The 365 Ways Blog

Michael Norton is author of "365 Ways to Change the World", which provides an issue for each day of the year, interesting facts, inspiring case studies of people doing things to address the issue and ideas for action. Originally published in the UK, versions with local content have been published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA. To find out more visit our website:

08 February 2010

Invest in me

In a recent discussion among a select group of social investors and entrepreneurs a strange question was presented. If an investor offered you a large infusion of unrestricted capital, say $300,000, with the only condition being that you would give them 3% of your income for the rest of your life, would you take the deal? To the host’s delight, the conversation struck a controversial chord leading to 100 unique email responses about the idea.

For the model of investing in individuals to work, the investor will need to have a strong faith in the integrity and future prospects of the individual entrepreneur they are investing in. The entrepreneur should also look to the investor for wisdom and guidance. This could make an ideal model for learning, growth and success.

The notion of unrestricted funding could be music to the ears of a social entrepreneur because they are often operating at the brink despite knowing that a large upfront investment could catalyse sustainability and going to scale.

For young social entrepreneurs, the greatest burden is often a sense of unrealized potential because the philanthropic and social innovation markets are not yet evolved to catalyze high-potential nonprofits and social businesses in the same way that the traditional venture markets have learned to do. If young social entrepreneurs are given an upfront investment, who knows what we may go on to do. So the slogan should be: “Invest in us; we’ll give you some of our equity for life.”

As reported in Social Edge:

The Thrust Fund. Here is a selection of entrepreneurs who are offering a 3% share in their future income for $300,000; and you can invest in them through the Thrust Fund:

Kjerstin Erickson, 26, the entrepreneur behind FORGE, an international NGO that helps transform Africa's victims of war into heroes of peacebuilding and reconstruction.

Jon Gosier, 28, the lead engineer and entrepreneur behind AppAfrica, a social venture investing in African software entrepreneurs to create jobs and prevent braindrain.

Saul Garlick, 26, the entrepreneur behind ThinkImpact, an international nonprofit that connects American students to rural villages in Africa to alleviate poverty.

Pick one of these - or all of them - who you find compelling and get in touch with them. Get to know them. Explore their passions, their plans, and the potential of changing the world with them for the rest of their life. Revolutions could occur at these people's hands... and you can be a part of it. Invest in your chosen entrepreneur in return for a share of their life’s income:

And in the UK: James Layfield, an ambitious young entrepreneur (but not a social entrepreneur) is looking for private equity investment of £1m for a 10% share of his future lifetime earnings, although there would be a clause allowing him to buy out the investor for a multiple of the original cost. Layfield developed this fundraising idea through the frustration of engaging with the conventional fund-raising process. “I believe that this is the true spirit of entrepreneurship, where I am my own commodity. I’m young, I’ve now started three companies which are all on the right track, and I have ideas for more.” Layfield’s aim is to increase his net worth to £100m by 2019, when he will be 45. (as reported in the Financial Times)