Sunday, 29 April 2007

Cover



2007 Skoll World Forum on
Social Entrepreneurship
— some notes from Oxford / UK — March 2007
vivian Hutchinson
Social Innovation Investment Group
New Zealand Social Entrepreneur Fellowship



Report Summary

• This was easily the best conference I have been to in a long while ... it was well run, it attracted a unique diversity of participants, the content had a great deal of depth to it, and there was robust debate that was engaging and extending.

• There were 700 participants from 40 countries including a rich mix of social entrepreneurs, human rights activists, academics, business leaders, philanthropists and funders. Many of these people could be counted amongst the most remarkable change-makers of our generation. The Forum provided an unique opportunity for the exchange of legitimacy, insight and creativity between the different communities of these participants.

• The conference lived up to its reputation of being the main World Forum in the field of social entrepreneurship. As part of developing our projects with the Social Innovation Investment Group and the New Zealand Social Entrepreneur Fellowship, I have been researching and studying who are the key “movers and shakers” in the international scene of social entrepreneurship. Almost all of them were present at this gathering.

• There was so much going on, with up to seven workshops happening at the same time as well as breakfast sessions and Master Classes at the lunchtime breaks. But it still hung together well, particularly around the main plenary sessions which were held in Oxford’s historic Sheldonian Theatre.

• Highlights for me included:
— sessions from Geoff Mulgan, Bill Drayton, Charles Handy, Muhammad Yunus and Larry Brilliant

— the inevitable sharing of inspiring stories from the many social entrepreneurs, but particularly Gillian Caldwell and Peter Gabriel, Karen Tse and Taddy Blecher.

— the widening of the sense of social entrepreneurship from elite “celebrity” stories towards recognising the social innovation and entrepreneurship that is also found in groups and movements.

— a sense of the growing literacy about just what makes up the process of social innovation, understanding the life cycle of innovations and how to foster innovation more effectively in many different sectors.

— the “open source” example of Ashoka Changemakers, which represents a innovative model for sharing emergent knowledge and practice.

— the practical sessions aimed at Foundations and philanthropy about how to be more venturesome in giving financial support to new ideas and programmes.
• I’ve come away with an immense amount to think about, as well as links, contacts and ideas to follow up on. I’ve also had the opportunity to renew some of the international contacts I made at the gathering of “outstanding social entrepreneurs” organised by the Schwab Foundation at Davos last year, and at the Innovation Funders meeting in San Francisco.

• This report contains my personal diary notes from the Forum. It is a combination of a description of the sessions I went to, my thoughts at the time, and the links and research I have been doing on the people and their projects since the Forum took place.
— I have created a “blog” website of this report which contains live internet links of all the contacts and references mentioned in this document. You can also view video of the conference directly from these webpages at http://vivianoxford07.blogspot.com

— An online album of photographs which I took at this conference can be found at the Flickr photosharing website
• There was an obvious pressure from the sheer numbers of people around the world who would have liked to have attended this Forum, and the Skoll Foundation had an interesting process in stage-managing just who was going to be there. You could apply to go on a pre-registration list, and the organisers obviously did some digging into backgrounds before inviting a core group of people to come. After this, the formal registration gates were only open for a very short time before it was announced that the Forum was full.

• Beyond the 700 people attending at Oxford, there was a large “virtual” participation at this Forum, thanks to the live streaming of the plenary sessions and the blogger contributions of many people involved with the socialedge.org website.

• One of my roles as Executive Officer of our Investment Group and the NZSEF is to help build our international links and relationships with other social entrepreneur networks and philanthropic foundations that are fostering social innovation. At our first NZSEF Fellowship retreat in February, there was some discussion about how our local work in New Zealand needs to be put more into an international context ... and that there was much that we could learn from in the good ideas and practical strategies for change that are emerging overseas. Participating in the Skoll World Forum is an excellent entry point into these opportunities to network and learn.

• Beyond this learning and networking, the Skoll World Forum is providing a very timely focus of hope in a world faced with deep-seated and complex problems. It is nearly impossible to feel cynicism and despair when surrounded by the stories and examples of literally hundreds of inspirational people who are just getting on and making a practical difference.


vivian Hutchinson
Executive Officer
Social Innovation Investment Group
New Zealand Social Entrepreneur Fellowship
www.nzsef.org.nz

April 2007

Resources.
— The website for the Oxford Said Business School Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship
— The Forum website homepage at the Skoll Foundation
— The Forum website homepage at Social Edge

— a PDF copy of this report (40 pages, 1.5MB) can be downloaded from www.nzsef.org.nz/dox/pdf/vivianoxford07.pdf

Academic Network for Social Entrepreneurship

• This was a pre-gathering meeting held on the day before the main conference started. I thought I would arrive at the Forum early and check it out. This Academic Network brings together universities that are fostering social enterprise in their various courses. It aims to develop social entrepreneurship as a vocation and as a field of intellectual endeavour, and to carry social entrepreneurship principles into other disciplines and sectors. The Network also acts as a professional clearing-house of resources that will be useful to both academics and practitioners.

There is now quite a large network of universities connected in this academic network, including all the major “brands”: Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Stanford, etc as well as Universities from Asia and Latin America. Ashoka is also one of the founding partners.

Gregory Dees speaking to the University Network meeting in the Nelson Mandela Theatre, Said Business School, Oxford University 26 March 2007 — photo Hutchinson

• Once the session opened, the speakers on this day got right into the controversies on how things are going to be defined, how to judge effective management of social enterprises, and how all this can be fitted into and assessed within a mainstream university system, and marketed toward students. It all felt like quite a healthy and contested space of inquiry.

Curiously enough, many of the university representatives remarked that it is the interest of students in this whole area of social entrepreneurship which seems to be one of the main drivers of the establishment of the university courses. Many of the universities are racing to keep up with the interest and demand of students for these course options. This is further in evidence by the growth of independent university clubs and student voluntary organisations that are about supporting social enterprises and connecting with social services in their local area. This was all very encouraging to hear.

• The explosion of academic interest is also obvious in the growth of the serious literature that is now available. The Skoll Centre’s leading Oxford scholar, Alex Nichols, reported that up until recently there were hardly any academic books available on the subject of social enterprise. But in 2006 alone, six academic volumes were published. And at this Forum, Oxford University Press held a book launching of Alex Nichol’s own tome — an edited collection of many of the contributions and papers presented to earlier Skoll Forums.

• The most impressive speaker at this session was Gregory Dees, of Duke University, who is the man credited as being the leading academic in the discipline of social entrepreneurship. Dees presented a paper summarising his interviews with many social entrepreneurs, and his thoughts on how to strengthen the field of social entrepreneurship. (Refreshingly, he wasn’t into splitting academic hairs on how things were defined. “The academics and funders are more interested in this than practitioners...”)

Dees remarked that the university network needs to recognise that they need a whole new model of how their knowledge is shared ... because so much of what is going on just doesn’t fit the academic paradigm. He pointed out that social entrepreneur practitioners were not reaching out to the academics in search of the knowledge that is being gathered within the university courses.

Not too many of the academics at this meeting were recognising the growth of “peer learning communities” and Fellowships amongst social entrepreneurs as an innovative and entrepreneurial response to their own learning needs. Very few of the social entrepreneurs I spoke to at the Forum were interested in going on a structured academic course, or even felt that they wanted to get more “qualified”. At the same time, they are obviously learners who want to do their work better ... and are looking to one another to get to the edges of their learning.

• The University Network has struck up a collaboration with the Social Science Research Network to provide a forum where all the recent papers, research and reports and course material on social entrepreneurship can be gathered in one place. I’ve taken a look at it ... and while you have to do a bit of digging to get to the relevant social entrepreneurship section, it does hold potential to be an important place for sharing and commenting on the research materials as they are generated.

• Hardly anyone I had spoken to at the Forum had heard of the recently-published Canadian book “Getting To Maybe” which I was able to recommend as a great example of how academics have taken up the challenge of making their research, wisdom and insights more useful to practitioners.

• During this day, there was quite a bit of emphasis on scoping, mapping and defining social entrepreneurship in terms of what they are promoting as a new academic field of endeavour. This is something I’m personally not too convinced about ... or rather, I think there is far too much talk about all this being “new”.

My own view is that social entrepreneurship has always been with us in many different guises, although it is “new” to brand it in the way that it is framed within these conferences. I do agree, however, that we seem to be on the verge of a growing literacy as to the practice of social innovation. The academic research has a great deal to contribute in this regard ... but, for me, this is not so much about the creation and branding of a whole new academic field — it is more about noticing and developing the language to describe just what is making a difference. It is about developing this literacy on how fundamental sustainable social change is achieved.
Resources.
— the website for the University Network
— Gregory Dees leads the Centre for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship at Duke University
The Social Science Research Network archive of papers
Social Entrepreneurship: New Models of Sustainable Social Change, edited by Dr Alex Nicholls. (book pub 2006 by Oxford University Press)
"Strategic Tools for Social Entrepreneurs: Enhancing the Performance of Your Enterprising Nonprofit", by J. Gregory Dees, Jed Emerson, Peter Economy (pub 2002 Wiley)
"Enterprising Nonprofits: A Toolkit for Social Entrepreneurs", by J. Gregory Dees, Jed Emerson, Peter Economy (pub 2001 Wiley)
Getting to Maybe: How The World Is Changed by Frances Westley, Brenda Zimmerman and Michael Quinn Patton (book pub Random House Canada 2006)





Changemakers Ashoka Network Meeting

meeting in Nelson Mandela Lecture Theatre, Said Business School
Tuesday 27th March 2007


• The next morning there was another pre-conference session from Bill Drayton and the Ashoka Network. Bill Drayton is considered the “elder statesman” of the social entrepreneurship field, and is credited with popularising the term itself. He has a remarkable track record of 30 years of supporting social entrepreneurs through the Ashoka Network, as well as establishing and leading many innovative projects himself.

• Most of you will know that, in New Zealand, The Jobs Research Trust (of which I am a trustee) has launched a new initiative which is also called Changemakers. There are many groups around the world calling themselves changemakers ... so it is probably just as well that there is plenty of opportunities for change to go around! Our New Zealand group is based around a 5-10-5-10 strategy to foster more active citizenship in our communities. (For more information see http://www.changemakers.org.nz)

This Jobs Research Trust project was partly inspired by Bill Drayton’s speech at last year’s Skoll World Forum. At that time, Drayton remarked that until recently, Ashoka has been stating its mission chiefly in terms of “building a more entrepreneurial and competitive not-for-profit sector”. But more recently, he has come to re-assess this goal:
“ The most important contribution any of us can make now is not to solve any particular problem, no matter how urgent energy or environmental or financial regulation is. What we must do now is increase the proportion of humans who know that they can cause change. And who, like smart white blood cells coursing through society, will stop with pleasure whenever they see that something is stuck or that an opportunity is ripe to be seized. Multiplying society's capacity to adapt and change intelligently and constructively and building the necessary underlying collaborative architecture, is the world's most critical opportunity now. Pattern-changing social entrepreneurs are the most critical single factor in catalysing and engineering this transformation ...” — from “Everyone a Changemaker”, by Bill Drayton (2006)
•In his opening speech at this Ashoka Changemakers session, Bill Drayton re-iterated many of the key points of his “everyone a changemaker” world-view. He believes that the next big step in the field of social entrepreneurship is tackling the question of how we do entrepreneurship together. He sees this as complementary to the fostering of an elite leadership model that so many of the Fellowships (like his own Ashoka) are focussing on.

The Ashoka team then went on to outline their latest initiative in “open-sourcing” innovations in various fields of social change. Their Changemakers approach is a strategy of sharing ideas for innovation as they are happening, and in a way that entrepreneurs can easily adapt them to their own local conditions.

Changemakers sets up thematic “collaborative competitions” between local groups from all around the world which are asked to present their ideas and projects for change on complex social areas. These ideas and projects for change are all placed on an open website at www.changemakers.net. A panel of key decisionmakers and investors (from the leading philanthropic foundations) then assesses the applications, and picks the 10-12 finalists which they then bring together to collaborate on an overall plan for the whole social area.

An interesting tool being used in this collaborative process is the use of a “Changemakers Mosaic” of the innovative solutions generated by each competition. The Mosaic serves as an intellectual framework which maps at a glance the most powerful emerging principles of innovation against the underlying factors that drive a problem. It helps social innovators see how their work fits into a larger picture and demonstrates that the collective impact of their solutions is greater than the sum of the individual projects. It also gives you a great overview of the challenges in a particular field ... as well as a sense of how systemic change can really take place.

At this workshop, the finalists in two recent competitions on “Health for All” and “Entrepreneuring Peace” gave summaries of their various projects, and then talked about how the collaborative process was helping them accelerate innovation and improve impact.

The Said Business School at Oxford — photo Hutchinson

• There is much we can learn from this approach which applies to the process of fostering innovation in New Zealand. The Ashoka Changemakers model spells out many processes which could be used by the various grantmakers and foundations in fostering a common and systemic approach in specific social sectors.

It’s certainly got me thinking: What if there was a source of philanthropic funding in New Zealand aimed at fostering innovations, and all the project applications were open-sourced on a website in this way ... and the finalists challenged to work together on a common approach. That would be something completely different from the current approach to grant-making. And it would be a way to blast through the whole concept of “patch protection” — and to focus on how we might improve each other’s work for the common good.

Resources.
“Health for All” Mosaic
“Innovating Peace” Mosaic

“Everyone a Changemaker” by Bill Drayton (2006)
published in Innovations (MIT Press) Winter 2006



Skoll World Forum 2007 Opening

Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford
Tuesday 27th March 2007

The Sheldonian Theatre at Oxford — photo Hutchinson

• All this already ... and now the Forum starts officially. The opening of the 2007 Skoll World Forum was held in the heart of Oxford, — the historic Sheldonian Theatre, designed by Wren in 1662 in the style of ancient Rome. This is the building used by the Oxford Colleges for their graduation ceremonies.

The Forum was launched with music from Pakistani musician Salman Ahmad, who is a UN Goodwill Ambassador for HIV/Aids, and the founder of South Asia’s most popular rock band Junoon.

Junoon is made up of Lahore natives Ahmad and Ali Azmat, who are Muslims who follow the Sufi teachings of Islam, and New Yorker Brian O'Connell, who is a Christian. Dubbed the “U2 of Pakistan” by the New York Times, the rock band bridges East and West, Islam and Christianity.

Resources.
— Streaming video of the “Skoll World Forum Opening Plenary” (2 hours 27 mins) featuring music by Salman Ahmad, and remarks from Stephan Chambers, Jeff Skoll, John Hood, Geoff Mulgan, Rushanara Ali, Charles Handy, David Galenson, Muhammad Yunus and Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan (Real Player required)
— YouTube videos of Salman Ahmad’s performances at the 2007 Skoll World Forum (part 1 of 3) (part 2 of 3) (part 3 of 3)
— YouTube video of Junoon Documentary (hosted by Susan Sarandon)


Skoll World Forum Opening - 2 hours 27 mins (Real Player required)


Salman Ahmad's performance at the 2007 Skoll World Forum: Part One

Geoff Mulgan

• After opening remarks by Jeff Skoll and John Hood (the New Zealander who is also the Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford) the keynote speeches started. Geoff Mulgan spoke on the main theme of this year’s conference: Social Innovation — what it is, why it is important, what are the barriers and how can it be accelerated.

Mulgan is one of the people who started the Demos Think Tank which has been a major intellectual influence on the Blair government. Mulgan went on to become head of Strategy and Policy in the Prime Minister’s office, but more recently has left government to head up a revitalised Young Foundation. (This Foundation is inspired by the work of the most successful British social entrepreneur in the 20th century, Michael Young).

A major focus of Mulgan’s current work is research and promotion of the process of social innovation. He has produced several reports on this for the Young Foundation, and the latest version (now published by the Skoll Centre in Oxford) is one of the best summaries of this field that I have read so far.

• In this report, Mulgan points out that economists now estimate that 50%-80% of economic growth comes from innovation and new knowledge. While there are no reliable figures, innovation appears to play an equally decisive role in social progress. Social innovation also plays a decisive role in economic growth, and there are signs it will do so even more in the future. Mulgan says that the key growth sectors of the 21st century economy look set to be health, education and care ... accounting for around 20-30% of GDP.

But surprisingly little is known about social innovation compared to the vast amount of research into innovation in business and science. After an extensive survey undertaken by the Young Foundation, Mulgan says he found no systemic overviews of the field, no major datasets or long-term analyses, and few signs of interest from the big foundations or academic research funding bodies. He argues that this lack of knowledge impedes the many institutions interested in this field, including the innovators themselves, philanthropists, foundations and government.

• Mulgan’s speech was a call for a more concerted approach to social innovation. He talked about “Social Silicon Valleys” to describe the future places and institutions that will mobilise resources and energies to tackle social problems in ways that are comparable to the investments in technology made in the original IT Silicon Valley in California.
“ Although social innovation happens all around us, many promising ideas are stillborn, blocked by vested interests or otherwise marginalised. The competitive pressures that drive innovation in commercial markets are blunted or absent in the social field and the absence of institutions and funds devoted to social innovation means that too often it is a matter of luck what comes to fruition or displace less effective alternatives. As a result, many social problems remain more acute than they need to be ...” — Geoff Mulgan
• I thought Mulgan’s presentation was an excellent start to the Forum. It was also encouraging to hear the contributions of many earlier British social entrepreneurs (Robert Owen, The Rochdale Pioneers, Michael Young) being name-checked, and also an emphasis being put on the importance of historical British social movements (such as the co-operative movement) in fostering social innovations. The example of how various movements worked together to create a climate for the abolition of slavery in the 1800s was mentioned several times — the Skoll Forum was taking place during observances to mark the 200th anniversary of the passing of legislation outlawing slavery in the British Empire.

Resources.
“The Process of Social Innovation” by Geoff Mulgan, published in Innovations Spring 2006 (MIT Press)
“Extreme Makeover” by Geoff Mulgan, The Guardian 26 April 2006
Good and Bad Power: The Ideals and Betrayals of Government by Geoff Mulgan (book pub Allen Lane 2006)


Social Innovation: What It Is, Why It Matters and How It can be Accelerated
by Geoff Mulgan with Simon Tucker, Rushanara Ali and Ben Sanders
(Skoll Centre Oxford Said Business School 2007)

Charles Handy

Charles Handy speaking at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford. — photo Fruchterman

• I was certainly looking forward to hearing Charles Handy. I last heard him speaking on “The Future of Work” at an Economics conference at the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland in 1983. His speech at that time talked about the rise of entrepreneurship and self-employment as a growing sector of the economy ... and it directly influenced me to return to New Zealand and start up the Skills of Enterprise business courses aimed at unemployed people.

Since the 1980s, Charles Handy has gone on to become a prolific author, broadcaster and speaker on the business circuit. And he has gained a well-deserved reputation as a social philosopher. He’s just published his latest book, called “The New Philanthropists”, which profiles 23 business people who are using their skills and resources to work for the common good and for social change.

• In his speech, Handy gave some of the stories from his book and explained why he thinks they are examples of an emerging new generation of practical philanthropy. Many of the people he has profiled are young ... still in their 40s. They became wealthy from their business interests at an early age, and now want to invest in a social vision. They are quite different from earlier generations of philanthropists who put their money into buildings, universities, hospitals or churches. They want to directly address the causes of social need. And they want to be hands-on in doing it themselves.

Handy has hopes that this group of new philanthropists represents the seedlings of a new type of capitalism ... where altruism and capitalism are not seen as wildly antagonistic to each other. Handy: “Wouldn’t it be nice if one day all businesses saw themselves as social enterprises?”

Resources.
— YouTube video of Charles Handy’s speech at the 2007 Skoll World Forum (part 1 of 2) (part 2 of 2)
“The Serious Business of Philanthropy” by Charles Handy in The Financial Times September 19 2006
—Charles Handy Interview “The New Philanthropists” (Expertsonline)
The New Philanthropists by Charles Handy (book pub Heinemann 2006)



Charles Handy speaking at the 2007 Skoll World Forum: Part One


Charles Handy speaking at the 2007 Skoll World Forum: Part Two

Muhammad Yunus

2006 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus — photo Fruchterman

• Muhammad Yunus has long been a hero of the social entrepreneur community for his work in creating the Grameen Bank, and transforming the micro-credit movement. Now that he has been awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for this work, Yunus has been virtually canonised by the social entrepreneur movement. Not that he is going to rest up on the conference circuit as a “living saint” — Yunus has now put his hat into the political ring in Bangladesh ... a move which was often commented on in the different workshops at the Forum (with several participants expressing fears that the most prominent hero of the social entrepreneur movement would be tainted by the political involvement).
“Many of the problems in the world remain unresolved because we continue to interpret capitalism too narrowly. In this narrow interpretation we create a one-dimensional human being to play the role of entrepreneur. We insulate him from other dimensions of life, such as, religious, emotional, political dimensions. He is dedicated to one mission in his business life ---- to maximize profit. He is supported by masses of one-dimensional human beings who back him up with their investment money to achieve the same mission... I think things are going wrong not because of "market failure". It is much deeper than that. Let us be brave and admit that it is because of "conceptualisation failure". More specifically, it is the failure to capture the essence of a human being in our theory.” — Dr. Muhammad Yunus
• In his presentation, Yunus described how he had been able to attract private capital to fund a variety of socially driven businesses in Bangladesh. GrameenPhone, a for-profit telecom outfit, is 51% owned by Norway's Telenor (TELN ). It works with the not-for-profit Grameen Telecom to provide bulk airtime for village phones which are built from simple handsets and solar chargers. Funded by loans to individual women, these systems function as pay phones in many rural areas. Nowadays the idea of a “village phone lady” is catching on in other parts of Asia and Africa, with the local entrepreneur providing other associated services using low-cost, high-tech systems.

Another enterprise, Grameen Shakti, sells around 1,500 home solar-panel systems per month throughout rural Bangladesh and is growing 15% a year without subsidies. Yunus is also developing a partnership between Grameen and the French company Danone to make a nutritious and inexpensive baby formula. Next on his list are low-cost eye care and rural hospitals with video-conferencing between villagers and doctors in Dhaka.

Resources.
— YouTube video of Professor Muhammad Yunus speech to the 2007 Skoll World Forum
Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty by Muhammad Yunus (book pub 1999 PublicAffairs)
The Price of a Dream: The Story of the Grameen Bank by David Bornstein (pub Oxford University Press 2005)
— ABC News story on Professor Muhammad Yunus receiving the Nobel Peace Prize (2006)
“Social Business Entrepreneurs Are the Solution” by Dr. Muhammad Yunus published by Grameen Bank
— Previews of Muhammad Yunus DVD created by Ashoka's Global Academy for Social Entrepreneurship



Professor Muhammad Yunus speech to the 2007 Skoll World Forum

Jeff Skoll

Jeff Skoll speaking to the 2007 Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship — photo Fruchterman

• Jeff Skoll himself is a stunning example of Charles Handy’s observation that we are seeing a new breed of young philanthropist who wants to be pro-actively involved in social change activities. He is not only the founder the Skoll Foundation, but also the co-founder of eBay (the source of his wealth) and also the Los Angeles-based media company Participant Productions. It’s his latest successful venture with Participant Productions that tells you something of his own driving passion to be a social entrepreneur, and why he is backing major conferences such as this Oxford Forum.

Jeff Skoll passionately believes that the world needs to hear many more stories about people who are making a difference. He had himself been influenced by great films that had highlighted social injustice, or told stories of people who had dedicated their lives to righting wrongs ( films such as Ghandi, Schindler’s List, Erin Brockovich). His company Participant Productions started with producing a series of short documentaries on Social Entrepreneurs (The New Heroes, hosted by Robert Redford), and more recently has produced a series of mainstream award-winning feature films including Syriana, North Country, Good Night and Good Luck, Fast Food Nation and the Al Gore documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

• Speaking at this Forum Opening, Jeff Skoll said his main drive is to work to make social entrepreneurs much more well-known in mainstream society, and to see that this particular variety of leadership and creativity is better valued. He paid tribute to 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, and the fact that his gaining this prize has lifted the profile of social entrepreneurship everywhere.
“ Social entrepreneurs have two kinds of power. The first is the power to make change happen. And the second is the power to show what is possible and to inspire. Today, wherever you find a social challenge at its worst, you will find a social entrepreneur. They are everywhere where social problems call for innovation, inspiration and an inability to take failure as an option. In the process, social entrepreneurs are replacing cynicism with hope, optimism, energy and love ...” — Jeff Skoll.
• Skoll also told the story of the spectacular success over the last year of the work of one of this year’s nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize — former US Vice President Al Gore. The film An Inconvenient Truth has been a great example of what can happen when an inspiring story reaches a critical mass of people.

The documentary has very quickly contributed to changing the debate about climate change around the world. It has won two Academy Awards, and become mandatory viewing in schools in England, Scotland and throughout Scandinavia. Six legislative Bills relating to climate change are now before the US House of Congress ... and on July 7th this year, there will be a series of concerts on seven continents, called Live Earth, which will bring the climate crisis message to a much more widespread audience.
Resources
— YouTube video of Jeff Skoll’s speech at Exeter College to welcome Skoll Award recipients
— YouTube video of Jeff Skoll’s Opening Speech at the 2007 Skoll World Forum
— YouTube video of Jeff Skoll’s speech at the 2007 Skoll Awards
— YouTube video of Jeff Skoll video: Imagine the Headlines of the Future
— Jeff Skoll is featured in a chapter in Charles Handy’s book “The New Philanthropists”
“Moving Pictures” — profile of Jeff Skoll by Anya Kamenetz, in Fast Company Issue 108 September 2006
Participant Productions
The New Heroes — PBS Documentary Series hosted by Robert Redford tells 12 dramatic stories of social entrepreneurs who bring innovative, empowering solutions to intractable social problems around the world. http://www.thenewheroes.org.

Jeff Skoll’s Opening Speech at the 2007 Skoll World Forum


Jeff Skoll video: Imagine the Headlines of the Future

Al Gore at Skoll Forum 2006

• Al Gore was the keynote speaker at last year’s Skoll World Forum in Oxford, but he wasn’t speaking about climate change. He was speaking a different focus of his own social entrepreneurship — the challenge of fundamentally changing the world of venture capital investment.

At last year’s Forum, Gore pointed out that while we are seeing evidence of leading public companies adopting sustainable business practices, there is still a long way to go to make sustainability fully integrated into the way the world does business. The main problem is the short-term investment focus which still pervades the corporate community, and which hinders long-term value creation. His example: 30 years ago in the US, the average stock holding period was 7 years ... now the average mutual fund turns over its entire portfolio in less than 11 months.
“Society is facing serious global challenges such as HIV/Aids, global warming and water scarcity. There is nothing new about this—what is new is the scale of these challenges. Sustainable development will be the primary driver of industrial and economic change over the next 50 years. More business leaders now agree that you can’t run a great business without responding to these forces. Business has to be part of the solution here: managers need to integrate sustainability values within their businesses.” — Al Gore and David Blood
Gore has set up a new company, Generation Investments, with David Blood (the former CEO of asset management at Goldman Sachs). The company aims to combine conventional equity market analysis with much longer-term judgments about sustainability. This venture has the potential to take the sustainability vision — which includes economic growth, earth stewardship and social accountability — right into the heart of mainstream investment practices. Generation Investments is doing this by investing in companies which embrace longer-term opportunities, foster transparency, innovation, and eco-efficiency.
Resources.
Al Gore and David Blood’s presentation to the 2006 Skoll World Forum (1 hour 5 mins)
The Generation Investment Management Company Website
“For People and Planet” by Al Gore and David Blood Wall Street Journal 4 April 2006
An Inconvenient Truth / Al Gore Climate Crisis
The Live Earth concerts (7 July 2007)


Al Gore and David Blood’s presentation to the 2006 Skoll World Forum (1 hour 5 mins)

Queen Rania of Jordan

• It was somewhat surprising that the final speaker of the Opening evening was Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan. She expressed deep alarm at the way in which the Muslim world and the West are looking at each other with suspicion, fear, and prejudice ... and spoke about the need for reconciliation and collaboration between the West and Islam.

Drawing on the development of corporate social responsibility in recent history, the Queen called on corporations to take an active role in bridging this divide, a concept she is describing as “corporate multicultural responsibility”.
"Our post-global society is poverty-stricken — with a new kind of poverty. Today, we live in a world plagued by a poverty of multicultural knowledge, a poverty of multicultural tolerance, a poverty of multicultural respect. We have all come to recognise that social inequality is wrong; we must also appreciate that social intolerance is wrong. Both hold us back. We all have a role to play in promoting multicultural responsibility in our homes, schools, neighbourhoods, universities, places of worship and places of work ...” — Queen Rania
Resources.
— YouTube video Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan’s speech to the 2007 Skoll World Forum
“Jordan's Queen Rania calls on companies to bridge East-West divide through Corporate Multicultural Responsibility” speech notes on Queen Rania official website


Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan’s speech to the 2007 Skoll World Forum

Launch of the WITNESS Hub

Nelson Mandela Theatre, Said Business School
Wednesday 28th March 2007


Peter Gabriel at the 2007 Skoll World Forum Oxford University — photo Fruchterman

• This was another pre-conference session in which Peter Gabriel and Gillian Caldwell launched their new YouTube-style internet hub for the WITNESS project. WITNESS is a project which distributes video cameras and other tools of communication to help people record evidence of human rights abuses.

In 1988, Peter Gabriel was part of Amnesty International’s Human Rights Now! Tour. He was struck by the stories he heard from survivors of human rights abuses and the lack of attention these stories received. Gabriel had brought along one of the first camcorders and realized the potential of video as a tool against the abuse ... the perpetrators were often brought to justice when photographic or video evidence of abuses existed.

The independent nonprofit organization WITNESS was set up in 1992, not long after video of Rodney King being assaulted by four Los Angeles police officers catalysed interest in the use of video to bring attention to human rights issues. WITNESS is based in Brooklyn, New York, and it’s Executive Director, Gillian Caldwell, has been active in several of the main social entrepreneur networks.

WITNESS works with diverse groups around the world, carefully selecting partners based on the strength of their human rights work, the clarity of their mission, and the ability of video to enhance their campaigns. Currently, its partner groups are active in the fight for the rights of indigenous people, for an end to systemic gender violence and the use of children as soldiers, and for environmental protection where human communities are at stake.

• “The Hub” is envisaged as a YouTube-style forum where people can upload human rights related footage video from handheld devices or laptops, to create communities of support for action on the abuses that they witness. The Hub will be fully operational in June this year.
Resources.
— YouTube video of Peter Gabriel’s speech to the 2007 Skoll World Forum
WITNESS Website
— Pilot project of The Hub
Peter Gabriel speaking on human rights and citizen journalism (TED Talks February 2006)


Peter Gabriel’s speech to the 2007 Skoll World Forum

Human Rights Masterclass

Said Business School
Wednesday 28th March 2007


Jim Fruchterman introducing the Social Entrepreneurship in Human Rights Master Class at the 2007 Skoll World Forum — photo Hutchinson

• After attending the launch of The Hub, I went to the Social Entrepreneurs in Human Rights Master Class being held at the Said Business School. It was being facilitated by Jim Fruchterman of Benetech, and attended by Peter Gabriel and Gillian Caldwell of WITNESS, Jeroo Billimoria of the Child Savings international project Aflatoun, Nina Smith of Rugmark USA, and Karen Tse of International Bridges to Justice.

There weren’t very many people at this Master Class ... a great many other options were going on at the same time. It gave me cause to reflect on the relative popularity of human rights-based initiatives at this Forum ... Gillian Caldwell put it succinctly when she remarked that “...the human rights framework is an under-rated resource in the advocacy for social entrepreneurship.”

• Jim Fruchterman’s work is legendary in the leveraging of technical advances from Silicon Valley to practically help people in the disability and human rights sectors. He was named as a MacArthur Fellow in 2006. (This Fellowship —popularly known as the ‘genius’ award — is a $500,000, no-strings-attached grant for individuals who have shown exceptional creativity in their work and the promise to do more).

• Jeroo Billimoria is really a “serial entrepreneur” who is most well-known for her work in creating the Childline network supporting street children throughout India. She is now heading up Aflatoun, a new international initiative teaching children their rights and responsibilities, and in particular fostering child savings schemes and teaching how to manage money.

• Also present at the workshop was Wilford Welch, a former American diplomat, who is the author of a forthcoming book “The Tactics of Hope: Your Guide to Becoming a Social Entrepreneur”.
Resources.
— short interview with Jim Fruchterman on his MacArthur Fellowship (2006)
Jim Fruchterman - Eye To Eye: An Online Library For The Blind (CBS News)
The Aflatoun website

Master Class - Karen Tse

• During the Human Rights Master Class, I was part of a smaller workshop group with Karen Tse. Getting to know a bit more of her story was for me one of the highlights of the Forum at Oxford. Tse leads the citizens group International Bridges to Justice, which represents a powerful example and strategy for systemic social change. The group is working to build fairer and more effective criminal justice systems around the world ... starting in China, Vietnam and Cambodia, and now expanding its activities to Africa and Latin America.

• International Bridges to Justice was founded in 2000 as a collaboration between lawyers, academics, and business leaders. It promotes the rule of law, good governance and equitable legal rights for all citizens by ensuring the effective implementation of existing criminal defence, justice and human rights legislation. Operating from the premise that just and reliable legal systems translate into secure and stable societies, the group works to strengthen the practical skills of public defence lawyers, improving legal aid and public defender infrastructure and increasing the awareness of basic legal rights and processes among ordinary citizens.

Example. China remains one of the world's most obstinate abusers of basic human rights. It didn't outlaw police torture and threats until 1996, when it also dictated for the first time that defendants have the right to a lawyer and are to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. In mainland China dissidents are routinely arrested and held incommunicado ... and the Chinese judiciary is still locking up lawyers when they press too hard in defending the accused.

International Bridges to Justice has brought public defender training to Chinese lawyers, and has put them in touch with an international support network of other lawyers, which can help provide mentoring on specific cases. The group has also been organizing promotional campaigns aimed at ordinary citizens; and running awareness campaigns with prosecutors, judges and police. Just four years ago, police stations in China featured banners stating: “Confess: Better Treatment — Resist: Harsher Treatment!” Today, you are more likely to see International Bridges to Justice posters announcing: “If You Are Arrested, Know Your Rights!”
Resources.
International Bridges to Justice brochure
“The Power of Persuasion: Karen Tse Legal Rights Activist” By Elizabeth Weiss Green in US News 30 July 2006
“The Dreamer” by Robyn Meredith in Forbes Magazine 18 April 2005

Funding Ideas, Backing People

Nelson Mandela Theatre, Said Business School
Wednesday 28th March 2007


• The major Forum workshop sessions happened throughout the Said Business School over the following two days. The workshops were panel sessions made up of short speeches from leaders in the field, followed with comments and questions from the audience. You can imagine, with seven major sessions happening at the same time, we were spoilt for choice. I chose three sessions to focus on: Funding Ideas and Backing People, Bringing Projects to Scale, and the Future of Philanthropy.

• This first panel explored funding strategies from multiple perspectives including innovation from within foundations, private sector investment for public good, and non-profit venture investing. Panelists included JB Schram, founder of the College Summit, Ion Yadigaroglu of Capricorn Investment, Edward Skloot of the Surdna Foundation, and Jacqueline Novogratz of the Acument Fund. The session was facilitated by David Bornstein, the author of the book on social entrepreneurs “How to Change the World” (which we have given to all our Fellowship members in New Zealand).

• It was Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of the Acumen Fund who most captured my attention at this workshop. Her description of the strategy of investment behind the Acumen Fund is well worth looking into further.

Acumen is a non-profit global venture fund that seeks to demonstrate that small amounts of philanthropic capital, combined “with large doses of business acumen” can build thriving enterprises that serve the poor. The Acumen Fund currently manages $20 million in investments in South Asia and Eastern/Southern Africa, all focussed on delivering affordable healthcare, water and housing to the poor. Acumen also runs a Fellowship programme which is focussed on “building the next generation of business leaders with an understanding of global issues and poverty”.
Resources.
— Streaming video of this session "Funding Ideas, Backing People" featuring David Bornstein, JB Schramm, Ion Yadigaroglu, Edward Skloot and Jacqueline Novogratz (Real Player required) 1 hour 56 mins
Acumen Fund overview brochure
“Designing Change: How venture philanthropy fund Acumen uses design thinking to help solve real-world problems” by Jessi Hempel in Business Week 12 March 2007 (Reader)
David Bornstein speaking to the Duke University Fuqua School of Business (2006)
How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas by David Bornstein (book pub 2004 by Oxford University Press)



"Funding Ideas, Backing People" workshop (Real Player required) 1 hour 56 mins

Paper on Social Investment

• The Skoll Centre in Oxford has produced a paper on Social Investment by Jed Emmerson, Tim Freundlich and Jim Fruchterman. It is a good basis to explore the whole area of social investment, and I think will be a useful paper to give us a framework for future discussions at the Social Innovation Investment Group.

The paper argues that the social entrepreneur movement has a critical need to address the funding gaps in risk-taking capital for social enterprises. The new enterprises need investment if they are to grow and prove their innovations, and this needs to be investment that shares the risks of the enterprise.

But a dearth of such capital is hampering the sector’s development ... and the authors of this paper are arguing that new instruments and stakeholder relationships need to arise if we are going to meet this challenge:
“ Put simply, between the traditional approach to financing non-profit ventures through grants, fundraising and limited use of debt, and the traditional approach to financing for-profit ventures through market-rate private equity and debt, there is a funding gap into which an increasing number of social enterprises are falling ... Innovation in the allocation of capital for social change is needed if existing vehicles are falling short of accomplishing our objectives.” — Emmerson, Freudlich and Fruchterman
Resources.
“Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained: Addressing the Critical Gaps in Risk-Taking Capital for Social Enterprise” by Jed Emmerson, Tim Freundlich and Jim Fruchterman, published 2006 by the Skoll Centre, Oxford University
Social Edge website discussion on this paper
“Foundations: Essential and Missing in Action” interview with Jed Emmerson by Alliance Extra March 2006

The Problems and Perils of Scaling

• By the time I got to the “Problems and Perils of Scaling” workshop I was suffering from information overload, or possibly even “hope fatigue”. This session was full to overflowing, and it was obvious that “scaling up” to achieve systemic impact was one of the main interests of the Oxford Forum. The workshop focussed on the personal stories and examples of how specific enterprises went from a local project ... to national and international success.

Workshop on the Problems and Perils of Scaling, with Asok Khosla, Mel Young and Mechai Viravaidya — photo Hutchinson

• The panel group included Ashok Khosla, one of the world’s leading experts on sustainable development, and a former director of the United Nations Environment Programme. He is the founder of Development Alternatives, a Delhi-based NGO which promotes commercially viable and environmentally friendly technologies that support livelihoods. He has spent decades developing and promoting innovations ranging from village power plants using agricultural waste as fuel to mini factories that recycle paper and local enterprises that make low-cost roofing tiles.

Mel Young was the co-founder of The Big Issue weekly magazine sold by homeless people throughout Britain, and helped set up the International Network of Street Papers which helps 100,000 homeless or long-term unemployed people every year. More recently, Mel set up the Homeless World Cup annual soccer tournament (this year’s competition in Copenhagen will see teams from 48 countries).

The competition isn’t just about soccer. It acts as a focus to encourage people to make fundamental changes in their lives. A survey in 2005 showed that 77% of the players in the Homeless World Cup have significantly improved their lives through employment, housing, education and/or drug/alcohol treatment programs. A dozen players went on to become semi professional or professional footballers or coaches.
“ Football is a great leveller, it connects people and is a universal sport for everyone. The Homeless World Cup is able to change the scenery, challenge stereotyping and people who have been spat at the week before are cheered by thousands and treated as soccer heroes during the tournament. The feeling of belonging, challenge of working in a team, regaining a health- oriented attitude towards life, self-esteem and last but not least the experience of fun is a powerful combination to change a person's life.” — Mel Young
Mechai Viravaidya, the third panelist, is the founder of the one of Thailand’s most successful development organisations which has done pioneering work in family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention. Mechai is popularly known as “Dr Condom” in Thailand for his public role of promoting family planning (condoms are apparently often referred to as “mechais” in Thai slang).

This social entrepreneur had many entertaining stories to share at the workshop ... including holding condom blowing contests for school children, encouraging taxi cab drivers to hand out condoms to their customers, and setting up a restaurant chain called “Cabbages and Condoms” where condoms rather than mints are served after the meal. This family planning campaign has been one of the most successful family planning programmes in the modern era. The annual population growth in Thailand has dropped from over 3% to 0.6%, and the average number of children per family has fallen from seven to under two.
Resources.
“Ashok Khosla: Mini enterprise leads to macro change” on the Infochangeindia website
Homeless World Cup website
— Mechai Viravaidya profiled in Time magazine’s “Sixty Years of Asian Heroes”

Moving Capital - John Elkington

Nelson Mandela Theatre, Said Business School
Wednesday 28th March 2007


• This session was happening at the same time as the “Scaling” workshop, but I got to see it streamed over the internet at a later time (thanks to the free broadband services in the local hotel). This workshop focussed on how social ventures can access different sources of external capital to increase their impact.

• The main speaker here was John Elkington who is a prominent British “thought leader” in the area of sustainability. His think tank, called SustainAbility is currently working on a three-year project with the Skoll Foundation to increase partnerships between social entrepreneurs and major corporations.

The workshop marked the release of a major report by SustainAbility which surveyed over a hundred leading social entrepreneurs on how they are working with the corporate sector, and how they raise money for their new ventures.
“ A growing array of apparently insoluble socio-economic, environmental and governance challenges presses in on decision-makers — including climate change, the risk of global pandemics, the growing threat to natural resources like water and fisheries, and the ever-present issues of poverty and hunger. At a time when such challenges seem to narrow our horizons, social entrepreneurs are creating a wealth of new opportunities. But to enjoy these opportunities over the longer term, we must ensure real opportunity for a very much greater proportion of the global population...” — John Elkington
The report concludes that for real system change to take place, we must focus on government and public policy. Governments need to do more to shape public sector targets, with tax incentives and pricing signals that ensure that markets can drive change — so that the new social enterprises can reach their full potential.

• The SustainAbility report gave some sobering figures on the comparative size of the social enterprise sector. Its rough estimate is that less than $200 million is going into social enterprises worldwide, and most of this is coming from the Foundations sector. This can be compared to the over $2 billion being invested into “clean technology” businesses worldwide, or the over $200 billion that is spent in philanthropy in the US alone. Elkington told the workshop that even though social entrepreneurship is growing quickly, it is still a very small field financially. His warning: “Are we growing a huge number of ventures that may not be able to sustain themselves into the next stage of their evolution?”
Resources.
— Streaming video of this session “Moving Capital” featuring Jan Piercy, John Elkington, Penny Newman, Tim Reith, Arthur Wood, and Michele Giddens (Real Player required) 2 hours
“Growing Opportunity — Entrepreneurial Solutions to Insoluble problems” by SustainAbility and the Skoll Foundation (2007)
“Rising to the challenge?” by John Elkington in The Guardian 28 March 2007
The SustainAbility / Skoll project website

• Several other Sustainability/Skoll Reports are available for download from their website. These include a business primer on “scalable solutions”, a report profiling the “barefoot billionaires” who are backing social entrepreneurs, and a quick global overview of leading social entrepreneurs.
Resources.
- Sustainability/Skoll Business Primer report
- Sustainability/Skoll Barefoot Billionaires report
- Sustainability/Skoll Hot Spots of Social Enterprise report


"Moving Capital" workshop (Real Player required) 2 hours

The Future of Philanthropy

Nelson Mandela Theatre, Said Business School
Thursday 29th March 2007


• This workshop session focused on just how far “creative” philanthropy can go to support social innovation. Two of the panellists (Helmut Anheier and Lester Salamon) are the leading academics in a field that looks at the voluntary sector and civil society from the lens of social science. The other panellist, Mark Kramer, is the Managing Director of FSG Social Impact Advisors.

• Helmut Anheier, Director of the UCLA Centre for Civil Society, set out his arguments for a new approach to philanthropic engagement, which he calls Creative Philanthropy. He’s written a book of the same name, which argues that endowed foundations have a unique capability to spot innovative solutions to problems, to jump-start and help sustain the innovative process, and to help disseminate and implement the results of innovation. He believes that Foundations will become more relevant as they learn to act themselves as social entrepreneurs, as institution-builders, as risk absorbers and as mediators in different social fields.
“Foundations are neither poor imitations of government nor the chosen tools for quick fixes. They are something far more important: foundations are the potential powerhouses of creative thinking and working that society needs. We do not have a shortage or scarcity of resources in modern society. What we have is a weakness in creating innovation, and in seeing innovation through a process that leads to sustainable solutions. This is the area of creative philanthropy where foundations are needed most...” — Helmut Anheier
• Anheier remarked that one of the main characteristics of Creative Philanthropy is a change in the relationship between foundation programmes and grantees. There is not an emphasis on performance criteria and performance indicators and other elements of control. There isn’t the requirement for grantees to fill in long forms or to write long narratives on their work. There is much more of an emphasis on an ongoing dialogue and exchange between the foundation and grantee. This emphasis is on learning and evaluating their shared contribution to the common good.

During the Forum, I discovered that this approach to grant-making was very much the style of the Skoll Foundations own relationship with its own grantees. Some of the people I spoke to, who had received money from the Skoll Foundation, remarked on the difference: The Foundation people came to them, they interviewed, checked facts, and filled out all the paperwork, and when their reports were written, the Foundation sent them to the grantee and asked: Did we get that right? The end result was that the people felt they could focus a lot more on the job at hand ... and their meetings with Skoll as a funder were seen as an opportunity to discuss and explore what was being learned, rather than as some sort of accountability ritual.

• Mark Kramer of FSG Social Impact Advisers argued that we are on the cusp of a generational change in which succeeding generations will not see a separation between non-profit and for-profit sectors. He remarked that this division seems very hard for us to let go of. He also went on to suggest that we will not be looking to philanthropy or government as the primary means of solving social problems.
“ We have a phenomenal non-profit sector in America. It has a turnover of about $1 trillion and about 7% of the workforce. It has grown at a phenomenal rate over the past 50 years. But in every problem you would care to look at — whether it is environmental, educational, or in social welfare — the situation is the same or is getting worse. The problems are becoming inescapable and the ways we have been addressing them are not working. Social entrepreneurship is an interim step that has emerged as we are trying to grapple with how to find more effective ways of addressing our social problems...” — Mark Kramer
Mark Kramer has recently written a paper (co-authored with Michael Porter from the Harvard Business School) in which he argues that the social value proposition of a business will be the key competitive advantage in the near future. Businesses need to consider social issues not just because they want to be good neighbours or citizens, and not just in response to the activists, but “... because it will be the only way that they will succeed”.

Kramer argues that activists in the non-profit sector underestimate the contribution that the corporate world can make to systemic social change. He pointed to “The Equator Principles” where nine global banks have got together to set social, safety and environmental standards for major construction projects like dams and pipelines around the world. It took a year for them to negotiate the standards, but as soon as they were put in place, 75% of all major project financing in the world was under those standards. It has now become impossible to build something without meeting those standards.
Resources.
— Video stream of this session “The Future of Philanthropy” featuring Helmut Anheimer, Mark Kramer, Lester Salamon and Alex Nicholls (Real PLayer required) 1 hour 59 mins
Creative Philanthropy by Helmut Anheier and Diana Leat (book pub 2006 Routledge)
From Charity to Creativity - philanthropic foundations in the 21st century by Helmut Anheier and Diana Leat 2002 report for the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust
“Strategy and Society: The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility” by Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer in the Harvard Business Review (December 2006)
The Equator Principles website

“The Future of Philanthropy” workshop (Real Player required) 1 hour 59 mins

Two papers - Pamela Hartigan and Sally Osberg

• I met up briefly with Pamela Hartigan (Managing Director of the Geneva-based Schwab Foundation) when I arrived. Pamela has been to New Zealand and met with the Tindall Foundation, and was a key influence in establishing both the Social Innovation Investment Group and the New Zealand Social Entrepreneur Fellowship. Last year, I was invited to join her meeting of social entrepreneurs that was held in conjunction with the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. And many of the people that are members of the Schwab Social Entrepreneur Fellowship were also present at this Oxford World Forum.

• Pamela is soon to publish a book on social entrepreneurship, co-authored with John Elkington, which will be called “The Power of Unreasonable People: How Entrepreneurs create markets to change the world”.

• Just before the conference started, Pamela sent me her latest paper which has just been published in Innovations, the quarterly journal from MIT Press. The paper is co-authored by Klaus Schwab, the Swiss academic and entrepreneur who started the World Economic Forum in Davos thirty years ago, and it is a coherent and useful argument for how government and businesses need to open up more space for social innovation.
“Our fascination with these pragmatic visionaries and their organizations lies much less in the goods and services they provide than in the catalytic role they play in triggering innovations in the social sector. Like the business innovators who come up with major innovations for the marketplace, social innovators are the mad scientists as it were — working away in their organizations that act like social innovation laboratories. They test and perfect different approaches, and when they come up with the most effective and efficient ones with the greatest impact, it should be government and the corporate sectors’ respective roles to celebrate the innovation, take it up, learn from it, and help scale it so that all can benefit...” — Klaus Schwab and Pamela Hartigan
Resources.
"Social Innovators with a Business Case: Facing 21st Century Challenges One Market at a Time" by Klaus Schwab and Pamela Hartigan
The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship website
• Another paper released around the time of the Forum was from Sally Osberg, the CEO of the Skoll Foundation. It is a further attempt at getting a clear definition of social entrepreneurship established. It centers in on defining “entrepreneurship” itself, and how this is expressed in both the business and social fields. The diversity of the examples given in the paper might surprise you ... but it is just this diversity that is reflected amongst the participants of this Oxford Forum.

• Osberg, and her co-author Roger Martin, put an emphasis on innovations that lead to “systemic social change” when discussing the key differences between social entrepreneurs, social activists, and social service providers. (In this, they have come to much the same conclusion as our own discussions in New Zealand.)

• One of the drivers behind writing this paper is the concern (expressed several times at the Skoll Forum) that the promise of social entrepreneurship is not being fulfilled because too many “non-entrepreneurial” efforts are included in the definition. Martin and Osberg are pushing for a much sharper definition of social entrepreneurship, in an effort to determine the extent to which an activity is and is not “in the tent”.

At the Forum, Bill Drayton remarked that this will always be a troublesome exercise ... “ because social entrepreneurs are the sort of people who are always breaking down barriers anyway ... and they will not accept any boundaries put on defining who they are”.
Resource.
“Social Entrepreneurship: The Case for Definition” by Roger L. Martin & Sally Osberg in Stanford Social Innovation Review (Spring 2007)

Charles Leadbeater

• I missed the workshop session featuring Charles Leadbeater (... there was just too much going on at the same time), but I got to read his column in the Observer newspaper, which was published during the time of the Forum, and also his later article in the Social Enterprise magazine. Leadbeater was one of the earliest influences on my own awareness of this field. Ten years ago, he wrote a small booklet called The Rise of the Social Entrepreneur which was published by the British Think Tank Demos. This booklet helped to popularise the term and brought social entrepreneurship into the mainstream of public policy debate.

Leadbeater’s booklet also had a significant influence on the “Third Way” movement within the leadership of Labour Parties around the world. In New Zealand, in the early part of this decade, these ideas were an influence on Social Development Minister Steve Maharey’s interest in establishing a local Social Entrepreneurship Scheme (through the ill-fated Community Employment Group).

• These days, Leadbeater is a “Visiting Fellow” at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University. So ... What has he learned about social entrepreneurship after its first decade of significant growth? Well, he believes that the movement has got quite a lot right, but also quite a lot wrong. For a start, he challenges the current “hero” focus as a way that social entrepreneurship is being promoted:
“Social entrepreneurship needs to become a mass activity, not just the domain of inspirational mavericks ... Entrepreneurship usually comes from teams, not heroic individuals. Social entrepreneurs thrive on interdependence, learning and borrowing resources from the public and private sectors.”
Leadbeater believes that the biggest challenge facing the social sector is how to scale up its impact — and the social entrepreneur movement needs to embrace this challenge:
“Too many social entrepreneurs are still running inspiring but small schemes. Too few can show how their inspirational new approaches have spread. Part of the reason is a lack of both capital and management skills to expand larger organisations from smaller roots. Opposition from entrenched bureaucracies and professionals is another factor. But social entrepreneurs may have their biggest impact by being disruptive innovators, opening up markets that bigger organisations cannot see...” — Charles Leadbeater
Resources.
“Mainstreaming the Mavericks”, by Charles Leadbeater, The Observer 25 March 2007
“Whatever Happened to the Heroes?” by Charles Leadbeater in Social Enterprise magazine Issue 57 (April 2007)
Charles Leadbeater on Innovation (TED Talk July 2005 in Oxford UK)
The Rise of the Social Entrepreneur by Charles Leadbeater (pamphlet pub 1997 by Demos Thinktank)
Social Entrepreneurs — Special issue of The Jobs Letter (No.147, 27 June 2001) by vivian Hutchinson

Sir Ronald Cohen

• Another participant at the Forum was Sir Ronald Cohen. He was one of the media “stars” of business-led social entrepreneurship, and was profiled in the business sections of several British newspapers during the time of the Oxford conference. Cohen is described as having a major influence on the current government, and is considered a trusted member of Chancellor (and leader-in-waiting) Gordon Brown's most trusted inner circle.

The Times calls Cohen “the grandfather of venture capital in Europe”. He set up Apax Partners in 1972 and grew the firm into one of the world’s biggest and most successful buyout groups, making him a billionaire in the process. He retired from Apax on his 60th birthday in 2005 and immediately started to work on projects that would enable him to give some of his and the industry’s wealth back to the community.

Much of this work is centred around Bridges Community Ventures, which describes itself as “a private equity firm with a social mission”. Its strategy is to invest only in the poorest 25 per cent of the country. (The firm has made 13 investments, sold three companies and seen five go under).

Cohen told The Observer how his worldview had changed since Gordon Brown asked him to chair first the Social Investment Taskforce and, more recently, the Commission for Unclaimed Assets.
“I came to understand that you could really change people's lives if you could manage to connect the private sector way of doing things and the access to the capital markets with the social challenges that communities are facing everywhere ...
“ I am convinced there is a wave of social entrepreneurship forming now that feels the same as the wave of business entrepreneurship I felt when I started in 1972 ... We have in our hands the ability to turn social investment into an asset class, in the same way we have turned private equity into a mainstream asset class.” — Sir Ronald Cohen
• Cohen is also heading up a new initiative which will be Britain’s first “social bank”. It aims to do this by investing about £250 million of the estimated £400 million in dormant bank and building society accounts. Although the primary aim is to return the money to its owners, the bank will use any outstanding money to fund voluntary organisations and social enterprises “... to tackle social and financial exclusion”.
Resources.
Bridges Community Ventures website
“Bridging the Great Divide" by Nick Mathiason on The Observer 18 March 2007
“Billionaire sets up ‘mission’ to help nation’s poorest” by Siobhan Kennedy in The Times 31 March 2007

Skoll Foundation Awards Ceremony

• Back at the Sheldonian, we had an evening dedicated to celebrating the stories of many of the leading social entrepreneurs gathered at this Forum. The evening started with music from the Pakistani musician Salman Ahmad, followed by speeches from Jeff Skoll, Muhammad Yunus and Peter Gabriel.

The 2007 Skoll Awards were then presented to ten recipients who will each receive $1 million, over the next three years, to target social issues in need of urgent attention and to bring their projects “to scale”.

What struck me during the Awards ceremony was the relative youth of so many of these recipients — many were in their 30s and 40s. Their stories and projects so far are already extremely successful, and there is obviously such great potential still ahead for all of them.

Sebastion Marot (centre) of Friends International receives his 2007 Skoll Award, with Sally Osberg, Peter Gabriel, Muhammad Yunus and Jeff Skoll — photo Fruchterman
Vicky Colbert of the Foundation Escuela Nueva, which started in Columbia fostering education for underserved children through a more flexible approach and stronger school-community ties. This has grown into an international movement reaching 5 million pupils in various Latin American countries, Uganda, and the Philippines.

Craig and Mark Kielburger of Free The Children. They started this group in their early teens as a classroom fundraiser and grew it to become an international organization with 1000 chapters in schools across the US and Canada fighting poverty, exploitation and powerlessness among children around the world.

Sebastien Marot of Friends International, an initiative to take Cambodian kids off the streets and help them reintegrate society.

Susan Burns and Mathis Wackernagel of the Global Footprint Network, developers of the Ecological Footprint, a tool that tracks the extent to which human demand on nature exceeds what the planet can regenerate. This measure, applied by countries, hundreds of cities and organizations across the world, has become a leading sustainability indicator.

Joe Madiath of Gram Vikas, an organization helping develop the state of Orissa, one of the poorest regions in India.

William Strickland of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation, which introduces young people in poor urban environments to arts and career education.

Roshaneh Zafar of the Kashf Foundation focusing on microfinance for women in Pakistan. Started in 1996, the Foundation made 228,000 loans in 2006, has 135,000 clients and a recovery rate of 99.9 percent.

Rupert Howes of the Marine Stewardship Council, focusing on reversing the decline in global fishing stocks through a marine certification and an eco-labeling program.

Dan Viederman of Verité, which works on improving working conditions around the world.

Dorothy Stoneman of YouthBuild USA, an alternative school where dropout youths re-enrol, complete high school, and at the same time work to build affordable housing for the homeless.
• The evening finished with two songs from Monica Yunus (daughter of Muhammad) who is a promising young soprano based at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The Forum participants then went on to a celebration and reception hosted in a marque at Trinity College.
Resources.
— Streaming video of the “Skoll Foundation Awards Ceremony” featuring Jeff Skoll and Sally Osberg with Peter Gabriel, Muhammad Yunus, Salman Ahmad and Monica Yunus (Real Player required) 1 hour 44 mins
— YouTube video of the ten recipients of the 2007 Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship
short profiles of the 10 grantees
Monica Yunus singing at the 2007 Skoll Foundation Awards Ceremony — photo Fruchterman

• Some Quotes from the Skoll Forum:
“Every truth passes through three stages. First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed.
Third it is accepted as being self-evident.”
— Arthur Schopenhauer, philosopher

“There is no change without individuals, and nothing sustained without institutions.”
— Jean Monnet, the architect of the European Union

“Live like you will die tomorrow, but learn like you expect to live forever.”
— Mahatma Ghandi

“ It’s amazing what you can achieve if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
— Harry Truman, US President


“Skoll Foundation Awards Ceremony” featuring Jeff Skoll and Sally Osberg
with Peter Gabriel, Muhammad Yunus, Salman Ahmad and Monica Yunus
(Real Player required) 1 hour 44 mins