Skoll Foundation Skoll Entrepeneurs Challenge - Now Live!


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


Richard Branson’s Blog about Nelson Mandela’s Funeral

December 18, 2013 by

Richard Branson, who is on The Elders‘ Advisory Council with Jeff Skoll and Sally Osberg, just wrote this blog that we’d like to share with you:

“It was a great honour to be present at Nelson Mandela’s funeral in his home village of Qunu. There is an African saying that you’ve not buried the person unless you go to the village, so it was a fitting send off to Madiba.

We drove through the night to get to the funeral, and were met by a magnificent rainbow, which seemed appropriate for this beautiful rainbow nation.  I spoke to a lovely five-year-old girl called Jamie, who summed up how we all felt when she said: ‘It really makes my heart sore. I think I might cry.’

The government organised the memorial service earlier this week, which was a great occasion shared by people all over the world celebrating the life of Madiba. If he had been organising it himself I’m sure there would have been a little more dancing and singing!”

Read the rest, and see photos:


Positioning local banks for success in smallholder finance

December 18, 2013 by

The Initiative for Smallholder Finance’s second briefing document, “A roadmap for growth: Positioning local banks for success in smallholder finance,” was published today. This briefing follows up on our first briefing in a series of knowledge products that will continue over the next few months. Here’s an excerpt of a blog about it by Tom Carroll of Dalberg:

“‘This demands action!’

That’s what we thought as we finished writing a report called “Catalyzing Smallholder Agricultural Finance,” authored in 2012 by Dalberg Global Development Advisors with support from the Citi and Skoll Foundations. Before the report, global development players of all stripes recognized smallholder farmers’ critical role in meeting the global demand for food and serving as stewards of vulnerable natural resources. Most also knew that the 450 million smallholders are a core component in pulling developing countries out of poverty, with large numbers of the world’s poorest people living in households dependent on agriculture for their livelihood.

Yet, despite recognizing smallholders’ importance, many did not fully comprehend the significant unmet demand for smallholder access to finance.  Nor did they fully understand what efforts were underway, and more importantly, what more could be done with focused resources. The report paired its most startling finding – that only 2 percent of the estimated $450 billion global demand for smallholder financing is met by formal institutions – with guidelines for five strategic pathways that can most rapidly meet this demand.

Our interviews with players already involved in the sector, including banks, investors, donors, NGOs, and companies made us realize that, while there are many excellent efforts underway, making a serious dent in the financing gap would require a more structured approach. The report generated substantial interest. Sources such as AgriFin and NextBillion reported on the new findings, and groups from multinational corporations to regional banks expressed a desire to dig deeper into our research.”

Read the rest:


Remembering Nelson Mandela: CNN and BBC Interviews with The Elders

December 9, 2013 by

Nelson Mandela was the founder of The Elders, which Skoll Foundation Founder Jeff Skoll and CEO Sally Osberg sit on the Advisory Council of. Several of the Elders have been speaking about Mandela in the media since his passing. Here are two interviews we’d like to share today.

Mary Robinson remembers Mandela on CNN:

“I think it’s extraordinary that the thoughts on the world are on one man that most people who feel very acutely about haven’t met, and yet they know he was an extraordinary man. I hope we will think more about, ‘What is the compelling nature of our sense that this man was the best of us? Because he was.  He did represent those values. He also was great fun, had wonderful comic timing and was very humble.”

Watch the rest above.

Jimmy Carter interview with Justin Webb, who asks “Could the Mandela template properly be used elsewhere?” on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme:

“Nelson was very pleased with what we [as the Elders] tried to do. The last time he went out in public to meet with The Elders in Johannesburg and he came to our hotel so we would have a photograph together. Nelson carried to his grave his total commitment to resolve issues peacefully, forgive those who hurt him personally,  and try to look at the best side of people with whom he had differences.”

Listen to the rest at 1 hour and 16 minutes:


The Skoll Foundation Mourns the Passing of Nelson Mandela

December 5, 2013 by

The Skoll Foundation mourns the passing of Nelson Mandela and expresses its deepest sympathy to his family.

“Madiba leaves behind a long legacy of compassion and an unwavering commitment to justice,” said Sally Osberg, President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation. “He inspires us all to continue to drive toward a more peaceful and prosperous world.”

As advisory council members for The Elders—a group of global leaders founded by Mandela—Skoll Foundation Founder and Chairman, Jeff Skoll, and Sally Osberg have had the privilege of benefiting from and supporting Mandela’s vision for peace, justice, and human rights.

The Elders have issued a statement commemorating Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy.

See it here:


Jeff Skoll on the Cover of Forbes Philanthropy Issue + New Article in Guardian Sustainable Business

December 2, 2013 by

Jeff Skoll is on the cover of the Dec. 2 issue of Forbes, on newsstands now. He penned an essay called “On the Power of a Good Story,” which we told you about a few weeks ago. Skoll Awardee Scott Gilmore is featured on page 100, in a piece talking about how he left the United Nations to focus on entrepreneurship instead of aid as a poverty solution. This past weekend he was also featured in Guardian Sustainable Business on a piece focusing on his philanthropy and films.

Learn more about the Forbes piece from the press release:

Forbes’ second annual Philanthropy special issue looks at the most generous givers and how they are changing our world. Last June, at the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy, Forbes brought together 150 billionaires and near-billionaires, plus a handful of leading social entrepreneurs, to discuss disruptive business models in philanthropy. Among those featured on the magazine cover include Bono, Bill Gates, the President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Robin Hood Founder Paul Tudor Jones, Microloan pioneer Muhammad YunusDikembe MutomboJeff Skoll and Liesel Pritzker Simmons. read more


Skoll Social Entrepreneurs Challenge Ends Tomorrow

November 21, 2013 by

As a friend of the Skoll Foundation, you heard from me in mid-October about the Skoll Social Entrepreneurs Challenge.

In partnership with CrowdRise and the Huffington Post, the Challenge kicked off on September 30, and only two weeks later, was just shy of the first $500,000 milestone.

Today—in the last week of the Challenge—the 57 participating organizations have reached a total of more than $1,800,000!

The simple truth is that we could not have reached this level without the support and dedication of friends like you.

The next two days mark our last big push to the finish line—the Challenge ends at 11:59 AM ET tomorrow, so please take a moment now to help this Community reach $2 million. Ambitious? Very! Achievable? With your help—yes! read more


$1M Social Entrepreneurs Challenge Campaign Slideshow

November 19, 2013 by
Our final crowdfunding push on behalf of participants in our Skoll Social Entrepreneurs Challenge on CrowdRise included a call to action to tell us what a difference $1 million could make in the lives of people all over the world. Through the generosity of so many individual donors, they have raised more than $1.5 million and are pushing hard to reach a goal of $2 million! The challenges ends Friday, November 22 at 9:59 a.m. EST. We love their heart and their images—which were inspired by the work of Robert X Fogarty— and hope the photos encourage you to help them achieve their goal.


read more


Jeff Skoll on 60 Minutes

November 17, 2013 by

Our founder Jeff Skoll was part of a 60 Minutes segment tonight about The Giving Pledge. Charlie Rose talked to Mr. Skoll about some of his films, the Skoll Global Threats Fund, and more. Watch it above.


Jeff Skoll in Forbes: “On The Power Of A Good Story”

November 13, 2013 by

Our founder, Jeff Skoll, just wrote an essay on Forbes reporter Kerry Dolan’s page about the power of a good story. An excerpt:

“When I was a kid, I read a lot. By the time I was a teenager I formed a view that the world of the future might not be pleasant, with overpopulation, competition for resources and terrible new weapons and wars. I wanted to be a writer and tell stories to get people interested in the big issues. I didn’t think that would be the best way to make a living, though, so I decided to become an entrepreneur. Fortunately I was the first full-time employee and president of eBay. When the company went public in 1998, I suddenly had more resources than I could imagine.

A few years later I revisited my childhood dream of telling stories that would change the world. I realized I didn’t have to write them myself but could hire writers and, better still, turn stories into movies, TV shows and other forms.

In 2004 I started Participant Media to tell stories to inspire and compel social change. I was met with encouraging remarks like, ‘The streets of Hollywood are littered with the carcasses of people who thought they were going to make movies in this town.” Or, “The surest way to become a millionaire is to start as a billionaire and go into the movie business.’

In 2005 we released our first four movies: Good Night and Good Luck, Syriana, Murderball and North Country. They earned 11 Oscar nominations.”

Read the rest:


Skoll Centre Venture Award Winners 2013

November 11, 2013 by

Congratulations to the three winners!


The press release:
Three brand-new ventures created by graduating MBA students at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School have won a Skoll Centre Venture Award this year. The annual Awards are won by MBA graduates of the School whose ventures are deemed to have the most potential to create large scale social impact. The three ventures, whose projects cover areas as diverse as agri-technology, travel booking and game-based learning, won individual awards of £20,000 each.

Travability UK is a web platform designed to make it easier for disabled people to organise and book travel. read more


Jeff Skoll Speaks on XPrize Insights: Video

November 6, 2013 by

In today’s one-minute video on XPrize Insights, our founder Jeff Skoll talks about a meeting with John Gardner that deeply influenced his life. XPRIZE Insights is a video series that highlights leading thinkers of our time. Skoll said that Gardner told him about “individuals who were dedicated to solving literacy or the health system, education, saving the rainforest… and they needed a different kind of backing and that was at the dawn of what became known as social entrepreneurship.”


What the Top CrowdRaise-rs Are Doing: Six Tips

November 4, 2013 by

As we head into the 6th week of the Skoll Social Entrepreneurs Challenge on CrowdRise, we wanted to give you an update on how the top organizations are leveraging their networks and coming up with creative ideas to raise funds.

The organizations that have raised the most—Center for Digital Inclusion, Pratham, Arzu, Half the Sky Foundation, International Bridges to Justice, and Root Capital—recently shared their tips on how to maximize donations to the Challenge:

• Get board members and advisory boards engaged—see if they can come up with strategies to raise awareness and raise funds.

• Encourage any expected donations to be made during the Challenge since the dollars will be leveraged.

• Have leaders reach out directly to potential donors. One social entrepreneur used her birthday as an outreach driver and got a great response.

• Email past donors, attendees from events and newsletter recipients. Create a direct message, highlight how funds will be used, and note the opportunity to leverage the $1 million Skoll Foundation match.

• Take advantage of in-person events—make a mention of the Challenge or email attendees afterwards with a link.

• Enlist fundraisers and personally reach out to them to set a fundraising goal. Some of the strategies fundraisers are using include auctioning off prizes per dollar amount raised, asking for donations in lieu of birthday presents, fundraising at events, and running a mile for every $100 raised.

For those of you that haven’t made a gift – we have only three more weeks to raise $1.5 million. Donate now so that you can stretch your donation even further with the Skoll Foundation’s $1 million match!

We’ve made it easy for you to donate to participating social entrepreneurs based on the issues they’re working on. Click on the organizations’ names below to go directly to their fundraising pages.

Environmental Sustainability

Amazon Conservation TeamBioRegional Development Group,EcopeaceForest Trends AssociationGlobal Footprint Network,Telapak Indonesia


Afghan Institute of Learning,  Child and Youth FinanceBarefoot CollegeBenetechCamfedCollege SummitFundacion Escuela NuevaHalf the Sky FoundationISDP-PakistanNCAT,  Pratham,Room to ReadSonidos de la TierraThe Citizens Foundation,Youthbuild

Economic Opportunity

ArzuBuilding MarketsCenter for Digital Inclusion,  Digital Divide DataFriends International, Gawad KalingaINJAZ Al-Arab,International Development Enterprises-IndiaKashf Foundation,Landesa, NidanProximity DesignsRoot Capital,


APOPOBasic NeedsCiudad Saludable, Gram VikasHealth Care without HarmMothers2MothersRiders for HealthSaude CriancaWater for PeopleWorld Health Partners

Peace & Human Rights

Independent DiplomatInternational Bridges to Justice,International Center for Transitional JusticeOneVoiceRoots of PeaceSearch for Common GroundTostanWITNESSVisayan Forum Foundation

Sustainable Markets

CeresFairTrade USAGoodWeaveVerite


Muhammad Yunus in the Financial Times: A Profile

October 28, 2013 by

Skoll Global Treasure Award winner Muhammad Yunus just sat down with the Financial Times for an interview about his life. Yunus is very dear to the Skoll Foundation; not only has he spoken at several Skoll World Forums, he was just honored this past year (see video, above). Here is an excerpt of the profile about him:

“The roots of Yunus’s fame go back to the mid-1970s, when he was head of the university economics department in the Bangladesh port of Chittagong. He was born just outside the city – his father was a jeweller and the family lived above his shop – and he had returned there after six years of study and teaching in the US.

Wanting to understand the reasons for the dire poverty all around, he paid visits to a village near the university campus where he discovered people so poor that they could not pay for the raw materials needed for their tiny businesses. They were reliant on usurious middlemen. Yunus was moved to lend 42 of them $27 out of his own pocket to break the cycle.

It was the start of the microcredit revolution. Traditionally, banks shun the poorest as bad credit risks, since they have no collateral for loans. But with a series of increasingly ambitious experiments – initially with himself as guarantor for bank loans – Yunus established that many of the poorest could be good repayers: they knew a line of credit was their only chance to break out of indigence.

Out of this grew Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank, dedicated to lending small sums to tiny entrepreneurs. Then, as now, many were illiterate and more than 90 per cent were female – itself revolutionary in an Islamic country with a conservative attitude to women working.”

Read the rest:

And hear him speaking at past Skoll World Forum events:


Crowdfunding for Social Entrepreneurs: Raising the Bar

October 28, 2013 by

We are entering the fifth week of the Skoll Social Entrepreneurs Challenge on CrowdRise. So far, the organizations have raised more than $809,000—mostly from small-to-mid-sized donations.

In leading this Challenge, we are looking at what’s working best, to help organizations raise even more funds.

The top six organizations that have raised the most—Center for Digital Inclusion, Pratham, Arzu, Half the Sky Foundation, International Bridges to Justice, and Root Capital—account for more than 60 percent of the total raised so far. We’ve seen that the organizations that have reached out directly to their networks and supporters by sending short, targeted emails, have performed best.

So far, the Challenge has resulted in more than 2,600 donations made to participating Skoll social entrepreneurs. Individual donation amounts have averaged around $250—much higher than in the last CrowdRise challenge the Skoll Foundation co-organized, in which most donations averaged less than $100.

Haven’t checked it out yet? Click here to have a look, and let us know what you think via Twitter (@skollfoundation) or

Also check out the Challenge blog series, co-produced with the Huffington Post, where Skoll Awardees share insights into their work, and show the impact that your money can have.

If you’re inspired, make a donation and share the Challenge with your networks.

If you’d like to see participating social entrepreneurs by the issues they’re working on, see below. Clicking on the organizations’ names takes you directly to their fundraising pages.

Only four more weeks to raise $1.5 million! Get ahead of the end-of-year giving rush and make your donation go even further by taking advantage of the Skoll Foundation’s $1 million match!

Environmental Sustainability

Amazon Conservation TeamBioRegional Development Group,EcopeaceForest Trends AssociationGlobal Footprint Network,Telapak Indonesia


Afghan Institute of Learning,  Child and Youth FinanceBarefoot CollegeBenetechCamfedCollege SummitFundacion Escuela NuevaHalf the Sky FoundationISDP-PakistanNCAT,  Pratham,Room to ReadSonidos de la TierraThe Citizens Foundation,Youthbuild

Economic Opportunity

ArzuBuilding MarketsCenter for Digital Inclusion,  Digital Divide DataFriends International, Gawad KalingaINJAZ Al-Arab,International Development Enterprises-IndiaKashf Foundation,Landesa, NidanProximity DesignsRoot Capital,


APOPOBasic NeedsCiudad Saludable, Gram VikasHealth Care without HarmMothers2MothersRiders for HealthSaude CriancaWater for PeopleWorld Health Partners

Peace & Human Rights

Independent DiplomatInternational Bridges to Justice,International Center for Transitional JusticeOneVoiceRoots of PeaceSearch for Common GroundTostanWITNESSVisayan Forum Foundation

Sustainable Markets

CeresFairTrade USAGoodWeaveVerite


Roots of Peace Visits the Vatican

October 9, 2013 by

Heidi Kuhn of Roots of Peace just visited Pope Francis with her daughter. Here she shares a photo and her experience:

“Pope Francis is ‘blessing the hands’ of a mother/daughter who are literally turning mines to vines worldwide.  St. Francis is the namesake of San Francisco, so our presence was most timely. Together, we shared our mission to replace the scourge of land mines with bountiful vineyards, as we heal the soil and soul for future generations to cultivate in peace.  His Holiness remarked, ‘Pray for me…’

Fifteen photos were taken during our ‘private audience’—including our presentation of the magnum of Grgich Hills wine from Paris Tasting—personally signed by Mike Grgich. The three days at The Vatican cultivated many friendships—including Cardinal Peter Turkson & Cardinal Renato Martino.”

Read about her previous visit to the Vatican:


10 Tips for Social Entrepreneurs: How to Talk to a Problem Employee

October 7, 2013 by

In my time as a human resources director at the Skoll Foundation, I have talked many social entrepreneurs and one question that seems to come up often is: How do we attract and keep the best people, and at the same time address the issue of low performers?

We’ll talk mostly today about how to address poor performers, but interestingly the two are very much related. Allowing a poor performer to stay on a team indefinitely brings the team down and affects everyone’s job satisfaction.

Social entrepreneurs have very high ethical and moral codes regarding how they want to treat people.  So, it’s understandable that they may consider giving a poor performer honest and direct feedback to be unnecessarily harsh.  In addition, many think of their teams as extended family, which can make giving tough feedback more difficult.  However, in the world of social change there is important work to be done and we need the best possible talent to do it. Thus, we need to “keep the bar high” for all.  It seems that many social entrepreneurs have extremely high standards for themselves, but feel guilty applying those same standards to others. read more


Skoll Foundation and The Huffington Post Launch First Crowdfunding Challenge for Social Entrepreneurs

September 30, 2013 by

Up to $1 million in prize funding on Edward Norton’s CrowdRise

PALO ALTO, CA, September 30, 2013 – The Skoll Foundation, in partnership with The Huffington Post, is launching its first crowdfunding challenge designed to provide some of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs with an innovative platform to raise funds.

The “Skoll Social Entrepreneurs Challenge,” hosted on Edward Norton’s platform CrowdRise, has the potential to leverage up to $1 million in prize funding from the Skoll Foundation, including $250,000 in dedicated prize money through daily and weekly challenges and up to $750,000 in additional matching funds to be shared by all participants as fundraising thresholds are reached during the campaign.

The prize funding will go to the groups that raise the most through the Challenge. The top fundraising organization will receive $50,000; the runner-up will receive $40,000; and the organizations in third place through fifth place will receive $30,000, $20,000 and $10,000 respectively. Plus, an additional $100,000 in bonus prizing will be awarded throughout the Challenge. read more


FSG Releases 8 Case Studies of Collective Impact Initiatives

September 27, 2013 by

FSG is a nonprofit consulting firm specializing in research, strategy, and evaluation. They just released eight case studies of successful collective impact initiatives and we wanted to share them with you.

Here’s what they said:

“One of the most common questions we hear about collective impact is, ‘What works?’

To share examples of successful collective impact initiatives, we’ve created a series of case studies that feature collective impact initiatives across a range of issues areas. Each brief case study describes how the initiative began, how the five components of collective impact have taken shape, their results to date, and lessons learned. Many case studies also include a practitioner interview with the initiative’s backbone leader.

Backbone organizations, funders, and partners of collective impact initiatives will find these resources particularly valuable as a way to learn from other practitioners.”

Find out more about these collective impact initiatives:

–          Communities that Care

–          E3 Alliance

–          Memphis Fast Forward

–          Opportunity Chicago

–          Partners for a Competitive Workforce

–          The Road Map Project

–          Shape Up Somerville

–          Vibrant Communities


New Profile of Jeff Skoll in Fast Company Co.Exist

September 23, 2013 by

Today, Fast Co.Exist published an article profiling our founder, Jeff Skoll. An excerpt:

“Skoll’s first solo philanthropic venture was the Skoll Foundation, which focuses on investing and celebrating those working to address the most pressing problems. Having seen social entrepreneurship on the rise and in need of a different model of support, the foundation has been at the forefront of supporting this hybrid business.

‘These are people who need unrestricted funding,’ Skoll says. ‘They need the understanding as entrepreneurs that they can change directions and find the highest leverage that they possibly can and it may be different than how they started out. They also need long-term support.’

After establishing an academic home for social entrepreneurship at Oxford University’s new business school, the Skoll Foundation hosted its first conference in 2003.

‘It turned into a little bit of a mini-Woodstock where you had all these incredible people who were out doing amazing work that had previously thought they were alone and didn’t realize there were like-minded folks working maybe not on the same issues but in similar ways,’ Skoll says.”

Read the rest:


© 2014 Skoll Foundation.