Thursday, May 31, 2007

UN Agency Invites Pivot to Geneva

Very pleased to hear that Pivot's David Eby will be presenting to the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE).

Here's Pivot's announcement:
A United Nations-funded housing rights agency has invited Pivot Legal Society lawyer David Eby to Geneva to make a presentation on the impacts of the 2010 Olympic Games on Vancouver’s most marginalized residents.

Eby’s presentation to the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) in mid June will be part of a larger workshop presenting final results from COHRE’s two-year study of the housing rights impact of international events, with a specific focus on the Olympic Games.

“I am honoured that this internationally recognized research agency has chosen Pivot to present on homelessness and the Games,” said Eby. “I will do my best to provide this international audience with a comprehensive report on Vancouver’s progress, or lack of progress on these issues.”

Eby has spent the last two years with Pivot studying the state of low-income housing in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Canada’s poorest urban neighbourhood. In 2006, he was co-lead author of Cracks in the Foundation, Pivot’s comprehensive study of housing issues facing low-income residents in Vancouver. In 2007, he was an editor of the Impact of the Olympics on Community Coalition’s Interim Report Card and is a member of the Board of that organization. Experts from the UN High Commission on Human Rights and UN-HABITAT are also scheduled to present.

“Given Vancouver’s experience with Expo ’86, I would have thought our governments would be more concerned,” said Eby, “but with just over two and a half years to go before the games, the affordable housing legacy promised in the bid process has yet to appear and through Civil City our city council is poised to harass and displace Vancouver’s most vulnerable citizens.”

Stops at the World Health Organization, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS are on Eby’s itinerary.

--------------------- Tags for information about: for:vsef, Social Economy, Housing, Pivot


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Monday, May 14, 2007

[PDF] A Manifesto For Mavericks

Bill Taylor and Polly Labarre are the authors of Mavericks at Work a book that asserts an n irresistible mantra for social entrepreneurs;
In an age of hyper-competition and nonstop innovation, the only way to stand out from the crowd is to stand for something truly original.
Bill is the co founder and founding editor of Fast Company. Polly was one of the original core contributors to the same magazine.

Aside from the widely available book, Bill and Polly created a manifesto at ChangeThis - see A Manifesto For Mavericks.

We think their message to business isn't the only suitable audience. Here are 10 questions they think should be asked:
  • Is there a distinctive and disruptive sense of purpose that sets you apart from the competition?
    The best companies are the ones that stand for the most original and compelling ideas. What ideas are you and your company fighting for?

  • Can you be provocative without provoking a backlash?
    There’s a difference between challenging the status quo and inviting retribution from rivals that are bigger, richer, and more ruthless than you. One key test of any would-be disruptor is whether he or she can also be a convincing diplomat.

  • If your company went out of business tomorrow, who would miss you and why?
    We first heard this question from advertising maverick Roy Spence, who tells us that he got it from Jim Collins of Good to Great fame. Whatever the original source, the question is as profound as it is simple — and worth taking seriously.

  • Are you the kind of person that other smart people want to work with?
    If you expect outsiders (or even colleagues) to share their best ideas with you, then don’t be surprised when they expect something in return. It can be money, it can be recognition, but more often than not, what draws people into open-source projects is the chance to push themselves and develop their skills.

  • Can you make innovation fun?
    Ideas are serious business, but if you’re working to tap the brainpower of outside-the mainstream contributors, then you have to work to keep your open-source project colorful, dramatic, and energetic.

  • Do you treat different customers differently?
    If your goal is to establish a psychological contract with customers, then almost by definition you won’t appeal to all customers. One test of how committed a company is to its most important customers is how fearless it is about ignoring (even offending) customers who aren’t central to its mission. Not all customers are created equal.

  • Why should great people join your organization?
    The best leaders understand that the best rank-and-file performers aren’t motivated primarily by money. Great people want to feel like impact players inside their organizations. Great people want to be surrounded with and challenged by other great people. Put simply, great people want to feel like they’re part of something greater than themselves. Does your company give them that chance?

  • Do you know a great person when you see one?
    In organizations that are serious about competing on talent, who you are as a person is as important as what you know at a moment in time. That is, character counts for as much as credentials. Do you know how to conduct a character test?

  • Does your organization work as distinctively as it competes?
    It’s a simple question with huge implications for productivity and performance. Leaders who are determined to elevate the people factor in business understand that the real work begins once talented people walk through the door. HR maverick John Sullivan says it best: “Stars don’t work for idiots.”

  • Are you learning as fast as the world is changing?
    We first heard this question from Gary Hamel, the world-renowned strategy guru, and it’s the ultimate challenge for any executive or entrepreneur. The best leaders we’ve met, regardless of their age, experience, or personal style, have all been insatiable learners. In a business environment that never stops changing, you can never stop learning.


Interested in learning more about social enterprise? Take a browse through the Vancouver Social Enterprise Book Store (Vancouver | United Kingdom | United States) and see what other social entrepreneurs recommend reading. Tags for information about: for:vsef, Social Enterprise, Management, ChangeThis


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Saturday, May 12, 2007

More Blood and Gore

At the 2006 Skoll World Forum, Al Gore and David Blood, Generation Investment Management, shared their ambitious goal.

Here's a video of that session:

This recent McKinsey article, Investing in sustainability: An interview with Al Gore and David Blood, offers an update and some light Q & A ...

.... executives around the world increasingly recognize that the creation of long-term shareholder value depends on a corporation’s ability to understand and respond to increasingly intense demands from society. No surprise, then, that the topic of socially responsible investing has been gaining ground as investors seek to incorporate concepts like sustainability and responsible corporate behavior into their assessments of a company’s long-term value.

Yet socially responsible investing has always been an awkward science. Early approaches simplistically screened out “sin sectors” such as tobacco. Subsequent evolutions tilted toward rewarding good performers, largely in the extraction industries, on the basis of often fuzzy criteria promulgated by the corporate social-responsibility movement. These early approaches tended to force an unacceptable trade-off between social criteria and investment returns.

Three years ago, former US Vice President Al Gore and David Blood, previously the head of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, set out to put sustainability investing firmly in the mainstream of equity analysis. Their firm, Generation Investment Management, engages in primary research that integrates sustainability with fundamental equity analysis. Based in London and Washington, DC, Generation has 23 employees, 12 of them investment professionals, and a single portfolio invested, at any given time, in 30 to 50 publicly listed global companies.

  • What do you mean by the term “sustainability,” and how does it influence your investment philosophy?

  • David Blood: Sustainability investing is the explicit recognition that social, economic, environmental, and ethical factors directly affect business strategy—for example, how companies attract and retain employees, how they manage the risks and create opportunities from climate change, a company’s culture, corporate-governance standards, stakeholder-engagement strategies, philanthropy, reputation, and brand management. These factors are particularly important today given the widening of societal expectations of corporate responsibility.

    Al Gore: When, several years ago, David and I were separately looking for ways to integrate sustainability into investing, mutual friends told each of us of the other’s search. We discovered immediately that we had a common goal, and that led to a series of meetings and a friendship and, ultimately, to a decision to form a partnership. We researched the history of sustainable investing under its various names and decided to start a new partnership in order to design it, from the ground up, according to the architecture that we believed was essential to address the challenges in the investment-management industry.

  • What principles drive your approach?

  • David Blood: The first principle, categorically, is that it is best practice to take a long-term approach to investing. We think that the focus on “short termism” in the marketplace is detrimental to economies, detrimental to value creation, detrimental to capital markets, and a bad investment strategy. It’s common corporate-finance knowledge that something on the order of 60 to 80 percent of the value of a business lies in its long-term cash flows. And if you’re investing with a short-term horizon you’re giving up the value creation of a business.

    The second principle is that the context of business is clearly changing. We are now confronting the limits of our ecological system, and at the same time societal expectations of business are widening. On top of that, multinational businesses are oftentimes better positioned than governments to deal with some of the most complicated global challenges, such as climate change, HIV/AIDS, water scarcity, and poverty. Technology and communications have changed, and we’ve reached a point where civil society is now demanding a response from business.


Interested in learning more about social enterprise? Take a browse through the Vancouver Social Enterprise Book Store (Vancouver | United Kingdom | United States) and see what other social entrepreneurs recommend reading. Tags for information about: for:vsef, Social Enterprise, Sustainability, Triple Bottom Line


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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

[TechSoup/Stock] Business Objects: Crystal Reports

Wanted to send along the 'heads up' on the availability of Crystal Reports, a Business Objects application, for nonprofits and currently available via CompuMentor's TechSoup programme.

Crystal Reports is a report-sharing service allowing organizations to instantly share crucial information via the Web. Organizations can make their reports
available for up to 10 people to view on the Web from anywhere in the world, whether or not they have Crystal Reports installed on their computers.

Information captured using Crystal Reports can also be shared in PDF, Excel, and Word formats.

This product is available at TechSoup Stock for an admin fee of US$85 (compared to a retail value of US$3,600), thanks to a generous donation from Business Objects.

Learn more and place a product donation request at TechSoup.

Learn about all donated products from Business Objects.

Ask your questions about Crystal Reports in this forum.

Business Objects is a Vancouver based company. Maybe Pat Bjerrisgaard, Senior Director, WW Community at Business Objects, or Steve Williams, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Business Objects OnDemand, will stop in and expand on why nonprofits would use Crystal Reports.

Interested in learning more about social enterprise? Take a browse through the Vancouver Social Enterprise Book Store (Vancouver | United Kingdom | United States) and see what other social entrepreneurs recommend reading. Tags for information about: for:vsef, Social Economy, Nonprofit, TechSoup


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[Video] Bill Drayton - Ashoka

In April 2006 Ashoka's Bill Drayton spoke with the folks at Google.

Here's some context:
Bill Drayton, Chairman and CEO of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public and lifelong entrepreneur, helped build the field of social ... all » entrepreneurship 25 years ago and remains committed to shaping a dynamic, global citizen sector. He was recently selected as one of America's Best Leaders by US News & World Report and Harvard's Center for Public Leadership.

Ashoka's mission is to shape a citizen sector that is entrepreneurial, productive and globally integrated, and to develop the profession of social entrepreneurship around the world. Ashoka identifies and invests in leading social entrepreneurs - extraordinary individuals with unprecedented ideas for change in their communities - supporting them, their ideas and institutions through all phases of their careers.

Here's a video of Bill's presentation:


Interested in learning more about social enterprise? Take a browse through the Vancouver Social Enterprise Book Store (Vancouver | United Kingdom | United States) and see what other social entrepreneurs recommend reading. Tags for information about: for:vsef, Social Economy, Social Enterprise, Ashoka


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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Was it 2004? Really?

With the close of the first quarter it's a good time to ask ...

How do you feel about the state of Social Enterprise in Canada?

Pretty good? How about compared to the heady days of the 2004 Federal Budget? Remember that?
Canadian PM announces big $$$ for Social Economy

In his opening speech to Parliament, Prime Minister, Paul Martin announced that social enterprises would be assisted by a fund of CAD$152 million (over 5 years), and in a move reminiscent of the recent UK initiative, they would have access to the government’s small business programs.

Responsibility for the social economy initiative (along with community development) will reside in a new Ministry of Human Resources and Skills Development – indicating clearly that the government sees it as an employment generating initiative. By contrast, the rest of the voluntary sector initiative is in the Ministry of Social Development that is responsible for income support and other social services.

In his speech, Martin gave an indication of the source of the social economy initiative. He admitted that since the beginning of his political career he had been involved in RESO, an interesting collaborative venture between unions, businesses, and community groups in a large rundown area of southwest Montreal. RESO is often used as an example of successful neighbourhood regeneration, but in this case, the product is self-help enterprise rather than government.

Other interesting initiatives announced in the Canadian 2004 budget included:
  • A commitment to a new not-for-profit corporations act, designed to reduce the regulatory burden on the nonprofit sector and improve financial accountability
  • Acceptance of most of the recommendations on the tax treatment of charities made by the Joint Regulatory Table (between the government and the voluntary sector), established as part of the Canadian government/voluntary sector ACCORD
  • A government investigation into the feasibility of establishing a bank for the charitable sector.

[Thanks to Accord for the reminder.]

And there was Eleni Bakopanos' speech at New Century, New Risks: Challenges for Social Development in Canada
The Social Economy

... However, I do believe that the social economy is an area that the federal government did not pay enough attention to in the past. It is only in the past two years that the social economy has gone from a situation where few people in the federal government had even heard of the social economy, to the February 2004 Speech from the Throne which recognized the vital role of this sector to Canada’s social foundations.

Social economy enterprises operate like businesses to produce goods and services that generate revenues, but they manage their operations on a not-for profit basis by reinvesting all revenues to achieve a social purpose rather than to generate a profit. They play an important role in promoting local and regional development, and set as their goal the integration or protection of their members and employees, including those most disadvantaged, without discriminating in any way.

The functioning of social enterprises is closely linked to the concept of social responsibility. In fact, the social economy reflects what many are now referring to as the ethical economy—corporate citizenship and activities that promote economic and social well-being, inclusion and justice.

This approach is not new, and it is all around us. It may be the day care centre, the housing co-op, a senior support service, or a local community economic development organization. Overall, Canada has about 10,000 enterprises and organizations that employ about 100,000 people and that have sales of about $20 billion ($2 million in average sales).

It is but one dimension of a broader community movement in Canada. The movement is being revitalized by innovative practices that are founded on citizen-led, community-based processes that create local partnerships and solutions.

And, communities and social entrepreneurs have a remarkable track record of success. To be more specific, I would like to give you one example from my own riding, in Ahuntsic. There is a wonderful organization called AMRAC. It grew out of a community plan to revitalize the local neighbourhood and create employment opportunities. AMRAC refurbishes furniture and builds new furniture. It employs and trains people who are having difficulties finding work. The organization has two storefronts––one for the furniture it sells to the general public, and another store that provides household items at prices that are affordable to individuals and families with low incomes. The revenues generated are reinvested into training programs and equipment.

IAM CARES is another example. It stands for the International Association of Machinists’ Centre for Administering Rehabilitation and Employment Services. IAM CARES offers services to those with physical and sensory disabilities to help them find jobs. Its mandate is to take on 400 clients per year and place about half in jobs. They usually surpass that number.

To help fulfill the potential of the social economy, we have been asking stakeholders what they see as the barriers holding back the growth of social enterprise in Canada. Five key barriers keep coming up in these discussions. The first is a lack of recognition. This relates partly to public awareness. Expanded political recognition can play a part in shifting attitudes and helping to establish a climate that properly honours social and community-owned businesses for the crucial role they play. There are also issues about how social enterprises are recognized under the law, particularly in relation to tax status.

Another issue is the need for a level playing field so that social enterprises can have access to the business development supports that governments currently make available to private business. Related to this is a need for access to loans, as well as long-term patient capital and a view that the financing needs of social enterprises are not being adequately met by private banks and lending institutions.

Another very important barrier, at least in some communities, is the lack of prior community-based planning exercises that are required to generate new social enterprises and underpin their growth. In particular, this relates to the need to build capacity among the various economic development organizations in the community that help to drive community partnerships.

Organizational and human capacity issues are also a challenge. Social enterprises, and the networks and organizations that support them, require skilled employees, managers and board members. And finally, there is a lack of research and knowledge. We must demonstrate when and why social economy approaches are successful, and identify and share the strategies that work best. Building this evidence is essential for two reasons: first, because it will help build credibility and shift public attitudes about the social economy, and second, because it will help those involved in the social economy to continually improve and become stronger.

I can imagine you now want to know: “What is the role of the federal government in the social economy?” Let me assure you that the social economy has emerged as a significant new priority for the Government of Canada. The February 2004 Speech from the Throne acknowledged the promising and vital contribution of social entrepreneurship in community development. The March 2004 Budget announced up to $132 million in new spending and firmly put the social economy on the Government’s agenda for helping communities. ...

So ... how do you feel?

--------------------- Tags for information about: for:vsef, Social Economy, Nonprofit, Social Enterprise


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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

[Random Idea] LabourFair+Craigslist meets Homeless Nation

At the new blog associated with the Social Enterprise Reporter, SE Blog, Tom posted about LaborFair.

Similar social websites have been around for creatives forever - by internet standards. In fact Craigslist comes quickly to mind.

But how could Homeless Nation use this concept? Any suggestions? Ideas? Who's already doing something?

--------------------- Tags for information about: for:vsef, Social Economy, Civil Society


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A Social Enterprise or a Government Sponsored Programme?

This Thursday the City of Vancouver's Standing Committee on City Services and Budgets will receive a recommendation of the General Manager of Engineering Services to wit...
THAT Council approve a street cleaning grant of $60,000 to Family Services of Greater Vancouver - Street Youth Job Action to supplement cleaning of sidewalks, lanes and public spaces by City forces, with previously approved funding from the 2007 Street Cleaning Operating Budget.

Firstly, congratulations to the folks contributing to the growth of Street Youth Job Action.

The idea was a good one back when the City funded Save Our Living Environment (SOLE) from the "Solid Waste Capital Reserve".

It's interesting to note the City invited "five independent Vancouver based social enterprises" to apply for the grant with these two organisations submitting in addition to SYJA:

Little steps. Little steps.

About Street Youth Job Action:
Street Youth Job Action (SYJA) helps homeless and at-risk youth help themselves by creating flexible, temporary, and part-time employment. Employment is provided on a first-come-first-served, work-today-paid-today basis. Presently, this program provides the community with needle pick up and graffiti removal.

SYJA Funding:
Funding for this program is provided by the Ministry of Employment & Income Assistance and through business contracts with community partners.

Community Partners:


Interested in learning more about social enterprise? Take a browse through the Vancouver Social Enterprise Book Store (Vancouver | United Kingdom | United States) and see what other social entrepreneurs recommend reading. Tags for information about: for:vsef, Social Enterprise, Nonprofit, Funding


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