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Center for
Social Innovation

Center for Social Innovation

Nonprofit Management

An interview with Eric Weaver (MBA '92)

Eric Weaver (MBA '92)

Published: May 19, 2009

GSB Alum, Stanford Social Innovation Review Reader
What are your causes?

I’m interested in advancing the economic well-being of working people. I want everyone in the Bay Area to have economic self-sufficiency. Our country has a robust apparatus for subsidizing wealth accumulation through the income tax code, but earners at the bottom 20 percent see none of the benefits of that.

How do you contribute?

Opportunity Fund, which I founded, and where I serve as CEO, is a not-for-profit financial institution offering financial products and services to working people to help them build assets. We provide a financial education course combined with matched savings for working people. We match their savings with philanthropic and governmental sources of funding that help give them the same kind of incentives to save that upper-income earners have. We’re the largest provider of that kind of account in the country.

We also provide microfinance loans to small businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area, and we play a role in financing affordable housing in the Bay Area.

What are important lessons you learned?

Working people are good customers. When they’re provided with appropriate financial products, they perform very well.

As a social entrepreneur, I’ve learned that the single most important aspect of building a business is to attract the most talented people. And when management supports them and makes them believe in themselves, they can do remarkable things.

Any last thought you would like to share?

There’s a tendency in Silicon Valley to forget about our own backyard. It’s important to realize that our quality of life is dependent on people investing time and resources in this community, too.

An interview with Daniel Grossman

Daniel Grossman

Published: May 19, 2009

Center Event Attendee, Donor, GSB Alum, Stanford Social Innovation Review Reader
What are your causes?

I came from a career as a diplomat and had an interest in human rights, which I brought to Stanford. I’m very committed to promoting political, social, and economic rights. I’m also interested in education as a foundation for an equitable, pluralistic society, and I’m committed to civic engagement and community building.

How do you contribute?

I founded Wild Planet Toys 15 years ago to create inspiring products that both parents and kids would love, and to create a company that would help advance the movement for social responsibility. For example, we promote community involvement in various ways. The latest project is working with public schools on an afternoon program to provide educational and fun content related to our business, specifically in the realm of invention.

I also serve on a number of boards of organizations that work in areas such as education, human rights, and social entrepreneurship. For example, I work with Stand for Children, which helps identify, recruit, and train advocates on behalf of children. We’re creating a cadre of civic activists and organizers who can support the development of democratic society through education.

What are important lessons you learned?

When you’re thinking about working with a social enterprise, be sure you understand what the terms of engagement and expectations are so you know if it’s a good match.

Any last thought you would like to share?

My family, business, and community commitments are all considered together so that they fit. For example, I don’t sit on boards that meet at night, because I want to be with my family.

An interview with Bruce McNamer (JD/MBA '96)

Bruce McNamer (JD/MBA '96)

Published: May 19, 2009

Donor, GSB Alum, Stanford Social Innovation Review Reader
What are your causes?

I care about global poverty and the fact that there are still a billion people on Earth barely getting by on less than a dollar a day and without the basic requirements of life. I’m focused on how we can use business to help poor people help themselves.

How do you contribute?

At TechnoServe, where I’m CEO, we work with entrepreneurs, small-business owners, and farmer co-ops to help them identify market opportunities and develop the skills, training, and tools they need to help themselves by building successful businesses. Those enterprises subsequently create jobs, income, and wealth for their families and communities.

Since 70 percent of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas, we help local agribusinesses succeed and thrive. For example, we are working with 25,000 coffee farmers in East Africa, helping them to access global markets for high-quality, specialty coffee; we’ve helped build pineapple juice and cashew processing factories; we work with large co-ops to run milk processing businesses; we’ve worked with entrepreneurs to develop ecotourism companies; and we’ve helped develop thousands of similar businesses.

What are important lessons you learned?

Empowering other people to pursue opportunities is about one of the most important things we can do.

The things we know about business in the developing world have a great deal of applicability in some of the poorest places on Earth. So by applying those skills there, we can make a tremendous difference.

What are your favorite social innovation resources?

Stanford Social Innovation Review
McKinsey Quarterly

Any last thought you would like to share?

Doing this kind of work is a matter of applying basic business blocking and tackling in new ways. There is such a critical role for innovation in addressing enormous problems like global poverty, and that innovation comes out of what we already know how to do.

Researchers Find Nonprofits More Business-Focused

Published: February 06, 2008
- Janet Zich

Managing Nonprofits Requires Mainstream Business Skills

Published: May 01, 2003
[photo - managing nonprofits requires mainstream business skills]
- Theresa Johnston