Skoll Scholar 2015-16
Geographical Location: Africa, North America
Area of Activity: Economic Opportunity

twitter @MariaSpringer
linkedin linkedin.com/in/mariaspringe

Maria Springer helps social entrepreneurs raise capital for their start-ups. Specifically, Maria is interested in token sales, equity crowdfunding, and rewards-based crowdfunding.

Springer is also the co-founder of OBSERVATORY, a venture fund for the non-fiction film and TV industry. VICE and Hulu acquired the fund’s first film investment, EUROTRUMP, a feature-length investigative film on far-right Dutch politician, Geert Wilders.

Prior to attending Saïd Business School, Springer spent her professional life working in East and West Africa. In 2009, Springer began a five-year journey working with street youth in Kenya. She is co-founder of LivelyHoods, a social enterprise employing youth from slums to sell clean-energy products in their communities. During her tenure as Executive Director, LivelyHoods raised capital from Kiva and The Rockefeller Foundation, and employed 150+ young sales agents who sold thousands of solar lamps and clean cookstoves.

In 2014, she moved to Liberia as Senior Investment Associate of Ignite, an investment fund that deploys capital to entrepreneurs in post-conflict countries. Due to Ebola, operations were halted. Maria then joined UNIFORM, a factory-direct clothing brand with a 100% African supply chain. With each purchase, a school uniform is provided to a Liberian child who could otherwise not attend school. The brand is now available in Bloomingdale’s across the United States.

As a Skoll Scholar, Unreasonable Institute Fellow, Global Social Benefit Incubator Fellow, Cordes Fellow, StartingBloc Fellow, and D-Prize Fellow, Maria lectures about social enterprise, most recently at Harvard Business School. Forbes, VICE, PBS, the New York Times, Fast Company and The Guardian have featured her work. Maria graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from University of California, Los Angeles.