Nonprofit Venture Fund

Fri, 2014-05-02 20:49

Wall Street Journal

From the article:

How do you bridge the breakthroughs of Silicon Valley with the deep needs of society? That’s the life mission of Jim Fruchterman, founder and CEO of the Palo Alto-based nonprofit Benetech.

The nonprofit’s Martus mobile phone application, for instance, empowers human rights groups in Burma to track the abuse of local minorities. Fruchterman whips out his cell phone, signs into the app, and demonstrates how a social worker takes a picture of the abuse, types a few brief notes, then uploads the information securely to a cloud-based storage account. The data is so encrypted that no one has access to the information without the user’s permission, not even Benetech. The purpose: enable activists to document abuse without the Burmese junta destroying their evidence.

So Benetech was born, bringing for-profit Silicon Valley entrepreneurship to the nonprofit model serving society’s underserved. “A $5 million a year break-even business in Silicon Valley is a tremendous flop, but in the nonprofit world it’s a gigantic barn burner,” Fruchterman says.

Projects Mentioned