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National Social Venture Competition draws record number of business plans
21 February 2002

By Ute Frey, Haas School of Business

Berkeley/New York - The National Social Venture Competition, a partnership of the Haas School of Business at University of California, Berkeley, Columbia Business School, and The Goldman Sachs Foundation, has attracted 77 business plan submissions for its spring 2002 competition - a 140 percent increase from last year - from 31 business schools.

The National Social Venture Competition is the only business school competition to foster the creation of for-profit and nonprofit ventures that incorporate both financial sustainability or profitability and quantifiable social or environmental returns into their business missions. The competition began in 1999 as a student-organized nationwide social venture competition at the Haas School of Business. It was expanded nationally in 2001 with the new partners, Columbia Business School and The Goldman Sachs Foundation, in order to build a national platform for social entrepreneurship.

More than one-third of this year's plans represent entrepreneurial solutions to environmental concerns, followed by plans targeting health, community development, education, energy, and pro-social use of technology.

Some examples of this year's ideas include:

* Public elementary inner-city charter school
* Biodegradable packaging technology
* Inner-city grocery outlets
* Organic coffee-growers cooperative
* Low-income healthcare franchising in India
* Energy-efficient appliance technology

"Each year the competition draws incredibly innovative plans from a very diverse set of industries and sectors," said Cathy Clark, Columbia faculty advisor to the competition. "We're excited about this year's expanded range."

Competition entrants must include at least one current MBA student on their teams. Participant teams in 2002 represent 31 business schools in the United States and worldwide, including the Australian School of Business, Columbia Business School, Harvard Graduate School of Business, Michigan Business School, MIT's Sloan School, Northwestern University's Kellogg School, Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, UCLA's Anderson School, UC Berkeley's Haas School, and University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.

"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. We are gratified with the outstanding initial reception given to the program."

The 77 business plans submitted last month have been divided between Columbia Business School and the Haas School of Business for the initial rounds of the competition. The schools are hosting bi-coastal workshops where mentors assist competing teams in honing their skills and developing sound business plans. The first mentor workshops took place at Columbia Business School and the Haas School of Business on Saturday, Feb. 16.

Of the 77 plans, 67 were selected to compete in the semi-final round that takes place on both campuses March 8. More than 20 judges, including corporate leaders, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and venture philanthropists, will select eight teams to advance to the final round. These finalists will compete April 5-6 at the Haas School at UC Berkeley. The winners will share over $100,000 in seed capital and exposure to potential funders.

"The increase in participating teams shows that resourceful entrepreneurs around the world are reevaluating the purpose of business and are blending non-profit and for-profit models to serve the common good," said William Rosenzweig, Haas School faculty advisor to the competition.

Previous competition winners who have leveraged winnings to grow their social ventures include:

* Sea Power & Associates, winner of the 2001 Haas Social Venture Competition, harnesses ocean wave power to produce electricity for coastal communities.
* 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.
* Xtracycle, a winner of the 2000 competition, developed a high-cargo utility bicycle and used foundation grants to distribute its bikes to nonprofit organizations.