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Center for
Social Innovation

Center for Social Innovation

Social Entrepreneurship

Social Entrepreneurship


Social entrepreneurship involves the marriage of good business principles with the desire to solve social problems, improve the environment, and empower communities. It’s all about creating double- and triple-bottom line companies that do well while doing good. In these Social Innovation Conversations educational podcasts, hear how pioneers and innovators from all regions and walks of life are helping our world through socially motivated businesses ranging from the smallest and most localized efforts to large and ambitious enterprises. Fuel yourself with inspiration and sophisticated advice as to how you can make social entrepreneurship a part of your own life.

[photo - Carl Bass]

Social enterprise is scaling up through digital design. In this audio lecture, Carl Bass, President and CEO of Autodesk, discusses at Social Innovation Summit 2013 the application of design to solve social problems. Bass describes how the availability of infinite computing capacity combined with people's willingness to share their knowledge of how to make things advances social entrepreneurship for everyone's betterment, and he shares examples of creative small businesses that advance social enterprise through innovation.

[photo - Chris Librie]

As early as 1947, David Packard said, “The betterment of society in not a job to be left to a few, but a responsibility to be shared by all.” Chris Librie, Senior Director of Strategy and Corporate Affairs at HP, discusses the company’s long standing commitment to this philosophy in this podcast. By using multiple examples of HP’s social sector success, Chris describes the company’s holistic approach to social problem solving, and expresses the company’s enthusiasm in continuing to pursue corporate social ventures.

[photo - Jake Harriman]

Jake Harriman is using his military experience to revolutionize the fight against extreme poverty. After leaving his position as a Special Operations Platoon Commander in the Marine Corps, Jake Harriman founded Nuru, a nonprofit aiming to bring relief to the poorest places in the world. Jake puts his venture’s focus on finding and training capable leaders in these places, rather than giving these communities quick economic fixes. Through this podcast, Jake Harriman shares his enthusiasm for combating extreme poverty and portrays his excitement for the future of his venture.

[photo - Jorge Camil Starr]

Correcting education disparity is a prevalent global focus. In this audio interview, the Co-Founder and CDO of ENOVA, Jorge Camil Starr, discusses his entrepreneurial success in improving the educational sphere in Mexico. Jorge and the rest of the ENOVA team are working to bring education technology to low-income communities and equip them with the tools they need to thrive in the knowledge society.

[photo - Lieselotte Heederik]

The Nazava Water Filters team sees clean water as a basic right, not a privilege. In this audio interview, the co-founder of Nazava Water Filters, Lieselotte Heederik, discusses her company’s impact on Indonesia by creating appliances to purify water at the household level. Nazava Water Filters provides the most affordable and safest household water filters in Indonesia, which enables families to access clean drinking water without the need to boil water or use electricity. This consequently improves health, increases disposable income and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

[photo - Kathy Brennan]

A critical approach to measurement, evaluation, and data collection is needed for nonprofits to expand impact in an increasingly interconnected social world. In this panel discussion at Next Generation Evaluation conference, Kathy Brennan, Patricia Bowie, and Lucy Bernholz give provocative overviews of developmental evaluation research design, shared measurement for collective impact, and the social responsibility of nonprofits employing big data for good.

[photo - Hallie Preskill]

Three evolving approaches to evaluation could change how it is used in social enterprise. In this audio lecture, Hallie Preskill, FSG managing director, opens the 2013 Next Generation Evaluation conference with examples of how leading social sector organizations are thinking about and applying evaluation. Preskill discusses in detail three new approaches to evaluation: developmental evaluation, shared measurement, and big data. She explains the trends and identifies how evaluation must evolve to optimize social enterprise efforts.

[photo - Lisbeth Schorr]

Effective evaluation is about more than measuring impact—it’s about figuring out what works and why. In this panel discussion at the Next Generation Evaluation conference, Lisbeth Schorr, Fay Twersky, and Alicia Grunow discuss the implications of evaluative techniques such as shared measurement, big data, and improvement science for philanthropy and nonprofit management.

[photo - Brenda Zimmerman]

Embracing complexity is essential in social enterprise evaluation. In this audio lecture, Brenda Zimmerman, Associate Professor of Policy at York University’s Schulich School of Business, suggests approaches for addressing complexity in evaluation systems. In the closing keynote at the 2013 Next Generation Evaluation Conference, Zimmerman explores ways to embrace complexity in social sector evaluation practice. She describes how social innovation can be fostered by applying cognitive diversity to solve structural and causative complexity problems.

[photo - Jacob Lief]

By a simple twist of fate, Jacob Leif found himself in post-apartheid South Africa, staring at a big paradoxical break in philanthropy - success was measured in numbers instead of long-term impact. While working at a local school, he found that supplies of books, computers, and daily lunches for the school children were plentiful. However, once the supporting nonprofit left after the funding cycle finished, the school returned right back to where it started. Lief decided to found Ubuntu Education Fund, an organization that works to support children living in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. In this episode of The Social Disruptors, Ned Breslin and Jacob Lief discuss the struggles of funding for long-term sustainable impact within the current philanthropic system of 12-month grant cycles.

[photo - Willa Seldon]

How do we prevent collaboration from sweeping through nonprofits as a passing fad? In this discussion panel at the Nonprofit Management Institute, Willa Seldon talks with experts Carolyn Nelson and Stephanie Couch on how to avoid wasting time and effort by effectively evaluating goals and necessities before collaborating.

[photo - Julie Dixon]

Personal connections and influence can be crucial in garnering support for an organization’s cause. In this audio lecture, Julie Dixon of Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication describes how organizations can leverage supporters’ talent, resources, and participation through meaningful engagement. She suggests that organizations craft opportunities and social media policies that allow people to support a cause in the best way they can.

[photo - Marina Gorbis]

Modern technology empowers individuals to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks. In this audio lecture, Marina Gorbis, executive director of the Institute for the Future, discusses “socialstructing” — generating small contributions from each person in a wide network to accomplish large tasks, such as the creation of a global collection of crime-related data. Gorbis describes socialstructing as an alternative to some types of formal organizations in the future.

[photo - Daniel Spitzer]

Operating a successful social enterprise requires providing meaningful economic value to people. In this audio lecture, Daniel Spitzer, founder of Mountain Hazelnuts, describes his experience creating supply chain value to develop a hazelnut farming social enterprise in Bhutan. Spitzer details how he enhances supply chains through corporate citizenship, and leverages data captured from Android phones. Spitzer describes why there is nothing is more important than people in operating a profitable business through corporate social responsibility.

[photo - Dara O'Rourke]

Social innovations in the supply chain have the potential for making an impact on a large scale. In this panel discussion, experts describe innovations that are benefiting society and delivering economic value, including responsible e-waste recycling efforts that generate revenue, innovative methods to end child labor in the carpet industry, and more.