The GSBI® Online Program is Advancing Women who are Changing the World

Image Credit: Comprehensive Design Services

Image Credit: Comprehensive Design Services

Originally posted on Medium.

Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) is the number one cause of maternal deaths, in particular areas without adequate maternal care facilities and kills over 90,000 women globally every year. This means that every six minutes a woman dies of PPH. InPress Technologies has developed an easy-to-use device aimed to eradicate maternal death caused by PPH that does not require surgery.

Nigeria currently faces a staggering 17 million unit housing deficit. Only half of the population has access to a power supply, two-thirds to clean water and only a third to improved sanitation. Comprehensive Design Services (CDS) is tackling the housing deficit in sub-Saharan Africa by building eco-friendly homes. The housing units are bio-climatically designed to be 70 percent energy-efficient, self-cooling, solar-powered, and water sufficient.

These two enterprises are part of the latest group of the 15 social entrepreneurs (or SEs) to graduate from Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship’s Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI®) Online class. Despite the diversity amongst the social enterprises, this cohort was unique in that 7 of the 15 social enterprises, including the two mentioned above, focused on Women Rising, meaning the social enterprise was working to benefit women or the social enterprise was woman-led. That’s almost half of the cohort!

Miller Center exists to unify the Santa Clara University campus to the rest of the world by combining innovation and entrepreneurship. Our goal is to help social entrepreneurs help more people; by aiding these entrepreneurs to become investment-ready for financial capital, they can scale their impact. The GSBI distinguishes itself from other capacity development organizations for social enterprises through the quality and depth of its mentoring. GSBI mentors, who are successful Silicon Valley executives, volunteer to work one-on-one with a single social enterprise every week for the duration of the program.

The GSBI Online program focuses specifically on early-stage enterprises, helping them create their business plans and develop or refine their impact models. The program’s curriculum is broken into topic modules such as social impact model, value proposition, marketing and sales, cost structure and revenue streams, and financing plans. Social enterprises and entrepreneurs can expect to come out of the online program with a validated and refined business model, and with a path to prepare to scale in the future. Furthermore, upon completion of the six-month program, social entrepreneurs will have a compelling pitch, a slide deck for investor presentations and valuable connections.

These 15 presentations from GSBI Online Summer 2016 Cohort 7 represent the best, brightest, and most passionate group of social entrepreneurs who are working to positively impact lives.

As can be seen from these presentations, the social enterprises are as diverse as they are compelling in their drive to positively impact lives and represent the culmination of the work each of them does to validate their business models.

Interested impact investors and foundations can also view Cohort 7’s investor profiles on the Miller Center website which highlight the entrepreneurs’ work, their impact, growth plans and financing needs.

Check out the current GSBI Online cohort. Applications for our upcoming GSBI cohorts are now open and all interested social enterprises are encouraged to apply. For more information contact us at

Assessing the Impact of Social Enterprises Using the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and IRIS

by Joe Schuchter, Associate Director of Social Impact Assessment, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship is increasingly recognized as a means of addressing the world’s most pressing social and environmental problems. However, assessing the impact of social enterprises continues to be challenging. Part of the challenge is to find a shared language of impact in the myriad approaches used by social entrepreneurs, impact investors, and development agencies to code, classify, and interpret impact.

Two of the more prominent approaches are the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Global Impact Investing Network’s (GIIN) IRIS. At first glance, the SDGs and IRIS appear to use different “languages” for different audiences. To better support social entrepreneurs, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship decided to explore the alignment of these two approaches, and its ability to support impact assessment more broadly.

What are the SDGs and IRIS?

Adopted by the UN in September 2015, the SDGs were introduced as an iteration of the Millennium Development Goals, which were established in 2000.[i] The SDGs include 17 goals formulated into 169 targets, and additional indicators for those targets.[ii] Collectively, the SDGs are focused on ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity and well-being for all. The users of the SDGs extend beyond the United Nations to include governments, the private sector, and civil society in all parts of the world. The SDGs are measured routinely at the country level to show progress toward specific goals, often aimed at the year 2030.

IRIS is a catalog of 559 impact investment metrics, grouped into 12 sectors (e.g., agriculture, education, energy). The stated purpose of IRIS is to measure the social, environmental, and financial performance of investments. With leadership from the Rockefeller Foundation, it was introduced in 2008.[iii] Now in its fourth iteration, IRIS has become the preferred taxonomy for impact investors to measure the impact of their financial investments.

Which language do social entrepreneurs speak?

At Miller Center, we observed that the social entrepreneurs we target were using various means of classifying and assessing their impact. Because these entrepreneurs fall into roughly equal thirds of for-profit, non-profit, and hybrid incorporation types, they would seem to represent a broad range of perspectives and languages within the overall development ecosystem. However, we also know that entrepreneurs that have participated in our Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI®) programs are intensely mission-focused, therefore we suspected SDGs might be more popular among them.

To address this question, we analyzed the data from our GSBI programs for accelerating social enterprises. We found that 71% of GSBI applicants reported using SDGs, and only 10% were not familiar with them. On the other hand, we found that only 14% of the applicants reported using IRIS metrics, and 40% were not even familiar with them. In other words, the SDGs seemed to resonate more with these entrepreneurs, while IRIS – the primary metrics used by impact investment – were not being widely applied.

How do we “translate” these languages?

Based on these findings and to help bridge this disconnect between SDG and IRIS languages, we “cross-walked” SDG targets and IRIS metrics to identify gaps and overlap.

In our first pass at the crosswalk, we found that 25% of the SDG targets have related IRIS metrics, while 30% of IRIS metrics map to SDG targets. This included very high alignment in content areas like education, but very low alignment in broader areas like eliminating poverty. We conducted this process focused only on close matches of SDG targets and IRIS metrics.   

Through this process, we identified opportunities for a combined IRIS-SDG framework. IRIS focuses on more discrete, near-term results, while SDGs aim at bigger, broader, and long-term changes. Although only roughly one-quarter of the metrics and targets matched directly, we saw the potential for much greater alignment were we to apply a theory of change logic. For example, IRIS metrics around education match directly with the SDG targets for education, but also contribute to and therefore align to the longer-term SDG of poverty elimination.

What next?

Together, SDGs and IRIS offer a powerful framework and catalog for impact. With its broad goals and specific targets, the SDGs help align social enterprise to other development actors. But IRIS is what helps align social entrepreneurs with investors. Therefore, Miller Center believes that social entrepreneurs should learn the basics of the investor language, IRIS, while continuing to use the SDGs to articulate their systems-changing goals and ambitions. At the same time, investors could benefit from a better understanding of SDGs. As an example, Sonen Capital has already aligned its portfolio with the SDGs.[iv]

Miller Center is working with partners at GIIN and the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) to refine and enhance the crosswalk.[v] We are also working to integrate this into our own application and assessment system. Using this shared-language taxonomy as a teaching tool can help social entrepreneurs navigate the growing glut of options for classification and measurement, ideally arriving at indicators optimally suited for their own operations as well as their investors and stakeholders. Ultimately, the SDG/IRIS crosswalk should enable social entrepreneurs to better leverage the resources they need to achieve the disruptive systems changes that they seek.

Note: The first pass at "crosswalking" these two prominent sets of indicators was conducted by Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship in the spring of 2016, and presented at the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs conference in June 2016.


[i] John W. McArthur. The Origins of the Millennium Development Goals. SAIS Review vol. XXXIV no. 2 (Summer–Fall 2014)






Social Enterprise-Investor Matchmaking In Silicon Valley

3CF board members Erica Jordan and Sara Cannon attended this years’ Global Social Benefit Institute GSBI Investor Showcase, a presentation of 14 social entrepreneurs who had recently completed the 10-month GSBI accelerator program. Through this program, entrepreneurs from all over the world are paired with volunteer mentors. The culmination of their work together is the Investor Showcase, where funders listen to each pitch, network with entrepreneurs over lunch, and in some cases sit down with them to begin more serious discussions about their business and investment requirements. In this way GSBI, provides a launching pad for companies that demonstrate great potential for success.

Worldwide, there are many early and middle stage businesses today that have found a way to do well (become profitable) by doing good (provide a social benefit). However, the challenges they face are ubiquitous because they are pioneering new territory in their fields. Fortunately, resources such as the Global Social Benefit Institute at Santa Clara University's Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship exist to help entrepreneurs and investors overcome challenges by convening them in a common network and matchmaking forum. Social entrepreneurs explore the training, mentorship, and access to financial capital provided by organizations such as these, in order to scale their businesses and gain access to otherwise elusive financial capital. Since 2003, 572 social entrepreneurs have participated in a mentored GSBI program, and collectively they have raised $308M to date.

Michael Porter says “when business solves a problem, it makes a profit – which lets that solution grow.” 3rd Creek Foundation is dedicated to supporting scalable, high impact programs with a mission to alleviate poverty. We are privileged to be a part of this network that connects funders to innovative social enterprises from all over the world.

Women Rising in Kenya: “Even the presidential seat—we can do it.”

Women Rising in Kenya: “Even the presidential seat—we can do it.”

Jahenda Sheilla is a slight, 23-year old woman whose tempered voice might at first give an impression of shyness. But Jahenda is anything but shy. She takes her time to listen, and in reality, there is no need to raise your voice if you believe in what you say. And Jahenda knows exactly what she is saying—and what she wants.

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Dumb Phones and Boda Bodas: Proving the World Wrong One Call At a Time

Pictured is Joseph Onguti, the Officer in Command of Nabusanke and the Official Trainer for Wakabi

Pictured is Joseph Onguti, the Officer in Command of Nabusanke and the Official Trainer for Wakabi

By: Ty Van Herweg, Fulbright Student Researcher 2015-2016

It all started when I was sitting with my mentor, Dr. Thane Kreiner, at Santa Clara University. I was deconstructing my Global Social Benefit Fellowship experience and explaining all of these epiphanies I had about the challenges of last mile distribution in Uganda. I was remarking on the intense inefficiencies that limit the incomes of those who live in rural areas, and the opportunity to improve these distribution channels using frugal technology. Suddenly he remarked, “You are trying to start an Uber for rural Africa.” That’s when everything changed. That’s when my purpose was carved into stone.

When I initially discovered the idea, I had no idea where to begin. I knew there was an opportunity to build a frugal app that could operate on feature phones, and also that the aforementioned app should connect rural villagers with motorcycle riders. I had a hunch that the app was needed, but no proof or justification. The entrepreneurial spirit drove me off the deep end like so many before me.  I began discussing the idea with various people, and across the board everyone was in agreement that the idea was special. I couldn’t turn back; the prospect of pursuing this idea had consumed me. 

I immediately scrounged for all the various opportunities like a mad man. Fulbright became the best option. Sure, it was prestigious and extremely competitive, but it was my only reasonable option to test the business model I had dreamed up. I submitted my application after much rigor and editing, and prayed for the best. I started collaborating with two engineers at Santa Clara University as the waiting game commenced. I was the igniter of a crazy idea, and the energy that came with it was beyond anything I had ever felt before.

In April I received good news; Fulbright gave me a shot, and I was ready to do just about anything and everything to make Wakabi a reality. I was given the gift of a low-risk, 9-month pilot. There is no better opportunity for a young and broke social entrepreneur. It was time to see if rural Uganda could benefit from on-demand transportation, and make whatever changes were necessary to improve the business model.

In September 2015, I set off on my journey. With the help of my friends at Bana (U) Limited, ThinVoid Limited, and the Bukibira Village community, we emerged successful in creating an automated toll-free number that connects rural villagers with registered motorcycle riders, otherwise known as “boda bodas.” We are now in the process of securing long-term funding to keep the dream alive.

We were able to successfully launch Wakabi thanks to effective research, intuitive strategic moves, and an unwavering commitment to creating the most impactful customer experience. We refused to settle for an inferior prototype; we continued to collaborate and develop Wakabi’s technology until we were certain it would fit our end-users’ needs and properly support our motorcycle riders. We also listened carefully to the experiences of our interviewees. Our research exposed an intense void between motorcycle riders and those who need transportation. The hunch I had felt for so long finally evolved into concrete knowledge and a justification to pursue Wakabi further.

Wakabi now benefits end-users who need transportation, and motorcycle riders who seek to improve their income and job security. End-users access our service for free, and our riders will eventually pay a low weekly fee to gain access to our clientele and numerous other benefits. We are ready to accelerate our impact and continue learning with every challenge we face. We plan to train and empower 15,000 motorcycle riders, reach 3 million end-users, and operate in over 60 districts throughout Uganda by 2020. By 2025 we plan to operate in Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, and Nigeria in addition to Uganda. The sky is just the beginning, and we are poised to continue making the right strategic moves to bring on-demand transportation to those who need it most.  

This unique experience taught me some incredible truths. I was raised to keep an open heart to the world, and to keep an open eye for the talent in others. Although my research unveiled some negative bias towards boda boda riders, the young men that invested their trust in the Wakabi mission were some of the most impressive guys I have ever met. Our special covenant helped keep the Wakabi dream afloat during the development phase. It goes to show that keeping an open heart is just as important as keeping an open mind. 

Pictured is the inaugural graduating class of Wakabi’s safety training program

Pictured is the inaugural graduating class of Wakabi’s safety training program

The research also proved to me that anything, and I mean anything, is possible if enough sweat equity is invested. We attempted to bring a service to rural Uganda that had only been previously curated for smart phone users in Kampala. We needed a platform that was low-cost, functional on “dumb” phones, and accessible to end-users that are illiterate. Our collaboration with ThinVoid, a Kampala-based software consultancy, proved that dumb phones aren’t so dumb after all. We now have a free, easy to use number that is automated and incredibly robust.

Thank you, Santa Clara University, for inspiring me to pursue my dreams. Without your persistent teachings of the three C’s and the importance of social justice, I would have never felt empowered to apply for the Fulbright or to pursue Wakabi. I am proud to be a Bronco, and to represent everything SCU stands for. Here’s to the persistence of the entrepreneurial spirit, the drive to create a more just world, and to the Jesuit mission to educate the entire individual.     

Photo by: Ty Van Herweg

Photo by: Ty Van Herweg