Global Social Venture Competition to Host Record Number of Worldwide Finalist Teams

Reducing malaria in Africa via a mosquito-repelling soap, addressing the planet-wide plastics pollution crisis with pulp-and-paper packaging alternatives, and decreasing infant mortality rates in rural India via a low-cost mobile phone application are among the objectives of the record 18 finalists who will compete for $50,000 in prize money at this year’s Global Social Venture Competition Global Finals and Conference at the Haas School April 11 and 12. 

The GSVC attracted nearly 650 entries from 37 countries this year. The competition, first organized by Berkeley MBA students in 1999, supports the creation of businesses that bring about positive social change via sustainable practices.

"The Global Social Venture Competition continues to grow globally," says Andre Marquis, executive director of the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship at Haas and director of the competition. "This year we are excited to welcome 18 global finalist teams, including a record four from Africa, who are doing amazing work to make a difference in the world.”

On the first day of the competition, Thursday, each finalist team presents to a panel of judges, which then selects six teams to move on to the Round 2 Global Finals on Friday, which will be open to the public. These six teams then compete for the $25,000 first prize, $15,000 second prize, and $7,500 third prize.

On Friday, the audience also will be asked to pick its favorite team to receive the $1,500 People’s Choice Award.  Each of the remaining 12 teams from the first day of the competition also will make a 90-second pitch to the audience, which then votes to determine the winner of the $1,000 Quick Pitch Award.

In addition to prize money and exposure, the 2013 GSVC finalists will provide more educational opportunities. “This year the GSVC will include the first-ever ‘Bootcamp’ that will provide the finalist teams with experiential learning and training from UC Berkeley faculty and Bay Area social entrepreneurs and investors," Marquis says.

The GSVC is now supported by numerous outreach and regional partner organizations from across the globe that funnel entrepreneurial teams to one of several regional finals.  The two top teams from each regional competition then advance to the Global Finals held each spring at UC Berkeley. This year, Haas students participated in 19 different GSVC teams, including nine that made it to the US-Western Regional Finals. 

In addition to the Round 2 Global Finals, Friday’s event includes a conference with a keynote speech and two breakout sessions of panels and workshops. Panels and workshops will address topics such as “The Role of Technology in Creating Global Impact” and “Improving Global Health – Go-To-Market Strategy.” The sessions also include a debate for the first time: “Should we be focusing on challenges at home or abroad?” Participants include Zach Friedman, program director, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab Institute for Globally Transformative Technologies; Allison R. Rouse, co-founder and CEO, EdVillage, a global education nonprofit; Amy Omand, director of finance and operations, Tipping Point Community; and Richard Kohl, founder and principal, Center for Large Scale Change.

The public is invited to the April 12 GSVC Global Finals and Conference, to be held from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Haas. Early-bird registration is available until April 5 at More details also can be found at