Deforestation. Pollution. Soil degradation. Poverty. These are just a handful of the critical social and environmental problems Social Venture Network’s 2014 Innovation Award winners are addressing through groundbreaking business practices. From stoves that save 10 tons of firewood each year to a pioneering training program for low-income entrepreneurs, the SVN Innovation Awards program recognizes companies and organizations that are changing the way the world does business.
At SVN’s Fall Conference—where SVN’s peer-to-peer network of influential, values-driven entrepreneurs and investors gather every year—the SVN Innovation Award winners have the opportunity to share how they’re working in cutting edge ways to solve the most pressing social and environmental problems. They’ll take the stage in front of 300 high-impact founders and CEOs and spend four days immersed in the SVN experience.
With the right people, resource and ideas in the room, SVN’s Innovation Award winners can create the support system they need to improve their business, enhance their leadership and expand their impact. Selected by an expert panel of judges for their innovation, impact and capacity to scale, the Innovation Award winners share SVN’s imperative to leverage business to build a more just, humane and sustainable world. It’s the common thread that connects them to SVN’s 27-year history of innovation and leadership, and it goes a long way in building lasting business and personal relationships.
The Winners Jason Bradford and Craig Wichner, Farmland LP:
The demand for organic foods continues to grow exponentially, but the availability of organic farmland and raw materials lags far behind. With more than $50 million of acreage under management, Farmland LP demonstrates that sustainable agriculture at scale is economically superior to conventional agriculture, which relies on agrochemicals and commodity crops, due to the high cost of land. Farmland LP provides investors with the opportunity to own high quality farmland, while the company’s land management practices increase investor cash flow by using sustainable crop and livestock rotations. By providing access to high quality, organic, sustainable acreage, Farmland LP enables organic farmers and sustainable ranchers to focus on the crops and livestock they produce best.
Shannon Dosmegan, Public Lab:
A broken CD, an old VHS case and an inexpensive webcam. These three items usually end up as trash, but the innovators at Public Lab have turned them into a low-cost, do-it-yourself alternative to the traditional spectrometer – a tool used to detect neurotoxins that ordinarily costs thousands of dollars. This innovation is just one example of Public Lab’s unique approach to addressing environmental issues. Operating at the intersection of social entrepreneurship, the maker movement and citizen science, Public Lab makes inexpensive, do-it-yourself techniques available to underserved communities by applying open-source techniques to the development of tools for environmental exploration and investigation. In addition, Public Lab generates knowledge and shares data about community environmental health, while focusing on locally relevant outcomes that emphasize human capacity and understanding.
Alfa Demmellash, Rising Tide Capital:
Combatting poverty and isolation with opportunity and innovation, Rising Tide Capital believes the best way to revitalize local economies is to support and grow the entrepreneurial energy and talent that exists in every neighborhood. Rising Tide Capital works with a community of emerging entrepreneurs to equip them with the tools, skills and access to funding they need to grow successful businesses. When these entrepreneurs are empowered to succeed, they not only generate income for their families, they create a ripple effect that catalyzes the social and economic development of their local community.
Svati Bhogle, Sustaintech India:
Severe respiratory disease, unsustainable CO2 emissions and indoor air pollution are grave concerns facing India as a direct result of traditional cook stoves. Sustaintech India is a social enterprise that manufactures and sells sustainable energy products, including fuel-efficient commercial cook stoves, designed to improve the health of underserved populations, reduce firewood consumption, slow deforestation and contribute to India’s climate change mitigation efforts. Sustaintech’s smoke-free PYRO stoves provide a path out of poverty for street food vendors along with substantial environmental benefits: each stove in its lifetime conserves two acres of open forests and saves 10 tons of firewood per year.
Social Venture Network’s 2014 Fall Conference SVN’s Fall Conference unites these emerging innovators with pioneers like Linda Mason of Bright Horizons Family Solutions, Nikki Silvestri of Green for All, David Fenton of Fenton, Daniel Lubetzky of KIND Healthy Snacks and Baratunde Thurston of Cultivated Wit. The conference will be held October 23-26 in Greenwich, CT, and focuses on building valuable connections and collaborations among high-impact, innovative business leaders. More information on guest speakers and registration is available at www.svn.org/fall2014.
Since 1987, Social Venture Network (SVN, www.svn.org) has been the leading network of entrepreneurs who are transforming the way the world does business. SVN connects the leaders of socially responsible enterprises to share wisdom and resources, form strategic alliances and explore new solutions that build a more just and sustainable economy.