Sunday, September 07, 2008

16 International Social Entrepreneurs

I've mentioned Fast Company's Social Capitalist Awards previously on several occasions, including a post last December titled 7 Best Bets for International Donations. The Social Capitalist Awards recognize organizations for their social impact and effectiveness. Of the 45 organizations that won the award for 2008, 16 organizations deal primarily with international issues. Those 16 organizations are listed below. Organizations that also earned Charity Navigator's 4-Star Rating for financial efficiency and strength are denoted with an asterisk(*).  

Organization / Location / Focus  
1) ACCION International* / Boston, MA / Microfinance  
2) Acumen Fund* / New York, NY / Enterprise financing  
3) Calvert Social Investment Foundation / Bethesda, MD / Microfinance 
4) Endeavor Global* / New York, NY / Entrepreneurship  
5) Heifer International / Little Rock, AR / Livestock & farming  
6) KickStart International* / San Francisco, CA / Irrigation & farming  
7) Mercy Corps* / Portland, OR / Emergency relief  
8) PATH* / Seattle, WA / Health  
9) Peaceworks Foundation / New York, NY / Israel-Palestine  
10) PSI / Washington, DC / Health  
11) Room to Read* / San Francisco, CA / Literacy & education  
12) Root Capital* / Boston, MA / Enterprise financing 
13) TransFair USA / Oakland, CA / Fair trade & farming  
14) Unitus* / Redmond, WA / Microfinance  
15) VisionSpring (formerly Scojo Foundation) / New York, NY / Vision 
16) Witness / Brooklyn, NY / Human rights  

Last December, I filtered the list down to 7 organizations that were both Fast Company Social Capitalists and Charity Navigator 4-Star Charities, but that list left off some young organizations that Charity Navigator does not yet rank (such as VisionSpring). And two organizations (Acumen Fund and Endeavor Global) have since earned the coveted 4-Star ranking. 

A major focus area for 6 of the 16 organizations (ACCION, Acumen, Calvert, Endeavor, Root, Unitus) is helping individuals or enterprises gain access to capital. 3 organizations (PATH, PSI, VisionSpring) focus on health. And 3 organizations (Heifer, KickStart, and TransFair) focus on farming. Mercy Corps, Peaceworks, Room to Read, and Witness each have their own unique focus area among the 16 social entrepreneurs.  

14 of the 16 organizations are found in one of the following metro areas: New York City (5), San Francisco Bay (3), Boston (2), Seattle (2), Washington DC (2). Heifer International and Mercy Corps are both off the beaten path, located in Little Rock and Portland, respectively.


David Stoker said...

I think donors are in desperate need of a "consumer reports" type service or even an "AP Top 25" to help sort through all the options for giving and finding the most impactful. I personally feel the common 'how much goes to overhead' is a very more measuring stick if it is the only measuring stick and those with the strongest following online or in the media are not always the most effective.

I see the solution as a conglomerate of multiple 'expert' ratings: charity navigator, social capitalist awards, rankings for other awards, Skoll Awards, Ashoka Fellows, Schwab Fellows, etc. A great in depth analysis about measuring impact I think can be found in the book, "Forces for Good" the trick is taking the process they conducted to identify nonprofits with the greatest impacts and being able to produce that list on a frequent schedule.

Alain Kongo said...

Thanks for the list!

However, I personally believe that would-be entrepreneurs need to know the WHY and the HOW of Social Entrepreneurship.

For this purpose, I strongly recommend a recent book, Social Entrepreneurship, The Secret to Starting a Business Worth Living For.
A good review of the book can be found Here.