When I wrote about Echoing Green a few months ago, I promised I would follow up when the organization named its 2010 fellows this month. Echoing Green‘s mission is to spark social change by funding new, exciting, and what they like to call “bold”, ideas by providing two year fellowships to emerging social entrepreneurs. In fact, since its founding by growth equity firm General Atlantic in 1987, Echoing Green has invested $29 million in nearly 500 social entrepreneurs.
This year’s class of 16 fellows — announced yesterday — were selected from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants from 73 countries. These social innovators have either developed, or are in the planning stages of forming, businesses –either for-profit, non-profit, or market-based — in order to tackle some of the world’s most pressing social problems. Echoing Green provides each of them with up to $90,000 in seed funding over the course of the two years, as well as health insurance, strategic planning support, legal assistance, financial modeling, as well as mentoring from past Echoing Green fellows and professionals.
What’s notable this year in particular is that many have made income-generating activities a key element of their business models. As Echoing Green’s senior vice president Lara Galinsky points out, every year her organization sees more and more for-profit ideas emerging, and ideas that take a market-based approach, focussing on an earned income stream. It’s an interesting — and hopeful — trend as more and more companies are latching on to the do-good-by-doing-well dictum.
This year’s winning ideas range from The Real Food Challenge, which “harnesses the political power of youth and the purchasing power of universities to shift demand to socially responsible farm and food enterprises” to re:char, which builds “carbon-negative power plants that produce energy from water and replenish soils in rural farming villages in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America” to Blue Engine, which “trains teams of recent college graduates to serve as ‘high-dose’ tutors to enable low-income high school students to graduate with the skills they need to succeed in college and career” to Global Cycle Solutions, which transforms the bicycle into “a vehicle for income-generation and innovation for the 500 million smallholder farmers around the world earning less than one dollar per day.”
I’ll be profiling the 2010 fellows in the coming weeks. In the meantime, you can get a sneak preview of their work here.
If you think you have what it takes to be an Echoing Green fellow next year, click here to find out more about the application process.
photo credit: Echoing Green
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