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MySocialGoodNews is dedicated to sharing news about
social entrepreneurship, impact investing, philanthropy
and corporate social responsibility.

Crowdfunding for Social Good

Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Social Entrepreneurship

This category includes articles about social entrepreneurs, typically about businesses with a for-profit model with a social mission embedded into the fabric of the business.

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VolunteerMatch and Verified Volunteers Join Forces

Strategic partnership brings comprehensive background screening to more than 120,000 organizations & millions of volunteers

Press Release – FORT COLLINS, Colo. and SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 16, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Whether it’s parents supporting their child’s sports team or individuals lending a hand after a natural disaster, volunteers perform an essential service – particularly when budgets are stretched thin. This support is welcomed by the thousands of organizations who rely on volunteers to fulfill their missions – yet it also adds to the daunting administrative tasks around recruitment, as well as to ensuring a safe and secure environment for everyone involved. That’s why VolunteerMatch, the web’s largest volunteer engagement network, and Verified Volunteers, the leading background check platform tailored to the specific needs of the service sector, have partnered to provide greater protection for these organizations and the populations they serve.

“VolunteerMatch is all about making it easier for good people and good causes to work together to make a difference,” said Greg Baldwin, CEO, VolunteerMatch. “That is why we are partnering with Verified Volunteers, to help create more safe spaces to volunteer.”

Together, VolunteerMatch and Verified Volunteers aim to help organizations minimize risk and safeguard their people, assets and reputation through a high-quality background screening program and access to a library of resources designed to establish screening best practices and improve volunteer management. Through their VolunteerMatch dashboards, organizations can easily connect with Verified Volunteers and request a comprehensive background check that allows potential volunteers to order and control their information using Verified Volunteers’ secure platform. These screening services are available to all VolunteerMatch organizations including more than 120,000 government agencies, hospices, hospitals, nonprofits and schools.

“Our shared commitment to helping so many wonderful organizations successfully carry out their good work really makes this the perfect partnership. By joining forces, we aspire to have an even greater impact,” says Katie Zwetzig, Executive Director, Verified Volunteers. “For instance, we know through our own research that background check quality is increasingly important for nonprofits, yet the appropriate level of risk mitigation is still not being met by current screening programs. By joining forces with VolunteerMatch, we can provide education and guidance to greater numbers of organizations on how to address these critical gaps.”

Verified Volunteers’ screening platform, with self-service features, sharing capabilities and management tools, enables the VolunteerMatch community to:

  • Ease administrative burdens. Volunteers order and control their own background checks using a secure, online platform.
  • Give their volunteers the option to pay – or ask for an optional contribution. With budgets stretched thin, this option can preserve valuable funds by allowing (or requiring) volunteers to pay for all or part of their screening.
  • Receive complimentary monthly updates. While other background checks are “one and done,” Verified Volunteers provides the added security of monitoring volunteers for new criminal records during the first year.
  • Accept background checks from previously vetted volunteers. Within the Verified Volunteers network, volunteers who have previously been vetted with one organization can store and share their existing background check with other organizations at no additional cost. In addition, if a volunteer background check is shared with another organization, the organization that initiated the original check can earn rebates.

About VolunteerMatch

VolunteerMatch believes everyone should have the chance to make a difference. As the web’s largest volunteer engagement network, serving over 120,000 participating nonprofits, 150 network partners, and 13 million annual visitors, VolunteerMatch offers unique, award-winning solutions for individuals, nonprofits and companies to make this vision a reality. Since its launch in 1998, VolunteerMatch has helped the social sector attract more than $12 billion worth of volunteer services. Learn more about VolunteerMatch at VolunteerMatch.org, and follow @VolunteerMatch.

About Verified Volunteers

Verified Volunteers helps nonprofit organizations gain confidence in their volunteers by delivering thorough, compliant background checks using a sophisticated suite of federal, national, state and local criminal locator tools. Extensive expertise in screening and compliance best practices helps clients recruit the best volunteers to maintain a safe environment and positive reputation. By enabling volunteers to order, manage and share their background checks via a secure online platform, Verified Volunteers creates a community of vetted volunteers. Verified Volunteers is backed by Sterling Talent Solutions, one of the world’s largest background screening companies and is partnered with Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service.


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Entrepreneur Magazine Selects Youngest Ever Cover Star With 13-Year-Old Female For September 2018 Issue

Michigan’s Candy Queen Alina Morse leads a new generation bringing fresh perspectives to old industries

Press Release – NEW YORK, August, 14, 2018 – Entrepreneur, the media powerhouse at the forefront of the culture, mindset and the lifestyle of entrepreneurship for over 40 years, announced today that 13-year-old Alina Morse would be the magazine’s youngest ever cover star with the release of its latest issue: “Young Millionaires: Meet the next Generation of Leaders.” Morse projects to sell $6 million at retail this year with her all-natural candy that cleans your teeth business. The September 2018 issue is on newsstands now.

“The sooner we embrace young entrepreneurs’ imagination and ability to question everything, the better we’ll all be,” said Jason Feifer, editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur Magazine.

Days ahead of entering the eighth grade, Morse’s image on the cover of Entrepreneur shines a bright light on the next generation of entrepreneurs that are already building thriving, innovative businesses.

“I never dreamed I’ve ever be on the cover of a magazine, yet alone be scaling as fast as we are,” said Morse. “All I’ve ever wanted to do was help people and make them smile. We are changing minds and candy eating patterns and with the help of Entrepreneur, giving more consumers awareness to healthier options and inspiring kids just like me that you can do anything.”

Morse’s company, the #1 tooth-friendly candy in the USA, has also expanded internationally after launching in 2015 when she was merely nine years old. Her line, which includes Zollipops®, Zolli® Drops, and Zaffi® Taffy, is all natural, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, non-GMO and supercharged with Xylitol, Erythritol (healthy sugar alternatives) and other smile friendly natural ingredients, including magic teeth cleaning crystals.

She is making gains in a giant industry, counting major chains like Amazon, Kroger, Walmart and Whole Foods as buyers of her Zolli® candy line. Zolli Candy is a woman-owned and cause-based, giving away 1-MM this year alone through the “One Million Smiles” campaign, helping to fight America’s most chronic childhood disease – tooth decay.

To learn more about the healthy, after-you-eat-treat, visit: http://zollipops.com.


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AllianzGI Achieves Highest Possible Score For ESG Strategy & Governance From PRI

Press Release – Allianz Global Investors, a leading global active investment manager has received an A+ for its overarching approach to ESG Strategy and Governance for the second year in a row.

The annual Assessment Report from the PRI Association (‘Principles for Responsible Investment’) looks at how signatories are progressing in incorporating ESG factors into investment decisions, and aims to provide feedback to signatories to support the ongoing development of their ESG credentials.

AllianzGI achieved an ‘A’ score across all modules and the highest possible, ‘A+’ score for Strategy & Governance. This category encompasses AllianzGI’s ESG policies, objectives, memberships of various organisations and considers how the firm promotes ESG efforts internally and externally. Additionally, we received an A+ for the Infrastructure Equity module, which is a great achievement considering we reported on it for the first time this year.

Module NameAllianzGI score 2018Median score 2018 (all signatories)
Strategy & GovernanceA+A
Listed Equity - IncorporationAB
Listed Equity - Active OwnershipAB
Fixed Income - SSAAB
Fixed Income - Corporate FinancialAB
Fixed Income - Corporate Non-FinancialAB
Fixed Income - SecuritisedAC
Infrastructure EquityA+A
The PRI Assessment Report aims to provide feedback to AllianzGI as PRI signatory to support ongoing learning and development. The report presents a comprehensive overview of the assessed modules AllianzGI reported on and compares the respective AllianzGI performance to the peer group. Each module score ranges from “A+” (highest score) to “E” (lowest score) and is calculated from a respective set of indicators grouped together in module specific sections. 2018 scores refer to reporting period January 2017 - December 2017

Commenting on the results, Steffen Hoerter:, Global Head of ESG at AllianzGI, said:

“This year we have strengthened our scores by – among others things – answering more voluntary questions and reporting on them externally, giving examples of where ESG issues have had an impact on investment decisions and by answering the module on Infrastructure Equity for the first time. It is great to see that these efforts have been recognized by the PRI.”

“We are convinced that ESG factors are important investment performance drivers that can only be realised fully through a truly active approach to asset management. Recognising the value that ESG factors can add to portfolios and to our clients, we are committed to integrating ESG factors into all investment decisions and across all asset classes on our global investment platform.”

AllianzGI, one of the investment management industry’s responsible investment pioneers, has been a signatory to the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) since 2007. PRI is one of the most important and powerful global initiatives in the area of responsible investing with more than 1,900 signatories from over 50 countries representing approximately USD 80 trillion.

More information on AllianzGI’s ESG approach, including the PRI Transparency Report 2018, can be found on our website.

Background information on the PRI Assessment

The PRI Assessment report, produced by PRI Association, is designed to provide feedback to signatories to support ongoing learning and development. Each module score ranges from “A+” (highest score) to “E” (lowest score). For more information on PRI please visit: www.unpri.org.


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Lassonde Studios Awarded LEED Gold Building Certification

All students at the University of Utah are welcome to “live, create, launch” in the five-story building that opened in 2016

Press Release – Aug. 8, 2018 – The Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute at the University of Utah announced today that Lassonde Studios – a new five-story, student innovation space – has been awarded LEED Gold certification. The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), is the foremost program for buildings, homes and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance.

“We are proud to exceed our goals and achieve LEED Gold certification for Lassonde Studios,” said Troy D’Ambrosio, the executive director of the Lassonde Institute and an assistant dean at the David Eccles School of Business. “The building is not only a one-of-a-kind facility for student entrepreneurs. It is also a model for sustainable construction practices. We look forward to continued growth and recognition as one of the best places in the country for student entrepreneurs.”

The five-story, 160,000-square-foot Lassonde Studios building opened in 2016. The building is dedicated to supporting student entrepreneurship and innovation. The first floor features a 20,000-square-foot creation space with meeting space, cafe, tools, workshop and lounge areas. The upper four floors have bedrooms and living space for 400 residents. All students on campus are welcome to “live, create, launch” here.

Lassonde Studios has received international attention since it opened. It has won many awards and been featured by publications including The New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek and Fast Company. In 2017, Architectural Digest named Lassonde Studios one of the “9 Best New University Buildings Around the World.”

Numerous people and organizations have made the Lassonde Studios possible. Building partners include University of Utah Housing & Residential Education, Cannon Design, EDA Architects and Gramoll Construction.

Lassonde Studios achieved LEED certification for implementing practical and measurable strategies and solutions aimed at achieving high performance in: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

LEED certification is based on a 110-point scale. Sixty points are required to achieve Gold certification. The certification ranks projects on categories including: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, Innovation in Design, and Location & Transportation.

Here are some of the categories and qualities of Lassonde Studios that helped earn the project enough points to achieve Gold certification:

  • Sustainability Sites – The project demonstrates development density and community connectivity, and it provides easy access to alternative modes of transportation.
  • Water Efficiency – The site uses energy efficient landscaping through limited sod and drought tolerant plants. It also uses low-flow water fixtures.
  • Energy & Atmosphere – The building optimizes energy performance in ways including the use of LED for 100 percent of the lighting.
  • Materials & Resources – The project minimized construction waste and utilized recycled content in 21.2 percent of the building materials. Most of the recycled materials were used in the concrete structure.
  • Indoor Environmental Quality – The project used building materials and finishes that met quality standards.

“Lassonde Studios has been an incredible project to work on,” said Nick Lorenzo, of EDA Architects, who submitted the application for LEED certification. “The design and mission of this building are unlike any other. The LEED certification provides further evidence that we have created an incredible, state-of-the art building for student entrepreneurs to live, create and launch their ideas.”

Lassonde Studios joins many other buildings on the University of Utah campus with LEED certification. The first building on campus to receive LEED certification was the Spencer F. and Cleone P. Eccles Health Sciences Education Building in 2006. Since 2009, the state has required that all new public buildings achieve at least LEED Silver certification.

LEED is the foremost program for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. More than 92,000 commercial and institutional projects are currently participating in LEED, comprising more than 19.3 billion square feet of construction space in all 50 states and more than 167 countries and territories.

“The work of innovative building projects such as Lassonde Studios is a fundamental driving force in transforming the way buildings are built, design and operated,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, USGBC. “Buildings that achieve LEED certification are lowering carbon emissions, creating a healthier environment and reducing operating costs while prioritizing sustainable practices.”

Learn more about Lassonde Studios at lassonde.utah.edu/studios.

About the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute

The Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute is a nationally ranked hub for student entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of Utah and an interdisciplinary division of the David Eccles School of Business. The first programs were offered in 2001, through the vision and support of Pierre Lassonde, an alumnus of the Eccles School and successful mining entrepreneur. The institute now provides opportunities for thousands of students to learn about entrepreneurship and innovation. Programs include workshops, networking events, business-plan competitions, startup support, innovation programs, graduate seminars, scholarships, community outreach and more. All programs are open to students from any academic major or background. The Lassonde Institute also manages Lassonde Studios, a new five-story innovation space and housing facility for all students, in partnership with Housing & Residential Education. Learn more at lassonde.utah.edu.


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New App Seeks To Aid In Disaster Relief

Press Release – August 6, 2018 (Redding, CA) – Relief efforts are underway in the wake of the catastrophic Carr Fire. With more than 38,000 forced to evacuate, and over 1,000 homes destroyed, it is clear that many hands will be required to help set the region back on its feet. The DeeditForward app, founded by two California engineers, is hoping to make an impact.

DeeditForward is a newly developed app created to provide connection between those who need help with those who want to help. The app is free to those who need help during the Carr Fire crisis, and beyond.

Once a user downloads the app, they can instantly start requesting help and assisting others. Users who want to help (called “Deeders”) will spot real-time needs on the interactive map and accept the ones that he or she is available to assist with. Once the person requesting help accepts the offer, the Deeder will come to their aid and assist. DeeditForward is currently collaborating with the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, City of Oakland, and 40 other nonprofits to reach as many people as possible, especially during times of crisis such as the fires currently devastating many parts of California.

“We see the devastation in Redding, and know that it’s going to take a monumental effort to get things back to where they need to be,” said Travis Wentworth, DeeditForward cofounder and CEO. “Crises like these are why DeeditForward was created, for communities to benefit from an efficient technology meant to provide connections in an often unconnected world.”

DeeditForward is available for free to download on iTunes and the Google Play Store. You can also visit deeditforward.com or the DeeditForward page on Facebook to learn more.


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New Report Reveals A Growing And High-Potential Impact Investing Market In Southeast Asia

Press Release – NEW YORK, AUGUST 2, 2018 – The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), in partnership with Intellecap Advisory Services, has published The Landscape for Impact Investing in Southeast Asia, the first-ever detailed analysis of impact investing activity across Southeast Asia. The report was generously supported by Investing in Women, an initiative of the Australian Government which is partnering with impact investors to grow impact investments in women owned and led SMEs in Southeast Asia. The Landscape for Impact Investing in Southeast Asia provides deep insight into the three most active markets in the region: Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines, and a broader regional overview of the remaining eight countries, namely Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, and Thailand.

Abhilash Mudaliar, Director of Research at the GIIN, says, “The Asia Pacific region has been the fastest growing impact investing market worldwide over the past five years. This report shows why that’s not surprising. The countries across the region offer dynamic business environments with increasing entrepreneurial and investment activity focused on ensuring inclusive and sustainable economic development.”

The report outlines opportunities and challenges for impact investors and analyzes regulatory and economic factors that inform investment decisions in each country. Overall, the report sheds light on a dynamic and expanding regional impact investing market:

  • Investment activity in Southeast Asia has increased over time. Since 2007, Private Impact Investors (PIIs) have deployed USD 904 million through 225 direct deals, and Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) have deployed USD 11.3 billion through 289 direct deals. For both sets of investors, investment activity has increased significantly in recent years.
  • Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam are the three largest markets in the region accounting for over 60% of capital deployed to date. However, each country in the region faces its own set of social and economic challenges, and presents investors with unique opportunities to develop strategies that both generate a financial return and have a positive impact.
  • The top three impact investment sectors in the region have been financial services, energy, and manufacturing, accounting for over 80% of total capital deployed. As the market expands there is growing interest and activity in sectors such as education, healthcare, and workforce development.

On the findings, Mudaliar notes, “Historically, most capital for impact investing in the region has originated from investors in North America or Western Europe. A particularly promising trend is the growing participation of local investors – led by wealthy families and high net-worth individuals. We expect this trend to expand rapidly across all investor segments in the coming years.”

The report also finds that there is increasing awareness and uptake of gender lens investment (GLI) strategies in the region, which are investments that seek to address gender disparities and/or examine gender dynamics to inform better investment decisions. A growing number of investors have started developing GLI strategies in recent years, with USD 40 million deployed into more than 30 deals in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam alone.

Dr. Julia Newton-Howes, CEO of Investing in Women, argues, “This important research provides much needed market intelligence for Southeast Asia and reveals the growing appeal of impact investing in the region. Importantly, moving capital with a gender lens can unlock a significant under-served market and additional social impacts. Obviously, investing with a gender lens has a long way to go in the region, particularly with development finance. But we recognize that impact investing will not reach its full potential without incorporating an intentional gender lens and are proud to partner with the GIIN and Intellecap on this publication.”

The Landscape of Impact Investing in Southeast Asia report is based on interviews conducted with over 100 stakeholders, a thorough review of existing research, and aggregate analysis of over 500 impact investing transactions made since 2007.

Download the full report

This project was generously supported by Investing in Women, an initiative of the Australian government.


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Clutch, A Social Cause Sports Apparel And Activewear Brand, Makes Global Launch Debut

A brand new concept in consumer and sports apparel aimed to support underprivileged young athletes and eleven global and national charities, debuts July 31, 2018

Press Release – DALLAS (Tuesday, July 31st) – Clutch is proud to announce today the global launch of a new concept in consumer and team sports apparel and activewear. With a full line of high-quality team and individual clothing items, not only is Clutch creating jobs and giving back approximately 50 percent of its profits to charities, but it is also creating a movement of change. Clutch has already received a large preorder of apparel, which will be provided to U.S. troops in Afghanistan and in the United States.

“Today’s consumers want to know their purchase, of any product, is doing more than supporting the bottom line of a corporation,” says Mickey Pruitt, Managing Partner of Clutch. “By wearing the Clutch brand, the consumer is supporting Clutch’s position of endorsing charities.”

“We are supporting underprivileged boys and girls who cannot afford sports equipment or who don’t have access to sports programs,” says Blaine J. Blanchard, Founder of Clutch. “In addition to supporting young athletes, Clutch is also supporting U.S. Military troops and global education, as well as LGBTQ inclusion and awareness in high school, collegiate and professional sports, as well as many other charitable efforts.”

The Clutch starting lineup of charities includes:

  1. Team Fox benefiting the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the largest funder of Parkinson’s Disease research
  2. National Multiple Sclerosis Society, supporting families, research, and advocacy to end MS
  3. Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization feeding 46 million people annually
  4. Feherty’s Troops Foundation, providing meaningful assistance to U.S. Military who have been wounded while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan
  5. The First Tee, providing junior golf programs to economically disadvantaged communities, a partnership among the LPGA, the Masters Tournament, the PGA of America, the PGA TOUR, and the USGA, Honorary Chair George W. Bush
  6. Pencils of Promise, building schools and increasing educational opportunities in the developing world, having already built 471 schools to date
  7. Athlete Ally, promoting LGBTQ inclusion and awareness in all levels of athletics
  8. Kids in Need Foundation, providing school supplies and grants to children and teachers in need
  9. Victory Day, high school and college students living with cognitive or physical impairments to participate in athletics
  10. The BASE, national athletic and academic development for urban black and Latino youth through baseball, supported by Theo and Paul Epstein through their charitable organization, Foundation to be Named Later
  11. Camp Gage, urban camps for children living with cancer

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City Accelerator Expands to Five More U.S. Cities to Help Strengthen Local Minority-Owned Businesses and Create Jobs

With Support by the Citi Foundation and Living Cities, $500,000 Distributed to Atlanta, El Paso, Long Beach, Newark, and Rochester

Press Release – NEW YORK – The Citi Foundation and Living Cities today announced the expansion of the City Accelerator program to five additional U.S. cities – Atlanta, El Paso, Long Beach, Newark, and Rochester. The five cities will work together over the next year to pursue a range of projects to support the growth of local minority-owned businesses and the creation of additional jobs in their communities. Local initiatives range from ensuring minority-owned businesses are integrated into the commercial development of the 31-acre Pittsburgh Yards site in Atlanta to expanding small business services through the network of local libraries in El Paso.

“While the impact of small business growth on the U.S. economy is widely appreciated, the potential of minority-owned small businesses is often overlooked,” said Ed Skyler, Citi’s Executive Vice President for Global Public Affairs and Chair of the Citi Foundation. “These cities recognize this untapped potential and are coming together to rethink how they work with minority-owned small businesses to help them grow and create high-quality jobs.”

All five cities selected for this Accelerator are majority-minority, meaning that relative to the overall U.S. population, racial minorities comprise a majority of the local population, making them prime urban centers to address the barriers people of minority-owned businesses face, including access to capital, connections to industries, and navigating regulations.

Now in its fifth year, the City Accelerator has brought together 17 municipalities to test new approaches that improve the lives of residents, especially those with low incomes. For example, Baltimore created an online portal for residents returning from the criminal justice system to access services and job opportunities, which is now part of the Baltimore City Health Department’s TECHealth initiative. Seattle created a system managed by the Department of Neighborhoods to integrate the perspectives of racially diverse communities into the planning of key projects and policies and track the results. The City of Los Angeles is using its position as the host of the 2028 Olympics to test out policies and programs that will ensure small businesses, including minority-owned businesses, have access to the economic opportunities that come with hosting a large event.

“Cities can have a disproportionately positive impact on local entrepreneurial ecosystems and the creation of good jobs”, said Living Cities President and CEO Ben Hecht. “The cities in this latest initiative will be showing how they can harness all of their assets to support and grow businesses owned by the nation’s fastest growing populations—people of color—and help to close racial gaps in wealth and income in their own backyards.”

“Creating innovative ways to build opportunity and equity through job growth, business incubation and workforce training is a priority for our Administration and our city,” said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. “Our vision for One Atlanta includes a city where neighborhoods, communities and businesses thrive. We look forward to working with the Citi Foundation and Living Cities through the City Accelerator to realize that goal.”

“The El Paso Public Library System is a support mechanism within our community that aims to enhance economic and educational opportunities, especially for our minority population,” said El Paso Mayor Dee Margo. “El Paso has over 54,000 minority-owned local businesses and we look forward to working with the Citi Foundation and Living Cities through the City Accelerator to enhance and cultivate the business community to support regional entrepreneurial efforts.”

“Long Beach is committed to advancing its Economic Blueprint through participation in the City Accelerator, which will help map our local entrepreneurial ecosystem, identify growth industries, and support local talent,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. “Through this exciting partnership with Citi Foundation and Living Cities, we hope to create a seamless support system for entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses in Long Beach.”

“Taking part in the City Accelerator initiative will help us get two of my administration’s most important initiatives off the ground—Buy Newark and the Contractor Development Initiative,” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “Whether ensuring that anchor institutions commit to increasing purchasing from Newark businesses or large developers partner with smaller minority and women-owned contractors, we are implementing unique programs to drive local procurement. Newark is a city on the rise and we look forward to working with Citi Foundation and Living Cities as we use every tool in our toolkit to ensure that development is inclusive.”

“My administration is committed to creating more jobs, safer and more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities for all of our residents, regardless of the zip code they live in,” said Rochester, NY Mayor Lovely A. Warren. “As our economy rebounds and becomes more focused on entrepreneurship and small business, it is essential that everyone is a part of the growth and prosperity. We are excited to work with the Citi Foundation and Living Cities as part of the City Accelerator as we develop strategies and policies designed to build an inclusive ecosystem that provides all Rochesterians with the opportunity to build a brighter future through business ownership.”

In addition to a $100,000 grant, each city will receive a combination of coaching, technical assistance and implementation resources in the coming year. Cities may consider local policy reform, changes in standard small business support practices, staff training, leadership and accountability structures, communications, outreach and relationship building, and capacity-building.

Technical assistance for the effort will be provided by Rodrick Miller, President and CEO of Ascendant Global, an economic development consulting firm. Miller has previously served as the President and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and the New Orleans Business Alliance.

To track the progress and work of these City Accelerator cities in the coming year, visit Governing Magazine, Citi’s blog and follow #CityAccelerator on Twitter.


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Project Calls For Women Entrepreneurs In Africa To Build Region’s First Intelligence Network

Press Release – Wageningen, Netherlands, 27 July 2018: VALUE4HER a new CTA project will empower women entrepreneurs working in the agricultural sector – agripreneurs – by giving them the skills, knowledge and access to markets, finance and services they need to build their businesses. The project is calling for women-led agribusinesses to register to become part of the first intelligence network targeting women-led agribusinesses in Africa.

“Women are key actors in agriculture, but benefit little from high-value activities,” says Sabdiyo Dido Bashuna, senior technical adviser, value chains and agribusiness, at the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA).

Critical challenges for women include access to markets and market intelligence, access to finance and other business services, and the technical, management and leadership skills needed to drive an enterprise forwards.

VALUE4HER has launched a call for women-led agribusinesses in southern and eastern Africa to register for an agribusiness intelligence network targeting women-led agribusinesses. The aim is to foster better links with markets, supply chains and other service providers, including financing partners. Agribusinesses that register will also be eligible to participate in the project’s activities, including training and the chance to apply for a competitive grant aimed at spurring innovation.

To register with VALUE4HER, go to the following links:

Eastern Africa: https://goo.gl/forms/d8H1vWXD51PKNcUz1
Southern Africa: https://goo.gl/forms/7Bo5BgZEeE3Fb6Dx1

VALUE4HER a joint initiative of CTA, the Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) and the African Women in Agribusiness Network (AWAN), will help women to develop agribusinesses and to derive more income from agri-food markets. “We want to bring in more young women to be job creators and not just job seekers,” said Irene Ochem, founder and CEO of AWIEF, at the launch of the project.

CTA has extensive experience in working with women-led businesses in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific, including the Caribbean Network of Rural Women Producers (CANROP) and Samoa-based Women in Business Development Incorporated (WIBDI), as well as with farmer-led agricultural enterprises in Africa.

VALUE4HER will focus on linking women-led agribusinesses with competitive high-value regional and global markets and improving women business leader’s technical and managerial skills. The project will also facilitate innovative business linkages with other women-led agribusinesses and help agripreneurs to link with women suppliers, to benefit other women in the value chain. In addition, VALUE4HER will use knowledge and targeted advocacy to address economic barriers to women’s entrepreneurship (e.g. equitable access to finance), as well as highlight and reinforce market practices that enable women to succeed.

About CTA

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) is a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU). Its mission is to advance food security, resilience and inclusive economic growth in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific through innovations in sustainable agriculture. CTA operates under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement and is funded by the EU.


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Global Financial Inclusion Initiative at Risk from Payment Fraud

Press Release – San Francisco, CA: July 26, 2018: Nick Brown, payment system expert and founder of Clear Purchase, issued a warning to all those involved in the global Financial Inclusion Initiative. Interoperability, the connecting of financial systems to process financial transactions, massively increases their vulnerability to payment fraud. The devastation that would result from a major fraud attack has the potential to stall the entire global Financial Inclusion Initiative for years, Nick Brown warns. It is possible to minimize the potential damage. We must not let the Financial Inclusion Initiative fail from lack of foresight.

Interoperability massively increases the risk of payment fraud, because each financial transaction involves multiple systems that communicate sensitive information among them. With multiple systems to attack, as well as the communication methods that join them, it will be the weakest link in the chain that becomes the target.

Payment fraud is a massive global problem that exceeds $20b per year. Major criminal organizations have decades of experience in successfully attacking well-established payment systems, despite the huge amounts of money spent every year on prevention. New systems in developing countries that have little or no protection will be easy targets for these criminal organizations.

Nick Brown said, “We must raise awareness in developing countries of the problem of payment fraud, and minimize the vulnerability of their financial systems to a major attack.”

Next week, Nick Brown will start posting a series of blogs on LinkedIn titled “Developing country guide to Payment Fraud.”

Part one: Introduction to Payment Systems and Payment Fraud

Nick Brown is a technical expert with 30 years of experience in the payment infrastructure industry, which included the implementation of the VISA Debit Card system at VISA International in 1996. He has also been involved in writing national and international standards for data security for the financial services industry.

Clear Purchase, Inc., is part of the movement to break the poverty trap in developing countries by creating a truly cashless economy. Their role is to build the payment network hub that connects everyone together, facilitating even the smallest transactions. www.clearpurchase.com


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