Skoll Foundation Invests in Leading Social Entrepreneurs
Peace Dividend Trust is latest recipient of Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship
Foundation renews support for Skoll Centre at Oxford University
Investments in The Elders and the Middle East Venture Capital Fund promote new approaches to conflict resolution
PALO ALTO, Calif. – December 15, 2009 – The Skoll Foundation announced today new investments in social entrepreneurs and other innovators driving large scale change on critical issues around the globe. Peace Dividend Trust, which makes peace and humanitarian operations more effective and equitable to promote durable peace, received the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, which includes a $765,000 grant. The Foundation also invested $500,000 to support the work of The Elders, a group of eminent global leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela to support peace building, address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. The Foundation also approved a $2.5 million investment in the Middle East Venture Capital Fund, which will fund information and communications technology companies originating in the Palestinian Territories. Finally, the Foundation renewed its commitment to the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University with a $3.6 million grant, with a focus on developing talent and scholarship in social entrepreneurship, as well as building the Centre’s role as a global hub for social entrepreneurship.
“As the Foundation enters its second decade, we are increasingly focused on entrepreneurial approaches that hold the greatest promise for significant impact on pressing global issues,” said Sally Osberg, President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation. “The investments we’re announcing today are highly leveraged ways to both tackle tough issues, such as local economic empowerment in conflict zones, and to build out a stronger ecosystem to support innovators tackling these tough issues. We’re excited to begin working with this diverse group of innovative leaders and social change organizations.”
Peace Dividend Trust
In 2001, Scott Gilmore was working for the UN peacekeeping mission in Timor-Leste, on leave from the Canadian diplomatic service. He grew frustrated at how management and operational problems hampered the peacekeepers’ ability to achieve the strategic goals of the mission. Staffing practices, for example, prevented the UN mission from hiring local staff despite high unemployment. Scott started an informal group of development and peacekeeping professionals to share lessons learned in the hope of improving operational efficiency. In 2004, he launched Peace Dividend Trust (PDT). PDT focuses on the nuts and bolts of how peace missions operate to help those in charge learn from past failures, disperse benefits as widely as possible, and implement innovative, yet practical approaches to economic development. PDT has grown to over 100 people, has offices in five countries, and has operated in over 12 peace and humanitarian missions.
Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship
The Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the Oxford University’s Said Business School is a leading academic institution for the advancement of social entrepreneurship worldwide. It was founded in 2003 with a $7.5 million investment by the Skoll Foundation. During the past six years, the Skoll Centre has provided MBA scholarships for exceptional social entrepreneurs, created the first endowed chair in social entrepreneurship at a business school and launched the flagship Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship. While the Foundation will continue to support the Skoll World Forum via a separate dedicated grant, this new $3.6 million Foundation investment will be directed to four areas:
Developing Talent. The Centre will deepen its offering of world-class graduate education that provides students with the vision and skills to bring together market-oriented approaches and social innovation.
Advancing Scholarship. As part of a leading international university, the Centre will pursue interdisciplinary research around social entrepreneurship, particularly in the areas of social finance and performance measurement.
Creating a Collaborative Hub. The Centre will strengthen its role as a nexus between social entrepreneurs, students and faculty, and key influencers in business, government, academia, social investment, multilateral organizations and the media.
Institution Building. In addition to improved staffing/skills alignment, the Centre will build its capacity in communications and branding, governance and impact measurement.
The Foundation is making a grant of $500,000 to support The Elders. Created in July 2007 at the impetus of Nelson Mandela, The Elders includes global leaders such as Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan, Desmond Tutu and a number of others who have earned international trust, demonstrated integrity and built a reputation for progressive leadership. The Elders engage on a targeted set of critical global issues where their experience and weight can help bridge differences and drive policies forward, including conflict in the Middle East, the peace process in Cyprus, climate change and human rights. Jeff Skoll is one of the founding supporters of The Elders. (www.theElders.org)
Middle East Venture Capital Fund
Lack of a vibrant Palestinian economy is one of the key impediments to peace in the region. Per capita GDP, at just over $1,000 in 2008, is now lower in real terms than it was in 1997. The new Middle East Venture Capital Fund (MEVCF) will invest primarily in private, export-oriented, high-growth information and communications technology companies originating in the Palestinian Territories. The Fund has a target capitalization of $50 million, with a first closing target of $35 million. The Skoll Foundation will invest up to $2.5 million in the Fund. Fund management believes that an opportunity exists to develop entrepreneurial companies leveraging the growing community of technology professionals in the Palestinian Territories. A fast-growing market for technology in the broader Middle East/North Africa region should create a supportive regional ecosystem, as well as potential additional exit opportunities, for the Fund’s portfolio companies.
“Like the other program related investments we’ve made in the ShoreCap Funds, GroFin, Acumen Capital Markets, and the CAPE Fund, the Middle East Venture Capital Fund gives us an opportunity to use an innovative and socially entrepreneurial intermediary to accelerate the provision of capital to underserved markets,” said Richard Fahey, Chief Operating Officer of the Skoll Foundation. “These intermediaries are valuable because they are a highly leveraged ways to tap philanthropic funding to drive large-scale change in the areas in which they operate. While improving conditions for peace is our main objective with this MEVCF investment, we also believe this provides real opportunity for a financial return, remitting capital for the Foundation’s future social investments down the road.”
About the Skoll Foundation
The Skoll Foundation was created in 1999 by eBay's first president, Jeff Skoll, to promote his vision of a more peaceful and prosperous world. Today the Skoll Foundation drives large-scale change by investing in, connecting and celebrating social entrepreneurs and other innovators dedicated to solving the world’s most pressing problems. Social entrepreneurs are individuals dedicated to innovative, bottom-up solutions that transform unequal and unjust social, environmental and economic systems.
The Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship is the foundation's flagship program. There are currently 61 organizations represented by 74 remarkable social entrepreneurs in the program, working individually and together across regions, countries and continents to deliver solutions to the world’s most challenging economic and social problems. The Skoll Foundation connects social entrepreneurs and other partners in the field via an online community at www.socialedge.org, and through the annual Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship. The foundation also celebrates social entrepreneurs through the work of flagship organizations such as the PBS NewsHour and the Sundance Institute, which help drive large-scale public awareness of social entrepreneurship and its potential to address the critical issues of our time.
The Skoll Foundation