UC Berkeley Press Release
International student teams head to final round in Global Social Venture Competition
BERKELEY – Nine teams of MBA students planning social enterprises that range from applying nanotechnology to solar power systems in developing countries to training low-income urban youth to conduct market research on their peer groups will compete for recognition and $45,000 in prizes in the final round of the 2005 Global Social Venture Competition at the University of California, Berkeley, April 14-15.
The competition, founded by five UC Berkeley MBA students in 1999, has grown into a global partnership between the campus's Haas School of Business, Columbia Business School in New York, and London Business School. Long-time sponsor The Goldman Sachs Foundation and Omidyar Networks also support the competition.
The competition is unique among business plan competitions in that it gives equal weight to financial profitability and social impact assessment. To compete successfully, social ventures must show a demonstrably greater impact of their social impact assessment than existing firms in the industry. Each plan must have at least one current MBA student from an accredited business school on the management team.
Participation in the competition has grown increasingly international over the years. This year, 50 percent of the 97 plans submitted in the first round came from accredited business schools outside the United States.
Judges from the venture capital, social entrepreneurship and philanthropic communities evaluate the plans for their business viability and their expected social return on investment. The following nine teams emerged on March 11 from the semi-final round:
Amhartan Accessible Travel Services (London Business School) is working to improve the experience of travelers with special needs, such as medical disabilities, by providing consumer services and training travel industry workers to accommodate special needs travelers.
Connect US LLC (Columbia Business School, Columbia University) uses wireless messaging to remind patients to take medication as prescribed to help minimize the social and financial burden placed on the U.S. health care system when patients fail to follow doctors' orders.
Fuelture (Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and London School of Business) will support converting high-mileage urban vehicles, especially taxis and small delivery vans, to automotive propane or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) instead of gasoline, which would reduce running costs and improve urban air quality. Fuelture would simplify the conversion process and create a chain of filling stations.
Fuerza Research (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University) provides market research on teenage trends by hiring and training low-income, urban teens to conduct focus groups and peer interviews.
Green Scene (Stern School of Business, New York University) will train and employ individuals with criminal records in New York City to provide a range of outdoor maintenance services, giving these individuals new skills and employment.
INYUCA (ESADE Business School, Barcelona), working in Colombia, South America, would replace corn, imported as animal feed, with a locally grown product - yucca. Growing yucca and processing it into flour would create jobs in rural communities for farmers and processors while providing an alternative to coca leaf cultivation.
MicroCredit Enterprises (Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, and Graduate School of Management, UC Davis) is a socially-responsible investment fund targeting the microfinance sector through MicroCredit Enterprises Investment Accounts (MEIA).
SolarAMP, LLC (Kenan-Flagler School, University of North Carolina) is a nanotechnology company in the solar energy industry currently pursuing off-grid solutions for developing countries.
World of Good (Haas School of Business) distributes a line of globally-sourced fair trade gifts and accessories under fair trade guidelines that generate employment for women and disadvantaged communities, promise a living wage, and promote social and economic development.
These nine teams will make their final business plan presentations before the judges at UC
Berkeley's Berkeley Art Museum on April 15. The event is open to the public and hosted by the Haas School's Lester Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. Gary Hirshberg, CEO of Stoneyfield, will deliver the keynote address.