Bruce Cahan

Ashoka Fellow
Menlo Park, California, United States
Fellow Since 2007


This profile was prepared when Bruce Cahan was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2007.
The New Idea
Bruce founded a bank to demonstrate the financial incentives for investing in sustainability. The bank uses the concept of “sustainable resiliency” (SR), a measure that combines the many different areas of social concern ranging from global warming to air quality to disaster preparedness, together describing the latent ability of a region to cope with change. Through Bruce’s strategy, this composite measure translates into monetary terms, giving the financial services industry a practical tool for understanding how investing in sustainability and resiliency is good for business. 
Through the nonprofit Urban Logic, Bruce is bringing together the information, technology, and social actors needed to link events to their spatial location and to ensure that the data from many sources can be used in a single application. Bruce has begun working with the parties who hold the keys to this data ranging from Google Earth, online search services, or Standard & Poor’s corporate ratings. With social data aligned in this way, primarily through geospatial technology, the Sustainable Resiliency Bank, citizen groups, and markets will have a new level of transparency for understanding their own actions.  
Bruce’s SR Bank will work in consumer finance, municipal bond issuance, insurance, and other areas to demonstrate the functionality of the financial incentives promoting SR. Through this strategy, he leads by example, and in the process, develops the technical and practical tools that other financial institutions will need to do such work themselves. In the long-term, Bruce’s Bank is simply a model to show what can be done—his vision is to build the idea of Sustainable Resiliency into the everyday operations of mainstream financial institutions. 
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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