One network of top executives is proving that good business means wise investments -- specifically investments in people who have the power to create global change but may simply lack opportunity.
The Omidyar Network Executive Forum, created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, will bring together CEOs, executive directors and industry experts bent on using business to create social change. The annual conference is being held in Silicon Valley May 8-10.
The Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm that supports nonprofits and for-profits that positively impact disadvantaged communities worldwide. The network's annual forum will open the floor for attendees to share the latest ideas in investment areas such as microfinance and technology aimed at improving people's lives.
The network of organizations in which Omidyar invests ranges from nonprofits such as Donors Choose, a classroom-fundraising site, to for-profits such as Couch Surfing, which connects travelers around the world.
The theme of the 2012 conference is "Spark. Serve. Scale.," aimed to foster new ideas in sparking innovation, serving customers and scaling impact.
This year's Omidyar Network Executive Forum speakers include Jennifer Pahlka, founder and executive director of Code for America, which allows web coders to donate their skills to solve civic problems. Another notable speaker, Reid Hoffman, co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn, will speak about how to drive innovation within an organization.
Hoffman recently pledged $1 million of his own money to lend funds to entrepreneurs in need through Kiva, which provides microloans with the aim of alleviating global poverty. Hoffman recently wrote a HuffPost blog about how new technologies and meaningful financial ventures can create real change:
"As far as investments go," he wrote, "engaging and empowering millions of people to transform their lives is one of the greatest returns on an investment."
Conference founder Omidyar and his wife, Pam, themselves have committed $1 billion to empowering those in need. The couple has created three nonprofits through which they are allocating their funding: the Omidyar Network; Humanity United, a nonprofit that tackles issues of human trafficking and conflict across the world; and Hopelab, an organization that uses technology to help improve children's health.
The eBay founder told HuffPost Impact that he applies the same principles to giving back that he does to business:
"I created [eBay] with the belief that people are good," said Omidyar." If you give people the opportunity to do the right thing, you'll rarely be disappointed. After eBay became so financially successful, I really felt a sense of responsibility to put that to good use."
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