Oorja is a social enterprise that enables underserved rural communities in India to transform their crop waste crop waste into clean energy and biochar using hybrid solar and biomass-powered microgrids. Some 450 million people in rural India do not have access to reliable electricity — Oorja’s mission is to provide clean energy access to these people with a particular focus on local communities whilst promoting sustainable local economic development.
Chuck Slaughter is Founder and CEO of Living Goods, a social enterprise building a sustainable distribution platform for products designed to fight poverty and disease in the developing world. Living Goods operates networks of independent entrepreneurs (currently in Uganda, Kenya, and Myanmar) who make a living by selling medicines and products to poor people that can help improve their health, wealth, and productivity. It uses a successful direct selling model like Avon Products. A recent university study shows that Living Goods’ Community Health Agents are reducing child deaths by 25% for less than $2 a year per person. Living Goods aims to reach 50 million people in the next ten years with its innovative sustainable model.
Chuck has extensive experience as a businessman. He founded TravelSmith and grew it to over two million customers and $100 million in sales. After selling TravelSmith in 2004, Chuck devoted his entrepreneurial instincts to building vibrant enterprises in both the private and social sectors. Chuck currently serves on the boards of The Initiative for Global Development, the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, Three Day Blinds, and Living Goods, and is a former board member of Spiegel Brands. He is a recipient of the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and is a Draper Richards Fellow.
Alex is the CEO and co-founder of Conservation X Labs, a startup for tech innovation for conservation and development. Prior to founding Conservation X Labs Alex served as the Chief Scientist at USAID and founded the Global Development Lab. Conservation X Labs aims to harness exponential technologies, open innovation, and entrepreneurship to dramatically improve the efficacy, scale and sustainability of conservation efforts to end human induced extinction.
Echoing Green is a leading global non-profit that provides seed funding and technical assistance to emerging social entrepreneurs with ideas for social change. The organisation is celebrating its 30 anniversary in 2017. Over that time it has forged a community of global pioneers, now over 700 strong, and played a pioneering role helping accelerate these leaders to impact the world. Cheryl Dorsey has been at the helm since 2002 and has overseen Echoing Green’s development into a leading global non-profit.
In this interview, posted jointly with Financing Social Entrepreneurs (www.financingsocialentrepreneurs.com) Cheryl takes us back in time to the foundation of the organisation and highlights the central and on-going importance of its fellowship program, providing grant money for social entrepreneurs, and the strength of this community. She also highlights Echoing Green’s work supporting the evolving social entrepreneurship ecosystem and how it has been responding to the changes taking place in the field of social entrepreneurship. Cheryl gives her views on the key trends she sees in social entrepreneurship and impact investing today, and, looking to the future, shares her vision for the future of this unique organisation.
Jordan Kassalow is founder of VisionSpring, a US social enterprise whose mission is to expand affordable access to eyewear, everywhere. To date, VisionSpring has distributed over 3.5 million eyeglasses to their target customers, who typically earns below $4 per day. They estimate their total economic impact to be over $756 million.
The World Health Organization estimates that more than 600 million people could have their vision restored with access to eyeglasses. With the goal of increasing impact, Jordan recently set up EYElliance–a multi-stakeholder initiative to radically scale provision of eyeglasses to people with refractive error who do not have access to eyeglasses.