Some nice news for Verite, a NGO that works to improve the lives of workers around the world: the organization just got a $1 million grant from the Skoll Foundation, which just announced its awards for social enterpreneurs.
I wrote a column about Verite last year, and Iâ€™m told by corporate people that itâ€™s a very effective organization. Among other things, Verite works with global companiesâ€”including Gap, Levi Strauss, Nautica, Timberland and New Balanceâ€”to promote the rights of workers who are employed by those companiesâ€™ suppliers in the global south. Verite trains the suppliers, assesses factory conditions and works directly with workers to help prevent exploitation. Dan Viederman, the groupâ€™s executive director, has lived in China and knows the territory and the issues surrounding factory labor very well. â€œOur aim is to ensure that workers have choices, and that their voices are heard when corporate decisions are made,â€ he says.
The Skoll Foundation is an interesting organization, too. Founded by Jeff Skoll, the first president of eBay, the foundation backs social enterpreneurs, which it defines as â€œproven leaders whose approaches and solutions to social problems are helping to better the lives and circumstances of countless underserved or disadvantaged individuals.â€ (Thereâ€™s lots more about social enterpreneurs at the foundationâ€™s website. Social entrepeneurs often leverage the power of business and markets to drive system change.) I’ve reported about a number of the social enterpreneurs supported by Skoll–Mindy Lubber of Ceres, Jacqueline Novogratz of Acumen, and Rupert Howes of the Marine Stewardship Council–and they are all very impressive activists.
You may know Skoll as the guy who started Participant Productions, an issue-oriented movie company that produced such films as Syriana and Good Night and Good Luck and helped finance the fabulous documentary (rent it if you havenâ€™t seen it) Murderball. What an impact he is having with his Internet riches…