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New social venture competition at UC Berkeley lures business plans from nation's top business schools
27 Mar 2000

By Kathleen Maclay, Public Affairs

BERKELEY -- Eight finalists in the only nationwide competition for business plans with a social conscience will compete in the final round on Saturday, April 8, 2000, at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business.

The Haas Social Venture Business Plan Competition invited teams from the country's top business schools to submit business plans that would yield a positive financial outcome as well as a positive social or environmental outcome. The winning team will receive $10,000.

The top three winners will have their plans circulated among 150 "angel" investors from the Investors' Circle, a group of individuals who make private equity investments based on social dividends and economic returns.

Some 66 teams from schools including UC Berkeley, Stanford University, Harvard University, the Wharton School, the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, and the Andersen School at UCLA participated in the competition.

The finalists include:

·Boost Technology, which produces devices allowing people with severe disabilities to interface with computers;

·Cafe Dalat, a gourmet coffee bean enterprise aimed at improving the livelihoods of subsistence farmers in Vietnam's central highlands;

·easyDiabetes, which provides a centralized, Internet-based diabetes data management system;

·, offering a comprehensive Web site with information about, and solutions for, the environmental community;

·Mind, Body & Soul, with plans to develop a nationally branded relaxation service;

·Ripple Effects, which would introduce technology-based prevention programs for troubled youth;

·The Virginia Winegrowers Association, with a program that enables tobacco farmers to switch their crops to grapes;

·Xtracycle, manufacturers of a sport-utility bicycle with huge cargo capacity;

"This competition puts Haas at the cutting edge of investments in the New Economy," said Wayne Silby, co-founder of the Calvert Group, a Washington, D.C.-based leader in socially-responsible investing and a competition sponsor. "The next move in business is clearly about quantifying not just the returns to investors, but returns to our community and society."

To qualify, the competition plans had to be mission-driven, self-sustaining and profitable, and show quantifiable social or environmental return on investment.

The top three areas covered by the plans were the environment, community development and education. Almost half of the plans entered involve the Internet.

A panel of 19 leaders in socially responsible organizations selected the eight finalists. A panel of eight judges will select the top three winners on April 8.

The judges involved in the competition include representatives from organizations such as the Social Venture Network, Silicon Valley Community Ventures, New Vantage Partners, OpNet, the Robert Enterprise Development Fund, and the New Vista Capital Fund.

"I see tremendous opportunity to reinvent the economy, by moving it away from consumptive industrialism toward a completely new stage," said competition judge Bill Shireman, president of Global Futures. "Internet and tech companies are a part of this, as are many others."

Not only does the Haas School of Business promote a long-standing tradition of social responsibility among its students and community, it is also one of the nation's most entrepreneurial business schools.

The school was one of the first business schools to found a business incubator for students and recent graduates. The social venture business plan competition also has built upon the success of the school's UC Berkeley Business Plan Competition, which is in its second year.

Haas MBA organizers of the social venture competition have secured more than $55,000 in cash and in-kind support for this competition. Contributors include the David & Lucile Packard Foundation,, Peninsula Community Foundation, Irwin Home Equity, The Men's Warehouse, The Calvert Social Investment Fund, and South Shore Bank. Also supporting the competition were Investors' Circle, Stonyfield Farm, Honest Tea, Peet's Coffee & Tea, Hambrecht Vineyards and Wineries, IDG Books, Prophet Brand Strategy, and Net Impact.


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