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Sally Osberg on Bloomberg TV Talking about SPI Launch

April 8, 2014 by

Skoll Foundation President and CEO Sally Osberg appeared on Bloomberg TV’s “Countdown” show this morning, the day’s breaking news in the countdown to the opening of the Euro markets. She discussed the Social Progress Index 2014 launch. Later in the morning, Professor Michael Porter delivered a keynote at Deloitte in London, talking about SPI and the connection between social and economic progress and the opportunities gained if all sectors recognize the importance of both. Sally Osberg joined a  panel to debate how we can use the Index to galvanize collective action to unlock true growth and progress.



iPass and Skoll Foundation Announce Strategic Partnership

April 8, 2014 by

Global Wi-Fi Provider to Help Social Entrepreneurs Drive Social Change through Mobile Connectivity

OXFORD, England, April 8, 2014 – iPass Inc. (NASDAQ: IPAS), providing cost-effective Wi-Fi access around the world for enterprises and telecom service providers, and the Skoll Foundation, the world’s leading social entrepreneurship and social innovation organization, today announced they have joined forces to provide mobile connectivity solutions to help Skoll Social Entrepreneurs tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems.

The iPass-Skoll Foundation initiative is being introduced at the annual Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, which runs from April 9 through April 11 in Oxford, England. The Forum brings together nearly 1,000 distinguished leaders from the business, government, and civil society sectors for three days and nights of debates, discussions, and work sessions designed to promote innovative solutions to global challenges. High-profile speakers include Malala Yousafzai, the renowned human rights activist who was shot by the Taliban at age 15 and later established The Malala Fund, dedicated to promoting education for girls around the world.

At the Forum, iPass will provide more than 100 Skoll Foundation Social Entrepreneurs with iPass Wi-Fi service free of charge for one year. With the iPass service, entrepreneurs will be able to stay connected wherever their work may take them as they tackle critical social issues and visit beneficiaries and stakeholders. During the coming year, several Social Entrepreneurs will share their stories through blogs detailing how iPass Wi-Fi and other technologies are helping them stay connected while they travel.

Skoll Social Entrepreneurs who will be blogging about their respective organizations and use of technology during the year include:

  • Bart Weejens, Corporate Affairs of APOPO—APOPO is a social enterprise that breeds and trains Mine Detection Rats (MDRs) to provide a cheap, efficient, and effective solution to the global landmine problem. APOPO also trains rats to swiftly and efficiently evaluate sputum samples for tuberculosis. A trained rat can evaluate a lab technician’s daily output in 10 minutes. APOPO is a Belgian NGO, with headquarters in Tanzania and operations in Mozambique, Thailand, Angola and Cambodia.
  • Jim Fruchterman, President, CEO & Chairman of the Board of Benetech—Benetech is a different kind of tech company—a non-profit—with a pure focus on developing technology for social good. Benetech leads multiple program areas and initiatives to advance technology solutions that work and have the potential to become financially self-sustaining.
  • Andrea Coleman, Co-Founder and CEO of Riders for Health—Riders for Health is an international non-profit organization that provides health care to rural African villages using motorcycles and motorcycle ambulances. The project has resulted in reducing disease and illnesses by getting patients much-needed medicine in a reliable and cost-effective way.
  • Willy Foote, Founder and CEO of Root Capital—Root Capital is a nonprofit social investment fund that grows rural prosperity in poor, environmentally vulnerable places in Africa and Latin America by lending capital, delivering financial training, and strengthening market connections for small and growing agricultural businesses.
  • Ned Breslin, CEO of Water for People—Water for People is an international non-profit organization dedicated to providing access to improved water and sanitation systems and services in developing countries. Water for People brings together local entrepreneurs, civil society, governments and communities to establish creative, collaborative solutions that allow people to build and maintain their own reliable safe water systems.

“Mobile connectivity is critical to our social entrepreneurs’ work around the world, in some of the most remote places on earth. Yet global access to mobile connectivity is still not as affordable as people might think,” said Sally Osberg, President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation. “These entrepreneurs need to be connected with team members and partners, and communicate, share information, and make decisions in real-time. iPass will be an invaluable tool to keep them connected to what matters most. ”

“iPass strongly supports the mission of the Skoll Foundation to drive large-scale change by investing in, connecting, and celebrating social entrepreneurs,” said June Bower, CMO of iPass. “The Skoll Foundation is at the forefront of innovation, and iPass is honored to play a role in assisting the Skoll Social Entrepreneurs in their efforts to accelerate and scale impact. Mobile connectivity can play a key role by allowing these leaders to work and stay connected as they travel across the globe.”



Skoll World Forum Highlights and Tickets

April 4, 2014 by

The Skoll Foundation staff is headed to the Skoll World Forum in Oxford, so please follow us online at for the live-stream, real-time articles covering a wide variety of sessions, and live photo galleries. If  you want to attend in person, $25 tickets to the plenaries and awards ceremony are still available and open to all.  Highlights include Sir Richard Branson, who will speak on April 9 at 5 p.m. on a panel called “Profit and Progress,” and Malala Yousafzai, who will speak at the April 10 Skoll Foundation awards ceremony at 5:30 p.m. on the right for every child to receive an education. Above, watch a video shown at last year’s Skoll World Forum.

In advance of the Forum, we asked delegates to share their insights. The full collection of pieces are on

Some ways to participate online and via social media: 

• On Twitter, follow the official Forum account at @skollworldforum, and the hashtag #SkollWF.

• Join our #CSRChat on Intrapreneurship with @SusanMcP1 and @ontheroadwithiv on Twitter Apr 8, 3-4pm ET.

• Our Facebook page will feature highlights and events throughout the week.

Some of the thought-provoking panels at the Forum include:

More ways to follow us online:

• We’ll also be joining forces on Facebook with the Thomson Reuters Foundation to do daily live Q&As with special guests–stay tuned for more details.

• And, we’re new to Instagram! Follow us at @skollworldforum, as well as the hashtag #SkollWF.





April 2, 2014 by

The Social Progress Imperative (SPI) just launched a major new global index.

The Social Progress Index 2014 ranks 132 countries based on their social and environmental performance across nearly 60 indicators, and shows that economic growth doesn’t automatically lead to social advancement. The US, for example, ranks 16th overall, despite having the world’s 2nd largest per capita GDP, finishing behind other countries with lower per capita GDP. On measures of health and wellness, the US ranks lower than Peru, Ecuador and Albania.

The Social Progress Imperative is led by a team including Professor Michael Porter of Harvard Business School, Skoll Foundation President and CEO Sally Osberg (a Founding Board Member), representatives from Deloitte and others. “Making social progress a true imperative means putting the progress of humanity and our wellbeing on an equal footing with GDP,” Osberg said.

As the first global framework to disaggregate social from economic progress, the Index is designed to complement GDP to provide leaders with a more complete picture of society’s progress as well as a new tool to guide policies and programs.

See the executive summary and the data.

Social Progress Index Launched to Enable Better Understanding of Worldwide Progress and Growth

(02.00am BST, April 3rd 2014)–Economic growth does not always result in social progress, according to a major new global index published today by US-based nonprofit the Social Progress Imperative, and released at the 2014 Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship. The Social Progress Index 2014 ranks 132 countries based on their social and environmental performance. Higher GDP per capita does bring benefits, particularly on ‘Basic Human Needs’. But rising incomes do not guarantee improvement on ‘Ecosystem Sustainability’, ‘Health and Wellness’ and ‘Opportunity’. read more


Smallholder Impact and Risk Metrics: A Labyrinth of Opportunity

March 27, 2014 by

“The Skoll Foundation is proud to have worked with the Initiative for Smallholder Finance (ISF) to approach the workstream of impact and risk metrics with thought and purpose, given the proliferation of related frameworks, metrics and data collection and evaluation efforts,” says Edwin Ou, Skoll Foundation lead of funder alliances. “What arose was this effort—including the creation of technology and intelligence tools—to de-clutter the landscape for prospective smallholder finance market entrants, rather than add to the clutter.”

Here’s today’s official announcement:

One reason only 3 percent of demand for smallholder agricultural finance has been met is because investors lack sufficient data about the benefits and risks of directing their funds to smallholder agricultural finance. A number of innovative and promising new impact and risk measurement tools have emerged, but it is challenging to understand their varying functions and how they fit together.

In light of this situation, the Initiative for Smallholder Finance has catalogued available measurement tools, documented the status quo, and researched the benefits of increased collaboration. This work is being launched as a briefing document, set of collaboration tools, and webinar, which together will:

• Clarify the current impact and risk metrics landscape

• Drive the industry toward greater collaboration in reporting industrywide impact

• Support the industry to set clear expectations about the impact of smallholder agricultural finance

• Push the smallholder community to develop coordinated metrics so that efforts can more efficiently grow the supply of smallholder agricultural finance

Read the full briefing:

On April 30 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. EDT, join us for a Webinar on five new technologies to simplify data collection in smallholder finance.

Hear directly from the creators of important new technologies that are taking the pain out of smallholder finance data collection.

The free webinar will be moderated by Tom Carroll, the Director of the Initiative for Smallholder Finance, and CJ Fonzi, lead author of “Smallholder Impact and Risk Metrics: A Labyrinth of Opportunity.” Register: on ABC News “This Week”

March 26, 2014 by

Matt Damon and Gary White of were on ABC News’ “This Week,” talking about’s innovation.

“‘Every 20 seconds, a child dies because they lack access to clean water and sanitation — not here,’ Damon said. ‘Our kids aren’t going to die from diarrhea. That’s just an inconvenience to us in the West. But it is a stark, terrifying reality to billions of people on the planet.’

Through a hands-on, community driven approach, works with the local communities through the entire building process, starting with a loan, or what they refer to as WaterCredit.

‘Instead of just drilling a well and giving it to somebody for free, what we’re looking at is how do we help them get access to a small loan, so that they can get a water connection at their home from the local utility and become a customer,’ co-founder Gary White said.

Their approach is working. Damon said that of the roughly 250,000 loans has provided, 98 percent have been paid back in full. As loans are repaid, funds can be redistributed to others in need, reducing the need for subsidies, and allowing parents to work and children to go to school instead of spend their days fetching water. Those who are affected most, Damon said, are girls.”


Ceres Impact: Exxon Mobil to Report on Risks to Its Fossil Fuel Assets

March 25, 2014 by

Congratulations, Skoll Awardee Ceres, on this big news: Ceres was a catalyst for Exxon Mobil’s decision to report on risks to its fossil Fuel Assets. An excerpt from the New York Times:

“The agreement comes after one in January by the large electric company FirstEnergy and is part of an effort by Ceres, a coalition of environmentalists and investors, to make companies more environmentally responsive.

The Ceres campaign began last fall with a letter from shareholders representing $3 trillion in assets to 45 of the largest fossil fuel companies asking for more information about whether and how they were addressing the risks posed to their assets by changing climate policy. Two-thirds of the companies agreed to respond by this spring, said Andrew Logan, director of the group’s oil and gas and insurance programs.”

Read more:


Jenny Bowen on Good Morning America

March 23, 2014 by

“Now the incredible story of a woman who adopted a baby girl from China and ended up reforming an entire orphanage system,” the Good Morning America anchor began. “One mom proving you really can change the world.”

That introduction was for Skoll Awardee Jenny Bowen and her new book, Wish You Happy Forever. Watch the GMA segment featuring Jenny and her book above.


Melinda Gates Book Recommendation: However Long the Night

March 21, 2014 by

Two of our staffers are at TED and saw this in the bookstore. Melinda Gates recommends the book about Tostan’s Molly Melching called However Long the Night: Molly Melching’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls Triumph.

She calls the work a model of “change driven from the middle out…”

Read the rest, above.


92 Businesses Honored as ‘Best for the World’, Creating Most Overall Positive Social and Environmental Impact

March 19, 2014 by

Today, 92 companies worldwide were recognized for creating the most positive overall social and environmental impact by Skoll Awardee B Lab with the release of the third annual ‘B Corp Best for the World’ list. The ‘B Corp Best for the World’ list honors businesses that earned an overall score in the top 10 percent of all Certified B Corporations on the B Impact Assessment, a rigorous and comprehensive assessment of a company’s impact on its workers, community, and the environment.

Learn more and meet all 92:


Water For People Forges Partnership With Toms To Bring Safe Drinking Water To More Communities

March 12, 2014 by

Congratulations to Water for People on this big news, featured in Forbes and The New York Times:

Water For People and TOMS announced a strategic partnership to provide safe drinking water in developing countries. With an estimated 1.8 billion people living without access to safe drinking water, this partnership will help to support sustainable water systems that are locally run, built, and maintained to last for generations.

TOMS, known for its One for One shoe and sight ventures, is now entering the coffee market with TOMS Roasting Co. Under the guidance of a master brewer, TOMS Roasting Co. will offer six premium coffee varieties with beans sourced across the globe. For every bag of coffee purchased, TOMS Roasting Co. will work with Water For People to provide sustainable water systems to the countries from which the beans are sourced – Rwanda, Honduras, Peru, Guatemala, and Malawi. read more


Jenny Bowen’s Book Available Today

March 11, 2014 by

The second book in the Skoll Foundation-HarperOne partnership released today, and we’re very excited! Wish You Happy Forever is a new memoir that tells the story of China’s momentous progress in its treatment of orphaned and abandoned children.

When social entrepreneur Jenny Bowen launched Half the Sky in 1998, it seemed impossible that China would allow a foreigner to work inside government orphanages, let alone try to bring meaningful change. But gradually, after witnessing Half the Sky’s quiet perseverance and miraculous success, the Chinese government now partners with Half the Sky to make children’s’ lives better.

Jenny is in New York today, and her book tour continues to Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, California, Denver, Seattle, Portland, Austin, Chicago and Minnesota—see the exact dates.

Jenny has written a five-part series on “Half the Sky: A Voice for the children, Taking it to the Road,“ “Millions of Forgotten Children, No Longer Forgotten“, “Half the Sky Foundation Founder and CEO Talks About ‘Wish You Happy Forever’“, “Half the Sky: A Rainbow for China’s Children” and “Half the Sky: Taking Our Solution to Scale.”

View the book trailer above.


Khan Academy to make SAT prep materials open and free

March 6, 2014 by

You likely heard the news that the SAT is undergoing major changes (no more essays, for one). What we are most excited about is Skoll Awardee Khan Academy’s game-changing role in the news: a partnership with College Board, the makers of the test.

“The partnership between Khan Academy and the College Board directly addresses one of the greatest inequities around college entrance exams: the culture of high-priced test preparation,” the Khan Academy says on its site. Now, for the first time, all students have the opportunity to practice for the SAT with completely free, best-in-class materials. We will work in close collaboration with the College Board to create thousands of in-depth practice problems and instructional videos available spring of 2015 – a full year before the launch of the redesigned SAT.”

Talk about system-level change!

Watch the above video of Skoll Awardee Sal Khan talking with College Board CEO David Coleman above to learn more, and visit Sal’s blog at


APOPO Awarded £60,000 to Clear Landmines in Mozambique – with Rats, of Course

January 3, 2014 by

Britain is funding a program to train giant rats to sniff out thousands of buried landmines in Mozambique, and Skoll Awardee APOPO is central to this work, according to a new article in The Mirror.

Bart Weetjens, APOPO’s founder, told The Mirror: “The work of APOPO is all about empowering communities living in limited resources settings to tackle difficult, dangerous and expensive detection tasks more independently.

“Using a sustainable local resource – our hero rats – and involving our beneficiaries in the technology design and implementation processes have proven to be critical factors to our sustained impact.”

The initiative is part of a new £5million mine clearing program by the UK’s department for international development over three years.

Read more:



ARZU’s Work Featured on Al Jazeera America

December 30, 2013 by

The Afghan women used to sign their names with a thumbprint. Now, they can read and write—and their signatures are, of course, written. “What we’ve done, how we transformed their lives, it’s inspirational,” says Angela Attento, creative director of ARZU, in a story that recently aired on Al Jazeera America. Watch the rest, above.


Albina Ruiz Rios Profiled in Latin Trade Magazine

December 27, 2013 by

From Peru to Egypt? That’s a possibility for Skoll Awardee Albina Ruiz Rios, who was just featured in Latin Trade magazine. She tells the magazine that she has a proposal to start an operation in Egypt, which would be her first in the Middle East.

An excerpt from the article:

Albina Ruiz Ríos is another Latin American woman who escaped the millstone of precariousness to become a central personality in regional history. She nurtured one of the first environmental companies to develop a broad international presence.

“In 2001, when she returned to Lima, she founded Ciudad Saludable, a consulting firm for recycling businesses. She didn’t want it to run a typical NGO that would depend on donors. Her dream was to not depend on donations, “but rather on the money that we could generate,” said Ruiz Ríos in her interview with Latin Trade. That’s why she decided to resist offers from potential donors who wanted to participate in her project.

The second crucial decision for the organization was to go outside the country of origin. In 2005, it made its first international foray, to Maturín in Venezuela. ‘At that point we decided to expand.’  The next year, Ciudad Saludable started to be recognized for its work. It received a prize in Dubai for its practices in improving the environment, the Global Development Network Award, and the BRAVO prize as environmentalist of the year. The list of awards has continued to grow right up to the present. ‘(The prizes) enabled us to have a bigger audience,’ she said.”

Read the rest:•-a-social-multilatina?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=albina-ruiz-rios-%25e2%2580%25a2-a-social-multilatina


Typhoon Rebuilding Begins: Gawad Kalinga in the Manila Standard

December 26, 2013 by

A new article in the Manila Standard talks to Gawad Kalinga and other organizations helping in the Philippines relief efforts. An excerpt:

“’Yolanda caught us off-guard,’ says Gawad Kalinga founder Tony Meloto. ‘But the scale of the problem is nothing compared to the overflow of generosity and heroism, as friends and partners from around the world rally together in bayanihan to help the Filipinos rise again.’

While relief efforts address the immediate need for food and clothes, non-profit organizations like Gawad Kalinga in partnership with TIP have drawn plans to tackle the longer-term need for shelter.

The rebuilding and relief operations are part of Operation Walang Iwanan, GK’s aid effort for Yolanda survivors. Through the program, GK and its partners aim to build an initial 5,000 houses, as well as repair around 1,000 damaged houses.’”

Read the rest:


The Skoll Foundation Mourns the Loss of Greg Dees

December 23, 2013 by

Greg Dees“Rest in peace, Greg Dees: your life’s work will continue to inspire all who value social entrepreneurs, all building a better world.” Those words are from Skoll Foundation CEO Sally Osberg, who also talked about Professor Dees’ contributions in his obituary, published by Duke University, below.

“DURHAM, NC - J. Gregory Dees, a Duke University professor recognized internationally for developing social entrepreneurship as an academic field, died at Duke Hospital Friday. He was 63.

Dees was professor of the practice of social entrepreneurship, Rubenstein Senior Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship with Duke’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative (I&E) and the founding faculty director of the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. In 2007, the Aspen Institute and the international organization Ashoka presented him with their first lifetime achievement award in social entrepreneurship education.

The author of two books, dozens of articles and other scholarship, Dees helped show how the theory and practice of entrepreneurship and innovation could be blended with social missions to tackle poverty, pollution and other global challenges in new, high-impact ways.

“Greg Dees was the pioneer in building social entrepreneurship as an academic field of study,” said Maya Ajmera, a Duke alumna and founder of the Global Fund for Children. “He was a superb scholar, a widely respected and well-known thought leader in the field of social entrepreneurship, and a great mentor and friend to countless students, professors and entrepreneurs around the world. But most importantly, he was a very kind and compassionate human being. It is a great loss.”

Sally Osberg, president and CEO of the Skoll Foundation, called Dees “the rarest of academics. For two decades, his scholarship and teaching have been seminal to the field of social entrepreneurship; no one has been more influential, no one more inspiring. We mourn his loss, even as we know his legacy lives on in the determination of women and men the world over to build a better world.” read more


Landesa and Downton Abbey: Women’s Lack of Inheritance Rights at the Forefront

December 20, 2013 by

Landesa, which just won a $1.5 million Global Impact Award, used the hit television series Downton Abbey as an opportunity to comment on the issue of women’s land rights. The blog is now live on “As fans of Downton Abbey know, women’s lack of inheritance rights have brought down dynasties, impelled marriages and divided families.”

The New York Times Sinosphere featured a fascinating article about women’s land rights, and it linked to Landesa’s blog on women’s land rights that ran on and also cites their 17-province survey.

Google’s Global Impact Award will be used by Landesa and FrontlineSMS to transform the way land titling operates in developing countries, using mobile phones to change a slow, paper-based process into a more efficient, cost-effective system that communities and local governments can use to secure land rights for the most vulnerable populations.


Deforestation Rates Down August to November 2013

December 19, 2013 by

We’re happy to share this report from Imazon, which notes that deforestation rates are way down in the second half of the year. Here’s an excerpt from the report, which was covered in Globo:

“A survey done by an organization that strives to preserve the Amazon shows that in the last four months, there was a decrease in deforestation.

Imazon analyzed images from satellites that recorded the degradation of the Amazon rainforest between August and November 2013. Last year during the same period, 1,200 square kilometers were deforested. In 2013, it fell to 368 square kilometers.

According Imazon, deforestation fell because of increased surveillance and not just thanks to field operations, as well as technological advances. Illegal loggers were fleeing the reach of the satellites, just at the time of the Amazonian summer, when the cloud cover is smaller, and deforestation easier to detect.

‘Such monitoring is getting more intense and sophisticated . The only way to escape this surveillance is to try clearing during the rainy season, when you have more clouds, and satellites have trouble capturing and detecting deforestation,’ says Imazon Sr Researcher, Adalberto Verissimo.”

Read the rest:


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