Social Entrepreneurship

FUTURE OF FISH is 2012 Runner Up to the Presitigous Buckminster Fuller Challenge

July 20, 2012 - 11:58:59 PM

What Cheryl Dahle, Founder and Executive Director of Future of Fish (FoF), is solving:

Wild Fish

Of the 145 million metric tons of fish harvested annually worldwide, nearly 80 million metric tons come from the oceans. Today, marine fish populations are in serious trouble due to overfishing, ecosystem degradation, and inept fisheries management. Unless significant changes are made to how we harvest and consume seafood, many popular fish species could be commercially extinct by mid-century (FAO, 2010).

According to leading marine fisheries researchers, upward of 85 percent of the world’s wild fisheries either are being fished at the maximum rate that would allow for replenishment, or are already overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion (FAO, 2010).

The FAO suggests that “peak fish”—the maximum wild capture fisheries potential from the world’s oceans—was reached in 1996. In short, there are too many boats on the water and too many people going after the same fish. Some estimates place the worldwide fishing fleet at 200-300 percent of current ocean capacity. This overcapacity is difficult to resolve simply, as removing subsidies and revoking fishing rights can result in vast numbers of unemployed fishers with little ability (or local economic opportunities) to switch careers (World Bank, 2008).

Loss of Biodiversity
Overfishing, destructive fishing methods, coastal development, climate change (ocean warming and acidification), and pollution from agricultural and industrial run-off can severely impact ocean habitats and biodiversity. More than 100 species of fish are currently listed as threatened species. Ecosystems with higher naturally occurring biodiversity (i.e., species richness) are more stable and are less likely to experience collapses of commercially important fisheries (UNEP, 2010 [pdf]).

Non-selective fishing gear, like trawlers, gillnets, and some longlines, can result in huge amounts of bycatch—the harvest of untargeted species, including birds, dolphins, sea turtles, and other edible fish. Depending on how and where it is caught, harvesting one pound of shrimp, for example, can result in as much as 62 pounds of non-shrimp bycatch. Estimates of annual bycatch worldwide vary depending on the methodology, but are between 7 million and 38 million metric tons. Not only is this collateral damage a further threat to already vulnerable wild fish populations, but nearly all bycatch goes to waste (Marine Policy, 2009; FAO, 2005).

IUU Fishing
Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a significant environmental and economic problem. Especially on the high seas and in the developing world where regulation and enforcement are non-existent or where fisheries governance is weak and underfunded, IUU fishing threatens both the sustainable management of marine resources and the livelihoods of local fishing households. The true costs of these illicit practices are unknowable, but estimates are that between $10 billion and $24 billion worth of IUU fish are caught worldwide per year (FAO, 2010). 

Cheryl Dahle's Breakthrough Approach and Strategy for Addressing this Crisis:

"The Future of Fish incubator has been operational for 15 months. We support 15 entrepreneurs and have six active projects that cover industry stuck points ranging from traceability technology to supply chain re-design using forward contracts and cost-plus pricing, strategies that bring stability to other commodity markets. Our work is informed by an analysis of the complex, systemic problem of overfishing that surfaced the "holes" in our collective efforts to solve it. That research included sending anthropologists into the supply chain to identify where change was getting stuck. We visited 8 sites on 4 continents, observing processing facilities in China, fish farms in Canada, and distribution centers in the United States.

Our insights led us to tackle the hurdles that prevent the middle of the supply chain from becoming part of the solution to overfishing, including a lack of perceived incentives to innovate, a culture that inhibits long-term vision, a value proposition that is at odds with the reality of seafood scarcity, and inadequate inventory tracking and warehousing technology that result in between 30 and 70 percent of fish being mislabeled in the marketplace. We believe that by launching and supporting a group of networked entrepreneurs whose ideas, technology and practices re-set standards for the supply chain, we can drive the market to adopt more responsible approaches to profitmaking. By connecting entrepreneurs at different levels of the supply chain, we foster a cooperative network whose ability to partner makes its impact more than the sum of its parts.

What the Buckminster Fuller Challenge Review Team said about this year's Runner Up:

Founded in 2010, Future of Fish (FoF) brings to light the power of combining rigorous design thinking with a comprehensive systems view of a given problem space. Cheryl Dahle, founder of FoF, is applying this approach to the massive crisis of overharvesting that threatens the world’s wild marine fisheries with collapse. She has developed pragmatic processes for understanding this complex system and is incubating innovative market based models that are designed to drive second order change in the sector.

The FoF team has broad experience working at the intersection of business and social change. Before launching FoF, Dahle was a director at Ashoka, where she distilled knowledge from the organization’s network of 2,500 fellows in order to provide strategic insight to foundations and corporations. Dahle spent more than a decade writing about social entrepreneurship. She founded and led Fast Company’s Social Capitalist awards, a competition to surface top social entrepreneurs. As the project manager, she helped design an evaluation methodology to measure compelling models for change.

FoF was born out of a research partnership led by Cheryl Dahle which included The David and Lucile Packard Foundation (currently FoF’s primary funder), Ashoka Change Makers, and Central, a design strategy firm. Through this process Dahle learned that over the last decade funding and policy change was directed, almost exclusively, toward two areas: adoption of sustainable fishing practices and reducing consumption of overharvested fish at the retail level. She also discovered that the middle of the supply chain, namely fish processing and distribution, was a largely ignored stuck point at the heart of the fisheries crisis.

So Dahle decided to put her extensive knowledge of social entrepreneurship to work by incubating a “cohort” of “co–entrepreneurs” consisting of industry pioneers and innovators, (16 so far with more on the waiting list), that were selected for their ability to transform this neglected part of the supply chain. Instead of just supporting each entrepreneur on an individual basis in growing their own business, as is typical in most incubators, FoF leads its cohort, representing all levels of the supply chain, through processes that amplify the success of others in the group. This gives FoF the ability to foster greater industry change than any one business could accomplish alone.

The clarity and strength of the FoF strategy, its pioneering quality, its counterintuitive, out-of-the- box insights, its holistic methodology, its applicability to other sectors, all adds up to FoF having the potential to be a critical trim tab in transforming the multi-billion dollar fishing industry and desitined to be an important model for 21st century social enterprise and impact investing.

 Learn More:

Future of Fish Executive Summary

Future of Fish Full Report

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge




A Network of Farmers, Engineers, & Supporters Building the Global Village Construction Set

November 17, 2011 - 10:00:49 PM

The Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) is an open technological platform that allows for the easy fabrication of the 50 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a small civilization with modern comforts.  (Website)

A modern, comfortable lifestyle relies on a variety of efficient Industrial Machines. If you eat bread, you rely on an Agricultural Combine. If you live in a wood house, you rely on a Sawmill. Each of these machines relies on other machines in order for it to exist. If you distill this complex web of interdependent machines into a reproduceable, simple, closed-loop system, you get these Key Features:

  • Open Source - we freely publish our 3d designs, schematics, instructional videos, budgets, and product manuals on our open source wiki and we harness open collaboration with technical contributors.
  • Low-Cost - The cost of making or buying our machines are, on average, 8x cheaper than buying from an Industrial Manufacturer, including an average labor cost of hour for a GVCS fabricator.
  • Modular - Motors, parts, assemblies, and power units can interchange, where units can be grouped together to diversify the functionality that is achievable from a small set of units.
  • User-Serviceable - Design-for-disassembly allows the user to take apart, maintain, and fix tools readily without the need to rely on expensive repairmen.
  • DIY - (do-it-yourself) The user gains control of designing, producing, and modifying the GVCS tool set.
  • Closed Loop Manufacturing - Metal is an essential component of advanced civilization, and our platform allows for recycling metal into virgin feedstock for producing further GVCS technologies - thereby allowing for cradle-to-cradle manufacturing cycles
  • High Performance - Performance standards must match or exceed those of industrial counterparts for the GVCS to be viable.
  • Flexible Fabrication - It has been demonstrated that the flexible use of generalized machinery in appropriate-scale production is a viable alternative to centralized production.
  • Distributive Economics - We encourage the replication of enterprises that derive from the GVCS platform as a route to truly free enterprise - along the ideals of Jeffersonian democracy.
  • Industrial Efficiency - In order to provide a viable choice for a resilient lifestyle, the GVCS platform matches or exceeds productivity standards of industrial counterparts.

A Generational Challenge to Repower America

July 23, 2008 - 06:34:23 PM

Al Gore speaks at DAR Constitution Hall on 7/17/08

Ladies and Gentleman:

There are times in the history of our nation when our very way of life depends upon dispelling illusions and awakening to the challenge of a present danger. In such moments, we are called upon to move quickly and boldly to shake off complacency, throw aside old habits and rise, clear-eyed and alert, to the necessity of big changes. Those who, for whatever reason, refuse to do their part must either be persuaded to join the effort or asked to step aside. This is such a moment. The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk. And even more - if more should be required - the future of human civilization is at stake.

I don't remember a time in our country when so many things seemed to be going so wrong simultaneously. Our economy is in terrible shape and getting worse, gasoline prices are increasing dramatically, and so are electricity rates. Jobs are being outsourced. Home mortgages are in trouble. Banks, automobile companies and other institutions we depend upon are under growing pressure. Distinguished senior business leaders are telling us that this is just the beginning unless we find the courage to make some major changes quickly.

The climate crisis, in particular, is getting a lot worse - much more quickly than predicted. Scientists with access to data from Navy submarines traversing underneath the North polar ice cap have warned that there is now a 75 percent chance that within five years the entire ice cap will completely disappear during the summer months. This will further increase the melting pressure on Greenland. According to experts, the Jakobshavn glacier, one of Greenland's largest, is moving at a faster rate than ever before, losing 20 million tons of ice every day, equivalent to the amount of water used every year by the residents of New York City.

Two major studies from military intelligence experts have warned our leaders about the dangerous national security implications of the climate crisis, including the possibility of hundreds of millions of climate refugees destabilizing nations around the world.

Just two days ago, 27 senior statesmen and retired military leaders warned of the national security threat from an "energy tsunami" that would be triggered by a loss of our access to foreign oil. Meanwhile, the war in Iraq continues, and now the war in Afghanistan appears to be getting worse.

And by the way, our weather sure is getting strange, isn't it? There seem to be more tornadoes than in living memory, longer droughts, bigger downpours and record floods. Unprecedented fires are burning in California and elsewhere in the American West. Higher temperatures lead to drier vegetation that makes kindling for mega-fires of the kind that have been raging in Canada, Greece, Russia, China, South America, Australia and Africa. Scientists in the Department of Geophysics and Planetary Science at Tel Aviv University tell us that for every one degree increase in temperature, lightning strikes will go up another 10 percent. And it is lightning, after all, that is principally responsible for igniting the conflagration in California today.

Like a lot of people, it seems to me that all these problems are bigger than any of the solutions that have thus far been proposed for them, and that's been worrying me.

I'm convinced that one reason we've seemed paralyzed in the face of these crises is our tendency to offer old solutions to each crisis separately - without taking the others into account. And these outdated proposals have not only been ineffective - they almost always make the other crises even worse.

Yet when we look at all three of these seemingly intractable challenges at the same time, we can see the common thread running through them, deeply ironic in its simplicity: our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels is at the core of all three of these challenges - the economic, environmental and national security crises.

We're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that's got to change.

But if we grab hold of that common thread and pull it hard, all of these complex problems begin to unravel and we will find that we're holding the answer to all of them right in our hand.
The answer is to end our reliance on carbon-based fuels.

In my search for genuinely effective answers to the climate crisis, I have held a series of "solutions summits" with engineers, scientists, and CEOs. In those discussions, one thing has become abundantly clear: when you connect the dots, it turns out that the real solutions to the climate crisis are the very same measures needed to renew our economy and escape the trap of ever-rising energy prices. Moreover, they are also the very same solutions we need to guarantee our national security without having to go to war in the Persian Gulf.

What if we could use fuels that are not expensive, don't cause pollution and are abundantly available right here at home?

We have such fuels. Scientists have confirmed that enough solar energy falls on the surface of the earth every 40 minutes to meet 100 percent of the entire world's energy needs for a full year. Tapping just a small portion of this solar energy could provide all of the electricity America uses.

And enough wind power blows through the Midwest corridor every day to also meet 100 percent of US electricity demand. Geothermal energy, similarly, is capable of providing enormous supplies of electricity for America.

The quickest, cheapest and best way to start using all this renewable energy is in the production of electricity. In fact, we can start right now using solar power, wind power and geothermal power to make electricity for our homes and businesses.

But to make this exciting potential a reality, and truly solve our nation's problems, we need a new start.

That's why I'm proposing today a strategic initiative designed to free us from the crises that are holding us down and to regain control of our own destiny. It's not the only thing we need to do. But this strategic challenge is the lynchpin of a bold new strategy needed to re-power America.

Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years.

This goal is achievable, affordable and transformative. It represents a challenge to all Americans - in every walk of life: to our political leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and to every citizen.

A few years ago, it would not have been possible to issue such a challenge.  READ MORE »

Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship

March 07, 2008 - 08:49:56 AM

"The Skoll Foundation’s mission is to advance systemic change to benefit communities around the world by investing in, connecting and celebrating social entrepreneurs. We believe that social entrepreneurs see opportunities where others see problems and crises.  READ MORE »