January 30, 2010

“Global Challenge” Competition to Reward Graduate Students for Developing Business Solutions that Support International Development

College students worldwide are receiving an education not to solely benefit financially in a future career, but to make a social difference as well. Aspiring business leaders are reevaluating success not on the basis of a financial return on investment, but on the social return on investment and the impact on the environment and surrounding communities. And more than ever are we seeing the need to understand the critical role of the private sector in international development. The Global Challenge, a collaborative effort by the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), will reward graduate students from across the United States to employ their creativity, research skills, business acumen and passion for seeking solutions that advance growth and reduce poverty.

According to a press release dated January 28, 2010, the Global Challenge is “a first-of-its-kind competition that challenges teams of MBA (Master of Business Administration) and other graduate students to develop business solutions that support international development. Teams will be tasked with devising a new public-private alliance that allows a private enterprise to meet its long-term business goals while contributing to international development initiatives in a specified region.”

G. “Anand” Anandalingam, dean of the Robert H. Smith School of Business, said, “We invite MBA and graduate students from across the nation to employ their creativity, research skills, business acumen and passion for seeking solutions that advance growth and reduce poverty. It is our hope that future business leaders balance profit-making with social impact and take all stakeholders into account when making decisions, values we are committed to fostering at the Smith School.”

In describing the format of the innovate competition, the Smith School’s announcement explains, “In round one of the competition, teams will submit written proposal in response to a specified Global Challenge prompt, then up to eight groups will be invited to compete in the oral presentation final-round competition at USAID’s headquarters at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. on April 23, 2010. Judges will include representatives from USAID, industry-leading private sector companies, and academia.”

Teams will compete for $8,500 in cash prizes: $5,000 for first place, $2,500 second place, and $1,000 third place. Furthermore, students will have the opportunity to establish relationships and receive guidance from business leaders, international development experts, and other students. Winners of the Global Challenge will have their work published and distributed to international development professionals worldwide. Teams may register online through February 5, 2010.

The Global Challenge is sponsored by USAID’s Business Growth Initiative and the Smith School’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) and Center for Social Value Creation. Launched in 2009, the Center for Social Value Creation’s mission is to engage students in courses and experiential learning programs to enable them to become global leaders who understand how to use business as a vehicle for both economic prosperity and transformative social change, and to support faculty research in related areas.

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