Marcia Stepanek is a regular contributing writer for Justmeans and co-founder of Contribute Media. She also is Publisher of Cause Global, a group blog about the use of social media in social advocacy and innovation. Previously, she was executive editor and co-founder of CIO Insight Magazine and Web strategies editor at BusinessWeek, as well as the national economics correspondent and special proje...
2010 Social Innovation Award Winners Named
Tesla Motors, Cisco Networking Academy, Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Women initiative and eBay's Green Team were among the organizations and initiatives taking home awards from last night's Justmeans.com/Financial Times 2010 Social Innovation Awards dinner in Manhattan.
A nonprofit organization, the San Francisco-based TechSoup Global, received the event's Citizen's Choice Award. TechSoup Global -- which convenes weekly nonprofit strategy meetings in Second Life -- has provided technology assistance to more than 100,000 nonprofits and libraries in North America and globally. Its more than 30 corporate partners include Cisco and Microsoft. TechSoup Global was voted the most worthy of the citizen's choice award by a majority of some 12,000 citizens voting online during the past two months.
Martin Smith, founder and CEO of Justmeans, said: "We wanted to showcase companies that are innovating us out of the challenges that face us today." Award-winners "are not those (companies and organizations) trying to mitigate their social and environmental impact," Smith said, "but more are creating the processes, systems, programs, and initiatives that we hope will be replicated across their industries and across business over the coming years."
Other award-winners included:
Most Innovative Nonprofit: LIFE/LanX Local Investment Project, a social venture to establish a local stock exchange for U.S. companies too small for national listing. The goal: to make more equity finance available to local communities across America and help them build out of the current recession.
Most Innovative Small For-Profit: Vestergaard Frandsen, a Danish company that, for 40 years, made uniforms for hotel workers and retailers. Now it makes textile-based, life-saving products, including ZeroFly, a durable plastic sheeting for sheltering refugees that also kills disease-spreading insects, and LifeStraw, a water filtration tool the size of paper-towel cylinder that helps thousands who are deprived of clean drinking water, helping them to turn polluted water into drinkable supplies.
Most Innovative Large For-Profit: Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Women initiative, a five-year investment by the Wall Street firm to provide 10,000 under-served women around the world with business and management education.
Best New Green Product: Tesla Motors, a Silicon Valley-based company that engineers and manufactures electric cars. The Tesla Roadster, the company's first vehicle, can get 200 miles on a single charge, can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds, and is roughly twice as energy-efficient as the Toyota Prius. The company produced its 1,000th Roaster in January of this year.
Best Social Investment Strategy: Sparkseed, an incubator for social innovation startups conceived by young risk-takers and college students, encouraging them to apply business principles to address the world's toughest problems. The program works with young social entrepreneurs for six months, giving them coaching and seed resources to help them succeed.
Most Influential Supply Chain Management Strategy: Dispensary of Hope, a nonprofit social venture that crowd-sources medication to uninsured populations. The program is a partnership with three leading pharmaceutical companies, including Merck; the dispensary, founded in 2003, has so far filled more than 200,000 prescriptions for patients who otherwise couldn't afford them.
Best Base of Pyramid Strategy: Thomson-Reuters, for its "market lite" short-messaging news and information service that tells BOP farmers in India the latest market and weather information, helping them to offset risk and plant/sell their crops more successfully.
Best Employee Engagement Strategy: eBay, for its Green Team, a grassroots effort started by a small group of eBay employees to make eBay a green place to work. The Green Team has since has grown into a group of more than 2,000 eBay employees, all supporting environmental causes in local communities and promoting sustainable business practices within the company. A year ago, eBay invited its community of buyers and sellers to join the Green Team; after just six weeks, the team had more than 100,000 members.
Best Stakeholder Engagement: Cisco Networking Academy. Since 1997, the networking academy has grown from a small-scale program designed to help schools get the most out of Cisco's networking equipment to Cisco's largest CSR program, with courses taught at more than 9,000 academies in 165 countries. More than 800,000 students develop ICT skills through the program each year.
Best Internal Sustainability: Con-way, a $4.3 billion freight transportation and logistics services company based in San Mateo, Calif., for its aggressive internal sustainability program to cut waste, reduce fuel consumption, recycle equipment and supplies, and procure goods and services from companies that have clearly stated sustainability goals and values.
Most Strategic Philanthropy Program: Gap Inc. and Brighter Planet (a tie); Gap for its P.A.C.E. program, and Brighter Planet for its crowd-powered micro-grant program, called the Brighter Planet Project Fund, to help communities create low-carbon initiatives.
Said Justmeans' Smith: "Some of these companies are in the early stages of their work and innovation often fails, so will all of these companies actually revolutionize business? No, but at the same time, we wanted to reward both companies with proven success and those with very good ideas, which the judges felt had a lot of potential to drive change."
Who's your choice for social innovation recognition -- either on this list or not yet in the public eye? Let us hear from you.