Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Day Two from the Schwab Summit

The second day at the summit was also a great experience. I've met up with and been inspired by so many amazing people.

It's amazing to think a year ago I was watching a documentary about entrepreneurs like Nick Moon, Martin Fisher, and David Green, and now I'm chatting with them over coffee. I don't mean this in a namedropping sense, but more as a 'spread the love' message -- as Martin Yan (who was not here, but I love his cooking show - cut-em-up-cut-em-up-cut-em-up) says, "If Yan can cook, so can you!".

This theme, which Bill Drayton (founder of Ashoka) describes as 'everyone a changemaker', has been quite prevalent over the entire conference. Today, the panels were about how social entrepreneurs can interact with governments and with industry.

The overall theme of the government panel was that the social entrepreneurs happen to make great government workers as well by not changing their methodology or passions, and that with the right partnerships and innovative thinking, a lot can actually be done within the system.

The corporate panel (with representatives from DeutcheBank, Swiss Re, Boston Consulting Group, Ernst & Young, salesforce,com, and Microsoft) talked mostly about employee involvement programs, and how mobilizing employees toward social change helped retention. Salesforce.com has a bit more involvement, with a commitment to donate 1% of profits, 1% of product, and 1% of employee time to social causes. Overall, I was happy that it has moved a bit beyond Corporate Social Responsibility, but I don't quite see momentum in incorporating social goals into mainstream business yet.

I think the framework is there, and now that we are looking at business models within the DV fellowship, I can challenge myself to quantify social and financial returns in my model, whether that means teaching youth to create and then sell video IP or a consulting service, or some new model that will come to me in the car some morning.

Anyway, Guten Nacht from Zurich for now, and more blogging about the rest of my trip and some photos will be following soon.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Day 1 at the Schwab Summit

Well, Day 1 is winding up at the Schwab Summit for social entrepreneurs, and it has been an amazing day.

It's being hosted at the Center for Global Dialogue by Swiss Re, a big swiss insurance company. Their CEO spoke this morning how their company actually started as a social venture 150 years ago, trying to protect against catastrophe. As a big insurance company, they were interested in participating with social entrepreneurs due to huge synergy in emerging markets and climate change. This very much echoed an earlier sentiment from SAP Labs, who hosted the DV fellows for several workshops, and their management also expressed a lot of ties between big business and social changemakers.

Another interesting trend is that microfinance is starting to expand into microinsurance, so its great to see services for the poor expanding.

Next was a panel entitled "Social Entrepreneurship: Interesting Trend or Paradigm Shift". It was pretty clear how that would fall out in this forum, but Matthew Bishop from the Economist made an interesting contrarian point about the successes of BRAC and Grameen Bank despite the huge problems with the government in Bangladesh, and how some of those problems were mirrored in difficulties in transparency with Grameen in the past. Hopefully the recent successes and attention to microfinance groups can trickle upward into societal change.

Bill Drayton spoke last on the panel, and was very inspiring as usual. He spoke about long term perspective, and how the real key to success was to empower and support local changemakers... working toward a world in which everyone is a change maker. Youth was also a key, which was very exciting for me since thats my target.

I'm starting to see some interesting connections that can be created using mobile storytelling, and most of the people I described my idea to were very excited about the possibility, which I'm describing as the use of technology like camera phones with storytelling to bridge cultural and geographic boundaries.

Now its off to dinner... Thanks for reading, and thanks for your support!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007