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


SeedEquity Ventures


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.

The Outcomes Road to a More Effective Social Sector

Resources for Media as National Dialogue Launches

Press Release – NEW YORK – May 30, 2017 – An important innovation is happening in the US social sector today – a shift toward an outcomes orientation, in which funding is tied to the ability to demonstrate that high-quality social services produce results for those in need.

On June 5, Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco kick off a nationwide dialogue around outcomes, with publication of a book of expert essays and a series of events with speakers including Linda Gibbs of Bloomberg Associates, Zia Khan of The Rockefeller Foundation, Andrew Plepler of Bank of America, Muzzy Rosenblatt of BRC, and Darren Walker of Ford Foundation.

Launch events take place June 5 in New York, June 13 in San Francisco, and September 12 in Washington, DC. Media interested in attending these events must obtain a confirmed reservation from one of the media contacts listed below by June 2 for New York, June 9 for San Francisco, and August 29 for Washington, DC. The June 13 San Francisco event will be livestreamed via In addition, NFF can help connect you with speakers, authors, and other experts, as well as resources to explain and illustrate many aspects of this important field.

Some experts:

  • Antony Bugg-Levine, CEO, Nonprofit Finance Fund (impact investing; community investment; how nonprofits and their supporters can move toward an outcomes-oriented social sector)
  • David Erickson, director of community development, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (community investment, why the social sector works the way it does today, and it needs to move toward outcomes orientation)
  • Kerry Herlihy Sullivan, president, Bank of America Charitable Foundation (investing in nonprofit leadership and the skills needed for outcomes-based approaches)
  • Muzzy Rosenblatt, president and CEO, BRC (why and how a nonprofit serving the homeless shifted to an outcomes orientation, and how that shift serves their clients)
  • Terri Ludwig, president and CEO, Enterprise Community Partners (models and policy solutions to foster the shift to outcomes)
  • Tyler Norris, chief executive, Institute for Mental Health and Wellness (outcomes at the intersection of healthcare and community services, population health)
  • Zia Khan, vice president of initiatives and strategy, The Rockefeller Foundation (culture shifts needed to move to outcomes)

Some resources:

  • The contents of the book, What Matters: Investing in Results to Build Strong, Vibrant Communities, are available at
  • Learn more about the campaign at
  • Learn about the outcomes vanguard Pay for Success at
  • Using short-term data to justify spending cuts is dangerous, The Hill (4/10/17)

About Nonprofit Finance Fund

NFF advances missions and social progress in underserved communities through financing, consulting, partnerships, and knowledge-sharing that empower leaders, organizations, and ideas. A leading Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), NFF has $250 million in assets under management and has provided $620 million in financing and access to additional capital in support of over $2.3 billion in projects for thousands of organizations nationwide. Visit to learn more about our work and follow us on Funding for the Invest in Results campaign is generously provided to NFF by Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Omidyar Network, The Robin Hood Foundation, and The Rockefeller Foundation.

About the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (SF Fed) promotes low inflation, full employment and financial stability and serves the Twelfth Federal Reserve District, which includes the nine western states—Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington—plus American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The SF Fed’s community development team works with a wide range of organizations to create economic opportunity for lower income Americans by developing and connecting best practices and emerging ideas with organizations positioned to make meaningful change in communities. Follow us on Twitter at

Research Points Towards A New Competitive Era For Sustainable Energy

– More than half of global oil and gas seniors believe environmental and climate performance has become a competitive advantage –

Press Release – The global oil and gas industry is actively transitioning into a more sustainable energy future, according to DNV GL research. Despite uncertainty about the future of global climate regulations, six out of ten (57%) oil and gas companies have targets for improving their climate performance. As many as eight out of ten meet these, even though only 13% think a global carbon price will be implemented in 2017.

These are some of the sustainability and environmental performance highlights taken from DNV GL’s report Short-term agility, long-term resilience, which draws on a survey of 723 senior sector players1:

Four out of ten (38%) think their company is under increasing pressure to be more transparent about the environmental impact of its operations. Only 24% see sustainability primarily as a business cost. “Our research reveals signs of strategic changes to ensure sustainability beyond cyclical patterns as the oil and gas industry adapts towards a more sustainable energy future,” says Cathrine Torp, VP Communications DNV GL ­- Oil & Gas.

More than one in four (27%) expect their business to invest or increase investments in renewable energy in 2017, and as many as 59% see these investments in renewables as a shift in their long-term business strategy.

However, only 39% of the organizations include climate change risk in their risk assessment and only 9% cite smart emission-reduction techniques as focus areas for their R&D work.

“We believe these numbers are too low. Most companies in the oil and gas industry need to future-proof their assets against the impact of climate change and, most importantly, there is no long-term future for the industry if we do not develop cost-effective carbon capture and storage technologies,” Torp continues.

The widely adopted DNV GL industry guidelines and Recommended Practices for CCUS have been developed through joint industry projects and serve as a benchmark for the new ISO CCS standard to be launched later in 2017.

Kaare Helle, Innovation manager at DNV GL ­- Oil & Gas is pointing to some recent developments in Norway. “I’m proud to be assisting customers at the forefront in Norway, where private and public companies, suppliers, research institutes and the government are developing value chains and hence business models for CO2 management needed to meet the Paris Agreement greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets,” Helle states.

Almost eight out of ten respondents see long-term opportunities for gas, while 77% believe gas will become an increasingly important component of the global energy mix over the next 10 years.

“We have advocated the increased use of gas in all sectors: gas power generation is now mainstream and there is still big untapped potential for gas in maritime transport and land-based heavy transportation, such as lorries and trucks. In combination with large-scale hydrogen from natural gas with CCS, the mid-term outlook for sustainable energy is promising,” Helle concludes.

Other findings include:

  • Despite ongoing cost pressure, only 3% of respondents are listing scaling down sustainability initiatives as part of their cost management activities, and 16% expect increasing spending on emission controls.
  • In the Asia Pacific region, 85% of the respondents believe gas will become an increasingly important component of the global energy mix, while 74% of respondents in North America and 72% of those in Europe agree.

Download a complimentary copy of Short-term agility, long-term resilience from:

Read more about how to enhance performance with carbon management technologies here.

Closed Loop Fund Releases Complete 2016 Results, Doubling Impact In Just 4 Months

Projects have diverted nearly 100,000 tons of material from landfill, reduced more than 230,000 metric tons of GHG, and created more than $530,000 in economic benefit to municipalities

Thanks to the participation of CLF investors including 3M, Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, Dr Pepper Snapple Group Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies, Keurig Green Mountain, Nestle Waters North America, PepsiCo and the PepsiCo Foundation, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and the Walmart Foundation

Press Release – June 1, 2017 — Closed Loop Fund, an investment fund that finances recycling infrastructure and sustainable manufacturing technologies to advance the circular economy, has released its 2016 impact results (an update from a November 2016 publication).

“Our portfolio is rapidly delivering greater and greater impact, as more projects come online. In just the last quarter of 2016, tons diverted from landfill, greenhouse gas tons avoided, and economic benefit to cities doubled what we saw cumulatively in the year prior,” says Margot Kane, CFO and Chief Investment Officer of Closed Loop Fund.

According to Kane, “We are showing that municipalities and recycling companies have significant demand for impact investment dollars, and we are unlocking powerful co-investment. To date, the investments are generating revenues and paying back on time.”

Key Highlights and Statistics from the updated Report (as of Dec 31, 2016):

  • CLF committed nearly $25m in 11 projects, with 3x co-investment of over $64m from municipalities, banks and impact investors.
  • 8 live projects have already diverted 98,500 tons of material from landfill, reducing the equivalent of 232,000 metric tons of GHG emissions (like taking every car in Fort Myers, FL off the road for one year)
  • $533,000 in economic benefit accrued to municipalities (like educating 50 children in public schools for one year)
  • Activities represent recycling generated by nearly 1.2 million households (equivalent to a metro area the size of San Diego, CA)

Since the end of 2016, Closed Loop Fund has closed 2 additional loans:

  • Aero Aggregates: a lightweight aggregate manufacturing company creating a high value end market for recycled glass in road construction and other geotechnical applications
  • Escambia County Utilities Authority (ECUA): a new high-tech materials recovery facility (MRF) in Pensacola, FL serving a region that was previously a recycling desert

About Closed Loop Fund

Founded in 2014, Closed Loop Fund is a social impact investment fund that provides cities access to the capital required to build comprehensive recycling programs. Closed Loop Fund aims to invest $100 million by 2020 with the goal to create economic value for cities by increasing recycling rates in communities across America. Closed Loop Fund brings together the world’s largest consumer product, retail, and financial companies committed to finding a national solution to divert waste from landfills into the recycling stream in order to be used in the manufacturing supply chain. Key supporters include 3M, Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies, Keurig Green Mountain, Nestle Waters North America, PepsiCo and the PepsiCo Foundation, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation. For more information, visit

iHope continues for Rare Genomics Families

Press Release – Los Angeles, C.A. June 01, 2017. Rare Genomics Institute (RG) is happy to announce that our iHope program will continue for 2017. This partnership with leading genomics company Illumina Inc. (NASDAQ: ILMN) provides free clinical whole genome sequencing to selected children affected by rare or undiagnosed diseases. Since our launch on December 6, 2016, over 30 undiagnosed children have received free sequencing.

“I cannot believe that with Illumina’s generosity, we are now able to offer this cutting edge technology to our families. We hope that by providing access regardless of their ability to pay, we are accelerating their path to a diagnosis and hopefully one day a cure,” said Romina Ortiz, MHS, COO and VP of Patient Advocacy, who is leading this operation for Rare Genomics Institute.

The RG Patient Advocacy Team will work with all hopeful families to determine candidacy for the program. Children with strong physician support for whole genome sequencing will be considered. Joaquin is just one of the children that has been sequenced and diagnosed through this unprecedented program, and we hope there will be many more success stories to report. Here is Joaquin’s story:


Joaquin is a child from Chile who suffers from seizures, autism, strange eye movements, trouble feeding, immune system irregularities as well as generalized and progressive dystonia leaving him confined to a wheelchair. His father Ignacio, a miner in Chile, first came to RG in 2012 after already spending 3 years searching for an answer for Joaquin’s illness. Joaquin’s journey with us has encompassed whole exome sequencing and research studies in collaboration with researchers from Washington University in St. Louis and Canada, which revealed mutations in a gene that regulates the movement of fat in the brain and offered the possibility of a lysosomal lipid storage disease. This year, we were able to get Joaquin free clinical whole genome sequencing through iHope and with it, he finally has his answer. He was 19q13.11 microdeletion syndrome and dystonia type 28. Of note, he has a whole gene deletion of the KMT2B gene. We are currently exploring clinical follow up to help treat Joaquin.

“The most difficult part was not knowing what was consuming him every day, what disease was robbing his childhood. Today with a clear and certain diagnosis, we only have one path to follow, and that gives us complete peace.” – Mother

For more information about iHope, please visit:

About Rare Genomics Institute

RG is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that makes cutting edge research technologies and experts accessible to rare disease patients. Partnering with top medical institutions, RG helps custom design personalized research projects for diseases so rare that no organization exists to help. By providing an expert network and an online crowdfunding mechanism, RG helps families source, design, and fund personalized research projects in diseases not otherwise studied. Ultimately, RG aims to expand on its current genome sequencing-focused approach to enable support for whatever type of research is necessary to get closer to rare disease therapeutics.

For more information about Rare Genomics Institute, visit

The eBook is available immediately at no cost at

Social Finance Announces Awardees to Develop Nation’s First Outcomes Rate Cards, Driving Government Performance through a Focus on Outcomes

Riverside County, CA and Yale Child Study Center with the State of Connecticut will employ pioneering tool to deliver results for at-risk children

Press Release – May 31, 2017 – Boston, MA Social Finance today announced the first round of awardees for the Outcomes Rate Card Development Competition, launching two new partnerships to advance outcomes-based contracting and financing in communities across the country. With support through funding awarded last year from the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Social Innovation Fund, Social Finance will partner with the Riverside County Executive Office and the Yale Child Study Center with Connecticut’s Office of Early Childhood to develop the nation’s first outcomes rate cards.

Outcomes rate cards scale solutions to society’s most pressing challenges by allowing government to identify priority outcomes for vulnerable citizens, and enabling service providers to achieve those outcomes through diverse interventions. An outcomes rate card standardizes the Pay for Success approach, by establishing a menu of outcomes a government seeks to “purchase” for a given issue and target population and the amount it is willing to pay each time a given outcome is achieved. With one outcomes rate card, governments can launch multiple projects, directing resources towards outcomes rather than outputs.

“Today’s announcement represents the growing enthusiasm of state and local governments to tackle persistent social challenges through outcomes-based approaches,” said Tracy Palandjian, co-founder and CEO of Social Finance. “Outcomes rate cards will allow us to scale Pay for Success, delivering even greater impact for children and their families in California and Connecticut.”

The Yale Child Study Center and Connecticut’s Office of Early Childhood, a state agency, will build on the state’s history of collaboration and experience with Pay for Success to design an outcomes rate card addressing early childhood outcomes. The partners will work with Social Finance to analyze data from the state’s Early Childhood Information System and identify the issues of greatest need facing the state’s young children and their families. Together, they will develop an outcomes rate card to support outcomes-based projects addressing the identified area of need.

“Connecticut has been a national leader in Pay for Success thanks in large part to the state’s collaboration with Social Finance and the Yale Child Study Center,” said David Wilkinson, Commissioner of the Office of Early Childhood. “We are excited to be selected in this competition to work together again as we seek to make the promise and potential of PFS achieve broader reach more efficiently. Government and service providers share a mission of generating positive outcomes, so it makes sense to align payment with the outcomes we want to see.”

“This award allows us to apply the rigorous research at the Yale Child Study Center on effective interventions for children and their families in our relationships with government and policy partners.” –Dr. Linda Mayes, Professor and Director of the Yale Child Study Center, co-Principal Investigator

Riverside County Executive Office will develop an outcomes rate card to improve services for Children of Incarcerated Parents (CIP). Incarceration in county jails and state prisons is a growing challenge in Riverside County, imposing a substantial social and economic burden on the community. Children of Incarcerated Parents face a range of challenging circumstances that put them at a higher risk for adverse health outcomes, low academic performance, and diminished economic opportunity. An outcomes rate card will help Riverside County expand the range of services needed to adequately support CIP, driving resources toward high-quality service providers and meeting the diverse needs of impacted children to help set them up for long-term success.

“The Riverside County Executive Office is honored to be selected as a service recipient. We will use the Outcomes Rate Card to develop a proactive model to reduce the incarceration rate by intervening early in the lives of children who experience risk factors that make them more susceptible to future incarceration,” said Brian Nestande, Deputy County Executive Officer, Riverside County.

Outcomes rate cards are one approach to developing Pay for Success projects, which combine nonprofit expertise, private funding, and independent evaluation to transform how government leaders respond to chronic social problems. Over the past six years, over 70 Pay for Success projects addressing chronic social issues have launched in 18 countries worldwide.

The Outcomes Rate Card Development Competition is supported by the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Social Finance was awarded funding as part of SIF’s Round 2 Pay for Success Grants Competition, which seeks to build the pipeline of Pay for Success projects for local governments.

“The Social Innovation Fund is an innovative program that seeks to invest in truly compelling solutions and expand programs that work,” said Lois Nembhard, acting director of the Social Innovation Fund. “We are pleased to support the development of the first outcomes rate cards in the United States and believe these projects will represent cross-sector collaboration at its best—laying the groundwork for more governments and nonprofits to follow the lead of the two service recipients announced today.”

About Social Finance

Social Finance US is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to mobilizing capital to drive social progress. We believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to thrive, and that social impact financing can play a catalytic role in creating these opportunities. As a Pay for Success intermediary, Social Finance has built upon the work of our sister organization Social Finance UK, who pioneered the first social impact bond in the world in 2010.

About the Social Innovation Fund

The Social Innovation Fund (SIF) is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages millions of Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the nation’s volunteer and service efforts. SIF positions the federal government to be a catalyst for impact—using public and private resources to find and grow community-based nonprofits with evidence of results. The Social Innovation Fund focuses on overcoming challenges confronting low-income Americans in three areas of priority need: economic opportunity, healthy futures, and youth development. To learn more, visit

New CEO of Feeding Children Everywhere Has Audacious Plans to Create a Hunger-Free America

Press Release – Since becoming CEO of Feeding Children Everywhere (FCE) a little over a year ago, Dave Green has helped feed millions of hungry children and families around the globe and here in the U.S.

Stepping back, he’s in awe of all the Central Florida-based organization and its partners have accomplished. But ultimately, he says: “It isn’t enough.”

Green isn’t ungrateful, but he is unsatisfied that most hunger-relief organizations — including his own — aren’t doing more to create a hunger-free world.

“As we look at where we are today, we realize there’s so much more we can do. We aren’t doing enough to solve a problem that’s been plaguing humanity since day one: hunger.”

An astounding 42 million Americans are food insecure, not knowing where their next meal is coming from. Green is launching several innovative initiatives both to meet immediate needs and to address the root causes of hunger in the U.S.

Dave Green demonstrates Fed 40, an app to end hunger in America.

Fed 40: A Mobile App to End Hunger in America

Fed 40 is FCE’s mobile app designed with one audacious goal in mind: End hunger in America. Using the app, families who need food can get 40 nutritious meals delivered directly to their doors in about one business day. There’s never a charge to receive the meals or to reorder.

“It’s a more efficient, dignified and environmentally responsible way to end hunger in the U.S.,” Green says.

The program is expanding quickly and is now available in many states — most recently, North and South Carolina, where nearly 2.5 million people face food insecurity. The app is available at the App Store and Google Play or by visiting


Imagine for a moment living your entire life without being able to shop at a grocery store. You’re forced to go without fresh fruits or vegetables, and even have no access to the basic ingredients required for a healthy home-cooked meal. All of your meals would be resorting to fast food or processed junk food that you purchased at the corner store with SNAP (food stamp benefits). That dismal scenario is a reality for millions of impoverished Americans living in food deserts.

“Food deserts are the frontlines of the war on hunger in America,” Green explains. Fed 40 is just the first step to address an immediate need. The long-term plan is to bring urban farming to these areas, transforming food deserts into food producers:

“We’ve got to come up with more efficient, more sustainable ways to produce food. Because if we have more efficient food systems, we produce more nutrition. The more we can do that at a local level, the closer we get to creating a hunger-free world.”


Global climate disruption is impacting the planet in ways never experienced in human history. Warmer temperatures are contributing to changing weather patterns that cause more intense storms and heavier rainfall in some places and drought in others.

These changes are having a direct effect on worldwide hunger. In response, FCE has made a pledge to environmental sustainability — taking steps aimed at reducing its carbon footprint and promoting food production in the communities it serves. This includes packaging its Red Lentil Jambalaya meals in biodegradable bags; and planting trees in the countries where its meals are distributed internationally.

Additionally, FCE is taking steps as an organization to manage its overall carbon emissions by reducing company travel by 40 percent and opening a satellite office and warehouse in Dallas to serve as a central distribution point.

“These moves are the biggest steps towards a hunger-free America we have ever taken,” Green concludes. “We believe this is a watershed moment — for Feeding Children Everywhere, for our partners and for the millions of children and families who need our help.

“There’s a hunger hero in all of us. And working together, we can create a hunger-free world.”


Feeding Children Everywhere is activating people for a hunger-free world. Since 2010, FCE has mobilized 475,953 volunteers at corporations, businesses, universities, faith-based organizations and more to package 71,806,329 meals for hungry children and families. Activate your team at

First Impact Investing Fund Listed On Italian Exchange

Mainstreaming impact investing through a liquid, scalable impact driven investment strategy

Press Release – On May 31, 2017, the “Investimenti Sostenibili” fund, managed by Sella Gestioni (Banca Sella Group) working exclusively with MainStreet Partners as sole investment advisor, marks nearly the half year point as a listed fund on the Italian Stock Exchange. Investimenti Sostenibili was the first listed fund that enabled Italian retail investors to directly access impact investments. The fund is managed according to MainStreet Partner’s Sustainable Growth strategy, which targets capital appreciation via a flexible and broadly diversified portfolio of highly liquid thematic bonds and equity investments, which intentionally create positive social and environmental impact.

This listing is the end result of MainStreet Partners’ long term effort to deliver investment strategies to its banking partners that provide end investors with daily liquidity, positive returns and clear, measurable impact. The Sustainable Growth strategy has been implemented in various accounts during the past 5 years and was originally conceived in 2010 when MainStreet began researching the first thematic bonds being issued by the Development Finance Institutions. Equities screened for impact were later added to the strategy to provide a global, balanced approach. The listing of this fund is an important step forward in mainstreaming of impact investing by reaching the retail investor market with suitable and sustainable investment products. As of the end of April 2017, the fund has reached €77.1 million.

Rodolfo Fracassi from MainStreet Partners said: “Historically, impact investing has been open predominantly to wealthy individuals and institutional investors. We are delivering an impact strategy that is accessible to retail investors. This strategy provides easy access, transparency and traceability of impact with liquidity and diversification in terms of geographies, asset classes and sectors. Most importantly, it allows retail investors, who care about people and our planet, to materially contribute to social development and environmental protection.”

Achieving tangible impact

Regarding the fund’s social and environmental results, in 2016 its investments contributed to providing 40,000 loans to low-income individuals, the reduction of Co2 emissions equivalent to those produced by 760 cars in 1 year, the reduction of waste production by 6 tons and the saving 18 million litres of waters, which is equivalent to the consumption of 1,400 families in a year. Banca Sella Group and MainStreet Partners have partnered with Lifegate, a one-million member network focused on promoting sustainability, to help raise public awareness of the fund’s availability on the stock market.

About the Investimenti Sostenibili fund:

Sella Gestioni began working with MainStreet Partners in January 2015, when MainStreet Partners became the sole investment advisor to a fund named Nordfondo Obbligazionario Etico. After a review of the investment strategy and portfolio by MainStreet Partners, the fund’s portfolio was completely rebuilt based on MainStreet’s investment strategy. This globally diversified and flexible balanced strategy, which mixes thematic fixed income investments and impact listed equities, generates financial returns alongside positive and measurable results on society and the environment. The fund was subsequently renamed Investimenti Sostenibili.

About Banca Sella:

Banca Sella Holding S.p.A., whose origins date back to 1886, is one of the oldest Italian private banks. The bank engages in banking and other financial service businesses primarily in Italy. Sella Gestioni SGR S.p.A, the asset management company fully owned by Banca Sella Holding S.p.A., is the fund manager of Investimenti Sostenibili.

About MainStreet Partners:

MainStreet Partners, a London based investment advisor, was created to provide any investor with a transparent and easy access to companies and funds that achieve consistent financial returns while improving people’s lives and protecting our planet. Where and how capital is deployed has a strong influence in shaping our future world. For this reason, we want our clients to know exactly where their capital is invested and what financial, social and environmental results they are achieving.

About Lifegate:

The mission of the Lifegate network is to create the largest international network of information and services for persons, companies, NGOs and institutions working for a sustainable future. LifeGate wants to be sustainable innovation hub, incubate ideas based on new paradigms, connecting minds, projects and companies. Overseeing all of the most promising growth areas in the world with targeted investments in tools, media and technology, with an approach aimed at identifying the different needs of people and businesses that share a commitment to a better world.

Former Malawi President Joyce Banda Joins the Akilah Institute as Honorary Chancellor

Joyce Banda, Africa’s second female president and long-time champion of women and girl’s education, will bring her wide-ranging experience in government, business, and advocacy to the Akilah Institute, Rwanda’s only college for women.

Press Release – Kigali, Rwanda — May 31, 2017 — The Akilah Institute today announced that former Malawi President Joyce Banda will join the college as Honorary Chancellor. Banda brings extensive experience in leadership and women’s empowerment to the Akilah Institute at an important time, as Akilah scales its proven model across sub-Saharan Africa via a network of new campuses.

“Akilah is thrilled to welcome Dr. Banda as our Honorary Chancellor,” said Akilah President Karen Sherman. “Given her staunch commitment to education and her extensive track record in women’s advocacy, the partnership was a very natural one. Dr. Banda’s personal mission to empower women aligns with Akilah’s own vision to educate the next generation of women leaders in Africa. She will be a key thought partner as we execute our plans for scale, including opening seven new campuses to serve a collective 53,000 women across Africa.”

Banda and Sherman formalized the partnership today with a meeting in Virginia. “As a former president, businesswoman, and philanthropist, Dr. Banda exemplifies the values we seek to instill in our students,” Ms. Sherman said following the meeting. “Leadership, community service, professionalism, and career growth are pillars of the Akilah curriculum. Dr. Banda embodies all of them. Dr. Banda is a role model not only for our students and women in sub-Saharan Africa but also for women around the world.”

For Banda, the appointment offers an opportunity to build on her extensive track record in advocacy for women. “I am tirelessly researching, documenting, and raising my voice for the education of the African girl-child and the empowerment of women,” Banda wrote in her acceptance of the appointment. “You can therefore count on my commitment in the task before me.”

“Governments, academic institutions, and the private sector must actively work together to remove barriers facing women so that they can attain positions of leadership,” Banda said. “Akilah offers an important success story in this regard. By selecting promising young women, providing them with intensive leadership training, and partnering with the private sector to prepare them for careers in Africa’s fastest-growing industries, Akilah has pioneered a new and effective method for women’s education,” she said.

Banda will bring her decades of experience in government, advocacy, business, and philanthropy to Akilah’s executive team. She will play a strategic role in the Akilah Institute’s growth plans and will provide advisory support as the institute identifies new campus locations, diploma programs, and education products to better serve women across Africa.

About the Akilah Institute: As the only women’s college in Rwanda, the Akilah Institute provides market-relevant education programs using a competency-based learning model. Opened in 2010, Akilah offers diplomas in Hospitality Management, Entrepreneurship & Business Management, Information Systems, and more and prepares graduates for meaningful careers and leadership roles. Akilah’s unique focus on ethical leadership skills, public speaking, and community service equips students with the lifelong knowledge required for personal and professional growth. By 2031, Akilah will serve 53,000 woman across an international network of eight campuses.

About Former President Joyce Banda: Joyce Banda was the president of the Republic of Malawi from 2012 to 2014. She was Malawi’s first female president and Africa’s second. She is also an entrepreneur, activist, politician, and philanthropist. In 1997, she received the Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger, alongside the President of Mozambique, and used the prize money to launch the Joyce Banda Foundation International, which has started three schools and provided an education to more than 3,500 girls. Banda was instrumental in the formation of the African Federation of Women Entrepreneurs, the Council for the Economic Empowerment of Women in Africa, and the American & African Business Women’s Alliance. Forbes Magazine recognized her as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world.

Banda holds an M.A. in leadership from the Royal Rhodes University of Canada, a B.S. in gender studies from Atlantic International University (U.S.), and a diploma in NGO management from the International Labor Organization Center in Turin, Italy. Jeonju University of South Korea conferred an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Economics on Banda in January 2013, and Wheelock College conferred an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Education on her in May 2015.

Reef Life Foundation Founder, Melody Saunders Brenna, Featured At United Nations Event

Press Release – Salt Lake City, Utah – May 30, 2017 – Taking on the challenge of restoring the ocean’s reefs is the greatest endeavor ever attempted by mankind and Reef Life Foundation is taking the challenge head-on presenting its Global solutions for restoring dead and dying reefs as well as introducing reef-friendly products which aid in decreasing the destruction of existing reefs, creating new reefs, and establishing a protocol to help reverse the trends in oceanic aquaculture declination. This will be the topic of discussion on Tuesday, June 6th from 12 pm – 1 pm ET. “ The New Bone Structure of the Oceans, Reef Life Nano Science”

The United Nations Foundation Ocean Conference will be attended by every coastal nation and global Ocean Agencies to formulate the intent and planning for Ocean Restoration to 2050 and beyond. “Our livestreamed Solutions Hour programming will bring ocean solutions and innovations around the world to the mainstage of the SDG Media Zone to highlight global solutions being taken today to protect our precious oceans. This event will take place at the United Nations, in the SDG Media Zone, which will be located in the UNCA Lounge at the UN headquarters in New York.Adrian Greiner, Film Actor and Director, Ocean advocate opens the show and Reef Life Foundation Founder Melody Brenna will be the next interview elucidating the Reef Life ocean habitat restoration structures: Reef Life Foundation Ocean Commitment” Justine Sullivan Digital Media and Communications Manager Climate, Energy, and Environment Initiatives United Nations Foundation

Nano-technology advances in cement formulas have been discovered over the last decade by Dr. Konstantin Sobolev, a prominent research scientist in the field of nano-structures, and a member of the Reef Life Foundation as well. “For over 10 years, new nano-science technologies have been developed which can not only aid in the development of new reef growth, but it can also help reduce the man-made destruction of existing reefs by providing cement structures which are able to attract and grow new corals while filtering out toxic materials which kill corals and fish,” Dr. Sobolev has stated.

“No one else … and I mean no one … has been able to develop a material than can be used in so many applications and situations where reef stability, growth, and expansion is the concern. Reef Life Foundation is proud to announce the first placements of this new oceanic nano material matrix in projects around the world,” according to Melody Saunders Brenna. “With this revolutionary technology, man can now make amends for the unrelenting destruction he has caused to our planet’s most important ecosystem … our oceans.”

“In a few months, this technology will be reversing and growing new corals and new aquaculture so that fishing, underwater exploration and even underwater mining can be minimalized or even completely countered,” Ms. Brenna states. ”Our goal is to provide this world-changing technology to public, private, and other organizations to assist them in countering the destruction of one of the earth’s most precious resources.” Ms. Brenna goes on to state that there is expected to be over $1 Trillion dollars spent in the next decade to improve aquaculture around the world.

“We can generate life where there is currently only death in corals. Fishing populations which are so important to coastal dwellers can be revitalized. Old oil rigs can become aquaculture centers breeding new life and new opportunities to create sustainable farming opportunities. It is time for the world to learn the answer to this endemic, global destruction and Reef Life Restoration working hand-in-hand with Reef Life Foundation can bring this reality to any point on the globe.”

Melody Saunders Brenna and Dr. Konstantin Sobolev have been pioneers in producing new types of cement for commercial applications for over three decades. Dr. Sobolev is an internationally recognized expert in nano-technology as it applies to cement mixtures and applications. For more information go to

SVOD 2017 Announces The Winning Startups And Reports Advices From Investors To Startups Looking To Raise Venture Funds

Press Release – Mountain View, CA, May 25, 2017. 37 startups in the areas of VR, Enterprise software, SaaS, Consumer Internet, EdTech, FinTech, Machine Learning, BigData, and Social Impact pitched on stage at the Silicon Valley Open Doors Technology Investment Conference (SVOD). These companies came from all over the world to present their businesses in front of over 300 venture capitalists, individual angels and corporate ventures. Country representation included: USA, Israel, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, South Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong, France, Germany, United Kingdom, India, Estonia, Latvia, Canada and others.

The winner of the pitch competition is PRSONAS, a holograms project from North Carolina, USA that creates a brand’s personality in the physical world to help attract, automate, and analyze customer engagements. Splacer (Israel), an online platform for people to instantly list, discover, and book short-term spaces for different events, came second. NGCodec (USA), the next generation video compression technology for VR, was honoured with the third place. The Audience Awards went to MELScience (UK), a subscription-based educational package that delivers science experiments in a box right to the door, and SprayPrinter (Estonia), a service that lets you spray paint images from your phone. The portable printer knows where exactly to release paint so that anyone with no art skills can create beautiful art on any surface. The social impact award was given to RegenVillages (Stanford, USA) that is redefining tech-integrated real estate development at the nexus of food, water, energy and waste at the neighborhood scale.

For the 13th year in a row SVOD brought together acclaimed Silicon Valley VCs, early startup founders, entrepreneurs, industry legends such as Andrew Ng, Kevin Hartz, Claudia Fan Munce, Andy Johns, Kira Makagon, Slava Rubin, Jon Callaghan and founders from around the world looking to raise venture funding. Оn the conference stage top Silicon Valley VCs shared their experience to startups looking to raise venture funds.

  • Adopt the Elon’s “we will go to Mars!” sense

Set the mission first, – recommends Keith Rabois, Senior Investment Partner at Khosla Ventures, over a fireside chat. – And only after doing it, measure where, how well and how fast you are going to complete that mission. Keith warns that this laboration shouldn’t be open-ended: “We might do this or we could do this”. Keith doesn’t like the Lean startup approach where founders would “try out some things and see which one will work, and then through some other ideas against some walls and then have a whiteboard session”. This Lean startup approach, thinks Keith, can keep a startup from turning into an impactful company and hiring top talent because the picture of the final destination is what appeals to them, not money.

  • Find a less traveled road  

Oren Zeev, the early investor behind Audible, Houzz and Chegg, shared with the audience that he likes to back founders that he has fun with because “it’s a long ride and it’s hard to get a divorce”. A company should be seeking to rewrite the rules of the industry and do something really new as opposed to the one that has 6 or 10 competitors”, he said. Oren is less inclined to chase self-driving vehicles or other hot buzzwords just because everyone else is chasing them. In fact, the hotness of the market is a negative factor for Oren: chances that the startup in a hot market is going to be a dominant player are very low. “It’s much easier to succeed when you have 2-3 years to build things quietly without huge pressure from competition”, – thinks Oren.

According to Oren, it doesn’t matter whether the founder was born in the US, or came here from some other part of the world, it doesn’t matter if he came out of Stanford or not. What matters is whether the product is really helpful to people and what the team had done with a few resources, that shows to investor how much more they can do with the help of a new investment.

  • Get to know your business partner

At a fireside chat, Kevin Hartz, Partner at Founders Fund and co-founder of Eventbrite, shared that he’s partial towards teams where founders have a lifelong relationship with each other, whether that would be childhood friendship, room-sharing in college, or even marriage. He thinks that when co-founders meet at some networking event and two weeks later decide to make a leap that should be lifelong, this rather raises concerns.

  • Understand your weaknesses

“The best teams are those that understand themselves”, thinks Spencer Tall, managing director of Allegis Capital. “In the Valley, smart people grow on trees”, he said, – “The question is whether they are smart enough to understand where they are strong and where they are weak and fill in those areas”. Spencer thinks that a really good team is not the one that consists of friends or spouses, but the one that has a person who can fill in the weak areas.

  • Consider a “triple-triple-double-double-double” approach

VC firm Bessemer Venture Partners knows which exact revenue a startup should deliver to be a good candidate for Series A. A startup with current revenue between $0M and $10M should be delivering a hundred million of revenue in 5, 6 or 7 years. That is called a triple-triple-double-double-double approach. Jeff Epstein, operating partner at Bessemer, explained it in the following way: “How does a company with $2M of revenue can get to a hundred million of revenue in a reasonable timeframe? If you triple from 2 to 6, triple again from 6 to 18, and then double to 36, then again to 72, and double again – then you’ll get $144M in revenue. This would mean that in five years you’ve gone from $2M in revenue to over $100M. That’s the “dream” we are trying to find!” When looking at a company, investors ask themselves: is it a company that can triple-triple-double-double-double?

  • Tell your story

According to the angel and impact investor Ben Laufer, the most impactful investor pitch is the one that tells the best story of how the founder discovered the problem, why he is passionate about it and wants to devote a significant amount of his life towards finding the solution. And then investors want to see a visual representation of the founder’s dream: what is the solution, why is his team the best to go for it and execute upon it.

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