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An Example In Affordable Housing

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In 2011, Kentucky-based social entrepreneur Stacey Epperson set out to address the shortage of safe, affordable housing, a problem she knew well from her upbringing in rural Appalachia. “I looked at a problem and tried to find a solution,” Epperson says of her decision to start Next Step Network, a catalyst organization that now works nationally. “To me that meant finding ways to build high-quality, ENERGY STAR® manufactured homes, preparing and supporting families with good homebuyer education and counseling, and finding them a fair loan.”  

In the years since, Epperson has been doing exactly this, an effort that has required collaboration with lenders, other citizen (non-profit) organizations, and companies. Why so many partners? Because Epperson’s driving question, the question many leading social entrepreneurs like her ask, is big. It’s about changing practices across industries, changing entire systems.

To this end, Epperson joined a partnership offering of IKEA Social Entrepreneurship last year called Dela. Structured as a several-month accelerator, the effort matches social entrepreneurs across industries and geographies—24 entrepreneurs so far—with Ashoka systems change experts, thought partners from other organizations and companies and over 200 staff innovators within IKEA. The experience, including the matching, is curated to spark expertise exchange and mutual learning that flows both ways—from citizen sector innovator to business, and vice versa. The result is a cross-sector team focused on addressing systems-level issues that impact society. 

To learn more about the promise of this kind of collaboration, we spoke with Epperson and Rob Olson, Chief Operating Officer of IKEA U.S., who oversees the overall business direction for the retail locations, in addition to business development and expansion. 

Ashoka: Why is a systems-change lens important—beyond direct service? 

Stacey Epperson: Citizen-led organizations like Next Step bring insight about potential customers currently excluded from the market for any number of reasons. But scalability is a big challenge for many of us, for whom direct service models will always be constrained by time, resources, and capacity. One organization (or even a group of organizations) can reach only so many people. Alternatively, systems-change strategies allow us social entrepreneurs to pursue our missions in a far more comprehensive way. That said, these approaches are not always easy. Corporate partners such as IKEA can act as key accelerants, lending brand influence, capital, and market share. 

Ashoka: How are such cross-sector collaborations mutually reinforcing?  

Rob Olson: At a basic level, companies can partner with social entrepreneurs through their corporate social responsibility focus. This will help build their brand affinity with customers and better position them among their competition. But with the Dela experience, we at IKEA are working to create shared value, to co-create systems change. This is a very different approach and end point. We match with social entrepreneurs who align with our company’s vision and/or product focus—for example, IKEA is working to become a fully circular company by 2030. Social entrepreneurs like Stacey have insights and expertise to contribute to our company’s journey, even as we help her team at Next Step build out its strategy. Our visions are closely aligned and mutually reinforcing, and the design of the experience draws out this complementarity.

Epperson: Yes, and I’d add that Dela offers a curated approach for aligned companies to collaborate with citizen sector (nonprofit) partners to build impactful strategies. As Rob says, this is different from many philanthropic models, where reporting serves as the backbone for rigid grantor/grantee relationships. Here, we create a collaborative feedback loop—where all parties are active collaborators in advancing a systems-change strategy.

Ashoka: Rob, has your idea of how companies can pursue transformative social change evolved through this experience?     

Olson: Yes. I previously looked at our social impact at IKEA as having a one-way focus from corporate to social change and mostly as donation of product, money or time. Now I see it as a two-way street where we collaborate to create win-win solutions that make society better.

Ashoka: Stacey, from your vantage point as a social entrepreneur, what other shifts are needed, and possible?  

Epperson: There is a big push for corporations to better serve the communities they work in. Oftentimes, philanthropic programs—even if well-intentioned—end up feeding the traditional direct service model that is focused on outputs as opposed to outcomes. With Dela, companies are active partners in building out a systems-change strategy through the lens of the nonprofit partner. Through participation, corporate partners communicate directly with experts on the ground, and gain insight into how to apply philanthropic and volunteer efforts. Conversely, citizen organizations like ours gain insight and market intelligence from participating corporate partners. In this way, strategies can be developed that catalyze systems change, as well as open the potential for new and innovative lines of business.  

Ashoka: Systems thinking is deeply rooted in the Dela experience, and in the work of the participating social entrepreneurs. Rob, how is this relevant to your work at IKEA?  

Olson: Systems thinking can be used to catalyze many shifts in society. I think of it as a tool, a mindset, that allows us to challenge the existing way and find the transformational change.

Startups

Crash Team Rumble gives the bandicoot a competitive multiplayer twist

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Activision Blizzard announced Crash Team Rumble today during The Game Awards. The new title will come out in 2023 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

This new Crash Bandicoot game is a four-vs.-four multiplayer affair, with players controlling crash and friends (or foes) in a contest to claim the most Wumpa fruit. Multiplayer spin-offs are not unusual for the series, as Crash has starred in kart racers and the Mario Party-inspired Crash Bash in the past.

Toys For Bob, the studio behind 2020’s Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, is developing the project. It looks like Activision Blizzard has loosened the developer’s Call of Duty support studio leash.

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Kim Kardashian, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Fellow Celeb Crypto Promoters Beat Lawsuit

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Since crypto winter began in the summer of 2022, celebrities have learned some hard lessons about the dangers of shilling new products. Several, including Kim Kardashian and Floyd Mayweather Jr., managed to avoid court-ordered payouts after a California judge dismissed the lawsuit against them, concluding that investors were unaware of the celebs’ promotional efforts.



Taylor Hill | Getty Images

In January, a lawsuit was filed claiming that EthereumMax executives and celebrity promoters took part in a scheme meant to induce investor purchases of EMax tokens — an action that drove up the cryptocurrency‘s price, netting significant profits once the celebs and execs sold their holdings.

Here’s more from CNN:

US District Judge Michael Fitzgerald in Los Angeles said that the investors may amend and refile their proposed class action.

The decision comes as other celebrity promoters face lawsuits from users of the failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, whose collapse has deepened an ongoing “crypto winter.”

Attorney Sean Masson represented the plaintiffs in the EthereumMax suit. He indicated plans to change investors’ claims by adding “additional facts demonstrating defendants’ wrongdoing and liability.”

CNN also quoted Kim Kardashian’s attorney Michael Rhodes, who had no complaints, saying reps for the celebs were happy with what he termed “the court’s well-reasoned ruling.”

Judge Michael Fitzgerald explained his dismissal by stating that the plaintiffs could not prove any intention to mislead investors. Additionally, investors didn’t say whether they’d seen the promotions, such as Mayweather sporting an EthereumMax logo on his trunks in the ring or Kardashian’s Instagram posts.

The claim was permanently dismissed. According to Judge Fitzgerald, the California statute protects consumers regarding fraud related to real-world products or services — cryptocurrency is considered intangible. However, aggrieved investors may still get their day in court, as they can file suit again once they’ve revised their claims.

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Dune: Awakening is an open world survival MMO

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Dune: Awakening made its debut at The Game Awards as an open world survival massively multiplayer online game.

The game from Funcom and Nukklear looks beautiful, full of very detailed imagery of the desert planet Arrakis, also known as Dune. The game asked for beta signups, but we got no other information. Survival is the key word. Dune is a very deadly world, with sandworms and an unforgiving climate.

You can see places in the trailer like the city of Arakeen by day and night, as well as desert biomes and more. It’s not clear when it is coming. With luck, it will be close to the second Dune movie coming in late 2023.

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URGENT: CYBER SECURITY UPDATE