New York, NY - On Wednesday, June 24th, 2015, Officeleasecenter attended the Points of Light Civic Accelerator demo night for their Spring 2015 cohort at Microsoft’s 11 Times Square office.
The Points of Light Civic Accelerator, based in Atlanta, Georgia, is the first startup accelerator program with a vertical on “civic ventures.” They help social entrepreneurs launch successful, innovative solutions by capitalizing on 3 trends: social entrepreneurship, civic engagement, and accelerator model. The accelerator program takes place in different cities each of the 3 weeks over the span of 3 months, provides education, peer learning, mentoring, connections, and investment.
Wednesday night had the POL’s 6th cohort, 13 ventures, each provide 3-minute pitches as the finale to their Spring 2015 session. We saw several organizations with a focus on women empowerment and solutions for economic mobility.
First up is an organization called The Dress Project; they collect donated formal dresses from the U.S. and resell them in Malawi to fund education for young girls. Each dress bought, mostly by saleswomen in Malawi, which in turn, is sold to buyers in the local market, equates to 5 women being impacted and engaged. The venture plans to add 3 additional countries in the next coming months.
MotherCoders is a tech camp for moms. They are targeting women who were once career-women, but due to their hectic schedule and duties of being a mother, are being left out of the workforce. The camp aims to create a more-inclusive environment for moms, such as having a daycare. The value proposition for MotherCoders is to expand the tech talent pool by providing the training so that these moms are readily able to face the barriers of getting jobs and career advancement.
Move This World, is a NY-based non-profit that aims to increase positive social and emotional impact in schools, organizations, and companies. By tapping into each individual’s creative potential, MTW helps people understand, engage, express and manage their emotions healthily. With a neuroscience method, the program establishes metrics to measure change. Currently, there are some NY and DC schools that are participating.
Pentorship provides educational courses and career-training to inmates in the U.S. Some courses that they offer via computers and tablets are entrepreneurial banking and tech training. The takeaway thought from the pitch is that investing in these inmates will eventually add value into society once they get out, as well as decreasing their chances of going back into the system and causing more burden on taxpayer’s money. Pentorship won the most Impactful award of the night
Smarty Pants Yoga uses mindfulness and yoga to empower young girls. With programs such as their after-school program and birthday parties that adds in yoga, reading, crafts, and mentoring from a highly-qualified instructor. They also create products such as books that promote a popular female protagonist, Ootlie Tov. As their CEO says at the end of the pitch, “Girls rule, inequality drools!” Smarty Pants Yoga won the Best Pitch award of the night.
Girl Forward creates educational opportunities among refugee girls who have been resettled from various foreign countries to the U.S. They provide mentors and a safe space to ensure that these girls get the resources and support to succeed.
HerAgenda is a platform for the ambitious millennial women. The website features the career map and background of successful women, providing interested readers a chance to understand how these individuals get to where they are at. With a directory of events, grants, conferences, and a job board, it is a great way to expose women to opportunities that can positively affect their career and network.
Women Lead Nepal empowers the next generation of female leaders in Nepal. Their core mission is to alleviate the gender inequality by training young women in Nepal with the skills, support and opportunities to become leaders and change-makers in their schools, communities, nation and world. In the past 4 years, they have had 800 youth members, and aim to train 600 more in the next 12 months.
Develop Link is a platform for healthcare professionals in developing countries to improve care coordination and increase effective strategic decisions. The founders behind the organization saw the inefficiencies while working at medical missions in Guatemala; doctors were wasting their time on various issues that were better served if there existed a referral network, and data was not centralized. Develop Link is able to collect data and create reports that are then sold to medical, government, and pharmaceutical agencies; these agencies take the data to create better models for the healthcare system countries such as Guatemala, and other developing countries. Develop Link won the Most Innovative award of the night
Firelily is a fundraising platform dedicated to victims of disasters and the organizations that provide relief. On their site, individuals are able to create a fundraiser, share their story, and receive donations from the public. Another feature of the site is to connect new recoverers with survivors, providing a network of support in times of need.
Heartmob is a platform for victims of online harassment and bystanders who are interested in helping. The site is part of the global blog and collective, iHollaback.org, a non-profit movement to end street harassment. Victims can share their stories online, thus creating a crowd-sourced initiative to raise awareness. Bystanders are empowered to act by standing up against harassment, taking a pledge, donating, and sharing the stories that can end the silence to this social issue.
InvestNextDoor is the first community-focused, online lending marketplace for small businesses to borrow directly from local investors. Small businesses are able to borrow up to $100,000 from local investors, as well as set their own rates and terms, allowing the local investors to browse through many investment options that match their risk level for investing. With a focus on the community, this form of “relationship lending” is promoting a boost in the local economy.
MSwift is a mobile financial management tool for underbanked in emerging markets that tracks financial data and provides financial suggestions. Two issues exist in the emerging markets: lack of formal banking, and limited access to computers. As a mobile platform, MSwift is able to provide over 2 billion users with a savings account, financial management, and budget and financial goal analysis.