Miller Center is homing in on Women Rising, Climate Resilience, and measuring the impact of social entrepreneurs and their ventures.
SANTA CLARA, Calif., Feb. 11, 2016—To accelerate its aim of positively impacting the lives of 1 billion people by 2020, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University is focusing on two initiatives—Women Rising and Climate Resilience—which will direct its efforts to help social entrepreneurs.
The Center also has hired a new associate director of social impact assessment to help in finding the best ways to evaluate and prove the success of social enterprises -- metrics that are vital to attracting investors to the field of “impact investing.” In addition, understanding what is driving improvements helps social entrepreneurs plan better, apply enhancements more effectively, and ultimately significantly scale their impact. Joe Schuchter, DrPH, a former operational researcher and monitor for NGOs in Cambodia and elsewhere, will continue and expand the Center’s work developing evidence-based methods for understanding and measuring the individual and collective impact of social enterprises.
“Miller Center empowers social entrepreneurs who in turn work to empower the world’s poor,” said Thane Kreiner, Ph.D., executive director of Miller Center. “Through our work with more than 560 social enterprises over a dozen years, we have developed proven methodologies and programs for helping social entrepreneurs build viable, sustainable enterprises. We have also identified where our approach has the potential for the greatest positive impact, and we’re focusing our energies on those areas.”
New Initiatives -- Women Rising and Climate Resilience
Beginning this year, Miller Center will select social enterprises for its Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI®) programs that are:
• Led by women or addressing issues that affect women, or
• Engaged in promoting resilience to the effects of climate change, particularly those addressing energy poverty, water poverty, sustainable rural development or health.
Women and girls represent the majority of the world’s poor and have fewer paths out of poverty, and investing in women and girls is widely considered the best way to end poverty for everyone. Women also are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, meaning that Miller Center’s Women Rising and Climate Resilience initiatives are tightly interwoven.
In addition, of the social enterprises that Miller Center has already trained and mentored, more than half provide solutions aimed at helping poor communities adapt to climate change. Social enterprises that have participated in GSBI programs have built businesses around solutions for clean energy (e.g., solar and other clean cookstoves, renewable energy generation, solar lighting, sustainable biofuels), clean water (e.g., community-scale water treatment, household water filters, hand pump maintenance, other water treatment approaches), sustainable agriculture (biodigesters, innovative forestry for dryland farmers, production of green charcoal and biochar) and health (e.g., tech-enabled clinics, maternal and pediatric health services, hygiene and nutrition services, curable blindness).
New Emphasis on Metrics
To further support its Women Rising and Climate Resilience initiatives, Miller Center plans to design ways to better assess the impact of social enterprises.
That will include evaluating existing platforms for social impact data collection; capturing and analyzing data at the social enterprise customer level; facilitating research to understand why social enterprises fail; applying business analytics and big data methods to the work of GSBI alumni; and developing entrepreneur and academic curricula on the topic of impact assessment.
“The social enterprise space overall needs much stronger impact-focused measurement,” said Schuchter. “Our impact assessment commitment is guided by four core principles: a social enterprise’s impact on its customers and the community it serves; our focus on the advancement of women and comprehensive climate resilience solutions; our objectivity and rigor advances only the most impact-focused and impact-capable social enterprises; and the fact that how we assess is as important as what we assess.”
About Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship
Founded in 1997, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship is one of three Centers of Distinction at Santa Clara University. 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 (GSBI), Impact Capital, and Education and Action Research. To learn more about the Center or any of its social entrepreneurship programs, visit www.scu.edu/MillerCenter.
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 www.scu.edu.
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