GSBI Methodology White Paper Published

Photo Credit: Victoria Yundt at Solar Sister

Photo Credit: Victoria Yundt at Solar Sister

SANTA CLARA, Calif., June 23, 2015 –  Santa Clara University’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship has released a white paper aimed at helping social-entrepreneurship accelerators and incubators succeed. The paper,  “The GSBI(R) Methodology for Social Entrepreneurship,” is available to download here.  

The white paper encapsulates lessons from 12 years of working with over 365 businesses tackling social problems around the world through the Miller Center’s Global Social Benefit Institute, or GSBI. The GSBI is internationally recognized for helping social entrepreneurs become investment-ready and prepared to “scale” -- or reach exponentially more beneficiaries. GSBI’s well-honed methodology serves as a best-practices framework for incubating and accelerating these global social enterprises.

The Miller Center is offering this free white paper in response to the rapid rise of accelerators and incubators focused on helping social entrepreneurs scale their solutions to the world’s critical problems affecting the poor and the planet. It identifies key strategies so others can benefit from its successes and failures.

The paper describes three key success factors for a successful accelerator: social enterprise selection, stage-specific programs for social enterprises, and deep executive-level mentoring.  It also shares mistakes to avoid, such as being unprepared for the due diligence process that potential funders require.

“Founded in 2003, the GSBI has led and changed the way accelerators help social entrepreneurs," said Sally Osberg, CEO and President of the Skoll Foundation. “The social entrepreneurship movement is booming and there’s no need for newcomers to reinvent the wheel. This paper helps everyone in our ecosystem accomplish our shared goal of using innovation and sound business practices to solve problems that are keeping three billion people from living their full potential.”

The GSBI invites applications from businesses or organizations that are “impact first,” where the intention is to create good environmental or social outcomes as a forethought, not an afterthought. Based on where the enterprises are in their lifecycles, they are matched to the appropriate programs within the GSBI:  a “Boost” program consisting of three days of intensive, on-location training; a six-month online-only program for early-stage, developing ventures; or the 10-month GSBI Accelerator, which combines online and in-person mentoring for ventures on the cusp of robust growth. 

“We have applied this stage-appropriate methodology in over 60 countries,” said Pamela Roussos, senior director of GSBI. “What sets us apart is our 80-plus Silicon Valley executive mentors who accompany the social entrepreneurs on their journey through weekly meetings for entire duration of their program.  More than 85 percent of our last cohort received funding. Our methodology contributes to this success record and we would like others to benefit from it.”

About the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship
Founded in 1997, the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship is one of three Centers of Distinction at Santa Clara University. The Miller Center accelerates global, innovation-based entrepreneurship in service to humanity. Its strategic focus is on poverty eradication through its three areas of work: The Global Social Benefit Institute, Impact Capital, and Education and Action Research. To learn more about the Center or any of its social entrepreneurship programs, please visit

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 9,000 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering; master’s degrees in business, education, counseling psychology, pastoral ministry, and theology; and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

Media Contacts
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations | | 408-554-5121
Jaime Gusching | Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship | | 408-551-6048

Empower Generation Helps Turn the lights back on in Nepal

Photo Credit: Empower Generation

Photo Credit: Empower Generation

At 11:56 AM, April 25th, an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale rocked Nepal. This earthquake, which occurred in Kathmandu Valley, located in the middle of the country, levelled cities and centuries old buildings alike, leaving thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless, living in darkness. 

The International community responded almost immediately, sending aid through a number of different channels. This aid was formulated from a wide variety of sources, from traditional relief organizations like the Red Cross to crowdfunding campaigns made on sites like Crowdrise, Indiegogo and GoFundMe. 

The problems Nepal faces from the earthquake's impact are extensive. Over a million Nepalese are living without shelter, clean water, and basic amenities. The mountainous geography of Nepal however has meant that bringing the necessary aid to those in isolated areas has been especially difficult. This terrain has also led to the fundamental issue of providing power to the people of Nepal, even before the Earthquake. 

Roughly 60% of Nepal's 27.8 million population will likely never be on the power grid, while those with access can experience daily outages up to 18 hours long.

Empower Generation, a social enterprise in the current GSBI Accelerator cohort at the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, believes they have a way to solve this dilemma.  

Founded in 2011, by Bennett Cohen, Empower Generation is a small non-profit that consists of a network of 12 micro-enterprises run by 16 women entrepreneurs across 10 districts of Nepal. Empower Generation's mission is to build clean, sustainable energy markets to tackle the causes of poverty. They boast a number of high quality products including d.light solar lanterns and home systems and BBOXX solar powered systems). 

Since the earthquake, Empower Generation's team has been working non stop to turn the lights back on. On day two after the initial earthquake, the Empower Generation team began distributing lights and creating charging stations for relief workers in Kathmandu. Over the course of the next two weeks, Empower Generation was able to distribute over 2,000 quality solar lights adding an additional 7,000 through their partners. These have helped restore light for more than 53,000 earthquake survivors; prompting CNN to recognize Empower Generation's efforts

After more than a month and another earthquake with a 7.3 degree of magnitude Empower Generation had distributed over 9,000 solar lights and mobile phone chargers. They likely would have distributed more had they not run out of stock. 

Despite their success, Empower Generation remains unsatisfied by their accomplishments striving for all of Nepal to have access to light, driven on by the responses of people like Subhadra Pyakurel.

Subhadra, a recipient of one of the new solar lights perfectly described the reason why light is so necessary for Nepal's recovery; "Having light in our home means feeling safe, secure, and becoming hopeful of leading a new life by leaving our past behind us, To me light makes me hopeful for the future."

You can support Empower Generation directly at

The Pope, the Poor, and the Planet

By: Thane Kreiner, Executive Director of the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship


The Pope’s forthcoming encyclical on the environment will call attention to the impact of climate change on the planet and the global poor. His letter will cast a moral framework for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris and the United Nations Summit in New York as they work to adopt Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the next 15 years.

The Pope tweeted on April 21: “We need to care for the earth so that it may continue, as God willed, to be a source of life for the entire human family.”

Photo credit: Lauren Farwell

Photo credit: Lauren Farwell

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change distinguishes between climate change mitigation, which reduces impacts in future decades, and adaptation, which helps reduce risks of climate change impacts. Since the poor are most vulnerable to climate disruption, human society has a special obligation to act now to foster climate resilience, the capacity of human and social systems to withstand disruption and support dignity and the common good.

The Pope is likely to invoke a legally binding agreement among the developed nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reforestation to restore natural carbon sinks. These essential climate change mitigation measures should drive a “profound transformation of energy systems by mid-century,” as articulated in the interim report of Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project.

In addition, the Pope’s encyclical will call on all people of good will to prepare the planet’s poorest three billion people for climate change impacts that are already occurring. Such preparations include access to clean energy, water for food and agriculture, economic opportunities, education, and healthcare. 

Silicon Valley, the world’s richest entrepreneurial ecosystem, has a shared moral imperative to respond to the Pope’s call for action. We must take practical actions that foster climate protection and promote climate resilience for the planet’s poorest people. One avenue is through supporting social entrepreneurs, who are working to create off-grid clean energy, safe drinking water, food security, and dignified livelihoods for the poor.

At Santa Clara University’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, we combine the Jesuit tradition of serving the poor with Silicon Valley start-up DNA through our GSBI® programs. We’ve already worked with more than 365 social enterprises at the intersection of poverty eradication and climate change resilience in 61 countries. These enterprises deploy technologies that help poor communities escape energy poverty; adapt to the harmful effects of climate change on food, water, energy, and health systems; and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This summer, Santa Clara students from a broad range of majors – public health, economics, environmental sciences, computer engineering, communication, political science – will be in the field working with these social enterprises to help scale their impact. The convergence of disciplines is a testament to our University’s vision for sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM): a way to engage everyone in entrepreneurship and innovation that serves humanity. The disruption of our planet’s life support system challenges business as usual in science, engineering, and entrepreneurship. Santa Clara can demonstrate how these dynamic forces can tackle climate change, and respond to the Pope’s encyclical. 

Action Research Open House

By: Deborah Lohse, Assistant Director, Media Relations for Santa Clara University

Inventing portable solar-powered coolers to store nutritious dairy products in remote communities off the electric grid in rural Mexico. Investigating how best to identify tuberculosis cases in Southeast Asia through the use of data science. Using mobile-mapping technology and marketing to recruit more students and tutors to a successful program for disadvantaged youth in South Africa.

These projects are among nearly 100 that were showcased at Santa Clara University’s “Research with a Mission” Expo, which demonstrated the ingenuity and exceptional work of some of its top students, whose efforts are driven by the university’s mission to to foster a more just, humane, and sustainable world.

The Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship partnered with the University Honors Program to feature work from students in the Miller Center’s Global Social Benefit Fellowship program, as well as from the University Honors program and from Wim & Maria Roelandts Grant recipients.

Additional projects presented include:

  • Mobile apps and other methods of tracking inventory, mobile payments, sales, customer service queries, and daily business tips for a company that manufactures sanitary napkins to keep girls from missing school every month.
  • A drone system for “last mile” delivery of AIDS medicines in Zambia.
  • Organic solar cells to produce clean, cheap and flexible alternatives to existing solar technologies.

The Global Social Benefit Fellowship provides a comprehensive program of mentored, field-based study and action research for juniors at SCU. Fellows work on the ground in the developing world within the Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI®) worldwide network of social entrepreneurs. The Wim and Maria Roelandts Grant funds faculty and student research projects that use science and technology for social benefit, locally and globally. The University Honors Program offers learning opportunities in small, seminar-style classes; seniors conduct a research project with faculty members. 

“Social entrepreneurship is a popular subject in universities across America,” said Keith Warner OFM, director of Education and Action Research at the Miller Center. “At Santa Clara University, we offer undergraduates the opportunity to conduct ‘action research’ – working on campus and in the developing world with GSBI social enterprises to create practical research and products that deliver a positive impact. The Miller Center is investing in the full entrepreneurial potential of its students through the Fellowship and Roelandts Grant programs.”

Beyond the Big Players

Impact investing is bigger in scope and yet, more personal than you think.

By:  Nancy Y. Lin, Program Director of Impact Capital

Participants of the Essential Impact Investor Practicum

Participants of the Essential Impact Investor Practicum

On Jun 1-3, 2015, the Impact Capital team of the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship delivered a pilot course, The Essential Impact Investor Practicum, in cooperation with the KL Felicitas Foundation and Planet Ventures. The course was eagerly and diversely attended, with participants including private equity impact investors, high net worth individuals, foundation directors, and mentors of the Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI®), all looking to learn more about impact investing and its ecosystem. 

As the course unfolded from the 'why' to the 'how' of impact investing, many of the participants, in particular those who are in close touch with social enterprises, were taken by a pleasant surprise: Impact investing is much bigger in scope yet more personal than they had originally thought. Many came to the class looking for ways to better serve the social enterprises. Many walked away with the knowledge that they too can participate in impact investments, regardless of the size of their portfolio. 

Early Players Were Big And Mainly Used Direct Private Equity

The impression that impact investing is mostly about direct private equity investments can be traced to the early history of the field. Since Rockefeller Foundation coined the term impact investing in 2007, early impact investments were mostly in the form of private equity, debt investments, or guarantees (1), and very often involved direct investments in social enterprises. 

The early investors were mostly large players – ranging from development finance institutions (DFIs), private foundations (such as Omidyar Network in the U.S.), large-scale financial institutes, and private investment funds (2). At the time J.P. Morgan released its report, Impact Investments, an Emerging Asset Class in November 2010, accredited investors could not easily get into the impact investing space as in-country asset managers were still not readily available or searchable. As one can see, not a lot of opportunity existed then for retail investors. 

Impact investing in public securities was also not so prevalent. Prior to 2009, financial analysis had not really taken environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into investment decisions. It was at most considered as supplemental data – a check against negative press should a company have, for instance, human-rights violations that could negatively influence its stock price, increase its chance of lawsuits, increase its exposure to higher warranty costs, and perhaps ultimately cause its profits to decline in the long run.

A Sprouting Impact Ecosystem Strengthens Investment Opportunity In Other Asset Class

In early 2011, ImpactBase, a credible, searchable online database of private impact investment funds, began opening to subscribers (3). From a humble beginning of 50 private funds that had created profiles on the platform, ImpactBase now connects 300+ private fund managers with subscribers (3). Accredited investors – and retail investors to the extent that the funds are open to them – can now participate in impact investing through third-party fund managers without having to make direct investments themselves. In a 2015 survey on large impact investors, J.P. Morgan-GIIN reported that fund managers now managed 63% of the respondents’ total asset under management (AUM), up from 34% in 2014. At the same time, DFIs’ share of AUM declined from 42% in 2014 to 18% in 2015. These results correspond with the fact that intermediaries play an increasingly important role in impact investing (4).

Since the launch of ESG terminals by Bloomberg in July 2009, investment banks and research firms such as Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch, UBS, and Credit Suisse have begun to incorporate and fully integrate ESG into their fundamental research and analysis (5). Asset managers soon followed and evolved from a mere negative screen of harmful industries and companies (socially responsible investing) to a positive screen of the best triple bottom line players (sustainable investing) (6). For instance, Parnassus Investments has launched mutual funds that avoid environmentally harmful industries, and invested in companies that treat workers well. Calvert Investments offers actively managed strategies in both fixed income and equities that invest in socially and environmentally sustainable businesses (7). As presented in the pilot course, socially responsible investing, due to its negative screen, is not as impactful as sustainable investing, though it is often the starting point. Today, both accredited and retail investors can access US SIF’s online database (8) for a screen on sustainable and socially responsible public equity and debt funds, as well as for a financial directory on the practitioners of sustainable and responsible investments.

The entry of community development financial institutions (CDFIs) into the impact investing space has also made available shorter duration assets such as cash, money market funds, certificate of deposits (CDs), bonds, and notes. Rather than parking cash at a traditional bank, one can now consider investing in a CD issued by, for example, Self Help Federal Credit Union to provide banking to undeserved and low-income families. National Community Investment Fund (NCIF) (9) is a great resource to find mission-oriented CDFIs in the US. Social banks such as RSF Social Finance and the Triodos Bank in the Netherlands also provide cash and fixed income products in impact investments. 

The Movement Of The 100% IMPACT Network (10): Not An Asset Class But A Strategy Across All Asset Class

Because of these burgeoning developments, the concept of total portfolio activation (11) is no longer a dream. Pioneered by Tides and Trillium Asset Management, total portfolio activation suggests that every investing dollar can create environmental or social impact, good or bad. Today, positive impact opportunity can be pursued across every asset class in a mission-driven investor’s portfolio.    

The pilot course attendees benefitted from the story of one guest speaker, an executive director of a family foundation, who shared her journey in becoming a 100% impact investor – that is, pursuing an impact strategy across all of her foundation’s asset classes. Her pioneering story was inspirational and speaks to the transformative aggregate potential as other family offices join in and commit 100% of their foundational wealth to investing for social and environmental impact!

Questions, Doubts, And Challenges In The Field

Is there a financial trade-off to investing in impact?

However, questions remain in the impact investing field, and throughout the three-day course participants continuously engaged in lively discourse about whether or not impact investments can in fact generate competitive financial returns vis-à-vis the appropriate benchmarks in each asset category. Consider the following definition of impact investing from the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN): 

Impact investments are investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. Impact investments can be made in both emerging and developed markets, and target a range of returns from below market to market rate, depending upon the circumstances (12).

At this, some participants raised the question: If an impact investment is able to generate market rate of return, why is it still considered an impact investment? 

One may recall the related term, venture philanthropy  – coined by John D. Rockefeller III in the 1960s and which became popular in the 1990s (13). It is true that private equity or venture capital investing in emerging economies – as impact deals often are located – may not generate financial returns that are often commensurate with an investor’s additional risk-taking. As the term also implies, the philanthropists are probably more concerned about achieving social impacts first than they are about financial returns. 

Consider also a donor-advised fund (DAF), which is a tax-preferred philanthropic vehicle administered by a public charity. Organizations and individuals may establish a DAF through, for instance, ImpactAssets (14) with an initial tax-deductible contribution. Donors may direct their contribution to impact investments and grant opportunities that satisfy their philanthropic goals. Why then, do impact investors talk about achieving reasonable or competitive financial returns? 

In the pilot course, participants were asked to consider the “trade-off” question: Is there a financial trade-off to achieve higher social and environmental impact? Conversely, is there a social or environmental cost associated with achieving more financial return? One participant – a private equity impact investor – said he has seen impact investments that generate competitive returns and also sub-par returns. He sees truths in both sides of the argument.

Introducing The Impact Investing Spectrum: Know One’s Investment Risk & Return Appetite

Rather than focusing on the “trade-off” debate, the course encouraged attendees to consider the asset class, industry, time and place of the investments being made within the concept of a spectrum of investments in varying degree of impact, as shown here by Sonen Capital’s chart (15):

Investors who care about generating high impact and less about financial returns may engage in impact first investing opportunities. In fact, many direct investments in seed-stage companies as undertaken by foundations are in this category. 

Similarly, depending on one’s return expectation and requirement, one may select opportunities in the sustainable or thematic categories. For instance, an investor seeking impact investments in public mutual funds, especially in the domestic US market, is more likely to find financial returns that may be competitive, even outperform, the benchmarks. In fact, a Harvard study contends that sustainable and socially responsible businesses are likely to achieve better profits in the long-run (16). An investor seeking private investment funds, such as debts or structured notes funds with innovative financial instruments such as demand dividend (17) in an emerging market, has the potential to find opportunities that may outperform a comparable, non-impact investment in the emerging market (18). 

Must There Be A Change In Asset Allocation Strategy To Engage In Impact Investments?

Another challenge that the participants raised is the ability to engage 100% of their assets in impact. Also, must there be a change in asset allocation strategy to engage in impact investments? Ultra wealthy investors who possess the financial strength, resources, and connection to apply impact investing across all of their wealth, might, in some cases, shift their asset allocation strategy to achieve more impact (KL Felicitas Foundation, for instance, had to invest less in hedge and alternative strategies, because of a lack of impact opportunities.) A professional who is saving towards his or her 401(k) retirement, or cares about aggressive financial return, on the other hand, may not be interested in changing his or her asset allocation policy or undertaking impact first investments.

Investors Should Choose Impact Strategies That Are Commensurate With Their Time Engagement

As with traditional investing, impact investors should choose impact strategies that are commensurate with their time engagement. Light touch investment – investing with cash and equivalents and public equities and debts – is a great way for investors to begin participating, and involving an impact-savvy financial advisor may be all that it takes to get started. Medium touch investment – investing via third party private funds, may be the next level up for investors who would like to have more control in directing their resources towards a particular theme or mission. High touch investment – investing directly via private equity, debt, or hybrid structure, may be suitable for “Do-It-Yourself” investors who would like to achieve the highest impact with their investing dollar. For high-touch impact investments, the need to screen deals and conduct due diligence may necessitate co-investing with other partners. Networks such as Toniic and Gust (19) are great places for deal sourcing. 

Taking Action:  What Type Of Investor Are You? 

Participants in the course, and readers of this article, are encouraged to consider these five essential questions that an investor might find helpful before beginning to invest for impact:   

1.     What are your missions and values? Why do you want to engage in impact investing?

2.     Referring to the spectrum of impact investors, what type of investor are you? 

3.     How important is financial return to you? How much assets can you allocate to investing for impact?

4.     How personally engaged do you plan to be with your impact investments?

5.     Which resources or parties will you engage to help you implement your impact investing strategy?

Impact investing is increasingly expansive. Investors can now choose among a spectrum of impact opportunities across asset class to match their risk-return profile. It is also personal, and investors’ values and missions will drive and determine investment themes. Though the field is still taking shape, one thing is for sure: The binary system - the belief that for-profit investment could only maximize financial return while social purpose could only be pursued through charity - is fading (20).


(1), (2), (13), (18) J.P. Morgan-Rockefeller Foundation, 2010:  Impact Investments An Emerging Asset Class.

(3) ImpactBase, 2015:  ImpactBase Snapshot An Analysis of 300+ Impact Investing Funds.

(4) J.P. Morgan-GIIN, 2014:  Spotlight on the Market.

J.P. Morgan-GIIN, 2015:  Eyes on the Horizon: The Impact Investor Survey.

(5) Fast Company magazine, 2011:  Bloomberg’s Push for Corporate Sustainability.

(6) Harvard Business Review, 2009:  See Is ESG Data Going Mainstream?

(7) Morningstar, 2015: Find the Right Socially Responsible Fund.,;frmtId=12,%20brf295

(8) US SIF’s web site:

(9) NCIF’s web site:

(10) Toniic-100% IMPACT network’s web site:

(11) Tides-Trillium, 2012:  Total Portfolio Activation

(12) GIIN’s web site:

(14) ImpactAssets’ web site:

(15) Sonen Capital’s web site:

(16) Harvard Business Review, 2009:

(17) Demand dividend is a debt vehicle designed to improve the repayment cycle for impact investors and ease capital access for social enterprises. Its main features include payments that are tied to cash flow, variable loan tenure, and a fixed payoff amount as a multiple of initial investment. See the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship website for more details:

(19) Toniic’s web site:                                                           

Gust’s web site:

(20) Parthenon Group-Bridges Ventures, 2010:  Investing for Impact Case Studies Across Asset Classes

An Xchange of Ideas

Entrepreneurship is a lonely business; social entrepreneurship, even more so. A social entrepreneur challenges the status quo. The huge, intractable problems of poverty often seem insurmountable.

What we forget is that organizations that serve social entrepreneurs can feel overwhelmed as well. Developing impactful programs to support social entrepreneurs, building out the sector, and connecting actors can be difficult, if not impossible, in silos.


The Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship’s Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI®) is tackling this problem by sharing our methodology, connections, and learning over the past 13 years.  

On May 12-14, 2015, the GSBI partnered with the eBay Foundation to launch GSBI Xchange, a workshop of best practices that support early-stage social entrepreneurs and evaluate social impact.

"We connected, shared and received feedback on our programs, discussed successes and challenges, and drew inspiration from each other." says Neal Harrison, a GSBI program manager. 

The participants of GSBI Xchange were 7 organizations from the GSBI Network, a global partnership of 26 Jesuit universities and other mission-aligned organizations working to support social entrepreneurship worldwide.

GSBI Network members such as Social Good Brazil and POSiBLE are great examples of organizations supporting the growth of social entrepreneurs.

  • Social Good Brazil increased applicants for their Social Lab from a few dozen to over 200 applicants across Brazil.
  • POSiBLE received over 40,000 applicants from across Mexico, doubling the interest from the prior year.

The social entrepreneurial movement is gaining impressive traction around the world. Several platforms such as Enable Impact and Aspen Network for Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) have estimated the number of impact accelerators to be in the hundreds, and new social entrepreneurial ideas and prototypes in need of support are appearing daily.

The GSBI Xchange is designed to fuel this movement.

The GSBI and eBay Foundation are granting GSBI Xchange participants funding and support to host their own three-day workshop, with adapted content from the GSBI Boost program, to help local, early-stage social entrepreneurs with their strategies for growth. We are excited to co-facilitate these workshops in each of these locations, including Israel, Guatemala, Mexico, Brazil, and beyond.

The GSBI Xchange serves as a reminder of the various ways we can support each other in the sector. By working together and sharing our experiences, resources, and expertise, we can improve our programs, help support social entrepreneurs, and positively impact the lives of millions.

GSBI Xchange Participating Orgs:


® GSBI is a registered trademark of Santa Clara University and GSBI Xchange is a trademark of Santa Clara University.



A Resounding Endorsement for Hearing Loss Champion

The cause is worth every penny.  

More than 360 million people, about 10% of them children, are unable to understand speech in most contexts due to hearing loss. Most people disabled by hearing loss live in low- and middle-income countries, where audiologists are rare and help inaccessible due to distance and the cost of hearing aids. The consequences of not being able to hear put a ceiling one’s potential to learn, earn, and connect with others.

World Wide Hearing is a non-profit that provides access to affordable hearing aids for youth in developing countries. They will be able to drastically expand their services given a $500,000 grant from the newly launched Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities Initiative.

"This is an exciting new chapter for those of us who are addressing hearing loss!" exclaims Audra Renyi, the Executive Director of World Wide Hearing.

World Wide Hearing, a 2014 GSBI Accelerator Alumnus and 2012 GSBI Online alumnus, recently received one of two "anchor" grants from the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities Initiative. The other grantee, Enable Community Foundation, creates 3-D printed prosthetic limbs for children.

Audra Renyi makes a case to support hearing loss  at the 2014 investor showcase of the GSBI Accelerator.

Audra Renyi makes a case to support hearing loss  at the 2014 investor showcase of the GSBI Accelerator.

The Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities program will eventually award $20 million in grants, funneled through, to nonprofits that work on assistive technologies.

"We’re kicking things off with support for two remarkable organizations." said director Jacquelline Fuller in a blog post. "Each of these organizations is using technology to dramatically reduce the cost of and access to prosthetic limbs and auditory therapy, respectively—which could be transformative for hundreds of millions of people."

The GSBI staff connected Audra to after she completed the GSBI Accelerator program and published her GSBI Investment Profile

 "The GSBI family has been instrumental to our growth and increased impact. Their advice and mentoring have been invaluable," says Audra. "I want to extend my sincere thanks to all of the GSBI for their support!"

Additionally, Audra just launched a new, separate for-profit social enterprise, Hearing Access World, and received a $900,000 CAD impact investment repayable grant from Grand Challenges Canada. More exciting things are just around the corner. Stay tuned! 

Global Social Benefit Fellow wins Fulbright

Senior Ty Van Herweg, an economics and theatre double major and English minor from Woodinville, Wash, who will go to villages in Uganda for a project to help entrepreneurs get their products to rural customers, known as “last mile distribution.” The project will utilize a phone app, with the aim of increasing incomes of rural entrepreneurs and motorcyclists who deliver products. 

Van Herweg credits his experience as a Global Social Benefit Fellow through SCU’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, with helping him win the Fulbright to Uganda, where he traveled for a summer as a Global Social Benefit Fellow to help social entrepreneurship business Banapads.

On April 30th, Ty gave a speech at the Magis event about what the Miller Center and the Global Social Benefit Fellowship means to him and his classmates. The transcript is below.

Ty Van Herweg: Hello. How's everybody doing this evening? Good to hear. My name is Ty Van Herweg, and I am an economics/theatre double major who was and will also be a Global Social Benefit Fellow. Thank you. I want you to imagine that you are in rural Uganda. That's where I was last year. And in case you didn't know, in Uganda, it gets really hot. One day I found myself dripping with sweat on my way to purchase some bottled water from Grace Maliboa. Grace was one of the original Banapad champions who eventually sold so many sanitary pads that she expanded her business into a storefront. Every morning I walked to her store and every time, Grace meeted me with an eager smile and a lively presence.

One morning, it finally clicked in my head. Grace's smile reflects the power of entrepreneurship. This is the gift of entrepreneurship.

The Global Social Benefit Fellowship combines two quarters of academically rigorous research with a fully funded six to eight weeks summer field experience in the developing world. It is a program that evokes the Jesuit educational tradition in a way that directly benefits social enterprises that are affiliated with the Global Social Benefit Institute.

The Fellowship inspired me to ditch my plans of going to law school. So, sorry, I won't be starting a winery. And instead pursue entrepreneurship. I realized that I needed to take a risk and go after something I love, even if it doesn't make complete rational sense.

But I'm only one of fifteen fellows in my cohort. I'd like to shed light on every team's achievement and their affiliated social enterprises.

Lisa and Ilhan poured their hearts into studying Nazava water filters in Indonesia. Catherine, Rose, Garrett, and Sally traveled to the Philippines and weaved a close partnership with Rags2Riches. Alex and Kiara discovered the power of light by working with Iluméxico in Oaxaca. Matt and Holly engaged with challenging factory conditions alongside Good World Solutions in Bangalore, India. Rosella, Monet, and Catherine worked with Anudip and Imerit to bring valuable workplace talents to women in Calcutta, India. Finally, Casey, Caroline, and I learned what impactful, affordable sanitation is by growing alongside Banapads Ltd in Uganda. Impressive stuff.

All of these experiences helps our impressive cohort of fellows to discover their vocational paths while  gaining valuable experience in the developing world. All these students are in the audience today alongside fellowship alumnae. Will the Fellowship alumni in the 2014 cohort of fellows please stand up for recognition? Thank you. Now will the 2015 class of fellows please stand up? Let's wish them the best on their journeys and research projects this summer.

Thank you, Anne Bowers and friends for making our experiences a reality.

We are forever grateful for the opportunities we have received and the doors they have opened. Thank you.

Meet Monet, A Global Social Benefit Fellow

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can
— Arthur Ashe

SCU awarded Monet Gonnerman with the 2015 Peter-Hans Kolvenbach University Award for exemplifying the ideals of Jesuit education.  The awardee is recognized as a “whole person of solidarity in the real world,” who has the courage and faith to build a more just and humane world.

“It’s a pretty exciting thing to be recognized as someone who stands for what Santa Clara University stands for,” says Monet.

Her experiences at SCU are a tapestry of service and influential experiences, which weaves in Jesuit ideals and qualifies her for the award. The Global Social Benefit Fellowship of the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship was one such formative experience for Monet.

“During the fellowship, I learned a lot about myself and the way I functioned. I discovered what I could contribute, even though it was not originally what I planned.”

Through the Global Social Benefit Fellowship, Monet observed women’s training centers in Kolkata, India. Her initial plans were to develop software to enable women to more efficiently perform their jobs. It wasn’t until she was on the ground that she realized the women trainees had never even touched a computer.

Monet quickly adapted her research plan and instead developed a beginner’s computer curriculum.  The document would serve as a user’s manual to explain a computer to a local villager, one step at a time.

Developing her manual, when she couldn’t speak Bengali, was a painstakingly, frustrating process. Yet, she did what she could with what she had.

Despite the language barrier, it was the authentic human connections with women in Kolkata that spurred Monet on. Through the Global Social Benefit Fellowship, Monet affirmed her passion of working with women cross-culturally.

Monet finished her SCU career by writing her senior honors thesis using Nussbaum’s capabilities approach, an alternative theory of development to analyze how enterprises work with women and what opportunities are available to them. She presented her poster at the Research with a Mission Open House, co-sponsored by University Honors Program and the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship . 

After graduation, Monet will return to the developing world to work, this time in El Salvador for nine months. She will be working as a Community Coordinator for the Casa de la Solidaridad study abroad program. 

The "Why"

Last week marked a pivotal moment for The Center for Science, Technology and Society for two reasons.

Reason 1: Magis

We celebrated our annual Magis event on April 30th, honoring 3 of the quiet builders creating systemic change in social entrepreneurship and impact investing, all of whom embody the word, “Magis.”

What Does Magis Mean?

It is a word closely related to “majority” or “more.” But when Jesuits use it, it doesn’t mean more stuff or more things to do; rather, given all the choices we have, what is a more purposeful or effective way to take care of the health of the earth and the people who live here?

Who Are These Quiet Builders?

Sally Osberg, President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation introduced our first honoree, Matt Flannery, co-founder of Kiva – the first micro lending site – and CEO of a new start-up, – a mobile based microfinance application for Android users in Africa. As Sally said, Skoll places bets on people like Matt – those who seek to change the system and “set things right.”

John Kohler introduced Lisa and Charly Kleissner, the “first family of impact investing.” Lisa and Charly are self-described workaholics who have connected their capital with their values, finding ways for their money to have meaning beyond enriching their own lives. They founded KL Felicitas, started Social Impact International in India, Hawaii Impact Ready, and co-founded Toniic, a syndication of impact investors. All of these organizations activate capital to create social impact.

Reason 2: The Miller Center For Social Entrepreneurship

Magis also marked the unveiling of a significant donation – $25 million from Karen and Jeff Miller – that renamed our center to “The Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship.”

DOC 2015-04-30 Magis Dinner ( - dkfw)-AY8U3531.jpg

The Most Important Question: Why?

As the honorees pointed out, they have been lucky at “the big casino” AKA Silicon Valley. Why did they challenge the status quo?

For Matt, the first and simplest lesson for him was to look into the eyes of someone halfway around the world and see himself. As he said, “It is a transformative experience to see yourself in the eyes of others and say, ‘hey, we are very similar even though you are far away.’”

For Lisa and Charly, they saw their wealth not as their money, but as their responsibility to improve other people’s lives. Impact investing is an expression of who they really are – an expression to sustainably change the financial system for a better environment and humanity. Charly stated, “We do it joyfully, contributing to the positive development of the planet and humanity.”

And, for Jeff and Karen, the gift is a resounding endorsement of what they see happening at the Miller Center. They believe that the Center is blazing a trail using the disruptive and constructive principles of Silicon Valley. The Millers wholeheartedly believe that, “the Center can and will impact the world now, not by charity, but by sustainably creating livelihoods and lifting people from poverty and restoring their dignity.”

The “why” for all of our honorees and everyone at Magis is a shared conviction, a belief, that through our ingenuity and passion, though innovation and entrepreneurship, we can help transform the lives of the earth’s 3 billion poor. 

Changing the Paradigm for Girls

Grounding banana materials to make pads

The Call to Make a Difference

During his childhood in rural Uganda, Richard Bbaale watched his sister miss school starting when she hit puberty. The issue: his sister had started her menstrual cycle but could not access sanitary pads. Millions of women in rural Africa use leaves or rags, or just stay home, because the products we buy in American drugstores are simply not available. While at university, Richard learned that dried banana stem fibers have superior capacity to absorb blood. Connecting the dots, he recognized a business opportunity to transform the circumstances of African women.

Richard bbaale with banana leaves. 

Richard bbaale with banana leaves. 

Richard founded a group through his university to tackle the difficulties Ugandan women faced in menstruation management. In 2010, this group registered under the name BanaPads. This social enterprise manufactures and distributes affordable, eco-friendly sanitary pads to keep girls in school and create local jobs. Richard adopted the “business in a bag” model for saleswomen, known as BanaPads Champions. Women purchase a bag with dozens of sanitary pads and sell them at schools and in villages, using a portion of their revenue to buy another bag. Richard knew that his enterprise was meeting social needs, but he had a hard time explaining how it could meet its own needs. He struggled to make payroll.

Partners for the Journey 

Richard Bbaale heard of the GSBI at the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship and applied to it in 2012. He believed in his vision, but wanted it to pay for itself. He did the preparatory work online from Uganda, and came to the Santa Clara campus for two weeks in August. He learned the nuts and bolts of growing a small business (logistics, unit economics, operations, a growth strategy) but more importantly, he learned how to pitch his vision. He credits the GSBI with helping him improve the management of his enterprise and leverage that into funding for expansion.

Richard returned to Uganda and made immediate changes to his business, and reached out to development agencies and investors. BanaPads partnered with local organizations to conduct education, and demand began to exceed supply. He identified an opportunity to expand into Tanzania. Funders came to share in his vision, awarding grants and making investments.  

A Pro-Woman Social Enterprise

To help BanaPads grow, Richard requested follow-up support from the Center.

A BanaPads employee

A BanaPads employee

  • In 2014, 3 Global Social Benefit Fellows spent 9 months working with BanaPads, including 7 weeks in Uganda. They shadowed Richard and his staff, carefully observing their daily work. They documented community outreach, the recruitment and screening of new Champions, their training, and enterprise operations. They created a series of manuals, available on our webpage.
  • The Fellows completed the manuals in time for Richard to include them with his August application package to the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship (AAE), the premiere Africa-focused awards program honoring entrepreneurial leaders from around the continent. When Richard made the cut to become a finalist, he wrote, “Had it not been for you, Team BanaPads – Ty, Carol and Kaci – we wouldn’t have gone this far. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.”
  • In November 2014, Richard won African Social Entrepreneur of the Year. Afterwards he wrote, “BanaPads is only as good as like-minded people at GSBI make it.”
  • In January 2015, The Arthur B. Schultz Foundation made a grant to help BanaPads expand in Tanzania. Richard has requested another two teams of fellows in 2015 to help plan a marketing campaign, deploy a mobile app, and create a short documentary film.

 BanaPads is changing the paradigm of health and employment for East African women. The Center is proud to be its partner. 


A Brighter Future for Rural Mexico

Santa Clara University Student Fellows work alongside Iluméxico to gauge constumer satisfaction

Santa Clara University Student Fellows work alongside Iluméxico to gauge constumer satisfaction

Manuel Wiechers was among the brightest of a new generation of young entrepreneurs in Mexico.  After graduating from college, where he studied renewable energy, in 2009 he started a social enterprise: Iluméxico. His vision was to provide solar power to the Mexicans who need it most: remote rural communities beyond the electric grid. These are mostly indigenous people, far from modern roads.

 Iluméxico designs, develops and manufactures technology used for rural electrification. Iluméxico’s products include solar home systems, solar powered energy for community development, such as computer centers with satellite Internet for libraries and schools, and solar-powered water pumps for rural clinics. This company identifies the poorest customers, and tries to sell them the energy that most of us take for granted.  

While the technologies helped people, the enterprise faced significant hurdles. The Iluméxico office in Mexico City was a long way from its rural customers, living in jungles and on the sides of mountains. Reaching them was expensive, and it was difficult to know when, what, and why they would buy.

Enter the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship– Partners for the Journey

Manuel applied to the GSBI in 2013 and reinvented his business model by opening rural energy distribution centers, known as Ilucentros.

We learned so much from our time at the GSBI. We built out our first financial models and we frequently use those models with investors. When we went through the GSBI we hadn’t even opened one center. Now we’ve opened four centers and are in the process of opening the fifth….We plan to open ten more, depending on investment. We have coordinators at each center and local technicians. My role has shifted to supervising and starting new projects.
— Manuel Wiechers, Co-Founder and Director
An Iluméxico beneficiary

An Iluméxico beneficiary

For this plan to work, Iluméxico needed to understand the perceptions of its rural customers, so while he was attending the GSBI in-residence program at Santa Clara University, he requested help from Global Social Benefit Fellows to survey his customers.

In 2014, Fellows spent 9 months studying this social enterprise, including 7 weeks in the field. The Fellows conducted over 250 interviews in rural Indigenous communities measuring customer satisfaction and helping Iluméxico anticipate future customer requirements.

Moving Up

What started as a dream in 2009 has evolved into a thriving company. Going through the GSBI exercises and investor presentations helped Manuel clarify his vision, crystallize his plans and tell people about his mission.  

  • Today, there are five Ilucentros serving 3,500 installed systems and 18,000 households, displacing 1800 tons of CO2 in the process.
  • The Fellows’ reports endorsed the new distribution plan and the value of the Ilucentros as the basis for growth.
  • “We recently received an ABC Foundation grant and the first investment from Banamex’s new impact investing fund, part of its corporate social responsibility program (Banamex is Mexico’s largest bank.) So next year is a huge growth year for us. We hope to close with 14 branches in total. We will be able to set up the structure and operations to expand--hopefully to Latin America.”
  • In March 2015, Iluméxico received a variable payment option (demand dividend) investment from GDF SUEZ to help it reach more customers. “In five years, we want 50 branches to reach 50,000 families.”
The Iluméxico Team

The Iluméxico Team

Wiechers has also changed since the partnership. He’s become not just a visionary but also an executive. What was once an informal partnership has grown to a company with CEO and other executives. With the lessons learned from his time with the GSBI – and through hard work – Wiechers is more than a dreamer. He is a social enterprise leader.

GSBI Alumni Awarded $1 Million

Sanga Moses Pitches at the 2014  Investor Showcase

Sanga Moses Pitches at the 2014  Investor Showcase

Sanga Moses of Eco-fuel Africa, a 2014 GSBI® Accelerator graduate, learned last week that he had beaten out more than 1,800 applicants to win $1 million from Verizon's Powerful Answers Award.

The Verizon’s Powerful Answers Award is a year-long global challenge to discover and help bring to market technology-based solutions with the potential to change our world. The contest drew 1,870 submissions, with 40 finalists invited to pitch to officials in Palo Alto last year. Last week, Verizon announced four $1 million winners in the categories of education, healthcare, transportation and sustainability -- for which Eco-fuel Africa won.

Eco-fuel Africa, based in Kampala, Uganda, teaches farmers to turn agricultural waste like sugar cane stalks or coffee or rice husks into “bio-char” for the production of green charcoal and fertilizer for their land. Eco-fuel Africa distributes the green charcoal through a network of marginalized women, who re-sell them to end users for 30 percent less than traditional charcoal. The process improves the livelihoods of the farmers, women and customers, and also reduces deforestation in Uganda where nearly 75% of forests are already lost.

“Sanga Moses came to GSBI with a heartwarming story of lives being changed,” said his mentor during the 10-month program, Steven White. “His time in the program was spent elaborating the impact with clear metrics, refining the business model, and sharpening his pitch to impact investors. The result is a powerful human story combined with a tightly integrated, sustainable impact and business model.”

“We're so humbled here and very grateful to Verizon for their support,” said Moses, after learning of his award. He noted with thanks the assistance that the GSBI staff provided during the Accelerator, especially the investor pitch which he used in expanded form for Verizon’s competition.

“Thank you to the GSBI team. I will always be grateful to GSBI for all their support,” he said. “And yes, this will greatly improve our project,” he added.

“GSBI believes innovation and entrepreneurship can provide a path out of poverty. We help social enterprises, like Eco-fuel Africa, scale their ventures to positively impact many more people,” says Pamela Roussos, senior director of the GSBI.

“We were honored to work with Sanga as he strengthened his business model and effectively communicated his plan in a compelling way to impact investors such as Verizon. We will continue to support Sanga as Eco-fuel Africa grows in Uganda and throughout Sub-Saharan Africa” In its announcement, Verizon noted that “Eco-fuel Africa is committed to fueling an environmentally and financially sustainable Africa,”

The company noted that its green charcoal “reduces the rate of deforestation, creates sustainable local jobs, saves money and reduces indoor air pollution.”

“According to Eco-fuel Africa, 2 billion people across the globe depend on dirty and expensive wood-based fuels. As a result, 2 billion tons of biomass are burned each year, leading to unsustainable levels of deforestation and CO2 emissions,” Verizon noted.

Honoring Quiet Builders

Sally Osberg of the Skoll Foundation accepts the 2014 Magis Changemaker Award


SANTA CLARA, Calif., March 24, 2015 –Santa Clara University’s Miller Center of Social Entrepreneurship will host an evening celebrating pioneers of impact investing on April 30, at its second annual Magis event. 

The purpose of this year’s Magis is to honor the “quiet builders,” humble individuals whose work embodies broad vision and systemic change through impact investing and social entrepreneurship. The 2015 Magis honorees are Lisa and Charly Kleissner, co-founders of the KL Felicitas Foundation, and Matt Flannery, co-founder of social enterprise Kiva.

Lisa and Charly Kleissner pioneered the theory and practice of “100 percent impact investing,” by targeting both a financial and impact return across their portfolio of investable assets. Employing this strategy, Charly and Lisa have brought together investors who have also committed 100 percent of their investable assets to impact. Currently, over 50 asset owners representing close to $4 billion are active members of this global group. Tireless advocates, Lisa and Charly write, speak, and teach about impact investing to investors, entrepreneurs and intermediaries in the global north and south. Their work over the last 15 years has influenced a generation of family offices, foundations, and high net worth individuals into moving into impact.

The Kleissners were also the first to share the financial results of their foundation's impact portfolio in 2013 and will be publishing the impact report for this portfolio later this year.

The Kleissners co-founded Toniic, an action network of global impact investors and they are also co-founders of three social enterprise accelerators (in India, Austria for Central and Eastern Europe and Hawai'i for the Pacific Basin). 

Matt Flannery co-founded the first successful microfinance marketplace, Kiva, which connects microentrepreneurs without access to traditional loans to “crowdsourced” funds from millions of individuals worldwide. Kiva’s internationally acclaimed work has helped 1.5 million borrowers in 86 countries receive $682 million in loans with a 98.8 percent repayment rate. 

“Both the Kleissners and Matt Flannery disrupted the status quo with innovative and entrepreneurial endeavors that put money to work for meaning,” said Thane Kreiner, Ph.D., executive director of the Center. “We believe these leaders uniquely embody the shining spirit of Magis -- the unceasing quest for what more each of us can do for the greater good.”

The Magis event will be held in Santa Clara University’s Mission Gardens, and will feature a showcase of innovations from social entrepreneurs from around the world; the research of student Global Social Benefit Fellows; an awards program; and a grand dinner. Proceeds benefit the Center’s programs, including the flagship Global Social Benefit Insitute (GSBI®), which empowers social entrepreneurs through quality training and robust mentorship from Silicon Valley executive business mentors. The awards to Flannery and the Kleissners will be presented by last year's honoree, Sally Osberg, president and CEO of the Skoll Foundation; and John Kohler, co-founder of Toniic and director of Impact Capital at the Center for Science, Technology, and Society. 

About Magis

Magis is a Latin term for “more” coined by St. Ignatius of Loyola to encourage others to live and give generously. 

About the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship

Founded in 1997, the Miller Center is one of three Centers of Distinction at Santa Clara University. The Centers embody the University’s mission to bring together University students and faculty, the Silicon Valley community, and international social entrepreneurs, who are employing innovative approaches to tackle the world’s most challenging problems and create a more just, humane, and sustainable world. Through programs such as the GSBI®. the Center has worked with over 350 social enterprises, affording it unique insights into leading business models and innovations for the developing world and emerging markets. To learn more about the Center or any of its social benefit programs, please visit .

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 9,000 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering; master’s degrees in business, education, counseling psychology, pastoral ministry, and theology; and law degrees and engineering Ph.Ds. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

Media Contacts
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations | | 408-554-5121
Jaime Gusching | Marketing Manager; | 408 -551- 6048

Belief in a Collective Future

The 2015 GSBI Network Annual Meeting in Mexico City

The 2015 GSBI Network Annual Meeting in Mexico City


India, Kenya, Nicaragua, and Mexico – around the planet, we are working to accelerate global impact through social entrepreneurship. Based on twelve years of practical experience, we are using our GSBI® methodology to strengthen and scale social enterprises of all types that together impact the lives of millions.

  • GSBI Boost “Train-the-trainers” sessions help mission-aligned organizations apply Silicon Valley’s culture of innovation to social enterprises in their geographies and sectors.
  • Fr. Phil Cooke, our Jesuit in-residence, is bringing an innovative, entrepreneurial spirit to Catholic social justice projects. He is combining the powerful Catholic vision of service to the poor with the proven GSBI methodology to effect real change.
  • At the meeting of our GSBI Network, now numbering more than 22 universities and organizations, working groups on impact measurement, capacity development, and early-stage innovation formed. The Network shares best practices to scale collective impact.

The theme of this year’s Skoll World Forum in Oxford is ‘Belief’; our GSBI and Impact Capital leaders will join other delegates from the social, finance, private, and public sectors.  We believe that the Silicon Valley start-up experience we offer can help social entrepreneurs eradicate poverty. We believe that unlocking innovative investment strategies can serve those who need funds the most. And, we believe our students are the next generation of change agents who will help make it happen.

On April 30th, we are hosting Magis, an evening to celebrate the social enterprise movement and honor Lisa and Charly Kleissner of KL Felicitas Foundation and Matt Flannery of Kiva.  We hope to see you there to share in the joy of social entrepreneurship.

We are committed to openly sharing our experience and methods for accelerating global impact. Reach out to us to join our network and circle of friends!