to take this huge undertaking and hand it out in sweet, bite size pieces,” Bessie says. “When you buy a jar of honey or shea butter or fine chocolate from Aseda, you are directly supporting the growth of our healthy bee population.”
Aseda operates with a traditional retail model with an online presence as well. In addition to Aseda Wild Honey in jars, the company offers Honey Dozen Energy Packs used by athletes. The product line also includes Aseda Shea Butter and Aseda Fine Chocolate, which is sold only through a buyers club to “Aseda Tribe Members.”
Aseda recently created the Aseda Foundation Program to support humanitarian improvements for the villages where the beekeepers live. “Our first project will be drilling wells for the villages,” Bessie says.
For Aseda, building a profitable business is only part of the picture. “We believe the markers for success includes how a company effects the people involved and the planet as a whole, not just profit. Our business model includes protecting land that is still pristine, not touched by pollutants and growing healthy bee populations, which in turn promotes biodiversity of the area. Biodiversity equals lush abundance. More bees, more pollination, more plants, more food,” Bessie says.
Aseda hopes to expand globally. “Our ‘10000 feet view’ of our plan is to continue to build global bridges through land preservation, co-ops and growing healthy bee populations in as many wild, non-gmo, pristine, wilderness areas we discover.”
Bessie hopes that by producing raw, non-processed food that fewer contaminants will end up in what we eat, that the planet and people will benefit. With a focus on bees, she really hopes to protect the entire food supply.
“We are all in this together. Together we are changing the now for a viable future. To me, that is the sweetest idea,” Bessie concludes.
On Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 2:00 Eastern, Bessie will join me for a live discussion about Aseda and its work to protect bees. 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 Aseda:
Aseda, LLC is a Utah company that sources a sustainably harvested, raw, unique, non-gmo, delicious brown black honey that is found in only one region of the world. Aseda sources a sustain-ably harvested shea butter that is from old growth trees instead of plantations. Aseda creates functional food products for the body and skin utilizing these nutrient dense ingredients. Aseda created and supports the Aseda Bee Keepers Co-operative, made up of 27 villages located in Ghana Africa. This work is directly responsible for growing a thriving bee population in a pristine and ancient forest, located in Ghana, Africa. Aseda supports a Women-Run Shea Butter Co-operative, harvesting from old growth shea trees located in the same region of Ghana and a multi-family farms Co-operative located in the upper Amazon of Peru sourcing cacao. Currently Aseda’s product offerings include Aseda Wild Honey Jars, the Aseda Honey Dozen Energy Pack, Aseda Shea Butter, and Aseda Fine Chocolate. Aseda is working to build out the Aseda Foundation, a 501c3 created to support Co-operatives in need of humanitarian improvements. Aseda means gratitude in the language Twi.
Bessie McIntosh is an activator, a connector, a mother, a healer, an entrepreneur and an Earth worshiping goddess. Bessie is the Co-Creator and the Vice President of Aseda™; a triple bottom line company based in Salt Lake City, Utah and Ghana, Africa. Aseda™ created a bee keeping co-operative that supports 27 villages, is growing a thriving bee population while protecting an ancient, pristine forest, inspires to connect global bridges throughout the world and founded the Aseda Foundation, a 501c3. “It’s all about the bees and the sweetness of honey. Bringing people together, ultimately, that’s what I do.” Her passion for her company oozes from her being, like the sweet, medicinal honey from Aseda’s hives in Ghana. She is working to bring awareness to solve some of our generation’s most devastating problems; the vanishing of the bees, the need for natural food and clean water, and humans’ disconnection from nature and each other. “By introducing this marvelous honey to the world, we are growing a healthy bee population, have the opportunity to teach the importance of real food for your body and the health of our planet, and we are building bridges to connect our global village. I love how I do and be!”
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Kara Goldin talks about sugar as if it were a bad thing–a very bad thing. Goldin, the founder of $30 million beverage company hint®, launched the company in 2005 after developing the unsweetened flavored water in her home kitchen as a healthy alternative to the sweetened juices she had been buying for her kids.
Goldin approaches the subject of sugar and sweeteners with the subtly of a presidential stump speech. “People ask me ‘who’s your biggest competitor?’ It’s the sugar and sweetener companies. They will use any food or beverage to sell their ‘drug.’ And use any language to make it seem healthy,” she says.
The former AOL executive doesn’t like diet sweeteners much more than sugar. She proclaims, “Almost 1/2 of Americans have type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes. That’s up 27% from a decade ago! And what are we drinking over the past decade? Diet sweeteners. You be the judge.”
“It’s criminal that we have allowed the word ‘water’ on labels to be used to define a drink that is sweetened. Water means health to most people and unfortunately many of these water drinks with sweeteners are not so healthy,” she continues.
The science, however, may not be quite as clear as Goldin’s passion. The American Diabetes Association describes the statement “Eating too much sugar causes diabetes” as a myth on its site.
Still, Goldin’s zeal seems to come from a genuine desire to improve health. That’s why she created the product in her kitchen over a decade ago, and it seems to be the driving force that propels the company forward.
Not only is the company’s water available in stores across the U.S., but in Silicon Valley, the company distributes the product directly to corporate campuses including Google and Facebook, Goldin says.
hint® is a member of the Social Venture Network and Goldin will be a keynote speaker at the spring conference on April 14 to 17 in San Diego, where, I expect, members will hear her stump speech.
On Thursday, March 24, 2016 at 1:00 Eastern, Goldin will join me here for a live discussion about hint®. 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 hint®:
hint® is the leading unsweetened flavored water in the US today. We make it easier for people who don’t like the taste of plain water to drink water with just a little bit of real fruit flavor without sweeteners. In doing so, we help people get healthy and hear that in addition to helping them drink water, hint® is always helping people get healthy in their own way.
Kara Goldin is chief executive officer and founder of San Francisco based hint Inc., which produces the leading unsweetened flavored waters, with nothing artificial. Since its launch in April ’05, hint® has received numerous accolades from national publications including “Best Flavored Water” (in Health, Men’s Health, and SELF in both 2010 and 2012), “Best Enhanced Water” (BottledWaterWorld and BevNET) and “Top 25 New Products”. Kara started hint, Inc. to make it easier for consumers to lead a healthy lifestyle. Flavored only with natural fruit, hint delivers refreshment without unnecessary additives and sweeteners. hint’s latest brand extension is the introduction of hintfizz, a carbonated version of hint Water, that received the 2012 Better Homes and Gardens “Best New Product Award” as well as the 2012 Silver Stevie Award for “Best New Product or Service of the Year.” Kara has been a contributor to national outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, MORE, The Huffington Post, Forbes.com, Reuters and Businessweek as well as appearances on national programs including CNBC and Fox News. Kara was formerly the Vice President of Shopping and E-commerce Partnerships at AOL, where she grew AOL’s shopping business from startup to more than $1 billion in revenue in less than 7 years. In 2015, Kara was selected as winner of the prestigious Marketers That Matter award for Brand Building Small Company. Kara was also selected among only 10 other women as Fortune’s 2011 “Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs,” and in 2012 as one of Ernst and Young’s “Entrepreneurial Winning Women.” She was honored with the 2012 Gold Stevie Award Winner for “Female Entrepreneur of the Year” & was listed as a “CEO to Watch in 2013” by OpenForum.com. And finally, Forbes recently named her as one of the “40 Women to Watch Over 40.” Kara is also an active speaker and writer as well as a member of SFBay YPO.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
As I’ve been covering social entrepreneurship and impact investing for the past several years here, I’ve watched and come to know Village Capital as one of the real leaders in social entrepreneurship. Their peer-selected investment model is unique among the accelerators and incubators I’ve covered. Last week, Village Capital announced the formation of VilCap Communities, an effort to radically expand the peer-selected model.
Ross Baird, Executive Director, is on a mission. Last week, he published a piece that was highly critical of the Silicon Valley model for venture finance. Afterward, he told me, “The way we fund new ideas today is broken–we send billions of dollars to a few people in a few well-off cities, who fund people they know and who are in their networks. As a result, 78% of venture capital is distributed to just three states – California, Massachusetts and New York – and only 5% goes to women founders, and less than 3% to people of color. And the people solving problems in society don’t have lived experience with most of the problems they are trying to solve.”
Village Capital’s innovation is the principle of peer selection. When they bring a cohort of entrepreneurs into their programs, those entrepreneurs ultimately decide who gets the money. The Village Capital team serves only to facilitate training and collaboration. ”Village Capital’s peer selected investment model changes the power dynamic between people with ideas and people with capital. It’s no longer well-resourced people sitting under fluorescent lights who don’t understand the problems they are trying to solve deciding who gets a shot; instead, entrepreneurs everywhere can get opportunity, if they can convince their peers,” Baird says.
Having been invited to watch the process first hand, it is interesting to see entrepreneurs compete and collaborate in an environment where their peers will ultimately decide their investment fate. “Peer selected investment upends the power dynamics of traditional early-stage venture capital, by placing investment decisions in the hands of entrepreneurs (Village Capital provides the first funding in two-thirds of investments). The process also democratizes venture capital by making capital more accessible to anyone solving major global problems, no matter their race, ethnicity, zip code or background,” he adds.
Baird hopes to expand the use of peer selection beyond the accelerator-type cohorts they’ve been hosting. “The purpose of VilCap Communities is to reinvent the way we invest capital in our society by spreading the vision of democratized entrepreneurship, enabling peer selection everywhere. This past weekend, we gathered over 350 people in Salt Lake City – including entrepreneur support organizations and investors representing 16 communities across the United States. The 16 pioneer communities have committed over $1 million collectively in local companies through peer-selection. The weekend was a chance for these communities to interact, network with investors and stakeholders from around the country, including Steve Case, and learn about peer-selection.”
Baird is working to empower communities around the country to invest for impact using the VilCap model. “The goal of VilCap Communities is to unlock capital for communities outside the major venture capital centers. Entrepreneurs in these communities are solving real-world problems – like health, education, water sustainability and advances in agriculture. For example, Baltimore is well-positioned to support entrepreneurs solving challenges in Health, thanks to the presence of Johns Hopkins University backing startups through its venture fund and a broader ecosystem that can help entrepreneurs scale.”
Village Capital is focused on supporting mission-driven entrepreneurs who have the potential to scale large businesses. “All our companies believe that their purpose is a competitive advantage. For example, WiseBanyan, which brings investing ability to the majority of the world that has no investment income, believes that their focus on financial inclusion gives them a competitive advantage over the big banks, and Kickboard, an education technology company that helps measure data to improve student performance, believes that superior impact assessment increases revenue. Our partners believe in our purpose, increasing the likelihood that they will fund our operations and become great investors in our companies.”
Village Capital is a social venture itself, with a variety of revenue models helping it to be self-sustaining. ”Village Capital has two core activities: programs and our investment fund. For our programs, partners who believe that entrepreneurs can create impact provide sponsorships and contributions to back our activities. Program partners such as PayPal, our global fintech partner, believe that they can gain unparalleled insights into new innovation from entrepreneurs, and exceptional engagement opportunities for their employees. For our fund, Village Capital charges investors management fees on assets under management, which makes the administrative team operating the fund self-sustainable,” Baird concludes.
On Thursday, March 24, 2016 at 2:00 Eastern, Baird will join me for a live discussion about their effort to put entrepreneurs in the venture fund’s seat. 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 Village Capital:
Village Capital sources, trains and invests in seed-stage entrepreneurs with business solutions to major global problems. Village Capital recruits entrepreneurs solving specific problems in agriculture, energy, education, financial inclusion, and health, and then puts the power of investment in the hands of the entrepreneurs, who award the prize investments to the two ventures ranked highest by their peers at the end of every program. The organization supports early-stage ventures through a 501c3 nonprofit operating training programs for founders, investors, and communities, as well as through an affiliated, for-profit investment fund providing early-stage capital to top-ranked ventures of each program.
Ross Baird has been at the forefront of the changing world of entrepreneurship, as a member of the founding team of ten enterprises since he started college. Ross developed Village Capital, the firm he runs, in 2009, and leads the development of an organization that has supported over 600 enterprises on six continents, as well as the world’s first peer-selected venture fund. The core innovation of Village Capital, peer-selected investment, won the MPrize from HBR and McKinsey for a top top management innovation of the year.
Ross has an MPhil from the University of Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and a BA from the University of Virginia, where he was a Truman Scholar and a Jefferson Scholar.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Lance Allred played professional basketball for a decade all around the world, including a stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2008. Born legally deaf into a fundamentalist polygamous family, his life experience has been anything but typical. Now, with his playing days behind him, Allred is turning to social entrepreneurship.
Allred is creating a tech company called Manestream that he says will provide radically faster access to internet resources, allowing users to work directly from the web at speeds approaching the time to access a hard drive. The system will be commercially available any day now.
The bandwidth, the website says, comes via a license to what was the MCI fiber optic network. That will be combined with “patented process of enterprise-grade global cloud servers and secure data storage providers.”
The plan is also to make the system compliant with HIPAA and other privacy standards, allowing medical providers and other users with security use the network.
While the system will work with your laptop, the company also plans to sell slimmed-down devices that access the cloud service and don’t require a hard drive.
The website claims: “With our system we are storing your files and a full Windows desktop OS compatible with all Windows applications within the cloud giving you full functionality and incredibly fast speed as the OS and files are both in the same location.”
With each commercial sale, Allred’s Manestream has pledged to donate a unit to a child in need. He plans to provide powerful educational content and tools on the platform. As a professional speaker, he hopes to provide inspiring content from other speakers on the platform to benefit kids who might not otherwise have any connection to professional basketball players.
Allred explains the mission: “To empower any child, anywhere in the world, with the world’s fastest internet and computer database, leveling the playing field for everyone.”
Manestream, Allred says, will be transparent about giving away the service to students. He notes that the company will disclose to the commercial buyers the schools that receive the service as a result of their purchase.
On Thursday, March 17, 2016 at 3:00 Eastern, Allred will join me for a live discussion about about the technology and his plan to donate the service to schools. We’ll also probe the ways that his unique background influences his business philosophy. 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 Manestream:
Manestream is a full end-to-end technological service that provides our own high powered data storage facilities, traveling through our own private internet of 500 mbps, projecting on our own manufactured endpoints that have no hard drive. For ever three mobile desktop kits we sell, we provide one to a child in need. The Manestream Education Initiative will be partnering with various channel partners and edutech experts to modernize education into the 21st century for every child, no matter their socio economic background.
Hearing impaired since birth due to RH complications and raised in a polygamist commune, Lance Allred became the first Legally Deaf Player in NBA History. An Amazon Best Selling Author of LONGSHOT and BASKETBALL GODS, Lance Allred played for 10 years around the world, hitting every continent except for Antarctica, being a team captain on most of his teams despite the language barriers due to his ability to read body language and the room settings. When Lance Allred retired from professional basketball in April of 2015, he quickly established himself as a local television and radio personality in his hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah and transitioned into a Keynote Motivational Speaker, speaking to Corporate and Non-Profit Settings, to gain the funds to then speak to at-risk youth. But Lance knew he needed a “game-changer” to break the status quo of the speaking world rife with hustling and selling. Through founding Manestream, Lance has created a whole new platform to speak directly to kids around the country, that otherwise would never be given the time of day by most speakers.
Ben Block, founder and CEO of GozAround, has pivoted his social enterprise startup toward serving businesses large and small that want to track and report their corporate social responsibility or CSR impact. The goal is to help companies increase, following the old management 101 adage that you get what you measure.
Ben notes that most businesses have some form of CSR to track. “From the small business on the corner to multinationals, a majority of businesses maintain some community or social contribution but struggle to efficiently maximize, measure and share their impact. That is what the GozAround for Business platform hopes to remedy.”
“GozAround has developed a cost-effective platform to allow businesses to find, manage, measure and share employee volunteer initiatives,” Ben continues. “Whether they have existing partnerships or are looking for community needs, GozAround allows employers to engage their staff in volunteerism, measure their impact, and share the positive outcomes as they occur.”
The platform, he says, gives businesses a tool for bragging on social media about the good their employees do. He says, “[The platform] allows them to find communities needs, organize staff participation, gather metrics on employee volunteer efforts (independent and company organized) and share those on existing social networks.”
GozAround is a for profit business with a social purpose. “Our current revenue model is a SaaS platform for corporate CSR. Businesses with employee volunteer programs pay a monthly/annual fee to use the GozAround platform,” Ben says.
“Our social purpose and revenue generation are inextricably linked,” he notes.
Ben’s vision is to see the app serve to build and serve communities. “By providing an efficient means of connecting those in need with willing ‘doers,’ all while both measuring and recognizing those contributions, GozAround will encourage closer, more engaged and responsive communities uniting businesses, individuals and non-profits in a community of those who care,” he concludes.
On Thursday, March 17, 2016 at 1:00 Eastern, Ben will join me here for a live discussion about the platform and the ways in which companies are using it to track and report their impact. 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 GozAround:
GozAround is a social network and software platform for doing good. We allow people, businesses and non-profits to find, measure and share their social impact activities. We connect those in need with those who can do, gather critical data on the impact of those making a difference, and share their contributions with the world.
Ben Block is an entrepreneur at heart, lawyer by training, and d0-gooder by nature. Ben founded GozAround based on his own experience with the amount of effort it takes to simply find a suitable opportunity to volunteer. One that fits your skills, interests and schedule. Out of that need for a better way, Ben applied his business experience and legal training to bootstrap GozAround into existence.
Ben has over 10 years of entrepreneurial experience gained in a number of industries including web design and marketing. Following the sale of his multimedia design business in 2009 Ben practiced as a lawyer in Edmonton, Alberta, while still fostering his passion for business and community. Ben was once praised as an award winning “behind the scenes” contributor to community service, and has since participated as volunteer with local and international organizations. His day-to-day passion for helping others served him well in his legal practice, and is something Ben hopes to encourage on a bigger scale through the GozAround community.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
When I first heard the story of the Tempest Two, the two Brits who crossed the Atlantic in a row boat, I imagined that they were competitive athletes who had spent years training for the adventure. Instead, they describe themselves as “two ordinary blokes” who founded a company for great adventure and to raise money for causes they care about.
The founders of The Tempest Two say their motivation for the trip was manifold, but it certainly included social objectives like raising money for the Make-a-Wish foundation and to fund brain tumor research.
Tom Caulfield, one of the two–I’m not sure whether to say “rowers” or “blokes” here–explains his passion for Make-A-Wish, “I am trying to give young, terminally ill children the chance to touch and feel their dreams, like I have been lucky enough to do. Make-A-Wish Foundation makes those dreams come true, so raising money for them is something I care deeply about.”
James Whittle, the other one, says, “The problem is brain tumours. My mum suffered from a severe brain tumour in 2012 and has made a great recovery. I want to raise support to help fund the research further to benefit others.”
Caulfield explains the accomplishment. “James and I have completed a transatlantic row, 3000 miles across The Atlantic, totally unsupported. Neither of us had ever held an oar or sailed a boat, so we hope we have proved that ordinary people can achieve incredible things.”
Beyond raising money for charity, Caulfield has another mission. “Our goal is to inspire people to set goals, back themselves and achieve amazing feats, whilst raising money for good causes along the way.”
Whittle adds, “Having currently raised £12,500 between Make-A-Wish and brain tumour research, we aim to raise more money along the way through continuing to do extraordinary adventures.”
He continues, “Our success will not only raise funds, but will also raise awareness of these two fantastic charities and the work they undertake, hopefully encouraging others to raise funds and donate to these causes.”
Whittle also echoes Caulfield, noting, “We also aim to inspire people to get off the sofa and get exercising, we proved that two ordinary blokes could achieve something extraordinary and hope it inspires others to take on challenges themselves.”
On Thursday, March 10, 2016 at noon Eastern, Caulfield and Whittle will join me for a live conversation about their remarkable journey and the causes they support. 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 Tempest Two:
The Tempest Two is made up of James Whittle and Tom Caulfield, two normal friends who have broken the mould of the 9-5 to seek adventure around the world, raising money for charity as they go. Two friends that decided to row 3,000 miles, unsupported, across the Atlantic Ocean in aid of Brain Tumor Research and Make a Wish foundation.
Tom Caulfield is a 26 year old marketing professional by day, and aspiring adventurer by night. In July 2014, Caulfield decided to break the mould of the 9-5 and asked close-friend James Whittle to join him on what is known as the toughest challenge on Earth. Since then, he has become a trans-Atlantic rower, crossing the worlds wildest Ocean in 54 days, totally unsupported. Having tasted adventure, he now has his sights firmly set on another challenge in the near future.
James was born in Milton Keynes in England on 23rd May 1990. Born and raised in the rural town of Olney, Buckinghamshire, he attended school until the age of 18 and then attended the University of Northampton to study Sports Marketing and graduated in 2012. Alongside the studying James snowboarded around the wold, on a semi-professional basis in Austria, Switzerland, USA and Canada. Having previously been a competitive gymnast to GB national level at a younger age.
James graduated university, and his work as a student brand manager for Red Bull, and went on to work for the coconut water company Vita Coco, heading up the events and field marketing team out of London, England. Tom approached James with the far out question of rowing across the Atlantic in July 2014, neither having any previous rowing experience, and James immediately agreed. It was here that The Tempest Two was formed, as a pair of friends who would take on the Atlantic on a 3000 mile voyage, completely unsupported. Raising funds for Brain Tumour Research and Make a Wish Foundation along the way. With the voyage complete, the pair look forward to the next trip in what they hope will be a long list of adventures.
On Thursday, March 10, 2016 at 1:00 Eastern, AdaPia will join me here for a live discussion about her tips for effective mindful marketing. 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 Patch of Land:
Patch of Land is a leader in crowdfunding real estate through its P2RE (peer-to-peer) online marketplace. We match investors & lenders seeking alternative fixed income opportunities to borrowers seeking alternative sources of financing for their real estate investment needs. We’ve infused technology into an old-as-time tradition of real estate financing and we’re proud that our business model builds wealth, while growing communities.
AdaPia d’Errico is an entrepreneur, investor, and strategic business advisor. She worked in banking and finance in her early career, transitioning into entrepreneurial ventures in brand development and strategic marketing across the new media, consumer products and entertainment industries. Over the past three years, she has done a deep dive into the high-growth alternative finance space as Chief Marketing Officer at Patch of Land, where she is responsible for driving brand awareness, marketing and communications strategy, and partnerships and business development. She has positioned the company as a recognized leader in real estate crowdfunding, P2RE®, and marketplace lending. AdaPia is a frequent contributor and presenter on these topics, as well as on topics ranging from leadership and marketing, to real estate, economics and crowdfinance.
AdaPia’s business philosophy is rooted in providing the highest possible value to clients and partners, and developing longstanding, mutually beneficial relationships. She has co-founded two businesses with women partners, coached entrepreneurs, start-ups, and taught business students. She is passionate about encouraging women in to succeed not only in business – but also in all aspects of creating a successful life. AdaPia has lived and worked in 5 countries, and obtained her Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of British Columbia.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
The first problem, she explains, is the aging baby boomer generation of entrepreneurs and business owners. “Right now, the United States is in an ownership crisis. As business owners in the baby boomer generation retire, an estimated $10 trillion in assets will be for sale. Because of the flood of businesses on the market, many will not find buyers. The jobs, wealth potential, and services they provided to their community will be lost, and their value will be liquidated. Even those that are sold are often downsized or relocated.”
The second problem is a workforce struggling to get back on the economic track. She says, “Much of the workforce still has not recovered from the Great Recession. In a larger trend that started over 30 years ago, wages have remained stagnant and many Americans are in jobs that lack security and benefits. Their income fails to pay the bills, let alone allow them to own a home or a business.”
Kerr says the answer is clear. “The solution to both sides of this ownership crisis is democratic employee ownership. With employee ownership, selling owners can structure a flexible exit from the business and receive a fair value for their shares, while giving workers the opportunity to accumulate wealth and have a more meaningful work life.”
That said, problems remain. “There are currently thousands of businesses that are strong candidates for becoming employee-owned, but only a handful of them know about the option and have access to the support they need to make the transition,” Kerr adds.
This is where Kerr focuses her time. She says, “We are working to change that. Understanding the magnitude of the task, we have convened a collaborative of nonprofits, finance institutions, business advisers, and others already working in the field. This group, called Workers to Owners, is working to make transitions to employee ownership the norm for retiring owners.”
Kerr sees great potential in her work to change the fortunes of American workers. “In a U.S. economy with significant employee ownership, inequality will be greatly diminished. Workers will have the opportunity to accumulate wealth by participating in the profitability that their work creates. Hopefully, widespread employee ownership will eliminate the concept of ‘the working poor.’ We’ve seen that the financial benefits of being a worker-owner can have a profound impact on workers’ personal lives, giving them the option to purchase a house or make the decision to retire,” Kerr concludes.
On Thursday, March 3, 2016 at 4:00 Eastern, Kerr will join me for a live discussion about her work to address the twin threats to economic prosperity in America. 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 Democracy at Work Institute:
The Democracy at Work Institute advances worker ownership as a strategy to create a fairer economy and better jobs, build local wealth, and retain businesses in communities. Created by the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, the Institute brings both a national birds-eye view and an experiential on-the-ground understanding of cooperative business. Through strategic research, organizing and capacity-building training, we are working to bring the worker cooperative movement to scale to effect transformative change for individuals and communities throughout the country.
Camille developed and co-directs Workers to Owners, a national collaboration of leading organizations committed to making it easy and common for small businesses to become employee-owned. Before joining the Democracy at Work Institute, she worked as the Director of Research at the National Center for Employee Ownership, launching the organization’s outreach initiative and managing its various research projects. Camille speaks frequently about employee ownership and has contributed to a number of publications. Camille also serves as chair of the board of directors for Prospera, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the economic and social well-being of low-income women through cooperative business ownership. She earned a J.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, where she was a Human Rights Fellow and graduated cum laude. Camille is currently a licensed attorney in California.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
By some measures, the world is awash in cash, much of it available to be invested in emerging markets with a social purpose. For instance, the world’s largest bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, has assets of $3.3 trillion. The constraint on impact investing may be expertise rather than capital.
According to Dave Richards, cofounder and Managing Director of Capria Ventures an affiliate of Unitus, explains the constraint. There are, he says, “lots of great entrepreneurs in high-growth emerging markets in Africa, Latin America and Asia and very little early-stage risk capital available, so their businesses aren’t realizing their potential in areas such as agriculture, healthcare, education and technology.”
The cause, he asserts, isn’t the lack of capital. He says, “What’s needed are on-the-ground, knowledgeable, capable fund managers who can provide smart capital and support to the best entrepreneurs.”
To address this problem, Richards says, “We have launched Capria Accelerator, the first global business accelerator for impact fund managers. We are taking our experience of building the leading impact seed fund in India along with Unitus’ experience over a decade of launching multiple fund managers to invest in, support and help capitalize new fund managers backing early-stage startups primarily in markets including Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Latin America.”
“Our goal is to launch 10 early-stage funds over the next 5 years in emerging markets,” he adds.
This approach, training local fund managers to be effective with local investing holds promise, according to Richards. “Local business solutions led by local entrepreneurs are both more likely to succeed (due to understanding local nuances) and provide better (more inclusive) economic development than depending on importing multi-national corporations.”
“Our vision is to build a new generation of local fund managers who can support the development of a growing indigenous entrepreneurial ecosystem in developing countries,” Richards concludes.
On Thursday, March 3, 2016 at 2:00 Eastern, Richards will join me for a live discussion about the Capria Accelerator and its efforts to facilitate growth capital for entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia and Latin America. 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 Capria Ventures:
Capria Ventures is a global impact investment firm that manages two pioneering ventures: Unitus Seed Fund and Capria Accelerator. Founded in 2012, Unitus Seed Fund is the leading impact venture seed fund investing in startups innovating for the masses in India. Unitus Seed Fund invests in sectors including healthcare, education, mobile, consumer, retail, ecommerce, financial services, and agriculture. Founded in 2015, Capria Accelerator is the first global business accelerator for impact fund managers. Capria Accelerator invests in and supports startup fund managers backing early-stage startups in markets including Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. Capria is backed by Unitus, a pioneering financial services group that address global problems with innovative, market-driven solutions and has collectively raised more than $1.2 billion since 2005. Capria has offices in Seattle and Bangalore.
Dave Richards is an experienced entrepreneur, executive, and global early-stage investor. In 2012, he cofounded Unitus Seed Fund, now the leading venture seed fund investing in startups innovating for the masses in India. In 2015, Dave cofounded Capria Accelerator, the first global accelerator for impact fund managers. Unitus Seed Fund is an affiliate of Unitus Group, a premier financial services group operating in India and other emerging markets since 2000.
Dave has been an early investor in microfinance and other businesses serving low-income populations. Since 2005, he has been involved with the Unitus Group, helping to lead efforts to select and invest in entrepreneurs in many developing countries. Dave led the Unitus Labs incubator for 2 years including the successful research and spinout of two venture firms: Unitus Impact and Unitus Seed Fund. He also led Unitus Investment Management, the General Partner of Unitus Equity Fund, a pioneering microfinance venture fund, was a board member of Unitus Capital, a leading Bangalore-based investment bank, and was on the investment committee for Unitus Impact.
Previously, Dave developed and led multiple high-growth technology businesses at RealNetworks, Sybase and Symantec SYMC +4.63% from startup to multiple hundred million dollar global enterprises. He is currently a partner with Social Venture Partners Seattle is the cofounder of the SVP Fast Pitch startup angel fund. Dave received his Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of British Columbia.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Qualtrics, a 2002 startup that since raised a total of $220 million in venture capital in 2012 and 2014 and considered by many to be a unicorn, recently made a $1 million donation to the Huntsman HUN -3.80% Cancer Institute.
While Qualtrics isn’t a social venture, it is interesting to see such an entrepreneurial company embrace corporate social responsibility so enthusiastically.
CEO and cofounder, Ryan Smith, says, “Everyone has been impacted by cancer in one way or another – whether they have fought it or they have a friend or loved one who is fighting. Our goal is to eradicate cancer from the face of the earth. We are honored to partner with Huntsman Cancer Institute to raise funds for cancer research — research that is changing the way cancer is treated, diagnosed, and fought.”
The company didn’t stop with its $1 million donation; that is just the beginning, Smith explains.
Qualtrics and Huntsman Cancer Institute partnered to launch Five for the Fight, a campaign inviting everyone, everywhere to give $5 to the fight against cancer and then to invite five of their friends to do the same. People write on their hand the name of someone who has fought cancer and pledge their $5 to the fight in honor of that person. They then post a photo or video to social media using the hashtag #fiveforthefight, tagging the five friends they are challenging to join the fight against cancer. They then head to fiveforthefight.com to donate.
Smith added that the donation was presented to Huntsman at the annual Insight Summit in Salt Lake City last week, where Nobel Prize-winning scientist Dr. Mario Capecchi joined Smith on stage to present the check to Peter Huntsman of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.
Smith is serious, it seems, about curing cancer. “When cancer is eradicated, the world will be a very different place. When we look around and see how many children have lost a parent to cancer, or parents who have lost a child to this dread disease or people who have lost a spouse … the list goes on and on. With so many people fighting cancer and so many more impacted by it, we are eager to help in any way we can to support the amazing research being done to fight cancer and to find a cure for it,” he concludes.
On Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 4:00 Eastern, Smith will join me here for a live discussion about Qualtrics’ #fiveforthefight CSR campaign. 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 Qualtrics:
Qualtrics is a rapidly growing software-as-a-service company and the provider of the world’s leading enterprise survey platform. More than 8,500 enterprises worldwide, including half of the Fortune 100 and 99 of the top 100 business schools rely on Qualtrics technology. Our solutions make it fast and easy to capture customer, employee, and market insights in one place. These insights help our clients make informed, data-driven business decisions. Global enterprises, academic institutions, and government agencies use Qualtrics to collect, analyze, and act on voice of the customer, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, 360-degree reviews, brand, market, product concept, and employee feedback. To learn more, and for a free account, please visit qualtrics.com.
Ryan Smith co-founded Qualtrics in 2002 with the goal of making sophisticated research simple. As CEO, he has grown the company from a basement startup to one of the fastest-growing technology companies in the world. Qualtrics has more than 8,500 enterprise customers including half of the Fortune 100, 1,600 colleges and universities worldwide, and 99 of the top 100 business schools. In 2012, Qualtrics received a $70 million investment from Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital, the largest-ever joint investment by these two firms. Additional funding was secured in 2014 to support the company’s continued product innovation and rapid international expansion. Insight Venture Partners led this $150 million round of new investment, with significant participation from original investors, Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital.
Ryan was named one of Forbes’ “America’s Most Promising CEOs Under 35” for 2013, is a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal and has been featured in Fortune, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Inc., The New York Times, TechCrunch and USA Today. He has also appeared on CNBC, Bloomberg TV and FOX Business. Ryan is sought after for his business acumen and as such is a frequent guest lecturer at Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business and Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.