Randy P picWith a natural philanthropic spirit, Randy Paynter founded the online advocacy website, Care2, in 1998 with the hope of making the world a kinder, more inclusive, and sustainable space. The business works by focusing on two aspects in which to generate support for social and environmental causes around the world. First, they empower individuals to take collective action through the petition of their own campaigns. Second, they work directly with non-profits to craft campaigns in an effort to generate/ recruit more donor prospects. Their scale and expertise allows them to effectively navigate shifts in the online market to maximize connections between activists and individuals, organizations, and responsible businesses trying to make positive impacts. Since it’s creation, Care2 has recruited over 90 million donor prospects for non-profits making them a leader in online advocacy.
In this interview, Randy outlines the initial challenges he faced while raising money to start Care2, and his sincere belief in creating an “engine for good” business model where good actions generate revenues that will help fuel more good actions. He discusses the concept that positive feedback through donation helps drive personal motivations to do more, and offers some examples of the types of hyper local or hyper specific campaigns that work well. Randy describes how big changes with the internet, primarily through the growth of Facebook and Google, has shifted the way we engage with various causes and non-profits by generating “interruptions” on social media. This may play an important role in the general increase seen in activism. As the spotlight grows on the transparency and accountability of businesses and governments, Randy mentions how these organizations will need to embrace more socially and environmentally sustainable practices.
Harish Hande is an Indian social entrepreneur who co-founded SELCO India in 1995 to eradicate poverty by promoting sustainable technologies in rural India. SELCO India is a social enterprise that provides sustainable energy services to the poor in India, sustainable energy solutions and services to under-served households and businesses. SELCO empowers its customer by providing a complete package of product, service and consumer financing through grameena banks, cooperative societies, commercial banks and micro-finance institutions. Harish has won numerous award including the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award, for “his pragmatic efforts to put solar power technology in the hands of the poor.” Hande was also named the Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2007 by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and the Nand & Jeet Khemka Foundation.
In this wide ranging and fascinating interview, Harish discusses the underlying myths that SELCO was set up to disprove: 1) Poor people cannot afford sustainable technologies; 2) Poor people cannot maintain sustainable technologies; 3) Social ventures cannot be run as commercial entities. Harish is outspoken about the possibilities for poor people to rise from poverty and shares his vision for helping alleviate poverty in India. He identifies the flaws at the heart of “Bottom of the pyramid” thinking—the poor as consumers-rather than also as possible innovators and entrepreneurs — and also criticises traditional thinking about “frugal innovation.” This is an hugely inspiring interview full of powerful ideas and insights based on Harish’ experience working with poorest people in India.
Odin Mühlenbein is Partner at Ashoka Germany and Lead of Advisory at Ashoka Globalizer–an accelerator program that helps advanced social entrepreneurs from around the world develop strategies for social system change. Odin takes the learnings from Ashoka Globalizer to spread the word about system change and systems thinking, both within Ashoka and the field of social entrepreneurship. Previously, Odin worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Company and co-founded two social ventures.
In this interview, Odin talks the growth and importance of systems entrepreneurs — and the ways in which Ashoka Globalizer promotes insights and learnings about social system change, gleaned across the Ashoka network. Odin discusses the distinct role that system change entrepreneurs can play and how social entrepreneurs more generally can embrace the power of systems thinking-and discusses the importance of “tipping points’ in systems at a global level. Odin identifies the qualities a social entrepreneur needs to cultivate in order to become a successful systems entrepreneur. Finally, he discusses the perennial challenge of funding these ventures.
Dr. Charly Kleissner is a pioneer in the field of impact investment. He believes that the deeper meaning of wealth is to make a positive contribution to humanity and the planet. Dr. Kleissner co-founded KL Felicitas Foundation (www.klfelicitasfoundation.org), and Social-Impact International (www.social-impact.org), which help social entrepreneurs worldwide to accelerate and increase their impact. Dr. Kleissner co-founded Toniic and the 100% Impact Network, global networks for impact investors. Dr. Kleissner serves as Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Global Hub Company (www.the-hub.net), and as Board Director and Chairman of the Investment Committee of ImpactAssets.
In this extended and wide-ranging interview, Charly paints an exciting picture of the state of impact investment today, talks about the importance of “deep impact investing”-and shares his abiding belief in the potential of changing the financial system to build a better world. Charly talks about his experience at TONIIC and the 100% impact network and highlights the results that have been achieved at the KL Felicitas Foundation (that impact investors can construct a 100% impact portfolio and achieve competitive financial returns in all asset classes while making a big impact). Charly highlights some of the important work the Foundation is doing supporting the impact investment ecosystem. Finally, he discusses how modern portfolio theory should be re-conceptualized to integrate positive impact. (This is an edited version of an interview posted on the Financing Social Entrepreneurs podcast.)