Sometimes you hit pay dirt when attending conferences with multi-track sessions and sometimes not. Fortunately, TiEcon 2007 offered such a rich assortment of brain candy during two days of intense interaction that an attendee's biggest problem was deciding where to scramble next.
The May 18 parallel session Social Entrepreneurs: The New Agents of Business & Social Change was a well-executed endeavor that provided a good balance of practical innovation and vision for current or aspiring social entrepreneurs and investors.
Moderated by Hari Sreenivasan, CBS news anchor, who had rushed from covering the unfortunate fires in Florida to fulfill his TiEcon 2007 duties served as metaphor for the commitment shared by the panelists:
- Association for India's Development, focusing on the edges of education in India
- KIVA, a social endeavor providing loans for entrepreneurs
- Corporate social venture Salesforce.com Foundation
- Skoll Foundation, a systemic change agent for social entrepreneurs
- World of Good, a social enterprise that began as an MBA project
KIVA President, Premal Shah, was quick to point out "We're not about poverty pornography, we're about business." In fact, a healthy $1.7 million business touting a 95 percent loan repayment rate by its micro-financed entrepreneurs for a cool $6.5 million to date.
Who says doing good doesn't pay?
Priya Haji shared the value of partnerships in pursuing her passion for building social conscious into every product offered through the World of Good site. Focused on shifting world markets through the purchasing power of women who increasingly demand the ethical sourcing of goods, the World of Good team, connects small producers and entrepreneurs with western wealth.
Corporate good from the get-go was the vision of Marc Benioff, Chairman, and CEO of Salesforce.com; however, it's Suzanne DiBianca's passion for keeping this mission front and center for the Salesforce.com Foundation that fuels the Power of Us. As its Chief Service Officer and Executive Director, DiBianca looked at the sustainability challenge and decided to introduce the means for partners to deepen their support for non-profits.
The Skoll Foundation, a change agent powerhouse since 1999, funds and supports innovative social entrepreneurs that benefit communities around the world. Sandy Hurlimann Herz and her Marketing and Communications team look for people capable of shifting markets by introducing better ways of operating, "Whole shifts are being created by the social entrepreneur."
A recipient of an Ashoka Fellowship in 2005 for promoting Science education in India, Balaji Sampath, and his AID (India) social venture aims to level the education playing field for India's students. Going beyond textbooks through the introduction of "Science Dialogues", what Sampath refers to as a bottoms-up systems approach, children learn by doing and internalizing concepts versus the old-school method of rote memorization.