Archive for the 'Social Responsibility' Category

What the Tuk?

“2000 miles of awesome starts on January 1, 2010…”

On January 1st, 2010, my friends Chris, Rommy, and I are driving a motorized rickshaw (aka ‘tuk tuk’) from Pokhara, Nepal to Cochin, India in a “race” called the Rickshaw Run. Our team, Tuk Tuk Goose, is one of almost 70 teams from around the world participating in this zany challenge of wits, patience, and perseverence.  We’re very excited about this adventure and would love to have you join us for the ride!

Here’s how you can participate…

#1.  Follow us! (Please)

One of our (many) goals is to keep our friends and families updated & engaged over the coming months and throughout the journey.  We’ll be blogging from the road and will include an integrated map that tracks our route (god & technology willing), so follow us!


#2.  Help us raise money! (Pretty Please) :-)
Yes, we are trying to offset some of the blatant self-indulgence by raising money for some great charities that support the communities we’ll meet along the way.  To read more on the charities we’re supporting check out the Charity section of our blog.
We’re required to raise just 1000 GBP ($1600 – $1700 at today’s exchange rate), but we’re planning to blow that number out of the water.  Please support us by making a donation via JustGiving to the following organizations:
Mercy Corps in IndiaLearn more and DONATE NOW!
Maiti NepalLearn more and DONATE NOW!
Charity #3 – TBD
We’re also organizing a fundraiser in San Francisco sometime in November… stay tuned.
#3.  Share your genius ideas!
Know someone who can donate some lightweight solar chargers?  Got suggestions for where we can rest our weary heads along the route?  Have experience sweet-talking Indian highway officials out of a bribe?  Let us know!
THANK YOU – Your enthusiastic support is hugely appreciated!

Cleantech vs. Green

I found the following in a Google Finance discussion and thought it was really helpful. I should disclose that I’m a PZD shareholder… in case anyone out there takes my blog seriously. :) Rafael, I hope you don’t mind me syndicating this here:

Actually, as the Manager of the Cleantech Index, there is a significant difference between ‘greentech’ or ‘envirotech’ and ‘cleantech’. The former were coined in the 80’s and tended to refer to ‘technologies’ that focused on regulatory-driven businesses such as hazardous waste remediation and pollution control or was we like to call them ‘end-of-pipe’ solutions.

The gist of Cleantech is intellectual property and/or know-how (usually in the form of patents) that makes products better, cleaner, safer, and lower cost, whilst (and that’s the key word) reducing their consumption of resources (materials, energy, water, soil, etc.) and other negative externalities such as pollution, soil erosion, threats to public health (e.g., toxins in toys or seafoods), deforestation, etc. Anyway, a wise man once asked “who the heck wants green water? I want clean water.”

As explained in greater detail at, clean technology businesses and products cut across a broad spectrum of industry sectors from energy generation & transmission, to water, to agriculture, to industrial process, to software.

Unfortunately, ‘green’ has often become associated with slick marketing campaigns frequently used to promote many undeserving companies and products such as grain- or oil-seed-based fuels, numerous so-called ‘clean coal’ technologies, and highly polluting waste-to-energy plants, or companies such as BP, Tate & Lyle, or Archer Daniels Midland. Cleantech companies also tend not to be regulated utilities or commodity product producers with little proprietary technology (low-end filters, activated carbon, ethanol).

‘Green’ also tends to connote things like organic foods, healthy lifestyles, and non-technology-driven products and services. Those are fine things, but not cleantech. Our investment thesis is that real long-term economic profits tend to be highly correlated with
intellectual property (typically patents) and its continued development. Moreover, the Cleantech Index (that underlies the PowerShares Cleantech ETF (ticker: PZD) seeks companies that have critical “game-changing” technology-driven products and services need address (and profit from) the massive and accelerating challenges mankind faces from climate change, pollution, water and resource scarcity, etc.

I hope that I have cleared things up for you.


Coming soon…

My blogging rate has been abysmal of late, but not completely out of laziness. Most of my time and energy over the last few months have been devoted to a new venture… I spend my week stressed, exhausted, and at times my brain physically hurts. But most often I experience an immense sense of pride… especially as our hard work and vision start to take form. Here’s a teaser for what’s to come…

Help save Sameer’s life…

sameer.jpgI’ve been meaning to write this post for a few weeks now, but didn’t want to spread the word until I had the green light. My friend Sameer Bhatia has been diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML), a cancer of the blood, and is in urgent need of a bone marrow transplant.

The added difficulty in this situation is that Sameer needs to find a match within the South Asian community and there just aren’t enough South Asians in the bone marrow registry. I read a statistic somewhere that a Caucasian person in need of bone marrow finds 5 matches on average. Meanwhile, a South Asian person in need finds 0-1. This should not be the case – there are over 1 billion Indians in the world!!

If you are ethnically South Asian, please register to donate bone marrow and encourage your friends and families to do the same – it’s so easy (literally an application form and a cheek swab)! If you have the time and motivation, help to set up a bone marrow drive in your area… especially if you live somewhere with a dense population of South Asians.

I’ve known Sameer for about 6 years now… He’s an incredible person and has always been a good friend and mentor to me. He is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, a Stanford alum, but most importantly is known to many for his efforts in launching the American India Foundation, Project DOSTI, TiE (Chicago), a microfinance fund, and other initiatives focused on helping others. The world is a better place because of people like him and it would be a terrible tragedy to lose him out of apathy.

Please help.

Offsetting your Cyberself

As “green” goes mainstream opportunities to offset one’s carbon footprint are becoming increasingly prevalent. Individuals can estimate their carbon footprint from household energy consumption and travel through many of the calculators available online. What I’d love to understand is the overall carbon footprint created by the thousands of servers around the world that host ever-increasing (rarely purged) heaps of useless online content (ahem, like my own).

According to an article in the Scoop Independent News, “a moderate size server has about the same annual carbon footprint as a gas-guzzling SUV getting 15 miles-to-the-gallon.” I was also shocked to find the following statement in Julian Bleecker’s Techkwondo blog: “Every year, every Avatar in Second Life produces CO2 emissions equivalent to a typical, honking, bloated, arrogant SUV driving 1,293 miles, based on the assumption that this kind of SUV generates 1 lbs of CO2 per mile.” The analysis is worth the read.

Growing numbers of large corporations are establishing carbon offsetting programs for good showmanship if not out of sincere social responsibility. But as the internet starts to grow its own long tail with the proliferation of Web 2.0 / 3.0 start-ups, I wonder how much of the overall IT-generated footprint is actually offset. I’m all for community-generated content and the democratization of media, but it’s important for users to understand that “free” web space comes at an ecological cost.

How many social profiles would average 20-somethings maintain if they had to offset their cyberspace consumption? And would it be worthwhile to blog “about nothing” if I had to offset my way in? If anyone out there has a model for measuring this type of thing, I’d love to see it.

Altruism made easy…

It’s the last day of a beautiful three-day weekend and I’m sitting in my fancy new living room reflecting on the harmless self-indulgence of the past few days… comedy romp, bachelorette party, happy hours, “donuts,” movies… general-purpose yuppie fun. I often feel guilty for spending my free time (read: those few hours a week that are not occupied by work and subsistence) in a self-absorbed coma, but the following email I found in my inbox this morning reminded me that even when picking lint off of my socks, I’m “making a difference.”

Dear Seema Shah ,

The business you have loaned to, Taller de Bloques Maritza , has made a repayment of $75.00. The total amount repaid up to now is $450.00. The payment was collected and deposited by Kendall Mau. This repayment will be divided amongst all the lenders who helped to fund this business, depending upon the percentage each lender contributed. Note that you cannot actually withdraw or reloan these funds until after the loan term is complete.

To view your Kiva loan portfolio go to:

With altruism made so easy, there’s really no excuse these days for being a leech on the world.

Yuppies & brats of the world… If your lavish lifestyle leaves you feeling depraved or conflicted, the next time you drop a Benjamin for a few drinks at some chichi lounge, negate your uselessness by loaning the same amount to someone here so that they may earn in one month what you consumed in one hour.

Lazy people, busy people, and broke-ass people of the world… if you feel like you can’t “give” because you haven’t the time or the money to donate, find a new excuse. If you have internet access, a bank account, and liquid assets of at least $25, you can loan money to the world’s working poor to improve their livelihood.

Capitalists of the world… If you’re looking for a new investment opportunity, recognize that positive returns are not always financial. Invest in an entrepreneur for whom failure is really not an option.

Twitter feed

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.