Friday
January 21
2011

Tristan Pollock

33Needs Turning Ideas into Action

Josh Tetrick first garnered interest in social-impact entrepreneurship while working with the United Nations Growing Sustainable Business initiative in Africa. He recalls: “There were lots of terrific ideas, but no capital to make things happen.”

After earning his law degree, Tetrick wanted to break through the legal and regulatory barriers and make it easier for the everyday investor to fund social ventures. The U.S. Securities Act of 1933 prevented investment in companies that were not listed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). That meant bars holding small-, to medium-sized businesses back from perspective funding.

So Tetrick decided to literally redefine that negative and turn it into a positive by forming 33Needs, a startup crowd-funding website focused on social entrepreneurs and their world-changing ideas.

“We want to enable everyone to invest in social ventures,” Tetrick says.

33needs.com doesn’t launch until Feb. 1, but over 825 applications have already poured in from social enterprises around the world. “We have ventures in Senegal, South Africa, Spain and Canada,” says Tetrick. “We are really geographically agnostic. Selection depends more on what issues the businesses are addressing.” And that includes any idea that tackles a major social-impact issue, including the environment, sustainable food, health, education, community improvement and local opportunities.

33Needs surpasses the SEC fine print by requiring social ventures to offer a revenue sharing option with investors. The venture decides the time and amount: i.e. 3 percent of revenues will be shared with investors over 3 years.

When 33Needs launches next week, 30 social businesses will be profiled on the site. After that, another 181 pre-selected applicants will be slowly rolled out. For a peek at what’s to come, request access at 33needs.com.

Categories
Entrepreneurship, Environment, Impact Assessment, Technology
Tags
crowdsourcing, social impact, startup, sustainability