This Month in Social Good

February may be the shortest month of the year, but this February was packed with news in the world of social innovation. In particular, we saw new data, stories and perspectives brought forward in the world of Inclusive Entrepreneurship that we’d like to reflect on and use to power the movement. I spent some time rereading our weekly Case Foundation Breaking Good newsletter to gauge some of the conversation around supporting diverse entrepreneurs this month. Here are some of the articles and trends that stood out to me: 

Black History Month is a reminder to uplift Black entrepreneurs—past and present

Every day is a great day to celebrate the achievements of groundbreaking innovators in history and the people who are carrying on their legacies and building their own. But as Black History Month comes to a close, we’re given a renewed commitment to uplift the stories of Black entrepreneurs—sharing both the contributions they bring and the unique challenges they face. 

With that in mind, we were inspired by reflections from successful Black entrepreneurs on how they succeeded in a world filled with barriers designed to stifle their progress. One of the Be Fearless quotes that stood out came from Urban One founder, Cathy Hughes: 

“[Don’t] let anyone convince you that your dream, your vision to be an entrepreneur, is something that you shouldn’t do. What often happens is that people who are well meaning, who really care for us, are afraid for us and talk us out of it.” 

There’s a glaring gap for women entrepreneurs

As reports highlighting data on entrepreneurship from 2017 begin to come out, the statistics on women entrepreneurs are disheartening, to say the least. According to Pitchbook, businesses with all-women founding teams received just 2.2 percent of all venture capital in 2017. Teams with a mix of genders received just 12 percent, and a whopping 79 percent of venture capital went to all-male teams (the remaining 7 percent was unreported). 

To change these numbers, there isn’t an easy fix. We know where we can start—more women launching businesses, more women in venture capital, fewer cases of bias at the hands of investors—but none of these alone will solve the problem. Partners are stepping up across industries to build solutions together that will collectively challenge the systemic biases that affect how opportunity is distributed in our culture. Data and storytelling can play major role in that, which brings us to our next trend. 

We need to support data and storytelling on underrepresented innovators

Sherrell Dorsey is doing just that. Dorsey founded a daily newsletter called ThePLUG to report on founders, investors and innovators of color. This month, she talked to Vice about the need for more data on Black entrepreneurs. This is one of the many great points she made: 

“A lot of times, especially in the black community, when you look at entrepreneurship, there’s been very little data collection—like, the kind of businesses we’re creating, the kind of problems that we’re solving. (…) A lot of times investors are looking for patterns in data, so when that information is not shared in public, you get a knowledge gap.” 

To extrapolate out from what Sherrell is saying, if investors don’t have the data they are used to having when making investment decisions, they are less likely to fund initiatives. Therefore, having a more robust dataset on Black entrepreneurship could help spark solutions across the board. That’s something we’re working towards as we champion inspiration capital as a core part of our Inclusive Entrepreneurship work. By uplifting the stories of underrepresented entrepreneurs—stories that share both their challenges and their unique insights—we’re hoping to change widespread assumptions about who is and can be a talented entrepreneur. 

Entrepreneurship can flourish across in all communities across the U.S.

Another widespread assumption about entrepreneurship we’re working to challenge is the notion that Silicon Valley is the only great place to launch a company. Fortunately, that idea is being challenged by entrepreneurs, investors and ecosystem builders across the country. We loved hearing about how Kela Ivonye, founder of connected delivery storage service, MailHaven found Louisville Kentucky, not Silicon Valley to be the best place to build the company.  

On the ecosystem side, we’ve been inspired by news about places like Raleigh, where a program is helping formerly incarcerated individuals pursue entrepreneurship. In the Midwest, a variety of organizations are working to support the region’s female entrepreneurs. And in New York, three of the city’s major banks announced plans to give a combined $40 million to programs supporting women and entrepreneurs of color there.  

This month, Engine also interviewed an ecosystem builder in Colorado as part of an ongoing series we love, #StartupsEverywhere, where the outlet talks to the people building entrepreneurial ecosystems across the country. And this week’s Kauffman Foundation newsletter poses important questions on how we can build inclusive ecosystems, including a powerful video by Melissa Bradley on her experiences as an entrepreneur, investor and ecosystem builder. 

From celebrating past and present Black entrepreneurs and leaders, to building solutions for female founders, to tackling the data gap, to highlighting innovation everywhere—leaders in the world of Inclusive Entrepreneurship are getting to work. The stories we’ve seen this month inspire us and we can’t wait to read and share even more of these informative and inspirational stories. To learn more, sign up for our newsletter, Breaking Good. 

Is there anything we missed this month? Tell us about your favorite social good story you saw in February! 

You’re Ready to #ShareYourData…. Now What?

Over the past six weeks, we have been sharing an initial look at the Beta version of the Impact Investing Network Map that the Case Foundation has been building. This started with a call to action that many of you heeded, leading to wonderful excitement and feedback about the Impact Investing Network Map and its potential to better understand the Impact Investing landscape. We are thrilled with the feedback we have received from investors, entrepreneurs and others in the space who share the Case Foundation’s belief that standardized data and publicly accessible information are vital for driving Impact Investing to scale. But there’s still more you can do.

So what is the next step? Many of you have asked important questions around submitting your data for inclusion on the Network Map, like:

  • What data should you share?
  • Where can you share that information?
  • And how can you make sure that your impact organization and investments show up accurately on the Impact Investing Network Map?

With two critical weeks left in our Data Campaign, we want to equip you with all of the information you need to turn your intention into action. 

So what data should you be sharing?

For the Beta version of the Impact Investing Network Map, all of our data is pulled in from our partners —ImpactSpace and Crunchbase. ImpactSpace hosts the largest public Impact Investing dataset and have been a longstanding supporter of data transparency to propel the Impact Investing movement to tipping point. We’re pulling data directly from ImpactSpace through their API, which updates the Network Map on a weekly basis.

The data that we pull in features two types of information on investors and companies—biographical and transactional.

  • Biographical data includes basic details like the intended social, environmental and operational impact (Impact Objectives); geographic focus of that intended impact (Impact Geography); headquarter location; organizational structure and Impact Investing relevant certifications.
  • Transactional data relates to capital raised at the company level. Specifically, this includes the different fundraising rounds from Seed to Series C+; the overall size of each round; investors that participated in the individual round and the basic structure of the investments.

If you’re interested in being included on the Network Map, you can share any or all of the data mentioned above, whatever your organization is comfortable with. At this early stage, we’re not yet capturing performance information, but we are working with partners and experts in the field to understand the most responsible way to include this type of reporting. In the meantime, we hope you’ll look at what level of biographical and transactional data you might be willing to share.

Where and how do you get your data into the Network Map?

The process of submitting your data to ImpactSpace is simple. Go directly to ImpactSpace with your biographical and/or transactional information in tow. Check out this simple upload guide for more information on how to upload your data. ImpactSpace has a 48-hour review period for new data to be approved and included on their website, and the Network Map draws updated information from ImpactSpace on Sunday evenings.

How can I edit or update my existing data so it’s accurate on the Network Map?

If some or all of your information is already in the Network Map, but is slightly out of date or you’d like to add additional levels of detail, you can click edit on your Network Map profile, which will take you to your page on ImpactSpace. You can also go directly to ImpactSpace to update your profile information. Once you’ve arrived at your ImpactSpace profile select Edit under each appropriate section. There is a 48-hour waiting period for entries to be approved, and you’ll receive a confirmation email upon approval.

Get started TODAY!

More than 1,000 impact investors, entrepreneurs, field builders and others interested in learning more have visited the Network Map since our campaign launched a little over a month ago. Our Network Map Champions have taken the early step to join us in the call to action to #ShareYourData, and you can too. We hope that you will join leaders in the Impact Investing field to commit to some level of transparency as a way to serve the development of a more robust and powerful Impact Investing movement. Head over to ImpactSpace and #ShareYourData, then become an active Network Map tester and let us know how we can improve the platform to build a stronger tool to support your work!

Is your data on the Network Map?
Let us know using #ShareYourData

Adventures in Data: Recap of our Webinar with MIE and CASE

As Impact Investing continues to scale, data is becoming even more critical to meet the rising demand for better measurements and frameworks. That’s why I was excited to join Cathy Clark, Faculty Director of the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at Duke University to discuss the Impact Investing Network Map. Together, we discussed the challenges and opportunities involved in aggregating and visualizing data.

The webinar also covered:

  • How impact investors can use data to meet their goals
  • The importance—and nuance—of transparency and disclosure across the impact investing ecosystem
  • How data and impact investing expertise helped create the Network Map

You can find a recording of the conversation here or watch it below.

If you’re ready to share your Impact Investing data for inclusion on the Impact Investing Network Map, you can do so by going directly to ImpactSpace and uploading your data. There, you can find a simple to use Upload Guide that will help you aggregate and submit your data directly to ImpactSpace, where it will be automatically pulled into the Network Map on a weekly basis.

The Technology Powering the Impact Investing Network Map

The Case Foundation has worked over the last two years with data partners ImpactSpace and Crunchbase to develop the Impact Investing Network Map, an interactive tool showcasing the publicly available transactions between companies and investors within Impact Investing. We believe that by bringing the connections between actors to life—looking specifically at the investments that connect them—we can foster a better understanding of the size, breadth, depth, and, importantly, the enormous potential of this field.

Data visualization, the process of using graphics to express a dataset in an easily digestible format, drove the development of the Network Map. But not all data visualizations are created equally. From the beginning, we were cognizant that visualizing that much data in a helpful, easy to use way would be a large technological undertaking. When considering ways to showcase the relationships that make up the Impact Investing ecosystem, we pretty quickly determined that the functionality and design of a network graph—a type of visualization that illustrates points of data and their connections—would provide the best solution to conveying the incredibly complex relationship data we were working with. In our case, the points of data are companies and investors, and the connections are transactions. Choosing the right tools to help us visualize this data would be fundamental to the end product’s success. Tapping the knowledge of the team at Creative Science Labs, we decided that using Sigma.js, a JavaScript library dedicated to graph drawing, to display the map would give us the greatest level of performance. It would allow us to draw the many thousands of companies and investors in our dataset simultaneously without need for paging or artificial limiting of users’ search results.

But choosing the visualization library to build the Network Map in wasn’t our only technological roadblock. We know that we’re living in an increasingly mobile world, and in order to create a tool that would truly meet the needs of users, we needed to ensure it was mobile-first. To address the complications of a data visualization map on a mobile device, we chose to go with a table format to display relationships without sacrificing the richness of the data. This permits mobile users to explore the data of the map in a way best suited to the mobile experience where there is no mouse to provide the fine-point selection ability required by a network graph visualization.

Over two years of designing, coding, tweaking, testing and debugging, these technological bones have allowed us to build not only a beautiful tool, but one with incredible functionality and scalability that will allow it to grow with the Impact Investing sector as it advances. We have partnered with ImpactSpace and CrunchBase to utilize their API to pull in the data that we visualize, and in June of this year, launched the Beta version of the Impact Investing Network Map.

With the platform up and running, we’re excited to see how this technology is able to help the Impact Investing ecosystem come to life. However, we know that the network visualization needs more data to paint a more complete picture of the true scale of the Impact Investing ecosystem. That’s why we launched our #ShareYourData campaign, to encourage more actors to submit their data and join us in this effort. This presented us with the opportunity to learn about our potential users, how they interact with the Network Map, and what features they need for the Network Map to suit their needs.

As we embark on this data campaign, we are taking advantage of these early interactions with the Network Map to poll users and perform targeted analysis to better understand users’ experiences interacting with the Network Map. Through targeted questions, our goal is to understand with whom this tool primarily resonates and what additional features or changes they do—or do not—value. Our team actively gathers data on a weekly basis about engagement and session activities to identify pain points, and the team uses that data to guide the discussion on how to improve the tool. We’re learning an incredible amount from this and hoping that this early interaction with the Network Map helps actors in the Impact Investing sector to see the value of sharing their data publicly.

But we’re not done refining the tool yet. Like with any technology product, we know that learning from our users and improving functionality will be critical to the Network Map’s ultimate success.

Our next step is to engage in active user testing: we will work with a select group of individuals to perform a set of actions in the Network Map and provide specific feedback on their experiences performing those tasks and what could improve those experiences. Our team will use that information to build a potential roadmap for future iterations of the Network Map.

Does that sound like something you’d like to be involved with?

Great! We need your help.

If you are interested in becoming a Network Map tester, sign up at You will be contacted in the coming weeks with further details on the testing program.

A Video Demo of the Impact Investing Network Map

As those of you who follow the Case Foundation’s work know, we have been hard at work building the Impact Investing Network Map for the past two years. The map demonstrates the publicly available transactions between investors and companies within impact investing. We believe that by bringing the connections between actors to life—looking specifically at the investments that connect them—we can foster a better understanding of the size, breadth, depth, and, importantly, the enormous potential of this field.

To provide a first look at what the Network Map is capable of, I led a live webinar demonstration last week of the Beta version. By walking through its many features, here’s what we covered:

  • The type of data used in the Network Map, including how it’s sourced and managed through our data partners;
  • The Map’s searching and filtering capabilities, including company, investor, impact objective, industry, and more;
  • Profile and Financial details about the companies and investors included; and
  • The Insights page, which provides high-level insights into the data included in the Network Map.



We also issued a call for those in the Impact Investing field to #ShareYourData. A map is only as good as the data used to create it and we need accurate data to show the true potential of the Impact Investing movement. More data will ensure we can capture the range of connections taking place in the Impact Investing space.

We hope this demonstration provides the foundation necessary for folks to jump in and explore all the Network Map has to offer. If you’d like to explore the map, you can sign up to be a Beta tester by visiting You can also submit your data directly to ImpactSpace, by visiting to see it included on the Network Map.

Looking to Build Momentum: A First Glimpse at the Impact Investing Network Map

Our CEO Jean Case wrote in SSIR last week, “the most common question we hear when we are out speaking about Impact Investing is a simple one—‘who has done what in this space?’”

That’s why, over the last two years, the Case Foundation has worked hard to develop the Impact Investing Network Map.

Our vision is to build a tool that will answer these questions by showcasing the publicly available transactions between investors and companies within Impact Investing. We believe that by bringing the connections between actors to life—looking specifically at the investments that connect them—we can foster a better understanding of the size, breadth, depth and, importantly, the enormous potential of this field.

But that vision is part of a deeper desire to change behavior. We hope that the Network Map will spur investors to publicly share investment data and make transparency a hallmark of the Impact Investing sector. We firmly believe increased sharing of data and better mapping of the ecosystem will result in more robust activity from investors and entrepreneurs. Only with data that is both in-depth and accurate will a wider cross section of actors engage, and that is key to propelling the Impact Investing movement to tipping point.

To realize this vision, we need you.

Here are three ways you can join the movement:

  1. #ShareYourData—visit our data partner, ImpactSpace, to submit your data today.
  2. Be a part of early testing—stay informed by signing up for updates and to receive a link directly to the Network Map so you can explore it and give us your feedback.
  3. Spread the word—share this Call to Action with your network and encourage others to join the movement.

Want a guided tour of the Network Map? Join our webinar on July 12, 2017 at 2:30 PM EST for a demonstration of all this tool has to offer. Register for the webinar today