Social Venture Network Announces SVN Innovation Award Winners

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Organization Rewards Innovation and Social Change Among Leaders of Emerging Enterprises

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – October 1, 2007 – Social Venture Network (SVN), the country’s leading network of socially responsible business leaders, today announced the recipients of the SVN Innovation Awards. The winners were selected though the “Imagine What’s Next: Ideas that Will Change the Way the World Does Business” contest that SVN launched earlier this year as part of its 20-Year Anniversary celebration. Through the Innovation Awards, SVN will recognize and support the next generation of socially responsible business and nonprofit leaders who are creating positive social change in the business sector. SVN is a member organization comprised of over 430 CEOs, investors and nonprofit leaders committed to creating a more just and sustainable world.

“SVN has been at the heart of the sustainable business conversation for decades; our members and their businesses continually challenge the socially responsible business platform by taking things to the next level. In keeping this momentum going, we are thrilled to announce the winners of our Imagine What’s Next contest,” said Deborah Nelson, Executive Director of Social Venture Network. “In its first 20 years, SVN has built a community of entrepreneurs who have proven time and time again that businesses can thrive financially while taking care of both their communities and the environment. This contest gave us the opportunity to discover and honor the next generation of leaders whose ideas will continue to transform the way the world does business.”

From nearly 100 applicants nationwide, SVN has selected ten winners and given five honorable mentions to leaders of emerging enterprises that have demonstrated both innovation and progress by harnessing the power of business to effect positive social change. Winners receive a one-year membership to Social Venture Network, recognition at the invitation-only SVN Fall 2007 Conference and will be partnered with SVN mentors who will provide advice and connections through 2008.

Winners include:

Design that Matters, Timothy Prestero, CEO (Cambridge, MA): Design that Matters (DtM) was founded to help social enterprises in developing countries scale more quickly by providing them access to better products designed specifically for their needs. DtM?s design work and business analysis is performed by volunteers from academia and industry, using the infrastructure available at their host institutions. Academic contributors include MIT, Stanford and the Rhode Island School of Design, and corporate partners include IDEO and Fisher Price, SolidWorks and Optikos.

Nau, Chris Van Dyke, CEO (Portland, OR): Nau is an eco-friendly clothing company started by former senior executives from Nike and Patagonia. Nau blends profitability with philanthropy?what they see as the new measure of success. Their high standards for sustainability inspired Nau to create 28 new fabrics that are “open source” to encourage industry peers to achieve the same level of sustainability. Nau donates 5% of gross revenues to nonprofit “partners for change,” and they involve customers by having them select the nonprofit to receive their 5%.

New Resource Bank, Peter Liu, Initial Founder and Vice Chairman (San Francisco, CA): New Resource Bank is the first bank to use depositors? dollars to fund sustainability projects. New Resource Bank innovated in the area of solar power loans for homeowners and also provides incentives for green construction lending. They strive to attain the highest standards for sustainability in the way they run all of their business operations, including having an office that received Gold LEED CI certification for green building.

No Sweat Apparel, Adam Neiman and Natalia Muina, Co-Founders (Boston, MA): No Sweat is a pioneer of fair trade fashion and footwear, setting an empowered, unionized workforce as the gold standard for fair trade clothing. The Company’s products are produced by independent trade union members in the US, Canada, and the developing world. Inspired by the belief that more good jobs for Palestinians in Palestine can help the peace process, No Sweat Apparel’s latest product line is organic cotton t-shirts produced at a Palestinian-owned, unionized, sweatshop-free factory in Bethlehem on the West Bank.

RecycleBank, Ron Gonen, CEO (Philadelphia, PA): RecycleBank is a rewards program giving people incentives to recycle. Anticipated to be in 100,000 households by the end of 2007, RecycleBank works with municipalities to collect and measure the amount of materials recycled by individual households and awarding points that can be used at hundreds of corporate partners around the country, including Starbucks, Whole Foods and Target, and many local retailers as well. Often RecycleBank works in communities with no existing recycling program, thereby raising awareness and generating enthusiasm for recycling.

Responsible Endowments Coalition, Morgan Simon, co-founder and Executive Director (Oakland, CA): The Responsible Endowments Coalition works to foster social and environmental change through university endowments by educating and empowering a diverse community of university members on over 50 campuses nationwide with collective assets of $ 150 billion. By working with colleges and universities to invest responsibly and proactively, students and other university members have the power to support corporate reform in areas such as human rights, environmental responsibility and equal opportunity.

Sweet Beginnings, Brenda Palms Barber, CEO (Chicago, IL): Sweet Beginnings is a project of the North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN), a community-based nonprofit helping ex-offenders fully reenter society by providing assistance in securing and retaining employment and developing a career path. Under the Beeline label, Sweet Beginnings produces natural honey and honey-based products, thereby promoting environmentally sustainable business practices while helping to create green collar jobs for people at all income levels, but especially for people of color.

Taproot Foundation, Aaron Hurst, President and Founder (San Francisco, CA): The Taproot Foundation is changing the way business invests in the community while bridging the gap between nonprofits and the operational resources they need to thrive. By creating a new form of philanthropy whereby professionals volunteer their unique skills through “Service Grants,” Taproot has already supported 500 nonprofits and provided 250,000 hours of volunteer time, collectively valued at $25 million worth of professional services.

TerraCycle, Tom Szaky, CEO and Co-Founder (Trenton, NJ): TerraCycle manufactures affordable, organic fertilizer that is not only made from garbage?organic waste composted naturally by worms?but also packaged entirely in garbage?reused soda bottles. Szaky dropped out of Princeton to pursue this idea. TerraCycle started selling its fertilizer through Home Depot in 2004 and collected more than 2 million plastic bottles in its first 18 months through a recycling program called the Bottle Brigade, which generates enthusiasm for recycling among children by allowing them to fundraise for special projects.

World of Good, Priya Haji, Co-founder and CEO (Emeryville, CA): World of Good seeks to lift thousands of women in the developing world out of poverty. It creates opportunities for hundreds of artisan cooperatives around the world by serving as a bridge to the U.S. retail market and providing access to fair wages, safe working conditions and long-term economic sustainability. is the newest venture launched in partnership with eBay to create a people positive shopping experience designed to help millions of consumers connect with producers around the world.

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Source: CSR Wire (link opens in a new window)