Flickr/CC/Chris Parfitt | Scented soap at East Grinstead Christmas Festival, 2010

By Pia Chatterjee


Shetland Soap Company is a subset of Cope Ltd., a longstanding social enterprise working out of the small island of Shetland, Scotland, since 1998. Cope’s business functions by employing adults with disabilities in the local community whilst offering them varying types of development workshops and activities for them to participate in society to their full potential. Shortlisted for the Best Social Enterprise award at the 2015 Highland Business Awards and part of the final 6 contenders for the Social Enterprise of the Year 2015, Scotland, Cope manages different branches such as Shetland Kitchen Co., Shetland Garden Co., Shetland Home Co. and Orkney Soap. Shetland Soap Co. is an addition to their work just like these.

The offshoot produces handcrafted soaps and other skincare products using a combination of traditional and contemporary methods. They prioritize the use of natural, environmentally friendly and sustainable ingredients to create lovely, unique fragrances aiming to evoke “the smell of the sea, the beauty of the natural environment, and the warmth of the sun”.

Now firmly established and turning over as much as 100,000 GBP, Shetland Soap has focused nearly exclusively on their growth and expansion in the last decade to accommodate the growing number of school dropouts with autism. This expansion has entailed the introduction of different lines of products targeting all kinds of audiences. As a result, you’d easily be able to dig into their men’s line, Black Ice, for body washes, soap bars, shaving soap or foam wash; or even let yourself be tempted by their baby products rich in aloe vera and organic honey to best suit sensitive skin. At the right time of year, you would also be able to give someone a thoughtful gift with their Christmas-themed lines of products – Winter Berries and The Night Before Christmas. Even better, were you to be merely looking for standard products, you would be able to choose from numerous differently-themed categories available on their website here. Your products can be shipped all over the UK and even Europe, charged according to their weight.

All of Shetland Soap’s products abide by the European Cosmetic Regulations of 2013 and none have been tested on animals. Every process – incidentally also explained in detail for all consumers to consult before any purchase – be it weighing, mixing, pouring, bottling or labelling, is performed by members of the staff by hand. Today, this company is going strong, self-sustaining and paying wages. If you’re looking to invest in something that’s always useful, makes for a fantastic gift and help members of a community with difficulties, Shetland is the place for you. Opt for clean production for a cleaner you, today!


Niranjan and Devan, photo courtesy of Myclo

By Maria Bennici

Looking for a sweet way to keep the sun out of your eyes while keeping American small businesses afloat? Check out MyClo, a for-profit social enterprise founded by Niranjan Kumar and Devan Anderson, two people brought together by a common love for entrepreneurship and fashion. The company, which focuses entirely on hats, uses an innovative microfinance model in partnership with Kiva Zip in order to provide loans to American entrepreneurs in need, while providing adjustable hats to customers with an ethical and trendy streak. I talked to Niranjan and Devan to delve into their experience and hear their story.



While an economics student at UC Berkeley, Niranjan went to Honduras to work as a microfinance consultant, returning with not only experience but the inspiration to start his own entrepreneurial venture.

“I just really wanted to pursue something that was very different and jump into entrepreneurship,” said Niranjan of his post-graduation plans. After being introduced to Devan by a mutual friend, the two of them instantly hit it off and began to plot what sort of social enterprise they could collaborate on, gradually focusing more on “high quality products that look really good but also make a significant impact in the lives of others.”

“Before we focused on American entrepreneurship and American headwear, we were all over the place. We wanted to create T-shirts, jeans, pants, shorts, sweatpants—we didn’t know really, but we knew we wanted to create an impact model,” said Niranjan of the early planning days.

Niranjan said that he had always been interested in “using fashion as the vehicle to promote microfinance.” Luckily for him, Devan already had experience with fashion, from graduating from fashion school to working as a consultant for various clothing brands. In fact, Devan had already pulled off an entrepreneurship venture of his own, specifically focused on hats, and that guided the two of them to ultimately deciding on MyClo centering around hats. But why hats?

“Hats don’t really have a gender construct to them,” said Devan when describing their decision process. “It’s a versatile piece. If we go with an adjustable hat, we open up the availability to everyone else. We need to start with that crown, with that piece that makes you proud to be who you are.”

Using their own money from savings and previous work, Niranjan and Devan launched MyClo, with the dual purposes of making hats and using the loan structure to build a community for entrepreneurs.


How it works:

With each MyClo purchase, a $10 microloan is generated for an American entrepreneur. These microloans are collected for two weeks, and at the end of the fortnight, Niranjan and Devan aggregate the loans generated by the sales and personally choose the entrepreneur benefiting from the loans through Kiva Zip. Afterwards, the entrepreneur pays MyClo back, and the returned loans make their way into the hands of a new entrepreneur.  So far, five entrepreneurs have benefited from MyClo loans, including to a store that suffered a devastating robbery and to a family-style Mexican restaurant. This model is powered through Kiva Zip, a mobile-to-mobile zero interest payment platform that works with American entrepreneurs.

As of yet, no entrepreneur has defaulted on their loan, but MyClo isn’t blind to the possibility. According to Niranjan:

“It’s the reality of the world, right? In entrepreneurship, the odds are really stacked against you. The most you can do is help an individual, create a community, surround them, and support them. We would notify our customers and let them know that the loan defaulted. I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s a failure on the customer’s part, on our part, or the entrepreneur’s part. That’s just the way entrepreneurship works. That’s the reality. So for us, when the money comes back, we were going to give the money out to someone else anyway, so it’s not like we are losing something from it.”

Photo courtesy: MyClo
Photo courtesy: MyClo

Successes and Outlooks:

Prior to the interview, MyClo had already sold out of the maroon line of hats, but this isn’t the only marker of success to the founders.

“So far, success has been that positive reception from entrepreneurs because at the end of the day, they’re the ones that we really want to help and they’re the ones that matter to us most,” said Devan.

Of course, the road to a successful enterprise hardly runs smooth, from the many iterations that a business model can go through to building an online presence.

“We’re e-commerce only, and as an e-commerce company, your biggest obstacle is going to be how you get your company’s face in front of a customer and how you get a conversion. That’s the biggest problem, for most e-commerce companies–finding that space and creating a customer dialogue early on and online,” said Niranjan, adding that Instagram, Facebook ads, and Mailchimp have been instrumental to their success so far.


Next steps:

Not many social enterprises focusing on microfinance for Americans are currently operating in the United States, which makes MyClo a fascinating company to watch, especially considering their long-term ambitions.

“We’d love to see our dreams of community realized,” said Devan. “We’d love to be really impacting and fulfilling entire loans, multiple loans, for entrepreneurs. So something goes up on Kiva and we can just fulfill it. ‘I need 10 grand for my new oven, I make pizzas.’ ‘Okay cool, here’s your oven.’ That would be”—

“The dream.” Niranjan interjected. 

Photo courtesy: Myclo
Photo courtesy: Myclo

With that kind of entrepreneurial spirit (and enthusiasm for Mexican restaurants and pizza ovens), hats off to Niranjan and Devan! Check out their hats here, and keep an eye out for them at various pop-up events in the Bay Area.


Flickr/CC/European Commission DG ECHO

By Minji Hong


Through time, the Middle East and North Africa region has come to be recognized as the epicenter of instability, where civil conflict is rife, often claiming the innocent lives of many. Media coverage has definitely contributed to the public’s rising awareness over the last few decades across the globe, from the prolonged Arab-Israeli conflict to the Arab Spring in 2010, to highlight a couple. However, what many fail to witness are the positive actions being taken to try to bring about change and restore hope and peace in the region by uniting people. Let’s discover how sports can act as social ventures and as a tool to facilitate the rebuilding of these 3 conflict-stricken countries in the region!



With the Israeli occupation and the scramble for complete independence, Palestinians have been constantly living under the fear of their lives being endangered. This is where sports come in and help regenerate hope among the people. For the youth, Parkour, or freerunning, has become a popular sport to exercise the freedom of movement, roaming around the streets of Jerusalem for instance, as a way to escape their reality under Israeli occupation led by Sami, founder of Palestine’s very first Parkour team in 2008. Another recent hobby of Palestinians is rock climbing. Wadi Climbing is a social venture led by two American rock climbing enthusiasts Tim and Will with the goals to provide an opportunity to discover and explore the beautiful landscape of rural Palestine has to offer through this unique healthy recreational activity that promotes fitness and facilitates interaction between Palestinians. The club has already introduced the sport to about 500 new climbers, and is currently working towards establishing an indoor gym. Last but not least, in March 2015, the Palestine Marathon held its third annual run in Bethlehem with over 3000 runners, most of which are locals. This marathon grabs unique global attention for not only having the highest participation of female runners but also with its unique mission to “take ownership of Article 13 of UN’s Charter of Human Rights: the right to movement,”  when most of Palestine is under restrictive Israeli authority control. The marathon truly succeeds in congregating a mass as a symbol for unity and peace.

Flickr/CC/Fabio Aro
Flickr/CC/Fabio Aro


A country with a prolonged history of extreme divisions within not only the political sphere but among the general public into multiple religious and ideological factions, Lebanon continues to be subject to a succession of upheavals with the recent Syrian conflict increasing border tensions. In the midst of this precarious realities of the country, one woman took charge to found the Beirut Marathon Association, as a powerful means to reconfigure the dynamics among the highly polarized Lebanese population by encouraging unity and solidarity through sports. Since its first run in 2003, the organization is one of the largest of its kind in the region, by expanding to hosting an annual Women’s Race and a youth race, in addition to the annual Banque du Liban international Beirut Marathon that congregates runners from all four corners of the world. Its success was recognized by multiple platforms, such as the “Power of Sports” awarded by the international Sports press Association in 2010, and in 2011, the prestigious “Sports for Good” awarded by Laureus, a prominent organization with the aim to “harness the power of sport to promote social change.”

Flickr/CC/Control Arms
Flickr/CC/Control Arms



Following the Arab Spring in 2011, which overthrew the country’s authoritarian ruler Muammar Gaddafi’s 42 years of reign that ensued from a region-wide uprising and civil war, Libya has been struggling to restore stability. It has recently been torn apart between the Islamist and secular military powers, two opposing factions that are competing for political control. Meanwhile, sports are assuming an essential role in transforming the distraught community by recovering the active sports scene that Gaddafi’s rule had strictly prohibited, ultimately instilling high hopes for the future and peace of the country. Under Gaddafi’s oppressive rule, boxing was a sport that was considered to be barbaric and subsequently banned for more than 3 decades. However, since Gaddafi’s fall in 2011, the sport has revived, already starting to regain its success in various regional and international competitions. Despite the many obstacles the sport is facing, including the complete lack of financial support, many boxing clubs, one of the most successful ones being Ittihad Boxing Club, are determined to recover Libya’s global reputation and restore its pride in the sport. Along the Libyan coastlines, a new wind is blowing – literally. Jalal El-Walid’s kitesurfing shop, Wind Friends, which also offers lessons, has generated a new community of kite-surfing enthusiasts composed of local women as well, who surf with hijabs on, defying the prejudice against sexism. His efforts are changing the recreational scene of the Libyan youth as well, encouraging them to drop their guns and invest their energy and enthusiasm in learning a sport instead. He strives to realize his goal to make Libya as one of the most popular kitesurfing destinations.

Flickr/CC/bert knottenbeld
Flickr/CC/bert knottenbeld

Flickr/CC/Freedom House

By Maria Bennici 

The Syrian Civil War has stretched for more than four and a half years with no end in sight, and one of the unfortunate consequences of this war has been the displacement of more than 7.6 million Syrians. More than 4 million Syrians are refugees in neighboring countries, and an increasing number are now heading to Europe, often through means as dangerous as they are desperate, in order to find sanctuary. With the death of Aylan Kurdi, the little Syrian boy who drowned as his family tried to reach Greece, more attention has been brought to the refugee crisis, with pleas for help from governments and people around the world.

Eager to help refugees but don’t have the money, time, or expertise to help in the field? Check out these ways to support refugees without even needing to own a passport.

Flickr/CC/EU Commission | Domiz refugee camp, northern Iraq
Flickr/CC/EU Commission | Domiz refugee camp, northern Iraq
  1.       Volunteer in Your Community: Research small grassroots NGOs and nonprofitsnon-profits in your area to see if they offer help to refugees. For instance, the International Rescue Committee operates in 22 cities throughout the United States.
  1.       Donate money: Cash donations are an efficient way to give to organizations that are able to work immediately with refugees. With cash, the organizations are able to allocate the money to the greatest needs, plus cash doesn’t come with shipping and handling fees. You can donate to large organizations like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees or with smaller organizations with a more specific focus that appeals to you personally. UNHCR also has partnerships with a variety of organizations, including IKEA and UNIQLO so you can support refugees through shopping with these partners. If your company or organization is also interested in supporting refugees, plenty of refugee NGOs form private-sector partnerships as well.
Flickr/CC/Freedom House | Syrian boys 2012
Flickr/CC/Freedom House | Syrian boys 2012
  1.       Educate yourself: The Syrian refugee crisis is a complex and nuanced situation, with plenty of challenges to understand, including the difference between “refugee” and “migrant,” government obligations to provide asylum and why Syrians can’t just “go back home.” Read this article, which describes how the situation has gotten out of hand, watch this Last Week Tonight with John Oliver episode, and explore this section of Human Rights Watch.  
  1.       Speak out: Unfortunately, the lives of refugees are not magically fixed once they reach sanctuary; often, they are faced with truly staggering amounts of xenophobia and racism. With the new knowledge you’ll have gained through step three, speak out for refugees when you hear ignorant, bigoted comments being made about them.
  1.       Donate items with care: Many people are moved to donate items they no longer need to those in need. While this generosity is admirable, sometimes donating items can be detrimental to the rebuilding process (this editorial, published after the Nepal earthquake in April 2014, explains more). If you absolutely must donate items, research organizations in your area and find out what items they actually need in order to avoid inundating their space and ability to organize.


Bonus: Refugees Welcome, an AirBNB-like website that allows Germans and Austrians to open their homes to refugees, is currently in the process of opening in other countries. Get involved here!


Flickr/CC/Bev Sykes

By Maria Bennici

As the leaves begin to crunch on the sidewalk and buses start to rumble up the street, it’s clear to see that the back-to-school season is upon us. Whether you’re a student or a teacher, or even if you’ve been out of school for ages, the change of the season provides excellent opportunities to be more involved in your community and to find new sustainable ways to learn and live.





Volunteer: Looking for ways to spend time with cute animals, improve your home improvement skills, or simply meet new people? Check out local organizations, including SPCA, Habitat for Humanity, and nursing homes, and ask them about volunteering and any possible training programs associated with them. Remember to choose something that you would be well-equipped to help with in terms of your own skills and availability! As a teacher, see if you can reach out to local businesses, such as restaurants or stores, to see if they would be willing to offer incentives for students who volunteer a certain number of hours (similar to the Book It! program with Pizza Hut during my own elementary school years).

Extracurricular time: Find an activity to either join or lead this year. This is a great way to meet new people and to spend time doing something that really interests you (and also bolsters your own skill sets). If you haven’t found an activity that you enjoy it, think about creating your own, such as a social entrepreneurship club, a Jane Austen appreciation club, or a foreign film club that combines the movie with its culture. You might be surprised by how many other people share your passion as well.

Skype in the Classroom: Interested in other cultures but lacking in funds to launch a full overseas experience? You can use Skype in the Classroom to communicate with other classes around the world, or even other classes within your own country. This allows students to meet their peers with radically different life experiences or to even meet special guest speakers. If using technology to interact with outside groups, be sure to check school protocol and to also design the curriculum in a way that makes this activity as personal as possible for students. Allow them the chance to write questions and guide the conversation before initiating the call.

If using bandwidth at your school is a problem or there are too many time zones to make live calls feasible, consider using Twitter, blogging, or video-logging as a way to communicate. Odds are, students are already using and enjoying this type of technology. Check out more international school partnering tips here!

Giving back: When you’ve got down time, consider heading over to websites like Free Rice, Free Kibble, and Answer 4 Earth, which are trivia websites that allow you and students to learn while also donating grains of rice, food to animals, or money towards organizations that will plant trees. You could also host a trivia tournament in which money raised will be donated towards a cause supported by the participants. No need for the trivia tournament to be limited to only Jeopardy!-style categories—feel free to structure it around things that would interest many students, from questions on Taylor Swift’s discography to the latest dystopian releases.

Flickr/CC/Peter Casier for the WFP
Flickr/CC/Peter Casier for the WFP

Current events: Standing in the front of the class while reading a paragraph about current events can be excruciatingly boring, especially for a significant duration of the class. Instead, encourage students to research current affairs and to then do an art project on the larger trend around an event that particularly interests them. Art projects need not be limited to paintings and collages—Tumblr, gif-sets, and Buzzfeed-style videos could also work as well.




Backpacks: There are loads of high-quality, eco-friendly backpacks on the market, but if you’re looking to actively give back as well, check out Just Porter, a company that donates backpacks full of school supplies to communities in need while also manufacturing the bags and buying the supplies locally. The company definitely gets a pat on the back for considering how to integrate with the community and not flooding the market with free handouts, thus putting local owners out of business. Learn more about Just Porter with this recent Business Insider article!

Charitable apps: Regardless of whether or not you’re sitting in a classroom, nearly everyone, students and teachers alike, are on their smartphones a lot. Harness your phone to help others by finding apps that give back! Charity Miles is an app that’s great for people on the cross-country team or who like to bike and run for fun—for every mile ran, a biker earns 10 cents and a walker or runner earns 25 cents. For those who are addicted to sharing photos, whether on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, you can use Donate a Photo in conjunction, which will donate $1 per day to a charity of your choice when you post a photo on the app.

Clothes: Back-to-school shopping often revolves around buying new clothes, but you can definitely refresh your wardrobe without spending a ton of money. Head to the thrift shop if you’re in the mood for vintage supplies, or go to Plato’s Closet or Buffalo Exchange, which are lightly used clothing stores, if you’re looking for more current trends.

Flickr/CC/Thomas Hawk
Flickr/CC/Thomas Hawk

Lunchboxes: Bringing your own lunch for home, while requiring more work than buying it at school or at a restaurant nearby, is usually healthier and more economical in the long run; however, it does mean that you may end up using a ton of plastic bags and throwing away lots of pre-packaging. Consider using reusable containers for bringing lunch to school or work, and even napkins, provided you use fabric ones, can be reusable. Feel free to think outside the box in terms of containers, from using old army surplus containers to tiffins (often used in India for meals). Check this site for more ideas.


Flickr/CC/Håkan Dahlström

How these two sport-based social enterprises are making a difference

By Zarreen Kamalie

Adrenaline rushing, heartbeat drumming and a growing sense of accomplishment and teamwork – sport can mean so much more to someone than this alone. For some people, sport is a gateway away from their day-to-day struggles in poverty or violence. It becomes a means to gain agency, support and hope.

This is what these two sport-based social enterprises aim to instill.

Alive and Kicking and Hoops 4 Hope are successful sport-based social enterprises that are making significant improvements in the community, and the lives of many.

Alive and Kicking is based in three countries across Sub-Saharan Africa; Zambia, Kenya and Ghana. Alive and Kicking (A&K) is a great example of how social enterprises can address an array of issues, while using a fun and exciting approach. A&K produces hand-stitched soccer balls in areas of high unemployment in Africa.

According to their website, the production of A&K soccer balls employs 140 or more people in Nairobi, Lusaka and Accra, most of whom have never been in formal employment before.

It gets even better. A&K’s soccer balls are made from resilient locally manufactured leather that has proven to be twice as resistant to damage and puncture than the usual synthetic kind. Once produced, the balls have each have individual screen-printed messages imprinted by hand. These messages are used as part of educational health tools, bearing messages such as “Malaria Kills” and “Play Safe. Prevent HIV/AIDS”.

Alive and Kicking has produced over 700,000 sports balls since 2004, and you can believe that each and every ball has brought happiness to someone special.

As for schools and community projects that are unable to afford the balls, over 120,000 have been donated to them.

A&K also operates a range of other innovative health and social inclusion projects. These include; football for the visually impaired, staff health workshops and entrepreneurship schemes.

For those who prefer basketball to soccer, there’s Hoops 4 Hope. Hoops 4 Hope (H4H) is a global not-for-profit organization, set up in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Hoops 4 Hope supports youth development throughout southern Africa, by providing more than 10,000 boys and girl every year with high quality organized Basketball and Soccer Programs, and Skills 4 Life for free. Skills 4 life is a 5 module curriculum that focuses on shaping students’ confidence, decision-making, and how they interact with each other and those around them.

By partnering with more than 150 schools, children’s shelters, and community groups in Zimbabwe and South Africa, the aim is to encourage more children to get off the streets and participate. Children at primary school are coached by role models from their own communities in their own language and are taught valuable life skills by trained MVP coaches through basketball.

Through initiatives such as Hoops 4 Hope, and Alive and Kicking, these children manage to find a support system through the joy of sport. Sport becomes a mechanism opportunity, and in turn, social and personal change. What you hopefully end up with, are a bunch of productive adults, engaged in healthy lifestyles, ready to face whatever life has to throw at them.

If you would like to get involved with either one of these enterprises, check out their websites, Alive and Kicking and Hoops 4 Hope. Donate, volunteer, spread the word… every little bit goes a long way.


Flick/CC/Dennis Jarvis

By Beatrice Loh

Responsible tourism is about making better places for people to live, and better places for people to visit – in that order. It aims to minimize negative economic, environmental and social impacts whilst generating greater economic benefits for local people, enhancing the wellbeing of host communities and improving working conditions and access to the industry. Most importantly, it aims to involve local people in decisions that affect their lives. Responsible tourism is culturally sensitive and engenders respect between tourists and hosts.

Tourism in a country that has a recent history of trauma plays an important role in rebuilding society – where and how one spends his or her tourist dollars becomes pertinent. The millions of innocent Cambodian lives lost in the late 1970s in the Killing Fields under the Khmer Rouge regime are one part of the troubled past that Cambodia is still struggling to let go of. Despite the luxury skyscrapers and gleaming skyscrapers, the country is still very much tainted by its history. Disabled beggars wander the streets and children can be seen working at construction sites. In the countryside, millions more scratch out a meager living at the mercy of the temperamental weather and fluctuating crop prices.

The tourism sector does not ignore this dark side of Cambodian society – in fact, disadvantaged locals are often exploited for industry. Orphanages are used to rack up tourist dollars. In some places, children at these orphanages are mere actors to appeal to the sympathy of tourists so they can receive large donations. As such, responsible tourism has become increasingly important to Cambodia. Although the tourism sector is growing, measures must be taken to ensure that profits are directed back to the local community so that standards of living will improve.

Here is a list of 5 companies that are leading the charge on responsible tourism in Cambodia:

  1.    Sister Srey Cafe

Sister Srey Café is one of ConCERT’s (Connecting Communities, Environment & Responsible Tourism) information centers. ConCERT is a not-for-profit social enterprise based in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Its mission is to turn people’s good intentions into the best possible help for the most vulnerable people in Cambodia. The vision at Sister Srey Café is to support young Khmer students who struggle to keep a balance between studying and supporting their family. The café helps by offering these students a flexible roster, fair pay and continuous training. The café also supports other initiatives in different fields – it serves “Three Corners” coffee roast, another social enterprise in Cambodia, and also houses a boutique shops that sells a mixture of vintage clothes, retro jewelry and spa products as well as handmade items from local NGOs. It supports local businessmen and farmers by buying local produce as much as possible. The café attracts tourists by marketing itself as a one-stop information to find out all about Cambodia as well as social initiatives that they can contribute to factoring in their limited time in the country.

Sister Srey Café

Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 7am – 7pm
Telephone: +855 97 723 8001
Address: Pokambor Ave, Krong Siem Reap

  1.   Artisans d’Angkor

Artisans d’Angkor is a Cambodian company originally created to help young rural people find work near their home village. As an offshoot of the educational project Chantiers-Ecoles de Formation Professionnelle, aiming to provide professional skills to communities with limited educational opportunities, Artisans Angkor has maintained its commitment to education by developing its own training program. Since its inception in the late 1990s, Artisans Angkor has strived to offer good working conditions and social advantages to its employees. It has now opened 42 workshops in Siem Reap province and provides employment to over 1300 people. Over the years, Artisans Angkor has become a real showcase of Khmer workmanship for its silk fabrics and garments, stone and wood carving, lacquer ware, polychrome products, silver plating and silk painting. The company has revived the traditional Khmer arts and crafts tradition and its workshop has become a stop for tour groups visiting the area.

Artisans d’Angkor

Open daily from 7.30am – 5.30pm
Telephone: +855 63 963 330
Address: Stung Thmey Street, Siem Reap downtown

  1.   Seeing Hands Massage Center

Seeing Hands Massage Center provides massage done by blind masseurs. Shiatsu massage, anma massage and traditional foot massage are available. The center provides one of the best value-for money massages in Cambodia and gives blind people the opportunity to make an independent living. Many of the masseurs have earned diplomas and certificates in massage from overseas institutes in Japan and Singapore. Seeing Hands Massage Center creates employment for members of Cambodia’s blind community. It offers them an independent sustainable income that helps them to lead a relatively normal life. The company has been a great success and there are currently several branches in Phnom Penh, as well as branches in popular tourist cities around the country.

Seeing Hands Massage Center

Telephone: +855 12 680 934
Address: 12 St 13 (Wat Phnom)

  1.   The Cambodia Landmine Museum and School

Founded by Aki Ra, a former member of the Khmer Rouge’s child army, the landmine museum showcases a tragic part of Cambodia’s history, telling the story of landmines in Cambodia and how they have impacted the country’s past, present and future. The story is told through the story of Aki Ra, who spent his youth fighting in the wars that ravaged his country for nearly 35 years. From laying landmines for the Khmer Rouge, he has since turned into someone who has defused thousands of them. The museum charges a small entry fee that goes to the Cambodian Landmine Museum Relief Facility that provides education and support for dozens of at-risk youth and landmine affected children.

The Cambodia Landmine Museum and School

Open daily from 7.30am to 5.30pm
Telephone: +855 15 674 163
Address: Angkor National Park, 7km South of Bantcay Srey Temple, Siem Reap

  1.   Friends the Restaurant

Cambodia has a string of restaurants under the TREE Alliance (Training Restaurants for Employment and Entrepreneurship) that are award winning. Each venue is a social business, training former street children and youths from marginalized or at-risk groups in the skills required to work at a restaurant. All profits from these restaurants go back into the training for youths. One of such restaurants is Friends the Restaurant, run by Mith Samlanh, an organisation that has worked to build the future of former street children and marginalized youth in Phnom Penh since 1994. Located near the National Museum, the restaurant is famous for its legendary frozen shakes, daiquiris and its delicious fusion of Asian and Western style tapas.

Friends the Restaurant

Open daily from 11am – 10.30pm
Telephone: +855 12 802 072
Address: #215 St 13, Phnom Penh, Cambodia


Flickr/CC/Sean MacEntee

Take Your Books Out 

By Zarreen Kamalie


Social entrepreneurship and social innovation can be quite tricky to work out on your own, particularly when you do not have the appropriate knowledge of how to break into the market or accumulate social networks. This is why it is often a good idea to study social entrepreneurship and/or innovation at a tertiary level institution.  

Studying social entrepreneurship allows you to not only generate the appropriate skills and understanding of the ins and outs of the social economy, but to meet others in the same position. You will be able to create and sustain networks, with a range from those in the same boat as you to those with years of experience.

As for studying social entrepreneurship in Africa, or on Africa at an institution outside of the continent, you can familiarise yourself with the social economy of this ever expansive and opportunity laced continent. Social entrepreneurship in Africa has often been cited as the key to ending poverty, with its innovative ideas and socially conscious approach. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has also praised African philosophy and the concept of “Ubuntu”, roughly translated as ‘interconnectedness” as the core of a shared goal by those driven by social entrepreneurship.  

Taking all this into consideration, you should check out these 7 university courses at these renowned institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa, and around the world geared towards programs based on or in Africa.

  1.    University of Cape Town: Graduate School of Business – South Africa

Located near Cape Town’s bustling tourist hotspot, the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, the Graduate School of Business (GSB) under the University of Cape Town is committed to transformation and equality in every aspect.

Having established the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship with the Bertha Foundation, the GSB has recognised the importance of social innovation and inclusive models of business in the health and development of South Africa’s emerging economy. The Bertha Centre is currently advertising MBA and PhD scholarship opportunities for students who are working on innovative and market-based solutions to social and environmental challenges in emerging markets, in particular in Africa.

Along with initiatives like the Raymond Ackerman Academy of Entrepreneurial Development and the Social Innovation Speaker Series, Cape Town’s GSB also has activities like the Net Impact Chapter, all of which contribute to the School’s societal relevance. Social innovation is also a prominent theme in the Lean Institute Africa.

The Lean Institute focuses mostly on the development of products, processes, initiatives, or organizations that: create social value through both means and ends, and reconfigure institutionalized rules, values, beliefs, or relational patterns.

With emerging economies as especially fertile places to explore these themes, due to their complexity, uncertainty, and inequality, emerging economies are often at the forefront of incubating practices that challenge current social paradigms.

For more information, and to apply, click here.

  1. University of Pretoria: Gordon Institute of Business Science – South Africa

Deeply embedded near Africa’s financial and commercial hub, Johannesburg, the Gordon Institute of Business Science is the business school of the University of Pretoria. Among this lively setting, you will experience all that the continent has to offer and where your place is in it.

The Social Entrepreneurship Programme (SEP) at the institute is a rigorous, accredited management course aimed at social entrepreneurs, leaders and managers of social initiatives, as well as business, CSI, and government executives looking to get more involved in the emerging social entrepreneurship field.

Over the course of nine months, you will experience more than 20 days of intensive workshops and courses, and gain an understanding of frameworks for innovative and creative approaches to change; a deeper understanding of strategy, leadership, and systems thinking; foundational business skills in finance, operations and project management; practical application of theory in each area of training, and guidance from some of South Africa’s best faculty, as well as experienced practitioners.

The assignments are linked to each delegate’s own initiative such that once you graduate, you will have the profile of skills, tools, and resources needed to build and run an effective social enterprise

For more information, click here.

  1. University of Johannesburg: Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Social Economy – South Africa

A progressive institution with a lot of history, the University of Johannesburg continues its trend of innovation and moving forward by establishing the Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Social Economy (CSESE) in 2010. The centre provides exciting research, and aims to educate and promote social entrepreneurship and the social economy through various programs, partnerships, and initiatives.

The CSESE adopted the “new growth path” as laid out by the South African government. Their key objective is to blur the lines between business, government and nonprofit, improve performance by adopting tool and knowledge from all sectors and disciplines. The CSESE also aims to provide social entrepreneurs or social enterprises with access to the resources necessary to maximise, sustain, and scale social impact. In essence, they embody all features that one looks for in a successful social entrepreneur.

You will also have the opportunity to engage with and network with universities and similar institutions or centres globally, and possibly enter into joint ventures with these institutions to better your own entrepreneurship or enterprise.

For more information, click here.

  1. Kenya Methodist University: School of Business and Economics – Kenya

Social entrepreneurship in Kenya is quickly digging its heels in the ground to stay. With numerous institutions and programs geared toward the Kenyan economy, it is important to note that Kenya’s own School of Business and Economics at the Kenya Methodist University is making its own mark.

The School of Business and Economics is the most the dynamic and the biggest arm of the university, with a network of departments in all the five campuses of across the country.

The Nairobi campus, however, hosts the Social Entrepreneurship and Market Development unit, which includes visits to schools in the local rural areas.

While the institution may not be specifically geared toward social entrepreneurship, Kenya itself offers a great point of market penetration for emerging social entrepreneurs. Kenya currently boasts the most developed microfinance sectors in Africa, though with a shortage of microfinance products.

Click here to see more of the social enterprise scene in Kenya, of which you will be exposed to when studying in this beautiful country.

  1. The Amani Institute – Nairobi, Kenya

Unlike the other institutions on this list, the Amani Institute is not part of a university but rather is a specialised institution geared towards entrepreneurship and impact-based programs that are globally based.

However, their Post Graduate Certificate in Social Innovation Management sure caught our attention. With twenty available spots in either Kenya or Brazil, this program is personalized and field-based, bringing together a diverse group of 40 like-minded individuals from around the world, all passionate about building the professional & personal skills to lead change and create positive impact.

The program combines skill-building courses facilitated by global practitioners around the topics of Leadership, Management, Creativity & Problem-solving, and Communication with a hands-on experience of making change in an organization you care about.

For more information, click here.


Universities outside of Africa with Africa-centred Social Entrepreneurship Programs

  1.    Baylor University: Social Entrepreneurship in Africa – Texas, USA

The Social Entrepreneurship in Africa program is a 15-day summer study abroad programwhereby you will visit and experience the stunning country, Rwanda.

It is an opportunity for you to examine the use of entrepreneurial skills to craft innovative responses to social problems in Rwanda and how micro lending practices stimulate economic activity and alleviate poverty. Students will be introduced to microfinance as an important effort in the war against poverty. This will also serve as an excellent forum for students to learn about current challenges and debates in the world of microfinance.

The program explores “why” and “how” microfinance operations have come to provide financial services to poor and low-income people on a sustainable basis. The best advice and practices of successful practitioners and institutions around the world are brought together.

The format of the program consists of two major components pursued sequentially. The first component requires 10 hours of preparatory classroom instruction at Baylor. This component of the class will be comprised of faculty and student-led discussions concerning assigned articles and readings, as well as presentations by guest speakers who are directly involved in microfinance in Africa.

The second component, a 15-day trip to Africa, will commence after Spring semester final exams conclude in May. During this section of the program, students and sponsors will travel to Africa to experience first-hand the approach and effects of micro financing.

For more information, click here.

  1. University of British Columbia: Sauder School of Business’ Sauder Social Entrepreneurship in Kenya – Vancouver, Canada

By establishing and maintaining connections between Kenyan and Canadian institutions, the Sauder business school has formulated a program in which both Kenyan and Canadian students are brought together to engage and teach one another about the different dimensions of social entrepreneurship.

The Sauder Social Entrepreneurship program is a five-week course that brings together students from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada, and Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya, to teach young people how to develop business plans.

The students from both institutions mentor young people in Kenya, namely in Kibera and Mathare, and in turn develop their own ideas and improve their skills through extensive workshops. They also provide guidance in their search for funding and launching their new businesses. Here, students learn about other cultures, how businesses are created and grow in developing nations, and the role of education, mentorship and volunteerism on economic development.

For more information, click here.

  1. Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania, USA.

After almost 15 years, the Wharton Social Entrepreneurship has established itself as a global field research program that examines the use of social impact business models to address societal challenges. Echoing the common sentiments that entrepreneurship can be a powerful tool in solving social problems around the world and that entrepreneurs can build businesses that simultaneously earn income and tackle social problems in novel and effective ways.

The emphasis is on teaching that social entrepreneurship fuels a sense of self-sustainability, and not dependence. Students also have a chance to engage with various communities, particularly in Africa, through the university-based impact hubs.

The Africa Seed Program is one such impact hub. Impact Hubs are part innovation lab, part business incubator, part community center and part of a global network. Click here, for more information on what the Wharton Social Entrepreneurship Program has to offer for its students and recipients.


Flickr/CC/The Tax Haven

By Zarreen Kamalie

In the age of social entrepreneurship and innovation, one of many hurdles is funding. Good news is that there are many options for the dedicated social entrepreneur; with social venture capital is being just one of them.

What is Social Venture Capital?

Social venture capital is a form of investment funding.

Social enterprises often find it challenging to acquire funding for cause-based business models where profit is not the main aim. Social enterprises are in a strange limbo state where they are not treated as one-track profit-geared businesses in the investment game, but at the same time do not always qualify for donation and foundation based funding meant for NPO’s and charities.

This is where social venture capital comes in.

Social venture capital usually consists of a group of social venture capitalists or an impact investor looking for an enterprise that can not only function effectively as a business but also deals with social issues efficiently and can result in great positive social impact. These firms evaluate their investment decisions by looking at financial profitability, business development and social mission success.

Acumen Fund is an example of a social venture capital firm. It focuses on solving problems of global poverty through loans and equity in India, Pakistan and South Africa. The firm is mostly inclined to fund social enterprises in either the agriculture, education, energy, health, housing or water sector.

Though unlike crowdfunding, social venture capital requires financial return so the pressures for social venture invested social enterprises to succeed are much higher.

These forms of investment are typically involve giving a social enterprise an initial sum of money, known as ‘seed-funding’, to get them on their feet and grow.

How is it done?

Social Venture Capital firms tend to go for social enterprises that show growth and financial sustainability. Their goal is to effectively maximize the fund’s capital to deliver social impact.  

These firms typically work with Equity investments. Equity investment is money that is invested in a firm by its owner(s) or holder(s) of ordinary shares. However, this money is not returned in the normal course of the business, but rather only when they sell their shareholdings to other investors, or when the assets of the firm are liquidated and proceeds distributed among them.

This is why social venture capitalists often have very precise criteria when looking to fund social enterprises. The risk is usually very high, meaning that any investment needs to be a smart investment.

What Do Social Venture Capitalists Look For?

According to PWC, there are four major points to consider when making your social enterprise attractive for venture capital. These are:

1) Alignment between financial and social objectives:

Social enterprises need to be a convincing blend of an effective social mission, with an efficient business model. The two aspects are expected to complement and support one another in order to secure financial return to expand the enterprise’s impact.

2) A well-run management team:

Investors tend to trust a productive social enterprise team, rather than a social entrepreneur on their own. It seems reassuring to have multiple people invest time and effort, leaving room for them to breathe and ensuring there are people to stay around when the going gets tough. A good balance of complementary skills is also attractive to investors. Crowdfunding and angel investors are more likely to fund an individual, but in general investors are more likely to invest in a team.

3) Measure your impact:

Investors are aware that a lack of resources is one of the reasons that social enterprises struggle with this. This one is quite tricky, but the expectation is that this requirement will help social enterprises hone in on their objective. Some investors place less emphasis on it, but will still look for ways to measure impact while acknowledging the value of the mission. The maturity of the organization is one way to measure impact, but this can be troublesome if the enterprise is still starting out.

4)  Avoid mission drift:

Stay focused on the main objective. Investors will not be happy if the aim of enterprise for which they funded you changes dramatically. This is one of the factors that investors consider when faced with potential long-term investments. Mission drift usually occurs after a few years, generally with new leaders or owners. Avoid if possible when operating within the guidelines of the investor.

Pros and Cons of Social Venture Capital


  •      Quick and sufficient funding for large projects
  •      Social venture capitalists often give guidance for new entrepreneurs
  •      Incentivizes the organisation of the social enterprise such that there is less stress in the long run
  •      No repay schedule, while financial return is required, it can be done within the business’ own time


  •      For new start-ups, the criteria may be quite challenging to meet
  •      There is the expectation of financial return, something which does not occur with crowdfunding
  •      There is a lack of control, as is seen with the warning against mission drift. The mission becomes partially dependent on the investor.

Social venture capitalists can be quite inaccessible for young social enterprises and entrepreneurs, and the amount of control involved can be undesirable for some. There are other forms of investment such as Angel investment and venture philanthropy. These have the benefits of immediate and large sums of money, but on the basis of the social networks and capital of the social entrepreneur. Crowdfunding remains an accessible form of funding for newcomers to social economy, with no strings attached while increasing awareness. Ultimately, it is up to the social enterprise to decide which form of funding is best suited to their mission and the nature of their work and management team.


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