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Their businesses also take on pressing real-world problems — ranging from an overabundance of solid waste to an under-supply of living-wage jobs. Every year, dozens of social venture startups enter annual competitions sponsored by universities, government agencies and other organizations.
Winning these contests often means a fat cash prize and technical assistance, as well as welcome attention from potential new investors and customers. The competitions provide a snapshot of the diverse ways creative young business people around the world are striving to do good by doing business.
Often these entrepreneurs have developed a deep understanding of a specific local problem in order to come up with a solution that will succeed on the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.
The startup sells bio-digesters and composters to corporate offices, hotels and university campuses, and then operates them for the customer. Organic waste is processed to produce methane for energy generation, while other trash is sorted and sent for recycling.
Both services reduce the expense of trucking waste to landfills. After training, these workers manage operations including sorting organic from non-compostable waste and operating the composters and digesters.
The jobs offer a regular living wage, safe working conditions and skills the women can take to future employment. Founded by a team of students from the University of Houston, the company acquires used electronics from e-waste recyclers. It uses a solvent-based system, which it claims is less expensive and hazardous than other currently-used methods, to recover valuable rare earth elements from the components and sell them for re-use.
Mobile Monitoring Station Among the health-related social ventures in recent competitions, Chile-based Mobile Monitoring Station won the Intel Global Challenge for its system of wearable sensors for the mining industry.
Attached to the jackets of mine workers, the gear monitors worker health and mine safety and pushes the data to a smart phone.
Disease Diagnostic Group Malaria sickens millions and kills hundreds of thousands of people every year, but most forms respond to treatment when diagnosed in time. Disease Diagnostic Groupfounded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate student John R Lewandowski, is developing a lightweight portable device that health workers can carry into remote communities to do quick, accurate testing for malaria.
The machine magnetizes a blood sample in water and sends a laser through it to detect malaria parasites in less than a minute. First Access Mobile phones remain a popular economic development tool for social ventures.
Lenders can use the service to evaluate the credit risk of applicants more quickly than the traditional bank process. The process increases profit margins for lenders, according to First Access, while also helping millions of people who have no banking history gain access to business loans.
First Access is partnering with telecom operators this year to test the service in Tanzania, and intends to offer the easily-scaled service in the rest of Africa as well as Asia and Latin America. Martin LaMonica is a Boston-based reporter covering energy, technology, business and the environment.
The technology and innovation hub is funded by BT. All content is editorially independent except for pieces labelled advertisement feature. Find out more here.James Paul Harding (born 15 September ) is a British journalist, and was the Director of BBC News from August until 1 January He is the co-founder of Tortoise Media..
In December , he was appointed as editor of The Times newspaper, the youngest person to assume the post, following Robert Thomson's appointment as publisher of the Wall Street Journal. The Skoll Foundation drives large-scale change by investing in, connecting, and celebrating social entrepreneurs and the innovators who help them solve the world’s most pressing problems.
Finally, follow the William James Foundation socially responsible business plan competition. They work with entrepreneurs at the idea and early venture stage to . If you are a teacher searching for educational material, please visit PBS LearningMedia for a wide range of free digital resources spanning preschool through 12th grade.
Soupergirl serves fresh, homemade soup made with ingredients from small local farms that practice sustainable farming methods in Washington, DC..
Sara Polon, founder, recalls “I started Soupergirl with a very extensive to-do list that was unfinished for years. [The MCN competition] forced me to finish a business plan, and run the financials completely for Soupergirl.
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