Value Added: The Nonprofit Entrepreneur
March 19, 2009, The Washington Post — I have been tweeting on Twitter (my call sign is addedvalueth) for the last two weeks, wondering why a grown-up would share mundane parts of his personal life ("heading to sleep") with complete strangers on the other end of a computer or handheld. And why anyone would want to read aforementioned drivel.
The most substantive discussion I had on this social networking site centered on the merits of Chicago-style deep dish pizza versus the flat, greasy New York pizza.
I wondered what the possible business applications of Twitter could be. While I was wondering, I got a pitch from entrepreneur Scott Beale, who used Twitter, Facebook, Craigslist and a bunch of other Web sites to win $100,000 from online contests to fund his District startup.
The start-up is a non-profit. Don't press the snooze button yet. Beale approached the project as if he were building the next Google.
The 33-year-old Georgetown graduate and former U.S. State Department employee quit his $42,000-a-year Foggy Bottom career three years ago and, using the same Web skills that President Obama used to raise campaign funds, built what he calls a "Peace Corps in reverse."
His creation is Atlas Corps, which lures highly-skilled non-profit decision-makers from India and Colombia to the United States for a year, running Sept. 1 to Aug. 30.
He concentrates on India and Colombia because he speaks the languages and because they have highly-developed non-profit sectors. They also have a high opinion of the United States, Beale said.
He finds U.S. non-profit organizations to host the visitors; the hosts pay $26,000 for the volunteers. The idea is to help the volunteers learn U.S. non-profit management skills. The non-profits hope to learn something from the volunteers as well.
"I'm using entrepreneurial business skills to make a difference in the social sector, which isn't any different from using business skills to make money in the for-profit sector," Beale said.