Miller Center’s work with social enterprises to eliminate poverty and protect the planet spans such complex issues as economic empowerment, clean drinking water, sustainable farming, infant mortality, reproductive health, improved education, and more.
Three areas where Miller Center is at the forefront of accelerating social entrepreneurship are:
- Supporting women’s economic growth
- Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, and clean energy
- Restoring dignity to marginalized communities—refugees, migrants, and human trafficking survivors
SUPPORTING WOMEN’S ECONOMIC GROWTH
Investing in women’s economic empowerment globally sets a direct path toward gender equality, poverty eradication, and inclusive economic growth.
Daily, women make enormous contributions to their communities
- raising children
- providing sustenance for their families
- working as entrepreneurs and employees in businesses and on farms.
Yet women and girls suffer disproportionately from the effects of poverty and generally have fewer paths out. We embrace a human development and capabilities approach in all of our work, using the framework of “Eight Building Blocks for an Integrated Approach to Sustainable, Impactful Economic Empowerment for Women.
Want to end poverty? Invest in Women!
Social entrepreneurship is a pro-woman economic development strategy.
- Empowering women helps them delay marriages, manage their reproductive health, complete their education, and participate in their country’s economies and politics.
- Focusing on gender equity creates a ripple effect—leading to transformative, positive impacts for entire communities. Money made by women is likely spent on things like school fees for their children and correcting social ills in their communities.
- Women social entrepreneurs, more than their men counterparts, tend to take on more complex societal challenges, such as education and human trafficking, in more comprehensive ways.
Miller Center has created tools and practices that help more women become successful social entrepreneurs; and help social enterprises focus on women and girls as customers and beneficiaries by
- Advancing women social entrepreneurs
- We’re working toward gender-balanced cohorts in all our programs, offering specialized training for women as needed.
- We’re exploring options for all-women cohorts that provide a space for collaboration among women and a focus on women’s issues.
- Scoring program applicants on their ability to advance women’s equity as a key component of our selection process.
- Supporting undergraduate women as Global Social Benefit Fellows who partner with our Miller Center GSBI Alumni for hands-on projects. To date, almost 80% of our fellows are young women.
- Advancing women social entrepreneurs
“Every single girl I meet wants to go to school, and that for me is my biggest, biggest source of hope.” – Safeen Husain
In 2015, 3.7 million eligible girls were out of school in India. In rural areas, girls receive an average of less than four years of education. In 2005, in the province of Rajasthan, an entrepreneur named Safeen Husain founded
Educate Girls, a 2012 alum of GSBI Online, to improve education for girls. After beginning with 50 schools in 2005, Educate Girls grew to 5,500 schools and influenced the education of over 500,000 children in three districts of India. Educate Girls was awarded the prestigious Skoll Foundation award for social entrepreneurship which includes a three-year core investment of $1.25 million. With support from Miller Center and other sources, Educate Girls continues to grow and aspires to have more than 9,000 schools.
ENSURING CLEAN ENERGY ACCESS
Energy poverty—not having sufficient and/or reliable energy to meet basic needs—is prevalent in much of the developing world and affects approximately 2.6 billion people globally. Despite billions of development and charity dollars spent on energy access by government aid agencies, foundations, and corporations, we still lack a viable scenario for offering everyone the energy they need to survive and thrive.
Reframing the Problem
Instead of viewing energy access as fragmented and complex, we see a market of more than 500 million potential consumers for public and private energy suppliers.
Universal access to affordable, reliable, and clean energy is vital to eliminating global poverty and protecting our planet.
- Nearly 1 billion people worldwide live without electricity and 3 billion people cook with polluting fuel and stove combinations.
- Social entrepreneurs are deploying new technologies and business models throughout the developing world, enabling hundreds of millions of people to reap the health and economic benefits of modern energy.
- We’ve accelerated over 120 social enterprises focused on energy access and that number will continue to grow.
- We’ve developed customized curriculum for strengthening last mile distribution and mini-grid social enterprises via our playbooks.
- We are piloting ongoing support for energy access entrepreneurs.
- The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #7 seeks to redress energy poverty, and we work with social entrepreneurs at the forefront of the effort.
Restoring Dignity to Migrants, Refugees, and Human Trafficking Survivors
Beyond the numbers and statistics of refugees, migrants, and human slaves are the emotional, ethical, and societal costs. The drive toward attaining personal security, seeking better lives for ourselves and our families, and existing harmoniously with others and with our environment—these are basic human needs that transcend borders and laws.
Helping refugees, migrants, and human trafficking survivors reclaim their futures.
Social enterprises are providing dignified livelihoods to young women so they aren’t sold into modern-day slavery; using artifical intelligence to identify human trafficking incidents; and deploying blockchain technologies so refugees can secure their assets and access them from anywhere in the world.
Miller Center launched our Social Entrepreneurship at the Margins (SEM) accelerator which:
- Leverages our accelerator programs to help ventures serving and/or led by migrants, refugees, and human trafficking survivors achieve operational excellence and secure investments to scale their impact.
- Accompanieys the leaders of these social enterprises to better discern which impact models, business models, and technology solutions are of greatest benefit to these displaced populations suffering at the margins of society.
- Offers a sampling of financing vehicles that organizations like KOIS Invest, Kiva, and others are building to create a more robust ecosystem of financing support for organizations tackling the challenging and complex crises of refugees, migrants, and human trafficking survivors globally.
Miller Center’s Social Entrepreneurship at the Margins report encourages other actors in the social enterprise and impact investing ecosystem to join us and build on the promising momentum of these foundational experiments. The opportunity to complement humanitarian aid solutions using the principles of social entrepreneurship and improve the outcomes for millions of our fellow human beings who have been unfairly displaced and marginalized is clear and compelling.
We welcome the opportunity to engage with:
- Social entrepreneurs looking for mentoring to grow their organization
- Impact investors and grant funders looking to maximize the impact of their investments
- New mentors and experts willing to share their expertise
- Organizations tackling any of our initiatives and are interested in exploring partnership opportunities