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Neil Patel
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Interview with Neil Patel, Social Entrepreneur and Founder and CEO of Awaaz.De

Meet Neil

This episode of The Innov8social Podcast features Dr. Neil Patel, a social entrepreneur with a doctorate in Computer Science, who grew up in northern California and then relocated to India in 2010 where he launched and is scaling an innovative impact venture, called Awaaz.de.

Neil Patel

Neil Patel

Awaaz.De connects mobile voice-based technology with a social platform to provide low-cost, voice messages that can be shared with hundreds or thousands of people. Neil has described it as a “voice twitter”.
Awaaz.De originally focused on working with small farmers in rural Gujarat, a state in the central India, to enable the sharing of best farming practices and agricultural information.
The company’ has scaled and grown, won a number of awards, has facilitated over 4M calls to 400K people, is now in 6 countries, 9 languages and is constantly finding new applications for their technology.Neil received a Bachelors in Computer Science from UC Berkeley before pursuing his Ph.D at Stanford University. His doctoral thesis focus was designing voice-based virtual communities which led to the co-founding of Awaaz.De, along with his Ph.D advisor and UC Berkeley Professor, Dr. Tapan Parikh.

Listen to the Interview

 

Find Out More

More About Neil

More About Awaaz.De

  • Website: https://www.awaaz.de/
  • Value proposition: “We provide content to our partners and users in their local language to communicate with important stakeholders and beneficiaries for a variety of purposes and goals. Our clients include businesses, rural communities, schools, NGOs and many more.”
  • Awaaz.De Streams – group voice messaging for everyone
  • Awaaz.De Surveys – enabling rich data collection via phone survey surveys
  • Awaaz.De Voice Forums – moderated voice message “chat rooms”
adapted from IndiaWest
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Interview with Preeti Vissa, Chief Operating Officer of The Greenlining Institute

adapted from IndiaWest

adapted from IndiaWest

Meet Preeti Vissa

This episode of The Innov8social Podcast, features a conversation with Preeti Vissa, Chief Operating Officer of the Greenlining Institute — and a good friend.

For over 20 years Greenlining Institute has been empowering communities of color and other disadvantaged groups through economic and leadership development.

Prior to her current role, Preeti served as Director of the Economic Equity team, where she led Greenlining’s efforts to ensure that the country’s largest financial institutions serve the needs of diverse communities.

Preeti graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles and has a Master’s in Social Work from Columbia University.

Listen to the Interview

 

Find Out More

More About Preeti

More About The Greenlining Institute

  • Website: http://greenlining.org/
  • Vision: “The Greenlining Institute envisions a nation where race is never a barrier to economic opportunity and communities of color thrive. Because people of color will be the majority of our population by 2044, America will prosper only if communities of color prosper.”
  • Key Issues
  • Take Action!

Fellowship Programs at The Greenlining Institute

Kelsey Suemnicht
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Interview with Kelsey Suemnicht, Founder of The Foreign Policy Project

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Meet Kelsey

What does it take to make a passion and idea into something more? Founder and Executive Director, Kelsey Suemnicht, is learning first-hand.  She recently launched a bold initiative, The Foreign Policy Project, to empower and inform girls to pursue paths in international relations and policy.

Kelsey SuemnichtWhen she reached out via social media and explained her work and vision, we connected on our experiences working and interning with the U.S. State Department. In the process of doing an interview for the website, she also outlined the problem she sees with the lack of engagement of women in foreign policy careers, and her long-time desire to address the need and build a network and community to support and foster girls to engage in the space.

Kelsey is a Master of Public Diplomacy graduate of the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism. She is currently the co-founder of the Young Professionals in Foreign Policy San Francisco hub and has worked for the U.S. State Department, Foreign Policy Magazine, World Affairs Council, the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, ICANN, and The Leadership Program.
She is innovating in a well-established space by finding unique ways to bring new voices to the conversation. Just as any early social innovator, she is building and learning as she goes. It was exciting to discuss both her own path and mission, the need for resources, her vision for the new venture, and how logistically she sees it progressing (i.e. legal structures, growth, etc.).

We caught up before Kelsey’s 3 month trip to Southeast Asia where she hopes to meet and interview thinkers and doers with a background in international relations in addition to exploring and experiencing the region.

Learn More About The Foreign Policy Project

You can find out more at TheForeignPolicy.org and follow Kelsey’s adventures on Twitter .
Jordan Phoenix
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Interview with Jordan Phoenix, Social Entrepreneur & Author — Walked 1000+ Miles

Jordan Phoenix - Canada to Mexico walk 2014-2015

Meet Jordan Phoenix–a civil engineering by training, social entrepreneur, blogger, and Founder of Project Free World–an organization that facilitates and creates social innovation projects to improve access to food, human rights, education.

He is also the author of a recent book called “It’s All My Fault: How I Messed up the World and Why I Need Your Help to Fix It.”

To add to his work, Jordan also embarked on a 1 year project to walk from 1000+ miles down the west coast of North America to build support and awareness for community incubator projects focused on alleviating poverty. He kicked off his journey in mid-2014 in Canada and spent the better part of the year, walking, meeting new people, and sharing & exchanging ideas.

I had a chance to catch up with Jordan as his journey reached Northern California. In a residential neighborhood in one of the iconic cities of Silicon Valley, Palo Alto, we walked and talked about the inspiration for his walk, what he has learned on the journey, and the community incubator project he is most excited about developing over the next few years.

Listen to the Interview

More on Jordan

Jordan is a HuffingtonPost contributor, is active on Quora, and runs his website–Uncommonsense.is.

You can read more about his interesting and authentic journey of impact and self-exploration and in these posts:

Jason Li
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Interview with Jason Li, Teen Social Entrepreneur and Successful Participant of “Shark Tank” [AUDIO]

As an avid viewer of NBC’s “Shark Tank” —- my interest was piqued during a recent episode when one young entrepreneur mentioned his passion for building a social enterprise after reading David Bornstein’s book, How to Change the World. The book was one of the inspirations for Innov8Social and my interest in this space.
By way of context, Shark Tank gives entrepreneurs the chance to pitch their startups and seek funding from  celebrity millionaire and billionaire investors including Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Kevin O’Leary, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec, and Daymond John.

Jason’s company, iReTron, buys back used electronics for a cash value, and then re-furbishes and re-sells or recycles the products.  (See below for a video where Jason and the iReTron team explain the concept).

Jason was successful in raising his ask of $100K through an investment by Barbara Corcoran and Mark Cuban, for a 20% equity stake in his company plus 20% of any company he starts in the next five years.

Meet Jason

Jason’s family immigrated to the US from China when he was 6. He observed their work ethic and discipline as they started a small business in northern California.  And as he shared on his show, one of his early passions was judo, which he has been learning since he was five years old. He had been actively competing in the sport until he broke his back in high school.

It was at that time that he began reading about social enterprise and social entrepreneurship, which helped spark his idea to launch a company that pursued profit as well as impact.
Jason has been featured as a TEDxTeen speaker, was named “Next Teen Tycoon” for his work with iReTron, and has presented at events such as the Green Festival, all prior to his successful pitch at Shark Tank.

Listen to the Interview

More about Jason and iRetron

 

Kate Michi Ettinger
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Interview with Kate Michi Ettinger, Social Entrepreneur in Health and Bioethics and Specialist in Integrity by Design [AUDIO]

Social entrepreneurs often find themselves in the spaces in-between what already exists. Case in point is Kate Michi Ettinger, a bioethicist by training, a researcher & design strategist by profession, and a serial social entrepreneur by practice. She is weaving her expertise and passion in an area called integrity by design (you can see her TEDxBarcelonaChange talk below).

Her current project is called OpenQRS, which creates open source community development tools focused on assuring the quality, reliability, and safety of health care devices. Her work spans the space in-between need for low-cost medical devices and government regulations for those devices.
In her interview, she shares more about how she is working to not only build tools to enable affordable medical devices and appropriate standards but also to educate and collaborate with government and regulatory bodies to make her vision possible.

Meet Kate

Kate Michi EttingerKate holds a BA from Johns Hopkins, holds a J.D. and has been pursued certifications in mediation, bioethics, facilitation, and client counseling. She has taught at UCSF and has spoken at the University of Bangkok, the World Congress on Medical Law in Croatia, and International Conference on Clinical Ethics Consultation, Amsterdam.

Kate co-founded startup Planet-Well in 2000 and held a product development role at ePatients. Kate went on to found the Mural Institute, where she engages with foundations and other clients on topics of interaction design, healthcare ethics, and digital strategy.

Listen to the Interview

Watch Kate’s TED Talk

 

credit: Getty Images
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Interview with Social Impact Filmmakers Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci—Speaking From a Syrian Refugee Camp [AUDIO]

Some months ago I watched “Living on One Dollar” through the recommendation of friends on various social networks. It was eye-opening and compelling, and was fully conceptualized and realized by a group of college students. The premise: What is it like to live on less than $1 per day, as more than1 billion people worldwide do?

Their First Social Impact Film, Living on One Dollar

Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci along with fellow college friends, Sean Leonard, and Ryan Christofferson took this question head-on when they spent 56 days in rural Guatemala living on a dollar per day or less. Understanding that the dollar per day is an average, they picked a number from a hat each day signifying how much money they could spend that day. They share memorable experiences in understanding the most nutritious and cost-effective foods to eat, learning how to earn money, and building friendships in the village. The film has received acclaim and recognition, winning an audience award at the 2013 Sonoma International Film Festival.

Their Latest Documentary, Salam Neighbor

Now, Zach and Chris have teamed up on another social impact film experience—this time halfway around the globe. According to their research, over 9 million people have been impacted by the civil war in Syrian, with over 6 millions Syrians displaced within their own country. Over 2 million Syrians have sought safety in numerous refugee camps in neighboring Lebanon, Jordan Turkey, Egypt, and Iraq. To give voice to refugees—in the Syrian crisis and across the globe—Zach and Chris have arranged to register as refugees and live at the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan for 30 days. They are just over a week into the experience, which will be the basis of their next documentary “Salam Neighbor” and have been blogging regularly. It was incredible to speak to them live from Jordan for the audio interview (below). They welcome feedback and comments, as they help to inform and impact their experience as refugees.

Meet Zach and Chris

Zach and Chris met during their freshman year of college at Claremont McKenna College (CMC) in Southern California. They found that they shared an interest in social advocacy, microfinance, and creative storytelling and began to explore ways to challenge each other to think bigger.

image adapted from livingonone.org

Chris, who was raised in Connecticut, majored in International Relations at CMC, with a focus on Economic Development. His experience in the social innovation sector includes an internships at the Grameen America in New York City and Whole Planet Foundation and his current work as Founder and Executive Director of MFI Connect, a large-scale student microfinance network.
Zach, from Bainbridge Island in Washington, also majored in International Relations at CMC. His interest in the impact sector driven him to take leadership roles at MFI Connect and as Executive Director and Co-Founder of Living on One Media.

Listen to the Interview

I caught up with Zach and Chris just after their first week as ‘registered’ refugees (i.e. they compensated the relief organization for rations, equipment, etc.)

 

Watch the Trailer for “Salam Neighbor”

To learn more about their new documentary film project, “Salam Neighbor”, take a look at their launch video below.

 

Nisha Kumar Kulkarni
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Interview with Nisha Kulkarni, Communications Consultant to Social Enterprises & Nonprofits [AUDIO]

Over the past 2+ years of founding, blogging, and editing Innov8Social I have learned a few expected and (even more) unexpected things about blogging. A blog can be your brand. It can be your calling card—the way you communicate ideas and experiences to others. And, interestingly, it can be the catalyst of things—such as collaborations, interactions, and great conversations.

It was through Innov8Social that I met Nisha Kumar Kulkarni. She reached out via social media to learn more about the blog and my interest in the social innovation sector. This could well have led to a great coffee meetup—but considering our coastal divide (Nisha is now based in NYC)—has led to multiple fascinating conversations instead.

A Perspective on Social Innovation in India

See, Nisha has a unique global lens on social innovation. She is of South Asian origin but raised in the US—however she and her husband relocated to Mumbai in 2010 for three years. It was there that she really grounded herself in her conceptualization of the social innovation space.

Nisha’s return to New York City had her excited about expanding her involvement on the US-side. However, she soon noticed that though social innovation in India and in the US may rooted in the same tenets of creating impact + value; they have taken surprisingly distinct forms. She details more about her path into social enterprise, her immersion into the field in India, and the differences she has observed on her return to the US in her audio interview below.

Meet Nisha Kulkarni

Nisha Kumar KulkarniBefore Nisha found a path in social innovation, she started off in the Economics and Finance realm— holding a BA in Economics in addition to a Minor in English from NYU before taking on roles at Lehman Brothers.  After two years on Wall Street, she pursued her interest in development economics with an MA in International Economics and Finance from Brandeis University.

The move to Mumbai accompanied her growing interest in social enterprise space and she has since taken on roles and projects at Intellecap, Catchafire, Dowser-–and most recently launched her own communications and content strategy consulting practice at nishakkulkarni.com.

Listen to Nisha’s Interview

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Interview with Julie Lein, Co-Founder of Tumml [AUDIO]

In March 2013 Innov8Social interviewed Julie Lein who co-founded Tumml, a (then) brand new urban accelerator program that was accepting applications for its first cohort of social entrepreneurs focus on urban solutions.

A turn of a page, and tick of the year later, Tumml has not only graduated its first cohort but is welcoming its 2nd cohort of social entrepreneurs! This group, like the first, includes five startups focused on designing solution to urban issues, and have the vision and capacity to scale.

Before the new cohort was selected, but after the first cohort finished the accelerator program—Innov8Social had a chance to connect with Julie to hear updates on the program, the social enterprises that participated, more about the nuances of urban innovation, questions about accessibility of urban solutions to the populations they serve, and what Julie and her fellow Co-Founder Clara Brenner, and the extended Tumml team look for in a social enterprise candidate. It was also a great chance to re-visit Tumml’s legal structure as a nonprofit in light of an equity stake in the social enterprises that participate. You can listen to her full interview below.

Who are the Tumml Social Enterprises?

(Note: descriptions below are from Tumml.org/Portfolio)

2014 Winter Cohort

  • Neighbor.ly is a toolkit to help people, brands, and foundations invest in the places and projects they care about
  • The Farmery is an urban vertical farming and retailing system designed to produce and sell local food in the city
  • SavySwap is a secure experience to get what you want simply by trading
  • Feeding Forward is a mobile platform that connects those with excess food to those in need
  • Sovi is a collaborative social pinboard for local and community events
www.tumml.org

2013 Summer Cohort

  • WorkHands – A blue collar online identity service that makes it easier to find work in the trades.
  • HandUp – direct giving for homeless people and others in need in individual neighborhoods.
  • Corral – A service that makes your urban commute easier and faster
  • Earth Starter – All-in-one garden systems that help city dwellers grow food and flowers in small spaces
  • KidAdmit – An easy, efficient way to apply to multiple preschools online and manage the preschool admission process

What Do Tumml Social Enterprises Receive & Give?

Tumml social enterprises receive:

  • $20,000 in seed funding
  • free office/meeting space
  • customized education curriculum
  • four months of hands-on support and mentorship
  • opportunity to pitch to VC’s, angel investors, government entities, potential partners and customers
Tumml social enterprises give:
  • Approximately 5% equity stake in their for-profit entity

Tumml will begin taking applications for its next cohort in March 2014.

Listen to the Interview

photo adapted from Full Circle Fund image
here: goo.gl/UQ86a2
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Interview with Zoe Hunton, Social Enterprise & Nonprofit Law Attorney [AUDIO]

Attorney Zoe Hunton, shares something in common with many of her social entrepreneur clients. Not only is she their attorney, but she is a fellow entrepreneur as well. It wasn’t always that way, after completing her undergraduate studies at Brown, attending law school at University of California, Davis, and clearing the California bar exam, Zoe took the fairly-traveled path of accepting a role at a law firm.However, after a persistent sense that her job didn’t mirror her core values, she took a detour.

Meet Zoe Hunton

Zoe left the firm and started her own solo practice, Hunton Law,  specifically focused on social enterprise and nonprofit law.

photo adapted from Full Circle Fund image here: goo.gl/UQ86a2

photo adapted from Full Circle Fund image
here: goo.gl/UQ86a2

It was a bold decision for a newly-minted attorney to devote her practice to a still-emerging space. In doing so, she has had to adopt the mindset of an impact-minded entrepreneur—in addition to understanding their legal needs.

With a renewed sense of purpose and alignment with her personal values, she is not only making her decision work—but is also contributing to creating an ecosystem within the social enterprise law space through her efforts outside of her practice.

In 2012, Zoe and Natalia Thurston (audio interview here) launched the Impact Law Forum (ILF) in the SF Bay area.

Innov8Social has covered interesting ILF events in the past including a brainstorming session at StartX led by the founders of LawGives, and a talk on human-centered design in law by the General Counsel of IDEO.org.

Listen to Zoe’s Interview

Innov8social had a chance to catch up with Zoe to ask her about her experience being a solo practice attorney and the (nonlinear) path that led her to the space. The interview explores trends that Zoe has noticed with the various company formation options social enterprises have in California and her advice for legal professionals and law students looking for a spot at the social enterprise table.