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With Matt Flannery, founder of Kiva, transitioning from blogging to twittering, we thought this would be a good time to help Matt and others joining Twitter to hit the ground running with a list of the best social entrepreneur twitter folks to follow.

These are folks we have run into in our specifically social entrepreneurship circle. I'm sure there are many more people we have not yet met, and would like to meet, so I encourage you to comment here with your recommended additions.

That said, we have selected a few, well 100 to be exact, to get you started on "Twitter for Social Entrepreneurship". We suggest you start with the first 20 below and see how it goes. Then start adding in some of the other clever people listed when you are ready. (By the way, if you are considering how to start tweeting for yourself or your organization, see also Twitter and the Social Entrepreneur - a guide to mission-aligned twittering.)

For Social Entrepreneurship--20 essential folks to follow:
@socialedge (that's us!) @skollfoundation @poptech @civicventures @echoinggreen @ashokatweets @changemakers @AshokaGenV @acumenfund @nextbillion @UnLtd @UnLtdWorld @SchSocEnt @socialcitizen @casefoundation @thinkchangeind @socialearth @BeUnreasonable @socialentrprnr @ideablob

Social Entrepreneurs--an eclectic collection of 20, some small, some large orgs (and there are many, many more not listed), to follow:
@kjer (Forge); @leila_c (@samasource); @mattflannery (@kiva); @camfed (Camfed); @CollegeSummit (College Summit); @staceymonk (@EpicChange); @lend4health (Lend4Health); @SHEnterprises (Sustainable Health Enterprises) @ineedapencil (; @kenyanpundit and @whiteafrican (@ushahidi); @ConsciousChange (Global Grassroots); @playpumps (PlayPumps); @JRandomF (Benetech); @RoomtoRead_MN (Room to Read); @RugMark (RugMark); @fairtradeusa (TransFair USA); @Gillian1Sky (@1Sky, @TheHub @witnessorg); @teachforamerica (Teach for America); @waterpartners (Water Partners) @endovershoot (Global Footprint Network)

Others in the social entrepreneurship field, 20 peeps I like to follow:
@global_x @tomjd @jnovogratz @rodneyschwartz @jongos @slboval @Montero @judechia @Kevindoylejones @AmiDar @emeka_okafor @trielly @tomwatson @dnbornstein @davepeery @peterdeitz @EncoreTerry @mdangear @stevecase @zyOzyfounder

Philanthropy-related gurus, 20 thought-leaders you should follow:
@Philanthropy @OnPhilanthropy @p2173 @tactphil @Philanthropy411 @philosopher20 @pndblog @fdncenter @gatesfoundation @Grameen_Fdn @idealist @worldchanging @sustainablog @davos @takepart @e180 @startingbloc @atlascorp @dosomething @globalgiving

NP/VC/Tech/social media for social good geeks, 20 great guides to follow:
@kanter @bbravo @afine @mashable @webb @jessicashortall @hildygottlieb @TechSoup @appafrica @afrigadget @socap09 @SVNetwork @newprofit @SVTgroup @nesta_uk @socialgood @Ventureneer @socialbusiness @socialactions @netsquared

Not enough? See more lists of Twitter recommendations for social entrepreneurs:
by Appfrica
by Echoing Green
by Social Earth
by John Madigan
by ODE magazine

More places to find social entrepreneurs on Twitter - see who tweets with the following hash tags or terms
#SocEnt (social entrepreneur/entrepreneurship)
#SocEntChat (monthly social entrepreneur chat by Ashoka)
#socialentrepreneur (for those who don't know about #SocEnt)
#Prize4SC (prize for social change)
#4change (that's right, "for change")
#BoP (base/bottom of the pyramid)
#nonprofit (self-explanatory)
#nptech (nonprofit technology)
#SSIR (Stanford Social Innovation Review)

the top Twittering Social Entrepreneurs

Name - Erik Hersman
Twitter - @whiteafrican
Why You Should Follow - Founder of Ushahidi, blogger at AfriGadget and WhiteAfrican, all around smart guy and great tracker of the African technology and innovation

Name - Guy Kawasaki
Twitter - @guykawasaki
Why You Should Follow - Founder of Alltop, social media evangelist and best selling author on entrepreneurship, tweets regularly with practical advice for traditional and social entrepreneurs

Name - Vanessa Mason
Twitter - @vanessamason
Why You Should Follow - Blogger and tracker about all things global health, international development, and creative solutions to poverty and inequality

Name - Marc Dangear
Twitter - @mdangear
Why You Should Follow - Founder of Entrepreneur Commons and general advisor to social entrepreneurs

Name - Joe Solomon
Twitter - @engagejoe
Why You Should Follow - Social media consultant working with Social Actions, Joe's Twitter stream is a hub for all online social innovation

Name - VCTips
Twitter - @vctips
Why You Should Follow - An aggregator of great tips for those entrepreneurs who are pitching or looking to pitch to venture firms and angel investors

Name - Jon Gosier / Appfrica
Twitter - @appfrica
Why You Should Follow - Jon's Appfrica project does a phenomenal job keeping track of social technology innovations with ramifications for the developing world

Name - Social Entrepreneurship at / Nathaniel Whittemore
Twitter - @socialentrprnr
Why You Should Follow - Our official Twitter account - get updated about new posts and interesting projects


CEO of Toronto Community Housing

Derek Ballantyne has worked in the housing sector for about ten years. He has a background in the public and private sectors. Derek has worked with a variety of partners and with housing organizations to renew investment in housing and to garner support for households living in social housing. He is a Director of Family Services Toronto as well as the Social Housing Services Corporation and SHSC Financial Inc.



Barrister & Solicitor
Non-profit and charity law

RichardBridge is a lawyer who recently relocated from Vancouver Island to
Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley. His primary area of practice is charity and non-profit law. His clients are a wide range of charitable organizations, foundations, non-profit organizations and philanthropists throughout B.C. and across Canada. Other areas
of work include: co-operative development and public sector organizations and issues. Richard has worked internationally, most recently in China, and has created courses and taught in these areas at the University of Victoria Law School and BCIT.



President and CEO
J.W. McConnell Family Foundation

Tim Brohead who has served as president and CEO of the Montreal-based J.W. McConnell Family Foundation since 1995. Prior to joining the Foundation he was Executive Director of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC), a
national organization representing over 120 non-profit Canadian international development agencies.

Mr. Brodhead attended McGill University and subsequently
spent five years in Africa with the Canadian organization CUSO. He went on to do
international development work in Africa and South Asia and co-founded Inter Pares, an
Ottawa-based non-government organization.

In a voluntary capacity he has served on a number of Boards, including currently
Vartana, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the
ETC Group (formerly Rural Advancement Foundation International) and the Calmeadow
Foundation. He is past Chair of Philanthropic Foundations Canada, the national
association of Canadian independent foundations.

In 2001 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada and in June, 2002 received
an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Carleton University in Ottawa.



Partner, Ogilvy Renault LLP

Areas of Expertise:
Cleantech; Corporate and Commercial; Corporate Finance and Securities; Governance and Directors' Liability; Mergers and Acquisitions; Private Equity

Mark Convery is Toronto Chair of our Business Law Group. Mr. Convery has extensive experience in business law generally and in corporate and securities law specifically. His areas of expertise include mergers and acquisitions, private placements, public offerings, private equity fund formation and investments, corporate governance and investment funds. Mr. Convery has considerable experience in cross-border transactions and has advised clients at all stages of development from start-up to mature public companies, multinational companies and private equity funds.

Mr. Convery is currently a member of the Securities Advisory Committee to the Ontario Securities Commission.



Board member & Co-chair, Policy Council – CCEDNET
President – Économie solidaire de l’Ontario
North America Representant – RIPESS – Intercontinental Network of Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy

Éthel Côté has been involved in the economic, social, cooperative and cultural fields for more than 25 years. As general manager for the Cooperation Council of Ontario (CCO) from 1994 to 2000, she revived this movement and fostered the implementation of some thirty work, services and production cooperatives in addition to supporting agricultural, agri-food, housing and child care cooperatives. She holds a Canadian university level certificate in Agricultural Leadership (CALL 2001) and obtained her Masters Degree in Community Economic Development from Concordia University.

In addition to teaching Community Economic Development at Concordia University between 2000-2008 and Hearst University since 2008, she has also mentored hundreds of communities and promoters of socio-economic development initiatives. She has been involved with the Canadian Community Economic Development Network for several years and Co-Chair the National Policy Council and member of the International Committee. She currently chairs the Ontario Solidarity Economy Network. She is now the Canadian representative on the Board of the Réseau intercontinental de promotion d’économie sociale et solidaire (RIPESS). Now she is responsible for social enterprise development at the center for Community Enterprise, member of the Social Enterprise Council of Canada and the Social Enterprise Ontario. She succeed to mobilized over than 16M$ to support social enterprises throughout 20 years.



Executive Director, Community Power Fund

Deborah Doncaster is the CPF Executive Director. She was the founding Executive Director of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association formed in 2001. Under Deborah's leadership, OSEA accomplished the delivery of a Standard Offer Contract Program for Ontario. She was also one of three Project Developers with the Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative and worked on their Exhibition Place turbine project on Toronto's waterfront. Deborah holds degrees in Philosophy, Law and Environmental Planning.



Executive Director, Social Innovation Generation (SiG)
Chair, Causeway Social Finance,
Senior Fellow, Tides Canada Foundation.

Tim Draimin is the newly appointed Executive Director of Social Innovation Generation (SiG) and the Chair of CAUSEWAY Social Finance. A partnership between The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, Toronto's MaRS Discovery District, the University of Waterloo and Vancouver's PLAN Institute, SiG unleashes the creativity of social innovators to tackle the profound social and environmental challenges facing Canadians. As Executive Director, Mr. Draimin will manage SiG's growing network of academics, field practitioners and entrepreneurs investigating ways to improve the health and resilience of our linked social, economic and environmental systems.

CAUSEWAY is a new collaborative initiative (including SiG plus Carleton University and the Canadian Co-operative Association) dedicated to enabling the accelerated development of "social finance" capital instruments in Canada.

A leader in the non-profit sector, Mr. Draimin was the founding CEO of Tides Canada Foundation, which focuses on the environment and social justice. During his time at Tides, Mr. Draimin guided the Foundation's expansion, established Canada's first national support system for social entrepreneurs – Sage Centre – and supported a world-renowned model of integrated conservation: BC's Great Bear Rainforest initiative. He will continue to serve Tides Canada as a Senior Fellow.

Tim Draimin brings to SiG 30 years of international career experience. He is the author of Canada's first national study of social entrepreneurship and a frequent advisor to government, as well as to non-profit associations and leaders. He is a past board member of the Social Investment Organization (SIO), Canadian Environmental Grantmakers Network (CEGN) and past member of the Voluntary Sector Forum's Finance Action Group.



Special Advisor
Plan Institute for Caring Citizenship

Al has been a leading advocate for people with disabilities and their families in Canada for more than two decades. He is widely recognized as a visionary thinker in areas of social policy, community development and individualizing services for people with disabilities.

Al is an author, advocacy consultant and social inventor who specializes in finding innovative, non-governmental solutions to social problems.

In recent years, Al has become known for his expertise in fostering social enterprise within the civic sector, converting social capital to economic capital, the innovative use of non- profit, profit and public sectors as problem solving partners and creating alternatives to legal guardianship.

He is the author of A Good Life – For You and Your Relative with a Disability and Safe and Secure – Six Steps to Creating a Personal Future Plan for People with Disabilities. Al is a parent of 5 children.



President of DCF Consulting.
DCF Consulting provides strategic advice to public and private sector clients and is focused on achieving value through public private partnerships, mergers and acquisitions and effective strategic planning.

Don has extensive experience in the development, financing and operations of infrastructure projects. He has managed the successful development of independent power generation, light rail transportation, water treatment and natural gas utility assets. He has led over $2 billion of mergers and acquisitions involving both corporate and pension fund investors. Don also assists governments and community organizations achieve successful outcomes for supportive housing and social financing initiatives.

He been an active member of community organizations and is currently the Chair of the Board of Governors of Vancouver Community College and a Board Member of Streetohome Vancouver Foundation. Don is married and has four children.



Carleton Centre for Community Innovation
Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada

Senior Research Associate
Oxford University Centre for the Environment, UK

Senior Research Fellow
Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, US

Dr. Hebb is the Director of the Carleton Centre for Community Innovation, Carleton University, Canada. Her research focuses on the financial and extra-financial impact of pension fund investment in Canada and internationally with particular emphasis on Responsible Investment and Corporate Engagement and is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Government of Canada. The Carleton Centre for Community Innovation is leading knowledge producer on social finance tools and instruments.

Dr. Hebb is also a senior research associate with the Oxford University Centre for the Environment and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City. IN 2008 she completed a multi-year research project revitalization funded by Rockefeller and Ford Foundations on the role of US public sector pension funds and urban revitalization, based at the Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School.

Dr. Hebb has published many articles on pension fund investing policies and is the co-editor of the volume Working Capital the Power of Labor’s Pensions. Her new book No Small Change: Pension Fund Corporate Engagement is available for Cornell University Press as of September 2008.



Partner, Iler Campbell LLP

Brian is a partner in the Toronto law firm Iler Campbell LLP, and advises many of Ontario’s co-operatives and non-profit organizations. For the Ontario Co-operative Association, he has had a central role in crafting the regulatory environment for co-operatives and co-operative securities. For Options for Homes, he developed the legal framework for its innovative affordable ownership housing model, and, for its now numerous successful projects, acted as development counsel. As a founding director of Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative, which incubated the wind turbine at Exhibition Place, and as a director of both the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association and The Co-operative Fund for Community Power, he has been a principal contributor to the development of community-owned green energy generation in Ontario.


Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer of Kiva

Named as one of the top ideas in 2006 by the New York Times Magazine and called "revolutionary" by the BBC, Kiva ( is the world's first online micro-lending marketplace for the working poor. Kiva lets internet users lend as little as $25 to specific developing world entrepreneurs, providing affordable capital to help them start or expand a small business. Kiva has been one of the fastest-growing social benefit websites in history, with thousands of people lending millions of dollars to entrepreneurs in over 50 developing countries.

In the midst of these successes, Kiva remains focused on a very simple idea: bringing people closer to each other. Kiva’s mission, “to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty,” and the idea that relationships are a powerful force for positive change, remain foundational for the organization’s strategy – and for Jessica Jackley Flannery’s life work.

Jessica has worked in a variety of other organizations across the public, nonprofit, and private sector, including World Vision, Potentia Media, the International Foundation,, and others, and serves as an active board member with nonprofits in the Bay Area and internationally. She graduated from the Stanford Graduate School of Business with her MBA in 2007, including Certificates in Public Management and Global Management.



Mary Elizabeth & Gordon B. Mannweiler Foundation Inc.
L3C Advisors L3C

Robert (Bob) Lang is CEO of the Mary Elizabeth & Gordon B. Mannweiler Foundation, Inc., CEO of L3C Advisors L3C and CEO of Fabrique Cosmetique Inc. He has a BA in Economics with a minor in English from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. The foundation’s focus is akin to venture capitalism in the nonprofit sector. One of the major projects has been the L3C, which is based on the use of for profit LLCs to perform socially beneficial services and use PRI funding as a source of capital, particularly equity. With the passage of the L3C law in Vermont on April 30, 2008, he intends through the very first L3C - L3C Advisors L3C to work extensively with his partners and staff to develop L3Cs all over the US. He is leading an international group in a project to develop social finance structural harmonization around the world to facilitate investment in L3C type structures worldwide. He is also an active board member of the Naumburg Orchestral Concerts, which presents free classical music concerts at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park in NYC. He is also a cosmetic chemist and designs and develops cosmetic systems and machinery. He lectures frequently and participates in seminars and on panels worldwide. He has been published in trade publications, popular magazines, on the web and newspapers.



Founder and Chief Executive
Light Years IP

Ron Layton has chosen to combine successful careers in economic development and Intellectual Property (IP) business to design the Light Years IP vision of engaging IP business techniques to alleviate poverty and secure higher export income for low-income producers, particularly in Least Developed countries. Since forming LYIP as an NGO in 1999, Ron Layton has been creating mechanisms for poor producers in developing countries to improve the amount and security of export income from all types of distinctive products, including primary and finished products. This process utilizes various forms of IP to assert the right to income from intangible values created and owned by poor countries. LYIP also assists producers with the products of innovation, including inventions, tribal names and all forms of designs, some traditional and mostly modern.

Ron has acted as IP consultant to producer groups, exporters and tribal groups, to businesses in fair trade and sustainable development, to the World Bank and the USPTO, and to Governments as different as Ethiopia, Niue and Bermuda. In 2004, the World Bank published a book titled "Poor People’s Knowledge" that included coverage of his work on IP and Poverty Alleviating Trade. In February 2004, Ron was elected as a Global Fellow by the Ashoka Foundation, recognition as a leading social entrepreneur working on a global level. In June, the Light Years IP publication “Distinctive Values in African Exports” was launched by the UK Secretary of State for International Development at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town. The US State Department proposed to the G8 that Ron address the G8 committee on Intellectual Property at an event in France in November, 2008.

Ron is educated in economics and mathematics and worked as lead economist on numerous development projects in more than 25 developing countries for UNDP, AusAID, SPC, the Commonwealth and many governments. He has specialized in Intellectual Property for 30 years and in Intellectual Property for Development for 20 of those years. He began in 1977-80, originating and implementing jurisdictional Intellectual Property solutions in small developing countries which are uncompetitive. He led a project covering analysis and development of jurisdictional Intellectual Property sector in several countries where IP produced over 60% of government income and over 80% of export income. To acquire direct understanding of the role of branding and other Intellectual Property in Trade, he added ten years of commercial experience in earning export income, successfully distributing film product and derivative consumer products to over 100 world markets. Now, the focus of LYIP is on countries like Ethiopia, with 80 million people aiming to overcome competitiveness constraints due to location by using IP business strategies in exporting distinctive products. In 2008, the Ethiopian Ministry of Trade and Industry reported that export income from fine coffee had been raised by around $100m per year due to the LYIP-assisted Ethiopian Fine Coffee Trademarking and Licensing Initiative.



Senior Partner and Head of Charity & Social Enterprise Department

Stephen Lloyd is Senior Partner and Head of the Charity and Social Enterprise
Department and formerly Chairman of the Charity Law Association.

He has been acknowledged for a number of years as the top charity lawyer in the UK. He is especially appreciated for his business acumen, can do approach and knowledge of charity and social enterprise law. He is the author of numerous books on law including Charities Trading and the Law, the Fundraiser's Guide to the Law and Keeping It Legal. He is also the originator of the concept of the Community Interest Company (CIC) which came into force on 1st July 2005, since when over 2000 CICs have been formed. He is Chairman of the Centre for Innovation in Voluntary Action; a trustee of the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) Common Investment Funds; Chairman of Lifehaus Plc, an environmental building company, and Chairman of CaSE – Charity & Social Enterprise Insurance Management LLP a specialist provider of insurance solutions to charities and social enterprises.


Vice Chair,
Board of Roots of Empathy

Before retiring two years ago, Mr. Macgillivray had 40 years experience in the investment industry during which he was based in Europe, the United States and Canada. Throughout most of his career, he advised governments and their Crown Corporations. With governments this initially involved debt financing in domestic and foreign capital markets as well as considerable work on deficit and debt reduction strategies through the 1990s. Most recently, he advised governments regarding the changes happening in the electricity industry. Over this time Mr. Macgillivray also developed a very close relationship with the publicly owned utilities in this sector.

Mr. Macgillivray was a Managing Director with CIBC World Markets and a member of its Power and Utilities Group where he led this group’s activities with public sector utility clients and their government owners. In this respect, he worked, on a wide variety of assignments with virtually every public sector entity in this industry in Canada. These assignments included the development of government policies and corporate strategies, mergers and acquisitions, divestitures and disaggregations as well as corporatizations and privatizations.

In the Toronto community, Mr. Macgillivray is currently Chair of the Board of the George Brown College Foundation as well as being a Board Member of Roots of Empathy.



Vice President
Deutsche Bank
Quality of Life Markets

Guillermo is a Vice President in Deutsche Bank’s Global Markets and leads the development of the Deutsche Bank Quality of Life Markets.

Prior to joining Deutsche Bank, Guillermo developed the “Quality of Life Markets” concept and others as part of his own innovation consulting firm and business incubator, Santeandro Creations Boutique – Innovative Technologies for Human Capital Development. In total, Guillermo spent 15+ years in a variety of roles, from Mergers & Acquisitions, to Equity Research, Investment Portfolio Management, Corporate Development (crossing many functional and business areas) and Equity Derivatives at firms such as the International Finance Corporation (The World Bank Group), Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse, Putnam Investments, AllianceBernstein and Deutsche Bank.

Guillermo holds an MBA from Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and a BA in economics from Georgetown University. He enjoys the outdoors and graduated three times from Outward Bound Wilderness Expeditions


Robert Marus, Manager, Community Business Banking, Vancity & Citizen’s Bank

Robert has over 20 years experience in the financial industry with the last eight years focused on banking services for the Not-For-profit community. He brings to the table a breadth of experience garnered over his tenure at Vancity since 1984. In 2000, Robert moved from a commercial account manger role to one of specializing in lending to Not-for-Profits. In 2004, Robert was the architect of Vancity’s Community Business Banking department, a specialized area of Vancity/Citizen’s Bank which serves both the individual and organizations needs of the “under-served” and the “under-banked”.

Over the years, Robert has been led the credit union in its credit and product development as well as the manner in which it provides its NFP banking products and services. This attention to the needs of Not-For-Profits has resulted in the growth of Vancity’s NFP Portfolio to almost $600 Million.

Robert focuses his time on the development, improvement and implementation of a variety of Social Finance mechanisms within the Not-For-Profit sector. He also manages a number of key community member relationships and is an active member of many of the credit union’s internal committee’s focused on NFP’s.

Robert leads Vancity’s Financial Sustainability Workshops series, an educational component aimed to increased the financial well-being, long-term sustainability and increased capacity for the not-for-profit sector.

Robert brings to the community his extensive expertise including board involvement, international studies and participation on local, provincial & federal committees.


President and Executive Director
Chantier de l'économie sociale

Nancy Neamtan is President/Executive Director of the Chantier de l'économie sociale, a non-profit organization administered by 30 representatives of various networks of social enterprises (cooperatives and non-profits), local development organizations and social movements.

The mission of the Chantier de l'économie sociale, a Quebec-wide organization that emerged from the Quebec Summit on Economy and Employment in 1996, is the promotion and development of collective entrepreneurship.
She is the President of the Board of Directors of the Chantier d'économie sociale Trust, a $53 million investment fund offering patient capital to collective entreprises. She was founder and President of the Board of Directors of Réseau d'investissement social du Québec (RISQ), a $10 million investment fund dedicated to the non-profit and cooperative sector from 1997 to 2006. Since 1999 she has been Co-Director of the Community-University Research Alliance in the Social Economy(ARUC-ÉS).
Prior to this, Neamtan was Executive Director of RESO ( a community economic development corporatin devoted to the economic and oscial renewal of southwest Montreal) from 1989 to 1998. She was Executive Director of IFDEC (Training institute in community economic development(1986-87), and Director for Community-Development at the Point St .Charles YMCA (1984-1986).



Director of Finance, Evergreen

Amy is responsible for the financial stewardship of Evergreen’s growth, focusing on financing for Evergreen Brick Works, risk management, systems development, leasing and licensing, and cost controls. Before she joined Evergreen, Amy was Director of Investments at Social Capital Partners, providing growth financing to employment-based social enterprise businesses. Prior to that, she served as a financial consultant, advisor and board member to numerous social enterprises, and worked for several years as an investment banker with one of Canada’s leading financial institutions. Amy has an MBA in Finance and Accounting from the Wharton School, an MA in Economics and an Honours BA in Environmental Studies and Economics, both from the University of Toronto.



Senior Program Officer, Max Bell Foundation

Ralph Strother was an Associate Professor and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Faculties of Medicine and Kinesiology at the University of Calgary for fifteen years. Ralph served on the Calgary Foundation, retiring as Board Chair in 2002. He was recently Vice President of Trout Unlimited Canada and currently serves on other non-profit Boards.


Research faculty and professor economics and management in the Whittemore School of Business and Economics, University of New Hampshire

Michael Swack, a pioneer in the field of community development lending and investment joins the University of New Hampshire as research faculty and professor of economics and management in the Whittemore School of Business and Economics.

As the founder and Dean of the School of Community Economic Development, Southern New Hampshire University. Michael Swack wrote the legislation that led to the creation of the Community Development Finance Authority. In 1983, he was the founding president of the New Hampshire Loan Fund.

Michael Swack received a Ph.D in Community Development and Management from Columbia University, a master’s degree from Harvard University, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.



CEO of the MaRS Discovery District

Ise Treurnicht joined MaRS from her role as President & CEO of Primaxis Technology Ventures, a start-up stage venture capital fund focused on the advanced technologies sector. Prior to Primaxis, Ilse was an entrepreneur with senior management roles in a number of emerging technology companies. She serves on a number of Boards, including the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), BIOTECanada and Aggregate Therapeutics. Ilse holds a DPhil in chemistry from Oxford University, which she attended as a Rhodes Scholar.



Social Financial Services Ashoka, UK

Arthur Wood brings over twenty years of experience in the finance sector to his work on social investing. He heads the Social Financial Services (SFS) at Ashoka, engaging global financial service firms in investing in the social sector. He creates strategies and delivers insight into how investors can use their capital to increase the flow and efficiency of financing to the social sector,
prior to joining Ashoka,

Arthur worked with a number of banks – both institutional and private – creating product models and services that have been widely accepted and replicated across the sector. At Coutts, the UK’s most prestigious private bank, Wood conceptualized and managed a project for the innovative use of Offshore Insurance products which has now been adopted across the private banking industry as a key planning tool.

As a Director of another leading UK bank, Kleinwort Benson Private Bank, Wood re-engineered and headed the teams associated with Product Development across the entire range of financial instruments. The group was voted the most innovative product team in an award by Private Asset Management magazine. Arthur was also head of e-commerce for the private bank, and he pioneered a model which McKinsey & Co. described as the cutting-edge of strategic web development. He attended the London School of Economics, HEC in France, and Bocconi School of Management in Italy. 

As an accomplished debater and innovative thinker on finance, Arthur brings a valued perspective on financing the citizen sector.



President and CEO Social Capital Partners

Bill Young is the President of Social Capital Partners (“SCP”) a company he founded in 2001. SCP is a social venture capital company whose primary goal is to prove that businesses with both a financial and a social purpose can succeed at both. It provides attractive financing to a variety of businesses that employ disadvantaged populations as part of their human resources strategy. SCP facilitates the recruitment of these individuals and ensures they have the appropriate skills to be successful employees.

Before founding SCP, Bill worked for approximately twenty years in the private sector primarily as CEO of Hamilton Computers, and Optel Communications Corp. He began his career as a Chartered Accountant and holds an Honours BA from the University of Toronto and an MBA from Harvard. Bill currently sits on the boards of Inner City Renovations, Vartana, Renaissance and a number of Advisory Boards.


Canada’s first national conversation on social finance with the mainstream financial industry was held in Toronto on October 15, 2007, building upon a number of successful forums held from 2004 – 2006 in Vancouver on innovations in social finance. Over 80 participants from the traditional finance and social finance sectors, academia, federal and provincial governments, funders, credit unions and co-operatives attended the Forum hosted by “Causeway”, a national collaborative working on effective pathways for financial investment in public benefit. They came to learn about Canadian and global best practices and success stores in social finance and the challenges and opportunities for scaling up social finance nationally. Participants were asked to consider how the flow of capital to address growing social and environmental challenges could be increased and what role they could play in the effort.

The Forum was sponsored by SiG @ MaRS, Social Capital Partners, The J. W. McConnell Family Foundation and Tides Canada Foundation and coordinated by the Causeway Steering Committee, comprised of Tim Draimin of Tides Canada, Tim Brodhead of the J. W. McConnell Family Foundation, Carol Hunter of the Canadian Co-operative Association, Ted Jackson of Carleton University, and Al Etmanski of PLAN and Ashoka Canada. The Committee also greatly benefited with advice from Laird Hunter.

Canadian social finance practitioner panelists commented that there is a need for a creative non-profit investment bank, a need to build social entrepreneurship, a role for federal and provincial policy to support social finance, and a need for recognition that high risk capital investments in underserved markets can be profitable.

The Canadian Disability Savings Plan was profiled as a public policy and financing innovation that could both generate social financing for enterprise development and inspire the opportunity of market-based approaches to social inclusion.

A number of international case studies were reviewed for replicability to the Canadian context, including the UK experience with fostering the development of a social finance sector particularly the role of tax incentives, community development venture funds, foundation investment, bank disclosure, sector association and structures and models for local social venture financing.

The Deutsche Bank’s Eye Fund, the US Low Profit Limited Liability Corporation and the US Financial Innovations Roundtable were considered as examples of how the traditional financial sector can generate blended social and financial investment returns; how new legislated corporate models can foster social innovation; and how sectoral collaboration can help advance market sophistication in the social finance sector.

Participants were asked to identify highlights of the day and suggestions for next steps to be included in planning future phases of the Causeway initiative. Groups reported that there is a need for more collaborative structures, there is an opportunity to build a social capital marketplace based on the experience of others, the perception of risk is higher than actual risk, there is a role for government to advance the sector, Canadian institutional investments should be mobilized and the opportunity exists to leverage up good Canadian practice.

The Causeway Steering Committee committed to incorporating input from Forum participants in developing an action plan for furthering the dialogue and collaboration towards the creation of a social capital marketplace in Canada. Social Finance Forum 2007: Report on Canada’s First National Social Finance Forum – PDF, 407.6 KB


It’s an interesting time for foundations, and some like the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Gates Foundation are making bold moves by setting up their own venture funds or indicating that they are moving toward spending down (vs. preserving endowments). I hope that some more foundations take these steps and look to investing in funds like Renewal2 Investment Fund to spur the different forms of innovation that are possible.

Perhaps these structures coupled with the change in financial tides might spark some more urgent and innovative investments among foundations. As history has now proven - they can and do perform better than the market.

From the Renewal2 update:

“We have three investment entities: a Canadian Limited Partnership, a U.S. Limited Partnership and a Canadian Trust. The U.S. LP was set up to make it much easier for U.S. individuals to participate in Renewal2. The Canadian Trust has been set up to allow Canadian foundations to invest. We believe Renewal2 is an interesting vehicle for mission related investing by foundations. No such trust is necessary in the U.S. as U.S. tax laws, unlike Canadian tax laws, do not prevent foundations from investing directly in LPs. We completed the trust documentation last week so now all of the legal structures are in place.”

Starting 12/9/08, Marc Dangeard (Founder of Entrepreneur Commons) will be hosting a discussion on Social Capital on the Social Edge website (

The point they would like to resolve is the following:

- world issues such as poverty, diseases, wars, etc... are too big to be resolved by government or philanthropy alone. We will need everybody to contribute.
- beyond personal involvement, we should help every business become a social business, and it should start by expanding the definition of a social business to something as broad and inclusive as possible.

Is Canada Competitive enough?

"How should Canada Compete?

According to a recent study from the big brains at McKinsey & Company, the competitiveness of Canada’s economy has tumbled over the last 25 years. First up, the bad news:
  • Since 1990, our national competitiveness has dropped from 5th in the world to 10th (according to the OECD’s per capita analysis).
  • Our share of global FDI (foreign direct investment) slid from an impressive 10% in 1980 to a woeful 3% in 2006.
  • Key export sectors like manufacturing have underperformed their global peers - and further affected our overall productivity.
  • China has replaced Canada as the largest trading partner of the United States.

Thankfully — as MaRS gets to see every day — the country also possesses considerable strengths.

According to McKinsey’s analysis, Canada possesses a competitive advantage in both human resources and natural resources (one of only three countries in the world thus blessed — along with Norway and Australia). We control the world’s second largest oil reserves, the third largest forestry reserves and enormous quantities of water and mineral rights. The OECD ranks the Canadian educational system as the world’s fifth-best. We’re also fourth on the UN’s Human Development Index (though we ranked #1 from 1994-2000).

However, the report offers far more than pages of analysis. It’s also deliberately and explicitly prescriptive - laying out a series of focused, compelling steps that government, industry and innovation stakeholders should take to enhance Canada’s economic competitiveness. The recommendations are clustered around the themes of (1) capital (2) collaboration and (3) culture - language very close to our heart (and perhaps this shouldn’t surprise, since the report includes an expanded shout-out to MaRs on p.33). Here’s a few that struck especially close to home:

  • On capital: First, reduce or eliminate the kinds of policies that discourage foreign investment (like withholding taxes and foreign ownership restrictions. Second, get out into the world and market Canada as a top-tier investment location. Third, develop a world-class VC community.
  • On collaboration: First, develop new and improved public-private collaboration and co-investment models. Second, select a handful of top-tier cluster opportunities and back them aggressively. Third, develop global partnerships across key industry value chains.
  • On culture: First, attract the best graduates to teaching. Second, develop new IP ownership models that help researchers and institutions commercialize their discoveries here at home. Third, help emerging business (ed. - and government) leaders learn across sectors, industries and borders."


Key documents from Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. which highlight evolving thinking and new initiatives in Social Finance.

SOURCE: TidesCanada

"Canada’s social and environmental sectors are dramatically underfinanced. To scale up their programs and increase impact, they need access to new forms of capital.

The increased scale and impact of social finance in Canada will generate significant long-term benefits to Canadian society.

Our focus is to map an accelerated growth plan for the financial infrastructure urgently needed to support Canada’s charitable sector.

Tides Canada hosts Causeway, a new national collaboration to accelerate the growth of social finance options for charities and community organizations.

Learn more about Social Finance from Tim Draimin, Tides’ senior fellow and Natasha van Bentum of Tides’ PowerUP Canada Fund in the Charity Village cover story Social Finance: A hopeful alternative for mission success by Elisa Birnbaum.

  • Innovation & Social Enterprise: Building Financial Capacity
    Is the person possessed by a truly new idea for solving a public need? Is it a truly transformational innovation, or just a tweaking of how things are now done? How is it different from what others do in the field?
    View the PDF
  • Strengthening Organizational Capacity
    If you find it increasingly tough to cultivate and manage a gaggle of funders and their divergent needs, an emerging class of financing may become a vital new source of sustainability for your organization. According to the findings of a recent survey1 on the emerging world of social finance, senior executives from nonprofit organizations around the world are keen to access new forms of capital for their organizations.
    View the PDF
  • Social Finance Forum MaRS Discovery District
    Canada’s first national conversation on social finance with the mainstream financial industry was held in Toronto on October 15, 2007, building upon a number of successful forums held from 2004 - 2006 in Vancouver on innovations in social finance.
    View the PDF
  • Building Social Finance Momentum
    An underdeveloped but essential aspect of sustainable investing in Canada prepared by Tim Draimin, Tides Canada Foundation; Ted Jackson, Carleton University for the Social Investment Organization (SIO) Conference.
    View the PDF
  • Scaling Up the Canadian Social Finance Sector
    There is considerable interest in the opportunity of scaling up social finance in Canada. To that end, Tides Canada, J.W. McConnell Foundation and PLAN, with funding from Vancity Credit Union, hosted a 1.5 day social finance strategy session with national leaders in social finance on October 19 and 20, 2006. The purpose of the meeting was to map an accelerated growth plan for the financial infrastructure needed to support Canada’s competitive, innovative and entrepreneurial social sector.
    View the PDF
  • The Social Purpose Capital Marketplace
    There is growing interest in the opportunity of scaling up social finance in Canada, as a means to foster social innovation and leverage additional capital to advance the social and environmental quality of life. This paper compiles recent thinking on the opportunity of creating a social capital marketplace, with a focus on the role of charitable organizations, both as financiers and recipients of social finance capital.
    View the PDF
  • 21st Century Financing: Exploring New Sources of Investment For Social Transformation
    Tides Canada Foundation, the Plan Institute for Caring Citizenship, Ashoka and Vancity Credit Union hosted a roundtable dialogue on 21st Century Financing: Exploring New Sources of Investment for Social Transformation.
    View the PDF
  • Over the Horizon: The Future of Canada’s Capital Market for Social and Environmental Innovation
    Tides Canada Foundation and Social Capital Partners hosted a roundtable dialogue on the state of “social” capital markets in Canada to look at the new forms of innovation in finance for social purpose initiatives led by non-profit or charitable organizations or hybrids involving for-profits.
    View the PDF
  • Social Finance in Ireland
    This document sets out to examine the opportunities for social finance provision in Ireland. It is written to support and inform the work of those engaged in and supporting local development in Ireland.
    View the PDF"
SOURCE: Tides Canada is an online platform for the community of people and organizations that are actively trying to advance the development of a social finance marketspace in Canada.
Interview by Catarina Abreu

On Monday afternoon, I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Geoff Cape who is the executive director of Evergreen. As a recent recipient of the Schwab Foundation award for Canadian social entrepreneur of the year, he has been inspiring social and environmental change through the green design of Canadian urban landscape.

Evergreen originally began as a tree planting company that evolved into a multi-million dollar charity through which various projects are executed. They involve integrating ecology into urban neighborhoods as well food growing programs aimed at enhancing children’s educational experience. Entrepreneurship is no simple feat, and the enthusiastic feedback provided by Mr. Cape proved to be both informative and motivating:

CSEF: How do you define the role of social entrepreneurship, and how do you see yourself fitting into it?

Geoff Cape: I regularly look at the voluntary sector as [helping] societies that are in need by trying to change certain aspects of it on a day to day basis. [As a social entrepreneur] I try to work on problem solving and moving society into a new place. I enjoy starting my own thing and under a format I can help shape. This entrepreneurial approach to problem solving in society is creating a dialogue with community. It’s critical to have this type of process, you can’t just dump solutions onto society, it doesn’t work that way. It requires constant problem solving that requires creativity. It is an artistic experience, and I really enjoy that creative process. It is always the same sort of mind that is required. When you are doing something new and different, it needs that sort of mind set.

CSEF: What led you to your interest in social entrepreneurship and the creation Evergreen?

Geoff Cape: I started Evergreen fresh out of university in 1999. I wasn’t burdened by the thought of building a career and didn’t feel too stressed by that. I have a great appetite for risk, and that might have something to do with growing up with great parents who always encouraged me to take risks. Starting Evergreen, I wouldn’t have guessed it would have become what it did. The world is constantly changing. Being entrepreneurial is about responding to that and constantly evolving your strategies to adapt. It is more of a stylistic thing. This is why I go back to the concept of artistry. It requires a certain type of nimbleness. Usually it plays out during the process.

A social entrepreneur is someone prepared to take a risk and prepared to take steps. Social entrepreneurship is about taking a step in one direction, with a partial vision and a little bit of clarity, taking the first step and then looking around and taking the next step and the next step. I think entrepreneurship works that way. There are few instances where [entrepreneurs] can see the full picture in their head and spend the next twenty years working on that.

CSEF: What are the challenges facing current social entrepreneurs?

Geoff Cape: The biggest one is access to capital to make ideas happen. They tend to be massively under financed. If you look at the private sector, such as a company [that wants to] revamp the way public transportation works, or networking solutions for mobiles phones…they don’t rely on a ten thousand dollar grant from a small foundation to get that going. It takes millions of dollars.

Number two barrier would be assembling the right group of people to help execute an idea. It becomes a challenge in putting together the right team internally and externally. It depends on the social networking abilities of the individual. Also, high quality people working for free are hard to assemble.

I think there is a third one which is maintaining enough fluidity and flexibility in your finances and team to be able to make the constant changes required to keep you heading in the right strategic direction. It is almost about constant reorganization and organization as you refine your idea. Every company does it. No idea is ever linear. You always have to have enough flexibility in your finances and ideas.

CSEF: What advice can you give to current social entrepreneurs in Canada?

Geoff Cape: The idea of patience. It is an important ingredient. Another one is to get really comfortable with talking about your idea, gaining advisors and coaches, and growing your social network. It is inevitably your biggest asset. It will enable flexibility, and they will also be there for you if that network is strong and well managed. Communications [and] selling your idea is [also important]. Not necessarily having a good logo with the right colors but having a way to convey the idea in a creative way, plugging it into the social momentum and not trying to fight it but work with it. Another bit of advice would be to engage your obvious enemy, and what I mean by that is, if you are trying to change something, then working with someone or something you are trying to change is the quickest way.

CSEF: How would you describe the current support systems for social entrepreneurs in Canada, and how do you think they can continue to grow?

Geoff Cape: [It’s] getting better. It’s a concept now that people recognize. There is lots of room to develop it further.

CSEF: I noticed in your 2006 annual report that there is interest from the private sector in your organization. Do you see growth in their partnerships with social entrepreneurs?

Geoff Cape: I think so. Part of it comes from the fact that people on the other side of the fence are simply people with the same challenges we all have. We are working with Toyota, and the folks in Toyota are just as interested in change as we are. They are committed into making this the broader issue, and becoming active in making change. Many corporations are looking to get involved. Continuing the old way is an unrealistic possibility.

CSEF: What are your current projects?

Geoff Cape: Our core program right now is Brickworks, it is heading into construction this summer and fall. We are beginning the fifty five million dollar project to revitalize old industrial buildings and transform them into a natural center for green cities. We are also finishing the fundraising for that project, [to]close the gap financially for it, and getting the construction process going. It feels like we have some momentum, and we feel good about that. We are continuing to advance our projects and opening offices in Calgary and Vancouver.

CSEF: I noticed that your first international project was in Cuba. Do you see potential growth for future international projects?

Geoff Cape: That project has been growing for ten years or 9 years now. It was a big project…with 12 acres [in a municipal part of Havana]. It was a very successful project to bring urban agriculture and ecology into cities such as that, and the community was very easy to work with. If every project would unfold like that, we would be very happy to keep on going with this.

In the 2006 annual report, there was a large emphasis on the Brickworks project, as well as the green design of school grounds. Can you describe these projects in detail, as well as their impact on their respective communities?

The school program is about working with communities across Canada to turn their outdoor landscapes into natural learning environments. It is about us bringing a variety of resources to the community and working with them to make this change. We want to listen to their thoughts and ideas so that they can take ownership and make them. In some respects it has been our flagship program, and one that seems to epitomize the organization. It is about kids, and they will be eventually working in the economy. This can have some big impact.

CSEF: I was intrigued by the quote given about food on your School Food Garden’s pamphlet. The quote is “Learning to make the right choices about food is the single most important key to environmental awareness-for ourselves and our children.” Can you explain what this means, and how it fits into your goals as a social entrepreneur?

Geoff Cape: Food is the sort of thing that brings people together. The idea of breaking bread with people is a larger metaphor of them coming together and discussing ways to solve problems. Food itself is a solution. Addressing the food issue is [more than] an environmental and social issue. It is massively complex medium that involves many issues and we are developing programs that help address this-[for example] nutrition programs and gardening programs. It is a metaphor in its own right and is a gateway to other issues. Working with food is a very rewarding tool to helping social problems. Part of being an entrepreneur is about recognizing the complexity of [food as] an idea and maximizing the artistic and creative outlets it involves.

CSEF: Congratulations on receiving your award from the Schwab foundation. How has it been for you since receiving it? How has the experience been for you?

Geoff Cape: It’s been great, and incredibly exciting. I had the experience of participating in a world economic forum. Ideas moved globally, and seeing how that elite class of decision makers which included financial, political and social entrepreneurs-who were involved in a substantial way-weren’t consumed about making money and wanted [to create] change. The award has a powerful way in advancing the winner by creating networks and opportunities for interactions and partnerships that weren’t there before.

CSEF: As a final part of this interview, I would like to ask you for solutions to posed problems.

Problem 1: How to increase green architectural design in Canada, and poorer countries that are experiencing urban growth.

Solution: I guess the simple bit would be to operate within their culture in a more meaningful way, and not look for solutions elsewhere. Look within communities for solutions, and how they want to grow as a community because it needs to come from within.

Problem 2: How to increase support and domestic growth and distribution of organic foods.

Solution: I think the best way is to try to advance urban agriculture as an idea, and learn about food in a very hands on way. Inevitable, there will come a greater appreciation for it and the idea of what organics and local food is all about.

Problem 3: How to increase support from the for-profit sector for Canadian social entrepreneurs.

Solution: Share in the risk. One point is to recognize that great strides in the private sector were made by taking risks, and they create advances only when they take risks and are supported in the risk taking. This approach needs to be translated to the social entrepreneurial sector by taking risks and leaping into the unproven. The aspect of risk is going to be part of a fundamental change for which we all are looking for.

CSEF: Thank you for your time. It was pleasure speaking with you!

For more information on Evergreen, visit .
Inteview by Catarina Abreu

John Mighton, the founder of JUMP-a non-profit mathematical education aimed towards improving academic preformance. Although Canada was ranked highly in a PISA study which compared student preformance in various categories including mathematics, immigrant and lower economic class children struggle more than their remaining peers. John's program attempts to bridge the gap between the high and low preformers of this subject with successful and rewarding results.

What it your personal definition of social entrepreneurship?

Anyone who is trying to tackle a problem rigorously but not for profit. Entrepreneur[ship] usually means making profit, but social entrepreneurs aren't like that. There are reasons to use this work, they need a way to evaluating their work. For [social] entrepreneurs it is the social results of their work.

Measuring this impact?

In a complex system, difficult to gage long term effects of your actions. This is why some social entrepreneurs understand complexity. Mathematicians have shown that in complex systems the best way is to present a number of solutions to a problem, and test them and learn from failure. Social entrepreneurs need to be able to adapt [to] this way, and constantly adapt their business.

What inspired you to create JUMP, and what challenges did you face in setting up this organization?

I was tutoring years ago mathematics to make a living. I saw changes in my first students that really shocked me and made me thnk that there was a lot more potential in my students than the school system was nurturing. Started charity to give local kids tutoring in math after school. Teachers invited me to work in classrooms. It was surprising to see how the weakest kids would change when they were called upon in class, showing off in front of their kids.

Challenge has been working in a conservative system that wants to keep things the same; finding teachers who could demonstrate the impact of the program; and developing the materials. Being willing to learn from my mistakes has helped, and also the good will of teachers has helped enormously. When they are presented with the means of doing so, they get passionate.

What role do you think the education, government and private sector could play in the growth of social enterprises?

Governments and educational institutions should be testing new ideas rigorously and put resources in testing them. Having organizations of communities who evaluate objective bodies. Very quickly we would find things that work.

Educational sector has to start working with doctors and psychologists. Real scientists that understand how the brain works and do real vigorous testing for programs in schools. We have to test them to see why they are not working, and which ones are working. There is no excuse for leaving these kids behind when they are born with these abilities. We have to stop accepting the failure of so many kids.

What are the main challenges for children learning mathematics in the current school system today? And what steps does JUMP take to approaching them?

There is all kinds of research now that shows the brain is plastic and can develop new abilities at any age. Very little happens if the brain is not excited and attentive. The first challenge is how can you get kids to be engaged in learning? In JUMP we do this by confidence building exercises so they can believe they can. We have limitations of brain [such as] poor memories. [So the program includes] practice for ideas to solidify. We need review. Jump materials try to provide all those things very rigorously. Teachers have to know mathematics very well. They have to present the lesson of one idea leading to the next so that kids can fill the gap and make their own discoveries.

What future role do you see your organization playing in Canadian math education?

There are schools now working closely with us to train teachers and provide them with materials. The program is growing exponentially because the results speak for themselves. We expect to continue training teachers and develop good materials for them. We have now formed partnerships with psycholoigists, educators, doctors, who are now designing experiments to test the program to prove its effects and also to improve the program.

For more information on the JUMP program, visit the website at
Original Interview done September 2007

This interview was completed after Omar had just returned from Africa. It was there that he used product placement in Nollywood (the world’s third biggest film industry) to generate publicity, help normalize use, promote brand, and create positive associations with a stigmatized but highly beneficial product, mosquito nets. He secured PermaNet® product placement in 20 high profile movies and two hugely popular soap operas. This was the first attempt ever to use Nigeria’s film industry for adult education.

Interview with Omar Yaqub

Question 1: What is your definition of Social Entrepreneurship and/or a Social Entrepreneur?

Omar: For me social entrepreneurship is working across the spectrum of philanthropy, business, and innovation to achieve measurable results in the citizen sector. This can be conducted by big business, small entrepreneurs, NGOs, or government, the key thing is measurable, sustainable results.

Question 2: Why have you been defined (labeled) a Social Entrepreneur?

Omar:Hmmm, isn’t this a question you should be answering?

Seriously, I think I’ve had the opportunity to work in some pretty interesting environments, and been lucky enough to take some rather whimsical ideas and make them into something tangible.

My work with MBAs Without Borders and Vestergaard Frandsen allowed me to try some new things, like using product placement in the worlds third largest film industry, Nollywood, to help combat negative attitudes towards mosquito nets, the best tool toward preventing malaria. It was an immense opportunity to combine business marketing acumen with the larger goal of combating needless human suffering.

Previously I worked in rural Tanzania and had a chance to work with 30+ NGOs Private enterprises, and charities. I managed to bring some of these disparate groups together to form a simple tech co-operative that was later incorporated into the workings of GTZ (German Development). This experience allowed me to learn about what makes effective development, and solidified my resolve to make meaningful change.

Question 3: Provide a brief description of your work that led to your recognition as a Social Entrepreneur. Explain business model, ups and downs, partner organizations, final achievements, metrics used for success, sustainability model.

While working with Vestergaard Frandsen and MBAs Without Borders I recognized that a key barrier preventing people from using life saving long lasting mosquito nets was the perception that nets were unsightly, ‘old school,’ backwards vestments. People didn’t want to use nets, even people who were highly educated, because they thought they looked ugly. So I repurposed a tool, product placement, and found partners in Nollywood (Third to Hollywood, and Bollywood) to showcase nets in a new and more aesthetically pleasing way.

Nollywood was an effective partner because it has tremendous reach throughout the continent, and the actors have tremendous sway with the general population. It offered us an opportunity to cut through the barrage of public service announcements in a an environment that is as media saturated as time square.

Marketing via Nollywood was only one component of the work. Marketing along can’t solve a problem. We also worked to redesign the product. My initial assumption was that we needed to add lots of ‘bling bling,’ and bring in fancy designers to generate the buzz we needed and change perceptions. However, I was wrong, after criss crossing the country our research showed that we could achieve dramatic results by simply altering the colour, pink nets had tremendous appeal in the north of the country, blue in the east, green in the west. Simple changes had a dramatic result.

My work in Nigeria is probably the most compelling and sensational, but I’m also the Director of Innovation at MBAs Without Borders, an organization that connects those with high level business acumen to those in emerging economies who need the skills to grow their organizations. We work in five main areas Healthcare, Agriculture, Financial, Income-Generation and Climate Change.

I also keep in touch with some of the organizations I worked with in Tanzania, and in 2006 together with a dozen other like minded youths we held a fund raiser to outfit mobile eye camps that operated throughout Tanzania.

Question 4: Tell us a little about you. Who are you? Where were you born, raised, academic experience, travels, personal passions, greats goals achieved in life and what will be the next chapters in your life?

Omar: I’m a proud Canadian. I was born in Edmonton, and always miss the open skies when I’m away from home. I cherish my South Asian roots, and the fact that Canada allows me to enjoy a wealth of cultures simultaneously. I completed my undergraduate in Computing Science with a minor in mathematical science, and a MBA with a specialization in technology commercialization at the University of Alberta. I deeply enjoying working on hard problems, that require a muti-disciplinary approach.

The next chapter of my life will be a tug of war between trying to achieve positive social change and trying to do all those other important life things.

Question 5: What can other Canadians learn from your social entrepreneurial work? Can “Canadian social entrepreneurship” work not only globally but locally? Why is it working globally?

Omar: Canadians have a tremendous gift, a huge opportunity to have a positive impact on the world. We’re so incredibly privileged here, it’s really incumbent upon us to share our good fortune. Not only for altruisms sake, but also because it is a tremendous learning opportunity that will have a positive impact in your everyday life.

I’d encourage people to try an overseas placement if they can. If they’re not able to do that try to make a positive impact in the community you’re in. Don’t wait for a great idea to come to you before you act, start volunteering and working now, the great ideas come by listening and observing.

Question 6: Is Social Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise (as sector) developing in Canada? If so how? If not, why do you think it is not?

Omar:Yes, but we’re still quite a few years behind the states. This is due primarily to our smaller size, but the flip side is that we have a lot of successful examples we can learn from, and there are lots of opportunities in front of us.

Question 7: How can Universities, Governments, Organizations like CSEF/Ashoka continue to grow the field of Social Entrepreneurship in Canada?

Omar: Continue to scour and support good ideas. Promote social entrepreneurship through all mediums possible. And, most importantly be systematic in the way they document and measure results. Businesses have some really concrete ways of showing success we need to develop similar metrics to show progress, and make it easier for people to discuss and comment on social entrepreneurship. This isn’t an easy task.

Question 8: Are you interested in being a judge for CSEF’s online social ventures competition in the coming months?

Omar:I’d love too.

The site is beautiful!

Thanks to Omar for us time! To keep track of Omar's latest ventures please follow him on his blog:

Update: Omar is currently Director of Operations for the newly created

Background on Omar Yaqub

Omar received a lot of media attention for his work in Africa. Here is some information about his work in Nigeria.

Omar Yaqub
Project Co-ordinator (2006–2007)
Vestergaard Frandsen Nigeria

Problem: How do you combat malaria, and build a new company in highly challenging market?

1. Innovative adult education and brand building…

I used product placement in Nollywood (the world’s third biggest film industry) to generate publicity, help normalize use, promote brand, and create positive associations with a stigmatized but highly beneficial product, mosquito nets. I secured PermaNet® product placement in 20 high profile movies and two hugely popular soap operas. This was the first attempt ever to use Nigeria’s film industry for adult education.

Required: Convincing management and coworkers to embrace an unconventional marketing approach, establishing strong relationships with the film industry in a foreign country, educating partners, product evangelizing, creating marketing guidelines, brand management, and plenty of follow-up.
2. Designing a better product…

We recognized that the barriers preventing people from embracing nets weren’t only finances and education, but also convenience and aesthetics; so I evaluated, commissioned, and tested prototypes throughout the country and found cost effective solutions to increase consumer appeal of mosquito nets and promote use.

Required: Building productive partnerships with designers both globally and locally. Conducting and analyzing market research, evaluating production costs, and making sound financial forecasts.
3. Consumer research, advertising, and performing ordinary tasks with enthusiasm and panache…

I led the market research projects for both a new vector control product, and the redesign of our main product. I evaluated and helped to select an advertising agency to promote our product, helped in the creation of POS promotions, and radio/TV/print campaigns. I also created the technology plan for our office and provided technical support for my co-workers. Most importantly, I ensured the continuity of my projects by working with (not against) colleagues, ensuring buy-in, documenting my actions, and training a successor.

Required: Coordinating people and resources across four continents and six time zones. Co-operating with NGOs and government to gain access to prior research and new opportunities. Digesting large amounts of information, conducting field research. Creating promotional materials. As well as keeping current with technology, and local global events.

Other achievements: Introduced multitudes of Nigerian children to skipping rope and rock, paper, scissors.

Who are they?

The Social Enterprise Fund
(SEF) provides non-profit organizations with flexible financing, business expertise and more. They help non-profit organizations in the Edmonton area whose core business is improving the social environment. Our main offerings are loans, seminars, direct engagement, and path to loan grants. They look for ideas with blended value, where social returns are balanced by fiscal sustainability.

Contact Information for

780 756 0660