Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don’t: Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories — and maybe, a way forward.



If you’re just joining us, this is part two of our three-part series on social innovation. (Part one can be found on the B2C site or ANTVibes blog) Social innovation can be broadly described as new ideas that meet a need of society, and today we highlight some of our favorite social innovation programs and contributors. We feel these programs are making a particularly significant impact in society today, although there are many other worthy programs we won’t get a chance to mention.

1) Micro-financing

 Micro-financing provides financial services to people lacking regular access to banking, such as those living in rural or poverty-stricken areas. Micro-finance can include nearly any financial service, such as money transfers, loans, savings, insurance, or advising. The idea behind micro-finance is that by providing banking services not normally available, the poor will have better opportunity to pull themselves out of poverty.

 A giant part of micro-finance is micro-credit, but the two terms are not interchangeable. Micro-credit mainly provides small loan opportunities to individuals or groups hoping to start or expand their business, or who are looking to make upgrades to their homes. If not for micro-credit efforts, the majority of these borrowers would never get the opportunity to start their own small business, whether it be to sell household items, make pottery, or operate a restaurant. This economic boost is the intended goal of micro-credit.

 Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist, is largely recognized as the present-day father of micro-credit. He founded Grameen Bank, which originally provided the poor of Bangladesh with small loans, promoting economic activity and growth from the bottom up. Yunus and Grameen Bank were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for their efforts in micro-finance, and still believe that the poor can pull themselves out of poverty if given the opportunity.

Get involved:

Kiva (http://www.kiva.org/) is a non-profit organization that provides a platform for individuals to make loans in $25 increments to thousands of people from around the world. Since 2005, Kiva has provided over $300 million in loans to needy people in 60 countries, with a repayment rate of 98.9%. Choose a new loan recipient today!

 2) Clean Energy

Earth Day 2012 is less than a week away, and in honor we would like to recognize some of our favorite clean energies. Clean, green, or renewable energy is finally getting the look (and some of the investment) it deserves. Over the past few decades, technology has increased the availability, efficiency and affordability of many energy sources that were once widely untapped. Although cost of implementation will always cause concerns, clean energy sources like these are sustainable and offer ample opportunities for expansion.

Solar power: The concept and practice of harvesting the sun’s energy is an age-old tradition, but modern technologies and policies can push solar power to a new level of impact. The grasp of solar power is immense; the amount of solar energy absorbed by the Earth in one hour is more energy than the entire world uses in a calendar year. And even better, this sun is an inexhaustible source (in the foreseeable future).

According to a 2011 report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), “if effective support policies are put in place in a wide number of countries this decade, solar energy in its various forms can make considerable contributions to solving some of the most urgent problems the world faces: climate change, energy security, and universal access to modern energy services.”

Solar energy is versatile, and is well-suited for a variety of applications. Some popular uses include solar lighting, heating, water heating, water treatment, and cooking. Even solar vehicles are being developed, and as technology advances, a owning a solar-powered car may not be too far-fetched. For the big picture, experts at the IEA estimate that if we follow, embrace, and implement a global solar-power regimen, in 50 years it is possible that 1/3 of all global energy can be supplied by the sun.

Wind energy: Like solar power, harnessing the wind’s energy is not a new practice. Windmills have long been used as water pumps and grinding stations, and in the late 1800’s, the first electricity-producing windmill was created. Today, clusters of modern windmills, generally called wind turbines, constitute wind energy sites, or wind farms.

 Global wind usage for electricity is still relatively low, currently providing approximately 3% of Earth’s electricity demands. However, the rapid growth of wind farms has already made a significant difference in many countries. For example, in Denmark, nearly 1/3 of all power is wind-generated, and nearly 1/5 of Portugal’s electricity is wind generated.

 One main problem with wind energy is the aesthetic value. Since windy areas are generally raised or elevated, the wind turbines are usually visible to people in the surrounding areas. Although considered eyesores, wind turbines cause no emissions or fuel consumption, and are compatible with other land uses such as agriculture. If all goes well in the next decade, by 2020 hopefully 10% of Earth’s power can be wind-generated.

Geothermal energy: Electricity that is made using the Earth’s underground heat is known as Geothermal energy. This relatively unknown energy source does not constitute a significant amount of the world’s electricity supply, but certain regions such as North America are good potential suitors.

 Geothermal energy capitalizes on the excess heat that escapes from inside the Earth. Some of this heat is residue from the planet’s formation billions of years ago, and now the majority of heat results from the radioactive decay of minerals. In the past, geothermal power stations were geographically limited to areas along tectonic plate borders, such as around the Ring of Fire in the Pacific. However, technological advances have expanded the capacity and potential for geothermal electricity.

 Although less than 1% of US energy comes from geothermal sources, some countries utilize considerable amounts of geothermal energy. For example, about 25% of energy in the Philippines, Iceland, and El Salvador come from geothermal sources.

 A large part of what energy sources are used depends on the geography and location of the site. Obviously some locations are better than others for certain types of energy harvesting, and a large part also depends on the amount of investment and funding that goes into the projects.

 In addition to solar, wind, and geothermal energy, other worthy clean energy sources existsuch as hydroelectric, tidal, methane, wave, and biomass energy. With due investment and policy, perhaps one day the majority of all Earth’s power consumption will be clean and renewable.

Get involved:

Even small differences can add up to large changes. An array of personal power supplies exists, and http://personal-solar.com/ offers some interesting ways to charge your electronic gadgets, while http://windenergy7.com/turbines/ offers family-sized wind turbines for individual residences or businesses.

3) Women’s rights

It’s been about a hundred years since women have been allowed to vote in the US, and although many women are now viewed as equals in politics and business, a constant strugglefor rights and equity remains. The situation is dire worldwide, especially in developing nations where an unsettling number of women aren’t viewed as equals, but as property.

Whether it be domestic violence, human trafficking/prostitution, or lack of education and healthcare, monumental struggles for women take place everyday, on almost every front. The right to vote, the right to choose whether or not to reproduce, and the right to pick one’s own significant other are just a few major issues, and they cannot be solved overnight. In fact, mainly due to tradition, the worldwide acceptance and support for women’s rights is mediocre at best.

However, there is a positive side. Progress is being made, and the value of women participating in economic activities has stirred some thought and action. It has been demonstrated that women’s education can increase not only economic activity, but the overall standard of living. And while many women around the world still struggle for equity, there are programs and people dedicated to helping. Each of the following organizations are wonderful places to start.

 Get involved:

In the US, the National Organization for Women (NOW) is the largest feminist organization, comprising over half a million contributors. Their goal is clear: “To take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now, exercising all privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men.” Learn and get involved today at their website, http://www.now.org/.

The Association for Women’s Rights in Development, http://www.awid.org/, is multi-generational, international organization dedicated to gender equity, sustainable development, and women’s rights. The AWID offers up to date information and resources for current issues, activities, and ways to get involved.

What’s next?

Part three of our social innovation series will be available soon on the ANTVibes blog, www.antvibes.com/blog. Check in soon for our final piece of the series, cross-cultural communication.

Have something that you would like to share? Please feel free to comment here or contact me directly at jonv [at] antvibes [dot com].


What is ‘Social Innovation’?

In an effort to become more aware and involved with social innovation endeavors, ANTVibes presents “What is social innovation?” as the first section of a three-part series detailing some of the most important facts, trends, opinions, and contributors to social innovation today.

What is Social Innovation?

We’ve heard the term tossed around in newscasts and the occasional weblog, but social innovation is something we should all be aware of. The English word “social” is derived from the Latin word “socii”, meaning allies or associates, while “innovation” refers to introducing something new or different. So in a nutshell, social innovations are new ideas (or programs) that meet a need of society.

But what are needs of society, you ask? A need of society could be anything that increases the quality of life for a population or group of people, such as a faster way to bring water to a village, a new kind of motor that requires less energy input, or a program to provide financial services to those without. Many social innovation programs focus on providing services such as healthcare, job training, and education that will allow individuals to make better decisions and in turn, reduce the overall rate of poverty.

While most of us should agree that social innovation is a positive thing, it doesn’t come without its problems. A major setback of social innovation is, and has been, the lack of speed at which progress is made and the limited reach of the implemented programs. In addition, tracking and monitoring the success and impact of social programs can be a complicated and daunting task.

Social Innovation Looks To The Private Sector:

The downturn in the economy has certainly had its effects on social innovation. Government spending on social programs has decreased as budgets tighten, and many contributors to non-profit organizations find themselves out of position to donate.

Traditionally, many social programs have been plagued by bureaucratic policies and inefficiencies, or lack of funding, both leading to slow rates of growth or progress. And while funding is always going to be somewhat of an issue, more recently, social innovation has started to take a different approach.

Of late, the private sector has been looked upon to provide and transform social programs. By utilizing the creativity and inventiveness of people in the private sector, particularly entrepreneurs, many people believe that social efforts can be streamlined and accelerated.

Because successful small businesses and their owners often experience rapid growth and expansion of their companies, it is believed that the same concept and growth can be applied to entrepreneurs working on social solutions. These entrepreneurs, called “social entrepreneurs”, hope to develop new technologies, practices, or solutions to social issues. Run with business-like efficiency, the hope is that greater impact can be attained and more people can be reached.

What’s Next?

Part two of this three-part series features some of our favorite social innovations and programs, and will be available soon on the ANTVibes blog. In the meantime, feel free to visit some of our favorite social innovation resources:

The Stanford Social Innovation Review provides a wealth of information, along with some of the leading opinions, in the realm of social innovation. While the SSIR is available in print as a magazine, the website also offers a variety of blog readings, podcasts, webinars, book reviews, and more.

The Case Foundation invests in people and ideas that can change the world. Their website provides an assortment of information about social causes, as well as resources for volunteers and advocates. In addition, a mix of publications, blogs, and videos is available.

Social Velocity is a company that helps non-profit organizations start and/or succeed. Although a company website, they offer an insightful blog written By Nell Edgington, which presents a variety of information, resources, and suggested reading materials.


Easter Names… Did You Know?

Easter is just around the corner, and it’s time again to indulge in colourful eggs and chocolate bunnies.

Do you know the story behind Easter and why it is celebrated? Technically, Easter isn’t a particular day, but rather a season in the Christian Church year. The 40 day period prior to Easter Day is known as Lent, which is a period of self-reflection, penance, and thusly, fasting. The fasting starts the day after Mardi Gras, or ‘Fat Tuesday’, and symbolizes the 40 days that Jesus spent by himself in the wilderness before starting his religious ministry.

Easter Sunday is the end of Lent, a feast symbolizing the resurrection of Jesus. Easter eggs became popular because they represent new life, and when a chick is born from an egg, it is similar to how Jesus broke free from his rocky tomb. There are a few hard to pronounce names involved with Easter, and we highlight a few interesting ones below.

Ishtar – Ishtar was the goddess of fertility and war for Pagan worshippers of Babylon. The story of Ishtar is questionable because somewhere along the way, this Pagan god became entangled in Christian tradition. While many people believe Easter symbolizes the resurrection of Jesus, Pagans celebrate the spring equinox as the time that the goddess Ishtar resurrected from the underworld. Being the god of fertility, her resurrection was celebrated with sexual activity, eggs, and rabbits (known for their sexual activity). Rabbits and eggs are still cornerstones of commercial Easter celebrations today. Interestingly enough, Ishtar is pronounced as “Easter”.

Pysanky - Theseare traditional Ukrainian Easter Eggs that were originally made with beeswax. The name pysanky comes from their verb pysaty, which means to write. The patterns and colors are traditional Ukrainian folk designs, although many other cultures have their versions of the pysanky as well. Many Eastern Europeans such as Czechs, Croatians, Belarusians, Poles, Lithuanians, Romanians, and Serbs also decorate eggs with traditional patterns and colors. Correctly pronounced as “pih-sahn-kih”; try to avoid saying “pie-san-kee”.

Goetze –
This is a brand of candy, started around the turn of the 20th century. Founded by a German man and his son, the Goetze candy company became famous for their signature treat, Caramel Creams. Although they specialize in caramel, their signature creams are also produced in a variety of other flavors like licorice and chocolate. Goetze is also the maker of the Cow Tale candy. Pronounced “ghets”, as in, “he gets into a lot of trouble”.

Wishing you a very Happy Easter! 

- The ANTVibes team


ANTVibes at Canada 3.0, presented by CDMN

It’s been a busy month behind the scenes for our team in both Toronto and Waterloo. This week, we’re excited to announce our first conference collaboration with the Canadian Digital Media Network (CDMN). 

Speakers and conference goers are encouraged to register for their ANT (promo code: CDMN) prior to the event, record their name, and utilize the tool to easily communicate with fellow peers and professionals who will be attending the Digital Media Forum on April 24th and 25th. The event will see more than 2,000 delegates – representing industry, government and academia, and will travel from across Canada and from as far away as Brazil and the Netherlands to gather in Stratford, Ontario. 

Canada 3.0 2012 will focus on the progress and benefits of digital media as it enriches communication, facilitates knowledge transfer, drives innovation, and improves productivity across all industry verticals.

In support of this approach, Canada’s premier digital media forum will celebrate Canadian leadership in digital media as evidenced by best practices, lessons learned and grassroots initiatives — showcasing our success in business and technology, arts and heritage, research and academia.

If you’re interested in attending the Forum, you’re able to register here. Our team will be on-site, ready to provide you with more information about our product, and are looking forward to connecting with the many businesses and professionals who will be speaking and exploring the space.

If you have any questions about signing up for your Audible Name Tag for CDMN, or want to get in touch to receive more information about future collaborations, connect with Jo our Community Manager. (jo@antvibes.com)