The World’s Largest Network of Late-Stage Social Entrepreneurs, with Katherine Milligan, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship is the sister organization to the World Economic Forum. They manage the world’s largest network of late-stage social entrepreneurs.

Katherine Milligan, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship

Katherine Milligan, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship

Katherine Milligan says, “I have always been deeply touched by the inequities of the world.” She spent time in the Peace Corp where she lived in a village in Benin without running water or electricity for two years. While there, she saw first-hand how an international shift in the commodity price of cotton had a significant impact on local cotton farmers and their families. “It opened a deep curiosity in me to understand why the conventional ways of delivering solutions to these populations were failing.”

Her curiosity led her to pursue a Master’s degree in Trade and International Development. This was followed by two years as a Research Fellow, traveling the world, interviewing stakeholders from ambassadors and trade representatives to the WTO and farmers. She says that this study gave her an appreciation for how complex problems are. “When you know very little about a problem, it’s easy to see it in a black and white way and to propose a simplistic solution. When you dig into it, and you understand the complexities of it, that’s when you appreciate just how challenging and complex these problems are to solve.”

Katherine’s search for solutions to large, complex global problems led her to the World Economic Forum in 2005. In 2009, she took over the lead role for the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship is the sister organization to the World Economic Forum. They manage the world’s largest network of late-stage social entrepreneurs. They elevate the work of late-stage social entrepreneurs on the platform of the World Economic Forum.

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship was launched in 1998 by Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum and his wife, Hilde. Their initial goal was to introduce the work of social entrepreneurs on a global stage. At the time, the concept of social entrepreneurship was mostly unknown.

Each year the Schwab Foundation recognizes several social entrepreneurs through a “Social Entrepreneur of the Year” competition. This year they selected 17 social entrepreneurs from 13 organizations. These social entrepreneurs become part of the broader Schwab Foundation community of more than 300 entrepreneurs to exchange expertise and experiences. They are also fully integrated into the World Economic Forum’s events and initiatives, giving them a global presence and visibility.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Katherine Milligan

“When you get that kind of spotlight and exposure, it changes the dynamics and resources come to you.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I’ve always been deeply touched by the inequities in the world.” @jk_milligan, @schwabfound”]

“When you know very little about a problem, it’s easy to see it in a black and white way.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”“You have to log those hours.”  @jk_milligan, @schwabfound”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Know your strengths.”  @jk_milligan, @schwabfound”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Surround yourself with people who compliment your skills.” @jk_milligan, @schwabfound”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“This is a really challenging path.” @jk_milligan, @schwabfound”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Understand the role of self-care.” @jk_milligan, @schwabfound”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“If you let the cause consume you, what good are you to the cause?” @jk_milligan, @schwabfound”]

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


The World’s Largest Network of Late-Stage Social Entrepreneurs, with Katherine Milligan, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship

Things Just Got Real

Well, things just got real. I just created promos for my *gulp* brand new radio program. Seriously. Did I just type that sentence? Here is what the promo sounds like.


In case you have not heard, we have the opportunity to produce a weekly, one-hour, drive-time radio program. The show will reach tens of thousands of new listeners.

In order to launch, we’re running a crowdfunding campaign. So far, more than 50 people have jumped in to help. As I’m writing this, we’re 35% of the way to our goal. If you want to be part of the movement to bring Social Entrepreneur to the radio, click here to add your support.

One of the rewards for the crowdfunding campaign is my brand new book, Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs. It is only available through StartSomeGood.

To hear the back story of how this opportunity came about, and what I’m trying to accomplish, check out my interview with Devin Thorpe. As always, Devin did a great job at getting to the story behind the story.

I’m excited about this opportunity to add a radio program to the podcast. I hope you’ll be part of this incredible moment.

Things Just Got Real

A Storytelling Platform for Social Entrepreneurs, Elisa Birnbaum, SEE Change Magazine

SEE Change Magazine is a global digital magazine focused on social entrepreneurship and social change.

See Change Magazine Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Elisa Birnbaum

Elisa Birnbaum, SEE Change Magazine

Like most people I speak to, Elisa Birnbaum’s career path was circuitous. She studied political science and law. “I was going to save the world as a human rights lawyer, of course,” she says tongue-in-cheek. But along the way, she found that she had a gift for writing. When she graduated from law school, she told herself, “I’m going to take some time off to see what this thing called storytelling is all about.” That was more than 15 years ago.

Elisa honed her journalistic skills with several organizations. Her portfolio includes articles for the Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, Profit, Zoomer, Elle Canada, iVillage, Microsoft Home, Lifestyles, Dreamscapes, and Via Destinations. She was a TV Producer for TV Ontario. She was a writer and producer for the CBC / Radio-Canada. And she is a regular contributor to the National Post.

In 2008, Elisa was a writer for CharityVillage. Nicole Zummach was her editor. At the time, the economy was taking a downturn. Philanthropic giving was down. The government was cutting back on funding. Charities were scrambling to find new business models. Elisa and Nicole found themselves writing about social entrepreneurship. “This was a nice alternative and a smart way to help [nonprofits] in their challenges.”

When Elisa pitched the stories of social entrepreneurs to several publications, the uptake was slow. “It was hard to get mainstream media to say ‘Hey, yeah that’s a good story. Let’s put that in.’ We just looked at each other one day and said, ‘We’ve got to get these stories out.’” So, in 2009, Elisa and Nicole launched SEE Change Magazine. Elisa is the publisher and Editor-in-Chief.

SEE Change Magazine is a global digital magazine focused on social entrepreneurship and social change. They provide content on issues affecting the world of social entrepreneurship. They profile inspiring individuals using business ventures to transform their communities and the world.

Elisa expanded their offerings through SEE Change Communications. They offer workshops, communications services and consulting services to help social enterprises to develop and tell their social change story. They host speaking events where social entrepreneurs can tell their stories.

Elisa also offers an excellent podcast called In the Business of Change. And, if that were not enough, Elisa is also working on a new book. “The book is not just going to highlight social entrepreneurs. But it’s going to focus on lessons learned.”

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Elisa Birnbaum

[spp-tweet tweet=”“A lot of people didn’t get it.” @ElisaBirnbaum, @SEEChangemag”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Business and tech stuff were never my things.” @ElisaBirnbaum, @SEEChangemag“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I got sidetracked. I really enjoyed writing.” @ElisaBirnbaum, @SEEChangemag“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I love storytelling in all its different forms.” @ElisaBirnbaum, @SEEChangemag“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I think I always had an ability to write.” @ElisaBirnbaum, @SEEChangemag“]

“What I always had was a curiosity for people.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Social enterprise became my strongest niche.” @ElisaBirnbaum, @SEEChangemag“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I try to keep opinions out of it.” @ElisaBirnbaum, @SEEChangemag“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Media can be a real force for good.” @ElisaBirnbaum, @SEEChangemag“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Storytelling is imperative to people meeting their mission.” @ElisaBirnbaum, @SEEChangemag“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“If your story’s not getting out there, you’re not getting much done.” @ElisaBirnbaum, @SEEChangemag“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“It all comes back to the same idea of helping social entrepreneurs to succeed.” @ElisaBirnbaum, @SEEChangemag“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“A podcast is a different way of getting these stories out.” @ElisaBirnbaum, @SEEChangemag“]

“You want to feel relevant. You want to feel you’re making a difference.”

“Funding is incredibly difficult.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Passion is beautiful, but you need more than that.” @ElisaBirnbaum, @SEEChangemag“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“It’s not enough to have a good story.” @ElisaBirnbaum, @SEEChangemag“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Do it. Because it’s worth it.” @ElisaBirnbaum, @SEEChangemag“]

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

066, Andrew Stern, Global Development Incubator | Think Differently About Impact

Think Different. You probably remember that as an Apple motto. But Andrew Stern of Global Development Incubator (GDI) applies the think differently model to the social impact space.

It takes a different kind of thinking to apply the incubator model to nonprofits, but that’s what GDI does. You have to think differently if you want to help social enterprises go from startups to scale, but that’s what GDI does. You have to think differently about multi-stakeholder initiatives in which philanthropists, government agencies and private organizations team up take on Sustainable Development Goals. Again, that’s what GDI does.

One of the initiatives GDI launched in 2016 is Convergence. Convergence is a platform that connects and supports private, public, and philanthropic investors for blended finance deals in emerging and frontier markets.

Blended finance uses public and philanthropic funds to attract private capital, in order to achieve positive development outcomes. In other words, blended finance is:

Government money + charity funds + private money = social impact.

Convergence has an investor and deal network where investors and deals come together in a more efficient way. In this episode of Social Entrepreneur, Andrew Stern explains all of this different thinking.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Andrew Stern:

[spp-tweet tweet=”We’re trying to identify social agitators. Andrew Stern of @GlobalDevInc”]

“What is the ultimate pathway to scale of impact that will really make a difference in the world?”

[spp-tweet tweet=”Convergence is the first platform exclusively for blended finance. Andrew Stern of @GlobalDevInc“]

“The middle market or mezzanine level still has some gaps, and those gaps go beyond the financing.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”Get in the field and work on the ground. Andrew Stern of @GlobalDevInc“]

“Very few of these good ideas are getting to the scale of impact that we want to see.”

Mentoring Giveaway:

Throughout the month of April, we’re giving away 10, one-on-one mentoring calls to help you launch or grow your social enterprise. We’ll be drawing each week. To enter, go to

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

066, Andrew Stern, Global Development Incubator | Think Differently About Impact

043, Mike Vo, we2o | $62.4 B in Untapped Funds for Charitable Giving

Charitable giving seems to be stuck in a time warp. While we easily bank, shop and communicate across mobile apps, online charitable giving is not always the best user experience. This poor user experience came to the attention of Tesla Motor’s Director of Quality Product Engineering, Mike Vo.

Something else came to Mike’s notice. After 5 years of working 90+ hours per week with almost every day of the year, his accrued personal time off, or vacation time, was about to be forfeited. Mike wondered how common this problem was, and if he could do something with those unused vacation hours.

In the US alone, every year there is $52.4 Billion in accrued, unused vacation time. That’s a lot of value that can be put to use. Also, every year, US companies set aside $10 billion in matching funds that go unused.

So, these three factors: a poor user experience with many charity web sites, $52.4 billion in untapped wealth and another $10 billion in matching funds seemed like a compelling business case to Mike Vo. Today, Mike runs we2o. We2o is the world’s first philanthropy platform to enable donation of unused vacation time. You can donate unused vacation time to your favorite causes.

Charitable Giving Quotes from Mike Vo:

“At the end of the day, what we want to do is two things. One, we want to find new, worthwhile, compelling buckets of money to funnel to charities that do amazing work. And two, we want to bring technology to the game to propel and improve the user experience.”

“I did a bit more research and what I realized is that every year, there is $52.4 billion dollars in unused vacation time.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”Online charitable giving is still stuck below 10%.”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”Giving in the US has been stuck at 2% GDP since the ‘70s.”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”Every year, people in the US give about $300 billion…But we have almost 1.5 million charities.”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”US corporations set aside $10 billion in matching funds every year that go unused.”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”Every 30 seconds a child dies from a lack of nutrition.”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”Every 60 seconds a child dies from a lack of access to clean water.”]

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Fair Anita Quote Giveaway Announcement!

Remember that we’re still giving away a pair of earrings from Fair Anita. The giveaway ends February 15, 2016. Click here for details.

043, Mike Vo, we2o | $62.4 B in Untapped Funds for Charitable Giving

018, Tom Dawkins, StartSomeGood | Building Platforms of Social Good

Special Announcement for this week:

Because of all of the people who have subscribed, rated and reviewed Social Entrepreneur, we are trending in the iTunes store. We are New & Noteworthy in the following categories:

  • Business Podcasts: #10
  • Career Podcasts: #6
  • Marketing & Management Podcasts: #5
  • Government & Organization Podcasts: #1

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who have subscribed, rated and reviewed Social Entrepreneur.

As a thank you gift, I’d like to send you a special report, 5 Key Traits of Successful Social Entrepreneurs. To receive the report, you can text the word SOCENT to 44222. This only works if you are in the US or Canada. If you’re outside the US and Canada, you can still receive the report by going to

Today’s Episode:

At age 16, Tom Dawkins was not fitting in. He attended an academically selective high school and was not performing well when compared to his peers. He scored 179 out of 180 students in math. He was being bullied at school and he was arguing with his parents.

One day when he had been sent into the hallway for talking in class, he noticed a mud-stained brochure on the floor. Out of sheer boredom, he reached down and picked it up. The brochure was for a student exchange program to America. He ended up going to Spokane, Washington.

While in the US, he was invited to attend an event called “State of the Union of the World.” This meeting was post cold-war. Guests included Ronald Regan, Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, seven Nobel Peace Prize winners, environmental leaders, authors and business leaders.

This meeting inspired Tom to set up a chapter of Junior State America in his high school in Spokane. When he returned to Australia, he realized that there was no equivalent organization, and so he and his younger sister set one up called Future Leaders of Australia. They set up events and brought in speakers. They created an equivalent organization in college.

After a while, Tom began to realize that event-driven organizations had limits, but media-driven events had fewer limits. In 2000, he launched Vibewire, a youth-led not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating opportunities for younger Australians to express themselves creatively and politically.

By 2008, Tom traveled to the US where he became the first social media director for Ashoka. It was at Ashoka that he learned about crowdfunding for social good. This led, eventually, to the establishment of StartSomeGood.

StartSomeGood is the global crowdfunding platform for social entrepreneurs, nonprofits, changemakers and social good projects. When a project appears on StartSomeGood, it is surrounded by project from likeminded social innovators. Funders who visit StartSomeGood are likely looking for social impact projects to fund.

StartSomeGood has some innovative approaches such as their “tipping point,” which allows projects to select two goals. They also have a process called CrowdMatch which allows foundations, governments and corporations to shift their grant giving and CSR initiatives into a match format.

StartSomeGood pairs each project with a customer support person, providing a high level of personal touch.

What are the results? 53% of the projects on StartSomeGood reach their goal, compared with 39% on Kickstarter and 9% on Indiegogo.


018, Tom Dawkins, StartSomeGood | Building Platforms of Social Good