Leah Edwards

A strategy and marketing consultant, Leah enjoys highlighting the efforts of, and providing information for, social entrepreneurs. In her consulting practice, she works with cause-related businesses and enlightened investors--to see people succeed at doing good for the planet and local communities while doing good for themselves.

Cleantech Open Conference on the (potentially) Smart Grid

This is a fourth in a series of posts about the Cleantech Open Conference on July 22, 2010. The other three were: Electric Cars? What about Trucks and ?,  Data Can Make us Greener and   Location Key to Green Buildings. The “Smart Decision Making for a Dumb Grid” panel discussion highlights another theme of the conference–the importance of government policy in supporting green technology-based industries. Government Support for the Smart Grid? Jeff Byron is a regulator who complained “the space…

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Where are the Green Jobs? Andy Grove Thinks He Knows

If you didn’t read Andy Grove’s “How to Make an American Job” on Bloomberg.com, I want to bring it to your attention. Green is only one part of building a sustainable business and certainly a socially responsible one. Employment and community development are important values to optimize as well. Labor activists, social entrepeneurs, local government officials have all been arguing for outcomes that are essentially an broader definition of sustainability. But Grove is arguing that business should make some calculations…

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The Average Age of an Entrepreneur is Older than You Might Think

How old is too old to be an entrepreneur? The stereotype that people take fewer risks as they age does not bear out in a report by the entrepreneur-supporting Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Titled “THE COMING ENTREPRENEURSHIP BOOM,” the report shows that the average age of entrepreneurs is higher than many would expect. “It turns out that over the past decade or so, the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity belongs to the 55-64 age group. The 20-34 age bracket, meanwhile,…

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Disruptive Innovation: Social Entrepreneurs' Lessons

In yesterday’s Disruptive Innovation panel at SoCap09 “Three Successful Approaches to Scaling Impact”, Kevin Jones moderated a panel of three very different but equally disruptive business models. Instead of establishing a nonprofit organization to increase computer access around the world, founder Mark Beckford explained that NComputing is a for-profit company leveraging existing distributing channels and repair services in developing countries. Their hardware and software solution, which they call “the $70 PC”, can actually yield more margin and profit for distributors…

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How Your Business Can Survive 2009

Last night I went to a presentation sponsored by the Luxury Marketing Council called, “How to Survive in 2009“. Seasoned marketing consultant Alf Nucifora gave some very practical advice, which I have pared down to focus on tips that are ideal for green businesses: > One recommendation is to highlight your products or services that can be considered “luxury within reach“. Organic cotton towels, lotions with essential oils, beautiful bamboo bowls all come to mind, but services fit this bill…

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How Design Can Make Your Green Business Matter Even More

I couldn’t help but be curious about a book called “Do You Matter?” It is a great question for an entrepreneur to ask. And the book’s subtitle “How Great Design Will Make People Love Your Company” is compelling. Doesn’t sustainability make our companies matter? Doesn’t our value of the environment make us matter? Is design really THE thing? The authors, Robert Brunner (once a product designer for Apple and now a principal in the design firm Pentagram) and Stewart Emery…

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Financing for Energy Efficiency Improvements

In December, I wrote that energy efficiency is the business opportunity for 2009. However, we all know that businesses and consumers can’t buy many of the energy efficiency products and services without financing. So, where’s the money? Government Help? If you are a small business or want to sell energy efficiency products to a small business, you might think that a logical place to start is the US Small Business Association. However, I don’t think that the SBA has any…

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San Francisco Businesses Get Ten Thousand Dollars for Solar

As we end the year, I’m looking back at 2008 and am happy to see that some good things did happen this year. In addition to Federal subsidies for renewable energy purchases being renewed and even increased, cities governments also stepped up with programs to support cleaner energy adoption. On September 30, 2008, City Solar Tour stopped in San Francisco, and Mayor Gavin Newsom used the opportunity to announce a program to subsidize conversion to solar power for commercial users…

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Get Paid to Save Electricity

Obviously conserving electricity saves money, which in tough economic times is particularly important. However, small businesses and other organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area were just issued checks for turning out the lights and taking the stairs for one day last summer. And some of the checks were for thousands of dollars. These small commercial energy users were part of a Demand Response program run by the nonprofit San Francisco Community Power. When state energy use is particularly high,…

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