March 15, 2010

2010 Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition Presents Innovative Solutions

I had the pleasure to serve as a judge in the 2010 Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition (GSEC) organized by the University of Washington's Global Business Center at the Michael G. Foster School of Business. The purpose of GSEC is to engage “creative minds around the world to encourage bolder and less conventional business solutions to global poverty.” US$18,000 in prize money was available for the sixth annual competition. (Photo: Nuru Light)

GSEC plans are judged on three criteria: (1) effect on the quality of life and poverty alleviation in the developing economies, (2) financial sustainability, and (3) feasibility of implementation. 161 applications were submitted from 36 countries and this year’s five finalist teams traveled from Bangladesh, Canada, China, India, Rwanda, and the United States. Unlike my role of judging the semi-final round in 2009, I participated in this year’s GSEC as a judge in the Investor’s Choice Award, evaluating each team’s brief elevator-pitch and trade show exhibit.

The Grand Prize of $10,000, sponsored by Microsoft, was awarded to Nuru Light, which provides a solution to the lighting crisis in Rwanda. Through the POWERCycle, the Nuru Light (Nuro means light in Swahili) provides an affordable, safe, and clean lighting solution to replace kerosene in households without electricity. Nuru lights can be recharged quickly via the world’s first pedal generator. In addition to the Grand Prize, Nuru Light was the winner of the Investor’s Choice Award of $500, People’s Choice Award, and the second place Global Health prize of $2,000 for the health benefits of POD lights including decreased exposure to particulate matter and lowering the risk of kerosene burning. Team Nuru was represented by Charles Ishimwe from Adventist University of Central Africa in Rwanda and Max Fraden of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. (Photo: University of Washington)

The University of Washington’s Department of Global Health sponsored the Global Health Prize of $5,000, which was awarded to TouchHb, an affordable, prick-less anemia scanner used by low-skilled village health workers in rural India that measures, helps diagnose, monitors and screens for anemia. Team TouchHb consists of two doctors, Yogesh Patil and Abhishek Sen, from the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences in India. (Photo: University of Washington)

For this year's GSEC, judges spontaneous created an award and personally donated a total of $3,000 for the Judges’ Choice Award, which Malo Traders received for their business plan that provides technological consultation that minimizes risks of post-harvest losses for small-scale rice farmers in the West Africa nation of Mali. Team Malo consists of two brothers who grew up in Africa and are now studying in the United States: Mohamed Ali Niang is a student at Temple University Fox School of Business in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Salif Romano Niang, a doctorate student in political science at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. (Photo: University of Washington)

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

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