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An Applied R&D Lab Serving Solo and Family-based Entrepreneurs in Rural and Distressed Urban Communities

January, 2005 – Present

Social Entrepreneurs and Social Enterprise in the Small Is Good World

A Blog of Sohodojo's Forum Posts at the Skoll Social Edge Web Site

Sohodojo at Social Edge

Drinking from the fire hose
in Open Forum - 05:53am Mar 31, 2005 PST

One of the more difficult aspects of participating in and attending the Forum is the limited time allotted for panel members to share with us what, in some cases, has been a life's work. How do you capture in 10 minutes what you have learned through your many years experience and give Forum attendees a key message to take back home to think about. In many ways each session is like drinking from a fire hose. There are so many good ideas, so many lessons to share. Each day is fully packed from morning to night.  

As we continue to collect information, attend sessions and drink from this fire hose, we will continue to synthesize thoughts and share them with you over the next days and weeks. Don't hesitate to ask questions, share your ideas, open a dialog.

Face-to-face Finally!
in Small Is Good World at the Skoll World Forum - 05:48am Mar 31, 2005 PST

We would be remiss to reflect on Day One of the Forum without mentioning a personal highlight in our finally getting a chance to meet Christina Kirabo Jordan of Life in Africa, Toby Beresford of MicroAidPam McLean of CAWDNet, and Michael Chertok of... various social business ecosystems he is involved in.

We first crossed paths with Christina through our involvement as Social Edge delegates which puts us together in the same hotel, coping with the lack of Internet access and jet lag. Although we talked on the phone briefly at the hotel, it was not until we met at the Forum's Internet Cafe that we met face-to-face. It was like Old Home Week, except for the fact that we had never met in person before.

Next, we were heading to opening sessions and spied a smiling face wrapped in conversation among the throng of delegates that were gathering in the Said School reception area. Adding a third dimension to the 2-D representation that we have of him from our interactions to date, we did a double-take and said to each other, "I think that's Toby!" At about that time, Toby looked around from his conversation and did an "A-ha!" moment as he recognized us. Again, Old Home Week of the Small Is Good World kindred spirits. It was so great to be finally engaging in direct, real time conversation!

Then we pooled ourselves together -- Timlynn, Toby, Jim, and Christina -- to sit together in the tiered rows of the Nelson Mandela Theater for the opening sessions. We were, quite literally, the Small Is Good World delegation sitting together as a group in a setting the very much resembled a United Nations of Social Entrepreneurs!

Then, as things were about to begin, we noticed a woman turning to sneek a peek at name tags -- the type is quite small so we squint alot at each other on first meeting. Again, we had to apply the 2D-to-3D transformation from Social Edge member profile picture to flesh and blood person. We sain, "Hi, you must be Pam." and she lit up in recognition as we all introduced ourselves to each other for another dose of Old Home Week of kindred spiritness.

Then, finally, after the opening sessions and were at the reception and we turned and there was Michael Chertok, the final link in the core team of Small Is Good World Working Group founders who all found each other through Social Edge.

What a great personal dimension to an inspiring first day to the Skoll World Forum. Together at last. And this is only the begining...

Power to the People
in Small Is Good World at the Skoll World Forum - 02:46pm Mar 30, 2005 PST

The keynote panel Using popular media networks to drive social change, set the tone for the rest of the evening. Again and again we heard speakers saying things that resonate with the Small Is Good World Working Group. Panel moderator, Charlie Ledbetter's question to the group Can Big and Small work together? nearly had us jumping up and clapping! The message from each of the panelists, in fact from each of the key note presentors hinged on the democratization of something -- film making, music making, producer-consumer links, and so much more.

Day One - Opening Keynotes, Panel, and Reception
in Small Is Good World at the Skoll World Forum - 02:44pm Mar 30, 2005 PST

We were thrilled to finally meet Christina Kirabo Jordan just before the opening session began. Vaz pulled us together to coordinate our activities for covering the World Forum. Much to our delight, Vaz requested that we be true to ourselves and our missions. We aren't here to be court reporters, dispassionately recording and retelling the details of the sessions. Rather, we are to reflect the conference through our own "lens" of personal missions. For us, that means the lens of the Small Is Good World, the world of the empowered Individual that is less organization-centric than so many of us have grown up in.

With these marching orders, we are pleasantly surprised and encouraged to report on some of the topics of conversation by the opening keynotes and panel session. While the "Making Networks Really Work" theme ran true throughout the presentations, a few presenter comments bear specific comment as they ring so true to the spirit of the Small Is Good World Working Group.

Stan Thekaekara's presentation, "Social Entrepreneurs -- A Global Perspective," was extremely well-received and it has special meaning to us. Stan is one of the just-named Fellows of the Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurs. In his talk, he surveyed his thirty-year transformation as a social entrepreneur. Most recently, in his work in the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu in South India, Stan described his work as being a social conglomeration facilitating trade between economically-challenged producer communities and economically-challenged consumer communities. Sounds a lot like the social business ecosystems we are have been talking about here on the Edge for some time. To learn more about Stan and his passion for social enterprise, check out "JUST CHANGE Humanising globalisation" on the Feasta web site.

Of course Bill Drayton's talk, "The Citizen Sector Transformed" was both inspiring and network-themed. Of particular interest were his comments on the producer/consumer hybrid organizations that Ashoka has been experimenting with for the last year or so. The idea is to hook up a product or service producer with a community-base organization in communities where the producer cannot normally justify the expense of servicing a marginalized market. The community organization becomes, in effect, a participant in the supply chain and benefits financially from it. Of course there is a Small Is Good World twist to this and we've written about it in "Drayton on Social Finance: Servicing Social Entrepreneurs' Needs" during the Building Blended Value event on the Edge last year.

Joel Podolny's wrap-up keynote was especially insightful and spoke to all the members of the Small Is Good World Working Group. Joel is the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School. His talk, "Networks as Ends Rather than Means" was full of insights applicable to the world of influence without authority that characterizes the social business ecosystems of the Small Is Good World. Joel's research shows that social enterpreneurs interested in socal change should attend to developing their networks for their own sake rather than as means to experience, time, and resources. In this capacity, the social entrepreneur plays the role of Guardian of the Community rather than the roles of Matchmaker or Event Planner. The tipping point of evolving such a community is when you get what Joel calls Identity Transformation and participants become intimately committed to the social change mission.

This idea of Guardian of the Community rang particularly true for those of us trying to advance the Small Is Good World agenda. We are, however, in a more foramtive stage than what Joel is describing. That is, we are first Cheerleaders of the Community before we can be its Guardian/Facilitators.

The first day's events culminated with a rousing reception that was jam packed with social entrepreneurs and dignitaries, food, and drink. A wonderful end to our first day at the Forum.

Notes from the Edge
in Small Is Good World at the Skoll World Forum - 02:14pm Mar 30, 2005 PST

We were not sure what to expect this evening as the Skoll Forum got underway. The list of speakers was impressive and the topics looked interesting. But you never just know what to expect.

From the very start, the entire evening was an adrenalin rush. As speakers and delegates began to settle in, suddenly from the back of the Nelson Mandela theatre came the pounding rhythms of drums. The Dohl Foundation stole the show. The Dhol is a traditional North Indian drum made from a large wooden shell. Before the privilege of telephones, the Dhol was used by town criers to drum up crowds, read out notices or make formal announcements.

The Dohl drummers marched toward the stage and the Forum officially began.

Intro to Small Is Good World at the Skoll World Forum
in Small Is Good World at the Skoll World Forum - 07:58am Mar 30, 2005 PST

Want to know more about the Small Is Good World and its relationship to the Skoll World Forum? For the last year or so, an informal group of social enterpreneurs on Social Edge have been drawn together through our mutual interest in what can most easily be described as social business ecosystems. These ecosystems are network strucures that cross sector boundaries, and are more characterized by inter-personal rather than inter-organizational network links.

Thanks to our election as Social Edge delegates, Sohodojo Timlynn and Jim, and Christina Kirabo Jordan (Life in Africa Network) will be able to meet with Toby Beresford (MicroAid), Michael Chertok (soloist social entrepreneur), Pam McLean (CAWDnet) and other Social Edge SWF delegates to lauch the Small Is Good World Working Group. We'll post updates of our activities here, as well as comment on World Forum events from a Small Is Good World perspective. Your comments and questions are welcome. Also, please do not hesitate to identify yourself as having an interest in the Working Group.

Skill Building for Success
in Design your virtual visit to the Skoll World Forum! - 06:18am Mar 30, 2005 PST

Dear K. L.,

We have been fortunate to have read a copy of the paper you will be presenting at the International Social Entrepreneur Research Conference coming up in Barcelona in April. In it you present compelling reasons why there need to be educational programs for social entrepreneurship. We absolutely agree.

Successful social entrepreneurs must develop skills in building networks, in developing cross-sector partnerships, in developing and maintaining collaborative alliances, and in using basic business processes.

Although we would like to believe that we know how to use social networks and how to develop alliances, in reality there is much to learn about the skills involved in doing so. For example, moving one's own agendas forward while helping others to do the same with their own agendas takes real skill in identifying and building win-win scenarios. These skills can be learned!

There are several sessions here at the Skoll Forum that may touch on the educational aspects of SE. We will be sure to capture the thoughts here and share them.

The Oxford/London Connection - Get on the bus!
in SWF Online Ultra Lounge - 12:03pm Mar 25, 2005 PST

Worried about where to stay and how to get around between Oxford and London? Are you interested in attending the Saturday afternoon, post-conference social/business field trip of the Small Is Good World Working Group to tne Royal Observatory to see the Harrison maritime clocks? Do you want to do a theater outing as Michael has suggested? (We'll probably combine the two...)

Here's most affordable and understandable service we've found by looking on-line. Check out the Oxford Express bus service. There is a boatload of easy to understand info at this link, and there seems to be an affordable one-week "season" ticket that would let us stay in Oxford and get around as needed.

We are not mega-experienced London visitors, but this service does seem like a winner. This is especially true if you have visited any of the train service web sites to try and figure out when, how, and how much it would cost to get to/from Oxford and London.

The Oxford Express is a shining example of clear, easy to understand information presented on the web. They will most likely get our business because of it!

Small Is Good World Working Group Field Trip to see the Harrison Longitude Clocks
in SWF Online Ultra Lounge - 11:51pm Mar 22, 2005 PST

Of course we will be super busy with all kinds of exciting activities as Social Edge delegates to the Skoll World Forum. But come the weekend after the Forum, we have a special field trip planned as a social event of the Small Is Good World Working Group. We/Sohodojo, Toby and Richard Beresford of MicroAid, and, we hope, Christina Kirabo Jordan of Life in Africa will be among the working group members going to the Royal Observatory at Greenwich to see the Harrison maritime clocks!

Cover of the DVD edition of LongitudeIn the 'Movies that make a difference', we posted Longitude - What It Means to be an Entrepreneur, a piece about the television mini-series that tells the inspiring story of John Harrison's life-long passion to win the Longitude Prize by means of an accurate mechanical clock.

The overwhelming opinion of the 18th Century In Crowd was that the challenge of ocean-going navigation would be overcome by a celestial observation and measurement scheme. Self-taught, rural clockmaker and master carpenter John Harrison alone thought outside the box and relentlessly pursued an elegant and earth-bound solution.

In nearly every way imaginable, John Harrison represents the qualities of an entrepreneur – intense focused passion, learning from his mistakes, and always believing in himself and his vision against all odds.

In preparation for our field trip, we are re-watching the DVD edition of the Longitude mini-series, and re-reading Dava Sobel's book from which the screenplay was developed. And of course we're reading as much as we can on-line about Harrison and his clocks. A great source to start your own research is on the 'John Harrison and the Longitude problem' page at the Royal Observatory Greenwich web site.

If you have a similar fascination with the entrepreneur John Harrison and you'll be in London the weekend following the Skoll World Forum, you might consider joining the Small Is Good World Working Group field trip to the Royal Observatory. Simply drop us a private message here on Social Edge and we'll send you details.

Powerfully and poetically stated! Thank you, Peter.
in Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn - 10:33am Mar 17, 2005 PST


What a touching comment. Please accept our heart-felt thank you. We will do our best to deliver an engaging and useful flow of information out of the Skoll World Forum.

For Edgers who don't know Peter, he is Peter Tavernise and you can get to know him and his interests best by way of his profile (this link opens in a new browser window).

What Peter so intuitively read into our delegate application is perhaps best expressed in this short piece, 'The Ripple, A Valentine's Day Reflection'.

Thank you, Peter, for your kind words,
--Sohodojo Timlynn and Jim--

Check out the full 2005 Skoll World Forum Program
in Design your virtual visit to the Skoll World Forum! - 05:02pm Mar 15, 2005 PST

If you really want a detailed look at what will be going on be sure to read the detailed 2005 Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship Program. This document opens in a new browser window and is PDF format. So you will need a free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it if you don't already have one.

This document will really help you identify the events that you want to suggest for on-line coverage.

Another POV on the GG Marketplace at the Forum
in GlobalGiving Marketplace: Lessons Learned and Forward Thinking - 02:44pm Mar 11, 2005 PST

In the event that you missed Patrick O'Heffernan's extensive blog-based reporting on the 2005 Global Philanthropy Forum, you might want to take a moment to read his engaging description of Day 2 of this event. About two-thirds down the page, just below the minor headline "8.00 pm.", you will find Patrick's participant/observer description of the GG Marketplace. It sounds like the technology-enabled, interactive process was most engaging for everyone involved.

Our only wish, removed as we are as after-the-fact readers, would be that judges should have been held to an 'all or nothing' award, or a tiered 'win-place-show' differential reward structure. It seems like the 'an equal little bit for each' of the five finalists was an overly safe result.

Thanks and Setting Expectations
in Delegates Announced! - 11:26am Mar 10, 2005 PST

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who voted to send Sohodojo and Christina Kirabo Jordan to the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship. We will do our absolute best to share information about what goes on at the Forum, and to represent the Social Edge community to Forum participants from across the globe.

But being there or following posted reports are not the only ways to participate in this year's Forum. As you know, the theme of this year's event is 'Networks and Their Impacts for Social Entrepreneurs'. Use the inspiration of this themed Forum to frame your own self-education program over the next several weeks. No matter how much you know or think you know about networks and network theory, there is always more to learn.

In the next week, we will post an article on Social Edge recommending our favorite books about networks and network dynamics. We'll then open a discussion in the Social Edge Book Club to invite you to add to our list, and tell us what you've learned from these books that helped you be a better social change agent. We'll also wrestle with questions about how to apply network dynamics to grassroots community organizing and other social change domains.

Why the interest in networks? Quite literally, networks are everywhere. We're not just talking about social networks and social network theory. Like us, you may be fascinated to learn that networks are at work in biology, economics, telecommunication, cognitive processes, our metabolism... networks are everywhere. What is truly amazing, is how all these networks operate in much the same way. So the more you know about how networks work in any domain, the more insights you can bring to your social change missions.

What better time to learn more about networks and their relationship to social entrepreneurism than now? The Forum will trigger a cascade of ideas that will ripple through the social entrepreneurship community. If you prepare in advance for this wave of ideas and interest, the better prepared you will be to participate in and learn from this year's Skoll World Forum on 'Networks and Their Impacts for Social Entrepreneurs'.

The LiA Network Rocks!
in Christina Kirabo Jordan (Skoll World Forum Delegate Comments) - 01:20am Mar 4, 2005 PST

What a great and informative post, Christina.

Your description helps to frame the potential role of Sohodojo in your evolving social business ecosystem. We hope you will think of us as your "outsourced" applied R&D lab. There are software technologies – Internet-based as well as for personal computers, PDAs and cell phones, etc. – that LiA Network participants will need that simply will never be supplied by the Big Is Good World.

Software technologies for the Small Is Good World fall roughly into two categories: back-end supply chain systems to enable decentralized and distributed microenterprise and small business networks; and a story-driven and game-oriented eCommerce engine that empowers alternative markets based on "Who, How, and Why" consumer purchase dynamics.

That's where Sohodojo comes into play as LiA's collaborative partner. It will be our task to fully understand and develop the Open Source software technologies you need to reach unimagined levels of sustainable performance. Together we'll achieve such success by changing the rules of the game, not by directly competing on the unlevel playing field of the Big Is Good World.

In July we finally got Sohodojo's determination as a 501(C)(3) applied research and development lab. This took us over 2.5 years of working with our IRS caseworker so he could understand social business ecosystems and Sohodojo's role within such ecosystems. He was then able to write a precedent-setting opinion that was successfully peer reviewed and accepted. So like you, Christina, we've been reeving up the engines and are now ready to do some exciting work.

It looks like things could get really interesting starting this year and moving forward. The Small Is Good World is real and will play a very significant role in helping to lengthen the flight of Spaceship Earth.

We are looking forward to opportunities to work with you in support of your innovative and vital work. Let's hope we have a chance to meet at the Forum and get together with Pam McLean, the Beresfords and other kindred spirits interested in launching the Small Is Good World Working Group!

CawdNet and the Small Is Good World
in Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn (Skoll World Forum Delegate Comments) - 12:13am Mar 4, 2005 PST

Hi Pamela! Thank you for your support. If we are fortunate enough to be selected as Social Edge delegates to the Forum, we will indeed look forward to meeting you and having your involvement in the Small Is Good World Working Group.

We very much see CawdNet – especially as you've recently described its evolution into a hybrid organization as CawdSocial and CawdEnterprise – as yet another example of an evolving social business ecosystem.

We also especially appreciate the thought provoking role you played in the recent Oxford's Exploration of Venture Philanthropy event/discussion. We are sure that your contributions to this conversation will help the Skoll Center students at Oxford to shape their VP fund.

As you mentioned in the Oxford VP thread, the funding amounts that many of us need are modest by most investment/support standards. But it is remarkable how tough it can be to get this support when you are not an 'A List' player.

Getting a seat at the table is one of the valuable aspects of the conversations that happen here on the Edge. The Skoll Foundation is able to get some remarkable and influential people to host or be special guests at Social Edge on-line events.

Many of these 'A List' folks are so used to and busy being in the 'A List World' that they lose touch with folks like us, and therefore they don't always know what we want or need. That's where you, Pam, and folks like us come into play. On the Edge we get to take a seat at the table where we ordinarily would be a voice at the window. You did it this past month in the Oxford event, we did it last year at the Building Blended Value event.

While these opportunities don't often turn into immediate tangible returns, they do add up to incremental progress. Over time we'll infect 'A List' folks with fresh ideas and insights that will make it easier for social entrepreneurs to band together in dynamic networks of collaborative individuals and small/virtual organizations. It will get easier for us to create social business ecosystems where we can work together on innovative solutions to our most pressing community problems.

So, thank you again for your kind words and your vote of support. Let's hope that we get to meet face-to-face at the Forum and can work together with kindred spirits to launch the Small Is Good World Working Group.

Oh, The Power of Networks!
in Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn (Skoll World Forum Delegate Comments) - 06:15pm Mar 3, 2005 PST

Dave Davison of the Digital Universe NetworkDave, thank you so much for your kind words. If we are fortunate enough to be selected to attend the World Forum, we will do our absolute best to make you proud to be in our corner in support of the Small Is Good World.

We are so amazed to see that this is your first public post on the Edge!!! We checked our email archive and confirmed that it was May 25th of last year when we got your note of introduction sent by way of the private message member communication system here on the Edge.

For those who don't know Dave, we would like to fill you in a bit. First and foremost, as a "retired" (we use this word with tongue firmly in cheek) venture capitalist in Silicon Valley, Dave is an active strategic thinker and a voracious reader. So while many may find our posts a bit too long and sometimes a bit deep in the weeds, Dave plowed through them and engaged us in most enjoyable conversations by email and on the phone throughout the past year. Together we have wrestled with ideas about sustainable business models for the Small Is Good World.

You'll find a nice biographical profile and photo of Dave on the Strategic News Service member gallery.

As Dave mentioned, he is a strategic advisor to the ManyOne Network and its associated Foundation. And if anything these days is Dave's "baby," it is the Digital Universe Network where you will find some additional bio info.

In addition to his environmentalist interests, Dave is very interested in sustainable, earth-friendly, and community-supportive business models. That is why Dave is interested in Sohodojo and the Small Is Good World.

If things evolve as they might, our mutual interest is to eventually see a Small Is Good World Portal of the Digital Universe Project as part of the ManyOne Network. Now that sounds like a long-shot, and maybe it is. But it is also yet another example of an 'influenced not managed' and 'shared not owned' social business ecosystem in its embryonic stages.

Thank you again, Dave, for your kind words and friendship.

Kindred Spirits and the Small Is Good World
in Christina Kirabo Jordan (Skoll World Forum Delegate Comments) - 10:02am Mar 3, 2005 PST

Christina, we are so excited to see your application in the running for a seat to the Skoll World Forum. Since joining Social Edge in September of 2003, we have been great admirers of your tireless energy to evolve the Life in Africa Network. Through your work, we immediately felt that we were kindred spirits in the Small Is Good World.

Folks mistakenly assume that Small Is Good is about size. But it is really about a collection of organizing principles that empower individuals by reducing our dependence on conventional organizations. It is, in other words, about networks or more specifically about social business ecosystems. Your Life in Africa Network is a shining example of this emerging approach to social entrepreneurism.

When folks with organization-centric mind-sets look at you and your work, they will think to themselves, "My gawd! This wacky woman is all over the map!!! Take some Ritalin. Get focused. Do one thing right, and don't try to do everything at once." Of course these reactions are framed by One Right Way thinking that revolves around the assumption that conventional organizations are the way things get done, and that scaling is done by getting bigger and more specialized. That is, they bring a command and control mindset to a world that is all about self-organizing network dynamics where you influence rather than manage, and collaborate rather than own.

So folks might better understand the how Small Is Good World social business ecosystems work, we'd like to use you with the Life in Africa Network, ourselves with Sohodojo, and the Beresford's with MicroAid as a living example.

Your role with the LiA Network is in the direct service domain. You are in the field identifying service opportunities related to business and community development. Toby and Richard Beresford are in the network-enabling support service provider domain. Their MicroAid Neighborhood Network Center platform is an Internet service for identifying, funding and tracking fine-grained (micro) business and community development projects. Sohodojo's role is as an outsourced R&D lab doing applied research to create Open Source and Open Content materials to support the whole ecosystem such that you/LiA and the Beresfords/MicroAid together with the myriad of projects and small businesses you folks spawn can work together in a sustainable socio-economic network.

Our wish is that you and Sohodojo will be fortunate enough to be selected to attend the Forum so we can hook up with the Beresfords and other kindred spirits to officially launch the Small Is Good World Working Group.

The Importance of Alliance's Voice
in Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn (Skoll World Forum Delegate Comments) - 05:34pm Mar 2, 2005 PST

Caroline, thank you for your kind words and support. We have long appreciated your thoughtful contributions to Edge discussions and on-line events. As community members we also value and thank Alliance magazine for its founding partner commitment in support of the Social Edge community.

We were especially pleased to see that the link that you provided is to a page announcing that Social entrepreneurship - its promise and its challenges is the focus of the March 2005 issue of Alliance magazine. Given your informative personal blog posts from the first Skoll World Forum, we can only imagine what a great issue you will have in store for readers.

If we are fortunate enough to be selected as Social Edge delegates to the Forum, we look forward to meeting you and discussing issues in social entrepreneurship. We would especially like to discuss trends in social investment and their impact on the practice of social entrepreneurism.

The social sector is currently going through a profound transformation that is akin to the "network-ization" of the Hollywood film industry in the mid 20th century. Social investors need to become as skilled and active in funding the equivalent of "making movies" as they are comfortable in "investing in the film industry."

We need social investors to become as interested and skilled in funding the dynamic projects of social entrepreneurial networks as they are passionate about investing and supporting the conventional organizations of the social sector. This is not an either/or situation. We need a healthy attention to both of these playing fields if we want to see truly breakthrough social innovations in the coming years.

We believe Alliance magazine is in a significant position to raise and sustain the awareness of the social investment community to the implications of the social sector's role in the emerging Network Society.

Thank you again for your interest and support. We hope we will be able to meet and talk with you at the Forum.

Thought Provoking Ideas Precede Thought Provoking Actions
in Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn (Skoll World Forum Delegate Comments) - 02:09pm Mar 2, 2005 PST

Dr. Dutta, if we understand you correctly, you believe we have some thought provoking ideas but question whether these ideas apply to solving our most pressing social problems.

We believe that the ideas we are pursuing at Sohodojo are central to the sustainability of our global shared future.

The current social sector is founded on two often unchallenged assumptions: 1) The private sector of our economy will continuously produce enough surplus capital to fund the social sector through philanthropic channels, and 2) The private sector will produce enough surplus labor to meet the needs for volunteerism in the social sector. In other words, "business as usual" – perhaps with a social entrepreneurial wrinkle or two – will be the engine to sustain our efforts to build a better world.

At Sohodojo, we believe both these assumptions will be uncompromisingly challenged by the increased efficiencies of capitalism's globalized markets. As the Big Is Good World's markets become more efficient and its organizations consume more of the time and energies of its workers, where will we get the surplus capital and surplus labor needed to solve social problems?

The Support Economy bookcover...We believe the answer to this vexing question lies in the transformation of the practice of capitalism at a systemic level. Not that the Big Is Good World and its excesses will collapse and go away, but rather that a complementary form of global capitalism will help to moderate the excesses of today's world. At Sohodojo, we call this new form of global capitalism, the Small Is Good World. The distinguished Harvard business professor Shoshana Zuboff and her successful executive husband James Maxmin, call this transformation of capitalism the Support Economy.

The Small Is Good World and its Support Economy are about creating new forms of self-support network organizations, and new markets driven by appeals to new and latent consumer purchase dynamics emphasizing "Who, How and Why" rather than "How much and Where." The Small Is Good World and its Support Economy are about empowering individuals by reducing our dependence on conventional organizations and the tyranny of impersonal markets.

To achieve this revolutionary transformation of the practice of capitalism, provocative thoughts must precede provocative action. Sohodojo's mission is to be a thought leader in this emerging new world, and to be an effective collaborative partner to implement new solutions to existing and emerging social problems.

Preparing for the Networked Future
in Oxford's Exploration of Venture Philanthropy - - 06:46pm Feb 23, 2005 PST

To the venturesome SBS students (Hi, Keely!) hosting this event, we'd like to draw your attention to a concurrent conversation, ' Funders on The Edge: Draper Richards Foundation'. One thread within this parallel discussion will be familiar to those who participated in, or read the archive of, the 'Building Blended Value' mega-event last year. That is, there is an informal community of Social Edge members whose social entrepreneurial missions/visions share a common theme. We are imagining and pursuing development of what might best be described as social business ecosystems or social business extended network enterprises.

Social business ecosystem/networks are an indication of the social sector's movement into what Manuel Castells has characterized as the Network Society and its associated Network Economy. His classic trilogy, The Information Age, richly documents the impact of networks on our individual and organizational lives. Social business ecosystem/networks are influenced not managed, and their participants' behaviors are constrained by sustainable mutual advantage rather than command and control. Not unexpectedly, these ecosystem/networks have very different capitalization requirements than conventional organization-centric ventures. Different capitalization requirements necessitate different due diligence processes and performance measurement methods for prospective investors and donors.

As your student group works on the structure and processes of your fund, we encourage you to remember two of the historic roles of the university; to prepare its students for the future, and to provide leadership in identifying and helping to shape that future. With this in mind, we strongly encourage you to add a social business ecosystem/network scenario to the range of 'How will we handle' scenarios that you use to shape the SBS venture philanthropy fund. Without such a scenario to help guide your design efforts, you run the risk of creating an efficient and effective fund that helps to keep re-creating the solutions and organizational forms of the past at a time when breakthrough innovations are most needed and possible.

To help seed this scenario development, we encourage you to consider this input/output diagram and associated sources and distribution of funds diagram for a social business ecosystem/network together with this post, 'Funding Networks: Have It Your Way...', from the Building Blended Value event. By incorporating a social business ecosystem/network scenario into your design evaluation process, we are confident that you will both help prepare Skoll Center SBS students for the future and help shape our society's dynamic networked future.
The Challenges of Social Investment in the Network Society
in Draper Richards Foundation - 10:01pm Feb 22, 2005 PST

Jenny, thank you for your reply, 'Due diligence on hybrids'. Your comment is a perfect context for the point we want to re-iterate here; that the typical hybrid organization (that is, a joint operation of a paired non-profit and a for-profit with a shared mission and management) can be too limiting a model for social innovation in the emerging world of the Network Society and its associated Network Economy.

Input/output and (pg2) Capitalization Requirements of a Social Business Extended Network/EcosystemAnd Rupert, thank you for contributing to this discussion. We'd love to know more about your Center for the Development of Social Finance and its mission is to increase funding to social enterprises. Your comments in 'Financial Literacy in the Social Enterprise Milieu' are particularly appropriate and relevant to the thread of discussion here regarding the challenges of envisioning and capitalizing extended social business networks/ecosystems.

In our prior post, 'Hybrids are Tip of Challenging Iceberg for Social Investment', we provided a bullet list of relevant posts from the Building Blended Value event. We realize everyone is very busy and that this was way too much to expect folks to read. But embedded within these context-setting posts were references to a two-page linked document that we'd like to bring front and center at this point in our conversation. (A large thumbnail of the first page of this PDF format document is presented at right.)

When you look at the mission/vision of an emerging community of social entrepreneurs, you will find that they are attempting to 'herd the cats' of a multi-facetted social business ecosystem rather than a typical (paired) hybrid organization. Ecosystems are influenced rather than managed. Collaboration through mutual interdependence and collective advantage are the forces at work rather than command and control. You will see this ecosystem or extended network structure at the heart of social entrepreneur's visions such as Christina Kirabo Jordan's Life In Africa work, within Toby and Richard Beresford's MicroAid social venture bringing the domain of international aid into the person-to-person network realm, and in Sohodojo's vision for the Small Is Good World Marketplace.

Some may think that these mission/visions are overly ambitious and too complex for practical implementation. But the scope of such ecosystem-like extended network enterprises are found as the source of flexibility and competitive advantage of such private sector successes as Cisco Systems in the computer industry, Toshiba in the automotive industry, and the wholesale network-based transformation of the Hollywood movie industry.

Of particular concern for us are the issues suggested by page two, 'A Closer Look at Capital Sources and Distribution in a Microenterprise and Small Business Network Ecosystem', of the diagram accessible by the clickable image above. While this diagram is specific to the mission/vision of Sohodojo's Small Is Good World Marketplace, only slight variations would be needed to cover the mission/vision's of such Social Edge members as Christina Kirabo Jordan, the Beresford's, and Jim Fruchterman, etc.

So, Rupert, as our community collectively seeks to chart the dark waters of 'Financial Literacy in the Social Enterprise Milieu', we need your experience and insights to help us understand the challenges and opportunities ahead as many of us seek to evolve and influence these social business ecosystems. And Jenny, we really need your foundation's cooperation to serve as a prospective due diligence 'crucible' to refine and package our mission/visions for salable social investment. Even if what we are doing at present seems like the fringe of 'risky long-shots', we can't help but feel that we are the tip of the future iceberg. It is quite possible that the seeds of the greatest social innovations will be sown and nurtured in extended network/ecosystems, not in the organization forms of days gone by.
Social Business Ecosystems/Networks and Breakthrough Social Innovation
in Draper Richards Foundation - 04:34pm Feb 20, 2005 PST

Hi Daniel,

We are glad to see you join this conversation because we believe you are a shining example of the social entrepreneurs who form an unofficial sub-community here on Social Edge. Your Tutor/Mentor and Cabrini Connection programs, associated web sites, and related program services collectively are a great example of a social business ecosystem implemented as an extended network enterprise which we wrote about in a prior post.

In addition to ourselves with Sohodojo, and you with Tutor/Mentor, this sub-community includes such Edge members as Ashoka Fellow Christina Kirabo Jordan working on her Life In Africa network, and Toby and Richard Beresford evolving MicroAid and its network of community development centers. Though better funded and already scaled more than any of us, Jim Fruchterman is an Edge member whose Benetech is designed around the ecosystem/network model. We're all working strategies to leverage the Internet and emerging trends in virtual or 'lightweight' organization that are designed to make the most of collaborative networks of stakeholders, service providers, volunteers, and our constituents.

While we each have very different missions and/or target constituents, we do share one thing that makes our work more challenging. That is, what we are doing has associated financial needs that require our backers (investors/donors) to think more in terms of funding "making movies" rather than "investing in the movie industry." We need financial partners willing and able to play the all-important "executive producer" role within the "moviemaking"-like activity of our social business ecosystems.

Much of the social investment community is moving toward organization-centric, performance measurement-focused investment strategies that value scale more than innovation. We get, in other words, social investors skilled at "investing in the movie industry." We run the risk, therefore, of getting a social sector that is efficient but lacks the risk-taking and mentoring needed to foster breakthrough social innovation.

Given the limited number of investments that it can make each year, our only wish is that there would be a dozen more Draper Richards Foundations!

Jenny, it would be interesting to know which of your current Draper Richards Fellows' social ventures are using, or plan to grow by way of, a network enterprise or ecosystem approach. Also following up on your earlier post, what challenges do you see in doing your foundation's due diligence of the 'hybrid' organizations you are considering? Those of us working on social business ecosystem/networks could really benefit from knowing better how we can document and present ourselves to prospective financial partners.
Hybrids are Tip of Challenging Iceberg for Social Investment
in Draper Richards Foundation - 10:08am Feb 17, 2005 PST

It is interesting that the profit/non-profit and resulting 'hybrid' organization issue has come to light so early in this conversation. Incorporation regulations, tax law, and organizational model impacts on social investment strategy have been discussed many times here at Social Edge.

One of the liveliest forums showcasing these topics was the "Building Blended Value" mega-event that included a sub-discussion on "The Capital Challenge". Anyone in this discussion interested in furthering the evolution of the on-going conversation on these issues would do well to re-visit the conversations found at the blended value links above.

To summarize our contribution to this past conversation, we noted that 'hybrid' organizations are essentially a limited/simplified case of the emergence of social business ecosystems that take the organizational form of extended network enterprises.

The implications of the 'network-ization' of organizations and, more generally, of the global economy (ecosystem) in which network organizations live is best described in the work of Manuel Castells' 'The Rise of the Network Society'.

In the thread of prior posts that we have made on this subject, we'd like to reference the following:

With these referenced posts as context, Jenny, we'd be very interested in hearing your ideas about what role you see foundations playing in the capitalization and nurturing of social business ecosystems?
Music to our ears...
in Draper Richards Foundation - 11:19am Feb 16, 2005 PST


Thank you for joining the Social Edge community conversation.

To address the discussion point of the relationship between social entrepreneur and foundation, we'd like to use this forum's context-setting opening statement as a case in point.

There are precious few funding organizations out there that understand and support true entrepreneurial social innovation. Many have mission statements that suggest they do, but too often the follow-through to practice is not there. By contrast, the Draper Richards Foundation description above stands out as exception to this trend.

We appreciate your bullet point statements in the 'We fund' section, the first and most prominent being that the Draper Richards Foundation funds the entrepreneur or entrepreneurial team. This is a clear indication that your foundation understands that supporting entrepreneurship is person-centric not organization-centric. The entrepreneur's entrepreneurial energy often finds expression in organizations, but it is the entrepreneur's passion and vision that are the lifeblood of the body that is the organization embodying these entrepreneurial missions.

Hand-in-hand with your foundation's support of the entrepreneur, it is refreshing to see that your foundation envisions its role as being 'the first in the pool' at the organization's earliest stage of development. For social entrepreneurs, this is probably the toughest challenge we face.

In the private sector, the 'first in - most to gain' dynamic is in play. While risky for the initial backer, the extraordinary potential reward in the event of a well-placed bet can overcome risk aversion and uncertainty. With social entrepreneurs, particularly when non-profit organizations are involved, the risk is still there but the lure of big rewards to the funder is missing. Thus, we get the trend toward mezzanine and second-round funding for social enterprises.

We are looking forward to the evolution of this timely and important discussion.
Sorry to see the number of posts metric go...
in A New Social Edge - 08:56am Feb 14, 2005 PST

Congratulations, Vaz and the SE tech team, on the many improvements to the Social Edge site. It will be interesting to see how these new site features impact the opportunity for sub-community building. We have been advocates of sub-communities for a long time as this is one of the best ways that folks can develop true self-support value from an on-line community. Such peer support and camaraderie is difficult to accomplish in a 'one size fits all' mega/mono-culture site.

One thing we are sorry to see fall by the wayside, however, is the number of posts metric under the member's picture on each post. There are fewer data points to 'read into' a conversation on-line as compared to face-to-face interactions. The number of posts, in this case, is a useful indicator of a member's commitment and activity within an on-line community.

The 'Founding Member' designator, however, is not missed. This seemed to be a 'Who showed up early' indicator rather than, as its name implied, an indicator of deep interest/support and active participation to help launch the Social Edge community. There were lots of Founding Members with one or two posts, while there were a number of high-post, active members that we enjoy and respect who did not have Founding Member status.

So, bottom line, we'd like to see number of post brought back and farewell to the Founding Member designator.
Let Entrepreneurs Be Entrepreneurs, Not Reporters
in Help Create a Process for Choosing Skoll World Forum Delegates - 10:17am Feb 12, 2005 PST

First, we want to say that this is an overwhelmingly good idea. The entire Social Enterprise domain is in danger of becoming a 'Usual Suspects Club' of the same folks who are well-positioned at the hubs of this global social network, and who have the means to travel and participate in such events as the World Forum. The challenge for Social Edge as an on-line community is to figure out how to help us 'outliers' to take a seat at the table and have our voices heard.

That said, there is the danger that, given the laundry list of high expectations that are listed as work requirements, this honor could turn into a 'win the battle, lose the war' situation for the persons selected as delegates.

Being an effective reporter is hard work. It also puts you in the position of 'observer' rather than 'participant'. Our strong motivations for wanting to go to the Forum have to do with the incredible opportunity to network with kindred spirits who could evolve into collaborators and potential funders. We couldn't imagine doing a good job of comprehensive Community Reporter as well as take advantage of the unique opportunity to attend as participatory delegates where you have the opportunity to advance your own passionate mission.

If we could redesign this program, here's how we'd do it:

  • Send funded delegates as delegate, not as reporters

  • Solicit college journalism/media programs for self-nominations from folks who would want to document and report on the success (or lack of it) of the funded delegates who attend this forum with the intent to advance their passion/mission.

The most important advantages to this approach are that: 1) we encourage social entrepreneurs to be entrepreneurial not reporters, and 2) we encourage the development of journalists interested in covering social enterprise. These are two different and much needed objectives.

As Toby reflected in some of his comments in response to the lessons learned in the recent GlobalGiving Marketplace contest, let's take a page from the Reality TV genre. Let's pick a small group of delegates (why two, let's shake thinks up with 6-8 diverse participants) to send to the Forum where their assignment is to promote and develop their social mission, not be reporters.

If we won a slot to attend the Forum and we knew it was going to be under the watchful eye of our peer on-line community, you can bet we would be highly motivated to take the best possible advantage of the opportunity. If we weren't selected, we can sure imagine the vicarious excitement of helping to select, then witness the Real World Challenge of a group of us non-insiders doing our best to network at the World Forum and to evolve our social missions given this significant opportunity.

In this regard, we think the selection of delegates should done half by peer vote and half by unilateral sponsor selection. Say we can send eight folks to the Forum. Let four be selected by the Social Edge community through a self-nomination and a simple-but-fair voting process. But let the other four delegates be selected by Jeff Skoll and/or the Skoll Foundation executive team. By having both processes at work, we ensure that there will be both community buy-in as well as 'underdog' selections that are deserving but are not likely to have broad popularity or attraction in the popular election.

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