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5 Foundations Supporting Social Good Entrepreneurship

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The Commerce With a Conscience Series is supported by Fedex. FedEx does more than shipping. They offer solutions like transporting heart valves to those in need and helping entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life. See how.

hands-social-good-360.jpgSocial entrepreneurs create ventures that further societal goals — these enterprising innovators are increasingly guided by foundations eager to help achieve social change.

While social good has existed in the offline world for quite a while, through the likes of food drives and charitable causes, for example, online social good has only begun to take off.

We’ve pinpointed five foundations that are supporting digital social entrepreneurship. If you’ve heard of others, share them in the comments below.

1. Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship


The Schwab Foundation supports KickStart, which helps impoverished individuals build sustainable businesses.

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship was founded in 1998 by Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum, and his wife, Hilde. The foundation’s mission is to “provide unparalleled platforms at the regional and global level to highlight and advance leading models of sustainable social innovation.”

The Schwab Foundation selects a small group of social entrepreneurs each year to highlight at national celebrations and during key sessions at World Economic Forum events.

The foundation has honored twenty entrepreneurs in the technology sector. One such organization is KickStart, a hybrid non-profit that develops and promotes technologies that can be used by entrepreneurs in Africa to establish and run profitable small-scale enterprises.

2. Skoll Foundation


The Skoll Foundation is a supporter of microfinancing institution Kiva.

The Skoll Foundation was brought to life in 1999 when philanthropist and social entrepreneur Jeff Skoll decided to “pursue his vision of a sustainable world of peace and prosperity.”

The foundation’s mission is to “to drive large scale change by investing in, connecting and celebrating social entrepreneurs and the innovators who help them solve the world’s most pressing problems.”

Without doubt, the foundation has already reached great heights, supporting the likes of microfinancing giant Kiva and Water.org, a non-profit organization co-founded by Matt Damon and Gary White that has provided access to clean water and sanitation across Africa, South Asia, and Central America. Both platforms, as well as a number of other ventures supported by the Skoll Foundation, operate largely online.

3. Ashoka

An introduction to Ashoka

“Ashoka: Innovators for the Public” was founded by Bill Drayton in 1980 to identify and support leading social entrepreneurs. The foundation operates in more than 60 countries and supports the work of more than 2,000 carefully selected Fellows.

Of those fellows, a small subset work in the technology sector, and an even smaller group of the technology fellows work with Internet-specific projects. One such project is Alisbagis.com.tr, which enables Internet shoppers in Turkey to donate a small portion of their shopping bills from sites like Amazon and Pandora to social causes of their choosing.

4. Omidyar Network

The Omidyar Network supports DonorsChoose.org.

Omidyar Network is “a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives.”

The firm makes a number of investments in the “consumer Internet and mobile” sector in order to “enhance individuals’ quality of life by enabling them to connect with others, make more informed decisions, access products and services efficiently, and take action on what matters to them.”

The firm’s investments include the likes of Creative Commons, CouchSurfing, Digg, DonorsChoose.org, Meetup and Wikimedia Foundation.

5. Echoing Green

One of Echoing Green’s recent fellows is the founder of Video Volunteers.

Echoing Green identifies, funds and supports emerging social entrepreneurs. Founded in 1987, the foundation focuses on “very early stage support of new and untested ideas in the hands of visionary social entrepreneurs.”

To date, Echoing Green has invested nearly $30 million in seed grants to 500 social entrepreneurs, and its fellow’s projects span 42 countries.

One of the most innovative Internet-focused Echoing Green fellows as of late is Jessica Mayberry, founder of Video Volunteers, an international media organization that teaches “marginalized communities” how to produce news segments to celebrate culture, bring awareness to grassroots movements and bring about solutions to the society’s problems. In essence, the organization aims to empower the world’s poorest citizens to speak up and lead change.

Your Thoughts

These five organizations are just the tip of the iceberg — do you know of another foundation that is supporting digital social entrepreneurship? If so, let us know about it in the comments below.

Series supported by Fedex


The Commerce With a Conscience Series is supported by Fedex. FedEx does more than shipping. They offer solutions like transporting heart valves to those in need and helping entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life. See how.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, jaminwell

More About: Commerce With a Conscience Series, entrepreneurship, features, mashable

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