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Social Entrepreneur

Social Entrepreneur

Author: Tony Loyd

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328 Episodes
(For show notes and a full transcript, see Dri produces durable, fashionable, and environmentally sustainable umbrellas from ocean-bound plastic. As a fifteen year-old, Deirdre Horan left her comfortable home in Acton, Massachusetts to join a youth group traveling to Gulfport, Mississippi. This was two years after Hurricane Katrina, and the community continued to struggle. “What really struck me was the level of devastation that was still there two years later,” Deirdre explains. “It takes much longer than the initial relief to pick lives back up. People will always need assistance if they’ve been impacted. I saw at a young age that something can always be done for somebody.” Deirdre continued to travel back to Gulfport year after year. But she also thought of how she could make a greater impact. A shift in plans In 2017, Deirdre watched a documentary, Garbage Island: An Ocean Full of Plastic. In the film, Captain Charles Moore made a comment that stuck with her.  “He said something like, ‘The oceans to a degree help clean itself out. We need to address the amount that’s flowing in,’” Dierdre explains. “I went down a black hole, researching recycling. I learned that plastic bottles could be upcycled into polyester. “One day I was walking to work and my umbrella flipped inside out. I was wet, discouraged, and angry. I threw the umbrella in the trash can. I checked the tag. It was made with polyester yarn. The wheels started turning. I realized that I didn’t know who made any umbrella, let alone an eco-friendly umbrella.” That’s when the idea came for an umbrella made from ocean-bound plastic. “I ran around telling everybody I knew about this idea. And then, I realized that I had to buckle down and do some research. One of the biggest hurdles was finding someone who could make it ethically. “I vetted multiple companies before I made my decision.” The problem The world produces 380 million tons of plastic every year. Much of that is for single-use. But what about recycling? Much of the plastic that is gathered for recycling is sent to countries with weak environmental laws and poor waste management systems. According to Deirdre Horan of Dri, over 17 billion pounds of plastic flows into the ocean every year. That’s more than one garbage truck per minute. In many of these low-income countries, waste pickers will pick up ocean-bound plastic and bring it to recycling centers. That plastic is pelletized and can be spun into yarn and polyester. The solution Dri umbrellas are created from upcycled ocean-bound plastic. The handles are made from fast-growing bamboo, and the shafts are stainless steel, which is recyclable. Learn More About Deirdre Horan and Dri Dri: Dri on Instagram: Dri on Twitter: Vice Documentary, Garbage Island: An Ocean Full of Plastic: IFundWomen: First Founders:
For a full transcript and extended show notes, see Shubham Issar and Amanat Anand go from the UNICEF Wearables for Good Challenge to Shark Tank and beyond. Shubham Issar and Amanat Anand grew up in New Delhi but met at Parsons School of Design in New York. They loved working together on hands-on design projects that made a difference. In 2015, they entered the UNICEF Wearables for Good Challenge. While investigating the challenge, they ran into a statistic that shocked them. Hundreds of thousands of children under the age of five die annually from infectious diseases that handwashing can prevent. Shubham and Amanat were determined to do something about that. They returned to India to see handwashing in action. They sat in classrooms and observed. They discovered that teachers, overwhelmed by a student ratio of sixty-to-one, were rationing soap. Proper handwashing was not happening at critical times during the day. They also observed the children enjoying their favorite pastime, drawing with bright colors. Shubham and Amanat had an idea to make handwashing fun. They developed a prototype of a soap pen. Kids draw on their hands with brightly colored soap. It takes 20 to 40 seconds to wash off the design, ensuring proper handwashing. UNICEF selected their design as one of ten winners of the Wearables for Good Challenge. And so, SoaPen, the product, and the company were born. With the prize money, Shubham and Amanat conducted research and development. In 2017, they conducted a Kickstarter campaign to fund a production run. In 2018, they launched their first product on Amazon, but they struggled with sales. "Talking about 2019 itself, it was just such a hard year for us," Shubham says. "We were bootstrapped. We launched on Amazon because we wanted to be where the parents were. But when you launch on Amazon, you're this little fish in this massive pond. You don't know how to reach the right audience. "In October of 2019, we were featured in Real Simple magazine. Being the millennial I am, I had no idea the power that print media had. We completely sold out our entire inventory in two and a half weeks." SoaPen's supply chain was not ready. Amazon's algorithm sent people to their page, but SoaPen could not meet the demand. Their supplier took more than eight weeks to produce new SoaPens. When the SoaPen products returned in stock, the wholesale channel took 70% of that order. So SoaPen remained out of stock on Amazon. "On Amazon, if you're inactive for two weeks, you're essentially starting from scratch. I think that was very stressful. We finally felt like we had market validation, that the parents were interested in the product and that it was filling a need." That was January 2020. Then, COVID hit, and they sold out again. During this time, SoaPen received crucial customer feedback. Parents wanted more vibrant colors. And, they wanted a smaller roller ball for better drawing. When it seemed like SoaPen should rush into production, they decided to pause to get the product right. With a redesign and supply chain issues, they took time to get the product back on shelves. They missed sales opportunities, but they developed a product that kids and their parents love.
Is it possible for the company formerly known as Facebook to be a force for good? There are some bright spots.  NOTE: For a full transcript of the conversation, go to If you want to hear bad news about Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, you don’t have to look far. And, there’s plenty of bad news to find. If you’re interested in reading more about that, just Google the phrase Facebook Papers. But, for me, there’s a more interesting question. Can Meta be a force for good? Is it possible? As you know, here at Social Entrepreneur, our motto is “We tell positive stories from underrepresented voices, focused on solutions.” I admire models such as Solutions Journalism, where journalists ask the question, “Who does it better?” And I love appreciative inquiry, where leaders take a strengths-based approach. I would also recommend Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath. The point of all of these approaches is, look for the bright spots. Look for what is working and spread that around. If you know my story, you know that I was a corporate executive. I was bothered by big questions that drove me to leave my career and learn about social entrepreneurs. Social entrepreneurs use the power of business to do social good. I believe, if we are going to save humanity, we cannot depend on government agencies and nonprofits to do the work required. Their work is necessary but insufficient. Every business must look at its impact, both positive and negative. We must find the positive effects of our companies and amplify that. Let me be clear. To make the kind of impact needed, companies cannot work around the edges. If ExxonMobil plops a solar panel on top of their headquarters, they cannot declare victory and go home. We have to rethink our business models fundamentally. And positive change requires third-party verification. That’s why I’m such a fan of certified B Corporations. In today’s interview, Emily Dalton Smith, Vice President of Product Management at Meta, describes how Meta is creating a positive social impact. She talks about Crisis Response, Charitable Giving, Community Help, Health, Mentorship, COVID-19 Information Center, and the Voting Information Center. 
For extended show notes, see: Steward is a community of borrowers and lenders who support regenerative farming. Can a farm make the earth healthier? Regenerative farming is a set of practices that rebuild soil health by restoring carbon and nutrient content. This improves productivity and the health of the planet. But there’s a problem. The agricultural capital system wasn’t built for small, regenerative farms. That’s where Steward comes in. Steward equips regenerative farms with the capital they need to grow. Steward is a private lending partner, but they don’t work alone. Steward brings together a community of values-driven lenders who participate in loans and earn a return. A Capital Marketplace for Regenerative Ag Steward brings together a three-sided equation – small to mid-sized non-commodity farmers, people who are passionate about food, and the Steward platform. But it all starts with the farmers. “It’s about thinking beyond a short view of taking care of a resource and feeling the bound to it,” Dan Miller of Steward says. “For many historical and indigenous cultures, that was obvious. With our current culture, we’ve been disconnected from the resources that we live upon. “For most of these farmers, small to midsize growing non-commodity, the current financial system is built for large scale commodity agriculture - large soy and grain farms. If you’re one of these smaller producers selling at a farmer’s market or selling to a well-known chef, you don’t have an outlet for capital. “So they come to us. At first, farmers are surprised that we exist, that there’s a financial service that is focused purely on them as a customer. We have a team member that works them through the funding process. We have an in-house team member who’s a farmer. He helps speak with them about their actual business plan. “So it is about helping them think about what funding they need. What’s the right amount? What’s the right structure. What are the improvements that they can immediately make to help grow their business? “They’ve been undercapitalized so long that it’s often a very simple piece of equipment, or tools, or operational capital, or land. It’s not complicated at all. What they need are things they’ve needed for years. They have not had access to capital.” Learn More About Dan Miller and Steward: Steward: Steward on Facebook: Steward on LinkedIn: Steward on Instagram: Steward on Twitter: More Resources: Social Entrepreneur Six-Week Quick Start:
For complete show notes, see: Luma Legacy: A Fairer, Kinder World “Luma Legacy is a segment within Luma Pictures,” Kate explains. “It’s a magical creative studio that's been in the world for about 20 years. The bread and butter of the business is making movie magic - so visual effects. Luma Pictures makes superheroes fly, creates new worlds and realities, and all of the really fun stuff that keeps us entertained and dreaming big. “Luma also has a venture capital arm that makes early stage investments in companies and founders changing the world with really an investment thesis around future of healthcare, future of work or future of food, and the like. “And the Luma Features is our newest division that's actually making movies from the ground up. It’s all centered around the goal of creating imaginative, emotionally rich stories that other studios or financiers just might not take the risk on. But these are stories that need to be in the world from voices that aren't always heard. “And then finally, Luma Legacy is that the segment of Luma that I was brought in to help figure out. And the mandate, the very broad, bold, ambitious mandate is to help create a fairer kinder world for everyone.” A Company Built on Compassion and Empathy “Facing any of these existential threats that are imminent, be it climate change or things we don't even know about yet without a certain sort of adherence to participating in the social fabric of what makes us human through compassion and empathy - we're kind of screwed. “We're really looking at this work is by grouping underlying root causes to some of society's greatest problems. So, we talk about it sometimes as rather than taking medicine for a sniffly nose or itchy eyes, what's actually making you sick? “There are a number of underlying causes that have driven this heightened state of polarization and intensified prejudice. But two that we're looking at are apathy and intolerance. When you flip those, you're looking at empathy and participation, and tolerance “That has helped us create these three pillars, which are: ·        Building bridges across America. ·        Catalyzing civic participation. ·        Promoting equity and justice, specifically the people and policies that are helping to solidify equity and justice under the law. “Behavior change is a really important component. If you are inspired, educated, or moved, it's not sufficient to then walk away and make a sandwich and go back to life. There needs to be a clear call to action. “At that very high level, our goal is to influence outcomes at the ballot box, so that we can create a truly equitable and representative democracy.” Luma Legacy’s Theory of Change Luma Legacy is creating all sorts of media. “It’s going to be what it needs to be to meet people where they are, where they gather, where they play, where they scroll. “And so our theory of change is essentially trying to shift conversations in culture at the level where pop culture happens. And that's in various segments of entertainment and arts. So music, arts, gaming, food - where people are is where we're be. And each initiative might have a different audience and a different medium, but the goal will always be consistent with those pillars that I shared.” Learn More About Kate Glantz of Luma Legacy Luma Legacy: Luma Pictures on Facebook: Luma Pictures on Instagram: Luma Pictures on Twitter: More Resources: Social Entrepreneur Six-Week Quick Start:
For extended show notes and a full transcript, see https::// Half of the young people in Kenya have elevated depression and anxiety. 45% of the disease burden comes from anxiety and depression. The Shamiri Institute has an answer. Kenya has been described as a young hustle culture. But that hustle takes a toll. According to Tom Osborn of the Shamiri Institute, “Mental health and wellbeing are really important. This is especially true in low-income settings like Kenya where I was born and raised. In Kenya, the median age is about 19. There's evidence that shows this young population is stressed because they have to succeed so early in life.” In Kenya, there is a massive wealth gap. The Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is around $1,750, while the number of millionaires in Kenya will grow by 80% over the next 10 years. Less than 0.1% of the population (8,300 people) own more wealth than the bottom 99.9%. This places pressure on young people to succeed or be left behind. “Most mental health outcomes are strongly connected with future career outcomes,” Tom explains. “We think mental health is important at this young age because it determines the life trajectories of many young people.” According to Katherine Venturo-Conerly of the Shamiri Institute, depression and anxiety make up 45% of the disease burden for young people in low-income countries. “Our research shows that approximately one in two youths has elevated depression and anxiety. Yet these young people go untreated because of a lack of caregivers. There is around one mental health provider for every one million Kenyans.” Tom Osborn explains that “societal stigma, government under-investment,” are partially to blame. But he also points out that “most existing treatments are long, costly, and not culturally appropriate.” And the answer is… The Shamiri Institute provides mental health interventions in a simple, stigma-free, scalable, and school-based group intervention. Services are delivered by young lay providers, ages 18-to-24. Shamiri trains the mental health lay providers and provides vetted tools. Randomized Controlled Trials of the Shamiri Institute’s interventions show more than 35% reduction in both depression and anxiety lasting up to 7 months. The interventions also provided 14% improvements in social support and a 2.5% increase in academic grades. “Our approach lowers the cultural and systemic barriers that make mental healthcare inaccessible for Kenyan youths,” Katherine explains. “Instead of the typical psychopathology-centered approach to treatment, we use a simple, positively-focused intervention that emphasizes wellbeing, academic and social improvements. Our innovation is brief, accessible, and disseminated through a network of peers working in schools.” Learn More About Katherine Venturo-Conerly, Tom Osborn and Shamiri Institute: Shamiri Institute: Shamiri Institute on Instagram: Shamiri Institute on Facebook: Shamiri Institute on Twitter: Vuma Biofuels (formerly GreenChar): Tom Osborn’s interview, Episode 50: More Resources: Social Entrepreneur Six-Week Quick Start: Self-Assessment, Are you Thriving?: Self-Assessment, Discover Your Values:
Kick Off, Season Four

Kick Off, Season Four


I’ve been thinking about you. You want to live a life of significance You feel compelled to serve a cause greater than yourself. You see a need in the world that you can’t unsee. There’s a cause that burns in your heart. To make a difference, you have to overcome the status quo. The status quo whispers in your ear, “That’s just the way things are.” The status quo is that you get up every day and act as if nothing is wrong in the world. It’s easy to be lulled into complacency by the status quo. There’s a high price for doing nothing. Unless you take action, the world remains unjust. You’re missing the opportunity to make a difference. You’re missing the chance to live to your full potential. You’re missing the chance to live a life of significance. It’s time to kick the status quo in the teeth. You can be the changemaker you always wanted to be. This week I’m announcing three new offerings: Season Four of Social Entrepreneur.The Social Entrepreneur Six-Week Quick Start Course.The Culture Shift Community. What is the Culture Shift Community? We bring together aspiring social entrepreneurs to serve a cause that is greater than ourselves so that we live a life of significance. This is your opportunity to: Join a movement. You can make more progress with others than you can alone.Achieve results faster. Build the skills and mastery you need to speed up your progress.Get access to a roadmap to success. Gain clarity on your exact next step from idea to impact. I know how frustrating it can be to change the world. If you don’t know me, I’m Tony Loyd. For years, I worked as a Fortune 500 executive. I watched as companies prioritized the shareholders over the other stakeholders such as the planet, communities, and employees. I knew there had to be a better way. But I had no idea where to start. The pull of the status quo seemed too great. In 2014 I met a group of social entrepreneurs – people who made a dollar and a difference. They made money, but the money went toward a mission. Today, I’m a best-selling author, TEDx speaker, and coach to social entrepreneurs. I host one of the world’s most downloaded podcasts. I have interviewed hundreds of social entrepreneurs. I found that successful social entrepreneurs follow predictable steps. Here’s what I found. Success leaves clues. You can learn what makes them successful. It’s easy as 1 – 2 – 3 to get started. Enroll today. Go to and click the “Get Access” button. When you sign up, you’ll have access to a six-week live course to help you launch a grow a social business.Participate in live, interactive weekly sessions. Make more progress with others than you can alone. Get answers to your burning questions. Every week we host interactive, live sessions.Use shortcuts to get results faster. We provide a roadmap so that you always know your next step on the journey. Make more progress with others than you can alone. Go-it-alone doesn’t work. When you’re alone, you waste time, miss opportunities, lack guidance, and fail to reach your potential. That’s why you need a community of changemakers. Join the Social Entrepreneur Six-Week Quick Start course and the Culture Shift Community: Go to and sign up today.
NOTE: For extended show notes, see MEJDI Tours sees tourism as an opportunity to transform lives through dual narratives and by strengthening local communities. Aziz Abu Sarah is a peace-builder, social entrepreneur, cultural educator, and author of Crossing Boundaries: A Traveler’s Guide To World Peace. But Aziz wasn’t always a peacemaker.  “I grew up very angry,” Aziz says. “I didn’t have any Jewish or Israeli friends growing up until I was 18 years old. “In Jerusalem, if you don’t speak Hebrew, you’re not going to go to college. You’re not going to work. Your chances of success in life are minimal. In my high school, it was mandatory to learn Hebrew. But I went through three years of high school refusing to learn even a word of Hebrew. “I escaped from that class. I told my teachers that I was not willing to come to class because Hebrew was the language of the enemy - the people who killed my brother. I was seven or eight years old the first time I was shot at. I had a lot of trauma to deal with. I still have to deal with it. “And so when I was 18, I realized that if I don’t learn Hebrew, I will not have any chance of success in my life. So I went to study Hebrew. I studied Hebrew in a class where I was the only Palestinian, and almost all of the people in the class were Jewish immigrants to Israel. “I remember thinking I’m here to learn the language. I’m not here to make friends. I’m not going to talk to anyone. Apparently, that doesn’t work if you want to learn a language. They force you to sit together, ask questions. ‘Hey, how are you? Where are you from? What kind of music you like?’ “And that’s how we became friends. It wasn’t over political things. It was over simple things like what coffee you drink and what music you like. I love Western country music, which most Palestinians do not agree with me. In that class, I found a couple of people who love country music. “So we would sit down and talk about Johnny Cash. It started with that and eventually got to deeper conversations and political issues. But we had this space of ‘Wait a second. We have other identities that we can connect.’ And it’s not only ‘You’re Arab or a Jew, and therefore I have to hate you because of that.’ “And in that classroom, I made my first Jewish friends. From that point on, I understood that what divides us is a wall of ignorance, fear, and hatred. I wanted to put cracks in that wall. That became my mission in life.”  Today, Aziz runs MEJDI Tours. “MEJDI means honor and respect,” Aziz says. “We start with that for the local communities, those we work with, and all our travelers.” MEJDI originated the Dual Narrative™ method that brings both sides of a conflict together as travel guides presenting their respective narrative. This approach was first introduced in the Holy Land and reaped remarkable results there and throughout the world. MEJDI Tours goes against the grain by rejecting the model of traditional consumer tourism—a highly commercialized experience that supports big business and often damages local communities. Also, as peace-builders, we are tackling the challenge of a divided and polarized world.  Learn More About Aziz Abu Sarah and MEJDI Tours: Book: Crossing Boundaries: A Traveler’s Guide To World Peace: MEJDI Tours: Instagram: Facebook:
NOTE: For full show notes, see High school students work on behalf of those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).   In the United States, 1 in 54 children has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Unemployment rates for individuals with ASD are approximately 85%. More than half a million individuals with ASD will enter the workforce in the next decade. The need for specialized vocational training is growing by the minute. A CDC study found that 50 percent of children with severe ASD only have access to school-based treatment services. And 17 percent of children with ASD do not have access to occupational, speech, or language therapy whatsoever. At-home therapy is difficult for those with special needs, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. With most in-person therapy sessions closed, many parents of children with ASD don’t have the proper material and guidance to provide effective at-home therapy. Meet Isabella He Isabella He is a high school junior at Mission San Jose High School in Fremont, CA, and the founder and President of SN Inclusion. SN Inclusion is a nonprofit organization that provides career-technical education to neurodiverse individuals. She is also a co-founder of AUesome, a social enterprise that offers at-home therapy kits to children with autism. Isabella is also an intern at the Stanford Neurodiversity Project and a dedicated volunteer and program coordinator at Friends of Children with Special Needs (FCSN). Other AUesome co-founders include fellow high school students Anshul Gupta, Andrew Kim, and Arnav Gurudatt.  Learn More About Isabella He, SN Inclusion and AUesome: SN Inclusion: AUesome: SN Inclusion on Instagram: SN Inclusion on Facebook: AUesome on Instagram: Isabella He on LinkedIn: He on Instagram: Friends of Children with Special Needs (FCSN): Stanford Neurodiversity Project:
What would you do if you were 1% more courageous? Judith Martinez is a leader at the intersection of social justice and the future of human capital. She is the CEO of InHerShoes, the modern woman’s community for courage. When Judith was in the fifth grade, she witnessed a scene that changed her life direction. “I’m a first-generation Filipino-American,” Judith explains. “I grew up with Filipino as my first language. My grandparents raised me. “I remember we were at the LAX airport. My grandmother was trying to explain in her broken English to a man that she needed help. And he just cast her aside. It was like she was nothing. ‘Oh, you’re no one. You’re nothing.’ For me, as a fifth-grader, it was two humans interacting, but one human didn’t feel like the other one was a human. “That ingrained in me a sense of justice. That has evolved in a variety of ways. That is part of why I chose to take on InHerShoes.” Today, Judith is the CEO of InHerShoes. InHerShoes is a non-profit committed to catalyzing courage for girls and women of all ages. They do that through an annual summit, workshops, and leadership training. The foundation of everything they do begins and ends with one question: What would you do if you were 1% more courageous? Judith was named a Forbes 30 Under 30 nominee, has been featured in NASDAQ and Forbes. She is a Vital Voices and a TRESemme Global Leadership Fellow. She was recently selected to be a United States of Women Ambassador representing the state of California. Learn More About Judith Martinez and InHerShoes: InHerShoes: InHerShoes on Instagram: InHerShoes on Facebook:
Helping bamboo farmers and women in impoverished regions become self-reliant while eliminating plastic waste. If Kathy Ku’s name is familiar to you, you might have heard about her previous social venture in Uganda, Spouts of Water. I interviewed Kathy in December 2016. Kathy and her co-founder John Kye left Spouts of Water, but it continues to thrive. Around the same time that Kathy and John were in Uganda working on clean water, Dr. Noah Park was volunteering in low-income countries. “One of our Korean co-founders visited our production site in Uganda seven years ago or so, but we had never met each other,” Kathy explains. “He traveled to the less developed areas of developing countries and noted that a lot of bamboo was being grown in these areas and wanted to do something about it. He calculated by developing the bamboo industry in Vietnam, he could triple or quadruple the average yearly earnings in an area with 150,000 inhabitants. He’s also a dentist, so he naturally came upon bamboo toothbrushes.” In the United States alone, over 1 billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away each year. These toothbrushes are not recycled. They end up in the landfill or floating in the environment. To deal with these two problems – plastic waste and helping poor bamboo farmers, Dr. Park launched his bamboo toothbrush company in Korea under the Dr. Noah brand. In 2020, Dr. Noah raised Series A capital to move into the US market. That is when Kathy Ku and John Kye joined the team. About Kathy Ku “I grew up in an immigrant family and community that always stressed this idea of giving back,” Kathy says. “My mom would tell me, ‘you should run an orphanage when you grow up.’ Now, I look back and think we definitely should have been worrying about our roof over our heads. But this idea of looking to do good and doing well always stuck with me. “By the time I joined Juni Essentials, they were still trying to figure out the production process. We’re talking like 50 toothbrushes being made a day. I had a manufacturing background and helped ramp it up. We’re now making more than 50,000 toothbrushes a month. We’ll get to 100,000 soon. “Not a lot of people know about bamboo toothbrushes, and of the people who’ve tried them, I think a lot of people have been turned off by them. They feel different from plastic toothbrushes. And I think this is where we come in. “Our product is fundamentally made differently from other products out there. That’s why we chose to make it ourselves. Our surface is heat-treated using patented technology that provides this smooth surface - the toothbrushing experience is comparable to that of plastic toothbrushes, so why not switch? “I think I generally have good intentions, but the execution has been difficult. For example, I want to be good to the environment, and my husband and I compost and try to use compostable Ziploc bags. But I still drive my high school car, a Cadillac, which probably contributes to 50% of California’s carbon emissions. I think bamboo toothbrushes make me happy because it’s an active decision I make every morning and evening when I brush my teeth.” Learn More About Kathy Ku, Juni Essentials: Juni Essentials: Juni Essentials on Instagram: Juni Essentials on Facebook: Kathy Ku on LinkedIn: Kathy’s 2016 interview about Spouts of Water:
Offering paid job training for youth. Sara Hart Weihmann is the Director of Social Enterprise at New Avenues for Youth in Portland. She oversees a portfolio of workforce development social enterprises that offer goods and services to the local community. This provides paid work experiences and job training for youth experiencing housing instability. These enterprises include a Ben & Jerry’s scoop shop and a screen-printing business, New Avenues INK. “I have always had a strong sense of environmental justice since I was a young kid,” Sara explains. “My parents would tell you that I was constantly giving them feedback about lights being left on in rooms. I had these little tickets I would issue to them if they left the lights on. “So I’ve always been Type A do the right thing. You fall into line. We owe the environment everything. So I really took that environmental view forward into my life. “In my younger years, I even thought that environmental justice needed to come first before social justice was addressed. “After graduating college, I found a unique MBA graduate program in the Bay Area with an emphasis on environmental sustainability and social justice. I started a business specializing in installing edible gardens and urban farms throughout the Bay Area. “What started as a passion for ecological sustainability and horticulture quickly evolved into a passion for food sovereignty, social justice, and elevating the voices of indigenous, black, and people of color to advocate for the resources they needed to thrive in the community. “I started participating on non-profit boards, coalitions, and councils focusing on food system equity. I found myself passionate about working with young people living in excluded neighborhoods and mentoring them in agriculture and business strategy. “There is nothing more fulfilling to me than seeing young people recognize their inherent value in an entrepreneurial setting where they get the freedom to brainstorm and take risks with their peers with guidance from mentors. “When I moved back to my hometown of Portland, I noticed this opportunity at New Avenues for Youth as Director of Social Enterprise. It seemed like an excellent fit for my skills and passion. It was a combination of business strategy and management to serve young people experiencing housing insecurity. “That was over seven years ago, and I still feel inspired every day by the impacts our workforce development social enterprises have on participants and the community.” About New Avenues INK: New Avenues INK is a screen-printing social enterprise owned and operated by non-profit New Avenues for Youth. Since its establishment in 2013, New Avenues INK has specialized in providing high-quality, cost-competitive decorated apparel items to customers while delivering paid work experiences and job training to youth experiencing homelessness in the community. New Avenues for Youth’s social enterprise portfolio has provided hundreds of paid internships over the years to young people who have little-to-no traditional work experience. Young people receive an hourly wage to learn necessary job skills and participate in career exploration and career coaching. Interns can build confidence in businesses, experience being a part of a team, practice receiving and providing feedback, and ultimately learn about the world of work in a trauma-informed environment. Learn More About Sara Weihmann and New Avenues INK: New Avenues INK:  
People who were involved in the criminal justice system are more than their labels. Karen Lee is the Chief Executive Officer of Pioneer Human Services. She was born during the 1960s civil rights era. “During my lifetime, I’ve seen quite a bit of discrimination. I’ve always wanted to do something about that in a way that was true to me.” Karen graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point. She served our country until the 1990s. After her military service ended, she attended the University of Washington School of Law, where she received her JD degree. “I wanted to be a civil rights attorney,” Karen explains, “but I found that I liked working with people and leading organizations.” She took several middle management positions. In 2005, she was asked to serve as the Commissioner for the Washington State Employment Security Division. “We would get these reports on employment and wages from the labor economists that work there. That’s when I saw the disparity that exists in society today. “I got a good look at the income gap. What was troubling was that the income gap was most apparent with people who had a negative interaction with the justice system. Black people, indigenous people, and people of color were all at the labor market’s bottom. I wanted to do something about that.” Karen used her position in the labor department to try several programs. But then, the governor’s term was coming to an end. That’s when she noticed that Pioneer Human Services was looking for a new CEO. “This particular segment of the population is one that I have often been concerned about because of my race and because I know people that have been involved with the justice system. I have family members that have been involved with the justice system, and they’ve struggled to find employment. And so I’ve wanted to do something about that.” About Pioneer Human Services Pioneer Human Services provides counseling, treatment, housing, job skills training, and employment for those involved in the criminal justice system. Pioneer provides career paths and living wage jobs for a population many disregard. Pioneer is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit social-enterprises. Pioneer serves over 10,000 people a year through its diversion, treatment, housing, and job training programs. Under Karen’s leadership, Pioneer successfully operates several revenue-generating businesses that provide living-wage jobs and help fund its mission. Learn More About Karen Lee and Pioneer Human Services: Pioneer Human Services: YouTube: LinkedIn: Facebook: Twitter:
What Sandra Goldmark learned from a seven-year experiment fixing stuff. Sandra Goldmark is the Director of Sustainability and Climate Action at Barnard College. For seven years, she ran Fixup, a popup repair shop for household items of all kinds. It was staffed by theatre artists. “We use our backstage skills to fix people's broken stuff,” Sandra explains. “and to create an alternative to use and discard.” Sandra has gathered her lessons learned and put them in a new book, Fixation: How to Have Stuff without Breaking the Planet. “We are reinventing repair as a viable part of a sustainable, equitable, circular economy,” Sandra says. “We were mobile, so there was no fixed storefront. We accepted a wide range of items as a one-stop drop-off for our customers. We used an event-type structure to create a sense of urgency and community. And we partnered with a range of organizations.” It started with a vacuum cleaner. Around 2013, Sandra had a problem. Several items around her house broke – a lamp, a toaster oven, a backpack, and a vacuum cleaner. “It seemed crazy to me that it is easier to buy a new vacuum than get one fixed. It seems crazy to me to look around and see stores and homes and landfills filled with stuff. “Everywhere I looked around me the whole pattern of consumption seemed totally out of whack. The environmental impacts of our system of consumption are staggering. People aren't happy with this pattern and how it plays out in their own lives. And when you look at individual objects, many of them are actually fixable. The whole system seemed totally broken. But it also seemed fixable! “My work on circularity and repair is rooted in my work in the theatre - my belief that ALL of us have a role to play in finding solutions and building changes.” Sandra started simply. “I just started. I was home on maternity leave, and I got a bee in my bonnet and never let go. We started with grassroots advertising, word of mouth, and leveraging neighborhood networks, especially parent networks.” It worked! At their first popup event, people showed up with their broken stuff. “We partnered with other organizations to move into new neighborhoods, eventually operating pop-ups in neighborhoods across 3 boroughs.”   Sandra didn’t always get it right. “I tried to raise money from investors at one point during the process, and that did not work,” Sandra says. “The project didn't seem to fit some sort of model or mold that they were looking for, and we didn't seem to speak each other's language. I think this is an important point, not for my business per se, but about how we approach climate solutions, how we think about innovation, and how we can learn to work across siloes. “The hardest part was trying to iterate and pivot while also keeping our focus.” A popup shop becomes a book. Sandra sees the book as an extension of her work. “Now, in this latest phase, we are reaching more people through the book, Fixation. “Fixation provides a comprehensive look at the problem, a clear path forward, and a call to action for individuals, businesses, and policymakers.” Learn More About Sandra Goldmark and Fixation: Book: Fixation: How to Have Stuff without Breaking the Planet: Sandra Goldmark:
NOTE: For a full transcript of the conversation, see: Close the Opportunity Gap through high-impact programs before, during, and outside of school hours. Karim Abouelnaga is CEO of Practice Makes Perfect, a company he founded when he was 18 years old. Practice Makes Perfect partners with K-12 schools to help narrow the opportunity gap. Karim is a TED Fellow and Echoing Green Fellow. At 23, he was named to Forbes’ 30 under 30 list in education, and at 24 was named to Magic Johnson’s 32 under 32 list. In 2016, he was ranked in the top 3 most influential young entrepreneurs under 25 globally. Karim’s TED Talk was named one of the 9 Most Inspiring Talks of 2017. Karim has gathered his lessons learned in a powerful new book, The Purpose-Driven Social Entrepreneur. Learn More About Karim Abouelnaga and Practice Makes Perfect: Book: The Purpose-Driven Social Entrepreneur: Practice Makes Perfect: Karim Abouelnaga:
If you want a better future, you need a better story. “Leading change has never been tougher,” Denise Withers says. “Fear, apathy, and uncertainty have paralyzed most of the world, making it almost impossible to engage people in even the most straightforward initiative. “But it doesn’t have to be like that. Story Design can help. It’s a practical way for leaders to take the risk out of change and create a better future.” Denise Withers is an award-winning storyteller and ICF certified leadership coach who helps clients reduce the risk of change and design better futures - with stories. Denise spent the first two decades of her career making whitewater films, corporate videos, and TV documentaries - primarily for Discovery Channel. Early in her career, she discovered the power of stories to drive change while directing a film about Indigenous youth for CBC and quickly found her niche creating docs about environmental and social issues for change-makers across the globe. Five continents, eight awards, and a hundred stories later, Denise left the media to study narrative, engagement, and design, ultimately becoming one of Canada’s top design educators. In 2013, she discovered how to combine storytelling and design thinking into a robust framework for change and pioneered the Story Design concept - a practical way to imagine a better future and make it happen. Since then, Denise has worked with hundreds of clients across sectors, including CEOs, scientists, politicians, entrepreneurs, academics, and creatives. Together, they’ve used Story Design to do things like advance clean energy, protect ecosystems, transform higher ed, and slow disease. Most recently, she helped two National Geographic photographers double the revenue, reach and impact of their ocean non-profit in less than a year. Millions of people have seen Denise’s stories on Discovery, CBC, NatGeo, SSIR, the UN, and National Post. Her first book, Story Design: The Creative Way to Innovate, is a favorite with purpose-driven leaders. And her podcast, Foreward: How stories drive change, ranks in the top 100 of management shows. In the last 35 years, Denise’s clients have used Story Design for impact projects such as clean energy, wilderness protection, reducing chronic disease, advancing food security, and improving financial literacy. Denise helps clients through custom coaching, training, storytelling, and retreats. As a certified leadership coach and storyteller, she shows you how to combine design thinking and storytelling. Her initiatives build trust, fuel innovation, engage supporters, and inspire action. “The world desperately needs a new story, says Denise. “Let’s see what we can create together.” Learn More About Denise Withers and Story Design: Book: Story Design: The Creative Way to Innovate: Denise Withers: Denise Withers on Twitter: Denise Withers on LinkedIn:
YardHomes Minnesota uses a prefabrication approach and an innovative financing model to create affordable housing. YardHomes Minnesota is creating housing affordability by building and maintaining accessory dwelling units (ADUs). “We are a startup that focuses on delivering ADUs in Minnesota as a method of housing,” Nichol Beckstrand explains. “ADUs are tiny houses designed to be permanent living spaces. The problem we set out to solve is housing affordability.” Under its Y-HELP program, YardHomes installs an ADU on an existing residential property owned by a partner. YardHomes holds and manages the ADU for ten years, offering it as an affordable rental unit for low-income tenants. Each month, YardHomes typically shares a portion of the ADU rental income with the property owner. After 10-years, YardHomes transfers ownership in the ADU entirely to the partner. The problem YardHomes Minnesota is solving: Nichol grew up in a house where she could have fun and feel safe. As a parent, she created a space for her children. But, she soon realized that a safe, secure home is not an option for every family. “We are creating more affordable housing for the housing insecure. We create a community setting for them. This creates wealth for the families and nonprofits that participate as host locations for our ADUs.” “I’ve understood the finance side of affordable housing all my life, but I needed to partner with someone. My business partner understands the building side and the cost factors that go into building a home. I also know that under my current model, the units’ affordability could change after ten years. So I knew I needed to partner with organizations and people who had a desire to keep the property in play for affordable housing after the ownership transfers. I spent a fair amount of time understanding how ADU’s work, how city policy can be helpful (and sometimes harmful) to adding density. I focused on also creating a community connection for the individuals that we are housing.” Here’s how they solve it. Yard Homes Minnesota is creating more living spaces quickly. This efficient building model meets housing and safety standards. With more homes in supply, this will eventually reduce the cost of housing. “We leverage our Y-HELP leasing program. YardHomesMN asks an intermediary between nonprofits or people with the land they would like to use for affordable housing. We own the ADU and maintain it. We lease the land where the ADU will be placed and rent the ADU’s to an individual on voucher programs. The program amortizes the lease over ten years, thereby transferring the ADU ownership to the nonprofit or individual landowner at the end of the ten years.” Here’s how they’re funded. “Thus far, we are self-funded. We recently established a Program Related Investment (PRI). Our lead donor is the Maggie Foundation, with a matching grant from The Bush Foundation. We will be using their funds as a down payment on a loan to leverage five times to create five times this amount of housing. For every $25,000, we can create one unit of housing with our lease program.” Learn More About Nichol Beckstrand and YardHomesMN: YardHomes: YardHomes on LinkedIn: YardHomes on Facebook: YardHomes on Instagram:
For every planner and course sold, #ThisIsMyEra helps a child with an education. #ThisIsMyEra produces a 90-day planner that helps you set goals that align with your values. They also provide online courses to help you get clear on your life’s purpose. For every planner that is purchased, #ThisIsMyEra donates school supplies to kids in need in Africa. So far, they’ve provided more than 10,000 school supplies. And for every course that is purchased, they provide a school scholarship. Why Education? “In Ghana and most African countries, public education is not free,” Ruth Biza explains. “So if your family cannot afford to pay for your tuition, you stayed at home.” Ruth recalls a particularly humiliating experience. “It was in the middle of a session, and the financial aid lady comes in class, and they call out every single person that owes the school money. When they call you out, you stand in front of the class. So this is an embarrassing moment because every person on that list means you can’t afford your education. You owe money. They parade in you in front of the class.” On that particular day, The person from financial aid called out Ruth’s name, and she had to stand in front of the class. “I thought we were a middle-class family, and we could afford the tuition. When I got sent home that day, I spoke with my parents. I learned that we actually could afford my education. Being the selfless person she is, my mom was using half of my tuition to pay for the schooling of other kids who were not so fortunate - kids who had lost parents or kids who lived with grandparents who could not afford it. “That was the first experience for me, where I noticed how people view you and how education can just affect you.” Late, Ruth had a second experience that shaped her. “I was around nine or ten. My mom and I were returning home from the market. We had stopped at a red light. Often, in Ghana, at a red light, people approach the cars selling anything, just anything they can find to make money and make ends meet. “We were approached by this girl that looked so out of place to me. And I realize she is my she’s probably the same age as me. Why is she here approaching the car asking for money when she should be at home playing or in school? She seems so out of place, and it did not sit well with me. My mom being the chatty lady, decided to strike up a conversation. We learned that her mom was sitting across the street. Her mom was blind, and she was taking care of a newborn baby. So it was up to this nine-year-old girl to find the resources to feed her family. “ These two incidents sent Ruth Biza on a quest to provide education for those who cannot afford it. Today, Ruth runs #ThisIsMyEra. About Ruth Biza Ruth was born in Ghana, went to middle school in Zimbabwe, completed high school in Switzerland, and moved to the U.S. to study at Lynn University. Ruth is the Co-Founder of #ThisIsMyEra, a personal development brand that donates school supplies for every planner purchased to kids in need in Africa. They have sold over 10K planners and counting. Together with her husband Kuda, they founded the Amani Hope Foundation, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization whose mission is to empower underprivileged children by providing scholarships. Ruth is also a Fitness Trainer and Consultant to social impact brands. She is driven by her desire to leave a positive impact on the world and inspire others to fulfill their potential. Learn More About Ruth Biza and #ThisIsMyEra: ·        #ThisIsMyEra: ·        #ThisIsMyEra on Instagram:   ·        Kuda Biza’s speech at the 2014 Millennium Campus Conference:
For extended show notes, see Trees Should Capture Carbon, Not Crap We know the problems with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions: Climate change, rising sea levels, flooding, droughts, wildfires, ocean acidification, climate refugees, political instability, and a lot more. We know that it’s important to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and the oceans. We can do that by reducing the production of CO2. We can also do that by capturing CO2 in carbon sinks. In the US, forests store 14% of our annual CO2 emissions. Trees are a valuable, and powerful carbon sink. And yet, in the United States, 27,000 trees are flushed down the toilet every day. And here’s another problem. Paper-making is a toxic process. It uses toxic chemicals. It creates air and water pollution. This is especially a problem for people with chemical sensitivities. Zoë Levin calls herself “The toilet paper queen.” She is the Founder and CEO of Bim Bam Boo. They make sustainability-focused, health-forward essentials from fast-growing bamboo. Last year, they experienced 900% growth in annual revenue. And they saved 1.2 million pounds of virgin forest from getting flushed down the toilet.  Help Launching and Growing a Business with a Social Mission: If you need help thinking about these questions, take one of the free self-assessments at If you need help thinking about your strategy to start and grow a business with a social mission, you can schedule a complimentary strategy call. Also, we have provided a full transcript of this conversation at Learn More About Zoë Levin and Bim Bam Boo: Bim Bam Boo: Bim Bam Boo on Instagram: Bim Bam Boo Facebook page: Bim Bam Boo on Twitter: Lunar Startups: Free Self-Assessments: Complimentary Strategy Call:
For extended show notes, go here: 80% of maternal and infant deaths are preventable. Dr. Karima Ladhani is the daughter of immigrants. Her parents moved from India to Uganda. In 1972, Ugandan president Idi Amin expelled Asian minorities. He gave 90 days to leave the country. Karima’s mother made her way to Canada. Her father was in a refugee camp in Malta before immigrating to Canada. “We can’t take for granted the luxuries and privileges that we have,” she says. “There are people going through things. We have an opportunity and responsibility to help them. Others have helped us. We never know when we could be in that position in the future. It’s our responsibility to society to do our best to uplift all.” When Karima was in fifteen years old, she volunteered to travel to Chitral Pakistan where she taught English and Science. “It was transformative. It was my first experience of seeing dignity in places we don’t often associate with dignity.” From Finance to Free Falling As an undergrad at the University of Waterloo, Karima studied finance. “I thought my goal was to work on the trading floor and to become a trader.” In her fourth year of school, Karima had a chance to work on the trading floor. “Within two weeks, I realized I hated it. The world I was in was interesting. I always thought I could volunteer on the side. My work and these other interests don’t have to align. But I found it wasn’t sufficiently motivating for me. I decided I had to take drastic change. “Before I graduated, I emailed every professor. I told them that I have no experience in science. But I have a hunch that there is something in this medical-health field that would be more satisfying for me. Here are the transferrable skills I could bring to the table. “Only one professor replied to me. When all my friends went on to high-paying jobs, I went on to a minimum wage research assistant job in this small town of Waterloo. “That’s how I learned about public health. I was exposed to this world of population-level health. Then, I was trying to figure out my next steps. I often call this my free-falling period. I took a risk. I had no idea where I was going to end up. Taking a risk is what allows you to grow. If I continued to know what ground I was going to step on the ground in front of me, I could only land where I expected – what was in the realm of my imagination. But, by free-falling, I allowed myself to go beyond that.” Giving Cradle and Barakat Bundle In North America, Giving Cradle provides a safety-certified, eco-friendly bamboo rocking cradle. Families can make a safe choice for their newborn and for a newborn in need. In South Asia, they provide lifesaving Barakat Bundles. These bundles include a Giving Cradle, evidence-based medical items, and health education to families in need. Karima pitched the idea at the Harvard Business School New Venture Competition. They won enough funding to help them get started. Today, Karima is the Founder & CEO of Giving Cradle. They sell safety-certified bamboo rocking cradles to families in North America. For every Giving Cradle sold, a mother and newborn in South Asia receive a bundle of needed supplies through Barakat Bundle. “I think it is unjust that women and newborns continue to die from causes the world has already solved,” Karima says. “80% of maternal and infant deaths are completely preventable. We already have the tools to solve this problem. We just haven't figured out how to get the items that are needed into the hands of people who need them. If we do get them the needed items, we need to teach them how to use them, and they need to want to use them.” Learn More About Karima Ladhani, Giving Cradle and Barakat Bundle: Giving Cradle: Barakat Bundle: Giving Cradle on Instagram:  Barakat Bundle on Instagram:
Comments (7)

Sonja Sepa

Also amazing solution available in Europe is ClevAIr. They optimize/automate HVAC so it adjust settings according to changes in occupancy, weather, temperature etc. It saves up to 40% of entire building's energy, assures indoor air quality and reduces CO2 from the buildings. Check it out

Mar 18th


This podcast & the interviewees gives me hope for humanity.

Nov 18th


After listening to this podcast on a few different platforms. I think for me at least it is safe to say that this podcast is basically a bio intro for the person speaking, transitioning into a 20 min advertisement for a company. If that is what you are looking for you are at a great place. If you want more substance regarding approaches, models and so on you might want to skip this podcast.

Sep 1st

Victoria Muchiri

Great content. I'd really love to transcribe your podcasts. People who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, non-native speakers, or suffer from auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder may have trouble following a fast conversation. Transcription provides an avenue for them to absorb everything you are putting out. My email is Thank you.

Aug 9th

She Ra

Are there any podcasts in particular about disaster response or recovery? I've done a few keyword searches but nothing is coming up.

Feb 13th

Trudi Lawrie

fantastic. glad to have found you. can't wait to learn more

Oct 10th
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