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Innovation Blog

 Top Social Entrepreneurs Change the World

By Shlomo Maital

 Jeff Sheinbein and Kevin McCracken

Bloomberg Businessweek ran a contest in which several thousand readers voted for which social entrepreneurship idea they most liked.   Here are a few of the top ones chosen, including Social Imprint, #1, which got some 15 per cent of all the votes:

 ●  Social Imprints, a print shop, garnered 15.7 percent of the nearly 3,000 votes readers cast since we published profiles of 25 finalists in June. Co-founded by Jeff Sheinbein and Kevin McCracken, who overcame heroin and alcohol addiction himself, the 3-year-old company employs seven people and had $2 million in revenue last year.

● Dalberg, a New York-based consultant focused on international social and environmental problems, came in second with 15.4 percent of readers’ votes. Founded by veterans of McKinsey in 2001, Dalberg has sales above $15 million and 120 employees in 10 global offices.

● Close behind was Intuary, the maker of an iPad app that helps people who can’t speak communicate, with 15.3 percent of readers’ votes. The 5-employee startup is launched the app, called Verbally, in March and is projecting sales of $200,000 this year.

● Nest Collective, which sells healthy children’s food under the Plum Organics baby food brand and Revolution Foods lunchbox snacks, got 8.5 percent of readers’ votes. The 26-employee company, founded in 2007, had $15 million in revenue last year.

● StayClassy, an online fundraising platform for small nonprofits, received 6.2 percent of readers’ votes. The 6-year-old company had $250,000 in revenue last year and has helped 2,000 nonprofits raise more than $5 million.

     Social entrepreneurship is booming, as innovators act to fill the gap created by growing social distress, on the one hand, and shrinking government resources and energy, on the other. 

    What is YOUR idea for a change-the-world business – note that both the noun and the adjective are crucial.   

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Global Crisis/Innovation Blog

Brazil Helps the Poor – And Helps Itself

By Shlomo Maital

   Check out Brazil!   While eyes are focused on nations drowning in debt (US, Europe), according to the World Bank:

  Brazil weathered the global financial downturn with relatively minor impacts. The country was one of the last to fall into recession in 2008 and among the first to resume growth in 2009. Brazil’s GDP grew 7.5 percent in 2010 and is expected to grow approximately 4 percent in 2011. Brazilians are benefiting from stable economic growth, low inflation rates and improvements in social well-being. 

   Credit former President Lula da Silva with policies that maintained stable economic growth in a stable political climate, while making sure to spread the benefits to the underclass, the uneducated, the unskilled. 

●  Poverty ( US$2 per day) has fallen markedly, from 20 percent of the population in 2004 to 7 percent in 2009.

● Extreme poverty (  US$1.25 per day) also dropped dramatically, from 10 percent in 2004 to 4 percent in 2009.

●  Between 2001 and 2009, the income growth rate of the poorest ten percent of the population was 7 percent per year, while that of the richest ten percent was 1.7 percent.  This helped decrease income inequality (measured by the Gini index) from 0.596 to 0.54 in the period.

●  Key drivers of this have been low inflation, consistent economic growth, well-focused social programs, and a policy of real increases for the minimum wage.

  Brazil’s new  President,    Dilma Rousseff,  promises to continue Lula’s policies.  

  Perhaps, in addition to studying how Brazil makes ethanol out of sugar cane, the world needs to benchmark how it advances the working classes.

   It is of course true that Brazil still has one of the world’s most unequal distributions of income and wealth. But at least, it is working to mitigate it. 

    Many countries simply accept growing inequality as a fact of life.  It isn’t. Brazil is proof. 

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital
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