Updates from November, 2011

  • Constructing a prezi presentation

    12:39 pm on November 26, 2011 | 0 comments Permalink | Reply
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    Ear­lier this week, I had the plea­sure of pre­sent­ing the VANCOUVER+acumen/Acumen Fund model to an impact invest­ing meetup in Van­cou­ver. It was also the first time I was on a panel of speak­ers and it was a really hum­bling expe­ri­ence to be there with other passionate/knowledgable peo­ple work­ing in the Van­cou­ver impact invest­ing space. I would like to share my prezi pre­sen­ta­tion that I gave that day as well as cou­ple of notes that I have picked up along the way from build­ing my fair share of prezi presentations.

    1) Build a pic­ture: Prezi is a fan­tas­tic tool when you are try­ing to present a con­cept as an over­all vision. It adds the dimen­sion of space to the pre­sen­ta­tion which is a bless­ing in dis­guise. I find the best prezi pre­sen­ta­tion is a pic­ture that you build in an audience’s mind. When the pre­sen­ta­tion is fin­ished, it really should be a com­plete sin­gle pic­ture with a few take­aways. This is the most impor­tant dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion point on why you should pick prezi over keynote: when you want to con­struct a visual pic­ture as opposed to a lin­ear flow of ideas.

    2) Draw out your pre­sen­ta­tion: When con­struct­ing this pre­sen­ta­tion, I spent a long time before­hand think­ing about what I wanted my final pic­ture to be. I knew the mes­sage I wanted to deliver: the acu­men story in two parts — the business/investment process and moral lead­er­ship. How that infor­ma­tion is pre­sented is a dif­fer­ent story. I chose a moun­tain and split my pre­sen­ta­tion to show the first part and then unveil the lower half of the moun­tain as the sec­ond story.

    3) Con­struct your path: I love the zoom­ing abil­ity of prezi, and when used prop­erly, can really add alot of impact to your pre­sen­ta­tion. My two favourite ways of using this tool is the abil­ity to give a sense of div­ing into some­thing, or mov­ing from one con­cept to another (think — movie reel). I per­son­ally haven’t been able to find an effec­tive way of using the tool that rotates words (unless its sur­round­ing a cir­cle) as I find that it dis­rupts the flow path instead of adding (I’ve had feed­back where I was overly excited and use it too much — peo­ple actu­ally became dizzy with the zoom­ing in and out).

    Hence, this tool really should then be used to unveil lay­ers (think — Incep­tion dream lay­ers) in your pre­sen­ta­tion — how­ever deep you want to dive. Keep the lay­ers con­sis­tent work­ing from big –> small, or in my pre­sen­ta­tion above, I chose to go small –> big. For my pre­sen­ta­tion the 3 lay­ers I wanted to cre­ate was mov­ing from the core of Acu­men — cre­at­ing a world beyond poverty, to the how of their busi­ness model, build­ing on that to their com­plete pic­ture which includes moral lead­er­ship, and finally the over­all call to action of get­ting involved with Van­cou­ver for Acumen.

    If you’re inter­ested in get­ting in touch to learn more about VANCOUVER+acumen/Acu­men Fund, please feel free to be in touch!

    Note: The pic­tures in my prezi is an Acu­men invest­ment: Water­Health Inter­na­tional. You can read more about them here.

    *All pic­tures and images are the prop­erty of VANCOUVER+acumen and Acu­men Fund. 

  • VANCOUVER+acumen Presentation - Making an Impact through Social Finance

    3:54 pm on November 8, 2011 | 0 comments Permalink | Reply
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    For the past year and a half or so, I have been involved with an incred­i­ble group, VANCOUVER+acumen. We’re a vol­un­teer chap­ter sup­port­ing Acu­men Fund by actively cham­pi­oning Acumen’s inno­v­a­tive model of patient cap­i­tal to ele­vate global poverty. We achieve this by engag­ing in com­mu­nity, rang­ing from infor­ma­tional work­shops, monthly salons and our annual case com­pe­ti­tion. As one of the found­ing mem­bers, it has been a great priv­i­lege to work along­side such pas­sion­ate indi­vid­u­als in this space and to con­tinue to cre­ate a world beyond poverty.

    I’m really excited to announce that I will be speak­ing at the inau­gural Cana­dian Global Impact Invest­ing meetup in Van­cou­ver on behalf of the group — shar­ing the acu­men model (both on a global and chap­ter level) to the impact invest­ing com­mu­nity in Van­cou­ver. The event will be held on Wednes­day, Nov 23rd from 6:30pm — 9pm at SFU Segal Grad­u­ate School of Busi­ness in down­town Van­cou­ver. You can check out more details about the event here.

    Three other orga­ni­za­tions will also be pre­sent­ing at the event: Vancity, Global Cat­a­lyst Ini­tia­tive and Oppor­tu­nity Inter­na­tional Canada. Also, at the event, they will be giv­ing away door prizes ( 2 books I couldn’t rec­om­mend highly enough): Impact invest­ing: Trans­form­ing How We make Money While Mak­ing a Dif­fer­ence – Jed Emer­son, Antony Bugg-Levine and Banker to the Poor – Muham­mad Yunus.

    See you on the 23rd. Look­ing for­ward to con­nect­ing with other fel­low impact investing/social enter­prise champions.

  • Catalyzing Social Capital Markets: 4 key publications

    3:27 pm on October 13, 2011 | 0 comments Permalink | Reply
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    I’m not sure if I suf­fer(?) a bad case of Con­fir­ma­tion Bias but it seems (and this is a broad gen­er­al­iza­tion of course!) that there has been a rise in news, webi­nars, events or arti­cles about impact invest­ing and/or social enter­prise. I wrote the post below for SocialEarth two days ago and it already needs updat­ing! From the amount of responses and retweets, peo­ple really love resource/reading lists! Hence, I will start shar­ing resources that I come across here instead of blast­ing out via email to my friends (I’m under a delu­sion that they love receiv­ing news like this — no one has opted out so far!).

    So 2 quick updates. Upcom­ing (free!) webi­nars on impact investing.

    1) How to Be An Impact Investor hosted by MaRS Cen­tre for Impact Investing

    Date: Thurs, Oct 27th 2011

    Time: 12pm — 1pm (EST)

    Key themes/questions (from event description):

    • How do you con­vert your moti­va­tions for a just and equi­table soci­ety or a pollution-free envi­ron­ment into an effec­tive invest­ment pol­icy state­ment that will enable you to make both pos­i­tive impact and seek the finan­cial return require­ments of your organization?
    • What level of due dili­gence should you con­duct to deter­mine whether a ven­ture is a good can­di­date for such investments?
    • What skills and exper­tise can you draw on inter­nally or acquire through exter­nal advi­sors or man­agers to aid in your decision-making process?
    • What oppor­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges should you be cog­nizant of as you seek to re-align your invest­ment port­fo­lio with your mis­sion and val­ues, both orga­ni­za­tion­ally and personally?

    2) Impact Invest­ing: Chal­lenges and Prospects hosted by Jed Emer­son and Antony Bugg-Levine

    Date: Mon, Nov 7th 2011

    Time: 12pm –1pm (EST)

    Key themes/questions (from event description):

    • Roots of impact invest­ing, exam­ples of its prac­tice today
    • Chal­lenges that need to be addressed: reg­u­la­tions, cul­ti­vat­ing trans­for­ma­tional lead­ers, mea­sur­ing blended value, bring­ing in phil­an­thropic cap­i­tal, lim­its and chal­lenges of impact investing
    • Chart­ing a course for ‘blended value’ invest­ment strate­gies that make money while improv­ing social and envi­ron­men­tal conditions.


    *The post below was orig­i­nally pub­lished on http://www.socialearth.org on Oct 11, 2011

    Cap­i­tal­ism has alot to answer for these days. Mem­bers of this group range from ardent Occupy Wall Street pro­test­ers to a sense of com­mon vision that seems lack­ing amongst cit­i­zens. Today, we turn to four won­der­ful pub­li­ca­tions high­lighted at  SOCAP11  that has been cre­at­ing momen­tum to rede­fine cap­i­tal­ism and would be a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the pub­lic debate.

    1) Impact Invest­ing: Trans­form­ing How We Make Money While Mak­ing A Dif­fer­ence – Jed Emer­son, Antony Bugg-Levine

    This ground-breaking book should be your first choice to pick up to explore the trans­for­ma­tive power of impact invest­ing. The book explores an inte­grated alter­na­tive to tra­di­tional phil­an­thropy and invest­ing – high­light­ing the appli­ca­tions of impact invest­ing as well as its poten­tial. It demon­strates how it is and can be a pos­i­tive dis­rup­tive force. Per­haps the most inter­est­ing angle of this book is the usage of time with impact invest­ing, pro­vid­ing a his­tor­i­cal and pre­dic­tive per­spec­tive enabling read­ers to have a solid under­stand­ing of what the present holds. The authors ulti­mately offer a opti­mistic vision for what we can col­lec­tively achieve when our assets work in uni­son with our val­ues. As a bonus, I can assure you that the authors are as inspir­ing in per­son as they are in the book. No jokes.

    Fur­ther Resources:


    2) Inno­va­tions Jour­nal: SOCAP 11 – Impact Invest­ing Spe­cial Edition

    I’ve been a big fan of Inno­va­tions – quar­terly com­pi­la­tions of com­men­tary, research and essays from lead­ing inno­va­tors in their field. There was a spe­cial edi­tion of Inno­va­tions for SOCAP11 con­tain­ing a myr­iad of per­spec­tives on build­ing the inter­sec­tion on money and mean­ing as part of the solu­tion to global chal­lenges. Below is the com­plete list of con­trib­u­tors in this spe­cial edition.

    My pick out of all the essays was one by Robert Katz and Brian Trel­stad of Acu­men Fund on Mis­sion, Mar­gin and Man­date. The essay firstly unwraps the def­i­n­i­tion of scale and sus­tain­abil­ity and then lays out the three paths to achieve this goal through mis­sion, mar­gin and man­date. I was par­tic­u­larly hooked on the dilemma pre­sented: what should take prece­dence when build­ing out a social enterprise?

    • At what point do you evan­ge­lize your solu­tion to raise mission-based grant cap­i­tal or vol­un­teer sup­port to work on that new product?
    • At what point to you buckle down and sim­ply exe­cute on sales and ser­vice to grow your margins?
    • When do you approach the gov­ern­ment for changes to pol­icy that might help get that man­date to scale?”

    Fur­ther Resources:

    • You can obtain a free copy of their essay here
    • Bonus offer: Write an Ama­zon review for the SOCAP11 Impact Invest­ing Spe­cial Edi­tion and receive a free sub­scrip­tion to the Inno­va­tions Journal.


    3) Design for the Other 90% – Cyn­thia Smith, Paul Polok

    It is a dis­ci­pline that uses the designer’s sen­si­bil­ity and meth­ods to match people’s needs with what is tech­no­log­i­cally fea­si­ble and what a viable busi­ness strat­egy can con­vert into cus­tomer value and mar­ket oppor­tu­nity”. Tim Brown, Change By Design

    This book is an extra­or­di­nary col­lec­tion of more than 30 design projects tar­geted specif­i­cally to design low-cost solu­tions for the world’s pop­u­la­tion that have lit­tle or no access to most prod­ucts (the other 90%). The sto­ries and bril­liant illus­tra­tions (part­nered with the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum) takes the reader through unique ways to pro­vide bet­ter access to basic needs and how inno­va­tions in design are often the most suc­cess­full in address­ing these issues.


    Fur­ther Resources:


    4) A New Foun­da­tion for Port­fo­lio Man­age­ment - Port­fo­lio 21, RSF Social Finance

    One of the fun­da­men­tal con­cepts that per­me­ates port­fo­lio con­struc­tion and the asset man­age­ment world is Mod­ern Port­fo­lio The­ory (MPT) – how do you max­i­mize port­fo­lio expected return for a given amount of risk by choos­ing var­i­ous pro­por­tions of assets. This paper is a great start­ing point in a call to arms to reeval­u­ate MPT in light of the impact of eco­log­i­cal lim­its and global impact of invest­ments. The premise of the paper focuses on: 1) Inte­grated Risk; 2) Selec­tive Growth; and 3) Mul­ti­di­men­sional Util­ity Func­tion to pro­vide investors clar­ity on the long-term impli­ca­tions of man­ag­ing a port­fo­lio that goes beyond a purely finan­cial purpose.

    Fur­ther Resources:

    • Port­fo­lios of the Poor: How the poor live on $2 a day  - Daryl Collins, Jonathan Mor­duch, Stu­art Ruther­ford, Orlanda Ruthven


  • Review: UBC iWeek Global Keynote Speaker- Paul Rusesabagina (Hotel Rwanda)

    3:20 pm on April 9, 2010 | 2 comments Permalink | Reply
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    A cou­ple weeks ago, I attended a very inter­est­ing event, one that pro­voked two thoughts:

    1) There is always, always two sides of a story and

    2) We need to use resources around us — beyond what we have at hand in order to learn

    This event was in UBC as part of the Inter­na­tional Week celebrations:

    To pro­vide some back­ground: (Taken from event description)

    Mr. Paul Rus­esabag­ina was the man­ager of the Sabena Hôtel des Mille Collines, and shel­tered hun­dreds of Tut­sis and mod­er­ate Hutus peo­ple for a hun­dred days using all avail­able resources to him.  His coura­geous efforts thwarted bands of geno­ci­dal mili­tia while Rwanda descended into out­right geno­cide and civil war, and was cel­e­brated in the Hol­ly­wood movie pro­duc­tion, “Hotel Rwanda”.

    A recip­i­ent of numer­ous inter­na­tional awards, includ­ing the Wal­len­berg Medal and the Pres­i­den­tial Medal of Free­dom, Mr. Rus­esabag­ina is a pow­er­ful speaker with a story of hero­ism and human­ity in inhu­mane con­di­tions.  In addi­tion to his expe­ri­ences dur­ing and after the Rwan­dan geno­cide, Mr. Rus­esabag­ina will share his insights into the nature of the con­flict, the fail­ure of the West to stop it, and the chal­lenges of reconciliation.

    The event started out with a quick intro­duc­tion by Brian Sul­li­van and quickly pro­ceeded to Paul Rusesabagina’s speech itself. I won’t go into details of the speech, which was an account of his expe­ri­ences of the Rwan­dan geno­cide and what went down in Hotel Rwanda. It was incred­i­ble hear­ing his accounts first hand, but the real expe­ri­ence cam dur­ing the Q&A period. Prof. Michael Byers was the mod­er­a­tor for the session.

    Three things occured dur­ing the Q&A that took me com­pletely by surprise:

    1) There was a sub­stan­tial amount of peo­ple that are Rwan­dan geno­cide refugees that were present. I had no idea that event of this event man­aged to reach past the UBC com­mu­nity, which was impressive.

    2) The ques­tions regard­ing com­par­isons of South Africa and Rwanda’s econ­omy was very much unex­pected, con­sid­er­ing the dif­fer­ent polit­i­cal, cul­tural and eco­nomic con­di­tions of both countries.

    3) The response towards Paul Rusesabagina’s speech was cen­tered around his account­abil­ity and actions of Hotel Rwanda.

    Need­less to say, due to time con­straints, only 3–4 ques­tions were answered and the ses­sion ended. How­ever, sev­eral Rwan­dan com­mu­nity rep­re­sen­ta­tives spoke up on their ver­sion of Paul Rusesabagina’s actions, ques­tion­ing his motives, finan­cial account­abil­ity as well as alliances dur­ing the geno­cide. They had the Chan Cen­tre riv­eted with accounts of their per­sonal sto­ries of their sur­vival and encoun­ters with the military.

    I have been to numer­ous events at the Chan but this was the first one that I have ever expe­ri­enced such a strong out­come and dis­cus­sion after. Stu­dents were gath­er­ing out­side the Chan around these Rwan­dan geno­cide sur­vivors who were engag­ing in more per­sonal con­ver­sa­tion about their expe­ri­ences and there was buzz in the atmos­phere about new­found knowledge.

    My Main Take­away: Paul Rus­esabag­ina has been potrayed by Hol­ly­wood as a hero and revered for his coura­geous efforts dur­ing the geno­cide. How­ever, the dis­cus­sion at the Chan cen­ter which ques­tioned his alliances, finan­cial account­abil­ity, and actual self-preservation efforts. This  has made me realise that there are always two sides to a story, no mat­ter how well know one side is. It is our respon­si­bil­ity to always be aware of the other side.

    I leave you with a phe­nom­e­nal TED talk by Chi­ma­manda Adiechi telling the dan­ger of a sin­gle story. Because our lives and cul­tures are com­posed of many over­lap­ping sto­ries, if we hear only a sin­gle story about another per­son or coun­try, we risk a crit­i­cal misunderstanding.

  • Review: The Munk Debates

    10:42 pm on June 29, 2009 | 3 comments Permalink | Reply
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    “We need com­pas­sion to get our­selves started, and enlight­ened self-interest to get our­selves seri­ous … that’s the alliance that changes the world” Paul Col­lier

    “Evi­dence over­whelm­ingly demon­strates that aid to Africa has made the poor poorer, and the growth slower. ” Dambisa Moyo

    “Unless there is recog­ni­tion that women are most vul­ner­a­ble… and you do some­thing about social and cul­tural equal­ity for women, you’re never going to defeat this pan­demic.” Stephen Lewis


    I absolutely love the con­cept of bring­ing together ideas, as I think it is one of the most vital plat­forms in which we can learn and grow from one another. Con­sider The Munk Debates, a remark­able debate series that I followed/am fol­low­ing that brings together promi­nent lead­ers to debate about major issues con­cern­ing the world and Canada.  It is one of the few plat­forms that brings together the opin­ions of promi­nent peo­ple and places them head to head against each other and see how they fare. The model of this debate also works around the fact that the debate is sub­ject to pub­lic scrutiny and opinion.

    In terms of organ­i­sa­tion, they have been wise in their selec­tion of debaters. ie. Stephen Lewis — pretty much a Cana­dian icon, or con­tro­ver­sial writ­ers like Dambisa Moyo that would really draw the audi­ence to par­tic­i­pate and con­sider the topic of choice. The cho­sen top­ics are also well timed, the first one set just before the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tions in Novem­ber 2008, urg­ing the pub­lic to con­sider global secu­rity in light of the elections.

    So, if you haven’t been fol­low­ing the debates (There is one every 6 months), here are three rea­sons why (aside from the usual expo­sure to new ideas):

    1) It’s FREE

    The organ­is­ers have done an amaz­ing job mak­ing the debates acces­si­ble online. The debates are streamed live, can be re-watched, audio, mp3, read the debate tran­script, etc. Did I men­tion that its all free? Enough said. Watch!

    2) SAVES you time

    There are few places online that you are able to find Stephen Lewis, Paul Col­lier, Dambisa Moyo, Mia Far­row, John Bolton’s, etc. opin­ions all in one place. All of them are extremely influ­en­tial and respected indi­vid­u­als in their respec­tive fields and it’s a one stop/click/video for amaz­ing insights into dif­fer­ent top­ics. It also enables you to see their posi­tions on cer­tain top­ics, which would help you greatly in terms of referring/researching on a topic/individual should you want to inves­ti­gate in more depth their pub­li­ca­tions and opinions.

    3) COMMENT on your position

    For a cer­tain period after the debates, an online pol­ing sta­tion (open to a ran­dom selct group of Cana­dian pan­elist) and medi­ated forum (open to the gen­eral pub­lic) is set up. You get to see and com­ment on an ‘opin­ions forum’, and some­times you find some of the most amaz­ing ideas and posi­tions that the pub­lic has taken on it. A data analy­sis is also run based on the online pol­ing sta­tion and you can see the break­down of opin­ion on the debate topic as well as the key points that are brought up dur­ing the debate.

    In other words, you watch the debates, com­ment, and view stats. Love it.

    Past debate topics:






    Some future debate topic lineups:

    Reli­gion is a force of good in the world

    More Free mar­ket and less gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tion is the answer to our eco­nomic woes

    Final thoughts: Ranked: 9/10. Improve­ment: Bet­ter adver­tis­ing. I only found this after nav­i­gat­ing heav­ily through the Globe and Mail.


    Note: All pic­tures are taken from http://www.munkdebates.com
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