One Street News
Vol. 5, Issue 8
- Social Business, Social Capital
- Resources – TEDx Talk on Better Blocks
- Hot Topics – New York Times Nails the Helmet Concern
By: Sue Knaup, Executive Director
I first encountered social business concepts in the 1990s through my work with bicycle businesses and organizations in many parts of the world. Their leaders grappled with their need to control income as they served social needs. Some sold products and ran shops. But none really hit on the whole social business package that has been emerging lately.
One Street’s Social Bike Business program is designed to bring together the compassion of nonprofits with the sustainability of businesses to provide the world’s most disadvantage people with appropriate bikes as well as jobs and leadership positions in the effort. I recognized these benefits of the program as we launched One Street in 2007, so I came at social business as a practitioner.
One month ago, in early October, I attended a conference called SOCAP12 hosted by Social Capital Markets in San Francisco. At this conference I discovered a whole new community of people who are attacking the world’s social problems through investing. They call it “impact investing,” and it’s just hitting its stride. Everything I saw and heard there built on the principles I have learned through our social business work. Innovators were showcasing new water, energy and sanitation systems that could serve whole villages at low cost. Others demonstrated products specially made to improve the lives of particularly disadvantage people in particular cultures.
What blew me away most was the number of investors in attendance and their enthusiasm for investing in projects, products and programs that will change the world for the better. New systems and even new stock exchanges for impact investing have been developing over the past five years. There are already many impact investment funds available. Just last year a rating system for impact investments was launched, called the Global Impact Investing Rating System or GIIRS.
I seem to have stumbled on something that could rock this world off its greed-based path toward one based on caring. Very fun, and very exciting for One Street’s Social Bike Business program! Perhaps one day this new impact investment movement could even support bicycle advocacy organizations that take on social business elements. Let’s start thinking just as big as the SOCAP folks are.
The SOCAP12 conference was an inspiration in itself. This year was only their fifth, yet they attracted 1,700 attendees from all over the world. The brilliance lies in their success of bringing together so many eager impact investors with many of the world’s best social innovators. From the opening reception and well past closing time, attendees huddled in excited groups noisily working through the details of investment deals. The organizers had set aside an entire building at the Fort Mason Center just for networking! I have never attended such a lively and loud conference in my 36 years of social impact work.
Call or email me anytime for more resources on social business and impact investing. I’m still in discovery mode so I’m sure to uncover lots more. One thing’s for sure, SOCAP13 is already on my calendar!
There is nothing more frustrating to a bicycle advocate than to hit a wall in their city government’s ordinances. Some of these laws were passed for ridiculous reasons fifty or even one hundred years ago. Yet city staff are required to hold to them. What if bicycle advocates could show their city officials what their city would be like without those ordinances, not on a screen, but out on their streets? Watch the TEDx video posted under Inspirations on our home page and you’ll be inspired to do just that!
If we were to pick the quintessential hot topic in bicycle advocacy, it wouldn’t be the endless bike lane vs. bike path vs. vehicular cycling spiral. It wouldn’t be whether to fight against cars or live with them. And it certainly would not be whether bicyclists should have the same rules, rights and roads as cars – hands down, bicyclists should have better!
No, regular readers will know by now that the bicycle helmet concern is our chosen quintessential hot topic. On our Bicycle Helmets page you can read about why we believe that overzealous bicycle helmet promotions and helmet laws are severely undermining the bicycle movement.
See how we did explaining the problem. Let us know if you see ways to improve it. It’s not easy, especially with a subject that elicits so much emotion. Now read this recent New York Times article “To Encourage Cycling, Cities Lose the Helmets.” It hits on some very important and very current issues that are resulting from the over emphasis on bicycle helmets. Nicely put!