CategoryConscious

SunCulture: drip-irrigation for Kenyan farmers

The last site visit for Investors Circle in Nairobi was SunCulture, seller of solar-powered pumps and drop-irrigation systems for small farms across Kenya. Speaking of culture, one learning on this trip about East Africa was the blended nature of the populace. Not only are there dozens of tribes within Kenya alone, but added to that are the 100+ year old history of Europeans and Indians living in...

BURN Manufacturing, a cookstove success story

The other highlight of the Investors Circle visit to Nairobi was the visit to the factory where BURN Manufacturing builds its cookstoves.  Charcoal cookstoves, as charcoal is the most popular fuel used for cooking by urban and peri-urban Kenya. Factory, as in a fully-modern manufacturing facility, little different from those found in the U.S., Europe, Japan, or China.  One large building filled...

Three African startups tackling global health

Continuing my visit to impactful African startups, yesterday my fellow Investors Circle members met with three (very different) startups tackling global health. First was MicroEnsure, an established, multi-country startup that is working in a very difficult space, selling insurance to the bottom of the pyramid.  The key learnings from the meeting were the successful channels for reaching that...

Afya Research Africa Clinics

Continuing on the Investors Circle trip was a day trip to western Kenya to visit two of the eleven Afya Research Africa clinics.  First, the Afya Ubuntu Ruma Clinic. The clinic is on the grounds of the Ruma Women’s Center, a nonprofit run by a local church which provides services to women and orphans.  The picture above provides no understanding on the remoteness of this location.  We flew...

Jibu: safe, clean, affordable drinking water

After visiting GreenChar, the next stop was another slum across Nairobi to meet Jibu, a multi-national for-profit startup tackling the problem of safe, clean, affordable drinking water in Africa. This has been a very difficult problem area for for-profits to tackle, do to competition with free, but unsafe water, along with the low purchasing power of the people who most need better sources of...

Understanding (the draw of) impact

Impact investing is not a mindset, it is a spectrum of opportunities.  A spectrum, as impact investing spans the plethora of investment opportunities, asset classes, and risk profiles, plus the vast array of impact. This post comes midway through my first trip to Africa, on a trip organized by Investors Circle, and thus with events focused solely on early-stage mission-driven for-profit...

The Social Entrepreneur podcast

The Social Entrepreneur podcast is for aspiring and early-stage social entrepreneurs; and for those who want to make an impact on the world. Stories about the grand challenges in the world and the solutions that they are creating. Listen to the interview on Stitcher or Soundcloud or download it on iTunes. Links to the talks and companies mentioned in the interview: 1st Fledge Demo Day, 50 years...

Is it Time for Standard Cookstove?

As nascent markets turn into established and proven industries, there comes a critical moment when the time is right for consolidation and scale.  For clean cookstoves, that moment seems to be quickly approaching, if not already here. Five years ago was clearly too soon.  Five years ago, the UN Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves was born, setting a goal of 100 million stoves by 2020.  From...

Creating a startup ecosystem

The U.S. State Department sends delegations to visit Fledge every month or two.  We’ve had visitors from: Norway, Albania, Poland, Romania, and Switzerland; Oman, Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Jordon; Mexico, Brazil, and Columbia; Bangladesh and Pakistan, and more.  The delegates that visit are typically either social entrepreneurs or working for (typically government sponsored) organizations...

What happens in Seattle (and elsewhere)

As the collective we bootstrap the impact ecosystem, hole after hole becomes more apparent.  Business models.  Talent.  Funding.  Etc. Far less obvious, but as important, is the information hole.  Specifically, the lack of information on what is happening around the impact-oriented world.  And where it’s happening.  And who is making it happen. This is one assumption I discovered very...

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