Monday, April 24, 2006

Stanford Social Entrepreneurship Challenge

I had coffee last week with Caroline Bernadi, one of the co-founders of an interesting site called Here's how it works. Online shoppers click on a nonprofit registered with Freepledge that they want to support, they shop at their fav online store (i.e. Amazon, eBay, Orbitz), Freepledge gets a referral fee from the online store (i.e. Amazon's referral fee is 4% of the sale), Freepledge gives the nonprofit the referral fee. Pretty cool, huh?

Freepledge is a finalist in the Stanford Social Entrepreneurship Challenge.

Here are some of the winners from last year's competition and their descriptions of their projects.

1st place: Coal Cleaners
CoalCleaners is developing a process to remove sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide, and mercury pollutants from coal-fired power plant exhaust by turning these pollutant liabilities into marketable by-products of hydrogen, sulfuric acid and nitric acid. Our technology sets the precedent for "greening" coal, and accelerates a more efficient and environmentally responsible coal future. Our technology makes coal plants the front line of hydrogen production for the evolving hydrogen economy.

2nd place: UV AquaStar
Worldwide, 1.6 billion people lack access to safe drinking water. Our for-profit social venture will bring breakthrough low-cost water purification technology to the developing world, starting in India. We plan to introduce the UV AquaStar--the world's lowest cost UV water filter­to the 30 million lower middle-class Indian households in urban slums and village.

3rd place: FluencyLab, Inc
FluencyLab, Inc is a social venture that has the potential to become the world's leading provider of stuttering treatment solutions. FluencyLab's proprietary technologies allow clinicians to effectively treat and evaluate stuttering. Our principle product is a computer-based system that uses biofeedback principles to train patients who stutter to achieve speech fluency. There is no commercial product on the market or treatment report in stuttering literature that has comparable results.
It's too bad that ABC's American Inventor isn't America's Social Entrepreneur. Interestingly though, one of the finalists (yes, I did watch the last two episodes) was a man named Mark Martinez who invented a one-man, one-scoop sandbag shovel to be used in disaster relief and the winner was Erik Thompson, who designed a "Receiver's Training Pole" that he uses to train young football players in low income neighborhoods to improve their skills and get athletic scholarships to college.


  1. Anonymous7:01 AM

    Dear friends,

    I am writing in hopes that you may pass this information along to other non-profits who may fall for this swindle.

    There is a site set up (by a recent Stanford MBA) called
    The logistics are as follows:

    (1) non-profits set up an account with Freepledge
    (2) supposedly receive a percentage of each sale from those who buy products from their affiliates

    Our non-profit decided to utilize this service and we were quickly alarmed to see our information go up on their site within days, but no one returned our phone calls or e-mails regarding how we would access the funding.

    (They never asked for our account information)

    According to their site:

    "FreePledge is structured for efficiency and committed to passing donation onto non-profit organizations. We stand by our commitment with guarantee for transparency with detailed reports of transaction and donation."

    We have seen no "detailed reports" no "donations" nor any "transparency" by this so-called company to-date.

    My guess is that they have all these non-profits on the site, and then the funding is channeled straight to them, with non-profits none the wiser.

    Please pass this on to any and every non-profit organization you know. We have to be careful of swindlers out there that will try to use our character and respective missions to manipulate and capitalize from for personal benefit and wealth... this is highly unethical.

    Our organization's attorney will be sending them a Cease and Desist letter since they have not taken down our information from their site after several phone calls and e-mails.

    Please protect non-profits from!

    Thank you,

  2. Hi K.D.

    What organization are you from?


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