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 Did you know global water issues can affect education, health, deforestation, and can especially impact women and girls?Do you think you can create a business plan for unique, sustainable, and scaleable social innovations that address these kinds of issues?

Meet ImagineH20.org

If so, there’s a way to take your idea to the next level. In the video below, Brian Matthay, Program Director of Imagine H20 explains the organization’s creative approach to inspiring social innovation for global water issues.


Imagine H20 is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and empowering people to solve water problems. It is based in San Francisco, California and hosts an annual competition for global water solutions. The prize baskets run upwards of $100K, with this year’s grand prize totaling over $200K.

Not just a one-time prize

Perhaps the best aspect is that the competition doesn’t end with a strong finish. Winners of Imagine H20 join a specialized accelerator program to further develop their ideas, seek guidance from experts and specialists, and put them in the running for cash resources, in-kind services, and global exposure.

Facts to inspire action

Imagine H20 highlights statistics that are startling and serve as a call to social innovation action. Here are a few eye-catching ones:
  • Water related diseases are the leading cause of child death, killing 4,500 children per day (UNICEF)
  • 1.1 billion people live without clean water today (World Water Forum)
  • 20% of clean water is lost due to leaks (EPA)
  • Water scarcity affects every continent and affects 4 out of every 10 people (World Health Organization)
  • Demand in the U.S. has tripled in the past 30 years while the population has grown only 50% (Goldman Sachs)
  • Up to $1 trillion is needed to rebuild America’s aging water infrastructure (Goldman Sachs)

How to Win $200K for Your Social Innovation Business Plan

Though the 2011 entries were due by November 15, 2011—here are steps to know about the 2011 process to help put you on track to compete in next year’s competition.
  • Be an individual or team comprised of members older than 18 years (who are not previous winners or finalists)
  • Focus on the year’s specific theme (i.e. the 2011 theme was wastewater) and consult the ImagineH20 competition guidelines to find out what kinds of solutions are being sought.
  • Teams must form a for-profit business entity before receiving any prizes.
  • Teams must submit entries in 1 of 2 tracks: A) Pre-Revenue Track or B) Early Revenue Track
  • Teams must submit an executive summary of a business plan for a social innovation venture (using a designated template) addressing the year’s specific water crisis theme. Along with resumes of each team member, and the designated entry fee.
  • 2011 applications were accepted from September 1st 2011 to November 15th 2011.
  • The top finalists from each track will be invited to participate in Round 2.
  • In 2011, 2 grand prizes and 4 runner-up prizes are slated to be announced at the ImagineH20 Showcase

If you notice things looking a little greener at a certain time of year in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, or Seattle, it could be more than the changing seasons…it could be the annual Green Festival.

These annual gatherings started a decade ago and have been growing in force. Green Festivals bring together thought-leaders, companies, non-profits, and the community to focus on issues such as sustainability, reducing carbon footprints, and finding innovative ways to build a greener economy.
Whether you are a Green Festival novice or a seasoned pro, here are a few useful facts to know about the mega eco event.
6 Things to Know About the Green Festival

1. Green Festival is the largest sustainability event in the world.

2. Green Festival is the only green event that screens exhibitors for their commitment to sustainability, ecological balance and social justice using Green America’s green business standards.

3. Green Festival gets closer to being a zero-waste event each year

4. Even Web-Hosting by Green Festival is environmentally-friendly—100% Solar Web Hosting by AISO

5. Green Festival is produced by 2 non-profit organizations, Green America and Global Exchange.

6. The very first Green Festival took place 10 years ago in San Francisco

The Green Festival Comes to San Francisco This Weekend (Nov 12-13, 2011)
…and Innov8Social will be there!
I will be introducing speakers and panelists at the Sustainable Home & Garden pavilion throughout the weekend. Drop by to say hello and sit in on interesting talks from eco-friendly home products to tips and techniques to cultivate a sustainable garden.
See a full schedule of events here.
Get in to SF Green Festival for Free
Here are a few ways to get **FREE** tickets to the SF Green Festival.
  1. Free for youth 18 and under
  2. Free for students
  3. Free for seniors
  4. Free at the door for bicyclists (be sure to park with the complimentary bike valet)
  5. Free if you use public transportation to the Green Festival (bring your stub)
  6. Free admission to all Green Festival Volunteers
  7. Free for Green America
  8. Free for Global Exchange members
  9. Free for Union members with card
  10. Free tickets from local San Francisco Ford dealerships
  11. Free for Sierra Club members with valid membership and card
  12. Free if you bring 4 cans of food to donate to the Food Bank
  13. Free for Rainbow Grocery patrons (bring a receipt of $10 or more)
  14. Free for All New Resource Bank Customers (bring debit card as proof)
  15. Free for Green Collar Blog readers
Hope to see you there!(Note: you can see photos from the event here)
Social Media for Nonprofits, San FranciscoSocial Media for Nonprofits delivered its 8th conference in its popular series to a packed room of hundreds at the Marine’s Memorial Club in San Francisco last week.The conference kicked off with an engaging video–complete with vivid statistics and action-inspiring music—and filled the day with sessions on social media from noted thought leaders in the industry.

Social Media Learnings Apply Across Sectors
And though the conference focused on providing social media tools to progress the non-profit space—there was ample for social entrepreneurs to learn it from too.
Here are a few takeaways that social entrepreneurs can implement today to make their social media campaigns more effective, farther reaching, and more impactful.
6 Key Takeaways for Social Entrepreneurs from Social Media for Nonprofits Conference (#sm4np)

1. There are no social media experts. Conference convener and emcee Darian Rodriguez Heyman and various other speakers including Victor d’Allant of SocialEdge emphasized the point that in the fast-paced world of social media–there are no bonafide experts. We learn so that we can ask better questions.

They may agree that it is valuable to strive for inexpertise—so that you can come closer to knowing what you don’t know about social media. And so you can focus on asking better questions, testing out bolder hypotheses, and tracking more far-fetched metrics so you can develop a better understanding of this space.

2. Learn to ask. Something I picked up was the need to be able to ask your friends, followers, fans, and readers to take action. The recommendation to avoid “press-release” verbiage and instead opt for open, frank communication with a humble request was helpful. Especially since it came from non-profits, foundations, and websites with massive followings and ambitious goals to create change. It makes sense that a personal appeal with individuals who you already have a personal connection with is often far more impactful in broadening reach, raising funds, and spreading a message.

3. Create the best content. I loved the talk by Evan Baylin, author of Outsmarting Google and his upcoming release, Outsmarting Social Media. Maybe it was because it tied so directly to the daily efforts related to Innov8Social—creating compelling content, connecting with what Google bots register as good content, and focusing on “long-tail” keywords rather than popular keywords was telling. Evan’s view of excellent content? Puppies, babies, love; fascinating images; and clever commentary.

4. Measure, set goals, evaluate…even if its like root canal. One of the speakers made her presence felt in many of the sessions preceding her. Beth Kanter is a known and beloved thought leader in the non-profit social media space and is the author of  The Networked Nonprofit. She polled the audience on whether using social media measurement tools felt more like root canal or like being in a candy shop.

Kanter outlined four stages of sophistication with regards to measurement analytics, and offered tips on defining results and establishing SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely) results. It reminded me that no matter what stage our social media efforts are in, there is great value in measuring, projecting, trying, and then evaluating our efforts. Something I plan to put into effect…now!

5. Reward and recognize your fans. If Netflix has reminded us of anything, it is to value our fans and followers. This theme was reinforced by speakers such as David Boyce of Fund.ly. He drove home the point that we all want to be winners (especially those who support us) and that we should take every opportunity to recognize, reward, and celebrate our collective achievements.

The reason that Innov8Social is still here (after nearly 6 months) is not due to my interest in the subject alone. It is because you have shown up and shown me that there is interest and value in this content. It has given my work a unique sense of purpose and given me the next challenge of how think bigger and grow these efforts into something useful and sustainable.

6. It’s all about the story. We have heard it so often, tell a story. Perfect your pitch. Describe your journey. These all make complete sense—and the conference provided a unique perspective about this advice. As I saw tens of speakers share their social media learnings, I realized that I remembered best the ones who presented a compelling story about the issues their organization is trying to address, why they individually are involved, and how their social media efforts have progressed. One such speaker was Christina Samala of the Story of Stuff. She told the story of the stories that her site produces. I am intrigued and look forward to their release of “The Story of Broke” on November 8th.

Jobs Help WantedSocial entrepreneurs are often passionate, risk-taking individuals, ready to do whatever it takes to see an idea become reality.Goals in entrepreneurship have traditionally revolved around success related to monetization, innovation, and reach.Start-ups want to make it big, cash in, be recognized, and change the world with their ideas.

Be a Social Employer
But against the backdrop of an economy in recession and mass public protests against corporate corruption—there is an emerging focus on prioritizing job creation by entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs as a measure of success.Can start-ups be social employers? Can they create enough value to be able hire employees on a part-time or full-time basis? Can they challenge their staff, treat them with respect, and inspire them to create their best work. Here are a few reasons why start-ups might strive to put on an employer hat.
Employ for Talent
Social entrepreneurs may employ to gain talent that is outside their own expertise or that, if delegated, can allow them to focus on other aspects of the venture’s growth and development.
Employ for Opportunity
Employment creates opportunity for a social entrepreneur to build leadership and management skills with a team. Being able to work effectively in that environment can spell success as the organization grows.
Employ for Experience

During the memorable DreamForce 11 keynote discussion between Salesforce’s Mark Benioff and Google’s Eric Schmidt, Schmidt emphatically stated:

“We are on our way in America to having a generation of people who will never have jobs. The unemployment of youth is about 22% in America today, many of those people as they come out of college [are not finding] jobs. This is not healthy, it’s  not good…it ultimately leads to societal problems [and] higher costs. Jobs are created by te private sector and government policies have a huge impact on this…” (see video clip here)

Social entrepreneurs employing individuals on part-time, full-time, and internship basis adds impact to the social venture—by offering valuable work experience in the field.
Changing times have called for changing trends. Whereas past generations may have been employed soon after graduation and worked in the same company for decades, today’s workforce can likely plan to span their careers over multiple workplaces and multiple roles. Rather than aiming to provide a ‘lifer’ experience for an employee…a social entrepreneur can, instead, aim to provide paid work experience—which can in turn help the employed learn about social innovation and gain a foothole into the field.
Steering From Recession
Small businesses can be nimble and agile, equipped to adjust to the changing economic tides. And with those qualities, they are being tasked to steer the economy out of recession.
The path back to a robust American economy may still be a ways off, but the downturn has created new goals and measures of success for entrepreneurs. Can they succeed—and also be social employers?
Expertise may be overrated. Especially in social innovation.Social innovation aims to harness raw entrepreneurial spirit with a social and environmental sensibility. Do well by doing good—this has been the mantra we have heard countless times at conferences, talks, meetings, and in various readings.But social innovation is a moving target—changing with variables such as changing economies, shifting societal needs, emerging current events, and altering views on everything from health to wealth. The day we think we can nail down innovation in an equation or algorithm is the day we may realize we aren’t really innovating anymore.

Guy Kawasaki captured this sentiment in his opening sentence of Reality Check, “Flailing, grinding, thrashing, and getting lucky are why companies succeed. Not knowing you’re doing something that’s ‘impossible’ helps, too….”

Instead, Learn for the Questions

“In times of change, learners will inherit the earth. While the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with the world that no longer exists.” — Eric Hoffer via Matt Theriault

While it may be a good idea to become wary of experts in the field—there is still a compelling reason to continue reading articles, attending events, and talking to others in the field over coffee. If we are learners in this field, we want to be the best learners possible.

And that means knowing which questions to ask. The more we learn, the more we should want to learn about innovation and the social and environmental issues that can share a symbiotic connection.

As Kawasaki and Theriault allude, we shouldn’t let inexperience be a barrier…especially when it may be our greatest strength.

 

chain-link fence

Social Innovation FellowshipsWhether you are an experienced social innovator or are looking to build your skill set, a fellowship can help take you to the next level–through curriculum, mentorship, collaboration, and connecting with other talented and motivated fellows.Here is a list of 50+ fellowship programs. The first 17 or so fellowships have rolling admission deadlines. The remainder are grouped by the month the application is due.  The fellowships support social innovation to varying degrees and have varying requirements—so take a stroll and click through the links to continue your research.

You can add other social innovation fellowships in the comments section. Look for a list of start-up accelerator and incubators for social entrepreneurs here.
50+ Fellowship Programs for Social Innovators
  1. Ashoka Fellows Program. Apply anytime.
  2. Deshpande Foundation India Fellowship Program. Apply anytime.
  3. Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation. Apply anytime.
  4. Mind Trust Education Entrepreneur Fellowship. Apply anytime.
  5. Rainer Arnhold Design Fellowship Program. Apply anytime.
  6. REDF Farber Fellowship. Apply anytime.
  7. Reynolds Fellowships Harvard University.
  8. Georgetown Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship Program.
  9. PopTech Science and Public Leadership Fellows Program. Apply by invitation.
  10. TED Senior Fellows Program. Selected from Past Fellows.
  11. IDEO Fellowship Program.
  12. Teach for America. Multiple deadlines.
  13. Ashoka Senior Fellows & Members. Apply anytime.
  14. Ashoka Global Fellows. Apply anytime.
  15. Ashoka Social Investment Entrepreneur Fellows. Apply anytime.
  16. Ashoka Invention and Technology Fellows Program. Apply anytime.
  17. Ashoka News & Knowledge Fellows. Apply anytime.
  18. MicroEmpowering Social Innovation Fellowship. Apply anytime.
  19. MovingWorlds Institute Global Fellowship. Apply anytime.
  20. Teach for India. Multiple deadlines
  21. MacArthur Fellows Program. Apply by invitation.
  22. Aspen Institute First Movers Fellowship Program. Apply by January.
  23. MIT Legatum Center Fellowship. Apply by January.
  24. IDEX Fellowship. Apply by January.
  25. Echoing Green Fellowship. Apply by January.
  26. American India Foundation Fellowship. Apply by January.
  27. Greenlining Institute Legal Fellows Program. Apply by January.
  28. NYU Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellowship. Apply by January or February.
  29. Greenlining Institute Fellowship Program. Apply by February.
  30. Engineers for Social Impact. Apply by February.
  31. City Hall Fellows Program. Apply by February.
  32. Crowley Fellowship in International Human Rights. Apply by February.
  33. Public Allies Teachers Fellowship Program. Apply by February.
  34. Stanford – NBC News Fellowship in Media and Global Health. Apply by February.
  35. Cordes Fellowship for Opportunity Collaboration. Apply by March.
  36. Global Health Corps. Apply by March.
  37. Grassroutes India Fellowship Program. Apply by March.
  38. Indicorp Fellowship. Apply by March.
  39. PopTech Social Innovation Fellows Program. Apply by March.
  40. Changing Our World Fellowships. Apply by March.
  41. Acumen Fund East Africa Fellows Program. Apply by April.
  42. Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship. Apply by April.
  43. Global Citizen Year. Apply by May.
  44. Villgro Fellowship. Apply by May.
  45. D.Light Design Fellowship. Apply by May.
  46. Rolex Awards Supporting Enterprising Individuals. Apply by June.
  47. Humphrey Fellowship Program: Journalism Fellowships. Apply by June to September.
  48. TED Fellows Program. Apply by July.
  49. Synergos Senior Fellows Program
. Apply by July.
  50. LGT Venture Philanthropy iCats Fellowship Program. Apply by July.
  51. Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellowship. Apply by July.
  52. Open Society Fellowship. Apply by August.
  53. Piramal Fellowship for Sustainable Business. Apply by September.
  54. Skadden Legal Fellowship Program. Apply by October.
  55. Kiva Fellowship. Apply by October.
  56. Buckminister Fuller Challenge. Apply by October.
  57. StartingBloc Fellowship Program. Apply by October.
  58. EmergeCA Democratic Fellowship Program for Women. Apply by October.
  59. Fuse Corps Fellowship.  Apply by October.
  60. Woodrow Wilson Center Fellowships. Apply by October.
  61. PresenTense Social Entrepreneur Fellowships. Apply by October or November.
  62. Smithsonian Institute Fellowship. Apply by November.
  63. Unreasonable Institute. Apply by November.
  64. Acumen Fund Global Fellows Program. Apply by November.
  65. Fried Frank Legal Fellowship Program. Apply by November.
  66. Soros Fellowships for New Americans. Apply by November.
  67. New Leaders Council. Apply by November.
  68. Fellowship for Women Scholar-Practitioners from Developing Nations. Apply by November.
  69. Sauvé Scholars Program. Apply by November.
  70. TEDGlobal Fellows Program. Apply by December.
  71. Harvard Berkman Center for Internet & Society Fellowship Program. Apply by December.
  72. Nieman Journalism Fellowships at Harvard University. Apply by December
  73. Rhode Island Innovation Fellowship. Apply by December.
  74. LeapFrog Investments Global Fellows Program. Apply by December.
  75. M121 Fellowship for Sustainable World Change. Apply by December.
  76. Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program. Concluding in 2013.
Accelerator programsWith the success of Y Combinator there has been a steady rise in the number of accelerator programs available for start-up entrepreneurs. Social entrepreneurs can now seek assistance from accelerator programs specifically designed to help build cause-based businesses that generate profit and seek to operate beyond a single bottom line.
Here are a few we came across. Feel free to add others in the comments section. Also, you can find a list of 50+ fellowship programs for social innovators here.
Start-Up Accelerator and Incubator Programs for Social Entrepreneurs

1. Matter Media Entrepreneurship Accelerator.  Matter invests $50k to give four months of runway to do needfinding with customers, prototype media solutions, and build traction with an audience.
San Francisco, CA
Apply by January here.

2. CHANGE Accelerator. The CHANGE Accelerator provides needed business support to social entrepreneurs who are developing innovative solutions to unmet social needs. 
Rhode Island.
Apply by February (Newport) or April (Providence) here.

3. Startl Accelerator. Startl Accelerator is a three-month immersion into Product design, market strategy and business development for early stage learning enterprises. 
New York City, NY.
Apply by March here.

 

4. Tumml Urban Ventures Accelerator. Tumml Accelerator is a three-month program supporting early stage companies developing innovative urban living solutions.             
San Francisco, CA.
Apply by March here.

5. StartX Accelerator runs three times per year, takes no equity, and is aimed at propelling startup founders out of Stanford through mentors, resources, and networks. 
Apply here.

6. GoodCompany Ventures. Accelerates the growth of early-stage ventures that generate profit and have a positive social impact.
Philadelphia, PA.
Apply by April here.

7. Social Entrepreneurs of New Orleans (SENO). The purpose of the Accelerator program is to significantly accelerate an early-stage social venture’s impact and financial sustainability. 
New Orleans, LA.
Apply by April here.

8. Dasra Social-Impact. Dasra Social-Impact is an executive education program, which provides successful non profits and social businesses with transformational skills necessary to build sustainable and scalable organizations to accelerate their impact. 
Mumbai, India.
Apply by July here.

9. Praxis Accelerator Program. The Praxis Accelerator is focused on four distinct areas: mentorship & customized expertise, action-oriented education & planning, peer networking, and access to capital sources. (note: faith-based)
New York, California, Washington D.C.
Apply by July here.

10. Agora Accelerator. Agora’s Accelerator is an intensive, 6-month program designed to give outstanding small businesses poised for expansion access to the social, human, and financial capital needed to accelerate their growth. 
Nicaragua.
Apply by October here.

11. Unreasonable Institute. Accelerates the world most unreasonable entrepreneurs and their ventures. Unreasonable Institute unites 25 entrepreneurs from every corner of the globe to live under the same roof for six weeks. 
Boulder, CO.
Apply by November here.

12. Greenstart Accelerator. Greenstart focuses on cleantech companies that are expanding the use of clean energy or reducing the use of dirty energy and can validate their business model quickly. The goal is to help more than 500 cleantech startups launch more successfully over the next decade.
San Francisco, CA.
Apply by November here.

13. Imagine H20 Prize Competition and Accelerator. Imagine H20 hosts an annual competition for global water solutions with prizes of upwards of $100K. Winners of Imagine H20 join a specialized accelerator program. (note: full post here)
San Francisco, CA.
Apply by November here.

14. Hult Prize. In partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative,  thousands of college and university students pitch their social impact ideas at one of six regional events in Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai, Shanghai, and online. The winners receive the Hult Prize–an opportunity to spend the summer at the Hult Accelerator in Boston, MA.
Boston, MA.
Apply by November here.

15. Santa Clara University Global Social Benefit Incubator. The GSBI empowers socially-minded entrepreneurs to build sustainable, scalable organizations that solve problems for people living in poverty around the world. It is a combination of online, experiential, and skill-building offerings in an eight-month program.
Apply by December here.

16. Hub Ventures. Hub Ventures is a 12-week evening program providing funding and resources to a community of 16 entrepreneurs building for-profit solutions for a better world. San Francisco Bay Area, CA.
Apply by December here.

17. Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF). The Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF) helps accelerate the growth of new technology companies being established in Ontario and positions them for further investment by angels and venture capitalists.
Ontario, Canada.
Apply here.

18. NYC Acre. The New York City Accelerator for a Clean and Renewable Economy (NYC ACRE) helps clean technology and renewable energy companies in New York City grow, advancing the City as a role model for environmental sustainability and smart growth.
New York City, New York.
Apply here.

19. Canadian Cleantech Accelerator. The Canadian Consulate will select high potential companies from Canada to grow at the San Jose Environmental Business Cluster.
San Jose, CA.
Learn more here.

20. Social Innovation Camp. Social Innovation Camp brings together ideas, people and digital tools to build web-based solutions to social problems – all in just 48 hours.
Multiple locations.
Learn more here.

21. Ogunte Make a Wave Pre-Incubator Programme. Make a Wave provides learning and co-mentoring opportunities related to women angels and impact investors to 12 women social entrepreneurs through 6 lunch-time visits. (note: for women)
London, England.
Learn more here.

22. The Impact Engine. Impact Engine is a 12-week accelerator program that supports for-profit businesses making the world a better place. It provides $20K seed funding in exchange for 7% equity. 
Chicago, IL
Learn more here.

23. Sustainability Innovation Lab at GSVlabs. Powered by the Cleantech Open, the Innovation Lab provides focused content designed to help Sustainability companies grow and thrive. 
Redwood City, CA
Learn more here.

Other lists of Accelerator Programs:List of Global Start-up Incubators [Robert Shedd]
15 U.S. Startup Accelerators and Incubators (Ranked) [Tech Cocktail]*Updated on July 2015

GreenVC logo

GreenVC.org is growing as a go-to place for social entrepreneurs. It is a service of Green Economy Media, which is developing an array of resources for individuals interested in building a sustainable economy with participation of job seekers, entrepreneurs, consumers, companies, and policy-makers.

GreenVC has been created to connect social entrepreneurs with events, funding news, impact investment opportunities, and other resources that will be helpful in their growth and development.

More about GreenVC’s founder

The site was founded four years ago by Leonard Adler, who is a tried and true social innovator.

While pursing his Masters in Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Public Government at Harvard University, Adler founded the Public Service Interest Group—a student organization dedicated to developing programs related to educational and social policy. He went on to co-found the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy, while earning his J.D. from Georgetown University. During his tenure there, he also contributed to the development of the ABA Thurgood Marshall Award.

As an Echoing Green fellow, he founded a non-profit organization focused on addressing poverty through coalition-building and policy-making. He later served as Director of Student Organizing at Equal Justice Works, overseeing a fundraising effort which raised over $2M to fund thousands of summer legal internships.

Leonard has also looked to share his experience in the social sector with up-and-coming social entrepreneurs, through mentorship, events, and partnerships. His efforts have provided helpful insight to initiatives in the social innovation space, including Innov8Social.

5 Things to Check Out on GreenVC.org

  1. Events. A list of “green” events relevant to social entrepreneurs. This is a listing of international happenings which includes events such as Social Enterprise Summit 2011, Clean-tech Investor Summit, Opportunity Green, and the San Francisco Green Festival.
  2. Crowdfunding. A list of resources for social entrepreneurs and non-profits to raise funds through smaller online funding efforts such as KickStarter, Indiegogo, and Greenfunder.
  3. Discounts & Free Offers. Includes free events and discount codes.
  4. Funding Resources. A look at funding resources including business plan competitions, social entrepreneurship awards and fellowships, and social venture capital.
  5. GreenVC Blog. Includes news and posts relevant to social entrepreneurs. A few past posts of interest include:

And you can now find select Innov8Social posts syndicated on GreenVC.

California Capitol Building ceilingIn reviewing the last batch of the nearly 600 bills that he had to process, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law both social innovation bills—just in time for the midnight deadline on October 10th, 2011.Both AB 361 (benefit corporations) and SB 201 (flexible purpose corporations) which create new legal structures for social enterprise are now officially California law.You can read the key points of each bill here.Read the official legislative update from the Governor’s office here.

California is #6

The passage of the benefit corporation legislation makes California the 6th state to recognize a new form of corporation that is for-profit and committed to creating a positive impact on society and the environment. California joins Maryland, Vermont, Hawaii, Virginia, and New Jersey in the benefit corporation club.

A Look Back

If you have been following the benefit corporation legislation movement on the B Corporation public policy page, here on Innov8Social, or on any number of sites following the developments, you may have been awaiting the midnight decision.

You can catch up on the progress of AB 361 in California:

  
A Look Ahead
   
Non-urgent bills such AB 361 and SB 201 signed into law will become effective January 1st, 2012. Until then, social entrepreneurs interested in becoming among the first benefit corporations in California, can use the time to decide which legal structure is the best fit, and become prepared to meet the various requirements.
Attorney Donald Simon shares some tips on how a company can get ready for benefit corporation certification or re-certification as a benefit corporation in these two videos:

Attorney Donald Simon Defines 3 Terms Related to AB 361 (Benefit Corporations) [VIDEO]

Attorney Donald Simon’s Q & A on California Benefit Corporation Legislation [VIDEO]

 

Legal structure for social entrepreneursAn informative legal panel concluded Day 2 of the San Jose Green Business Academy last week. Professor William Kell of Berkeley’s Boalt Law School provided a helpful approach to social entrepreneurs contemplating their legal structure and business needs.

 

A Business + Law Approach
Professor Kell noted that new entrepreneurs often need more than individual efforts of a lawyer and individual efforts of a financial planner. They often need the combined skills of business and financial acumen along with a good understanding of the law. He outlined an integrated approach for assessing and developing a business-legal strategy for social entrepreneurs.
Professor Kell referred to this approach as a “diagnostic model” with a focus on planning for business success. No matter what stage of building a social enterprise you may be in, this approach can be useful in framing your current and future needs and can help prepare you for meeting with a business attorney.
The approach follows the acronym “BECOME”.
BECOME a social enterprise

Business Planning. Consider concept, customers, capital in developing a business plan.

Entity Formation. Determine the level of liability and protection your venture will need, and work with an attorney to find the optimum legal structure. Avoid forming too soon, as you will have to begin paying state fees for incorporation once you file (even if you don’t actually start doing business or generating income until later)

Capital Relationships. Have a clear understanding of your organization’s debt v. equity equation. The most common pitfall is companies not having enough capital.

Operational Relationships.  Understand players and flow involved in sourcing your products and services, manufacturing, and bringing to market. Do you meet any government requirements for your industry? Do you qualify for any programs (i.e. minority, women small business leaders, etc.)?

Managing Risks. Think of risks such as protecting intellectual property (IP), protecting against tort liability, and considering regulatory liability. An attorney can help identify ways to protect your organization’s assets and protect against liability.

Extra Permits & Licenses.  Depending on the products or services your social venture is contemplating, you will have to look into applicable government licenses and permits. For example, as a non-profit, your organization will have to apply for tax-exempt status. Likewise, to conduct any construction work, procuring a contractor’s license is required.

  • Resource: CalGOLD.ca.gov is a resource Professor Kell mentioned for small businesses in California to find out what kinds of permits and licenses their venture may require.