Do Good, Together, with Value – Lessons from High School Entrepreneurs

YEAH-groupThe Young Entrepreneurs At Haas (YEAH) program recently concluded its 27th year of service to Bay Area high school students. A key component of the program is business plan presentations done by high school sophomores. The students are given free rein to devise any business they think is needed and could be successful. With ideas in hand, they work with an undergraduate business or MBA student coach to flesh out the business value, structure, financials, supply chain, and marketing. With a clean slate on which to innovate, the talented groups came up with novel product and service ideas. Three themes emerged from this year’s presentations:

  1. Social Entrepreneurship
  2. Collaboration
  3. Consolidation

These themes underscore the evolution of business and the mindset needed from a new generation of business leaders. The teams presented to a panel of judges and deftly defended their ideas during the Q&A sessions.

Berkeley-Haas YEAH presentation

An enthusiastic crowd supports the student presenters.

Social Entrepreneurship
One half of the companies provided a social good of some kind. The teams did not refer to themselves as social entrepreneurs, but the mission focus of their idea and business structure was clear. The presentations made it clear that students did not consider this novel or attention-getting. There is an implicit expectation that successful companies will contribute to the well-being of the community either directly through an offering or through its operations. Many startups consider social impact to be a point of differentiation or even a competitive advantage. These budding leaders signal a soon-to-be future where that it not the case.

Berkeley-Haas YEAH presentations

A student team fields questions from judges.

Collaboration
The business mantra of “leading” and “following” is dissolving. The next generation of leaders doesn’t see a push-pull, us-vs-them environment. Where a traditional business plan would identify competitors, young leaders see only potential partners. With one presentation after another, teams commented that their ideas offered something new, and that incumbents were better off collaborating to stay relevant in the marketplace instead of wasting the time and energy to compete head to head against novel startups. Collaborative networks working to create shared value are not new to the social impact space. Young entrepreneurs see collaboration as a key business tactic for success across sectors.

Consolidation
In terms of the actual ideas, many of them showed a frustration with a fragmented landscape of niche products and services. There is a value in a consolidated, robust product that provides users with a go-to place for what they need. Students identified a complex world where each product or service provides one small remedy to an ongoing pain-point. There was a tenable desire for consolidation of these services. Several teams hinged on this added value as the core proposition for their idea.

The success of the YEAH program is clear, with a 27-year track record and nearly 100% of program graduates going to college. Visit the YEAH program page at Berkeley-Haas for more information.

 

Which of these themes ring true for you?

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Cross-Sector Leaders Needed: Highlights from the 2016 Global Philanthropy Forum

By Kate Chadwick

East Bay Center for the Performing Arts

Members of the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts at GPF 2016
Credit: Global Philanthropy Forum

The 2016 Global Philanthropy Forum took place on April 4th through 6th in Redwood City, California. A mix of donors, humanitarian aid actors, development practitioners, government officials, and corporate representatives descended on Silicon Valley in the hopes of sharing knowledge and igniting partnerships to address the current migrant crisis taking place globally. Whether for security, economic, political, cultural or environmental reasons, currently 250 million people are on the move globally. Sixty million of those individuals are migrating in search of safety.

As a Berkeley-Haas CSSL Philanthropy Fellow with The David & Lucile Packard Foundation, and UC Berkeley Master of Development Practice (MDP) alumna, I had the opportunity to attend the Forum. Together, conference participants tackled issues such as peace & security, humanitarian assistance & refugees, and strategic philanthropy. Session themes like “Philanthropy’s Role: Solving for Crisis While Taking the Long View” cross-cut sectors, requiring multi-dimensional solutions. Donors explained how they partner with civil society organizations to respond to crises, including the current wave of migrants fleeing Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea, and other countries, while also addressing the associated development issues such as education, health & nutrition, and food security. At the same time, field-based aid and development practitioners described their first-hand experiences providing essential support services to individuals and communities forced to migrate, or forced to consider migration as a means for survival.

 

Aid and Development Organizations Must Collaborate

2016 Global Philanthropy Forum

Haas Philanthropy Fellow, Kate Chadwick (far right), participates in the 2016 Global Philanthropy Forum.
Credit: Global Philanthropy Forum

One major theme emerging from the conference was the need for better collaboration between aid and development organizations to create sustainable solutions to migration challenges. Professor Alexander Betts, the Leopold Muller Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs and Director of the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford, discussed his work on ‘refugees as a resource’, and the fact that most refugees have an alternative source of income and are not fully dependent on international aid. Professor Betts suggests an innovative solution to humanitarian aid contexts that blur into development challenges, specifically related to long-term refugee situations. That solution is incubator cities made up of semi-permanent infrastructure designed to provide housing, health, educational and economic support services and opportunities to populations in transition. Professor Betts’ inspiration for such cities are university campuses, which manage a fluctuating and transitioning population annually.

Professor Alexander Betts at 2016 Global Philanthropy Forum

Professor Alexander Betts discusses meeting the immediate and long-term needs of the displaced.
Credit: Global Philanthropy Forum

Proposed solutions such as those provided by Professor Betts cannot be left to aid and development practitioners alone. There is a necessary role for donors, governments, corporations, and civil society actors, as well. The organizers of the Forum, the World Affairs Council, had the foresight to provide seats for all such actors at the conference table. Relatedly, it was suggested that one major role of philanthropy is that of the convener; or in other words, to support civil society organizations while bringing together major players such as businesses and government agencies to jointly tackle social and environmental issues.

 

Local Support is Key to Overall Success

Another common theme that emerged from the Forum was the immense benefit of participation by local community members in developing and managing community driven solutions to migration challenges. It was proposed that all parties working to address such issues should engage and include the local voice from the very start in the design phase of a project. One such participant of the Forum was Ursula Rakova, Executive Director of Tulele Peisa, a local non-governmental organization (NGO) working to relocate Tulun/Carterets Atoll Islanders who are currently threatened by rising sea levels associated with climate change.

Ursula Rakova at 2016 Global Philanthropy Forum

Ursula Rakova discusses the plight of climate refugees.
Credit: Global Philanthropy Forum

Ms. Rakova gave an emotional account of the work conducted by local community members in her birthplace, with support of the Catholic Church and other local and international NGOs, to relocate and resettle the island population to the nearby Papua New Guinea mainland. Participating in the conference gave Ms. Rakova an opportunity to share her story, and learn from and connect with other organizations also working on climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. The need for all actors working on such issues to anticipate, mitigate, and adapt to social and environmental crises was another overarching theme of the conference. In addition to climate mitigation and adaptation, other examples of organizations anticipating versus simply responding to crises, include conflict resolution and building systems of effective governance.

 

The Need for a Social Impact Infrastructure

Additional major conference themes as summarized by Forum President and CEO, Jane Wales, include: building/nurturing/sustaining the infrastructure of social impact that includes a vibrant civil society; the role of youth and the need to invest in them across all conference issue areas; the importance of the open data movement as it relates to program evaluation and sector learning; and that the ultimate role of philanthropy should be to provide people with dignity.

“The ultimate role of philanthropy should be to provide people with dignity.”

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Global Philanthropy Forum President and CEO, Jane Wales

Global Philanthropy Forum President and CEO, Jane Wales, welcomes Forum participants to the stage.
Credit: Global Philanthropy Forum

 

As the Forum was organized around the overarching topic of global philanthropy, the multiple roles of philanthropy were discussed throughout the event, including:

 

  • providing financial resources to civil society organizations;
  • convening major players to address social and environmental challenges;
  • advancing the democratic process;
  • providing rigorous monitoring & evaluation of interventions and open data;
  • supporting the capacity building of local organizations;
  • acting as a laboratory for social justice;
  • incubating and accelerating solutions to social and environmental challenges;
  • integrating culture into such solutions;
  • providing a voice for civil society through advocacy grantmaking and participatory research design;
  • supporting innovation and entrepreneurship;
  • developing human capital through management and training;
  • acting as an endorser to attract additional investments towards potential solutions; and
  • as it was stated several times over the course of the Forum, the idea that ultimately, foundations have the capacity to take on risk and thus, take on the role of risk-taker.

 

As a former humanitarian aid actor, development practitioner, and now grantmaker, it was an honor to participate in a conference that brought together so many like-minded individuals to share their knowledge and experience. Ultimately, woven through my own career is the thread of positive social and environmental impact, and I felt that that thread was stripped apart and thoroughly examined at the Forum.

Beyond Numbers – Strategic Financial Management for Nonprofits

Nonprofit Financial ModelIt’s not just you: Nonprofit financial management is difficult for several reasons. Even experienced finance industry professionals can struggle to understand the financial structure of a nonprofit whose board they join. Despite this reality, a little information goes a long way for board members trying to understand and engage with nonprofit finances.

This was the main theme of Brent Copen’s financial management presentation for select nonprofit board members. Previously recognized for his outstanding teaching, Brent is also the CFO of Tiburcio Vazquez Health Center in Union City, CA. He has worked with hundreds of nonprofit organizations through the years. He recently led a training as part of our Berkeley Board Fellows program.

Financial Management by Brent Copen

Brent Copen presents to Nonprofit Board Members

Brent’s presentation contained real-world examples, activities, and tools for board members. Here are three brief but important points among many from the presentation. Continue reading

Social Impact Consulting Panel

Social Impact Consulting Panel

Jennifer Kawar and Laura Tilghman

Photo by Bruce Cook

November 9, 2015

The annual Social Impact Consulting Career Panel broke our own speaker series attendance record this year! It is always a popular event, and this year more than 100 people filled the room to hear the perspectives of the accomplished panel members. The all female panel was made up of distinct leaders in the social impact space and moderated by Kimberly Wright-Violich, the co-founder and managing partner of Tideline.

2015 Panelists:

  • Alison Colwell, Associate Director, Advisory Services, BSR
  • Jennifer Kawar, Chief Investment Officer, Nonprofit Finance Fund
  • Willa Seldon, Partner, Bridgespan Group
  • Laura Tilghman, Senior Consultant, FSG

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A National Network of MBAs Working for Impact

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The MBA experience is made richer through the networks students are able to create with other socially minded peers. To facilitate these networks, on Thursday, June 25, 2015, Berkeley-Haas’ Center for Social Sector Leadership (CSSL) and Center for Responsible Business (CRB) partnered with IDEO to bring together current MBA students from around the country who are interning in the San Francisco Bay Area. We provided them a chance to meet, spark conversation, and maybe build connections that would uncover the next idea or collaboration in social impact.

The partnership with IDEO furthers our strong connection with the innovation company. Tom Kelley, MBA 83, was Berkeley-Haas’ first Executive Fellow and returns to campus to speak to students, faculty, and staff through the flagship Dean’s Speaker Series.

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Kat Taylor – Lessons in Community Banking

038Event: Kat Taylor Shares Leadership Lessons at Berkeley-Haas
Main Speakers: Kat Taylor and Ben Mangan
Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015

On April 16 Kat Taylor, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Beneficial State Bank, shared her experience and vision as a leader of the social enterprise bank. Beneficial State’s mission is simple – that banking can once again be about people interacting with people for the sake of economic growth and opportunity, in a healthy way.  Under her leadership, Beneficial State is trying to move banking back to main street, for the benefit of all. Some highlights from her comments:

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Top 5 Takeaways from Social Impact Consulting Career Panel

This gallery contains 11 photos.

Event: Social Impact Consulting Career Panel Date: Monday, November 3, 2014 Berkeley-Haas hosted panelists achieving social impact through careers in consulting. They shared their advice and personal experience with using consulting principles and projects on strategy, sustainability, evaluation, change management and others. With Kimberly Wright-Violich as moderator, the panelists provided insight on the challenges of their work as well […]

50 Breakthrough Technologies for Combating Global Poverty

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Dr. Shashi Buluswar holds up a kernel of corn.

Event: 50 Breakthrough Technologies for Combating Global Poverty
Date: Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Speaker: Dr. Shashi Buluswar, Executive Director, LBNL Institute for Globally Transformative Technologies & Lecturer at Berkeley-Haas

Shashi Buluswar held up a kernel of corn between his fingers for his audience to see.

The growth of staple crops like corn, he explained, could not have been possible without the chemical products of fertilizer factories – one of the many essential technologies that impoverished countries need to tackle their economic challenges, but currently lack. In his lecture, Buluswar spoke about how these technologies could dramatically transform the lives of the people in countries like Kenya, Congo, India, and Pakistan. Here were some of the highlights:

Storage of vaccines: The widespread existence of preventable diseases in impoverished countries is not because the countries don’t have access to vaccines – they have no means to correctly store the vaccines. To maintain their potency, vaccines must be stored at 2-8 degrees Celsius, but many countries do not have the technology for proper refrigeration. Furthermore, the condition of the roads and other infrastructures in those countries do not allow for speedy delivery of the vials. By the time the vaccines are given, they have lost their effect. Thus, having portable refrigerators would enable the vials to be kept at the appropriate temperature range while transporting them to and from medical facilities.

ImpactMBA 50 Tech tweetWe need more than just solar panels: When asked which household appliances they most wanted in their homes, people have consistently answered:

1. television

2. refrigerator

Appliances like these would drastically improve the people’s standard of living. However, not only are the appliances expensive to purchase, owning them would dramatically increase the electricity bill, as the appliances operate on high amounts of energy. “Without things like the fridge,” Buluswar said, “how can we celebrate the fact that people have a couple of lights and a cellphone?” He emphasized that either the cost of electricity must go down or appliances must become more energy efficient.

View the full presentation at http://bit.ly/1sr7Qne

DNA tests for tuberculosis: Many countries in Southeast Asia, the epicenter of the global tuberculosis problem, are still using microscope observations of tuberculosis strains in order to identify the bacteria – an outdated and unsanitary method of diagnosis, as the equipment can get easily contaminated. Additionally, in the face of growing drug resistance, microscopes fail to discriminate which strains of the tuberculosis bacteria are drug-sensitive and which are not. An alternative and superior method of diagnosis would be DNA tests conducted using a modified version of a pocket-sized device called the GeneChip. The device would recognize exactly which strain of tuberculosis so the patient could receive the accurate medical prescription.

Throughout his explanation of these essential technologies, however, Buluswar stressed that technology alone could not bring about the major change that the countries need to combat poverty. It is only one of the many components to the solution, which includes institutional measures as well as people who understand that the remedy is not about “being the hero,” but about recognizing the complexity of the global problem.

“Technology is necessary,” Buluswar said, “but never sufficient.”

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