Global Social Venture Competition Attracts Record Numbers

Sixteen finalists from around the globe will converge in Berkeley April 22 and 23 to compete for $45,000 in prize money during the two-day Global Social Venture Competition and Conference.

Now in its 11th year, the Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) encourages business students and others to create sustainable ventures that generate positive social change. The competition attracted more than 500 entrants this year, a dramatic increase over the 300 in 2009.

The two-day competition and conference, which will take place at the David Brower Center and Hotel Shattuck Plaza in Berkeley, begins on Thursday, April 22, with a day-long presentation of the finalists’ plans followed by a networking reception.

On day two, Friday, finalists for the Social Impact Assessment award will present in the morning. After lunch, the conference will feature breakout sessions on topics ranging from how to secure funding in a down economy and key legal issues faced by social enterprises to global health and education entrepreneurship.

The Friday lunch keynote speaker is Wilford Welch, author of the book The Tactics of Hope: How Social Entrepreneurs Are Changing Our World. That night the awards dinner will be keynoted by Neal Keny-Guyer, CEO of Mercy Corps, a development organization that operates in 40 nations around the world.

The finalists include two UC Berkeley teams and teams from the UK, France, India, China and other countries. Each team must include a graduate student or someone who has graduated within the past two years from any business school in the world.

LoChlorine, a team that includes Ryan Stanley, MBA 09, and Jessica Huang, BS 08 (Business and Civil Engineering), as well as Berkeley graduate students in public policy and mechanical engineering, is one of 11 finalists for the $25,000 grand prize. The for-profit company has created a low-cost water chlorination system to treat drinking water that can be sold at kiosks in the developing world through partnerships with local NGOs and governments.

The second Berkeley finalist team, WE CARE (Women’s Emergency Communication and Reliable Electricity) Solar, includes Abhay Nihalani, MBA 10, and Berkeley graduate students in pubic health and the School of Information. The company provides solar electric kits to generate power for lighting, communications, and the operation of medical devices in obstetric health care facilities in areas of the world without reliable electricity. WE CARE Solar is competing only for the $5,000 Social Impact Assessment prize.

The GSVC was founded by Berkeley MBA students. It has grown into a partnership with five regional partners – Columbia Business School, London Business School, Indian School of Business, Thammasat University, and ESSEC Business School – and four outreach partners. The two initial rounds of the competition are held at the partner schools, with the finals held in Berkeley. The newest outreach partner, Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management, became involved for the first time this year and was responsible for almost 100 entries.

To register for the event, go to Early-bird rates are available until April 9.