The Many Angles

September 10, 2012

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Many times the word “entrepreneur” is code for “jack-of-all-trades”. From setting up a wireless printer to editing financial models to navigating tax code, entrepreneurs have to do it all at one point in time or another.

Our backgrounds and experiences are major parts of what shape the ways in which we approach problems – or, said another way, “the angle” in which we view them.

Our schooling, home life, prior work experience, social adventures, and values are ingredients that create various angles for us to understand problems, tasks, and solutions. Read more »

Sunday Morning Coffee: The ‘American’ Dream

September 9, 2012

With the American presidential election coming up, each party has spent a tremendous effort convincing the public that their candidate for president will do a better job at helping the ordinary citizen reach the ‘American’ dream.

I put ‘American’ in quotes because the dream is one that is shared by people across the world; we each have a vision of life success that we aspire to.

Yet, so often we let society and our peers determine the terms of that dream, and the path to it.  As a kid, the path to the dream is laid before you quite clearly: get good grades, go to a good college, and get a good job: boom, add in a mortgage and kids and you’ve got the dream. Read more »

As MFIs take one step forward, Bangladesh takes one step backward

August 27, 2012

The recent actions by the government of Bangladesh should be condemned in the strongest of manners. Despite Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s repeated attempts to discredit the record of Professor Muhammad Yunus, she has only succeeded in validating the attractiveness of a well-run microfinance organization.

The governmental takeover of Grameen bank stands squarely against the principles and standards upon which it was founded, and wipes out the borrower-led model that has been a shining star through the recent turmoil in the microfinance industry.

It is a shame to see the work of Prof. Yunus and the Grameen team attempt to be invalidated, but what the government of Bangladesh cannot take away is the strength, reputation, success, and promise of borrower-involved microfinance.

Microfinance lives on and is moving into the next phase of development – one with technology at the forefront to push the efficiency with which information is used. In Rwanda, MFIs are teaming up with global technology and software firms to bring MFI data to the cloud.

This forward thinking (similar to the heavier reliance on mobile payments) will be helpful in ensuring that those at the BoP obtain (and retain) access to the quality financial service they need and deserve.

Lastly, I’d like to give a big congratulations to Kiva for finally breaking down the barrier and gaining access to the nation of India. We, here at RisingPyramid, have been big advocates for Kiva to be allowed and operating in India. We look forward to hearing more great stories of the lives affected in India!

- Chris

Sunday Morning Coffee: If You Want the Moon…

August 26, 2012

When my father was a kid, he used to believe that if he wanted something, it was already his.  Candy at the grocery store, toys at the mall, his brother’s dessert…you get the idea.

Eventually this led to the establishment of an allowance system in the Farris household & the beginning of my Dad’s natural thriftiness.  Yet, what was a 7-year old’s ‘I want it…therefore it is mine’ attitude resurfaced in a mature way later in life as drive and ambition.

Sure, you can’t go around taking things (okay, we’ll give you some credit if you’re under the age of 10) but you should see the world as a set of opportunities ready for you to seize.   If you want to achieve something, then pursue it…do it!

The difference between a 7-year old’s attitude and adult life is that you will never reach a goal by definition of wanting to reach the goal.  Everything takes work, and effort and diligence, but at the same time, everything is possible.

If you want the moon, make it happen.

~ Bryan


The Pipeline to WIBB

August 23, 2012

As the name implies, social entrepreneurship is about starting socially focused businesses.  Generally, in the long-run social businesses will be bought or traded, so what happens to the social mission at that point in time?

There has been a lot of debate about this; in an ideal world, social entrepreneurs create business models that rely on the social mission in order to complete the profit formula.  Personally, I’m always on the look-out for ways to better ensure that my company’s social mission will be further fulfilled with each new dollar of revenue.

In their Fall 2012 publication, the Stanford Social Innovation Review published a fascinating article about the truth behind Ben & Jerry’s sale to Unilever, and how it affects social entrepreneurs.  The premise of the article is that Ben & Jerry’s didn’t want to sell out of fear that their social mission/culture would be lost, but eventually they were obligated to sell to a large buyer.  There are some good lessons for social entrepreneurs at the end.

Naturally a few questions come to mind:
Can social entrepreneurs actually succeed in ensuring that their social mission doesn’t go away when they leave?  Yes—it is certainly possible, but this is a key challenge.

Do social entrepreneurs have exit opportunities/buyers that would prioritize the social mission & maintain it?  At present, the space is limited but socially minded investing firms (like Abacus) are on the rise and eventually there will be enough demand from investors to maintain socially minded funds. Read more »

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