Weekly Review January 12-18: Opportunities and Inspiration for Social Entrepreneurs

The third annual survey from the GIIN and JP Morgan on impact investing, Perspectives on Progress, highlighted that, although still a nascent marketplace, impact investors plan to commit at least $9 billion in 2013. In addition to this mass of available capital, we are seeing a significant number of calls-for-applications, winner announcements, and advice on how to advance startup activity that can provide entrepreneurs with both inspiration and opportunities. Here’s this week’s round up of tips, opportunities, and inspiration for early stage social entrepreneurs.

Venture Capital with a Twist: How to Pitch an Impact Investor” by Todor Tashev and Paula Goodman on Harvard Business Review
In this post on the Harvard Business Review, Omidyar Network’s Todor Tashev and Paula Goldman point out the key differences and similarities between traditional VC and impact investors. The returns and exit scenarios are very different between the two types of investors, and so it’s important for entrepreneurs to remember to highlight the scalability, viability, and value of the startup.

Startups Win Gauteng Innovation Competition” by Sam Wakoba on iHub Blog
In a competition where “not just any startup could apply,” The Innovation Hub recently awarded prizes to mobile technology and green technology companies focused on creating jobs and reducing poverty in Gauteng, South Africa. What we like to see is the “support above seed funding,” including mentorship and IP advice. This is a good example of the types of competitions that are going beyond simply creating a buzz, but also are investing in long-term success.

d.light design wins Zayed Future Energy Prize” on Acumen Fund Blog
The Zayed Future Energy Prize awards those who are catalyzing innovation to create a sustainable energy future. d.light Design, an Acumen Fund portfolio company, is 2013’s Zayed Future Energy Prize winner. With over 11 million customers served, d.light is a great example of scaling and success.  We hope this prize inspires many more entrepreneurs to innovate for a responsible and sustainable energy sector.

NexThought Monday: Customer Experience needs to drive vision at the BoP business, not vice versa” by Glen Burnett on NextBillion
It’s important for businesses serving the base of the pyramid (BoP) not to forget the customer experience. Glen Burnett provides some good guidelines for startups operating in BoP markets, highlighting the importance of not letting aggregate statistics blur your understanding of your actual customer base. In addition to this understanding, startups must remember that customers’ needs will change and evolve with time. As this happens, ensuring consistent excellent customer experiences will be the key to maintaining customer loyalty. Check out the post to learn more on developing this strategy.

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