Hult Prize Competition: Competing In Global Social Entrepreneurship

 Social Impact, Social Value  Comments Off on Hult Prize Competition: Competing In Global Social Entrepreneurship
Mar 112013
Photo courtesy of Jessica Galimore

Photo courtesy of Jessica Galimore

Smith students Blake Carlton (1st Year MBA/MPP), Jessica Galimore (1st Year MBA), Masha Saunders (1st Year MBA) and Will Swaim (2nd Year MBA/MPP) ventured to Boston to represent the Smith School of Business at the regional finals of this year’s Hult Prize Competition over the weekend of March 1, 2013.

The Hult Prize is an annual international social entrepreneurship competition. It is centered around solving an issue facing impoverished populations around the globe and is supported by a partnership between The Clinton Global Initiative and The Hult Business School. The competition was an opportunity for the team and the Smith community to participate in one of the world’s largest student movements for social impact while contributing to a current global social challenge.

This year’s social challenge to be addressed throughout the competition is world hunger. Hundreds of business schools from all over the world applied to participate during the competition’s entry round. Based on their one-page proposal, the Smith team was selected as a regional finalist at the Boston location. Other regional locations included Dubai, London, Shanghai and San Francisco. The team that ultimately wins the multi-round competition will be awarded $1M to fund their project proposal.

Team Smith was pleased to discover that their initial proposal, focused mainly on private-public partnerships, positioned them well to address the case they faced at the regional competition. The case study, released to participants only after submitting their initial proposal, can be found here: http://www.hultprize.org/en/prize-2013/case-study/. For a list of team Smith’s competitors, please click here: http://www.hultprize.org/en/prize-2013/regional-finalists/.

Upon arriving in Boston, team Smith and the other regional finalists participated in Q&A sessions focused on the format of the competition and judges’ rubric, food security, and social entrepreneurship. After devoting the remainder of the evening and early hours of the following day to perfecting their business model and presentation, team Maryland presented their business plan before four judges.

After their assigned presentation time, team Smith took a break of just a few hours while they waited for the other eleven teams presenting in room “Atlantic” to finish their presentations. In the early evening, all contestants reconvened at the Museum of Science, located within walking distance of the Hult Business School. There, four teams were announced as the winners. From team Smith’s group, Harvard was declared the winner.

Each of the four selected teams did a second presentation of their business plan, this time in front of all sixteen judges. After all teams presented, the judges left the room for deliberation. The audience was entertained by the Berkeley College a cappella group Pitch Slapped until the judges returned. At that time, McGill University, located in Montreal, Canada was declared the winner. Their idea, involving the mass production of crickets for consumption, was certainly unique. Many applauded their willingness to present an idea that could have easily been considered too far-fetched. They will compete against the other regional finalists in New York City in September.

Despite their loss, the Smith team was excited by the opportunity to compete and represent the values of sustainability and social entrepreneurship, espoused by The Smith School of Business. They were particularly excited to utilize the business principles they learned throughout their first year in the MBA program to develop a business plan addressing a social issue. Their participation in this competition served to both build their own skills and to promote the Smith brand. They were all pleased with their experience in Boston. Not only were they proud of their business plan and presentation, but they were thrilled with the educational, networking and fun experience they shared.

#SES12 Reflections (8 of 8): How To Explain CSR To An 8 Year Old

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Oct 032012

by Graham DeJong (MBA ’13)

Note: Each of the participants in the Spring 2012 SVC Smith Experience was asked to blog about a session that piqued their interest at this year’s Social Enterprise SymposiumThis is the last post in this series; mark your calendars for the 5th Annual Social Enterprise Symposium on Friday March 1, 2013! 

Today was a good day. Today I had the opportunity to interact with socially-minded professionals and students. Some were corporate fixtures, some were entrepreneurs. All of these bright and motivated people were in one place: the 4th Annual Social Enterprise Symposium at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Sponsored by the Center for Social Value Creation in the Robert H. Smith School of Business, the event included two keynote speakers, five break-out sessions, two “fishbowl” limited-attendance discussions, a networking reception, a sustainable campus tour, and even a stretch break. Though I attended various segments throughout the day, two noteworthy events were the Social Enterprise Business Pitch Competition and the “fish bowl” discussion with Keynote Speaker Letitia Webster, Director of Global Corporate Sustainability, VF Corporation.

Let me tell you about my surprise when two sisters, Sunmee Huh and her younger sister Dahlia, pitched their non-profit search engine business called Good 50. Sunmee is a freshman at UMD and Dahlia is a freshman in High School; they were incredibly poised! They created Good 50 in 2010 to help their grandfather. He was experiencing problems reading Google search results. The site allows users to toggle to a more readable font size and type while utilizing Google’s search engine. However, the business is socially minded with 50% of their revenue donated to charity. Very impressive ladies!

MyMaryland.net co-founders Natalia Cuadara-Saez and Ben Simon pitch their idea

I was equally impressed at the pitch competition by MyMaryland.Net. Ben Simon, Natalia Cuadra-Saez and Natalie Martino are the founders, and their vision for My Maryland is to provide a two-way platform for MD lawmakers and constituents to communicate with each other. Ben and Natalia stated the problem: currently email, phone and “snail” mail correspondence to elected officials often go unanswered. MyMaryland.net was created to generate more real-time dialogue between elected officials and the people they represent. Though the website is not live yet, the expectation of significant participation by state-level, local-level and most importantly, federal-level elected officials, has me believing that government can actually become more transparent through their social enterprise. So I wasn’t surprised when MyMaryland.Net won the pitch competition.

Speaking of real-time dialogue, I had the distinct opportunity to talk with Keynote Speaker, Letitia Webster, in a “fish bowl” setting with only two other UMD students for 45 minutes. It was quite an unusual setting for interacting with a Director of a $12 billion company. Thanks to the SES organizers, however, I and about 40 other students were given the opportunity to have a conversation with Ms. Webster and other distinguished panelists in a intimate setting. And Ms. Webster was very forthcoming.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), in her opinion, has come a long way. She should know. She started the CSR department for The North Face in the 1990s. Change agents exist in all levels of organizations, she exhorted, within various business units and across all job functions. The challenge in any large organization is to find these people and leverage what they are already doing. Not an easy task for a former Crested Butte ski instruction who now directs CSR for VF Corporation, a company that owns a slew of top brands including: Wrangler, Lee Jeans, Chic, Eastpak, JanSport, The North Face, Reef, Vans, Timberland, Nautica, Ella Moss and many more.

I thought Ms. Webster was refreshing: CSR is here to stay, she said. It’s not just a marketing ploy. Having said that, she went to say it’s very difficult for companies to add value quickly to their products when integrating CSR into the entire value chain. This fact frustrates her as well as customers and many of their employees. She confidently stated CSR and its role in business is now accepted in the corporate culture and gaining traction. Her job is to continue expanding the role of CSR in VF Corporation and across their brands. Some days her job is easy (like today!), and some days it is hard.

So when asked (from a fishbowl card): how would you explain CSR to your 8 year old nephew? She replied: that’s a really hard question. But gracefully, she did come up with an answer. And then the four of us all agreed that even an 8 year old knows that you should be nice to people and the planet.

Global Philanthropy At A Crossroads: A Talk With Charles Waigi

 International, Social Value  Comments Off on Global Philanthropy At A Crossroads: A Talk With Charles Waigi
Sep 202012

by Guillermo Olivos, Assistant Director of Programming & Social Entrepreneurship, CSVC

I had the pleasure of joining about 60 of my peers this past Tuesday to see Charles Waigi speak to us about global philanthropy. Mr. Waigi stopped in to the Smith School as part of a month long tour in the USA, and was co-hosted by the Center for Financial Policy, the Center for International Business Education and Research, and the CSVC. He is eventually to receive the Williams College Bicentennial Medal for humanitarian recognition and alumni achievement from his own alma mater.

Yours truly, closing my eyes as photogenically as possible. To my left, M&O CSVC Faculty Committee Representative Prof. Paulo Prochno. In the row in front of me from left to right: Chris Olson (Global Programs,) Valerie Lubrano (MBA/MPP ’13,) and Martha West (MBA ’12.)

For a talk on a topic as broad as global philanthropy, I felt in understandably good company not knowing which direction Mr. Waigi’s lecture might take. Mr. Waigi took the reins admirably, taking a personal route and sharing with us how the philanthropic efforts of others enabled his own journey and early education. At a young age he won an award through a New York Herald Tribune grant to visit the U.S. based on an essay he wrote. In his college years, a number of scholarships supported his studies at Williams.

Mr. Waigi then went into a summary of his own work in education philanthropy and the building of Asante Africa Foundation, an education access organization working in Kenya and Tanzania. The mantra of Asante, as articulated in its brochure, can be summed up in a quote from Waigi himself: “Enriched minds will collectively find solutions to all other problems. No matter what poverty, illness, violence, or other problems people face, the only long-term solution is quality education.” The path forward, Waigi emphasized to the group, is two-pronged. First, a sort of “global village” of minds connected through social media and technology to co-exist and function collectively in these efforts. Second, a more investment-minded approach to philanthropy dollars and people-development is necessary for more expeditious progress in education equality- an approach that requires due diligence and follow through on monitoring the dollars you invest.

I found it fascinating that the Q&A quickly turned to metrics and measuring progress. In education, Mr. Waigi emphasized, it can be very difficult to find that “yardstick”. Personally, I can tell you that working within the Center for Social Value Creation we struggle with the same questions of how to measure impact and how to define success in our work. I am a fan of accountability and reporting measurable progress and action, but this challenge will always be present in progress beyond profit.

Without a universally agreed upon measure of progress, I believe the next best path forward (or perhaps the first) is to start from the bottom up with defining that yardstick. In the work of Asante Waigi spoke of his pride in the localized leadership model; I couldn’t agree more. Successful  initiatives born out of the roots of community tend to better integrate the cultural facets of strategic implementation that externally born engagements can miss. I truly enjoyed hearing Mr. Waigi speak and look forward to see what he and Asante do going forward into the future.

#SES12 Reflections (7 of 8): The Evolution of CSR and Smarter Cities

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Sep 172012

by Fenglin (Flynn) Yan (MBA ’13)

Note: Each of the participants in the Spring 2012 SVC Smith Experience was asked to blog about a session that piqued their interest at this year’s Social Enterprise Symposium.

Before 2000, corporate social responsibility was basically equal to corporate philanthropy.  Corporations fulfilled their social commitment through donation to some non-government organizations. But in the 21st century, corporations can contribute to the social welfare in a more direct way. Nowadays, corporate social responsibility has become an important part of a firm’s business model.

Smarter Cities (taken from IBM.com)

The keynote speaker Mr. Stan Litow from IBM gave a great lecture on the corporate social responsibility for a Fortune 500 company. The goal of a business is certainly to pursue profitability. Corporate social responsibility events seem to waste a firm’s limited capital, but in fact, they usually bring more opportunities to the firm. I was particular impressed by two examples.

IBM sent out 500 students each year to different cities across the world to help local governments solve business or technical challenges. IBM has been spent over 300 million dollars on this program, but did not get any revenue from it. However, I believe that IBM gained a lot of new opportunities. First, those projects can serve as successful demos and attract cities which have similar problems to purchase IBM’s services. Second, those projects can help IBM build a great relationship with local governments, which will facilitate IBM’s business growth in those cities. This corporate citizenship initiative will benefit IBM from both profitability side and social responsibility side. This reminds me another example. Google recently selected Kansas City, MO to offer its Continue reading »

#SES12 Reflections (Part 6 of 8): Hands On In The Carbon War Room

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Sep 052012

by Jacqui Cleaver (MBA ’13)

Note: Each of the participants in the Spring 2012 SVC Smith Experience was asked to blog about a session that piqued their interest at this year’s Social Enterprise Symposium.

“Climate change is one of the greatest wealth
generating opportunities of our generation.”

Sir Richard Branson, Founder, Carbon War Room

What initially drew me to the Carbon War Room Workshop session at the Social Enterprise Symposium was the promise of a hands-on business innovation exercise.  While I greatly appreciated the short lectures and animated panel discussion provided during other sessions that I attended at the Symposium, I learned lessons from the Carbon War Room session that I will be able to apply both inside and outside of the classroom.


The Carbon War Room, founded by Sir Richard Branson, sets out to solve climate change through the use of market driven business models.  According to the Carbon War Room, 50% of emissions can be profitably reduced, without policy changes, through the use of existing technologies.  Barriers such as transaction costs and lack of information exist in each industry and prevent the uptake of relevant technologies for carbon emission reduction.

While the Carbon War Room currently operates within the context of a few industries including shipping, renewable jet fuels, green capital, and Brazilian livestock, they have identified 7 sectors and 15 sub-sectors that have potential “Gigaton-Scale” solutions, in other words the potential for large carbon emissions savings.

The Carbon War Room begins their work by analyzing an industry to determine what barriers exist that keep capital from being invested in sustainable high return solutions to climate change.  The next step involves identifying which solutions and technologies to target and how to deploy these technologies so as to overcome the barriers that exist that prevent their uptake and scale up in a particular sector.  An important aspect of this final step is business innovation mapping, a process in which the traditional business model is drawn up, re-drawn, mixed up and re-thought in order to create new ways of offering a particular technology, product or service so that market barriers are overcome and technologies that help solve climate change while generating wealth, are adopted.

This business innovation mapping was the basis for the hands-on aspect of the Symposium session.  In order to practice innovation mapping we were introduced to Momentum Dynamics, a start-up clean technology company that has developed a mechanism to wirelessly recharge electrically powered vehicles.  In order to structure our ideas and have a visual of a potential business model for Momentum Dynamics, we used the Business Model Canvas, which facilitates the design and innovation process of building a business model.  Once we understood the intuition behind the business innovation process as well as the opportunities and challenges faced by Momentum Dynamics, we broke into small groups to develop new insights and innovative ideas for Momentum Dynamics’ business model.

The lessons that I learned during this session, including the actual process of business innovation and the use of the Business Model Canvas, are directly applicable to my WRI: New Ventures India Social Venture Consulting project.  The objective of the WRI: New Venture project is to evaluate innovative technologies and business models that could be adopted by entrepreneurs in India to both create a profitable business opportunity as well as address the challenge of providing clean drinking water to communities in India.

I think the most valuable take away for me was the importance of identifying barriers to the uptake and scale up of existing, potentially profitable, sustainable technologies.  This seems intuitive but I think it is a step that many people undervalue in terms of importance.  In the WRI project we are tackling our study a bit differently and to some extent it seems as though we are working backwards in terms of the steps delineated by the Carbon Warm Room.  They find barriers first and then look at technologies and business innovation.  That being said the objective of our project is a scoping study so I’m not suggesting a change in what we are doing as our research can easily lead to implementation.  An analysis of the water industries barriers to sustainable technology uptake could be an interesting continuation of the project if New Ventures India has not already done so.

New Insight from the Business for Good Map: Intel & Microsoft

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Jul 242012
This summer, the Center for Social Value Creation has been working with the Business Civic Leadership Center of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in order to explore the success of current Corporate Social Responsibility initatives across the world and the Fortune 100. You can view the original blog posting along with interactive maps here.

As the Research Manager at BCLC I’m excited to report we have the initial findings from our Business for Good project. Conducted with the Center for Social Value Creation (CSVC), this project is increasing understanding of how major companies are positively impacting communities around the globe.

For those familiar with BCLC’s Business for Good Map, you know that last October we released this tool to allow our network of companies to list their social impact projects. The map tracks 18 different issues including health and wellness, water, women and girls, veterans, volunteerism, and philanthropy.

To complement our map, BCLC began a sister project in May to catalogue all major CSR initiatives conducted by the BCLC network and the Fortune 100. In this post we’ll look at BCLC network members Microsoft and Intel. As of today these companies have 364 projects on the Business for Good Map representing all of their major projects from 2011 until today.

Did you know that Intel led more than 150 major social impact initiatives between 2011 and today?


Did you know that Intel led more than 150 major social impact initiatives between 2011 and today? More than 200 partner organizations are affiliated with these projects – and one-third of those organizations are other companies. Intel contributed cash to 45% of these projects – to the tune of $75 million – but just as interesting, funding is not the only way Intel is making a difference. The remaining 55% of these initiatives reflect a major investment of Intel’s employee expertise and/or in-kind donations.

Soon, this type of information will be available for more than 200 companies, leading to new insights into corporate social impact. The pie chart below is an example of what you’ll soon be able to learn.


The chart breaks down the issues targeted in Microsoft’s 214 major initiatives, and it reveals that Technology & Telecom and Education are Microsoft’s major issues.

Of course, this is just a sample of the information we’re uncovering. Soon we’ll know even more. How does Microsoft’s CSR portfolio compare with Kraft Foods’? Which non-profit is connected to the most corporations? How many sustainability initiatives did a company implement in its supply chain (BTW: Intel has implemented eight since 2011).

Information on all of these projects will be accessible through our Business for Good Map, with short descriptions, videos, pictures, and links to the original source pages.

The possibilities for future research are numerous. Does CSR work correlate with company returns? If so, what kinds bring the highest returns? Which sector is leading the way for clean water? Which company is doing the most in Nigeria? No matter the answers to these questions, it is certain BCLC will continue to be a leading source of novel, comprehensive information on the CSR field.

Intel on the Map

Microsoft on the Map


Jul 162012

By Caitlyn Zachry, MPP ’13

Every June, the Center For Social Value Creation and the Center for International Business Education and Research team up to provide a Sri Lanka half-internship volunteer consulting experience for University of Maryland MBA and MPP (Masters of Public Policy) candidates. Students spend two weeks on-site in Sri Lanka working with social impact clients, and ultimately deliver actionable recommendations to their clients as well as stakeholders including USAID, VEGA, and IESC.

1) Watermelon juice is delicious.

2) How to eat crabs using only our hands and teeth as utensils. (As a byproduct, we also learned to provide great mealtime entertainment!)

3) In a competition of coral reef vs. kneecap, coral reef wins.

4) That consulting work can be very enriching, rewarding, enjoyable… and a little bit exhausting (but in a good way!).

Our time in Sri Lanka so far has flown by, and we cannot believe that tomorrow will be our last day working with our client. We have been working with BIZ+, a grant administering organization that is a collaboration between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Land O’Lakes, Inc., and Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA). BIZ+ was created to encourage the development and growth of small and medium enterprises in post-conflict regions (in the north and the east) in Sri Lanka. The program has over $14 million to allocate in grants for eligible businesses, and additional funding to provide technical support for grant recipients. So far, the program has signed one grant agreement, with an ice factory located near the Northern Province’s capital city, Jaffna. Numerous other businesses are at different points in the application process, ranging from inquiring about the application to awaiting a signed grant agreement.

Since arriving in Sri Lanka, we have had the opportunity to travel quite widely — from our starting point in Colombo to Vavuniya, Jaffna and Mannar for work, and to Continue reading »

#SES12 Reflections (Part 5 of 8): The Business of Food

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Jun 292012

by Hunter Pavlik (MBA ’13)

Note: Each of the participants in the Spring 2012 SVC Smith Experience was asked to blog about a session that piqued their interest at this year’s Social Enterprise Symposium.

Before Thursday night, my knowledge of the global cocoa industry was limited to the fact that the crop is grown in the tropics and in some of the poorest countries in the world. When I walked out of the Sustainable Chocolate Sourcing discussion I had gained a greater sense of the work that is being done at the local level by tens of thousand of farmers and what two exceptional start ups are doing to improve the lives of the farmers they work with.

The background of the cocoa industry was a great introduction by Robert Peck of the World Cocoa Foundation. However, it was the information that followed, mainly the personal stories shared by Tim McCollum of Madecasse Chocolate and Amanda White of Divine Chocolate that caught my attention and changed my view on the chocolate industry. I grew up eating Hershey’s and Mars’ products but had little exposure to small-market chocolate bars before the panel. Thanks to the stories of the Tim and Amanda my views and my likely future purchasing decisions have been changed. Continue reading »

It’s More Than Just Fish for Aqua ‘N Green

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Jun 272012

By Valerie Lubrano (MBA/MPP ’13)

Every June, the Center For Social Value Creation and the Center for International Business Education and Research team up to provide a Sri Lanka half-internship volunteer consulting experience for University of Maryland MBA and MPP (Masters of Public Policy) candidates. Students spend two weeks on-site in Sri Lanka working with social impact clients, and ultimately deliver actionable recommendations to their clients as well as stakeholders including USAID, VEGA, and IESC.

Today is my 10th day in Sri Lanka and my fourth day working for Aqua ‘N Green (ANG).  Sri Lanka is a beautiful country and this consulting program has allowed me to see so many parts of it!  Starting from the capital, Colombo, we flew to the northeastern coastal town of Trincomalee.  Here, ANG maintains their fisheries, from nursery to full grown fish.  ANG is currently primarily focused on Asian sea bass, also called barramundi.  One of the things that makes ANG unique is the outgrowers network.  This is a collection of local farmers whose responsibility it is to maintain and grow the fish from fingerlings to fully harvestable fish. Continue reading »

First Week In Sri Lanka

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Jun 142012

By Andres Feijoo (MPP ’13)

Every June, the Center For Social Value Creation and the Center for International Business Education and Research team up to provide a Sri Lanka half-internship volunteer consulting experience for University of Maryland MBA and MPP (Masters of Public Policy) candidates. Students spend two weeks on-site in Sri Lanka working with social impact clients, and ultimately deliver actionable recommendations to their clients as well as stakeholders including USAID, VEGA, and IESC.

After a two day journey half-way around the world that included a ten hour layover in London and a travel mishap that nearly stranded one of my classmates, I did not think I would have the energy to fully appreciate the experience of my first few days in Sri Lanka. So far this trip has exceeded my expectations.
After landing early afternoon, our 45 minute drive to the hotel immediately brought several things to my attention. One is the Buddha statues on nearly every street corner, adorned with flowers and candles. Second is the wild assortment of countless advertisements every town center has, all jammed together in a manner that makes differentiating them an eye straining exercise. In a post-conflict country, the massive number of business vying for consumer attention is impressive.

The Galle-Face hotel will be home for the first few days in country. Opened in 1862 during the Victorian era, the hotel has a definite British feel to it, with its ornate furniture comforting guests and elegant art work donning the walls of its hallways. While publicized as one of the most luxurious hotels in Asia that treated the likes of The Duke of Edinburgh Price Philip, Yuri Gregarin, Arthur C. Clarke, and Richard Nixon, to me it resembles the hotel from the movie The Shining: big, spacious, creaky old, certainly not cozy. Nonetheless, my room is comfortable enough to enjoy my first few days. Continue reading »