Skoll Foundation


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:



What will Crowdfunding Look Like in 2014? The Skoll Social Entrepreneurs Challenge Raises the Bar

January 2, 2014 by

In recent years, crowdfunding models of the type that support a new product—like a prototype for a cool new watch, or a friend’s idea for a new genre of art, or an important cause, like a marathon runner’s mission to run in honor of a family member or friend—have swept the social change landscape.

With the successful close of the Skoll Social Entrepreneurs Challenge, we saw crowdfunding embracing the age of the social entrepreneur. The Challenge raised $2.4 million—double the amount of any other Skoll Foundation crowdfunding campaign. Of the organizations participating, an average of $37,804 was raised. That’s more than three times the average raised by a charity participating in a CrowdRise Challenge.

Skoll Social Entrepreneurs Challenge organizations are recipients of the “Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.” Working on the frontlines, social entrepreneurs fight disease, poverty, and injustice with their innovative approaches, proving that: health care, education, and basic needs can be delivered efficiently and equitably; that sustainability trumps depletion; and that large-scale impact is possible. Learn more about the winners here.

Embracing unique incentive structures, social media tools, and e-marketing strategies mimicking the most successful online retailers, CrowdRise Challenges like these have seen phenomenal leverage in turning seed money into an impact many times greater than even the best dollar-for-dollar matching campaigns. Skoll’s $250,000 prize money was leveraged 9:1 in the latest Challenge. Leverage and scale is not only important for enacting a socially disruptive idea, it’s also a growing way to drive financial support for those ideas. 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:


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:


Andrea Coleman’s Home—and Life—Featured in the Financial Times

December 16, 2013 by

Andrea Coleman of Riders for Health speaks about her Northamptonshire (UK) house, her first motorcycle as a teen, her career beginnings, and of course, founding Riders for Health in a new profile about her in the Financial Times. An excerpt:

“In 1990, Coleman and her husband [Barry Coleman] co-founded Riders for Health. And they have dedicated their lives to the project ever since.

‘Barry’s job was to make sure systems were created to be able to reach rural communities,’ says Coleman. ‘How do you run and train teams? How do you create a system where vehicles can be maintained where they are needed, rather than have a truck do 4,000km to get back to the main city?’ Using imported Japanese motorcycles, they began equipping communities across Africa to deliver better access to healthcare.

Coleman’s first trip to Africa (to Lesotho) made a powerful impression on her. ‘The thing that made me most determined to do what we do was seeing health workers – decent honest people, mainly women, who were needed 20 miles away,’ she says. ‘They were expected to walk and leave their families. What can you carry? What can you do when you get there? You’re exhausted. Or you go on a bus which breaks down or doesn’t get there at all. There are vehicles that have been around 100 years. All you have to do is look after them.’”Read the rest:


Kiva Receives $3 Million Google Global Impact Award to Launch Kiva Labs

December 13, 2013 by

Some great news from Kiva: read more


Saude Crianca’s Success Rates Featured in New York Times “Fixes”

December 11, 2013 by

David Bornstein wrote about Associação Saúde Criança in today’s New York Times “Fixes” column, highlighting a Georgetown University study which underscores the organization’s great success. An excerpt:

“….it’s worth paying attention to the work of an organization called the Associação Saúde Criança (ASC), based in Rio de Janeiro, which helps poor, urban families with seriously ill children. A recent study conducted by three researchers from Georgetown University found that the organization produced surprisingly strong results — including an 85 percent decrease in hospitalizations and a 92 percent increase in household income — results sustained years after the program stopped working with the families (pdf)…

It works like this: Hospitals refer vulnerable families with sick children directly to Saúde Criança, and they work intensively with families for two years on average. The ASC network currently enlists 1,000 volunteers who help mothers develop customized action plans. (It’s impressive to see. I have visited the program in Rio de Janeiro numerous times. I reported on it in a book published 10 years ago.) read more


New films bring community voices to the forefront on Human Rights Day 2013

December 10, 2013 by

In celebration of UN-recognized International Human Rights Day on December 10th, nonprofit organizations Tostan and Venice Arts, together with the Sundance Institute and The Skoll Foundation, will premiere a series of participant-produced films from community members in Senegal.

Through the three short films, which have been produced following training in participant-led media techniques and documentary filmmaking, community members share their own stories about how their lives are changing.

Earlier this year, Tostan was awarded a $20,000 grant by Stories of Change, a project of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and Fund (DFP), supported by the Skoll Foundation, to train community members in participant-led filmmaking, which gives the power of the storytelling back to communities, providing them with the opportunity to share stories that are the most meaningful to them.

The training and technical support was undertaken by renowned filmmakers and trainers Venice Arts and additional funding for the project was received from Sida, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. read more


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:


Embrace, Sal Khan Win The Economist Innovation Awards 2013

December 5, 2013 by

The Economist’s Innovation Awards took place a few days ago, and two Skoll community members won:

  • Process and service innovation: Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy, for creating a free online-education platform that now serves more than 10m students each month and has delivered more than 300m lessons.
  • Social and economic innovation: Jane ChenRahul PanickerNaganand Murty and Linus Liang of Embrace, for developing a low-cost incubator to reduce neonatal deaths in the developing world. More than 20,000 babies in a dozen countries have benefited from its design, similar to a sleeping bag. Capricorn Investment Group, which manages capital on behalf of investors, including Jeff Skoll and the Skoll Foundation, is one of the lead investors.

The awards “celebrated the people who have changed the game and the twists and turns of ideation and creation. They acclaimed the innovations that  transformed the world we live in.”

200 guests attended, comprising of leading figures from business, academia, science, R&D and government for the presentation of our awards at the BAFTA Theatre, Piccadilly, London.

Learn more:


Gawad Kalinga Receives Award for Typhoon Relief

December 4, 2013 by

Congratulations to Gawad Kalinga for its incredible relief efforts!

An excerpt from the Philippine Inquirer:

“For his efforts in leading emergency and rehabilitation work in Eastern Visayas following the devastation left behind by Supertyphoon Yolanda, an official of the poverty alleviation group Gawad Kalinga Foundation received an award Tuesday from a group of female editors, columnists and reporters.

Jerome Paler, GK Southern Leyte head, was cited for being an exemplar of volunteerism by the group Women in Media. He and the other awardees were feted at a Pasay City hotel in a ceremony attended by President Aquino.

‘I dedicate this to all the volunteers who helped GK. I’m just [one] face but this (award) will represent all the volunteers who were with me,’ said Paler in an interview with the Inquirer.

He was accompanied in receiving the award by GK founder and 2006 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for community leadership [and Skoll Awardee] Antonio Meloto.”

Read more: 


Willy Foote Interviews Dalberg: An Update on the Smallholder Finance Industry

December 3, 2013 by

In a new Forbes blog post, How To Help 450M Poor Farmers Without Destroying The Earth, Willy Foote of Root Capital updates us on the push to catalyze the nascent smallholder finance industry. An excerpt:

“Last year, with… support from the Citi and Skoll Foundations, Dalberg published the seminal report, Catalyzing Smallholder Agricultural Finance, which pegs the market opportunity at $450 billion and shows that increased financing can boost farmer yields and income.

This interview [with Andrew Stern of Dalberg] captures the kind of combustible excitement and coordinated action that can come from horizontal integration of too often vertical, disconnected efforts to grow prosperity in the developing world.

Willy Foote:  For those who are unfamiliar with your report, please lay out, in a nutshell, its vision for catalyzing smallholder agricultural finance. What are the five pathways you describe in your report? read more


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


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