MM Memo 04.28.18

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Each week, we compile and summarize the top articles on corporate social impact, impact investing, and conscious capitalism from around the world, and deliver it to your inbox every Saturday morning for you to enjoy and digest.  

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If “Corporate Social Responsibility” Is A Sideshow, Your Company Is Toast

Lata N. Reddy is Senior Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion & Impact at Prudential Financial, and Chair and President of The Prudential Foundation. In this concise Shift Forum talk, Reddy outlines how a 140+ year old company has hewed to its original mission by incorporating “corporate social responsibility” directly into its business practices.


 
 

OLPC’S $100 LAPTOP WAS GOING TO CHANGE THE WORLD — THEN IT ALL WENT WRONG

It was supposed to be the laptop that saved the world. In late 2005, tech visionary and MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte pulled the cloth cover off a small green computer with a bright yellow crank. The device was the first working prototype for Negroponte’s new nonprofit One Laptop Per Child, dubbed “the green machine” or simply “the $100 laptop.” And it was like nothing that Negroponte’s audience — at either his panel at a UN-sponsored tech summit in Tunis, or around the globe — had ever seen.

Then, Negroponte and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan rose for a photo-op with two OLPC laptops, and reporters urged them to demonstrate the machines’ distinctive cranks. Annan’s crank handle fell off almost immediately. As he quietly reattached it, Negroponte managed half a turn before hitting the flat surface of the table. He awkwardly raised the laptop a few inches, trying to make space for a full rotation. “Maybe afterwards…” he trailed off, before sitting back down to field questions from the crowd. The moment was brief, but it perfectly foreshadowed how critics would see One Laptop Per Child a few years later: as a flashy, clever, and idealistic project that shattered at its first brush with reality.


Meet the VC who says impact investing can exceed average returns

Impact investing, sustainable investing or even social impact investing—all names that might mean different things to different people. However, they are, generally speaking, trying to achieve the same end: sustainable social and environmental change, while still generating returns for their investors. One player in this space is Mustard Seed, founded in 2015 by Alex Pitt and Henry Wigan. The London-based firm invests in early-stage businesses with global commercial potential that are addressing significant social or environmental challenges. 

"If a company is doing something very important in the world, customers are going to want to buy more of it, employees are going to be more committed, and investors are going to want to be very involved in helping that company succeed," he explained. "We see these dynamics at work across our portfolio every day. This means these companies will have very strong long-term commercial returns, in our view."


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