March 10, 2009

Rewarding Social Entrepreneurship

Today, March 10, 2009, The Seattle Times published an editorial about the 2009 Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition (GSEC) organized by the University of Washington Michael G. Foster School of Business' Global Business Center. This blog post follows from my entry detailing my experience serving as a GSEC judge (see Supporting Social Entrepreneurs).

"UW Global Business Center rewards social entrepreneurship," an editorial by The Seattle Times:

A BUSINESS plan to sell meals for less than 10 cents each to the poor of Mumbai, the city shown in the Oscar-winning movie "Slumdog Millionaire" — that's worth a prize.

University of Washington's Foster School of Business has awarded a prize for just such a plan at a ceremony in Seattle last week. It was $10,000, donated by Microsoft.

The winners, four students from the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies in India, designed an 800-calorie, ready-to-eat meal using rice, lentils, unrefined sugar and vegetables, including vegetable peels that food processors have been throwing away. The meal could be sold profitably for 5 rupees — 9.6 U.S. cents — a lifesaving bargain.

Another prizewinning plan aimed to defeat counterfeit pharmaceuticals — some of them worthless and even dangerous — through the use of code numbers on sealed pill bottles, cellphone texting and a central computer registry. The team, from Princeton University and Ghana, West Africa, calculated that the labels and verification service would cost 6 cents per bottle of pills — an investment in counterfeit suppression that would pay handsomely for the producers of legitimate drugs.

These and other business plans are examples of social entrepreneurship — business with a social goal. We salute the winners and the Foster School's Global Business Center for holding the annual competition, which has the potential of doing so much good.

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