Enterprise Community Partners, has invested $9 billion in equity capital, pre-development lending, mortgage financing, and development grants to house low- and moderate-income Americans. It also helped create the low-income-housing tax credit that for 25 years has provided a way for the business world to address the need for affordable housing while still making a profit. That credit has accounted for some 90% of the affordable rental housing in the U.S. Now it is taking on the credit crunch with innovative financing and a green-building initiative.

Learn more

The typical not-for-profit sends its donors a thank-you note and a glossy annual report with pretty pictures. New York-based Do Something wanted to create donors who did something more. In other sectors, such people are shareholders, so the organization held an IPO. Investors will not get any financial return but will have quarterly calls, shareholder meetings with the board, and "a level of transparency that's all new," says CEO Nancy Lublin. Shares cost $100,000 each, and Lublin expects to raise $2 million by the end of 2008.

Learn more

In Indonesia, microfinance is a crowded, fractured field: More than 50,000 microfinance institutions (MFIs) operate there. The Oregon-based antipoverty group Mercy Corps bought a struggling Balinese bank and reopened it as a wholesale outfit exclusively serving MFIs. The mission of this "bank of banks" is to cut MFIs' costs and inefficiencies. "We wanted real impact," says CEO Neal Keny-Guyer, who argues that microfinance needs such evolutionary leaps to become a sustainable industry.

Learn more

If you applied the medical-residency model to urban schools, you'd have the AUSL's teacher-training program: mentoring, grad school, 49 weeks shadowing a veteran teacher, and four years teaching in Chicago's neediest classrooms. "Many teachers aren't prepared for an urban setting, so they drop out," says executive director Don Feinstein. "our graduates come out with real practical experience." Since 2005, the number of students meeting state benchmarks has soared 66% in schools run by AUSL.

Learn more

In the not-for-profit sector, the severe shortage of managers is estimated to grow to 640,000 by 2016. Among baby boomers, there's increasing interest in "encore careers," especially in not-for-profits. Civic Ventures wants to "help supply and demand find each other," says Marc Freedman, president of the group, which is sponsoring this program to ease the transition for retiring Silicon Valley professionals.

Learn more

Data collection in developing nations usually involves heaps of paperwork and maddening data entry. But public-health workers in 15 sub-Saharan nations are using software from the not-for-profit DataDyne to digitize and streamline the process. Cofounder Rose Donna explains: "With a question like, 'Are you male or are you female?' people were being asked if they were pregnant even if they answered male. Eliminating those problems strengthens the quality of the data."

Learn more

How do investors make smart choices without data or measuring tools? Answer: they can't. So the Acumen Fund is launching Pulse, a portfolio data management System for donors and philanthropic investors. Developed with Google engineers' pro bono support, Pulse standardizes metrics, allowing donors to compare different projects -- say, the $1 million for mosquito nets versus the $1 million for a clean-water project. The second phase of Pulse will pool data across institutions, allowing an unprecedented level of comparison.

Learn more

Ten years ago, Victoria Hale wrote a manifesto targeting five diseases in need of drug development and created the first pharmaceutical not-for-profit in the U.S. today, the Institute for OneWorld Health, is proving that its no-profit/no-loss model can work. its first drug, paromomycin -- a treatment for visceral leishmaniasis, an illness spread by sand flies that afflicts the poorest of the poor -- is months from completing its clinical trials. Up next: malaria.

Learn more

In India's rice Belt, 350 million people live without reliable electricity. But they do have lots of rice -- and rice husks discarded from harvest. So University of Virginia business students Chip Ransler and Manoj Sinha recently devised a way to turn husks into biogas. Hundreds of homes now have affordable power. And the ash from generating the gas isn't wasted: It can be used as fertilizer or as a low-cost ingredient for cement.

Learn more

Cancer-afflicted teens often have a hard time sticking to their meds. So Pam Omidyar -- a techie with a background in immunology -- came up with a spoonful of new sugar: video games. HopeLab, Omidyar's not-for-profit, has released Re-Mission, a shooter game where you destroy cancer cells. According to a paper in the journal Pediatrics, patients who played for an hour a week were more likely to follow their drug regimen.

Learn more

Fast Company

Social Enterprises of the Year

These ten organizations comprise our honor roll of 2009 Social Enterprises of the Year. Will all of these ideas work in the long run and on a grand scale? Perhaps not. But they represent the kind of innovative thinking that can transform lives and change our world.

Enterprise Community Partners, has invested $9 billion in equity capital, pre-development lending, mortgage financing, and development grants to house low- and moderate-income Americans. It also helped create the low-income-housing tax credit that for 25 years has provided a way for the business world to address the need for affordable housing while still making a profit. That credit has accounted for some 90% of the affordable rental housing in the U.S. Now it is taking on the credit crunch with innovative financing and a green-building initiative.

Learn more

Add New Comment

0 Comments