SDG11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities

These social entrepreneurs are achieving Sustainable Development Goal 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

138, Julius Ibrahim, Second Shot Coffee | Heart, Head, and Hustle to end Homelessness

Julius Ibrahim is tackling homelessness one espresso at a time.

In her book, Work on Purpose, Echoing Green alumni Lara Galinsky offers this formula:

Heart + Head = Hustle

By heart, she means your emotions.

By head, she is referring to your skills and abilities.

And by hustle…well, every entrepreneur knows exactly what that looks like.

Julius Ibrahim is a beautiful illustration of heart, head and hustle.

As Julius entered university in Central London, he was confronted daily by those who were sleeping on the sidewalk, in doorways or parks. These folks are referred to as “rough sleepers.” This was a significant “heart” moment for Julius.

He wanted to apply his skills to make a difference. He became involved with the organization Enactus. Enactus allows students to take entrepreneurial action for social causes. His skills grew as he took on a leadership role in the organization. It was through Enactus that he helped turn around a social enterprise café. He was hooked.

In this role, he had a chance to see a lot of social business startups, including several false-starts of companies who were trying to solve homelessness.

Julius took the time to learn more, speaking to people in the homelessness space. He wanted to know what a good solution looks like.

Julius has a passion for hospitality. He thought about how could bring his hospitality industry skills to bear to solve the issue of chronic homelessness. In other words, how could he combine his head and his heart to make an impact.

Julius started hustling. It took him almost a year to raise the funds to start. He started with a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Although he failed to raise as much money as he hoped, he did receive a great deal of press and social media attention. This led to private investment funding. Because Second Shot Coffee is a UK-based social enterprise, the investors qualified for a Social Investment Tax Relief.

In May, 2016, Julius launched Second Shot Coffee. Charity organizations refer people dealing with homelessness to Julius and Second Shot Coffee. He employs them, trains them as baristas and then transitions them to further employment.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Julius Ibrahim

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘I was always passionate about hospitality.’ Julius Ibrahim, @Secondshotcafe”]

“Every day there was just so much rough sleeping.”

“That’s when I realized I’m probably not going to go and do the kind of standard career choice.”

“The reason homelessness is so persistent is because there is such a lack of understanding about how easy it is to fall into the situation.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Homelessness is something that happens to someone.’ Julius Ibrahim, @Secondshotcafe“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘The average person is two paychecks away from becoming homeless.’ Julius Ibrahim, @Secondshotcafe“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Every day it’s something new and a new challenge.’ Julius Ibrahim, @Secondshotcafe“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘For our model, staff turnover is a good indicator.’ Julius Ibrahim, @Secondshotcafe“]

“Once people learn what we do, they’re really on board and willing to help.”

“If people are given the opportunity, they will contribute and will try and be part of something more meaningful.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Find a local social enterprise and support them.’ Julius Ibrahim, @Secondshotcafe“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Everybody has some kind of specialized skill that they’re able to give.’ Julius Ibrahim, @Secondshotcafe“]

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

120, Paul Bradley, ROC USA | Housing Security for Mobile Home Owners

ROC USA is a non-profit organization with a mission of making quality resident ownership possible nationwide.

When Paul Bradley was studying economics in university, he became interested in cooperative business models. “It immediately appealed to me,” he told me. “By its structure, it’s a more broadly distributing form of business ownership. Resources are shared more broadly among workers, among members and among consumers of the cooperatives.”

Paul was also interested in development work, spending time in Central America. When he returned to his home in Concord, New Hampshire, he found the opportunity to work in development work in his own neighborhood. He worked with the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund where he organized mobile home park residents.

In the United States, there are around 50,000 mobile home parks. The residents, many of whom are low-income, often own the home in which they live, but they do not own the land on which the home sits. It can be quite expensive to move a mobile home to another lot.

Because mobile home owners do not own the lot, they do not have control over the lot rent. Rent can go up significantly with as little as sixty days’ notice.

Some mobile home park owners do not properly maintain the infrastructure such as roads and sewage. This can cause homeowners to be held captive in unsafe and deteriorating conditions.

Mobile home owners also lack the security of land tenure. A mobile home community can be closed with very little notice. This often happens when the value of the land has gone up significantly, and the land owner chooses to turn the land to another use. Homeowners who may have been paying rent for decades can suddenly lose their home.

ROC USA helps homeowners form a cooperative, and to purchase land in order to preserve and improve the community. Each homeowner owns one share in the cooperative that owns the land.

There are two barriers that keep mobile home owners from forming cooperatives and purchasing their land. One is technical know-how. The other is access to capital. ROC USA addresses both of these challenges.

ROC USA has scaled a model of resident ownership in manufactured home communities, building a network of more than 10,000 secure and affordable homes with partners in 14 states.

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

109, Clara Brenner, Urban Innovation Fund and Tumml | Creating an Ecosystem

Clara Brenner is creating a startup ecosystem for urban innovation.

Clara Brenner, Urban Innovation Fund

Clara Brenner of Urban Innovation Fund and Tumml

More than half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas. Globally, 512 cities have at least 1 million inhabitants. With urbanization comes unique challenges, from transportation to public health.

To meet these challenges, entrepreneurs need a unique blend of business and political savvy. Clara Brenner and her co-founder Julie Lein are dedicated to solving core urban problems. Together, they co-founded the Urban Innovation Fund and also Tumml.

Tumml is an accelerator whose mission is to empower entrepreneurs to solve urban problems. Their 33 portfolio companies have raised over $35 million in investments. They have created more than 300 jobs and touched more than 2.2 million lives with their services.

The Urban Innovation Fund provides seed capital and regulatory expertise for entrepreneurs solving tough urban challenges.

Urban Innovation Quotes from Clara Brenner

“Julie and I are really committed to helping entrepreneurs that are solving core urban problems.”

“Once you’ve proven out your business model, once you’ve proven out that there’s a real there, there, where do you go next for money?”

“Julie and I were just wondering why all of our awesome, engage and thoughtful peers were electing to start the 5,000th photo sharing app instead of the next Revolution Foods.”

“This was around the same time that Lyft was just getting off the ground and Airbnb. And we felt like all these companies had something in common.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”We developed the moniker ‘urban innovation startup.’ @clara_brenner, @Tumml”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘The challenges come down to two things. The first is access to early stage capital.’ @clara_brenner, @UrbanInnoFund“]

“Institutional investors really want to see that these companies have a lot traction before they’re going to take a risk on them.”

“Challenge number two is that these entrepreneurs oftentimes face pretty significant regulatory or political challenges.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘We have supported 33 companies through Tumml.’ @clara_brenner, @Tumml”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘They’ve leveraged our capital, 53x.’ @clara_brenner, @Tumml“]

“They’ve built products and services that have touched the lives of 2.2 million people.”

“Seventy-six percent of the companies that we’ve supported have a woman or person of color on the founding team.”

“These are companies that are solving core urban problems and that are facing those challenges that I talked about earlier like trouble raising money at the early stage, maybe a complicated regulatory or political landscape to deal with. We want to be there to be helpful.”

“We really like to work with companies when they’re really new. At Tumml, we’re looking for entrepreneurs with ideas, who want to turn it into a business.”

“We try to look far and wide to find the best ideas and from our perspective, we don’t care where a company is based.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘We just want to see that that idea is scalable.’ @clara_brenner, @Tumml“]

“We want to see the kind of business that could’ve address the challenges that really are plaguing communities across the United States.”

“We have a mentorship board of founders, community leaders and all types of technical professionals to help our entrepreneurs succeed.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘At Tumml, we like to see really early stage entrepreneurs.’ @clara_brenner, @Tumml“]

“We want to see industrious entrepreneurs who are making the best out of the resources that they have at hand.”

“We look for entrepreneurs that are solving problems that have maybe been identified by mayors’

“We try to be in tune with the larger national conversation about real challenges.”

“Many of these entrepreneurs will want to go on and raise investment capital. And we would like to play a role in that.”

“The Urban Innovation Fund is really structured to do two things. It’s a venture capital firm that identifies early stage innovators solving critical challenges in cities, and we provide them with both capital, but also regulatory expertise to scale and hopefully become tomorrow’s most valued company.”

“We’re looking for the best most scalable ideas wherever they come from, and we want to be there to provide them with the capital and regulatory expertise to succeed.”

“We like to be the ones who find those diamonds in the rough and hopefully connect them to the right cities where we know there are particular pain points.”

“We have a less than 5%. I want to say almost 4% acceptance rate.”

“We have worked with 33 companies over the last three years and our cohorts range in size anywhere between 5 and 10.”

“We’ll probably pick four or five out of a batch of 150 or so.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Find a great co-founder.’ @clara_brenner, @Tumml, @UrbanInnoFund“]

“We want to know that you’ve spent a lot of time together and can weather the ups and down that are inevitable when you start a company.”

“I think there is something to be said for making sure the whole team is balanced, and the idea has legs as well.”

“We want to see more folks starting companies in the urban space.”

“We think there’s real opportunity particularly to solve those unsexy problems that everybody experiences on a day-to-day basis.”

“We want people to start thinking of themselves as entrepreneurs and capable of addressing these problems themselves. “

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

089, Alexandria Lafci, New Story | Disrupting Community Development through Story-Driven Crowdfunding

New Story is disrupting community development. They accomplish that through a story-driven crowdfunding process for building homes. But, they’re not just building houses, they’re creating communities. And, in the process, they are changing the donor experience. To explain all of this, we’re joined today by Alexandria Lafci, a cofounder and the head of operations for New Story.

There’s so much to love about Alexandria and New Story. First, New Story is targeting communities one at a time. For example, they started in Leveque, Haiti where they moved 152 families from living under blue tarps, to living in lovely homes. And, by building that many homes, they were able to create a community.

I also love that Alexandria is the head of operations. If you think about it, after a social enterprise defines a problem, comes up with a solution, and funds the idea, the most important priority is execution. Alexandria plays a unique role in New Story’s success.

Alexandria is familiar with the need for housing security. Her mother grew up in the foster home system. As a Teach for America volunteer in a southeast Washington, DC neighborhood, Alexandria could observe first-hand the impact that housing instability had on her students.

After Teach for America, Alexandria took a role in supply chain logistics for a company in Atlanta. This role taught her many of the skills that she uses today at New Story.

Alexandria met her cofounders while at a gathering of social entrepreneurs in October, 2014. By November of 2014, they put together a minimally viable product (MVP) version of New Story, and by December they were bringing in thousands of donor dollars. By June of 2015, they were in a batch of startups at Y Combinator.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Alexandria Lafci

“Just this one thing, housing stability, having it had such far-reaching implications that many of us take for granted, and then not having it had all of these detrimental side effects.”

“All we did was we put the image of one family, we put up their story and we had the ability to take payments.”

“We started with wanting to help individual families, but when you build homes at a critical mass, you actually create entire communities.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘We use local material and we use local labor. @laughsee of @NewStoryCharity”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Operations is an umbrella term for all of the components necessary to execute our vision in the physical realm. @laughsee of @NewStoryCharity“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘What we are doing is creating sustainable communities, places where people want to live.’ @laughsee of @NewStoryCharity“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘The biggest benefit of Y Combinator for us was, just having audacious goals.’ @laughsee of @NewStoryCharity“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘In setting that huge goal, our entire mindset shifted.’ @laughsee of @NewStoryCharity“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘We called it a 100 homes in 100 days campaign.’ @laughsee of @NewStoryCharity“]

“When you’re focused on growth almost exclusively, it really jam-packs a lot of lessons that would have taken us years to learn.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Sometimes the scariest part is starting.’ @laughsee of @NewStoryCharity“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Another thing that helped was speaking.’ @laughsee of @NewStoryCharity“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Find someone who shares that passion and who can do that with you.’ @laughsee of @NewStoryCharity“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Make sure the problem is not already being solved.’ @laughsee of @NewStoryCharity“]

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Culture Shift Learning Academy

We’re moving closer to the launch of Culture Shift Learning Academy, a comprehensive system to help you flesh out your social impact idea and start achieving it.

Enrollment isn’t open yet, but you can join the waiting list with other changemakers. Just go to and enter your email address. As a thank you, I’ll send you the Social Entrepreneur Startup Readiness Assessment. This useful tool is designed to help you to determine where you are on your startup journey and to successfully focus your development efforts.

Grab The Assessment

089, Alexandria Lafci, New Story | Disrupting Community Development through Story-Driven Crowdfunding

076, Drew Meyers, Horizon | Building Empathy through Travel with a Trusted Network

Building empathy is the first step in becoming a changemaker. And what better way to build empathy than to travel? But not all travel is created equally. As it has been said,

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.

When you travel, you have choices of just how “local” the experience is. You can stay in a homogenous hotel chain, a local boutique hotel, stay in the home of a close friend, or even stay in the home of a stranger. You might want the most local and authentic experience possible, but how do you know whom to trust? Trust is the currency of the shared economy.

Horizon is allowing people to tap into their trusted network to find accommodations from a couch for a night to an apartment for a month. And, by allowing us to tap into our network, we are building empathy.

Building Empathy Quotes from Drew Meyers:

“This is a really, really unique big world that we live in, but if you really get down to it, and actually talk to people, we’re all in the same boat.”

“We enable travel opportunities via community with the long-term end goal of increased empathy in the world.”

“There is a very real life lottery that exists in this world, and it’s as simple as where you were born.”

“Horizon’s long-term goal is to enable community wherever you are, and unlock opportunities.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘We’re trying to counteract the time-suck economy.’ @drewmeyers of @gethorizonapp”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Be crystal clear about the why, but don’t be married to the how.’ @drewmeyers of @gethorizonapp“]

Coaching Giveaway:

Throughout the month of April, we’re giving away ten one-on-one coaching calls to help you launch or grow your social enterprise. This is the last week to enter. To enter, go to

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

076, Drew Meyers, Horizon | Building Empathy through Travel with a Trusted Network

047, Sammie Rayner, HandUp | Social Good in Your Neighborhood

When it comes to social good, we often think we have to do something world-changing. In his book All the Trouble in the World, P. J. O’Rourke said

Everybody wants to save the earth; nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes.

If you think about it, that’s human nature. We love the grand gesture, the transformational speech or the disruptive technology. In the meantime, we pass homeless people on the street and we wonder what to do.

I understand this feeling well. I’ve often been torn while thinking about how best to serve: do I give a homeless person cash, perhaps enabling them to practice alcoholism? Or, do I walk by without making eye contact? Well, HandUp has a different approach.

Sammie Rayner is one of the cofounders of HandUp. You could say that the universe conspired to set her up for just this type of work. Her parents were business owners. As a young person, Sammie cared for her grandfather as he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. These two early influences seemed to set her on a journey to discover business models that do social good.

As a college student, she heard Dr. Muhammad Yunus speak at her university. She also read his book Banker To The Poor. This sent Sammie on a journey of discovery. She dug into the concept of social enterprises and microfinance. In her research, she found that, despite the success of microfinance around the world, less than 5 percent of microfinance borrowers lived in Sub Saharan Africa. And of that small percentage, less than half of the loan resources were available to people in rural areas.

This discovery led to the establishment of a microfinance non-profit, Lumana Credit, in 2009. Lumana was acquired by Sinapi Aba Trust (SAT) in April, 2013. By October of that same year, Sammie joined HandUp as a cofounder, joining Rose Broome and Zac Witte.

HandUp is a platform for giving directly to people experiencing homelessness. They partner with more than 20 agencies who screen the campaigns. HandUp provides donors with a simple way to impact the lives of homeless neighbors.

How big is this problem? According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, In January 2015, 564,708 people were homeless on a given night in the United States. Of that number, 206,286 were people in families. In just over two years, donors have helped over 1,500 people reach more than 4,000 goals and raise more than $1 million.

That homeless person we were talking about at the beginning of this conversation? You can help them with a particular project. If you’re in San Francisco, you can even give them a safe gift card.

And here’s the thing. When we aggregate all of these small acts of social good, we really do change the world.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Sammie Rayner:

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Sammie Rayner:

“These two influences seemed to always come up in my life of loving business, but also wanting to find a way to incorporate social change.”

“Something I think really struck me. I’ve been working across the globe, and there’s this huge problem right here in the states.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”What I’ve learned from both ventures is the importance of starting really small. @SammieRayner1″]

[spp-tweet tweet=”Incorporate the people you want to help as soon as possible. @SammieRayner1 of @HandUp”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”Get to know your homeless neighbors. @SammieRayner1 of @HandUp”]

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

047, Sammie Rayner, HandUp | Social Good in Your Neighborhood

045, Francesco Piazzesi, Echale a tu casa | Housing As Community Development

Francesco Piazzesi uses housing as a means of community development. He grew up in the construction equipment industry. He noticed that the brick mason who spent his days building houses went home to a tin shack with a dirt floor. In many countries around the world, including Mexico, 2/3 of the houses built are built by the owners. The homeowners gather whatever materials they can afford and, step by step, over many years, they build their house. These houses are often not safe or sanitary and the vast majority have dirt floors. These houses also are not desirable, therefore, the homeowners do not build wealth to pass along to their family.

From 1987 to 2006, Francesco tried to solve the problem through a charitable organization. However, he found that he was unable to scale his impact through philanthropy alone. So in 2006, Francesco formed Echale a tu casa, a social enterprise that uses housing as community development.

Echale has a machine that presses dirt into adobe building blocks, which reduce greenhouse gasses by more than 30% compared to concrete blocks. The blocks are also 60% less expensive than traditional building materials. Using Echale’s methodology, home construction costs are approximately $10,000.

When Echale comes into a community, they organize the local villagers. They provide education in everything from social inclusion to family violence to alcoholism. They also provide technical training and financial training.

A family that wants to build a home must first save 10% of the cost of construction, plus the land. Echale teaches the family to put away a small amount of money, week by week, until they have built up their savings. The amount that is put away week by week, is the same amount the family will need to pay for their mortgage.

As families in the village put their money away, they are creating community financing which can be used to build homes.

Echale trains local community members to build houses. 80% of the labor comes from the local community, creating construction jobs. After the initial round of housing, Echale has a franchise model that allows the local community to continue the process of home construction after Echale is gone.

The homes are energy efficient. They also have special engineering to help them capture rainwaterand purify the water. They have bio digesters to deal with waste water. And they have solar panels for energy.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Francesco Piazzesi:

[spp-tweet tweet=”The mason who builds the house, lives in a tin shack. He sleeps on a dirt floor. @fpiazzesi”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”It’s not a giveaway program or philanthropy. It’s a development program. @fpiazzesi”]

“We started as a social business in 2006. Before that we were an NGO, but we figured out that we had no impact. We could not replicate the model or scale the model.”

“The family was spending up to 30% of their income repairing the tin house. Now they use the same amount or less to build a home.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”We need to build a more equal society. We have this tools which is housing. @fpiazzesi”]

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Last Day! Fair Anita Quote Giveaway

Remember that at midnight tonight, we’re giving away a pair of earrings from Fair Anita. Be sure to enter by the end of the day, February 15, 2016. A winner will be drawn on Tuesday, February 16, 2016.  Click here for details.

045, Francesco Piazzesi, Echale a tu casa | Housing As Community Development