Columbia MBAs win finalist status in National Social Venture Competition
Three Columbia MBA students will join members of eight finalist teams from 33 business schools across the country this weekend to compete for $100,000 in prizes to launch socially-responsible ventures.
Catherine DeLaura '02, Lee Swedowsky '03 and Dana Weeks '03 are members of the team representing Bronx Charter School for the Arts. Led by Harvard Graduate School of Education alum Xanthe Jory, Marya Gilborn and Gabriel Esparza, the team will seek to show that their plan for public, arts-oriented education in urban areas has what it takes to grow into a financially sound mission-driven business.
The National Social Venture Competition, a partnership of the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business, Columbia Business School and The Goldman Sachs Foundation, was established to promote social ventures businesses and non-profit organizations with both financial and social returns on investment. Tapping into the growing interest in this field, this year's record-breaking 77 business plan submissions marks a 140 percent increase over the 2001 competition.
Competition winners will be announced following the final round of judging at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business this Friday and Saturday. Winners will divide $100,000 in prize money for their ventures. The teams' final presentations to the judges on April 6 will be open to the public.
The business plans were evaluated on their financial and social returns on investment, feasibility, fundability, and management team qualifications. The entries were split into two categories to reflect plans for either medium growth or high growth businesses. The finalists for the 2002 National Social Venture Competition are:
- Bronx Charter School for the Arts: A public charter elementary school organization that focuses on arts in urban areas (Columbia Business School, New York, NY)
- Casas Sin Fronteras: Develops affordable housing solutions to low-income residents of Mexico (The Eller Graduate School of Management, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ)
- Green Village, Inc.: Markets and distributes environmentally responsible detergents and cleaners with an emphasis on community employment (Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC)
- SKS Infotech: Provides technology solutions to microfinance institutions in emerging markets (Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Management, Glendale, AZ)
- Energy Savers International: Supplies proprietary technology designed to increase efficiency of electrical appliances (Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley)
- Regale Corporation: Designs and manufactures technologically advanced and environmentally-friendly molded products as an alternative to plastics and foams (Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley)
- Wilson TurboPower, Inc.: Produces next-generation microturbines with efficiencies and costs comparable to centralized power generation (MIT Sloan School of Management, Cambridge, MA)
- Vascular Regenesis: Aims to revolutionize pediatric heart surgery by developing heart-valves using a tissue-engineering approach (MIT Sloan School of Management, Cambridge, MA)
In addition to the eight finalists, two additional teams have been nominated for the prize for Best Social Return on Investment (SROI) analysis: Pachamama Coffee Cooperative of Small Scale Coffee Producers, a non-profit cooperative of small-scale coffee producers (University of California, Davis); and Windows of Opportunity, a producer of lead-safe window replacements (Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park, MD)
The competition began three years ago as a student-organized social venture competition at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business. It expanded its national scope in 2001 with new partners, Columbia Business School in New York and The Goldman Sachs Foundation, headquartered in New York, which has provided $1.5 million in funding for the competition. Together, the three institutions are committed to building upon their respective networks of global business leaders, academics, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs to achieve their vision: the expansion of social entrepreneurship globally.
Fourteen Columbia Business School student organizers and four Columbia faculty and staff will also attend the event. Next year's final competition will be hosted at Columbia.
Previous competition participants that have gone on to establish businesses include:
- Sea Power & Associates (www.seapower.cc), winner of the 2001 Haas Social Venture Competition, harnesses ocean wave power to produce electricity for coastal communities in the Pacific. Sea Power is headquartered in Berkeley, CA.
- Aprotea (www.aprotea.com) makes biochips to enhance drug discovery and won a prize for best management team in 2001. Aprotea is located in Berkeley, CA.
- Ripple Effects (www.rippleeffects.com), a winner of the 2000 competition, has already won nine major national product awards for its learning software. Ripple Effects is headquartered in San Francisco, CA.