Guest post by various international students participating in UW Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition
Numerous student teams have gathered in Seattle for the 2012 Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition to get feedback, refine their idea, pitch venture capitalists and improve lives for people around the world. Here is a taste of new innovations in social entrepreneurship showcased at the University of Washington this week. In their own words…
Ruby Cup: solves menstruation problems for third-world women
The three of us, Julie, Maxie and Veronica, met each other at Copenhagen Business School, where we studied our bachelor in business, languages and culture. Currently, we are masters business students and have specialized in sustainable business strategies and social entrepreneurship.
The idea of our social business started at university during a course in social entrepreneurship, where the task was to write a social business plan. Ruby Cup was chosen as the best business plan by a university jury and the idea developed into reality. The three of us moved to Kenya in September 2011 to start our dream company and we are getting ready to market launch in April 2012.
Women and girls in developing countries face challenges when dealing with their monthly cycle. They have little or nothing to help manage their menstruation. Disposable menstrual hygiene products are often unavailable, expensive and pose an environmental problem. As a result, girls are absent from school and women do not go to work as they are afraid of leaking. There is a need for a safe, accessible and affordable menstrual protection alternative which does not cause negative environmental effects.
We provide an affordable and high quality long-term menstrual hygiene solution that will enhance the livelihoods of women and girls at the base of the pyramid. Ruby Cup is made of medical grade silicone and can be re-used up to 10 years.
EYEChina: meets cataract surgery demand in China
The team was formed in 2010 while we interned at the University of Oklahoma’s Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth. Lloyd Hildebrand, an ophthalmologist at the Dean McGee Eye Institute in Oklahoma City, challenged the team to create a sustainable business model for the 1 million cataract surgery backlog in Sichuan Province, China. Over the course of five months the team hammered out a business model and traveled to China over the summer to pressure test key elements of the model. EYEChina hopes to roll out a pilot program in the summer of 2012.
Project Akshar: solves economic woes of deaf women
We are students of Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies, University of Delhi, and are currently pursuing an undergraduate course in Business Studies. Our team is called SIFE SSCBS, which is a part of the international SIFE network.
Project Akshar was started in 2011 when our team at SIFE SSCBS saw bundles of sheets getting wasted and dumped in the landfills. We aimed at providing affordable educational resources to the economically backward while empowering a marginalized community in an eco-friendly way. After extensive research, we came across the fact that unemployment rate of hearing impaired women in India is more than 50 percent. Hence, we started working with Deaf women at Delhi foundation of deaf women, A Delhi based NGO.
The process involves collection of waste one-side loose sheets, on a massive scale, for their manufacture into low cost and ecofriendly notebooks, by our targeted social group: The hearing impaired.
SasaAfrica: empowers African craftswomen to join global ecommerce market
While working in the Nairobi slums for the past 2 years Ella Peinovich, an MIT graduate student, witnessed the challenges women working at or near the poverty line in the informal economy face each day to earn a fair living. It was on this trip that she and Kate Mahugu, a student of computer science at the University of Nairobi, joined forces to create an appropriate mobile technology tool that would provide greater economic opportunity for craftswomen, empowering them to become global entrepreneurs.
SasaAfrica is an ecommerce platform for the developing world that connects offline craft vendors to online consumers using a simple mobile phone. SasaAfrica builds bridges between local crafts markets of the developing world and the global digital marketplace.
Hakizamungu: modernizes honey production in rural Africa
While visiting the indigenous bee farmers in the remote area of southern province of Rwanda, Cyrille and JDamascene (pharmacy students of National University of Rwanda) have recognized that in this part of the poor world still using traditional practice to collect and process the honey results in reducing the quantity and the quality of honey. The company will be started by making a technological machine that will be used by indigenous bee farmers to process the honey, by organizing them into cooperatives and by funding their training. This company openly will be started by distributing a technological honey processing machine and organizing bee farmers. We will officially start to export bees honey late next year.
Learn more about the University of Washington Foster School of Business Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition. The 2012 event had record applicants thanks to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation travel grants.