Two weeks ago, I was a first timer at the Skoll World Forum in Oxford, a gathering of the most tenacious and thought provoking people I have been around in a long time! The Skoll World Forum was founded by eBay’s, Jeff Skoll, now a full-time philanthropist. I give thanks to all of the attendees and speakers who made me feel like I’m not crazy being a social entrepreneur. The weather may have been a bit cold and rainy, but the warmth and connectivity happening amongst all those social change agents was contagious! The Skoll Foundation’s mission is “to advance systemic change to benefit communities around the world by investing in, connecting and celebrating social entrepreneurs.” I encourage you to head to www.socialedge.org and get acquainted with the participants. Truly they are some of the most amazing people thinking about how to solve many of the world’s problems with sustainable, uplifting solutions. Heartwarming and motivating was a remarkable speech given by President Jimmy Carter, describing his mother’s influence on his life and how it lead to his diplomatic work and the founding of the Carter Center, www.cartercenter.org, and poignantly told, the eradication of a horrible disease plaguing Africa, Guinea Worm Disease. Vice President Al Gore ended the session with a renewed sense of URGENCY that we must all do what we can to mitigate the climate crisis! www.wecansolveit.org
David Bornstein was one of the panel moderators, his book “How to Change the World, Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas” is a MUST read www.howtochangetheworld.org. Most provocative for me was Paul Collier, Professor of Economics, University of Oxford, whose book and speech gave a fresh and decidedly different point of view on resource allocation for the world, check out “Social Entrepreneurship and the Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing And What Can Be Done About It” http://users.ox.ac.uk/~econpco/. One of the most articulate sessions on hybrid and for-profit business models, was the presentation by our own Priya Haji, World of Good, www.worldofgood.com. She discussed how to balance your for-profit business model with your non-profit organization by illustrating the dynamics between the for-profit company, which holds the brand, and the non-profit company, which creates the standards for the public good. Social entrepreneurship is a constant balancing act, trying to change the world with good business solutions that support social change while making a profit and being sustainable. Tim Brown, of the design firm, IDEO, www.ideo.com, gave an inspiring dialog on how his company innovates through the experience of human centered design.
Among many of the attendees, I met Kim Spencer from Link TV. Link TV broadcasts programs that engage, educate and activate viewers to become involved in the world. These programs provide a unique perspective on international news, current events, and diverse cultures, presenting issues not often covered in the U.S. media. They have a new application to Link TV programs online, full screen using Miro, check-it out at www.linktv.org/miro. Dear to my heart, was a group from Amsterdam, Aflatoun, www.aflatoun.org, they work with schools and other partners to teach the world’s poorest children the discipline of saving, and to build their sense of themselves as capable and responsible citizens of their communities.
Stay tuned for more social entrepreneurial links and the donors who support them!
Lori Bonn, Bonnventures
Helena Jevons, Aflatoun
Chloe Eunjoo Seo, Google
Sean Murphy, MBA Oxford