Global Philanthropy At A Crossroads: A Talk With Charles Waigi

 International, Social Value  Comments Off on Global Philanthropy At A Crossroads: A Talk With Charles Waigi
Sep 202012

by Guillermo Olivos, Assistant Director of Programming & Social Entrepreneurship, CSVC

I had the pleasure of joining about 60 of my peers this past Tuesday to see Charles Waigi speak to us about global philanthropy. Mr. Waigi stopped in to the Smith School as part of a month long tour in the USA, and was co-hosted by the Center for Financial Policy, the Center for International Business Education and Research, and the CSVC. He is eventually to receive the Williams College Bicentennial Medal for humanitarian recognition and alumni achievement from his own alma mater.

Yours truly, closing my eyes as photogenically as possible. To my left, M&O CSVC Faculty Committee Representative Prof. Paulo Prochno. In the row in front of me from left to right: Chris Olson (Global Programs,) Valerie Lubrano (MBA/MPP ’13,) and Martha West (MBA ’12.)

For a talk on a topic as broad as global philanthropy, I felt in understandably good company not knowing which direction Mr. Waigi’s lecture might take. Mr. Waigi took the reins admirably, taking a personal route and sharing with us how the philanthropic efforts of others enabled his own journey and early education. At a young age he won an award through a New York Herald Tribune grant to visit the U.S. based on an essay he wrote. In his college years, a number of scholarships supported his studies at Williams.

Mr. Waigi then went into a summary of his own work in education philanthropy and the building of Asante Africa Foundation, an education access organization working in Kenya and Tanzania. The mantra of Asante, as articulated in its brochure, can be summed up in a quote from Waigi himself: “Enriched minds will collectively find solutions to all other problems. No matter what poverty, illness, violence, or other problems people face, the only long-term solution is quality education.” The path forward, Waigi emphasized to the group, is two-pronged. First, a sort of “global village” of minds connected through social media and technology to co-exist and function collectively in these efforts. Second, a more investment-minded approach to philanthropy dollars and people-development is necessary for more expeditious progress in education equality- an approach that requires due diligence and follow through on monitoring the dollars you invest.

I found it fascinating that the Q&A quickly turned to metrics and measuring progress. In education, Mr. Waigi emphasized, it can be very difficult to find that “yardstick”. Personally, I can tell you that working within the Center for Social Value Creation we struggle with the same questions of how to measure impact and how to define success in our work. I am a fan of accountability and reporting measurable progress and action, but this challenge will always be present in progress beyond profit.

Without a universally agreed upon measure of progress, I believe the next best path forward (or perhaps the first) is to start from the bottom up with defining that yardstick. In the work of Asante Waigi spoke of his pride in the localized leadership model; I couldn’t agree more. Successful  initiatives born out of the roots of community tend to better integrate the cultural facets of strategic implementation that externally born engagements can miss. I truly enjoyed hearing Mr. Waigi speak and look forward to see what he and Asante do going forward into the future.

#SES12 Reflections (7 of 8): The Evolution of CSR and Smarter Cities

 Social Enterprise Symposium  Comments Off on #SES12 Reflections (7 of 8): The Evolution of CSR and Smarter Cities
Sep 172012

by Fenglin (Flynn) Yan (MBA ’13)

Note: Each of the participants in the Spring 2012 SVC Smith Experience was asked to blog about a session that piqued their interest at this year’s Social Enterprise Symposium.

Before 2000, corporate social responsibility was basically equal to corporate philanthropy.  Corporations fulfilled their social commitment through donation to some non-government organizations. But in the 21st century, corporations can contribute to the social welfare in a more direct way. Nowadays, corporate social responsibility has become an important part of a firm’s business model.

Smarter Cities (taken from

The keynote speaker Mr. Stan Litow from IBM gave a great lecture on the corporate social responsibility for a Fortune 500 company. The goal of a business is certainly to pursue profitability. Corporate social responsibility events seem to waste a firm’s limited capital, but in fact, they usually bring more opportunities to the firm. I was particular impressed by two examples.

IBM sent out 500 students each year to different cities across the world to help local governments solve business or technical challenges. IBM has been spent over 300 million dollars on this program, but did not get any revenue from it. However, I believe that IBM gained a lot of new opportunities. First, those projects can serve as successful demos and attract cities which have similar problems to purchase IBM’s services. Second, those projects can help IBM build a great relationship with local governments, which will facilitate IBM’s business growth in those cities. This corporate citizenship initiative will benefit IBM from both profitability side and social responsibility side. This reminds me another example. Google recently selected Kansas City, MO to offer its Continue reading »

#SES12 Reflections (Part 6 of 8): Hands On In The Carbon War Room

 Social Enterprise Symposium  Comments Off on #SES12 Reflections (Part 6 of 8): Hands On In The Carbon War Room
Sep 052012

by Jacqui Cleaver (MBA ’13)

Note: Each of the participants in the Spring 2012 SVC Smith Experience was asked to blog about a session that piqued their interest at this year’s Social Enterprise Symposium.

“Climate change is one of the greatest wealth
generating opportunities of our generation.”

Sir Richard Branson, Founder, Carbon War Room

What initially drew me to the Carbon War Room Workshop session at the Social Enterprise Symposium was the promise of a hands-on business innovation exercise.  While I greatly appreciated the short lectures and animated panel discussion provided during other sessions that I attended at the Symposium, I learned lessons from the Carbon War Room session that I will be able to apply both inside and outside of the classroom.


The Carbon War Room, founded by Sir Richard Branson, sets out to solve climate change through the use of market driven business models.  According to the Carbon War Room, 50% of emissions can be profitably reduced, without policy changes, through the use of existing technologies.  Barriers such as transaction costs and lack of information exist in each industry and prevent the uptake of relevant technologies for carbon emission reduction.

While the Carbon War Room currently operates within the context of a few industries including shipping, renewable jet fuels, green capital, and Brazilian livestock, they have identified 7 sectors and 15 sub-sectors that have potential “Gigaton-Scale” solutions, in other words the potential for large carbon emissions savings.

The Carbon War Room begins their work by analyzing an industry to determine what barriers exist that keep capital from being invested in sustainable high return solutions to climate change.  The next step involves identifying which solutions and technologies to target and how to deploy these technologies so as to overcome the barriers that exist that prevent their uptake and scale up in a particular sector.  An important aspect of this final step is business innovation mapping, a process in which the traditional business model is drawn up, re-drawn, mixed up and re-thought in order to create new ways of offering a particular technology, product or service so that market barriers are overcome and technologies that help solve climate change while generating wealth, are adopted.

This business innovation mapping was the basis for the hands-on aspect of the Symposium session.  In order to practice innovation mapping we were introduced to Momentum Dynamics, a start-up clean technology company that has developed a mechanism to wirelessly recharge electrically powered vehicles.  In order to structure our ideas and have a visual of a potential business model for Momentum Dynamics, we used the Business Model Canvas, which facilitates the design and innovation process of building a business model.  Once we understood the intuition behind the business innovation process as well as the opportunities and challenges faced by Momentum Dynamics, we broke into small groups to develop new insights and innovative ideas for Momentum Dynamics’ business model.

The lessons that I learned during this session, including the actual process of business innovation and the use of the Business Model Canvas, are directly applicable to my WRI: New Ventures India Social Venture Consulting project.  The objective of the WRI: New Venture project is to evaluate innovative technologies and business models that could be adopted by entrepreneurs in India to both create a profitable business opportunity as well as address the challenge of providing clean drinking water to communities in India.

I think the most valuable take away for me was the importance of identifying barriers to the uptake and scale up of existing, potentially profitable, sustainable technologies.  This seems intuitive but I think it is a step that many people undervalue in terms of importance.  In the WRI project we are tackling our study a bit differently and to some extent it seems as though we are working backwards in terms of the steps delineated by the Carbon Warm Room.  They find barriers first and then look at technologies and business innovation.  That being said the objective of our project is a scoping study so I’m not suggesting a change in what we are doing as our research can easily lead to implementation.  An analysis of the water industries barriers to sustainable technology uptake could be an interesting continuation of the project if New Ventures India has not already done so.