A Stanford team won first place in the 11th annual Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) hosted by the Haas School April 22-23, while a Haas team took home the Social Impact Assessment Prize.
Of the record number of 500 plans received this year, sixteen teams with plans to produce both revenue and social change competed in the GSVC finals. The winners presented plans to benefit amputees, entrepreneurs, and expectant mothers in the developing world.
The Haas School’s WE CARE Solar beat out four other finalists vying for the Social Impact Assessment Prize, winning $5,000. The venture’s “solar suitcase” provides a plug-and-play system to obstetric health facilities in developing regions that powers lighting, mobile communication, and essential medical devices.
The WE CARE Solar team consisted of Abhay Nihalani, MBA/MPH 10; co-founder Laura Stachel, a PhD candidate in the School of Public Health, who earned an MD from UCSF and MPH from Berkeley; co-founder Hal Aronson, a principal of Solar Way Forward, a solar design, education, and consultation firm; Melissa Ho, a PhD candidate in the School of Information; Almaz Negash, founder of Entwine Global, which consults with businesses and educational institutions on international trade, economic development, and sustainability; and Michael MacHarg, a consultant with Arc Finance, whose mission is to promote and expand access to financing for modern renewable energy and clean water in developing countries.
Re:Motion Designs, a Stanford University venture providing high performance, affordable prosthetics for amputees in the developing world, won the $25,000 first prize. The team’s JaipurKnee is a polymer-based polycentric knee joint that can be manufactured for less than $20 and has been featured by Time Magazine and BusinessWeek as a major innovation of 2009.
Ruma, a business-in-a-box that enables small entrepreneurs to sell prepaid cell phone minutes to clients in Indonesia, won the $10,000 second prize. The Harvard Business School team worked with Grameen Foundation to develop a model that has already deployed a network of 2,000 entrepreneurs and $3,000 worth of minutes to 80,000 customers each day.
Bags of Hope, a team from the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University, China, won the $5,000 third prize for its plan to create job opportunities for rural women through straw bag making. This use of straw also prevents the CO2 emissions that would be caused by burning tons of straw as fertilizer.
In addition to the global finals, the two-day event included the GSVC Conference, which featured keynotes by Wilford Welch, author of Tactics of Hope: How Social Entrepreneurs Are Changing Our World, and Neal Keny-Guyer, CEO of Mercy Corps. Participants also heard panel talks on topics ranging from social impact assessment to innovative business models to private sector partnerships.
Founded by five Berkeley MBA students in 1999, the Global Social Venture Competition is unique for its emphasis on social impact assessment, which provides metrics to evaluate the actual impact the organizations will have on their communities or environments. GSVC continues to be the largest international MBA social venture competition.