Archive for the ‘#social_enterprise’ Tag

Watch Out Yammer And Jive, Google Is About To Enter The Social Enterprise Space | TechCrunch   Leave a comment

“The social enterprise has been growing as more and more companies look to incorporate Facebook-like communications among workers. Jive (which just debuted on the Nasdaq), Yammer, and Salesforce are all betting on the social as an integral part of productivity and business processes in the future. And it looks like Google will be entering the space soon. Google’s Vice President of Enterprise Amit Singh tells us that Google will soon bring a more in-depth Google+ social experience to businesses and institutions using Google Apps.

In October, Google announced that Google Apps users could sign up for Google+, allowing businesses and educational institutions to share posts directly to other users within their workgroups and/or universities.

But Google has further ambitions for Google+ in the enterprise, says Singh, and that involves creating a collaborative environment for businesses. Internally at Google, Singh says that the company is already using Google+ as a collaboration platform and it’s going well. “This can become a new social platform for collaboration across Docs, Gmail, video and other apps,” he explains.

Singh explains that there’s a shift towards moving from individual productivity based applications to more social applications, and this is only going to accelerate. Part of 2012 will entail bringing the Google+ social experience to businesses.

“Google+ is the next big thing for the enterprise,” he says.” “We are going to do the same thing with Google+ that we’ve done with Gmail, and other consumer-facing apps so that Google+ can be adopted in more of enterprise setting.”

While Singh says the specifics of how this is going work for businesses with Google Apps is still being developed, he says that in 2012 Google will offer “some good choices for businesses to take advantage of both internal and external communication capabilities.”

Google entering the social enterprise market isn’t particularly surprising considering the search giant’s ambitions when it comes to social. In terms of usage, Google Apps is a major product for the company (Apps now has 40 million users, and 5,000 firms are joining per day, as per Eric Schmidt). What should be interesting is how Google’s communications and collaboration platform for Apps will affect the current leaders in the market such as Jive and Yammer. Stay tuned.”

via Watch Out Yammer And Jive, Google Is About To Enter The Social Enterprise Space | TechCrunch.

Posted December 24, 2011 by arnoneumann in SocialMedia, Social_Enterprise

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A plan to turn a former jail into rental housing -Vancouver , BC   Leave a comment

Gregory Henriquez believes that transforming a former city jail into affordable rental housing is poetry.

He is the architect behind the transformation of the former remand centre at 211 Gore into 95 units of rental housing in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

The poetic metaphor of transforming a jail into housing is really a healthy message for any society,” says Mr. Henriquez, seated inside his upstairs office in the old B.C. Securities heritage building at Homer and Pender. The office is grand with plaster cornices, tall windows and marble floors.

“Incarcerating people isn’t the answer,” says Mr. Henriquez. “Housing them is.”

He has become known as the Vancouver architect with the vision towards equitable housing. He is the designer behind the Woodward’s Building, lauded as a successful merger of low-income housing and market housing, as well as the affordable Downtown Eastside condo project at 60 W. Cordova.

Mr. Henriquez is often confused with his famous architect father Richard, well known for Eugenia Place in English Bay, with the tree rising from the rooftop, a tribute to the forest that stood there before it.

The remand centre is a passing of the baton from father to son because Richard designed the original building, and Gregory has re-designed and will soon re-purpose it for social and affordable housing. While Richard is the true poet of the family, son Gregory has carved out his own niche as the social issues-minded architect.

“He is the architect with the ethical pen,” says condo marketer Bob Rennie, who worked with Mr. Henriquez on Woodward’s as well as numerous other projects.

Mr. Henriquez’s decision to focus on the remand centre was driven as much by personal necessity as it was to supply essential rental stock.

It was 2008, when the market had bottomed out, and Mr. Henriquez thought that he could either take a long break, or put his architects to work on a housing project he’d considered for awhile. His father’s 1973 remand centre had been sitting unused since it closed in 2002, and was an ideal and obvious source of rental housing for low-income tenants in the area.

It was, in fact, an empty shell awaiting a new purpose. It had already been gutted before the basement became home to a community courtroom.

“I thought, we can either give up or look for projects that are really meaningful and put some people to work drawing up things that would be very exciting around issues of social justice and affordability and housing and inclusivity, and things we hold near and dear to our hearts,” he says.

A remand centre is a detention centre for people who have not yet been found guilty and are awaiting their appearance in court. The Vancouver remand centre at 211 Gore is striking because of the rows of concrete bays that jut out the side of the building. Inside, the bays are used as alcoves for beds. The feature is a Richard Henriquez metaphor.

“They are obviously in prison but still in society, and they are not yet guilty, so the metaphor of them sleeping on the outside of the building was an interesting thing,” says Mr. Henriquez.

He made a pitch to the province’s housing ministry, and after three years of back and forth, the idea became a reality last spring. The remand centre is set for a makeover to be completed by mid 2013.

The 95 rental units built, to be managed by the St. James Community Service Society, will include 34 rental units for low-income tenants. Tenants who qualify for a studio apartment can earn around $32,500, while one-bedroom units will be rented to tenants who make $36,300, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. housing income levels. The maximum rents would be about $800 to $900 a month. Studios will be up to 485 square feet in size, and one bedrooms up to 590 square feet.

The remainder of the units will be for at-risk youth who work in the BladeRunners construction-training program, as well as those who are on a shelter allowance. The 34 rental units will generate enough revenue so that the project won’t require subsidies. Rents will cover the $1.6-million mortgage.

Housing Minister Rich Coleman has said that the $13-million project is also possible because of the already existing building, which drastically offsets construction costs.

As for the concrete bays, Mr. Henriquez will replace them with larger glass bays, allowing light into the units.

The project provides much-needed affordable rental housing in an area where rental and condo prices have skyrocketed in the last couple of years. Some of his own architects, says Mr. Henriquez, cannot afford to live in Vancouver.

“Which is sad and wrong.”

While an effort has been made to provide affordable condo housing, such as Mr. Henriquez’s project at 60 W. Cordova, many people still can’t afford the down payment. About 50 per cent of Vancouverites rent, and in the Downtown Eastside in particular, rental stock is essential.

Mr. Henriquez doesn’t expect the new housing to transform the gritty block, but he figures it will, for what it’s worth, help fill the massive gap that is rental housing. He can’t think of another new rental building in the neighbourhood, which isn’t surprising considering land values.

“Vancouver hasn’t produced rental because most land trades at market housing rates,” he says.

“But straight market housing by itself in the neighbourhood isn’t going to work. Every project has to bring some level of affordability and some statement about caring about the neighbourhood … You don’t want people to feel you are bulldozing their neighbourhood.”

Mr. Henriquez says speculative condo buyers push prices up, and creative methods must be used to keep them from purchasing units that are intended to be affordable. Those methods include making the project a no-rent building, not including parking, and banning the practice of flipping.

Condo owners usually don’t provide affordable rentals, either. Condo marketer Bob Rennie says those speculative condo investors who need to rent their units to cover their mortgages are currently providing much of the rental stock.

“These passive condo buyers that everybody hates are the rental supplier,” he says.

They price their rents on average around $1,600 a month, which is too high for many people. And because the number of condo units being developed in the last few years downtown has drastically dropped, there will be less of those rental condos available.

“To find rental under $1,250 or under $1,000 is a rare commodity, given our land costs and construction costs,” says Mr. Rennie. “So building small suites and providing affordable rental fills a need.”

The city has recognized the need for rental stock with its STIR program, which stands for Short Term Incentives for Rental Housing, and includes breaks on property taxes, development cost levies, and parking, and allowances for greater density, in exchange for development of rental housing.

Vancouver property prices, however, are expensive, and condominiums remain more lucrative to the average developer.

“You just have to look at really creative models, and looking at smaller sizes,” says Mr. Rennie. “So whether it’s condos or affordable rental, you have to try different models. We can’t keep hanging onto yesterday’s model, because land has become so expensive.”

via A plan to turn a former jail into rental housing – The Globe and Mail.

A Quest for Hybrid Companies – Part Money-Maker, Part Nonprofit – NYTimes.com   Leave a comment

An interesting debate on separate sides of social enterprise. This debate and policy development is also evolving in Canada.

“But proponents, like Jed Emerson, a pioneer in developing what he calls “blended value investing,” contend that many of the new organizations do not fit neatly into what have been the accepted models. “Over the last 10 to 20 years, there’s been a host of organization managers and financial investors saying the traditional approach to investing in this bifurcated framework of for-profit and nonprofit doesn’t capture what they’re really trying to achieve,” Mr. Emerson said. “Alternative structures like this allow investors and entrepreneurs to pursue social and environmental impact together with various levels of financial performance.”

via A Quest for Hybrid Companies – Part Money-Maker, Part Nonprofit – NYTimes.com.

Also, more and more companies are incorporating socially beneficial activities into their core business strategies without abandoning their primary goal of making profits. Hewson Baltzell, who oversees product development for MSCI, a data and research firm known for its global indexes, said that while the number of financial investors deploying what were known as “environmental, social and governance” screens to assess investments, “most investors are still not into the double-bottom line.”

Do you need it? No, not necessarily,” Mr. Baltzell said. “The argument for it is probably that when push comes to shove over certain issues, if a social mission was baked into the bylaws, it would be legitimate for a board to allow, in certain cases, that mission to trump shareholder value.”

But charities seeking ways to reduce their reliance on donated dollars are increasingly developing programs that could be mistaken for businesses, and for them, such a structure solves a number of headaches. It gives them access to the capital markets, allows them to pay higher compensation levels and provides potential exit strategies, all unavailable to nonprofits.

Posted October 13, 2011 by arnoneumann in Social_Enterprise

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Atlanta Grows Lettuce Near Runway as Urban Farms Bloom – Businessweek   Leave a comment

The return to basics of food production is occurring in our midst , even in small urban settings and farmer’s markets with locally grown produce .

“From New York to Seattle, cities — which the U.S. Conference of Mayors says account for 90 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product — are attempting to create jobs, foster economic development, feed impoverished neighborhoods and fill long-vacant lots by returning to their agrarian roots.”

via Atlanta Grows Lettuce Near Runway as Urban Farms Bloom – Businessweek.

B Corporation – why   Leave a comment

Social enterprise is recognized in some states in the USA  with a special Benefit (B) Corporation category . A good start. Canada too grapples with the corporate / charity ,  or Not _for_Profit / For-Profit hybrid model.

 

Why B Corps Matter

Our vision is simple yet ambitious: to create a new sector of the economy which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. This sector will be comprised of a new type of corporation – the B Corporation – that meets rigorous and independent standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

As a result, individuals will have greater economic opportunity, society will move closer to achieving a positive environmental footprint, more people will be employed in great places to work, and we will have built stronger communities at home and across the world.

Why are B Corps needed in order to achieve these goals?

B Corporations address two critical problems:

Current corporate law makes it difficult for businesses to take employee, community, and environmental interests into consideration when making decisions; and

The lack of transparent standards makes it difficult for all of us to tell the difference between a ‘good company’ and just good marketing.

B Corporations’ legal structure expands corporate accountability so they are required to make decisions that are good for society, not just their shareholders.

B Corporations’ performance standards enable consumers to support businesses that align with their values, investors to drive capital to higher impact investments, and governments and multinational corporations to implement sustainable procurement policies.

And that’s the change we seek.

via B Corporation – why.

Posted June 26, 2011 by arnoneumann in Social_Enterprise

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Ashoka Changemakers   Leave a comment

“Ashoka is a global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs – men and women with system changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems. Since 1981, Ashoka has elected almost 3,000 leading social entrepreneurs as Ashoka Fellows, providing them with living stipends, professional support, and access to a global network of peers in 70 countries. With its global community, Ashoka develops models for collaboration and design infrastructure needed to advance the field of social entrepreneurship.

Ashoka Fellows inspire others to adopt and spread their innovations – demonstrating to all citizens that they too have the potential to be powerful changemakers.”

via Ashoka Changemakers.

More information on Ashoka Changemakers’ Week can be found at:  http://www.ashoka-changemakersweek.com/?id_page=home

Posted June 12, 2011 by arnoneumann in Social_Enterprise

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