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Social Venture Competition at UC Berkeley's Haas School attracts MBAs nationwide whose business plans have financial, social return
01 March 2001

By Ute Frey, Haas School of Business

Social Venture Competition at UC Berkeley's Haas School attracts MBAs nationwide whose business plans have financial, social return

Berkeley - In the current business climate, entrepreneurship fever has died down. But despite that, the second annual Social Venture Competition now underway at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business has attracted passionate and serious aspiring social venture entrepreneurs.

The 33 participating teams from 15 business schools - including Cornell, Columbia, Kellogg, Michigan, Stanford and Yale - distinguish themselves by the quality of their business plans, the experience of their management teams, and the potential for significant financial and social return on investment.

Judges will select eight teams in the semi-final round on Monday, March 5, behind closed doors. These eight finalists will make their final presentations to the judges on Saturday, April 14. The winners will be announced at a celebration dinner that evening.

To successfully compete, a business plan must show profit potential, have a quantifiable social or environmental bottom line incorporated into its mission, and show a demonstrably greater impact of its social return on investment than existing firms in the industry. In addition, each team must have at least one MBA student from an accredited business school among its active members.

"The Haas Social Venture Competition represents the cutting edge of the emerging industry of early-stage social investing," said Cathy Clark, managing director of Flatiron Future Fund and a competition judge. "It is the only competition in the country where social investors and the new generation of business talent can come together to create businesses that measurably impact today's social problems."

This year's plans focus heavily on the environment and health, followed by human capital development, capital development, and education. Plans include:

* Eco-friendly harvesting techniques for exotic rainforest hardwood timber;

* Patented technology that converts ocean-wave energy into electricity;

* A rapid and easy-to-use protein measurement system for drug research/discovery;

* Several micro-finance lenders;

* An Internet-based science education game that involves senior citizens as virtual educators and;

* A hand-held device that helps adults acquire basic literacy.

This year's teams will compete for a $10,000 first prize. Second- and third-prize winners will get $2,000 each. All three winners will have their plans circulated to 150 "social angel investors" that belong to the Investor's Circle. All competing teams will receive written feedback from the judges at the semi-final and final rounds of the competition.

The 2001 competition started with a Rules Forum in November. Six leading social venture investors and entrepreneurs from across the United States participated in the forum to develop the rigor of the criteria by which the Social Venture Competition judges will measure social impact.

The competition organizers - all MBA students at the Haas School - have secured top social venture investors, philanthropists, venture capitalists, and social venture practitioners to judge the business plans. In addition to Clark of the Flatiron Future Fund, final round judges include Michael Fox, senior vice president of the Internet HealthCare Group, Shelly Herman of Shorebank Advisory Services and Chicago Ventures Fund, Mitch Kapor, partner of Accel and former CEO of Lotus Development Corp.; Kathy Kim, president of Communications Technology Cluster; Will Rosenzweig, president of Hambrecht Winery and Vineyards; and Kimberley Smith, president of New Schools Venture Fund.

Competition sponsors are The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Juma Enterprise Center, Community Foundation Silicon Valley, Flatiron Foundation, Mitchell Kapor Foundation, The Price Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, Calvert, Sustainable Jobs Fund, Walden Asset Management. Honest Tea, Investor's Circle, and John Bishop contributed in-kind donations.



Haas Social Venture Competition web site