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Profiting from the poor: The ethics of microfinance

Thirty years ago, microfinance was a crazy idea. The notion that villagers, or slum dwellers, let alone women, could manage loans, and repay them dependably, was considered absurd. When I…

Crowdsourcing for ColaLife: How the Internet revived a life-saving idea

We’ve talked about the potential (and potential pitfalls) of crowdsourcing in previous posts. Today, we’ll look at ColaLife, a remarkable example of the power of online collaboration to mobilize a…

Quoted: Van Jones on right-wing attacks as friendly fire

Civil rights activist and serial social entrepreneur, Van Jones, resigned last September as the White House Special Advisor for Green Jobs in the wake of Glenn Beck’s attack on his…

A no-brainer health care reform

The recent health care debate has drawn attention to the industry’s proclivity for wasting time and money. But research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), shows…

Coyotes, migras and a $20 admission fee. Tips optional.

Each Saturday night at EcoAlberto Park in El Alberto, Mexico, tourists gather in groups awaiting a coyote to smuggle them across the U.S. border. The ritual takes place 400 miles…

Twitter Round Up, April 8: Obama’s medicare pick, Kiva co-founder’s new venture and more

Search for the hashtag #socent and you’ll find wide-ranging interest in social entrepreneurship on Twitter. Here’s a roundup of a few thought-provoking tweets from last week: When one of the…

Marrying microfinance and education

Last week President Obama signed a bill that will make the government the primary provider of student loans, stripping banks of that power. This will lead to vast government savings,…

Welcome to Dowser!

When I was starting out as a journalist in New York in 1991, I stumbled upon an article on the Grameen Bank, the anti-poverty bank that won the Nobel Peace…

A shared space age: Coworking from Canada to Cincinnati

As a freelancer who works from her “home office” (read: dark, cave-like basement), I am all too aware of the connection between physical environment and intellectual creativity. Though I have…

Opportunities vs. Oportunidades

Three years ago New York City launched Opportunity NYC, an ambitious experiment to see if low-income, mostly single mothers could effectively be bribed to be more responsible parents. The idea…

Relay Rides: Tag, you drive

For decades, city dwellers have grappled with the question:  to car or not to car?  Own one, and you’ve got to park it somewhere, a process that’s nearly guaranteed to…

Move over social entrepreneurs–here come the intrapreneurs

In Tribes, Seth Godin discusses the importance of leadership and the surprising places where leaders appear. A leader can be the CEO, but she can also be the intern. A…

Beyond slacktivism: Can we click our way to social change?

When the punditocracy  convened in late 2009 to assess the “aughts” (or whatever we’re calling the just-concluded decade), they focused on the War on Terror, the proliferation of reality TV,…

Tim DeChristopher: Biding time by bidding big

Social entrepreneurs like to use the word “scrappy” to describe the way they tackle big problems.  Think of doing whatever it takes—writing emails until 4 a.m., living in your best…