August 6, 2009

Apply Now for 2010 University of Washington Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition

I participated as a judge in the 2009 Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition (GSEC) organized by the University of Washington's Global Business Center at the Michael G. Foster School of Business. According to its website, GSEC "engages creative minds around the world to encourage bolder and less conventional business solutions to global poverty." I am pleased to announced that applications for the 2010 competition are being accepted until November 11, 2009. I encourage you to share this information to those who may be interested in applying for this innovative social entrepreneur competition. (Photo courtesy of the University of Washington)

GSEC explains, "Students from around the world—and across fields of study—are invited to find innovative, commercially-sustainable business solutions to problems of poverty in the developing world. GSEC plans are judged on the quality of life in the developing world, financial sustainability, and implementation feasibility." GSEC plans must clearly demonstrate the Social Return on Investment (SROI) in addition to the financial return on investment. In addition, GSEC plans must be for a low or lower-middle income country and need to address poverty alleviation in the developing world.

The application deadline consists of an executive summary and team registration. Executive summaries must conform to the executive summary format as detailed in the GSEC Submission Requirements. Applications go through two rounds of reviews to determine the semi-finalist GSEC teams. In mid-December, semi-finalist teams are selected from the applicant pool and are invited to attend GSEC Week, March 1-5, 2010 at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. Once semi-finalist teams are confirmed, they are paired and work with mentors to develop the full business plan. GSEC teams are required to submit a full business plan draft by January 19, 2010 and the final full business plan by February 16, 2010.

During GSEC Week, teams attend exclusive company visits, receive feedback on their presentation and pitch their business ideas to judges as they compete for prize money totaling up to US$17,000. SROI includes the social good of improved health and, in addition to the GSEC grand prize, two prizes in global health will be offered. Please refer to the GSEC global health plan guidelines for more information.

In the 2009 competition, 14 teams from around the world presented their business ideas to judges and the UW community where they competed for US$20,000 in prize money. The 2009 GSEC team members came from nine countries and 15 different academic institutions. Their double-bottom line business plans seeked to create commercially sustainable solutions to issues of poverty in the developing world. The 2009 business ideas included water sanitation in Nepal, solar ovens in Africa, networks for NGO donors, microfinance in Ghana, healthcare and biofuel programs in India, education in Rwanda, and pedal-powered phones in Nicaragua.

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