Social Enterprise to make a killing (well, not really…)

bcorp.gifOK, we’ve all learned that “at the end of the day” starting a business requires funding. Which is why we buy into the notion of “Social capitalism“. Though I personally like the “stakeholder capitalism” Ed Freeman suggests better — see his prez below the entry plus comment from Marcus Kreikebaum on what that might be.

Anyway, as Elkington/Hartegan suggest three different business models (non-profit, hybrid, and for-profit) within the Social Entrepreneurship space, here is a website focusing on the for-profits. Some very convincing examples included here, food for thought for adapting or inventing your own venture. Wanna bet that this site and its impact will grow?

Even adapting the idea of “B corporation” itself doesn’t sound too bad an idea. Or maybe partnering with them to get some non-US (dare I say German?) companies involved …

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Again: It’s not only about reporting

PersilI usually don’t give a sustainability report much of a plug here, but this might be worthwhile mentioning: Henkel not only receives regular laurels within the German CSR-community for their reporting, but does so as well internationally now, see their report, just released a few days back. Comments on the report are provided not only by warm words of the CEO, but as well by qualified statements of the CTO, pointing to sustainability-driven product development and strongly indicating that there is some integration of Corporate Responsibility within the company. It is worth noting, though, that Henkel is not publicly being traded but de facto privately held - just another indicator that, as long as entrepreneurs and not shareholders own a company, the positive bottom-line impact of sustainable business is recognised.

A cautiously optimistic thought about this: With the stockmarkets increasing volatility, private equity funds (called “locusts” in Germany) buying undervalued companies might opt to keep them in their portfolio and have them managed by appointed entrepreneurs (hmm. is there such a jackalope?), instead of reintroducing the companies into the markets - after all, bookbuilding etc. does take a few months…

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links for 2008-03-13

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Internet for the next billion

netRecent statistics point out that approx 1.3 billion people have access to the internet. While this sounds like a big number, it leaves out a couple of billion users — or to use a term that excites companies more: customers — that might want to be connected. Which would explain why there is such huzzbuzz around the “not-quite-but-almost-at-the-bottom-of-the-pyramid” solutions. Negroponte led the way in using a meshed network to connect his educational tool, but now comes the next version ot this to bridge the digital divide. Combine this with Rifkin’s “Access matters”, and the future is bright, who knows?

In any case, it seems that Varshavsky wasn’t fast enough with his FON this time. Maybe he should have focused on BoP, too?

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One Laptop Per AAAScientist

xo

Stage: A ballroom in Boston, Godards “Alphaville” meets American Public Space Style ca. 1940s - the style with massive Walt-Disney coloured chandeliers, gold rounded corners (the original, not the Trump copies). Audience: some 2000 professors from all over the place. Acting salesman: Nicholas Negroponte.

… In 1982, Negroponte and his colleague Seymon Peppard had invited themselves to Africa, to see what difference computing power could make in developing countries. They brought some computers to Dakkar, given “a bunch of kids more computer power than the government had at the time”.

More than two decades later, Negroponte sent his son to Cambodia, into a village with no electricity, no proper road to get there. He brought over the first OLPC laptops (see more on this here and here), and the kids learnt “English”: Their first word being “google”. They learnt, too, that the laptops were the best (meaning: only) source of light in the rooms at night.

According to Negroponte, the biggest decision they had to make: doing it as a non-profit or not. Most people told him: “make it as a for profit, otherwise people won’t stay put, you won’t get credibility and so forth”. He decided against it and is still convinced that he’s right.

However, he now he gets into the 21 century stuff:

1. Reducing power intake, get 30-40watt down to 2 …and at the same time have the screen bright enough to be seen at equatorial sunlight (my mac would love that too, she says).

2. Getting a wifi meshed network worked out - laptops connecting to each other, thus 1. broadening the reach of the central classroom/school server - the one that is connected to the internet and 2. enabling all sorts of collaboration between the kids. All of this, of course, slimming down necessary resources. Another point against the 20th century SUV-mentality. I like.

3. Making it as rugged as the Panasonic toughbook - but charge 100 USD and not 5,000.

So that’s the points that matter. Don’t forget the Jackalope look — he calls it “the pretty cool design”…

They got 500k already produced, the bulk pictures from inside some factory look pretty impressive — 110k per months compares to the 5m sold laptops worldwide per months, he says — where does he have this figure from? Sounds tiny to me, with all guys I know upping their computer power at least every 18 months… Never mind.

What I like about OLPC: on one hand side it’s ’soooo much 20th century’ - all this talk about “Moore’s law” and “economies of scale”. Which actually sells well and makes it work. On the other hand, it reaches out to those 21st century thoughts such as slimming computer powers on to a lower level because no-one needs SUVs i.e. full-blown computing power in each ones laptop. And, of course and to quote Tim Robbins from Hudsuckers Proxy: “‘You know - for kids! - and you know - costing less!”

My question, though: If they so decidedly follow the law of economies of scale (which is in my opinion just another euphemism for “race to the bottom”), do they take care of a proper supply-chain management… resources such as Nickel, Cobalt as well as manufacturing doesn’t exactly come off the shelf?? And, what about the lifecycle management, i.e. recycling? Just asking.

Ah well, another nice thing he mentions: They’ve got some nifty ways for generating power, too - not the cranky cradle they had initially, rather a jojo, or an eggscrambler… Again: this would have helped a lot, as my battery is just saying “bye bye” just now. Well timed, my dear SUV.

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WestLB on GRI: No, we’re not really being relevant

GRIIt’s all very well that most companies by now claim to report along the guidelines of GRI. However, even the ones that indeed do so (there are a few hundreds that only claim but are not approved) seem to get some problems with this. A WestLB study on GRI (published in September 2007) sums up.

“… it is still not easy (if not impossible) to draw the link between (perceived) report quality and the actual sustainability performance of a company. It is still far from possible to draw the conclusion ‘great report = great company’.”

And indeed, it is kind of surprising that companies may report well and still are obviously not even near to be a “great company”. A telling example might be Siemens, building up ’slush funds’ from 2000 - 2007, whilst sitting on the GRI committee.

On a broader sense: What does this mean for indices anyway?

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AAAS: How can ICT and Development work together?

bongos2.jpgIt’s one of those interdisciplinary questions still unanswered: If you have 50 people on above issue in the room, there’ll be 45 of them ICT-people - that is, at least, when you’re attending the annual AAAS conference in Boston. AAAS is the NGO publishing “Science”, and thus I’m surprised that I do actually understand some  of the issues dealt with here. Their focus is “global”, this year, so the keynote address was by Rwanda’s president Kagame - Rwanda being probably one of the first examples of how ICT and Development people may work together. Did you know that the Rwanda-government seems to really have “figured it out”? They do not take donor money from USAID and the likes - who always want to “give” according to their plan.

Think about Laura Bush, insisting “we must do something about girls education, as this really, really is my issue” — which then leads to some USAID guy developing (cause they must “own” it, of course) a project where they can throw money at.

Instead, Rwanda says “we’ve actually got a national education program which works pretty well - you may give us the money for this, but it won’t give you a great payback - no glossy brochures, no evaluation reports”. Which then might pose quite some problem to the USAID bureaucrat: Where to spend their money and - time?

As an addition to this, one might argue that it a business assessment of existing and planned infrastructure followed by some activities might be more competitive in engaging towards providing “parts of the picture”. CSR and Development, yep.

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Starting over, second take :)

johnlennon11.jpgAfter this blog had been dormant or link-rolling for a while, we would like to give it a go again. While doing this, let me apologize for any comments that had been omitted - with hundreds of spam messages each week, I might have overlooked a few comments on older posts.

We have now introduced a registration with ‘handmade’ approval procedure, so: If this blog is still within your RSS-feed, please register now. With this, you can not only continue to lurk and comment but as well send blogposts to “CSR and Conflict” - in wordpress terms, a true “contributor” status.

A few words on formalities:

When contributing, please note the “categories” you find within the blog as well as within your edit-suite (sidebar to the right). Any further category suggestions please mail to torsten.sewing [at] comm-unity.de.

As you will see when posting/editing, you may add “tags” as well. For this, please have a look at the . While you of course may add new tags, please bear in mind that we already have quite a few, so please do have a look at the del.icio.us tagcloud (see sidebar), to be safe that similar ones have not already been created.

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Thanks and keep on blogging :)

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