Skoll Foundation




July 24, 2014 by

The latest United Nations Human Development Index presents an “incomplete” and “confusing” picture of social progress. This is according to Michael Green, executive director of the non-profit Social Progress Imperative (SPI) which this year launched the Social Progress Index. His complete statement follows:

“The Human Development Index was critical in the early 1990s in changing the way the world measures progress. Today, the picture it paints of how the world is developing is incomplete and confusing. HDI ignores crucial aspects of wellbeing such as rights and freedoms and environmental sustainability, it is distorted by the reliance on GDP per capita as one of the main indicators, and is blind to new problems of human development such as obesity. The 21st century demands new measures of progress.

“For example, HDI counts Saudi Arabia as a country with Very High and rapidly rising Human Development. Yet that result is a reflection of the country’s oil wealth not the real level of social progress. Our analysis, based on the Social Progress Index that uses only social and environmental measures, is that Saudi Arabia is lagging not leading on many aspects of wellbeing, particularly on rights and freedoms.

“Among emerging economies, Russia is the top-performing BRICS country according to HDI. This masks a host of issues around rights and environmental sustainability that are highlighted by the Social Progress Index. read more


Girl Summit: Highlights from Tostan, Girls Not Brides, and Camfed

July 23, 2014 by

Yesterday, the UK hosted the first Girl Summit, aimed at mobilizing domestic and international efforts to end female genital cutting (FGC) and child, early and forced marriage within a generation. UNICEF co-hosted the event and said prevalence of child marriage is decreasing “slightly” but that population growth means the number of young brides could remain stagnant.

Skoll Awardees Girls Not Brides, Camfed and Tostan were featured in many of the news stories coming out of the Summit. Perhaps the biggest? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will start a major study on FGC female genital mutilation. Other news:

*Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Washington Post op-ed, which discussed how like-minded organizations are linking together across continents. “Joined by groups as varied as Uganda’s Amani Initiative and Indonesia’s child empowerment groups in the districts of Grobogan and Dompu, the work of what are popularly called “the wedding busters” is now being coordinated globally by Plan International and Girls Not Brides,” he wrote. read more


Fundacion Paraguaya Receives Highest Grade by Moody’s

July 22, 2014 by

Congratulations, Fundación Paraguaya! Moody’s Analytics just announced that Fundación Paraguaya achieved the “highest overall score” and that its customers (mainly low-income women) are its highest priority. More from the press release:

“Moody’s Analytics announced today that it has completed a social performance assessment (SPA) of Fundación Paraguaya, which provides financial services to mainly self-employed, low-income women and training in entrepreneurship in Paraguay, where it also runs four agricultural schools. Fundación Paraguaya is a Kiva partner and member of Acción International, Teach a Man to Fish and the Paraguay Microfinance Network. It currently has approximately 58,000 customers. Moody’s Analytics assigned Fundación Paraguaya an SPA grade of SP2 following on-site due diligence of the organization’s operations and interviews with customers and staff, and achieved the highest overall score by an MFI to date on a global basis. The grade signifies that Fundación Paraguaya’s infrastructure and processes are consistent with a high likelihood of operating in the best interests of its customers, and that this is among its highest priorities.”

Learn more:


World Health Partners Expands to Africa

July 21, 2014 by

We’re happy to share the news that World Health Partners (WHP), which started in India five years ago, is now in western Kenya. WHP Founder and President Gopi Gopalakrishnan wrote a blog about the expansion in the Huffington Post:

“At first glance, expansion into Africa seems a counterintuitive step for WHP. Our expertise is in India. We have spent half a decade navigating challenges unique to the Indian health system. And, though we are proud of our progress, there remains no shortage of work in rural India. Yet, WHP’s mission has always been to deliver health services to those in need, a philosophy that is agnostic to country or region, and one that means working where the needs are greatest.”

Read the rest:


Global Witness on “Undoing the Resource Curse” in Afghanistan

July 17, 2014 by

The Afghan policy advisor at Global Witness, Jodi Vittori, just wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times called “Undoing Afghanistan’s Resource Curse,” which says a new mining law may fuel corruption and conflict. Vittori urges the U.S. government to reform the bill before it becomes law. An excerpt:

The resource curse could undermine everything the U.S. has invested in Afghanistan since 2001: 14 years of fighting, hundreds of billions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost. The law is one obvious tool that could help prevent that fate from becoming a reality. The Obama administration, and its Afghan partners, cannot claim to be blind to the risks if this is not done right. They must act now.

Read the rest:


“Revolutionary Optimists” Nominated for an Emmy

July 16, 2014 by

“The Revolutionary Optimists,” a film which was part of the Skoll Foundation/Sundance Stories of Change, was nominated for a 2014 Emmy in the category “Outstanding Business and Economic Reporting, Long Form.” The  News & Documentary Emmy Awards will be presented on Sept. 30 in New York City.

A synopsis:

Children are saving lives in the slums of Calcutta. Amlan Ganguly doesn’t rescue children; he empowers them to become change agents, battling poverty and transforming their neighborhoods with dramatic results. “The Revolutionary Optimists” follows Amlan and the children he works with – Shika, Salim, Kajal and Priyanka – on an intimate journey through adolescence, as they bravely fight the forces that oppress them. Using street theater, dance, and data as their weapons, the children have mounted vaccination drives to close the final mile with polio vaccination, turned garbage dumps into playing fields, and conducted education campaigns that have resulted in a significant drop in malaria and diarrhea in their neighborhood. Through intimate footage with the children, we witness not only the changes they are able to make in their neighborhood, but also the changes in the kids themselves.

Learn more about the powerful impact the film has had since it aired:




Announcing the new Skoll Scholars for 2014-15

July 16, 2014 by

The Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Saïd Business School in Oxford is delighted to announce the latest intake of Skoll Scholars for academic year 2014-15. The four Scholars, who were selected as recipients of this highly competitive scholarship following a rigorous application and interview process, will commence their MBA studies this autumn.

The four new Scholars for 2014-15 are:

1. Nora Petty of Ann Arbor MI, USA.  Nora has spent the past seven years committed to ending deaths caused by malaria, working with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and the Malaria Consortium. In order to reach underserved populations, she designed and led innovative public-private partnerships to reduce prices and increase availability of malaria diagnostic tests and medicines in private sector outlets. Through these programmes, millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa have been able to afford high-quality, life-saving treatments.

2. Nikhil Nair of Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh in India. Nikhil comes to oxford with over 6 years of experience in the solar industry. Having worked with rural markets in India and East Africa, he is extremely passionate about delivering sustainable energy services to such markets. After spending a couple of years  at a Solar Cell and Module manufacturing plant in the UAE,  Nikhil moved back to India and spent the next three years working at the social enterprise SELCO Solar. At SELCO, Nikhil managed expansion into new geographies and lead projects such as solar powering rural milk testing centers, vaccine storage boxes for rural clinics, low cost computing solutions , community mobile charging centers and the Solar Education-Bus project. Nikhil is a currently a consultant to M-KOPA Solar, Kenya, where he works with the sales team on scaling the delivery of solar energy systems into rural Kenya. Nikhil holds a degree in Business Management from Christ University, India.  read more


Latin Patriarch Of Jerusalem Honors Roots Of Peace

July 14, 2014 by

His Beatitude Latin Patriarch of JerusalemFouad Twal, one of the top leaders in the Catholic Church worldwide, was in the San Francisco Bay Area today to honor Roots of Peace, known for its work removing landmines and returning the land to agriculture in war-torn countries. Here’s more from the press release:

“‘Roots of Peace is a shining example of the power of a non-profit to help change nations quietly and peacefully through agricultural education. They have gained interfaith respect from different religious leaders around the world for leading the effort to help families in war ravaged lands not just survive but thrive on former minefields, providing desperately needed food security for themselves and food for export to support their families,” said Fouad Twal. “When families can take care of their own peacefully, they don’t have to resort to violence. That is why I honored CEO Heidi Kuhn with the first ever Peace Medal in the Church’s history in 2013.’

The visit is particularly timely given the recent announcement from The White House that the United States will not produce or acquire any anti-personnel landmines in the future, including to replace expiring stockpiles. Roots of Peace has been a standing member of the International Campaign To Ban Landmines and its U.S. affiliate the USCBL since 1999, and champion of the Ottawa Treaty, which calls for a worldwide treaty totally prohibiting anti-personnel mines. read more


Malala Shares What “Ambition” Means to Her

July 14, 2014 by

Today is Malala Day. Malala Yousafzai was awarded the Skoll Global Treasure Award at the Skoll World Forum earlier this year, and  is the ambassador and co-founder of the Malala Fund and global human rights activist. We chatted with her about what “ambition” means to her, and wanted to share it.

For her 17th birthday today, according to national press, she “marked her 17th birthday Monday with a visit to Nigeria and urged Islamic extremists to free the 219 schoolgirls who were kidnapped there, calling them her ‘sisters.’”

Earlier this month, Malala visited Kenya on a trip hosted by Skoll Awardee Free the Children, which you can learn more about here.

Don’t miss her Global Treasure acceptance speech, in which she says, “We fight for peace, justice and harmony so that we can move forward and create a better world. I will use this award to continue my campaign for the education of every child through the Malala Fund. I hope that you will support children to go to school and be what they want and fulfill their dreams and I pledge to support you as well.”


Meet the Skoll Foundation: Raymond Guthrie

July 11, 2014 by

As a Principal on the Innovation Investment team at the Skoll Foundation, Raymond Guthrie develops and structures time-bound investment opportunities around Skoll social entrepreneurs. Every day, he and his team ask: Where can our investments make the most impact? What factors need to be considered? How can we test our theories?

Prior to joining Skoll, Raymond worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development in India, and at Calvert Investments, a large socially-responsible investment fund. He holds a Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of Miami, a Juris Doctor from Howard University, and speaks French and Vietnamese.

Tell us about your job. What do you like best?

The Innovation Investment program at Skoll is focused on doubling down on proven innovations from our portfolio of social entrepreneurs. We look at past Skoll Awardees and consider where they’re getting the most traction and where the ecosystem looks ready to take up their innovations. Our goal in making an Innovation Investment is to accelerate the impact that our Awardees can have in solving the world’s most pressing problems.

In each case, we look at what types, shapes, and sizes of solutions the problem requires, as opposed to only looking at one way of doing things. This approach gives us a lot of flexibility in solution delivery. It’s not just about “grants” or “equity investments”—sometimes we fund across the entire ecosystem.

I also spend a lot of time talking to other funders to see what they are focusing on, and get their views on certain aspects. Some of the things we hear are truly groundbreaking, and that’s exciting. Because I’m the person that says no more than yes, I ask a lot of questions. There’s so much rigor and analysis that goes into what we are doing, and this greater understanding of the ecosystem informs our funding. It puts us in the best position to help drive innovative systems change.

What’s a typical day like for you?

Every day is a new adventure. I’m usually speaking with the relevant funders and practitioners in the different sectors in which we’re focusing our investments. I talk to entrepreneurs about testing our theories, and gather more information about what’s happening on the ground.

We do a lot of analysis and research. For example, if we’re investing in healthcare, I read up on the maternal/child mortality situation in Lesotho and then go talk to the Global Fund manager for Lesotho to find out how our theory might fit into their strategy and how it would support other programs. First, I look at the drivers, then I go talk to the actors in that country and ask them what they’re thinking. It’s a mix of in-person and on the phone, and I travel frequently to do site visits. This July I’ll be going to South Africa. I also attend and speak at conferences relevant to our work.

What was your last job and how did it prepare you for working at the Skoll Foundation?

I was in the Foreign Service before this, living in New Delhi and working in the U.S. Embassy. I traveled throughout India to see problems firsthand, and it really helped me contextualize the work I’m doing here. There I worked on a program that provided seed funding to Indian social entrepreneurs, including a clean energy project in the Himalayas.

What are some of the new issues or trends you see popping?

I’m seeing more and more local entrepreneurs going back to their home countries after getting their educations elsewhere. There are also kids who are staying, getting great educations in their home countries and working as social entrepreneurs in their communities. And that’s exciting!


Landesa’s Security for Girls through Land project featured

July 10, 2014 by

Yesterday, the Morning News website featured Landesa’s Security for Girls through Land project in a fun feature called “Bang for Your Buck.”

An excerpt from the article:

“A dollar can help a girl in West Bengal, India participate in The Girls Project. Through a partnership between the Government of West Bengal and Landesa, more than 40,000 girls participating in the project attend bi-monthly meeting where they learn about their rights to attend school, to not be married as a child, and to one day inherit land. The girls also learn intensive gardening skills and grow a kitchen garden on any spare land in their compound. Many of the girls grow gourds on the roof of their house, mushrooms under their beds, and leafy greens along the perimeter of their homestead. The food boosts nutrition, helps redefine what the girls are capable of, and often helps the girls pay school fees. It costs about one dollar per participant per year.”

In other Landesa news, Funds for NGOs is featuring Landesa as its NGO of the month in July:


David Brooks Praises B Corporations

July 9, 2014 by

New York Times columnist David Brooks just wrote an op-ed praising B Corporations. Here’s what Skoll Awardees Jay Coen Gilbert, Bart Houlahan and Andrew Kassoy of B Lab had to say about it:

“Are you Lennon or McCartney or both?

David Brooks’ OpEd on B Corps yesterday in the New York Times holds up the creativity and leadership of B Corps as a promising synthesis of competing world views about how to solve society’s most pressing problems.

‘B Corporations are a way to transcend the contradictions between the ineffective parts of the social sector and myopic capitalism.’

It seems a pretty big deal, and an important bit of mainstream market validation, for a moderate thought leader like Brooks to dedicate an entire OpEd to B Corps, framing the movement as he has.”
Congratulations, B Lab!



Entrepreneur magazine: “How Fair Trade Went From a Crazy Coffee Concept to a Global Sustainability Trend”

July 9, 2014 by

Paul Rice and Fair Trade USA were just profiled in Entrepreneur. The piece focused on Paul’s innovation and ability to look ahead at a big trend. An excerpt:

“Don’t tell Paul Rice his idea is ridiculous. That idea you just scoffed at might just become a global phenomenon.Today, Fair Trade is flourishing, but getting started wasn’t easy. Rice says his idea was repeatedly rejected, with food companies saying consumers wouldn’t pay a premium for ethically-produced goods…

The first product to be Fair Trade certified was coffee – and, for many people today, that is where the awareness of Fair Trade certified products starts and ends. Admittedly, coffee is still the largest category for Fair Trade. In 1998, Fair Trade USA’s first year, 76,000 pounds of coffee were certified. In 2013, 154 million pounds were certified. In total, Fair Trade USA has certified more than 1 billion pounds of coffee.”

Read the rest:


Malala Makes First Trip to Africa, Hosted by Free the Children

July 7, 2014 by

Who can forget the moving speech given by Malala Yousafzai at the Skoll World Forum this year? Malala, who won the Skoll Global Treasure Award, just went to Kenya, hosted by Skoll Awardee Craig Kielburger, founder of Free the Children.

Details from the press release:

On her first trip to Africa, education activist and Malala Fund co-founder Malala Yousafzai said she was inspired by the dreams and determination of the schoolgirls she met while learning about the many challenges they have overcome to obtain an education.

The 16-year-old spent several days speaking with girls from rural Kenyan communities about their passionate desire to go to school and the many obstacles they encounter, including discrimination, poverty, child labor and early marriage. Malala said the moving stories the girls shared with her will strengthen her work as an education advocate. Malala visited Kenya recently on behalf of the Malala Fund, a foundation that empowers girls through education.

“I came to Africa to raise awareness about the 58 million children not in primary school who face numerous barriers to education,” Malala said. “I was particularly inspired to meet young girls in Kenya who are so passionate about getting an education, building their future and the future of their country.”

Malala was hosted by Craig Kielburger, co-founder of Free The Children, a global organization of children engaged in service and development programs. Free The Children’s young supporters have raised funds to build more than 650 schools and schoolrooms throughout the developing world, while the organization works to topple the barriers to education.

Read the rest. 


New Teacher Center Launches “Ask a Mentor” Online

July 2, 2014 by

If you’re a teacher of sixth to twelfth grade science, technology, engineering or math, you might want to check out The new site enables a teacher to upload a video of a classroom issue, and get expert support and advice right away.

“It would be phenomenal if every new teacher in the country had access to the support of a mentor and a high-quality new teacher induction program,” Ellen Moir, New Teacher Center founder and CEO, said in a press release. “While we work on making this vision a reality, we believe ‘Ask a Mentor’ can help greater numbers of new teachers across the country become more effective by accessing the expert guidance of specially-trained, accomplished teachers.”

The site is now in beta and will eventually be open to all teachers. It officially launches in late August.

Learn more: “We Need a B Lab for Sports”

July 1, 2014 by

Skoll Awardee B Lab was just featured in a article about ethics in sports. interviewed B Lab co-founder Jay Coen Gilbert and wrote that “we need a B Lab for sports.” An excerpt:

“Moving forward, how do we find out if our sports teams – beneficiaries of antitrust exemptions and taxpayer subsidies for their palatial stadia – actually share our values?

The answer is simple: we need a B Lab for sports. B Lab is the nonprofit started in 2006 by three successful one-time college buddies, two of whom were founders of AND1, the groundbreaking basketball apparel company that had $250 million in sales at its peak and appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2005.  This year, B Lab received a Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship for jump-starting what is commonly referred to as the ‘B Corp’ movement. B Lab’s insignia – the B stands for Benefit — confers a type of Good Housekeeping seal of approval when it comes to social responsibility for over 1,000 companies, including well-known brands such as Patagonia and Revolution Foods. ‘Many companies say they’re socially responsible,’ says co-founder Jay Coen-Gilbert, a self-described pragmatic idealist and capitalist. ‘But how do you know if that’s just marketing? A company could be in a LEED certified building, but if they’re not paying their employees a living wage, are they really socially responsible?’”

Read the rest:


Three Months Later: Charmian Gooch Reflects on the TED Prize

June 27, 2014 by

Three months ago, Skoll Awardee Charmian Gooch won the TED Prize. TED, the nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, awards its $1 million annual prize to an extraordinary individual with a bold, creative vision to spark global change. Charmian’s wish was to “end anonymous companies” and she announced it live from the main stage at the annual TED Conference.

Charmian recently sat down for a Q and A on the TED blog and talked about what she’s doing now, why she’s focusing on anonymous companies, what keeps her going, and answered questions some raised about her wish being “unrealistic.”

An excerpt:

“Q: First of all, congratulations on winning the TED Prize. How does it feel three months on?

A: It’s been amazing. The pace is speeding up, not slowing down. The TED wish launch in March was a sort of ‘take off’ moment for us. The issue is out there. In the UK, we have this lovely medieval tradition where the Queen gives a speech once a year, during which she lays out the upcoming laws that her Government is planning to introduce. Establishing a public register of company ownership is one of them. There’s also a lot of movement too in the EU Parliament, which voted in favor of public registries just before the March TED conference, and we’ve also had some really exciting, stimulating conversations around this in the US, where it’s a bit more nascent.”

Read the rest:


Mindy Lubber: New Report “Ups the Ante on Climate Change”

June 25, 2014 by

A major new climate-change report authored by three Treasury secretaries and others sums up the high expense on the economy from global warming. Skoll Awardee Mindy Lubber posted a blog with her reaction to the report:

“The fact that this group has come together to release such an important report is yet another indication that the financial community is taking climate change seriously. But the Risky Business project and today’s report makes it more clear than ever that there are twobig elephants in the room: policymakers in the U.S. and around the world who are lagging in enacting tougher policies to reduce greenhouse gases; and investors who remain fixated with short-term profits at the expense of sustainable, long-term business strategies that will protect the global environment and economy.”

Read the rest:


Carne Ross Weighs in on Iraq on The Rachel Maddow Show

June 23, 2014 by

Carne Ross of Independent Diplomat recently answered questions about Iraq on The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC.

The six-minute interview covered the quality of the debate (which he called “confused”), significance of the U.S. troops going in and whether or not it’s important (he said it’s not too significant), whether or not the U.S. can work with allies and if Iranians need to be engaged, possible solutions, the fate of the Kurds and political reorientation in the region, the crisis in Syria, and more. Watch it above.





Friends of the Earth Middle East Helps a Village Become a World Heritage site

June 22, 2014 by

Congratulations, Friends of the Earth Middle East! The ancient agricultural terrace of the West Bank village of Battir just became a registered UNESCO World Heritage site, and was also listed as “endangered.” The news was covered in the Jerusalem Post, CNN, and other media. A statement from FoEME:

EcoPeace / Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) is very glad to report that after many years of relentless work towards protecting the beautiful terraced landscape of Battir, yesterday afternoon UNESCO registered Battir as a World Heritage site in danger. Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director at FoEME says: “At this difficult moment of continued violence in the region, Battir remains a ray of hope for cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians towards a better future.”

Nader Khateeb, FoEME’s Palestinian Director added: “FoEME now awaits the decision of the High Court of Israel as to whether the court will prevent the building of the Separation Barrier and accept FoEME’s petition that there are alternative means to maintain security without destroying what is officially, as of yesterday, a site of World Heritage to all of humanity.”

FoEME congratulates the Battir Village Council, our “Good Water Neighbor” communities, local Palestinian and Israeli activists, our staff and our many supporters for this UNESCO listing.

Learn more from the Associated Press.


© 2014 Skoll Foundation.