July 11, 2012

Summer Reading List


Half-the-sky-cover1Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

Nicholas Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, argue that the oppression of women worldwide is "the paramount moral challenge" of the present era, much as the fight against slavery was in the past. Half the Sky focuses on sex trafficking, maternal mortality, sexual violence, microfinance and girls' education.




How_to_change_the_world_lrg  How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas

This book is considered the Bible for social entrepreneurship. It profiles men and women from around the world who have found innovative solutions to a wide variety of social and economic problems.




250px-ThreeCupsOfTea_BookCoverThree Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time

Three Cups of Tea describes Greg Mortenson's transition from a registered nurse and mountain-climber to a humanitarian committed to reducing poverty and promoting education for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

The book's title comes from a Balti proverb: "The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family..."



The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World

Through vivid stories, authors John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan identify the highly unconventional entrepreneurs who are solving some of the world's most pressing economic, social, and environmental problems. They also show how these pioneers are disrupting existing industries, value chains, and business models - and in the process creating fast-growing markets around the world.



Banker to the poor

Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty

Banker to the Poor is an autobiography of 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus. It details how Yunus developed the idea of Microcredit that he employed in the Grameen Bank.




Goodtogreat_300Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't 

Good to Great is a management book by James C. Collins that aims to describe how companies transition from being average companies to great companies and how companies can fail to make the transition.





SwitchBookCover-202x300Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our companies, in our communities, and in our own lives?

Authors Chip and Dan Heath show how everyday people can effect transformative change. Switch shows that successful changes follow a pattern, a pattern you can use to make the changes that matter to you, whether your interest is in changing the world or changing your waistline. 

May 18, 2012

4 Creative Ways to Market Your Start-Up Using Social Media

by Nadia Jones, Guest Blogger

Okay, so you’ve finally gone through the process of starting your own business. You made your business plan, secured funding, hired employees, and are ready to get started. The next thing on your mind? Marketing! Truth be told, no matter how great your product is, if no one hears about it, you will never see profits. And the tricks of the trade that used to apply when it comes to getting the word out have changed completely. Now, on top of considering marketing efforts like print or television advertising, you need to focus your efforts online as well. One of the best and least expensive way to do this is through social media. Social media is a force that will only continue to grow, and you have no excuse not to capitalize on the industry for your own potential gain. Here’s how:


Twitter-Logo-300x293Jump in on Trending Twitter Topics 

If you don’t have a Twitter account set up for your business, get one immediately. On top of that, you should have a personal Twitter account as well, so you can represent your business and connect to other owners. Twitter is probably the most important space in social media today, and the great thing about it is that there are tons of ways to capitalize on this type of social media for promotion. A great way to do this is to follow trending topics daily and make sure to set up Twitter news feeds for anything to do with your industry. When you see a topic is trending, work the topic into a tweet and link back to your product.


Create a Facebook Contest that Requires Liking Your Business  Facebook_like_button_big

If you don’t have a Facebook profile set up for your business, make sure to get one started. Friend as many users you already know. Then, start a contest. Announce to your business Facebook friends that you will be holding a contest for a free giveaway. In order to enter the contest, users need to “like” your business or share it by posting on another user’s wall. Once they do that, you will double your exposure and possibly get some new Facebook friends and (hopefully) customers in return.


InstagramStart an Instagram Account

Instagram is a popular app that has, until recently, been solely used as an automatic photo upload application for Twitter. Users can take photos with their phones, adjust the effects and exposure within the program, and then upload them to their Twitter stream seamlessly. The reason Instagram is so popular is because most users love images. Think about it, if you had the choice to click on a link that had no picture and one that had a picture, which one would you choose? Your customers could get a kick out of regular uploads of your store’s interior, new products, or funny moments between employees.


Start a Blog for Your BusinessBlog

A blog is a great way to add a personal side to your business website. Even if you don’t want to include the “fluffy” details of the business on the site itself, there is no reason not to connect with your customers on a personal level through a blog. This is also a great way to generate new customers and friends. Try adding likeminded bloggers to your blog roll and hope they return the favor, or write guest posts for other people’s blogs to get readers to link back to your own blog.


About Nadia Jones

Nadia Jones blogs at accredited online colleges about education, college, student, teacher, money saving, movie related topics. You can reach her at [email protected].

April 11, 2012

We Made the List! "The Top 30 Social Entrepreneur Blogs to Watch in 2012"

SPECIAL THANKS to "The Entrepreneur Blog" for featuring Young Women Social Entrepreneurs on "The Top 30 Social Entrepreneur Blogs to Watch in 2012"!

1) Social Entrepreneurship Initiative

2) Duke: The Fuqua School of Business

3) Ashoka Peace

4) Pam Lawhorne: Online Business mentor

5) Green Marketing Tv

6) Acumen Fund

7) Social edge

8) World Economic Forum

9) Kristen@Wooster

10) Dowser

11) Seforum: Social Entrepreneurship forum

12) MakeSense

13) NFIB: Young Entrepreneur Foundation

14) The Causemopolitan: Cause-filled living

15) A scouting movement for the web

16) Social Startup 48

17) Young Women Social Entrepreneurs

18) Social ROI: A Social Entrepreneurship Blog

19) The Social Entrepreneur

20) School for social entrepreneurs

21) BrinQ

22) The BOP project

23) The New Pioneers

24) News for Social Entrepreneurs

25) Rethink Social

26) Students for Social Entrepreneurship

27) Social Entrepreneur Work In Progress

28) David Pidsley

29) On the Up

30) Social Entrepreneurship in Africa

February 06, 2012

Stepping Forward with Our 5-Year Vision

by Hannah Jang, Chief Blogger

As I walk into the room, I am greeted by Nevada Jean Lane, our graphic facilitator for our one-day visioning retreat in San Francisco. I am the first to arrive. I locate my name tag and proceed to find a seat. I take one quick glance at the agenda and think to myself, "This is going to be one jam-packed day!" 


Just as I am starting to anticipate the day's schedule, Michelle Lapinski from the San Francisco Chapter walks in. Given that this would be the first time I am meeting the women from the different YWSE chapters, I get ready for a handshake. Except, Michelle flashes a huge smile, hugs me tightly and excitedly says, "It's so great to finally meet you!" Minutes later, the other women quickly trickle into the room. Before I know it, we are all greeting each other with hugs. I quickly learn that this is the "YWSE Way".

From that moment on, I knew I was in for a treat.

Eleven creative minds gathered from all parts of the U.S. - Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, New York, and DC - to take on the challenging task of developing a 5-year vision plan for YWSE. To start, we are reminded of the "YWSE Values" and how our core values are the key principles that guide our conduct and our relationships. They connect us to each other and make our successes possible.


The empty canvas is eventually populated with our brainstorming and mind mapping. Nevada was able to beautifully capture our thoughts and ideas through this visual representation:

Context Map

Our Members

Our vision inspires us to dream bigger, reach higher and expect more for the future.

Cover Vision

While the visioning retreat accomplished the immediate goal of bringing Chapter leaders together to develop a shared vision for YWSE, it is important to understand that the retreat itself was merely the first step in a process. The key to its impact is in the follow-up.  The work that remains is that of empowering and supporting Chapter leaders to implement program ideas and of monitoring progress through regular check-ins and follow-up meetings. 

An important outcome of the YWSE Visioning retreat is the visual reminder of the stepping stones that will allow us to reach our 5-year vision.

Vision and Stepping Stones

As we continue to serve our local members with excellence, we will need your help in building national community and external visibility through increased and improved means of our funding model and technology.

If there is specific "stepping stone" that you are interested in learning more about and/or would like to serve on a committee, please email us at [email protected].

December 30, 2011

Jumpstarting 2012 with Inspiration

by Hannah Jang, Chief Blogger

As 2011 draws to a close and we reflect on the past year, a panoramic montage of bittersweet memories unfolds within our minds. We begin to vacillate between excited anticipation of a new year and feeling angst for the pile of unfinished projects. Both ends of the emotional spectrum are natural and to be expected.  

But, how can we appease such an unsettled mind?  Read inspiring quotes. They are powerful nuggets of wisdom. Here are 12 inspiring quotes that will hopefully uplift and motivate you to greater heights:


"Your imagination is your preview of life's coming attractions." - Albert Einstein


"Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then, do what you need to do, in order to have what you want."                      - Margaret Young


"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined." - Henry David Thoreau


"The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them."                         - George Bernard Shaw


"Every great dream begins with a dream. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world." - Harriet Tubman


"I failed my way to success." - Thomas Edison


"He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying." - Nietzsche


"Inspiration and genius - one and the same." - Victor Hugo  


"To climb steep hills requires a slow pace at first." - William Shakespeare  


"My mother said to me, 'If you become a soldier, you'll be a general, if you become a monk you'll end up as the pope.' Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso." - Pablo Picasso


"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." - Helen Keller


"When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die." - Eleanor Roosevelt

December 19, 2011

Girltank: the "she" lab for social change

by Hannah Jang, Chief Blogger

Are you a global changemaker or an organization looking for partnership? Meet girltank, a hybrid non-profit and for-profit social enterprise designed to empower young women changemakers. Spanning across six continents and over 30 countries, girltank is set out to change the world. Tara Roberts, Founder of girltank, shares why she started the organization and how you can get involved.

How did you get the idea to start girltank?

My job at CosmoGirl magazine came to a screeching halt in late 2008 because of the downward spiraling U.S. economy. But instead of looking for another 9-to-5 gig, I decided to pack my bags and use a friend’s buddy pass to travel the world and work on a book project I had been nursing for quite awhile.

My idea was to interview young women under the age of 30 who were making a difference for their communities, standing up for causes they believed in, and using their creativity and determination to bring forth something powerful in the world. So for a little under a year, I traveled to 15 different countries throughout Africa, Asia and Europe and captured the stories of 51 amazing young women.

Somewhere along the way, I began to wonder what would happen if these extraordinary young women from such diverse regions could pool their resources together and access a common collective of information and inspiration. Would their capabilities as leaders grow? Would their projects become stronger and more effective? Would they begin to work jointly and create even more powerful initiatives together?

At the same time, Sejal Hathi, who founded Girls Helping Girls (GHG) four years earlier when she was 15 years old, had just launched a program called the "Sisters 4 Peace Network" to create a global community for uniting, mobilizing, and advancing young women changemakers. She, too, was wrestling with this idea of how to form a successful single space that could serve as the hub and resource center for young women to create global projects for social change and to achieve their full potential.

So we decided to band our efforts together. We took the idea of a traditional think tank – a body that researches, solves problems and influences public policy - and turned it upside down into something active, creative, youthful and feminine – a “think” and “do” tank for young women.

And thus, girltank was born.

What makes girltank unique from other social entrepreneurship organizations?

We are unique because our mission focuses exclusively on empowering young women changemakers globally and helping bring their projects to scale.

We source young women from every region of the world, crossing cultures, religions, borders, languages and socio-economic statuses to prove that young women everywhere are capable of leading social change.

How does girltank plan to pursue sustainability?

We are a hybrid business with a non-profit and for-profit business model. Our for-profit business focuses on building educational multimedia (ebooks, workshops and events) in order to be a catalyst for a new generation of young women leaders and to generate a fresh understanding of young women's capabilities.

Can you tell us about some of the projects that members of girltank are doing around the world?


Noreen, Anne and Patricia, who run Jacinto & Lirio, make high-end, fashionable and sustainable bags from the water hyacinth with the help of rural Filipinos living in Pampanga. By using the water hyacinth, a pesky weed that causes over $3 billion a year in damage, J&L contributes to the sustainability of the planet and helps eco-friendly customers look stylish.

Grace helped launch the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change, which is a network of African youth organizations and individuals working on climate change and sustainable development. Grace, who lives in Kenya, helped AYICC establish chapters in 20 African countries.

Isabel hails from Germany, but she founded FonduPeru, which pays the tuition and expenses for youth from the Andean village of Chiuchin to attend college in Lima, Peru.

What are some ways people can get involved?

For young women under age 30 who have already created social change projects - nominate yourself to be a part of the fellows community ([email protected])

For those who want to help young women in their communities learn about social change - contact us about doing a workshop at your school or organization ([email protected])

For those who want to support young women changemakers - contact us about how to donate or volunteer for any of our fellows' projects ([email protected])

For those who want to help us build and grow girltank hubs around the world - contact us about volunteer and employment opportunities ([email protected])

What is your best advice to young people who are thinking of starting their own social enterprise?

Be bold and begin! Then utilize girltank's resources to support your efforts. We believe you are powerful and that you can be, do and have anything you desire!



Tara Roberts breathes passion and vision into her work as a writer, editor and publisher. Most recently, she launched girltank, a social enterprise designed to empower young women changemakers from around the world. Prior to this, Tara was the Senior Editor at CosmoGirl magazine and has served as the Lifestyle Editor at Ebony, Essence and Heart & Soul magazines. She has also published her own internationally distributed magazine, Fierce, a bold, pro-female and socially conscious magazine that encouraged women ages 21-40+ to excavate for their authentic, wild and powerful selves. Fierce was nominated by Utne magazine as one of the best new independent magazines in 2003.

Tara graduated cum laude from Mount Holyoke College and holds a Master’s Degree in Publishing Studies from New York University’s Gallatin School.

December 09, 2011

Prosperity Candle: Give a gift, change a life.

Looking for a meaningful gift this holiday season? Now you can give a gift that gives back many times over. We have teamed up with Prosperity Candle this year so you can purchase holiday gifts that support our work while also helping women rebuild their lives. Every Prosperity Candle gift is handmade by women from some of the world’s toughest places. Each gift arrives with the name of the woman who made it, enabling you to connect with her directly through the Prosperity Candle website.

To learn more and shop to support Prosperity Candle visit Be sure to choose NYWSE in the “How did you hear about us?” section during checkout to send a donation to us!


Spa Basket2



Prosperity Candle helps women who have survived conflict and natural disaster rebuild their lives through candle-making. Every candle made and sold helps a woman from places like Burma, Haiti, Rwanda, Iraq and Afghanistan earn more than a living wage – enough to put food on the table, buy medicine, and send her children to school. Every Prosperity Candle gift changes a life. Make a difference today by sharing the light and changing lives!





November 18, 2011

The Story Exchange - Where Women Mean Business

by Karin Kamp, Guest Blogger

The Story Exchange is a new non-profit that inspires women to gain economic independence by starting and growing a business. Through the power of video, The Story Exchange profiles accomplished women entrepreneurs who speak candidly about why they began their businesses and the obstacles they overcame to achieve success. 

Deborah Olivo: A Simply Unstoppable Woman Entrepreneur

When Deborah Olivo lost her job she wasn't sure how she was going to pay her rent. This aspiring entrepreneur took the leap and started VidaAire, a line of environmentally-friendly sanitizers she created by mixing essential oils in her kitchen. Her products are now in Whole Foods as well as 50 other stores and she has just launched a new product.

Deborah struggled throughout her life but now she is a woman entrepreneur who will not be stopped. "I look in the mirror and I see the potential that I possess," Deborah told The Story Exchange.


Melissa Mowbray-D'Arbela: Business Woman and Terminator

Growing up below the poverty line, this woman entrepreneur learned to be resourceful early on. Today she runs a cutting-edge biotech firm based on ethical principles and disruptive ideas. The bio-mask she developed was used in the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Japan. Since September it is now available in Walgreens just in time for to flu season.

"Being a woman in business ... sure you're treated differently. So I decided 'embrace that', use it to your advantage," Melissa Mowbray-D'Arbela told The Story Exchange.


Puifung Leung: Social Entrepreneur Pays A Fair Price

Puifung Leung is on a mission to make trade more equitable and help improve living standards in developing countries. She is a social entrepreneur who pays farmers a fair price for their crops, which she uses to make drinks and snacks.

"The most important thing is to take risk. Where there are risks, there are opportunities" Puifung told The Story Exchange.


WHY? Video

See hard facts on the potential of women entrepreneurs.



The women behind The Story Exchange are inspired by the fact that women around the world are starting businesses at ever higher rates in an astonishing range of fields – from biotech and wine-making, to construction and cakes. Women highly value women role models and that’s what The Story Exchange is all about. It’s women inspiring women to live their dreams and uncover their full potential.

The Principals

The Story Exchange was founded by Victoria Wang, a former bank executive. After working three decades in the financial world, Victoria knew that women lack role models. Throughout her career, she had often wished there were more senior women for her to share experiences with, and to talk to about issues both business and work/life related.

Two years ago, she travelled to Singapore to interview successful businesswomen in Singapore for a research project. After each interview she went away thinking “Wow, what a great story to share with other women in business. What a wonderful role model she would be for someone who wants to start a business.”

She felt the only way to do this was to have these women tell their stories on video and that the filmmaking would have to be first class. She was lucky enough to find Sue Williams, a director and producer who has produced award-winning documentaries for shows such as American Experience and Frontline and was a Senior Producer on the series Faces of America.

The goal of The Story Exchange is to give women the confidence and strength to take risks, to take things one step at a time, to reach out to other women for help, and then to give back. 

As Victoria puts it: “I want The Story Exchange to get women thinking about what they love to do, how they can make a business out of it, and how they can impact others. I think a lot of viewers will identify with the individual women we profile here and they’ll say, “If she can do it, I can do it too.”


We are also actively looking for more stories for upcoming blogs and films. We are taking submissions through our website, where all the women's stories will appear. See the link:

Have a question about starting or growing your business. Ask an expert here and see other question and answers:

Find helpful advice, business trends and more stories on our blog:

November 10, 2011

How to Generate Revenue: Funding Your Social Enterprise or Nonprofit

by Hannah Jang, Chief Blogger

It takes more than just a great business idea to make a new company successful. Whether you're running a nonprofit organization or building your own start-up company, you will need to develop a solid financing strategy with the near future in mind. Finding seed and early stage funding may be a difficult task. Luckily, we had the opportunity to speak with Shana Dressler, Co-Founder of the Social Innovators Collective, before she wraps up for their 5-part workshop series. She shares with us the importance and challenges of finding funding sources.

With numerous funding opportunities available, how do you choose the best funding option?

Shana: It’s true that there are many channels to explore funding opportunities. The best options depend on several factors. First of all, where you’re going to look for funding for a nonprofit is different than where you’ll research opportunities for a social enterprise. [I’m defining a social enterprise as an entity with one of the following corporate structures – LLC, LC3, Benefit Corporation, not a 501(c)(3).] Then the second consideration is what stage of your business development are you– this goes for both nonprofits and social enterprises. Depending upon whether you’re a startup or at the emerging or mezzanine phase of your business development will determine where to look. The worst piece of advice that I’ve heard and continue to hear for startup/emerging nonprofits is, “Oh, you’re a nonprofit…you should apply for a grant.” Given the research we’ve done, getting money from individuals is many times more effective. Most foundations have little to no money earmarked for startup nonprofits. They are looking for proof of concept and a track record to know that you’ll be around for the long haul. They are also not interested in supporting work that replicates that which is already being done well in the space. Before you get too deep into what you are doing, research who’s getting the funding in the area you are seeking to make an impact. So why crowdfunding? Besides the fact that grants are so hard to come by these days, here’s the research: Of the $290 billion that was contributed in 2010 to ALL nonprofits nationwide, 73% came from individuals and only 14% came from grants.

For people who have founded a social enterprise, the word on the street is to go after VC funding. I often hear people say, “Hold out! Bootstrap in the beginning before you give your company away to early seed funders.” In other words, keep your day job until you can really figure out your long term financial plan.

What are some ways of increasing your chances in obtaining financing?

Shana: The short answer is: Be clear about what your mission is and know how to communicate it passionately and effectively. If you are inarticulate - whether that is in your written or spoken communications - you’ll have a very hard time getting funding. Next, your branding and visual communications need to really sing. Alastair Ong, Co-Founder and COO of GreenSoul Shoes and a member of the Social Innovators Collective, said the following in the 3rd workshop we held “Pitch Your Idea: Persuasive Communication”: “A bad idea with a great pitch will get much further than a great idea with a bad pitch. The name of the game is presentation. I can't do anything about your idea, but I can do something about your presentation.” There’s so much competition for funding (and people’s attention) that if you’re not able to interest people and, more importantly, grab their attention, forget it. Finally what has always surprised me is that people don’t fund ideas as often as they do the people who are presenting them.

How can you avoid underestimating funding requests?

Shana: Do your research! Ask questions. For nonprofits go to and find out what your competitors are getting by downloading their 990 tax returns – it’s one of the best kept secrets. Another fantastic resource is The Foundation Center. Either go to their office or visit their website and research the foundation you’re looking to apply to for funding. There’s a list of the grants they’ve made, to whom and how much they gave away. For social enterprises this is a bit trickier, but again, this is public information. We’ll be sharing this at our workshop on November 15th.

However, the reality is that even with all the research you do, it can still be hard to get funding. Milena Arciszewski, the founder of Pando Project and a member of the Social Innovators Collective, is a perfect example.

Milena recently decided to put her venture on hold because she didn't have enough funding to keep her doors open. I was so moved by her story. She is truly a woman of great courage, integrity, heart and soul. Admitting failure is so important, because failure can only lead to further innovation. But unfortunately, many nonprofits have avoided letting their funders and donors know what hasn't worked, for fear of not receiving further support. I hope more Milenas come forward and share their stories when we begin our 2012 series on Lessons Learned. It will be a continuation of the blog that Danielle Lanyard, the founder of Green Breakfast Club, and I put together for General Assembly to support our classes.

I think we're all in agreement that we want to alleviate suffering in various ways, shapes and forms whether that be locally, nationally or globally. The people I know in this space are motivated and passionate about using their talents, resources and professional skills to create a world where we can all live peacefully with dignity, love and a sense of fulfillment. But, if we don't have the funding in place to support the long-term efforts ahead of us, we eliminate the chance of succeeding in any significant way. There are so many projects that belly up because of the lack of foresight as far as funding goes. When one fails to actualize a personal project, it can be very disappointing, but it is not dire. Mistakes are great learning tools. At the Social Innovators Collective, we want to encourage you to share mistakes so we can all learn from each other. High impact work isn't easy and so the more we know what doesn't work, the more we can focus our energies on innovating until we find solutions that do. For that reason, we will be producing a conference in late 2012 on failure. If anyone wants to sign up for our brainstorming session on Wednesday, November 30th at "We Create NYC," we'd love to have you:

Can you provide us with a sneak preview of what to expect for the last workshop?

Shana: First of alI, I don’t know of any other organization in New York that’s talking about financial literacy for nonprofits and social enterprises the way we are. We’ve started to find other resources out there, but it’s taken a lot of digging. For nonprofits we see that founders are in denial that they are running businesses and this is why so many fail. We’ve spoken to people who have NO idea what a trademark is or does and why they need one. I’ve had people look at me, as if I were talking in a foreign language, when I asked if they have a business plan in place. Here’s the only thing to say about this. A business plan is ESSENTIAL. It’s a roadmap to secure an organization’s long-term success. There’s no way you are going to secure any type of major funding, whether that be from angel investors, venture capitalists, program officers from foundations or philanthropists, if you don’t have a clearly articulated business plan or something that closely mirrors one. Sure you might get lucky once or twice, but then the word gets out when you have little to nothing to show for the work you’ve done because you squandered the money. Investors and funders need to feel confident that you will spend the money you receive wisely. With your plan in hand and a polished pitch, you’ll be ready to approach investors and major donors. The money is out there. The question is, “Are you prepared to receive it?”

Bottom line: Come to our class. We will make sure that everyone leaves equipped with the information to succeed wildly!

For more information:

To purchase tickets:


About Shana Dressler:

For fifteen years Shana Dressler worked as a multimedia producer and photojournalist on projects Shana300pxspanning several disciplines and continents while consulting for nonprofit arts and media organizations. Inspired by her consultant work with the Peabody award-winning satellite TV station, Link TV, which broadcasts eye-opening documentaries about the problems facing humanity and efforts to address them, Shana sought ways to contribute to featured causes in a meaningful way.

Since February 2009, Shana has concentrated on building unique giving communities focused on raising funds and awareness around such issues as human rights, the global water crisis, youth education, women’s leadership and social entrepreneurship. Through her nonprofit organization, the Global Giving Circle, she created opportunities for people of all income levels to support hybrid grassroots social enterprise and philanthropic initiatives focused on poverty alleviation. In December 2009, Shana launched Global Gifts That Matter, an online gift emporium supporting high-impact nonprofits and social enterprises through the sale of gifts and gift donations. In February 2010, she began work on the Global Cocoa Project. Its mission is to support cocoa farmers around the globe by supplying them with not only tools to improve the quality of their cocoa production, but also basic needs for their daily lives.

Shana is also the Co-Founder of the Social Innovators Collective, a dynamic, energetic network of emerging founders, leaders and individuals who work in the social enterprise and nonprofit spaces.




October 20, 2011

Building High Impact Organizations: Creating Financial Sustainability for Social Enterprises and Nonprofits

by Hannah Jang, Chief Blogger 

Are you finally ready to tackle the question of financial sustainability for your nonprofit or social enterprise? If you’ve been putting it off, here’s your golden opportunity to work on one of the key elements in building a successful enterprise with a group of game-changing professionals in the social good space. Join the “Green Breakfast Club” and "Social Innovators Collective" for their 5-part workshop series. We speak with Danielle Lanyard, Founder of Third Rail Ventures and the Green Breakfast Club, to hear about the successful kick-off meeting as she lays the groundwork for the entire series.

Why is it important to address financial sustainability?

Addressing financial sustainability is important for a few good reasons. The first is that most startups of any kind fail, whether they are nonprofits or for profit ventures. The second is that mission driven organizations often focus on the social and ecological bottom line while ignoring the financial bottom line. The last reason is that one needs to be financially sustainable in order to carry out one’s mission.

What are the factors influencing the financial sustainability of social entrepreneurs and nonprofit founders?

I think the factors are many, the approaches varied, but the key components identical for achieving financial sustainability. These include a clear knowledge and usage of available support resources, a strong brand and awareness in how to actively tell the story of this brand, and then an understanding of the best options to support and execute your business model. These can be anything from what corporate structure to use, what design thinking can do for your brand and prototyping, and how to craft the art of the pitch and the funding strategy to generate revenue or raise capital or donations for your venture.

How do you avoid the challenges you may encounter?

I read as much as I can about other people’s mistakes, lessons learned and domain expertise, whether it is Fred Wilson’s blog to the tweets coming out of FailFaire and industry conferences that offer knowledge transfer. I’m a klutz, both in life and in business, so I assume I’m going to trip up a bit. So, I read the success stories of others, and pay attention at events and conferences when keynote speakers tell you their stories, for these are the real gems that help you not make the same mistakes.

Which specific resources do you recommend?

I recommend spending as little as you can to make as much as you can, as leanly as you can while you are developing your idea into a clearly developed, financially sustainable, mission driven organization. I recommend taking free entrepreneurial training classes like Fast Trac, or applying to business incubators that provide mentorship and support services for founders. I’d also shamelessly promote the set of resources I outlined in the first part of our workshop series:


What kinds of impact do you seek to have with this workshop series?

I’d like to see more ventures succeed, more founders launch well thought out mission driven organizations, and more people applying these principles within their existing organizations. I’d like to see attendees helping each other and supporting each other's initiatives, and I’d to like to hear from these attendees on what gaps they think need filling in this innovation ecosystem. Lastly, I’d like to start thinking of better ways we can measure the impact of mission driven organizations themselves, and how this can improve their financial sustainability.


Headshot 1
Danielle Lanyard'
s life and work experience blends environmental study, community action, and business development. Her work began as a child and spans two decades and four continents, including early coursework in Environmental Studies at The Evergreen State College and a B.A. in Psychology from UC, Santa Cruz. Rather than enter the workplace, Danielle chose to travel, living out a lifelong dream to see the rest of the world, where she bartered her way around the globe and got the first inklings for the idea of a barter as a business. Back in the US, she became a serial social entrepreneur, launching startups, Travelcology and Open Venture Society, small businesses still in business today.  She is the founder of Third Rail Ventures, an organization to support and seed startups for social and ecological change, including these events and a documentary film project on electronic waste, E-Wasted. When not running around town getting these ventures going, you can find her tweeting away at @ecoblips.

September 08, 2011

5 Reasons NOT to Grow Your Business

by Adelaide Lancaster, Co-Founder of In Good Company Workplaces

I know what you might be saying to yourselves, “What? Are you crazy? Not grow my business? Isn’t that the point? How else will I be successful?” I hear your concern. Before you dismiss the choice not to grow, take a minute to think about your goals and the impact of growth.

As a culture, we have a real addiction to size. We believe that bigger is better. Period. Even in the business world, we impress each other by talking about numbers of employees, sales, market share and locations. From the second that most entrepreneurs start their business, they are encouraged to start thinking about just how big this venture can be - often even before the concept is proven, vetted, or even fleshed out. As soon as entrepreneurs open their doors they immediately start fielding questions about growth. “When will you expand? How many locations will you open? Are you going to hire people to see more clients?” As consumers and small business enthusiasts we, intrigued by fast-growing empires and the myth of the overnight success, egg the process on. “Yes, open a store in my city!” “You should hire more staff so you can see more people”, we chip in. “You should get your brand in Bloomingdales or Whole Foods.”

On the other hand, there are a whole lot of entrepreneurs who believe that success isn’t about size; it’s about satisfaction.  And sometimes that satisfaction isn’t congruent with growth or at least the traditional growth plans of replication or building a super-sized version of your business. Many entrepreneurs have found good reasons to reject a ‘growth for growth’s sake’ strategy. Let’s look at 5 of the most common:


  1. BECOMING A SQUARE PEG. Growth may take you out of the role that you most enjoy. Let’s say you love the service aspect of your business or want to maximize the time you spend designing/writing/speaking/teaching/selling/creating/ or innovating. Building a bigger machine may require you to sacrifice too much of your desired job in order to focus on the business building tasks.                                                                                                                                                                 
  2. INCOME PLATEAU. Many entrepreneurs are surprised that bigger versions of their business don’t necessarily yield bigger incomes. But increased revenues are almost always accompanied by increased expenses. Some entrepreneurs decide that the net gain doesn’t justify the sacrifices required.                                                                                                                                        
  3. UNSUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLE. More moving pieces inevitably mean more to pay attention to and more responsibility. A business goal for lots of entrepreneurs is longevity. They want to enjoy running their business in 10 years. This kind of long-term sustainability can be undermined by growing too fast or too soon. Burnout is a real risk in entrepreneurship and stamina is a valuable asset.                                                                                                                
  4. UNDERMINES BUSINESS PURPOSE. To the surprise of some, having as many customers as possible isn’t the goal for every business. For some businesses a high-touch experience is what it’s all about. Others go for depth rather than breadth. Growth can force businesses to compromise on their core purpose, altering what they are known for and moving away from what the entrepreneur cares about.                                                                                                                                                                                          
  5. LIMITS RANGE OF ACTIVITIES. More and more entrepreneurs are building their businesses by creating a portfolio of various activities and diversifying their revenue streams. For example a consultant who loves speaking, creating products, consulting, and writing or a product company that wants to retail, wholesale, license, consult, and speak. Growing or scaling one aspect of their business would preclude them from pursuing other activities and outlets.


None of this is to suggest that I am anti-growth or anti-big-“small business.” On the contrary, I want to help entrepreneurs pursue their best end, whatever that may be. I don’t believe in growth for growth’s sake but I do believe in growing for the right reasons. So as you consider your own venture’s future don’t blindly put size before everything else. Instead define success by your own satisfaction, carefully considering your goals, business purpose, role, motivations, and desired outcomes – these elements will help you decide the size that is right for YOU.


AdelaideLancaster2011LgThe Big Enough Company Cover High ResAdelaide Lancaster is an entrepreneur, speaker and co-author of The Big Enough Company: Creating a business that works for you (Portfolio/Penguin). She is also the co-founder of In Good Company Workplaces, a first-of-its-kind community, learning center and co-working space for women entrepreneurs in New York City. She is a contributor to The Huffington Post, and a columnist for The Daily Muse and The Hired Guns. She lives in Philadelphia, PA with her husband and daughter. 

February 28, 2011

Apply Today! The Founder Institute's Technology Startup Accelerator


The Founder Institute  ( is a technology startup accelerator and entrepreneur training program currently on pace to launch over 500 companies per year in over 13 cities worldwide. The program identifies high-potential entrepreneurs using predictive social science testing, and then guides them through weekly company-building sessions featuring a network of over 300 CEO Mentors including leading luminaries from NYC, Silicon Valley and beyond. All program stakeholders, including the participating founders and CEO Mentors, share in the equity generated by companies formed in the program. In addition, participants get access to free and discounted services, and are not required to quit their day job.

Founded in 2009, The Founder Institute aims to globalize Silicon Valley by launching over 1000 meaningful and enduring technology companies per year in over 30 cities worldwide. The Institute currently operates semesters twice a year in Silicon Valley, Singapore, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, Houston, Boston, New York, Washington DC, Paris, Brussels and Berlin.

Key highlights of the program include:

* You don't need to quit your day job
* You share in pool of equity for upside and for risk reduction
* There is no idea or team selection bias in the enrollment process
* The Institute encourages market rate investments in companies
* The Institute protects the upside of Founders through Class F and other efforts

Founder Institute is also running a special program, the Female Founder Fellowship Program, for Women Innovators. For more info, see here:

Apply today at: The deadline is March 13.

November 14, 2008

The NYWSE Incubator: Empowering Women Social Entrepreneurs

The NYWSE Incubator Program announces its official program, information session, and application materials.

Information Session:
Wednesday, November 19, 2008, 6:30 P.M.
Location TBD – Open to entrepreneurs, mentors, and apprentices – Please RSVP to [email protected]

Application Deadline:
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Entrepreneurs, mentors, and apprentices – Applications are attached

Download the_nywse_incubator_empowering_women_social_entrepreneurs_program_description_nov_10.pdf

Download nywse_incubator_applicationentrepreneur.xls

Download nywse_incubator_applicationapprentice.xls

Download nywse_incubator_applicationmentor.xls

September 24, 2008

Celebrating Green with Lynn & Corey

We never decided to start this revolution. It just happened. It has evolved as naturally as our relationship and I think we appeal to people partly because of that.


Continue reading "Celebrating Green with Lynn & Corey" »

July 15, 2008

Corporate Responsibility: Employees Want The Change

The 2008 Corporate Sustainability Employee Study demonstrates that employees want the change. As a corporation is just an entity, it is up to the employees inside their firms to champion ways to increase positive impacts and to influence our peers to do the same. Some of today's 'intrapreneurs' are leading their companies in positive, new directions.

A new study recently conducted among employees at today's companies (large and small) shows that nine out of ten employees see brand reputation as the most important reason to address social and environmental impacts, yet 83% of companies have not fully incorporated their corporate responsibility performance into business metrics.

Continue reading "Corporate Responsibility: Employees Want The Change" »