This category includes articles about social entrepreneurs, typically about businesses with a for-profit model with a social mission embedded into the fabric of the business.
This category includes articles about social entrepreneurs, typically about businesses with a for-profit model with a social mission embedded into the fabric of the business.
Entrepreneurs and corporations alike spend tremendous time and money to get good publicity. I’ve reached out to Forbes Contributor Cheryl Snapp Conner, who also serves as the CEO and Founder of SnappConner PR, to find out out social entrepreneurs should leverage the publicity they work so hard to get.
Cheryl offers three key tips:
1. Share and extend your great press coverage. This is a big part of the mileage you receive in today’s press environment. Via social media, your own blog, and other re-postings this is easy and fruitful to do.
2. You are the best author of your own story. As opposed to relying on the press to tell your story, you should hone your abilities to also tell and publish your story on your own.
3. Communications is power! Are you “on the record” for the things you actually stand for? Make certain your social media profiles and your website are clear and consistent in telling your vision and mission and inviting others to join in.
On Wednesday, December 9, 2015 at 4:00 Eastern, Cheryl will join me here for a live discussion about public relations for social entrepreneurs. 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 SnappConner PR:
Our company is a strategic public relations firm that supports technology, business and lifestyle companies out of Salt Lake City. Additionally, we have developed a program called Content University to help entrepreneurs, executives and individuals to be more successful in telling their stories to the world via blogging and thought leadership publishing.
I am an entrepreneur and communications expert from Salt Lake City and founder of SnappConner PR. I am the author of Beyond PR: Communicate Like A Champ The Digital Age, available on Amazon. I am co-creator of Content University, available at www.ContentUniversity.com. The opinions I express (especially when tongue in cheek) are entirely my own. My newsletter, the Snappington Post, is available from www.SnappConner.com.
One of my role models is a young social entrepreneur, Nidhi Singh, in India who has created a platform not unlike the Your Mark on the World Center to cover corporate social responsibility (CSR), social entrepreneurship, impact investing and philanthropy in India.
Nidhi reached out to me about six months ago to explore a collaboration between the Your Mark on the World Center and her platform, CSRlive.in. We are excited to be doing so, cross sharing content to give her audience direct access to our stories and our audience direct access to hers.
India recently passed a law requiring all corporations to do some CSR. Nidhi explains, “The new mandatory CSR law has opened up a world of possibilities for Corporate India to do good and contribute strategically to equitable, sustainable growth in India. So I would not say this is a problem, rather a tremendous opportunity that has materialized for all CSR & Sustainability professionals to work, collaborate and create real, on-ground impact with some real funds (INR 25,000 Cr/ $4.5 Billion annually) that are now available specifically for this purpose. There are many companies that have been voluntarily executing CSR projects but many more new companies (approximately 16,500) have now come under the ambit of the new CSR law. CSRlive aims to facilitate the process of optimum utilization of this CSR spend.”
Nidhi has ambitious plans for CSRlive. She says, “As an online platform dedicated to briging news, updates, policy changes, and expert opinions in the CSR & Sustianability sector; we promote best practises, thereby inspiring and encouraging more of the best to take a foothold, grow and expand. We facilitate connections between relevant stakeholders – for example – a genuine NGO looking to survive/scale up can present it’s case and funding requirements to a Corporate company looking for an authentic project that is aligned with their CSR policy. If there is a noteworthy activity in the CSR & Sustainability domain, CSRlive will be its voice. Going forward, we also aim to acknowledge best practises through CSRlive Change-Makers Awards.”
Nidhi has an inspiring vision for the future. “We believe in the power of a good story that is well told to engage and inspire people towards greater good! Getting transferred to the CSR division is still considered ‘Corporate suicide’ (though unadmittedly)- and CSRlive is committed to turning this around with its reportage and passion to connect and bring the right people to the right jobs and the right funds to the right organizations and individuals. The success of CSRlive will be in facilitating a change in mindset – which in itself is half the battle won,” she says.
On Wednesday, December 9, 2015 at 11:00 Eastern, Nidhi will join me here for a live discussion about CSRlive and the promise of the new CSR law in India. 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 CSRlive.in:
CSRlive is positioned as India’s credible, livewire news platform dedicated to the social sector and CSR practices presenting content that is delivered using innovative social media engagement, cutting edge technology and a sterling team of subject matter Journalists. We intend to create new benchmarks with frontline reportage on CSR, Sustainability, Philanthropy and Corporate Citizenship. We aim to not only inform, but to establish long-term partnerships with different stakeholders, creating a synergy between available resources and needs of communities. Through CSRlive.in, we intend to give voice and strength to every noteworthy activity in this sector, whether undertaken by a small gram Panchayat or a large multinational Company. As a part of our long-term strategy, we will identify, analyze and acknowledge the best practices and the real change-makers in the social sector, through our proprietary Award modules.
Nidhi is a prominent Social Entrepreneur and a well known name in the field of Advisory and Communication in the sustainability space. She is a former Television Journalist and has worked with leading National Channels like Star News and TV Today Network in various capacities widely reporting on lifestyle, fashion and trends. As a successful entrepreneur Nidhi is co-founder of thecsrjournal.in, Indigreen – a fair trade, organic clothing label & The Green People of India (TGPI) – a collective of sustainable enterprises across India. Nidhi is very passionate about Yoga and is a long time practitioner of Kriya Yoga Meditation as taught by Paramahansa Yogananda (Autobiography of a Yogi).
This is a guest post from Bailey Schroeder, Founder & CEO at ResQwalk
Inspired by a rescue dog named Charlie, ResQwalk was started to give people a free and easy way to help animals and animal welfare organizations closest to their hearts. Even though millions of people have the desire to help, many don’t have the money to donate or time to volunteer. ResQwalk bridges this gap. By downloading ResQwalk, and using the FREE app during a walk, run or other fitness activity – people can earn valuable resources for their favorite animal welfare organization. ResQwalk currently supports over 2,000 organizations across the United States and Canada.
ResQwalk is a unique concept because the app makes it easy to incorporate giving into daily life. All people have to do is download the free app and use it while walking to dinner, running to the store or participating in any outdoor activity that measures distance. Furthermore, there are a number of in app initiatives to help adoptable animals get seen and adopted. Each day ResQwalk highlights an adoptable ResQanimal of the Day. The animal appears throughout the app – and the hope is that the extra visibility will help the animal get adopted. Furthermore, instead of focusing entirely on the individual, and how his or her exercise routine can benefit an animal welfare organization, ResQwalk is also working to build a community of likeminded, socially conscious individuals that want to act, educate, and connect over their mutual passion for helping animals in need.
ResQwalk’s mission is to help animals in need and the company’s vision is to be THE platform for animal lovers to both give back and find the information, tools and resources they need to live happy and healthy lives with their pets. Since launching on June 26, 2014 ResQwalk has distributed $95,000 to over 2,000 animal welfare organizations in the United States and Canada.
The way the app works is simple: At the beginning of each month ResQwalk puts together a ResQpool comprised of cash and products contributed by corporate sponsors. ResQwalkers simply need to pick their favorite ResQpartner, start the app, and get moving. The app uses GPS to track the user’s activity. This means the user can participate in any daily activity, such as walking, running or biking, as long as the activity can be measured by GPS and involves a speed of less than 14 mph. At the end of every month, the ResQpool is proportionally distributed according to the total distance contributed by the app’s dedicated users.
About Bailey Schroeder:
Bailey founded ResQwalk in March 2014 and spearheads all aspects of the business. This includes product development, strategy, and marketing.
Bailey has a strong background in finance and sales, and was a former Assistant Vice President at Barclays Capital. Prior to Barclays she was a Financial Analyst at Skellig Capital LLC, where she focused her research on technology and consumer goods. Bailey has always had a passion for humanitarian work. Through her entrepreneurial endeavors, she aims to combine her knowledge and expertise in product strategy, technology and sales, with her love of animals.
With ResQwalk, her goal is simple: to support and bring awareness to animal welfare organizations. The cause closest to her heart.
This is a guest post from Drew Ades, President and CEO of the Housing Partnership Equity Trust and the Housing Partnership Network.
There is a clear crisis in America for affordable housing, with over 12 million households paying more than half their income on rent. This problem is growing, with rents continually rising, wages mostly stagnant and the supply of affordable housing simply not keeping pace.
Investors typically shy away from affordable housing, citing the risk as a reason to opt for investments in commercial and luxury housing properties. But in its own small way our REIT that is entirely focused on affordability and governed by non-profit community housing organizations has just proven that impact investors can do the right thing for society, mitigate their risk and still make a decent return.
This month our two-year-old Housing Partnership Equity Trust, whose lead investors include large financial institutions like Prudential, Citibank, and Morgan Stanley as well as the MacArthur and Ford foundations, paid its first round of quarterly dividends – returning more than $1.3 million to investors. By the end of this year, HPET will have a portfolio approaching 2500 residential rental units with a value approaching $250 Million and is well on its way towards acquiring and preserving $1 billion in apartment buildings over the next five years with a combined 12,500 or more units available to police and teachers, waiters and nurses aides and people on fixed income.
Among HPET’s investors are more than a dozen non-profit community housing groups who collectively already own or operate over 65,000 apartments units and operate in more than 30 states. These non-profits are also partners in our deals, providing local expertise and a proven infrastructure built around providing high quality housing to low income residents.
HPET’s non-profit partners have the same technical resources needed to efficiently buy and refurbish units as for profit operators, but they lacked the access to fast and flexible equity that understood their market. HPET works with the Impact Investor market to solve this problem.
Impact investors – both high-net-worth individuals and institutions – that want a return on their money but also want to make a social difference are the ideal partners for these kinds of projects. It took a bold early capital commitment from the MacArthur Foundation to provide guaranteed liquidity and minimize risk for other investors, coupled with smart leadership from the Housing Partnership Network, to get the idea of a non-profit owned fund like this one up and running.
Debra Schwartz, managing director of Impact Investments at MacArthur says the REIT is working as she envisioned and is proof that this sort of business model can work in other social ventures outside of housing.
However, this is only a start. HPET plans to acquire 3,000 new units next year, assuming we continue expanding the investor base. This model offers a scalable, innovative and viable private sector approach to address the growing affordable housing crisis. We’re in it for the long haul.
About Drew Ades:
Drew Ades is President and CEO of Housing Partnership Equity Trust in Washington, D.C., hpequitytrust.com
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
HSNi’s efforts to support needy children around the world through its partnership with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF provide lessons for social entrepreneurs seeking to have impact at scale.
HSNi CEO Mindy Grossman provides some background for its partnership, saying, “HSNi Cares was established in 2010 with a mission to empower women and support children and families in need locally, nationally and globally. All children, regardless of their income, ethnicity or geography have the right to be protected and be given the opportunity to reach their full potential which is why our global HSNi Cares partner is the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. UNICEF does whatever it takes to save and protect the world’s most vulnerable children. Through our partnership we raise both critical funds and awareness.”
For Grossman, the cause is personal. She says, “I joined the national board for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF in 2012 and over the past three years have had the opportunity to see UNICEF’s work firsthand both in Senegal in 2012 and Guatemala in 2015. Exposure to the challenges children face around the world has emboldened me to do more to support the organization and have even greater impact. “
She now serves as the Vice Chair of the National board of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. “Through HSNi Cares, we have recently concluded our third annual awareness and fundraising campaign for the U.S. Fund,” she adds. “I’m so proud to be able to use my platform as CEO to make such a meaningful impact.”
She notes that in 2015, all eight HSNi brands supported the campaign, bringing the total raised since 2013 to over $2 million.
She goes on to say, “Recently we held our 3rd annual HSN Cares Primetime Special for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and joined forces with Star Wars to bring customers fun, relevant product while raising awareness for the organization. Their generosity during this campaign will help provide medicine, nutrition, clean water, education and more to children around the world. In addition to financial contributions, we leveraged our platform to purposefully shine a spotlight on a global crisis. Generating both understanding and awareness is a critical element in creating meaningful long term impact.”
Grossman will receive the “Spirit of Compassion Award” at UNICEF’s Snowflake Ball on December 1, 2015.
Social entrepreneurs will note the importance of personal passion and commitment to a cause as a key take away from the HSNi social impact efforts.
On Tuesday, November 24, 2015 at 5:00 Eastern, Grossman will join me for a live discussion about the partnership with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and its 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 HSNi:
HSN, Inc. (Nasdaq:HSNI) is a $4 billion interactive multichannel retailer with strong direct-to-consumer expertise among its two operating segments, HSN and Cornerstone. HSNi offers innovative, differentiated retail experiences on TV, online, via mobile devices, in catalogs, and in brick and mortar stores. HSN, a leading interactive multichannel retailer which offers a curated assortment of exclusive products combined with top brand names, now reaches 95 million homes (24 hours a day, seven days a week, live 364 days a year). HSN.com offers a differentiated digital experience by leveraging content, community and commerce. In addition to its existing media platforms, HSN is the industry leader in transactional innovation, including services such as HSN Shop by Remote®, the only service of its kind in the U.S., the HSN Shopping App for mobile handheld devices and HSN on Demand®. Cornerstone comprises leading home and apparel lifestyle brands including Ballard Designs®, Chasing Fireflies®, Frontgate®, Garnet Hill®, Grandin Road®, Improvements® and TravelSmith®. Cornerstone distributes approximately 325 million catalogs annually, operates seven separate digital sales sites and operates 11 retail and outlet stores.
Mindy Grossman is the CEO of HSNi a $4 billion direct-to-consumer retail portfolio that includes live content retailer HSN and the Cornerstone portfolio of home and family lifestyle brands. Mindy joined IAC, HSNi’s former parent company, in 2006 as CEO of IAC Retail. In 2008 she took the company public. During her tenure she has positioned HSNi as a leader in boundaryless retail, offering customers a seamless shopping experience across – television, catalogue, online and mobile. Today nearly half of the company’s revenue is generated through digital commerce. With nearly four decades of experience at some of the world’s most iconic brands including; Tommy Hilfiger, Polo Ralph Lauren RL +2.38% Company and Nike NKE +0.00%, Mindy is known as a transformational leader. She has been named one of Fortune magazine’s “Top Persons in Business,” Forbes’ “Top 100 Most Powerful Women,” and Fast Company’s “Top 100 Most Creative People in Business.” Mindy serves on the boards of the National Retail Federation, Bloomin’ Brands and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Worldstock sources artisinal products from around the world, largely from underprivileged women, and makes them available to people in the U.S. and elsewhere in the developed world at prices that provides fair earnings to the artisans. All Worldstock orders ship “carbon neutral” to the customer.
Byrne offers three key observations to help social entrepreneurs.
On Tuesday, November 24, 2015 at 6:00 PM Eastern, Byrne will join me for a live discussion about his insights for social entrepreneurs and change agents. 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 Overstock:
We are an online retailer. Founded in 1999, gone public in 2002. First year revenues of just under $2-million, today revenues approach $2-billion. Over 1,500 employees. We were initially created as a liquidation channel for the first waves of failed dotcoms. Today we’ve evolved into a first run retailer selling everything from toasters to patio furniture.
Patrick M. Byrne, CEO, launched Overstock.com in 1999 with revenues of $1.8 million. In 2014 Overstock.com had revenues of $1.5 billion and net income of $8.8 million. Forbes magazine named Overstock.com the No. 9 Best Company to Work for in the Country for 2010, and Byrne the CEO with the highest employee approval rating (92%). Byrne received the 2011 Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
In 2001, Byrne began Worldstock Fair Trade, an Overstock.com division selling handcrafted products from artisans in developing nations. The department distinguishes itself by returning 60-70% of the sale price to artisans (over $100 million has been paid to Worldstock’s artisan suppliers). In addition, Worldstock net profits have been donated to fund philanthropic projects in several countries. Worldstock and Byrne have funded the building of 26 self-sustaining schools internationally that currently educate thousands of students.
A “classical liberal,” Byrne believes that our nation’s success depends on a sound educational system and healthy capital markets. Since Milton Friedman’s passing in 2006, Byrne has served as chairman of The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, an organization leading the national debate for school vouchers.
Towards the goal of clean capital markets, in 2004 Byrne (as a citizen-journalist) began a vigorous campaign against abusive Wall Street practices, focusing on regulatory capture, hedge fund “expert network” (insider trading) schemes, settlement system failures, systemic risk, and the possibility of economic warfare against the US by organized crime and foreign governments. His stance quickly caught the attention of Wall Street analysts and reporters, becoming a point of high controversy and ridicule until the economic crash of 2008, occasioned by the very things Byrne had warned of. Byrne’s website DeepCapture.com has received much recognition, such as Weblogs Award “Best Business Blog” (2008), Business Pundit’s “Best Business Investigative Journalism” (2009), and Xmark’s “Top Site on Corruption in the USA” (2010).
Before founding Overstock.com and serving as chairman, CEO, and president, Byrne held the same three positions at Centricut, LLC, a manufacturer of consumables for industrial plasma torches, and held the same three positions at Fechheimer Brothers, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway company, manufacturing police, firefighter and military uniforms.
Byrne received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and Asian studies from Dartmouth College, a master’s in philosophy from Cambridge University as a Marshall Scholar, and a doctorate in philosophy from Stanford University. He has taught at the university level and is a frequent guest lecturer discussing internet commerce, capital markets, Wall Street practices, education, leadership and ethics.
In 2014, Byrne’s political philosophy, mathematical training and concern over corruption on Wall Street combined to move him to create Medici, Overstock.com’s financial technology subsidiary building platforms for digital asset exchange on the same technology that powers bitcoin. In 2015, Byrne became the first person in history to purchase a digital bond, using Medici’s t0.com private debt equity trading platform.
Rahel Getachew, founder and Managing Director of Afrolehar, is working to change perceptions of Africa by building business bridges between the U.S. and Africa.
Rahel explains the problem, “The African continent has been seen as the dark and hopeless continent. There is a lack of linkages between US investment and African SMEs, a growing youthful continent that needs jobs to keep peace and security in the region and are missing platforms designed to solve these problems.”
She is working to address the lack of platforms focused on these problems. She says, “I started this business to strategically transform the image of Africa and contribute in strengthening North America- Africa relations. We provide integrated communications solutions through our advisory or in-house services, business development to penetrate and retain consumer markets in North America and Africa–based on client need–and manage creative productions for government, private sector and non-profit organizations.”
A vision of Africa where the economy is driven by value added there more than the commodities grown or extracted. “Ultimately, our success would be defined by the way Africa will be perceived by investors, businesses and consumers markets and African products and works will have greater market value than it currently has. As the world has always turned to the African continent for resources (commodities), we aim to have the world purchase quality added-value African products,” she concludes.
On Tuesday, November 24, 2015 at noon Eastern, Rahel will join me for a live discussion about her efforts. 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 Afrolehar:
Established in Washington DC, Afrolehar LLC is a cross-cultural branding firm offering integrated communications solutions, business strategies and creative productions services to Government, private sector and non-profit organizations in addition to building Afrolehar LLC brands like knocknockafrica.com, an eCommerce platform with an integrated logistics component designed for SMEs producing added-value products in Africa to connect to consumer markets in North America; Agrifrica.com, a membership-based platform focusing on Green Business linkages between the African continent and North America. As a brand hub and branding solutions advisors, Afrolehar LLC is created to strengthen North America- Africa economic and cultural relations.
Rahel Getachew, entrepreneur at heart, founder and managing director of Afrolehar LLC, a cross-cultural branding boutique company, has extensive experience in international affairs, integrated marketing and communications, creative productions, program and project management and business development. A cross-cultural problem solver, to actualize her vision of owning her business, Rahel established Afrolehar LLC after extensive international and domestic experience. Rahel’s goal is to enter the African marketplace of ideas and products into the psyche of consumers and various stakeholders; and in the process, the aim is to change the image of Africa and to increase North America’s investment in African countries. Rahel understands that AID and grants is not the way to elevate Africa, instead Africa has to leverage the abundance of natural resources, human capacity and technology into a sustainable economy. Rahel’s professional experiences in Africa and North America have taught her that the way a people or a country is viewed depends on those who create the campaigns on their behalf. Rahel earned her bachelor of Arts with a major in Political science and minor in business studies, and is certified in ICT; she is an active member of the AGOA civil society and private sector networks, African Women Entrepreneurship Program and Top ladies of distinction.
Rahel was referred to YourMarkOnTheWorld.com by our sponsor, Gate Global Impact.
Have you ever wanted to do something to make the world a better place but didn’t know what? The new “10 Things For” campaign is trying to ensure you always know what to do.
Emily Paxman, founder of the campaign, says, “There is a tremendous amount of goodwill in the world, as evidenced by the large number of people who draw awareness to the issues they’re passionate about by posting articles on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. While raising awareness can be valuable in the long-term, it often does nothing to alleviate immediate suffering in the here and now.”
Coby Vail, director of campaign research, adds, “In the Information Age, everyone is becoming more aware of the problems that plague the planet on a daily basis. With so much to do, it can be hard to hone in on one problem and find a meaningful way to contribute, whether that be money, time, or talents.”
Emily notes, “We are working to find and share creative ways that individuals can make a difference. Not everyone has the time to go build a house in Mexico, or the money to sponsor a child. By providing a healthy mix of small, easy ways to help with more traditional forms of charity, we want to help put people who want to make a difference to work.”
“The 10 Things Campaign makes it easier for people to get involved by selecting a cause every three weeks, providing education and 10 meaningful activities you can do to make a difference. We interview activists working on each cause in order to get the most effective activities for our followers to participate in and make a dent in the problem at hand,” Coby adds.
Emily is convinced that enough small acts will change the world. She says, “If all of our followers pick something from our list of ten things to do each month, they will be making someone else’s life better, even though that difference may be small. Ultimately, if enough people feel empowered to help, those small things add up, and the world begins to change.”
“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,” Coby concludes.
On Thursday, November 19, 2015 at noon Eastern, Emily and Coby will join me for a live discussion about the 10 Things For 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 the 10 Things Campaign:
Our mission is to empower individual activism by sharing ways to make a difference, providing education on issues, and enabling ordinary people to share their work to inspire others. To accomplish this, each month The 10 Things Campaign selects a social or humanitarian issue to focus on. Examples include illiteracy, homelessness, hunger etc. During the course of the month, we will share ten ways individuals can help those affected. These ten things vary in nature, allowing individuals with different time and material constraints to participate in the way that best fits their circumstances.
Emily Paxman is an activist, science-fiction enthusiast, and lifelong learner. She graduated from Brigham Young University with degrees in Middle East Studies an Arabic. Throughout her career, Emily has had the opportunity to live among and work with refugees, develop curriculum for youth science programs, and help communities develop programs to encourage volunteerism. Emily currently resides in Utah with her husband Skyler and their two dogs, Safari and Cairo.
Coby Vail grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah. Beginning in high school, he became interested in the world outside of Utah, history and learning about different cultures, traditions, and values. Two years in Austria taught him that, contrary to his experience in High School German, he could learn another language. Also in Austria, he interacted with refugees from all over the world, but particularly from the Middle East. As a result, he studied Middle East Studies/Arabic and International Development, a major that led to experiences in Amman, Jordan and Istanbul, Turkey. Both of these experiences brought him into contact with refugees and the broader world. Nowadays, he works at the Refugee Service Office in Salt Lake City. His experiences abroad and at home have imbued in him the desire to help provide opportunities to those who have little or none and educate others on what they can do to make a difference in the world.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Chen explains why so many babies are at risk, “Each year, 15,000,000 babies are born preterm; more than 1,000,000 of those babies will die. This is largely due to poor healthcare available in developing countries. Many of these deaths are preventable. Unfortunately, a prevalent number of hospitals simply cannot afford the high cost of current incubators and are in dire need of a low cost alternative. In addition, many of these births occur in rural areas, where electricity may not even be an option so a sustainable solution is needed.”
Enter Embrace Innovations.
“We have created a low cost, sustainable infant warmer that keeps preterm babies at an optimal body temperature. It works without constant need of electricity, making it ideal for rural areas in developing countries and has already saved over 150,000 babies. In order to help save more babies and reach our 1,000,000 baby goal, we have created a unique US commercial line of baby products called Little Lotus that will help save a vulnerable baby with the Embrace infant warmer for every Little Lotus baby product sold. Little Lotus baby products are well-designed and technologically innovative, so this allows people to help their babies rest at a comfortable temperature and also help make a collective difference in developing countries,” Chen says.
Chen is already making great progress toward her vision of a world where preterm babies don’t die for a lack of basic care. She says, “We envision saving millions of preterm babies worldwide with the Embrace infant warmer and through the 1:1 model with Little Lotus. We are also working on launching more innovative products to bring to the market to help reduce infant and maternal mortality.”
On Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 1:00 Eastern, Chen will join me for a live discussion about her work to save 1 million babies per year. 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 Embrace Innovations:
Embrace Innovations is a social enterprise startup that aims to create innovative products to improve the health and well-being of infants all over the world. Our first product, the Embrace infant warmer, was created to help the 15 million premature and low birth-weight babies born every year. The Embrace infant warmer costs about 1% of a traditional incubator and works without constant electricity, making it suitable for developing countries. To date, the Embrace infant warmer has helped over 150,000 babies.
Embrace Innovations recently created a consumer line of baby products called Little Lotus, which uses NASA inspired technology to keep babies at a perfect temperature. The line includes baby swaddles, sleeping bags and blankets that utilizes similar technology to the Embrace infant warmer, which help keep babies at an ideal body temperature. The product has a 1:1 model: for every Little Lotus baby product sold, a vulnerable baby will be helped in the developing country by the Embrace infant warmer. The goal is to help save the lives of 1,000,000 preterm infants around the world with the Embrace infant warmer, with the help of Little Lotus. It’s a way for parents to care for their babies, and it’s a way for families with the resources to help make an enormous difference in the lives of those less fortunate.
Jane Marie Chen is the co-founder and CEO of Embrace Innovations, which is estimated to have helped over 150,000 babies to date. Prior to Embrace, Chen worked with nonprofit organizations on healthcare issues in developing countries. She spent several years as the Program Director of a startup HIV/AIDS nonprofit in China (Chi Heng Foundation) and worked for the Clinton Foundation’s HIV/AIDS Initiative in Tanzania. She also worked at Monitor Group as a management consultant, advising Fortune 500 companies. Chen has been a TED Speaker, and was selected as one of Forbes’ Impact 30 in 2011. In 2011, Chen was also recognized as the Inspirational Young Alumni of the Year by Pomona College, and was the keynote speaker at Stanford’s Women in Management event. She is featured in Stanford’s “Tradition of Innovation,” and speaks at various international conferences, including the Skoll World Forum and World Economic Forum. In 2012, Chen was named as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, and was featured in Dove’s “Real Role Models” campaign for women and girls. Chen is a TED Senior Fellow, Echoing Green Fellow, and Rainer Arnhold Fellow. In 2013, Chen and the other co-founders of Embrace were awarded the prestigious Economist Innovation Award, under the category of Social and Economic Innovation. In the same year, Chen and her co-founder were also recognized as Schwab Social Entrepreneurs of the Year by the World Economic Forum.
Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you. ~Mother Teresa
As I sit on the plane reflecting on my trip to Haiti, one key lesson comes to mind. Yesterday, I visited St. Damien’s hospital in Port-au-Prince and met the founder of Haiti Cardiac Alliance, Owen Robinson, a truly incredible individual and also met Rob Raylman, the CEO of Gift of Life International.
The interesting thing about both organizations was the the parallel in their founding stories. Each began by helping one person, presented to someone for help. In the case of Owen, he was working in Haiti and was presented with a girl who needed a heart surgery. It would have been reasonable for him to say that it wasn’t his job to arrange for kids to travel to the U.S. for heart surgery, principally because it wasn’t his job. But he did. Having done it once, he did it again and before he knew it, he was doing it a lot. And Haiti Cardiac Alliance was born.
Gift of Life was born of a similar situation. Back in 1975, a Rotarian in Uganda reached out to Robby Donno, a Rotarian in New York asking for help treating a child who had been mauled by a hyena. When Robby called back, the girl was already on her way to Australia for treatment, but the Ugandan said he had another child, this one needing a heart surgery. Robby and his Rotary Club agreed to help that one and did. Then they helped several more. Before long, Gift of Life was formed. Today, they report having helped almost 20,000 kids from the developing world get life-saving surgeries.
The stories are so similar you probably got bored reading the second one thinking you’d heard the story before.
On Monday, I met the guys at Carbon Roots and wrote about their work, which finally began to take shape when they actually did what their customers asked for. While obviously not the same story, actually doing what is requested does seem like a close parallel to helping the one nearest you. They stopped pursuing their big plan (use charcoal as fertilizer) and started doing what locals had been asking them to do for a long time (make eco-friendly charcoal for cooking).
On Tuesday, I met with a young man, Jude Tranquille, who had launched an entrepreneurship camp for his peers in Haiti. He was helping some of those nearest to him.
On Wednesday, I met the folks at HELP. Their founding story is almost identical to Haiti Cardiac Care and Gift of Life. Conor Bohan, the founder of HELP, was teaching at a Catholic school in Haiti and was asked by one of the girls about to graduate for $30 to go to secretarial school. When he probed, he learned she really wanted to go to medical school but couldn’t afford it. He arranged for the money for her to go to Medical School and HELP was born.
On Thursday, I met the folks at EGI. Their founder, Steve Keppel, was trying to find a way to help the students at the same Catholic school mentioned above and launched an training program for young entrepreneurs. Again, he started with the people right in front of him.
The lesson I learned in Haiti is that Mother Teresa was right. Starting with the nearest person doesn’t limit your potential for impact, it simply proves your model. Once you prove the model, rinse and repeat endlessly and there will be no end to your impact.