Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here! I’m back with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Gemma Lenowitz, program director at Samvid Ventures. Let’s see what she is doing to make a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Gemma! Tell me, what challenges are you addressing through your organization?
Gemma: It’s great to be here, Spiffy! Samvid Ventures was started with the belief that technology accelerates the development and adoption of effective solutions, and should also increase the pace that opportunity expands for those facing income-based disparities. Our mission is to build a more inclusive economy through initiatives focused on education, entrepreneurship, and wellness. We acknowledge that this mission requires strategic, sustained efforts with continuous improvement to bring about meaningful and lasting change.
Spiffy: Very cool! What motivated you to do it?
Gemma: Applying the concept of compounded returns to social change, we prioritize strategies and investments that aim to create sustainable impact. In the United States, living in poverty can be incredibly expensive, time-consuming, and stressful. The benefits of interventions like education, workforce development, and financial inclusion can accrue and grow over time, ultimately leading to a more significant and sustained positive effect on families and communities.
Spiffy: How would you say that your organization is working towards a more equitable world?
Gemma: This year, we launched an accelerator in partnership with Techstars to invest in social entrepreneurs. We brought 12 visionary startups to our office in New York City to advance their solutions in areas including technical and skill-based education, financial inclusion, and economic resilience. Empowering entrepreneurs provides us with leverage to reach more beneficiaries faster, and a portfolio of innovative solutions increases our rate of learning what works to address economic mobility.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organizational milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your audience or community?
Gemma: The accelerator provides access to resources, mentorship, and investment to accelerate their growth. Because Samvid Ventures is an operating foundation, we offer founders coaching in areas like social enterprise revenue models and non-dilutive fundraising. We are grateful that this cause has attracted passionate advisors, mentors, and investors who want to contribute to economic mobility, building a supportive ecosystem around these startups.
Spiffy: That’s amazing! Tell me about an inspiring startup that your organization has helped to advance its impact.
Gemma: Our portfolio includes solutions in skill-based education and workforce development, including AI-enabled personalized learning and career advancement (DEV.F, Edifii, Hiveclass, Making Space, Take2, Vero Learning), financial inclusion solutions, including financial coaching and counseling (Aura, Balance, MoneyStack), and economic resilience solutions, such as tools that improve the accessibility of benefits and pro bono work (Impactica Labs, Laurels, Snappable).
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Gemma: Our startups will present their progress at the demo day in New York and online on December 1, 2023. Follow us on LinkedIn to stay updated.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Gemma—it’s been an honor!
Gemma Lenowitz works in venture philanthropy at Samvid Ventures to increase access to opportunities in education and entrepreneurship. She started her career by creating STEM courses and programs for New York City students and holds degrees in cognitive science and teaching. (Nominated by Siya Raj Purohit at Pathway Ventures. First published on the Ladderworks website on September 25, 2023.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Sujit Kunte. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.