Developed in collaboration with Lift Economy, the Impact Accelerator program was a way to support social entrepreneurs/social enterprises aspiring to create maximum positive impact for the benefit of all life. The program is now closed, but you can read below for details of our funding.
Fibershed & Carbon Cycle Institute
Our initial funding paid for a site assessment, soils mapping and producer education on the first ranch site and for a carbon farming training in Modoc county.
World Centric® funded Agrarian Trust at this early stage to develop their legal structure and legal documentation frameworks for accepting land grants and putting them into a trust to be protected for agricultural use in the future.
We hold a vision of locally self-reliant, resilient, regional economies where the abundant resources of any given region are used locally to meet as many needs as possible and then surplus is traded as finished goods to obtain resources scarce in any one locality. We want to see this created as a documented open-source pattern that can be easily adapted and replicated to any bio-region on earth. We launched our Impact Accelerator in Fall 2014 with an open RFP (request for proposals) as a step toward achieving this vision.
We received 40+ applications from companies and organizations across the country and abroad. We had the good problem of many interesting, innovative and important projects to vet for the viability of impact potential. The top half of the organizations were interviewed and given detailed feedback on their proposal and coaching on next steps forward to manifest their projects.
This Accelerator program was an attempt to have maximum beneficial impact on all life in pursuit of our vision of a just and sustainable world, where humans live simply and tread lightly.
The life sustaining systems on planet earth are on the verge of simultaneous collapse and immediate systemic action is required on a global scale. Climate change, economic collapse, species extinction, gross social inequities and environmental degradation point to current and looming disaster for life as we know it on planet earth. At the same time, we have unprecedented global access to information, resources, technology, manufactured goods, diverse cultures and wisdom traditions. We have abundant, emergent solutions to the crisis’ we face but they are, today, only applied on small scales and in disintegrated, incomplete fashion in disparate locations.
Our observation is that the economy is the dominant force for activity on the planet and we have an opportunity to harness it as a vehicle for change to benefit all life, but only if we alter the core underlying structures and systems (the DNA) of how the economy works. We hold a vision of locally self-reliant, resilient, regional economies where the abundant resources of any given region are used locally to meet as many needs as possible and then surplus is traded as finished goods to obtain resources scarce in any one locality. We want to see this created as a documented open-source pattern that can be easily adapted and replicated to any bio-region on earth. This may be difficult to imagine since we have not seen, heard or experienced this type of whole, intact system where needs are met in harmony. Some examples that currently exist in partial form are the Mondragon Cooperatives in the Basque region of Spain. Or on a smaller scale closer to home, the way a nuclear family shares resources and care for each other with no one left out.
If we desire to change the economy, it seems we will find that there are changes necessary in human culture/human lifestyle, the way in which we live and meet our needs. Examples of these cultural shifts include:
Voluntary simplicity or living conservative lifestyles where the ethic is to consume less, become more of a primary producer where possible, balancing personal preferences/interests with prioritizing collective wellbeing
Shared resources including:
Shared space in building where we live (co-housing type models)
Sharing food purchases for bulk staple foods that we do not grow ourselves
Sharing tools, kitchen assets, capital intensive resources (workshop space, etc.)
This program was an attempt to have maximum beneficial impact on all life in pursuit of our vision of locally self-reliant, resilient, regional economies.
What Was the Criteria for Consideration
Vision: Desire to advance, accelerate, prove the concept of a high impact business model that delivers a needed good or service in such a way that benefits all life (see models of interest and areas of focus below). This means you believe your product or service is directly in service to a core basic need of humanity. The intent of this Accelerator is to engender and/or grow organizations purpose-designed for maximum benefit for all life. The vision is to create and demonstrate a model of a locally self-reliant, resilient, regional economy that enhances the conditions conducive to all life. It is anticipated that growing such an economy holds significant implications for human settlement, human community and human behavior. Certain principles and models described herein might only be possible or be easier to consider in the context of a gradual social/cultural transformation that occurs in concert with the transformation of the economy. Emergent examples of both the social/cultural transformation and the economic transformation abound today. The former is probably best captured in the ecovillage movement and its many flavors. This Accelerator intends to propel the transformation of the economy which, in this vision is inseparable from the transformation of society at large.
Principles: Successful proposals will likely be inspired by the following principles:
Equitable/democratic culture/workplace: We are seeking entrepreneurs and social enterprises that embrace some form of democratic processes. The social enterprise could be a worker-owned cooperative or a consumer cooperative or at least have some methods for current and prospective employees to be involved in some practice of self-determination and ownership.
Transparent - clear about supply chain, practices, finances, benefits, cost (e.g., true cost accounting): This builds a culture of mutual understanding, trust and inclusion where responsibility can be pushed out to everyone in the company. An example of this principle in practice is Open Book Management
Surplus reinvestment - profits are shared or redistributed: The intention of the enterprise is to be of the greatest beneficial impact not to achieve individual outsized return and wealth hoarding. ‘Surplus’ means the enterprise is fully self-sustaining already. In some cases, if necessary and if the impact is great enough, the organization may exist depending on gift and not be self-sustaining.
Support of local alternative economy ecosystem (local supply chain): this means that the organization will proactively seek relationships with other locally owned organizations and where possible seek to transact with them in support of alternative currencies and trading systems where possible. An example would be BerkShares - local currency for the Berkshire region of Massachusetts or BayBucks in the Bay Area, CA.
Zero waste: In the design and delivery of your good or service you are acutely considerate of the energy and material resources used and seek to eliminate all waste and, where possible, create beneficial impact rather than just no waste
Ecosystem integration - whole systems thinking (e.g., stormwater investment, habitat for owls, etc.): Where the enterprise has an asset like a vehicle or a warehouse or any material supply - consideration is given and investment is made, as appropriate, to leverage said assets for the benefit of all life. e.g., The vehicle would be electric or run on locally produced biofuel.
Whole system finances: The enterprise considers and chooses financing and financial transaction strategies that support the emergent alternative beneficial financial ecosystem. This might include banking with a CDFI or local Credit Union, choosing a non-profit merchant bank, supporting complementary currencies, financing the company (if necessary) from internal growth, or DPOs or from crowd financing
Accessible - affordable, or available to as many as possible: Continually refining the enterprise model to make needed goods and services more and more accessibly to all in need by lowering prices and investing in supply chain innovation to make the good or service even more accessible
Living wage, wage cap, culture of simplicity (balance, benefits): Designing the enterprise to care for all labor involved by supporting a living wage with a rich enterprise culture that supports the full life potential of the individual employee
Education embedded into product service: Where possible, because the good or service is needed, embed education into the product or service so that the consumer of the good or service might be able to provide the good or service for themselves and others someday if reasonable and possible
Self sustaining business model, designed to take little to no capitalization: Enterprise will be funded by own revenue, not dependent on future financing, grants, or rebates. In certain cases it may be self-evident that the greatest impact comes from operating the organization as dependent on subsidy and gift.
Scale by replication: The intention of the enterprise is to grow through a proof of concept and scale up the organization to model and demonstrate a regionally appropriate approach to meeting a core human need and to grow from there by replication - i.e., open sourcing the business model itself so that it can be replicated (regionally adapted, of course) to any appropriate human settlement. An example would be Arizmendi Bakery
Open source: Where possible the enterprise would open source its technology and processes for use in other regions by other enterprises intending to meet the same needs and demands. Defensive patents or protections would be considered if needed.
Innovation - technology or processes that already exist that have not been applied in a particular way or particular combination: The enterprise will probably not require extensive research and development. It is anticipated that most or all of the technology used in the good or service delivery already exists.
Local to the San Francisco Bay Area: This Accelerator will consider organizations not located in the Bay Area under certain circumstances.
Who Did We Encourage to Apply?
People who had an idea for a social enterprise, a mission driven business or a social venture (can be not for profit) that you sense matches well with the criteria (described below) for consideration outlined in this document and you need resources or financing to move from a feasibility stage to a proof of concept stage with your endeavor then please consider applying. We will be selecting up to 3 organizations for this initial model. Most importantly, you are probably a good candidate to apply for the World Centric Impact Accelerator if you and your organization resonate with the following values and vision:
Care for Earth, care for people, voluntary simplicity, tolerance, diversity, community, service.
Aspire to be of benefit to creating and enhancing conditions conducive to all life
Aspire to be of service to people and planet while meeting your needs and those of your family
Embrace a whole systems perspective of the social and environmental ‘problems’ and ‘possibilities’ - seeing the value of connections between various elements, endeavors and projects as well as the elements themselves.
Examples of Possible Projects
These are more specific models that World Centric Impact Accelerator is interested in seeing potentially emerge/develop. Successful submissions need not adhere to these possibilities, please consider these for inspiration or as examples of the general intention of the accelerator. The level of detail presented here is low to suggest that there are many approaches and models that might be similar that would be considered as responding to the same need. In some instances, specific existent examples are listed as reference points for inspiration, but are not highlighted as fully complete models to be replicated (i.e., more for inspiration)
Worker Owned Coop Mercantile
The “Big Box killer”, take back our local economy by providing goods locally via a local general store
A local general store could intend to feature only locally produced goods, however, today, in most places, very few goods are produced locally, so such storefront could retail high ethical quality, transparent goods from outside the region alongside locally produced goods with the explicit intent to gradually transfer the majority of inventory to locally manufactured goods. This type of retail could be combined with elements of refurbish, or gift supply chain resale like Goodwill Industries or Yerdle - where used goods could be sold alongside new, local quality goods as a means of de-stigmatizing second-hand re-use consumption
Worker Owned Coop Integrated Health Clinic
Instead of treating people as being sick and assuaging the symptoms, this center will help people find their own vitality and health as a core competency
Provides health care with a preference for prevention and healthy lifestyle: Diet, fasting, yoga, meditation, exercise, sleep, stress relief, positive psychology, etc..
Assess the patient and choose best modality to address issues: Allopathic, Chinese, Ayurveda, Herbal, Homeopathic, Chiropractic, Massage, Psychotherapy, etc..
In any bioregion the abundant raw materials should be manufactured in that bioregion to create the goods needed in that region. Once local needs are met then surplus can be traded abroad for items scarce in the local region.
Textiles from local fibers - clothing, furnishings, etc..
Plastic replacements - to go ware, sneakers, pens
3D printer/fab lab - manufacture electronics and machinery locally
Decentralized Micro Grid Coop: Neighborhood scale alternative energy production
This could potentially be married with “co-working” equipment library service providers like TechShop or other “makerspaces.” This could be built off of a stable retail business of a hardware store merged with a tool lending library
Appropriate technologies to reduce/reuse/monitor water/energy/consumption: There is much ‘unpopularized’ innovation where form factor and culture are barriers to adoption where form factor, design and service delivery could make the difference
Sustainable materials innovation: In particular replacement of fossil fuel distillates with biological feedstocks where small scale manufacturing could be localized
What Were the Benefits of the Program
Up to $50,000 to be used by the enterprise to move through feasibility to an established proof of concept. 1-3 enterprises will be selected.
Strategic coaching, consulting and advisory guidance from World Centric leadership and associated partners with unique perspective and skill in growing enterprises that create value while maintaining values
Access to a network of relationships for ethically aligned potential hires, investors, partners, customers, suppliers or distributors
Back office/administrative support possibilities - potential accounting support, small shared office space
Water: Water = Life. Clean fresh water is becoming more scarce and is often used irresponsibly. We need enterprises that understand the highest and best use of this precious resource and can bring it to market in a way that not only preserves freshwater resources but actually increases them. Examples would be a watershed cooperative that invests in earthworks to catch, store and sink water for local irrigation, or simple grey-water ready in home appliances or a compost toilet enterprise.
Energy: We need clean decentralized renewable energy sources, stores, conservation systems and distribution to power our human settlements, transportation and industries. We need enterprises that can provide this service in the cleanest, most efficient way possible. An example would be local micro grid cooperative that generates energy for a small area through a diverse set of sources, sun, wind, micro-hydro, biogas, gasification, or a specific technology provider like a medium scale concentrated solar still or an off grid iceless refrigerator
Food: Food systems are central to human life and we need them to be local and resilient. We need enterprises that produce, distribute, consume and process waste. Examples include compost production, CSA farms, cooperative grocers, community owned kitchens, cooperative distribution hubs.
Transportation: We need enterprises that provide transportation solutions that are clean, efficient and affordable. Examples range from sharing resources such as bikes, vehicles to local design and manufacturing of vehicles, cargo bikes, etc.
Education and Media: What we are taught and exposed to shapes our world view in powerful ways. We need enterprises to educate people to be whole, actualized human beings. Examples are child-centered schools owned by students, parents and teachers and new guided exploratory learning journeys. We need media enterprises that create media to uplift and inspire people to be part of the solution. An example would be a marketing cooperative dedicated to promoting next economy companies, or a creator of empathy skills training videos for children.
Shelter: We need enterprises that create the built environment to be safe, insulated, functional, and affordable. Examples range from green design and build contractor to eco-village communities.
Technology: Technology plays such a leading role in how our society is evolving. We need enterprises that harness the power of technology for the benefit of all life. An example is creating software to allow people to share resources and create mutual reciprocity or an off the shelf mesh network using RF.
Goods and Manufacturing: We need enterprises that can create and sell needed goods. Examples range from a local open sourced fab lab with 3D printer and shared workshop space to the local general store to sell the locally made items.
Health Care: We need health care that actually creates healthy vibrant happy people. We need enterprises that believe in this and provide services to support people achieving a daily experience of optimum wellness. Examples range from an integrated health care clinic to a herbal coop that makes medicine out of local plants.
Finance: We need financial resources to support a local resilient economy. We need enterprises that provide these resources in a new and disruptive way to ensure everyone has a basic level of access. Examples are local alternative currencies, Direct Public Offerings, micro-finance and revolving loan funds.
Culture: Wherever we have people we have culture, and if we want a culture that is beneficial to all life we have to design it, model it and share it. We need enterprises to offer services to do this important work. Examples are shared studio and gallery space for artists, community owned gathering places, conferences or events to connect people around common interests.