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Posts Tagged ‘Sacha Pfeiffer’

Interested in doing well by doing good? Consider attending the April 29-April 30 Providence event hosted by the Social Enterprise Greenhouse and the Social Innovation Initiative at Brown University.

According to the nonprofit’s website, the 2016 SEEED (Social Enterprise Ecosystem for Economic Development) Summit “provides a comprehensive support system to inspire, start, grow, and sustain successful social enterprises. …

“This year’s conference theme is Growing Businesses with Impact. We will explore the unique challenges facing a social enterprise at three stages of growth, with half day modules devoted to launching, growing and transforming. 

“Whether you’re a social entrepreneur, student, academic, impact investor, policymaker, or plain ol’ fan of ‘do well, do good’ business, we hope you will join us. This year’s conference will include free coaching, a ‘Buy With Heart’ market, lunchtime roundtable discussions, and a pitch competition. …

“The conference is hosted jointly by Social Enterprise Greenhouse and The Social Innovation Initiative at Brown University, in collaboration with sponsors The City of Providence, The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation and Worldways Social Marketing, as well as knowledge partners Bridgespan and Neighborhood Economics/SOCAP.

“SEEED is the first impact conference in the US to adopt a ‘pay what you can’ ticket model so that the event is accessible to everyone. However, it costs us $200 per participant. Therefore, we ask all attendees to pay what they can to support our mission (the minimum payment to register is $1.00). … For any questions contact info@segreenhouse.org.” Register here.

The keynote speaker is Willy Foote of Root Capital. According to Sacha Pfeiffer in the Boston Globe, “This year, the Cambridge nonprofit Root Capital expects to have surpassed $1 billion in loans made to small businesses in the developing world, a sector neglected by large commercial banks. …

“Because many farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America don’t have the traditional collateral needed to borrow money, such as property deeds, Root Capital relies on less conventional ways to judge creditworthiness. For example, it accepts future production of harvests — including cocoa, coffee, cotton, fruit, and nuts — as collateral for financing. That approach has been a success; Foote says Root Capital’s repayment rate is about 97 percent. …

“Root Capital doesn’t just loan money; it also offers financial training to rural entrepreneurs, helping them improve their business skills and strengthen their market connections.”

Read more about Foote and Root Capital in the Boston Globe article.

Photo: Heidi Gumula
The Social Enterprise Greenhouse has its headquarters at 10 Davol Square, Providence. 

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Here’s a story about venture capital with a do-good focus.

Sacha Pfeiffer writes at the Boston Globe, “Among entrepreneurs, there’s a dreaded place called the Valley of Death. That’s where startup companies go when they run out of funding before making money on their own, and it’s an especially common fate for clean-energy startups, like manufacturers of solar panels and wind turbines. …

“But what if that early-stage, high-risk financing could instead come from philanthropists, who aren’t driven by profit? Later, traditional investors could step in and supply continued funding.

“That’s the concept behind PRIME Coalition, a year-old Cambridge nonprofit that has pooled $1 million from wealthy donors, including Hollywood actors Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, as seed money for its first investment: an energy storage startup company. …

“PRIME rethinks the traditional definition of charitable work and charitable giving. Its founder, 30-year-old MIT graduate Sarah Kearney, argues that companies whose products or services reduce greenhouse gases are doing a social good, just like soup kitchens and homeless shelters, so they should be able to receive philanthropic funding. In this case, the social benefits include conserving the environment and fighting climate change.

“The group searches for early-stage alternative energy companies … then locates philanthropists or socially minded for-profit investors to fund them. Those could include charitable foundations, investment offices of wealthy families, and donor-advised funds. …

“Peter Rothstein, president of the New England Clean Energy Council, said philanthropic funding ‘can make a significant dent’ in filling the need for early-stage capital for clean-tech companies.” More here.

It is not unheard of for philanthropy to put its investment dollars into companies that provide a social good. Read about the Heron Foundation’s decision to do so some years back in “Expanding Philanthropy’s Reach: Mission-Related Investing,” here.

Photo: Lane Turner/Globe Staff
PRIME Coalition founder Sarah Kearney says that companies whose products or services reduce greenhouse gases are doing a social good and should be able to receive philanthropic funding.

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