Social Enterprise and Global Technology Company Partner to Foster Digital Opportunity

Social Enterprise and Global Technology Company Partner to Foster Digital Opportunity

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Article by Kevin Kraver, Director of Business Development, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. Originally posted here

At Miller Center, we think a lot about how social entrepreneurship can help solve the problems of poverty at scale. Given our Silicon Valley surroundings, we also think about the role of technology, and how corporations can partner to create greater impact. It is exciting and powerful when we experience all of these ideals coming together to serve the poor. Library For All, a recent alumnus of the Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI®), and corporate partner, Equinix, provide a great example.

Library For All (LFA) is a small nonprofit organization that envisions a world without barriers to knowledge. Its mission is to make knowledge accessible to all, equally. LFA is leveraging mobile technology to provide the world’s poorest people with books and tools to learn, dream, and aspire to lift themselves out of poverty. Their digital library platform is specifically designed to work on available devices and allows users to access culturally relevant books in their mother tongue and international languages, at a much lower cost than building physical libraries.

Equinix, Inc. is a Fortune 1000 global interconnection and data center company serving more than 8000 customers in 41 global markets. Recognizing the role of technology in advancing positive change worldwide, the Equinix Impact Program focuses on creating Digital Opportunity, enabling people in need around the world to participate in and benefit from the digital economy.

With this great alignment in goals, Equinix has been proud to support Library For All in different ways, including grant support, employee engagement, and connections to valuable partners. Most recently, Equinix partnered with Miller Center to sponsor Library For All’s participation in our Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI®) Online accelerator program. Sujata Narayan, Equinix Director of Corporate Citizenship, commented that “underwriting the cost of the one of their leaders to participate in the GSBI is a targeted way to provide support beyond just writing a check.  It’s a way to say we really believe in you and what you’re doing, and we’re going to invest more deeply to ensure your success.”

GSBI programs are designed to help social entrepreneurs to achieve sustainability and scalability in their combined business and impact models and to best position them to attract capital investment to fuel their growth. This was a great fit for LFA who came into the GSBI program with some ideas and many questions around how to drive sustainable revenue to the organization. The GSBI program allowed the LFA team to take a step back from daily operations, and revisit their fundamental questions, challenges and goals. The lead participant in the program, Isabel Sheinman, Director of Business Development, expressed GSBI’s specific value to LFA: “The GSBI program provided us with both a strong framework in which to ask very hard, but very important questions about our organization, and also two expert mentors to help in the process… we are confident that we now have the right questions to ask, and more tools to help us answer these questions as we continue to grow and develop our organization.”

Now having successfully completed the GSBI program, LFA is looking ahead to toward strategic and scaling initiatives. In the coming months, LFA is launching a new version of its digital library app in Rwanda, which will give readers across the country access to high-quality Kinyarwanda, French, and English books. In Haiti, they are testing new models for content creation and distribution, including running local writer workshops for aspiring authors, illustrators and publishers to create original children’s books in Haitian Creole. Over the next six months, LFA is raising $250,000 to support these initiatives and to scale the reach of their digital library from 10,000 readers in Haiti, DRC, Rwanda, Cambodia, and Mongolia to 25,000 readers. At Miller Center we are confident they can reach these goals and beyond.

To find out more about Library For All or about how you can support them, visit http://www.libraryforall.org/about/

To find out more about the Equinix Impact Program and view Equinix’s latest Corporate Sustainability report, visit http://www.equinix.com/company/sustainability/impact/

To learn about ways your corporation can partner with Miller Center or with a social enterprise to create impact, contact me at kkraver@scu.edu