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National Social Venture Competition created by UC Berkeley and Columbia's business schools, with The Goldman Sachs Foundation
04 September 2001

By Ute Frey and Maria Graham

Berkeley, Calif., and New York, N.Y. - The Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and Columbia Business School announced today (Tuesday, Sept. 4) a joint partnership with The Goldman Sachs Foundation to create the National Social Venture Competition. The competition invites aspiring entrepreneurs to develop plans for businesses that have a clear, quantifiable social return as well as a healthy financial bottom line.

The Goldman Sachs Foundation is providing funding for the competition in the amount of $1.5 million to help build a national platform for social entrepreneurship.

The National Social Venture Competition originated in 1999 as a student-organized social venture competition at the Haas School of Business. In the past few years, the competition has attracted more than 100 teams from business schools across the United States and Europe. The new partnership with Columbia Business School and The Goldman Sachs Foundation will expand the competition's reach and scale.

Throughout the year, the entrepreneurship centers of the two business schools will coordinate with The Goldman Sachs Foundation to organize and promote national events in New York and the San Francisco Bay Area. The Eugene M. Lang Center for Entrepreneurship at Columbia Business School will host an inaugural Social Venture Symposium on Oct. 5 in New York City. The symposium will feature a public dialogue with leaders in the social entrepreneurship arena to explore the growing demand and marketplace expectations for social ventures. The 2001-2002 national competition finals, hosted by the Haas School's Lester Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, will take place at UC Berkeley April 5-6, 2002.

"The National Social Venture Competition reflects the growing commitment of business leaders and entrepreneurs to foster profitable activities that address major social challenges, such as protecting the environment, preventing disease, and improving educational outcomes," said Laura Tyson, dean of the Haas School. "Haas MBA students have done an outstanding job in launching a business plan competition to promote socially responsible business ventures. Our new partnership with Columbia Business School and The Goldman Sachs Foundation will increase public awareness of these issues and encourage business students to employ the tools of business to create positive social change."

"This unique and powerful partnership reflects Columbia's commitment to supporting entrepreneurship as a vehicle for social change," said Meyer Feldberg, dean of Columbia Business School. "Tomorrow's business leaders must grasp more than convention; they must also be prepared to develop and steer businesses of all sizes and types through a global economy that demands consideration not only of profit and shareholder value, but also of broader human interests."

"This innovative program is an important milestone in the social enterprise field and presents a unique opportunity to advocate high-quality entrepreneurship education on a national scale," said Stephanie Bell-Rose, president of The Goldman Sachs Foundation. "The program underscores the foundation's mission of supporting educational excellence by encouraging outstanding students to develop the tools that help them become the global leaders of tomorrow."

The competition will be launched on Oct. 5 in New York City at an all-day Social Venture Symposium at Columbia Business School. The event will feature a public seminar on social entrepreneurship with the purpose of advancing academic research and public debate of this topic.

Teams' executive summaries are due on Jan. 18, 2002.

Throughout the year, both schools will host additional events to encourage participation and evaluate submissions. Mentoring workshops will take place at Columbia Business School and the Haas School with prominent investors and alumni helping teams to perfect their business plans and presentations.

The final event of the 2001-2002 competition will be held at the Haas School in April 2002. Up to $100,000 will be awarded to the winning teams.

Teams in this year's competition can look to past participants in the Haas Social Venture Competition for inspiration in launching social ventures. Previous participants who have gone on to establish businesses include:

* Sea Power & Associates (, winner of the 2001 Haas Social Venture Competition, harnesses ocean wave power to produce electricity for coastal communities in the Pacific.

* Aprotea ( makes biochips to enhance drug discovery and won a prize for best management team in 2001.

* Prisma Microfinance ( provides investor-funded micro loans in developing countries and won a prize for the best analysis of its social return on investment.

* Ripple Effects (, a winner of the 2000 competition, has already won nine major national product awards for its learning software.



The Haas School of Business and the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

The Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, is one of the leading producers of new ideas and knowledge in all areas of business and is also influenced by its proximity to Silicon Valley. In 1970, the Haas School became one of the first business schools to teach entrepreneurship. In 1991, it established the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation to foster academic programs, community outreach and campus wide collaboration in new-venture creation, entrepreneurship and venture capital. This emphasis on entrepreneurship, coupled with the Haas School's commitment to the social and environmental ramifications of business, which dates back to its founding in 1898, creates a unique learning environment that gave birth to the National Social Venture Competition in 1999.

The Eugene M. Lang Center for Entrepreneurship at Columbia Business School

The Eugene M. Lang Center at Columbia Business School serves as a living laboratory for student entrepreneurial ventures. The unique approach to entrepreneurship education at Columbia Business School combines a systematic integration of entrepreneurial themes throughout the core curriculum, a strong elective course program, rigorous hands-on lab courses and a commitment to making entrepreneurship a viable career option for students. Mentors, largely successful alumni, provide vigorous, high-level advice and guidance throughout the business development process and the eventual start-up. The Lang Center also supports socially responsible ventures and has created a distinctive model for developing an entrepreneurial network that will be carried into the National Social Venture Competition.

The Goldman Sachs Foundation

The Goldman Sachs Foundation aims to develop and support tomorrow's global leaders by creating innovative programs that promote educational excellence worldwide. It was founded in 1999 with a $200 million donation from the Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., The Goldman Sachs Foundation partnered with other leading philanthropic and educational organizations to create, nurture and expand breakthrough programs that stimulate learning, creativity and leadership among young people.