Social Good Startup: Kopernik

kopernik dlight solar lanternKopernik is one of the 8 finalists to Startups Good Challenge that was held about a month ago, sponsored by the good guys at Mashable, 92Y and UN Foundation. I tried to reach out to all of the finalists, however, only 5 responded – with one left the event early, before I had the chance to interview the founder.

The criteria:

“Startups that are building or using technology to make a positive impact on the world will compete for a chance to present at the Social Good Summit and win a $10,000 cash prize for their company.”

So this is the first social good organizations out of four (that I was able to have conversations with) that will be featured here. The lineup: Kopernik, Empower Energy, Simple Energy and the winner of this competition – a 19-yo kid, Sun Saluter.

In this interview, I talked with Toshi Nakamura, the co-founder of Kopernik, a social enterprise who’s also a member of Clinton Global Initiative. Toshi and I shares one thing in common: Indonesia. Oh well, his organization is based in Indonesia, and I was lifted from there. That’s about it.

The problem that they’re trying to solve is in the distribution of life-changing technology to the last mile in the developing country (read: the poorest). Think of this business as the online store for innovative technologies, i.e. technology like what you see from the picture above showing d.light lantern, which is one of the products available from their store.

Continue reading “Social Good Startup: Kopernik”

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South Korean President Talks Green to US Congress

President Barack Obama and Republic of Korea Lee Myung Bak         photo: Pete Souza – White House

Did Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid give hint to South Korean President to speak about green economy to members of congress? The President of South Korea, Lee Myung Bak, who is on a state visit to Washington this week – his speech seems to hit the chord at today’s Joint Session of Congress.

At the session, Lee Myung Bak talks about his country’s emergence to join the economic powerhouses of the world. Transforming itself from one of the poorest to the most dynamic economy. Think about for a sec. You probably know some of the household names here via technology or car, brands like Kia, Samsung, LG, and Hyundai. Those brands originated from Korea and branched out from there.

So. Korea is a small country, with only 48 million people in comparison to the U.S. with 312+ million in population. This is a country that have no natural resources and yet managed to become global top 10 economic power!

It’s very impressive, when you think about how they achieved that position – in just one generation. Why? Because, they prioritized education.  Continue reading “South Korean President Talks Green to US Congress”

DuPont Packaging Awards Show Sustainability Drives Innovation

DuPont made the announcement of the winners for their 23rd packaging awards yesterday. DuPont packaging awards dates back to 1986. “The awards is the industry’s longest running, global, independently judged celebration of innovation and collaboration throughout the value chain.”

And welcome to social media! Because I learned about it via @DuPont_ability (their witter account for their sustainability news) and the winners was announced through a global webcast.

DuPont made the announcement of the winners for their 23rd packaging awards yesterday. DuPont packaging awards dates back to 1986. “The awards is the industry’s longest running, global, independently judged celebration of innovation and collaboration throughout the value chain.”

And welcome to social media! Because I learned about it via @DuPont_ability (their witter account for their sustainability news) and the winners was announced through a global webcast.

Continue reading “DuPont Packaging Awards Show Sustainability Drives Innovation”

5 Population Trends that can either Disrupt or Transform Your Business (and Career)

The 7 billion questions. According to National Geographic, by the end of 2011 our population growth will reach 7 billion. What are the consequences for the shift in population? How does population growth have an impact on business and career development? This is something that we all need to think about the implications of, as we witness the shifting of population growth and economic clout from developed to developing nations.

You might not realize that big corporations have ‘quietly’ building their presence at places, where they see having the most potential to grow in the emerging markets. Because they see that emerging markets is the place to go to maintain their growth.

The 7 billion questions. According to National Geographic, by the end of 2011 our population growth will reach 7 billion. What are the consequences for the shift in population? How does population growth have an impact on business and career development? This is something that we all need to think about the implications of, as we witness the shifting of population growth and economic clout from developed to developing nations.

You might not realize that big corporations have ‘quietly’ building their presence at places, where they see having the most potential to grow in the emerging markets. Because they see that emerging markets is the place to go to maintain their growth.

Continue reading “5 Population Trends that can either Disrupt or Transform Your Business (and Career)”

20 Global Trends that can Have an Impact on Your Business

Whether you run a small, midsize or large company, some of the trends will have an impact on how you do business. The question is – how ready is your business?

“We are actually within the next 5 years that I would call the great transformation,” says Daniel Burrus, a futurist, in an interview with Dr. Maira Gunn of IT Conversations.

This is not something that you should be afraid of. Instead it should challenge you! It’s about how you manage risks, especially risks that you have no control of. And see how these challenges can actually help redefine your business via innovation.

So here we go.

1. Population growth

The world’s population is pushing 7 billion (6.914 billion) by end of 2011. Asia accounts for more than 60% of the world’s population with more than 4 billion people. China and India make up about 37% of the world’s population. The U.S. is third most populous countries in the world with 308,745,538 people, according to Census 2010.

2. Technology

Four things that can impact your business: internet, mobile technologies, smart phones, and social appsonomics.

3. The world is increasingly urban

The world’s is 50.5% urban. In the U.S. 22 of the 30 fastest growing metropolitan areas are located in the fifteen most populous states, according to City Mayors. Twenty-four out of 27 megacities in the world (cities with more than 10M people) by end of 2011, are cities located outside the U.S.

4. Water scarcity

Closest to home. One-third of all counties in the lower 48 – will face higher risks of water shortages, according to NRDC study. A new report by U.S. government finds that major rivers such as Rio Grande and Colorado could see reductions in flow up to 20 percent. Water is among top 5 environmental issues that are important to business.

5. The use of social media in the world

Facebook has a global audience more than 500 million users, which is bigger than some “real” countries in the world. In 2010, Twitter added 100 million new users. According to Pew, 73% of adult profile users use Facebook, 48% have profile on MySpace and 14% use LinkedIn.

6. Supply chain

The supply chain is so interconnected globally, if something happened in one place it can affect productions in other places. Take for example in the case of Japan’s impact for the world’s major industries after tsunami and earthquake. Toyota have to adjust their May production in North America, because of parts availability after the natural disaster.

7. Climate legislations

A recent study by the Graham Institute of Climate Change found a growing commitment for climate legislations in 16 major countries.

8. Reverse innovation

Reverse innovation is innovation adopted from emerging markets, first. Companies are developing products in third world countries before they bring them to the U.S. Emerging markets been the catalyst of growth that you see in the telecom industries. The concept of prepaid was unheard of before. Now Virgin, Boost, Cricket, AT&T are in the business of offering – prepaid phone services.

9. Demographics change

In the world, the average age: 28. Han Chinese ethic group represents about 19% of the global population. In the U.S., Hispanics is the fastest growing population. The recent 2010 Census counted 50.5 million Hispanics making up 16.3% of the population, which is up from 35.3 million in 2000. This segment of the population grew over 43% in the decade.

10. The rise of value-concious shoppers

This is the silver lining of global recession. 91% of respondents from 53 countries surveyed by Nielsen (registration req.), said that they’d continue to buy private label products. More than half of Americans (55%) said that purchased more private label brands during recession and 94% said that they’d continue buy private labels even after economic improves.

11. The business of helping the poor

In economic term, this is often referred to as base-of-the-pyramid. They are the largest and the poorest in world’s socio-economic group. In scale, 4 billion people in the world living on $1 per day! C.K. Prahalad says, that “corporate sustainability and inclusive growth of poor people in the global market will become inextricably linked.” Already there’s movement in saving the poor and making profit at the same time.

12. People power

Egypt. The rise of social consumers, social commerce. It’s more likely that people would listen to their friends’ opinion than brands.

14. Government regulations

15. Rising energy prices

16. Biodiversity, the pricing of nature

Biodiversity matters more to business execs than climate change, according to a survey by McKinsey. 59% of respondents viewed biodiversity as more of an opportunity than a risk for their companies. The United Nations is pushing to put price on nature.

17. Crowdsourcing

Wisdom of the crowd. You can crowdsource just about anything. Netflix $1M prize for creating better algorithm for recommending films. Kiva, is crowdsourcing microloans. Procter and Gamble, Nike, Starbucks, Dell, Best Buy, Threadless – these cos. have created digital platforms for their customers to help them with creating new products, etc.

18. Demand for organic food, products

 According to Global Organic Market Access, the global organic food and drink sales is projected to reach $60 billion. The North American market for organic food and drink continues to show healthy grow. It has overtaken European market this year to become the largest.

19. Social, open-source learning 

Khan Academy. Open Course Ware. Open Learning Initiatives.

20. Sharing

Sharing knowledge, you see this already happening via social networking, social publishing sites. Sharing things, yes. There’s a peer-to-peer car sharing solutions. ZipCar. Bikesharing.

There’s a lot more trends that we can think of.

What else do you see happening around you that can have profound impact on how you do business?

Lessons from the Top: How Top Performing Companies get Into Sustainability

A recent Sustainability and Innovation survey of global corporate leaders conducted by Boston Consulting Group and MIT Sloan Management Review, found that sustainability is at the core of many ot the top performing businesses. BCG and MIT surveyed more than 3000 business executives and managers and organizations from around the world. The survey captures insights from individuals in organizations in every major industry.

Point of entry: waste reduction and resource efficiency

These are initiatitives that companies can start working on. Waste reduction and resource efficiency are identified as the low-hanging fruit. Respondents put the two as priorities that help them run lean and efficient operations. It is measureable and it saves money.

Via MIT Sloan Review Management.

For Clorox, it was an entry point into sustainability. “We had done the measurement on footprint and the groundwork on projects so that people could buy into the greenhouse gas reduction, solid waste reduction and water reduction goals,” says Beth Springer, executive vice president of international and personal care at Clorox. “They could see the path.”

For Johnson & Johnson, resource management is also an efficiency measure that contributes to profitability. According to its 2009 Sustainability Report, between 2005 and 2009, the company completed more than 60 energy-reduction projects, representing $187 million in capital investments, which it expects will collectively reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 129,000 metric tons annually and provide an internal rate of return of almost 19%. The projects have so far generated about 247,000 megawatt hours of cumulative energy savings a year.

During the same period, Johnson & Johnson made a 32% cut in both hazardous and nonhazardous waste. “It’s been better for the bottom line, especially in terms of energy costs,” says Al Iannuzzi, senior director of worldwide health and safety at Johnson & Johnson. “Waste is cost to the corporation … and, of course, the less waste you send out of your gates, the less expensive it is to make your product.

The top drivers

From there, the embracers expand their practice to embed sustainability into their core values, because they see the link between sustainability and profit. Among the top drivers that support sustainability-related investments are:

  • – Increase margins or market share.
  • – The opportunity for greater potential for innovation in their business models and processes.
  • – Access to new markets.

The_top_3_benefits_of_sustainability

Click on image to see larger view.

Making it happen

World_view_of_sustainability_leaders

The 7 habits of top performing businesses:

1. Move early – even if information is incomplete.

Be bold. Use your gut. This is a journey.

2. Balance broad, long-term vision with projects offering concrete, near-term “wins.”

It’s a balance between ambitious vision and areas of competitive advantage. The smart companies narrow their projects into those that they can produce early, show bottom-line results and practicality.

3. Drive sustainability top down and bottom up.

Sustainability must be driven not only from the top down, but also it must involve employees at all levels for ideas and insights from multiple sources.

4. Aggressively de-silo sustainability – integrating it throughout the company operations.

Top performers applied sustainability to all existing business processes.

5. Measure everything (and if ways of measuring don’t exist, start inventing them).

Establish baselines and develop method of assessments so that starting point can be identified and progress measured. Try to establish ways of quantifying the impact of sustainability on brand, innovation, and productivity.

6. Value intangible benefits seriously.

“Smart companies are realizing that conservation of natural resources they need is a fundamental part of risk management.” Coke and Pepsi realized that water is the key ingredient to their business. Water conservation is fundamental to their business, if they want to stay in business. Allow time to develop the ability to measure and understand fully – intangible advantages. Companies need to make investment decisions based on tangible benefits, intangibles and risk scenarios.

7. Try to be authentic and transparent – internally and externally.

Be realistic. Do not overstate motives or set unrealistic expectations. Communicate your challenges as well as your successes.

Dig deeper for Sustainability: The ‘Embracers’ Seize Advantage, here.

Chair Fabric Made of 80% Recycled Materials

Spotted this few weekends ago at a Safeway store. Cool chair made with fabric made of 80% recycled materials that include plastic bottles. That means, less plastic waste going to the landfill.

This is an example of what could be. You think Deer Park bottles made their way to make this product? Technically, they could. If they do, this eco-friendly chair can be their revenues generator and expansion to new markets (read: new customers). 

I checked Deer Park website. But couldn’t find any info about this particular product. In case you have some info about this product, drop me a line or let me know in the comment section. 

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