Thursday, November 26, 2009

Reminder: Echoing Green App due December 2

Further to our previous posts, we'd just like to remind our readers that the Phase 1 of the Echoing Green Fellowship application is due December 2nd!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mobile Technologies and NGOs

A partnership between the United Nations Foundation and the Vodafone Group Foundation recently released a report titled "Wireless Technology for Social Change: Trends in Mobile Use by NGOs"

Abstract: "In this second publication in our Access to Communications Publication Series, the authors examine real-life examples of and trends in wireless technology solutions being used to drive change in the areas of health, humanitarian assistance, and environmental conservation. The compelling stories portrayed in this report demonstrate that telecommunications can be a powerful tool for positive change in our world. Between December 10, 2007 and January 13, 2008, 560 non-governmental organization (NGO) workers participated in a survey designed to demonstrate how NGOs are using wireless technology to help reach various social, civil, economic, and political goals." (Source: IFAP)

The report, authored by Sheila Kinkade and Katrin Verclas, is a comprehensive survey into how non-governmental organizations (NGOs), especially working in Africa, have been able to leverage mobile phones to meet their respective goals.

Data presented in this report provides evidence that mobile phone usage continues to grow in a continent that is leap-frogging communications technologies. It may also be of value to young entrepreneurs seeking to expand their reach and/or develop mobile-friendly initiatives.

Read more:
Report (PDF): Wireless Technology for Social Change..."
IFAP Abstract page

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Doing business in Africa

Another TED Talk, this one presented by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on what African business has been and is about.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is Nigeria's first female Finance Minister. She has had extensive experience previously working at the World Bank.

Facebook driving online traffic in Africa

ICTworks reports that Facebook is boosting Internet traffic in Africa. Many marketing and technology experts at ICT companies are finding increasing needs to get online and get on the social networking platform.

An excerpt:
"Facebook has over 300,000 users in Kenya, is the most popular site in South Africa, and is growing by 20,000 new users per month in Nigeria and Ghana - 3x the US growth rate."

Read more:
ICTworks blogpost
About ICTworks
"Facebook in Swahili" forum

Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose

Daniel Pink - author and speaker on how the realm of "work" can be improved - held a small talk at TED talks earlier this year, focusing on the science behind motivation.

This short talk may be useful for young entrepreneurs who are looking to start a business from scratch, especially with respect to their human resources structure. There are some important points Mr. Pink makes about what motivates us, and what may consequently help us be more productive with our time at work.

Read more:
Daniel Pink on TED talks
Daniel Pink's homepage
TED Talks homepage

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Cash4Africa is a money transfer service operating in Africa. It is a subsidiary of Roraima Financial Services (RFS) based out of Nevis, West Indies.

Considering the flows of diverse capital throughout the African continent, this would be a valuable service to entrepreneurs who are thinking of scaling up.

Read more:
Cash4Africa homepage
About Cash4Africa

William James Foundation business plan competition

The William James Foundation has opened up its business plan competition. Winners are eligible to different brackets of funding to jump-start their projects. A key process of the competition is feedback.

The Foundation provides feedback on the following, according to their website (extracted from Competition Guidelines):
  • How you described your of products or services, and the problems they solve
  • How you are thinking about your market targets, promotion, and market testing
  • Your assessment of risks, competitors, substitute products or services, and your competitive advantage
  • Your timeline
  • Your analysis of your cash flow needs, and the sources and uses of funds
  • Your management team strengths and needs, and organizational structure
  • The overall viability of your business from a financial profit point of view
  • The value and feasibility of your social and/or environmental goals
In order to apply, entrepreneurs need to send a "Intent to Compete" e-mail to competition(at)williamjamesfoundation(dot)org with a short paragraph about their idea and contact information. Thereafter, executives summaries are to the same e-mail address due by December 4, 2009. There is a application processing fee which may be waived in advance.

Read more:
About the William James Foundation
About the competition

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Unreasonable Institute

The Unreasonable Institute hosts an intensive 10-week Summer Institute for social entrepreneurs around the world, with the possibility of funding thereafter.

An excerpt from their website:
The purpose of the Summer Institutes are to provide: "personal & entrepreneurial skill development, intensive collaboration & work-shopping, and involved guidance from mentors. Additional support includes website design & development, premier research access, and free legal consultations. Each Unreasonable Fellow will graduate the Institute with a viable business plan that is purposeful, sustainable, scalable, and replicable."

Following the 10 weeks, entrepreneurs then talk about their developed proposals at a Pitch Fest hosted by investors. Proposals also get posted onto the Institute's online marketplace network.

Applications for the Institute open November 15, 2009 and are due by December 15, 2009.

Read more:
The Unreasonable Institute homepage
About the Institute
About the Summer Institutes
Application process

HBS Ideacast: Design Thinking

Innovations today do not just involve a good idea for how to do something more efficiently than before. They involve a whole process of production, marketting and revision that embeds their audiences within the creation cycle.

The Harvard Business School Ideacast features Roger Martin this week (Rotman School of Managementm, University of Toronto). Dean Martin discusses the importance of "design thinking", which merges analytical thinking and creative thinking.

According to an abstract on his book, modern businesses can innovate if they employ and encourage design thinking: "This form of thinking is rooted in how knowledge advances from one stage to another--from mystery (something we can't explain) to heuristic (a rule of thumb that guides us toward solution) to algorithm (a predictable formula for producing an answer) to code (when the formula becomes so predictable it can be fully automated)".

Entrepreneurs who are seeking to create a new business model, especially within the technology sector, are encouraged to check out this podcast and book. For innovations that involve sustainable capacity-building, it is important that they are both "creative, and replicable".

Read/hear more:
HBS ideacast audio
Roger Martin's book, The Design of Business
Harvard Business School home

Friday, November 13, 2009

EG Fellowship: Phase 1 due December 2

Phase 1 applications for the Echoing Green Fellowship are due December 2nd!

Don't forget to get your application for a groundbreaking, innovative and sustainable idea in.

Read our previous post on Echoing Green's Fellowship.

Other links:
Echoing Green homepage
Application procedures
Last year's Fellows

Monday, November 2, 2009

Measuring Social Value

Building and expanding a venture that creates social value involves assessing impact. How do you measure how your project has improved the quality of life of your constituents? What has been the "value" added?

The Research Initiative on Social Entrepreneurship (RISE) published a report in March 2004 titled "Double Bottom Line project report: Assessing social impact in double bottom line ventures". Essentially prescribed as a methods catalogue, the project and report have analyzed currently existing approaches to measuring social value.

The report has important implications on the autonomy of social enterprise, since improving and expanding services in the face of concentrated economic and a technological changes requires acute accountability of value-add.

The report has been compiled by Catherine Clark (Columbia Business School), William Rosenzweig (Haas School of Business), David Long (Abt Associates), and Sara Olsen (SVT Consulting).

The RISE webpage
PDF report: "Double Line project report: Assessing social impact in double bottom line ventures"