Weekend Briefing No. 165

Welcome to the weekend! Hello from the Skoll World Forum in Oxford. Thanks so much to everyone in the Weekend Briefing community who reached out to meet me here. I’m glad to have made a number of new friends IRL. A big thanks to the Skoll team for having me. This briefing will be heavily focused on what happened at Skoll, but before I dive into that…

I’ve got some news. I just found out that our law firm’s website just got nominated for a Webby (the Oscars for the internet). We put a lot of thought into designing (what we believe) is the best legal website on the internet. We wanted to showcase our clients and our values. Our team of designers did fantastic work to make that happen. But I need your help, would you mind taking 30 seconds to click here and vote for us. (You may need to scroll down to find Westaway) I know it’s a bit annoying, but our team put in hard work and we’d love to take home that Webby! Thanks.

Prime Numbers

70% – While young people around the world are struggling to get on the property ladder, an HSBC study found that 70% of Chinese millennials have purchased a home. While China came out top of the pack, Mexico was next with 46% of millennials owning property, followed by France with 41%.

12 – Gen Z (13-17 year olds) got their first cell phone at age 12. They communicate more on apps than via text and they have significant buying power. Check out Google’s Gen Z mobile report for a deeper dive.

7% – Only 7% of decision-makers at U.S. venture capital firms are women.Out of 1,019 decision-makers at 227 U.S. venture capital firms, of which 72 were women. Of those 227 firms, 169 had zero female decision makers. Those firms raised around $153 billion between 2012 and 2016, of which $9.51 billion is estimated to be controlled by women.

2017 Skoll Awardees

This year’s winners of the prestigious Skoll Award for social entrepreneurship are: 1) Build Change who trains homeowners, local builders, engineers, and government officials to construct or retrofit disaster-resistant houses and schools in emerging nations vulnerable to earthquakes and typhoons. 2) Last Mile Health – partners with government to deploy and manage networks of community health professionals integrated into the public health system. 3) Polaris – uses a data-driven approach to systematically disrupt human trafficking networks and restores freedom to survivors. 4) Babban Gona is an investor-owned social enterprise serving networks of smallholder farmers with a model created specifically to attract youth. Learn more and see VR films on each of these Awardees at Skoll (10 minutes).

$1B Impact Fund

Yes that’s a billion… with a B. Blair Miller, friend and member of the Weekend Briefing community, has teamed up with the former CFO of the World Bank to launch a new mezzanine debt fund that will piggyback on development bank deals. BlueOrange Capital aims to bring $10 in private capital for every $1 in public investment, starting with Latin America and the Caribbean. The fund was launched quietly this weekend in Asunción, Paraguay at the annual meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank. The new fund pledged to mobilize $1 billion for small and mid-sized business lending in line with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Yes, this is a big deal. Learn more at Impact Alpha (6 minutes).

Systems Change

Why, despite the social sector’s collective resources and best efforts, do so many social problems remain so persistent? Perhaps what we need instead, according to the emerging line of thinking, is an emphasis on what is called “systems change”—on identifying the organizations and individuals already working on a problem, and helping them join forces to achieve their common goals. In order to make this happen our focus should be more on solving problems through creative collaboration, and less on the establishment and perpetuation of new institutions. In addition, we need to develop and employ system entrepreneurs who are skilled in coordinating systematic approaches to addressing the complex, large-scale problems of our time. Learn more at Stanford Social Innovation Review (12 minutes).

Pandemic Insurance

This week I heard Dr. Jim Kim, World Bank President (and everybody’s dream grandpa… seriously, I could listen to this guy tell stories for hours) speak about an innovative new product at the World Bank. After the Ebola pandemic’s incredibly slow response, he knew there could be a better way. The Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF), developed by the World Bank Group in collaboration with the World Health Organization and other public and private sector partners, seeks to fill this gap by providing the much-needed surge funding at the early stages of an epidemic. Thus, response efforts will to help prevent rare, high-severity disease outbreaks from becoming more deadly and costly pandemics. Learn more at World Bank (10 minutes).

$100M Fight Against Fake News

Omidyar Network, the leading philanthropic investment firm established by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, announced Wednesday at the Skoll World Forum a $100M commitment to tackle some of the root causes of the global trust deficit.  The funding, which runs over the next three years, will focus on strengthening independent media and investigative journalism, tackling misinformation and hate speech, and enabling citizens to better engage with government on critical issues. The funding will support work across the globe. Learn more at The Telegraph (5 minutes).


ONE launched Poverty is Sexist campaign nearly three years ago to make the point that poverty and gender inequality go hand-in-hand. The facts are damning: In Sub-Saharan Africa, girls without an education are five times more likely to be married by the time they are 18. They are 7% less likely to complete secondary education than boys, and are less likely to be given the opportunity to participate in or contribute to their countries’ economies. Check out this new powerful video at ONE (1 minute).

In Pursuit of Meaning

In interviews with over 100 highly productive scientists, artists, and other creative types, the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discovered that many found meaning in their lives because they lost themselves in their pursuit of mastering a skill or practice. Meaning, Csikszentmihalyi writes, “derives from the connection of the individual to a tradition, enterprise, and community of practice that lie beyond the self.” The specific craft need not matter. For some it may be running, for others sculpting, cooking, or playing the cello. What does matter is that you respect and honor the traditions of the craft, pursue long-term progress in it, and participate not for the sake of raising yourself up (i.e., an ego boost) but for the sake of transcending the very notion of your “self” altogether. Learn more at New York Magazine (7 minutes).

About the Weekend Briefing

The best articles on innovation, impact, and growth distilled into one email every Saturday morning by Kyle Westaway – author of Profit & Purpose and Managing Partner of Westaway.

Thanks for making the Weekend Briefing a part of your Saturday morning routine. I love putting it together every week and love hearing your thoughtful insights. Feel free to shoot me an email with any feedback or suggestions. If you like what you’re reading, I’d be honored if you share it with your friends. Have a restful and thoughtful weekend.