ANNOUNCING 17 GSBI ONLINE SOCIAL ENTERPRISES FOR 2017
Graffiti artists, egg farmers, and soccer players couldn’t possibly have anything in common - could they? When it comes to fighting poverty they can! Social enterprises from all over the world, working with people from all different kinds of backgrounds, overlap in that all of their missions focus on doing good through business.
Seventeen of these social enterprises will begin working closely with Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship this year to gain support in meeting their goals and scaling their businesses. A common theme among the social enterprises at Miller Center is a focus on “women rising” as a means to end poverty. Women and poverty are closely intertwined as women are most deeply affected by the consequences of poverty and they are simultaneously more likely to re-invest their income in their children and communities. Enterprises like Rebel Nell and Last Mile recognize this dynamic as they reimagine ways to employ and empower women.
POWER TO THE WOMEN, FROM DETROIT TO TANZANIA
Located at opposite ends of the world, Rebel Nell in the United States and Last Mile in Tanzania, together support women rising initiatives through training and employing vulnerable women. Rebel Nell works with women transitioning out of homelessness in Detroit and Last Mile works with impoverished women across the Kilimanjaro region. The homeless women in Detroit are offered a new beginning as they become artisans and receive training in financial independence, among other things. Impoverished women in Tanzania distribute Last Mile’s socially beneficial products and develop new skills while earning a commission on sales. These are just two examples of the ingenious social enterprises working with Miller Center this year. Like Rebel Nell and Last Mile, each organization in the GSBI Online cohort imagines a new way to create more just and sustainable communities. As 2017 begins, we can’t wait to highlight their stories as the social enterprises scale and reach greater impact.
WHAT IS THIS GSBI ONLINE PROGRAM, ANYWAY?
Miller Center is located at Santa Clara University in the heart of the Silicon Valley. The center is dedicated to poverty eradication initiatives through its Global Social Benefit (GSBI®) programs. GSBI Online is a 6-month, virtual program for early-stage social entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs in the cohort work weekly with Silicon Valley executive mentors to create their business plans, improve their business models and growth strategy, and reach meaningful results. Organizations range in sector type and location, among other details, but they each drive meaningful change in the face of poverty’s many pains and consequences.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE
These social enterprises aim to advance women, plus over half of them are led by women. Rebel Nell and Last Mile are two of the eight enterprises led by female entrepreneurs. While these two enterprises work directly to train and empower women, three of the others work in education, two work in healthcare access, one works to fight against the dangers caused by climate change, and one offers affordable access to clean energy.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT THESE WOMEN-LED ENTERPRISES
The women-led enterprises vary in sector and in location. There are three education-focused organizations: TalkingPoints, SEED - Youth and the Green Economy, and Library for All. TalkingPoints is located in the United States, SEED - Youth and the Green Economy is located in South Africa, and Library for All is located online and works in America, Africa and Asia. Each of these enterprises tackle different educational challenges based on the needs in their locations:
● TalkingPoints provides an improved communication platform for teachers, parents and students.
● SEED - Youth and the Green Economy educates and connects unemployed township youth to the green economy.
● Library for All provides affordable online books to children who otherwise cannot afford school books.
The Ihangane Project, located in Rwanda, uses porridge known as “Aheza” to provide low cost access to fortified foods for children and communities while also investing revenue into additional health services for the community.
The last two women-led enterprises are Cloud to Street and Solstice. Cloud to Street and Solstice work in the climate sector and recognize the implications that today’s declining environment has upon the poorest in our fragile world. Cloud to Street provides online information on climate disaster risks helping governments and others mitigate unnecessary death and damages. Solstice radically expands access to clean energy by providing community solar to the 80% of American households that cannot install an array on their roof. Like the connection between women and poverty, climate also plays a role in the vicious poverty cycle. Both Cloud to Street and Solstice recognize this connection, and they are not alone in working towards climate resilience.
CLIMATE RESILIENCE AND OTHER MEANS OF ENDING POVERTY
Seven more of the enterprises in the cohort are also working to create “climate resilience.” Miller Center defines climate resilience as the ability of individuals or communities to withstand and adapt to the stresses of climate change. Miller Center works with social enterprises that are involved in climate resilience because of the close relationship between climate change and poverty. It is no secret that our climate is changing and imposing negative consequences on our earth, but perhaps it is lesser known that these consequences most directly impact the poor and women in particular. The declining environment reinforces the cycle of poverty, so it is crucial that we support climate resilience actions. These actions align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which includes activities like enhancing agricultural production, enhancing rural livelihoods, providing clean energy, water and sanitation products, and strengthening health systems. Eggpreneur Initiative, iNuka Pap, Awamu Biomass Energy, and CookClean Ghana Limited each have missions that align with these climate resilience goals. Awamu Biomass Energy and CookClean Ghana Limited develop clean cookstoves, while Partagria works with West African farmers and WateROAM develops portable water filtration devices in Singapore. Lastly, Sunpoynt Health, located in Kenya, uses garbage as a financial resource, enabling uninsured slum dwellers access to healthcare twice monthly.
The remaining social enterprises are GoForGood and the third half. GoForGood improves corporate social responsibility initiatives through the use of volunteer management software and the third half provides education to disadvantaged children through sustainable soccer tourism.
WRAPPING OUR ARMS WIDE AROUND THE WORLD
These enterprises drive impact in various locations across the globe, covering Africa, North America, South America and Asia. Their services cover a variety of initiatives as well, in sectors such as health, energy, education, and agriculture - with an overarching focus on women rising and climate resilience. Each organization has an incredible and empowering story, and we are excited to work with each of the talented entrepreneurs to help them create an even larger positive impact in the world.
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AT A GLANCE: The 10th GSBI Online Cohort, Spring 2017
Awamu Biomass Energy
Manufacture clean and affordable cookstoves while creating employment, saving household incomes, reducing indoor air pollution and mitigating climate change.
Cloud To Street
End unnecessary death and damages from flooding or other climate disaster.
CookClean Ghana Limited
We protect and save lives and our forests.
To reduce child malnutrition and poverty in rural Kenya.
Offers a volunteer management software with an app developed for better employee engagement.
Improve access to financial and health services in Rural Africa.
United Republic of Tanzania
Access to life-changing products for the last mile.
Library For All
Our mission is to make knowledge accessible to all, equally.
Connecting West African farmers to global produce and financial markets.
Provide employment, education, support and opportunities to address joblessness for women who are living in homeless shelters in Detroit.
SEED – Youth and the Green Economy
We educate, mentor and connect unemployed township youth in Cape Town to opportunities in the green economy.
We radically expand access to clean energy by providing community solar to the 80% of American households that cannot install an array on their roof.
We are a micro health insurance program that uses garbage as a financial resource in enabling uninsured poor slum dwellers access to health care twice monthly.
Meaningfully connect parents, schools and students across tech and language barriers to improve parent engagement in low-income communities in the US.
The Ihangane Project
In Ruli, Rwanda, local production and sale of fortified porridge (Aheza) provides low cost access to fortified foods to the entire community, subsidizes the cost of porridge provision to the most vulnerable children and generates revenue to be invested into additional health services.
The Third Half
Provide education to disadvantaged children around the world through sustainable soccer tourism.
Wateroam develops water filtration devices for disaster relief and rural/ developing communities that are durable, affordable, portable and easy to use.