Increasing protein-based food in Nigeria, promoting coffee in Rwanda, reducing indoor air pollution from cooking in Bangladesh, building a wheelchair out of bamboo—these are a few of the ideas presented in the 2013 Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition. The competition, which was hosted by the Foster School’s Global Business Center, had 14 semi-finalist teams from Bangladesh, India, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, and the U.S.—including one UW team—competing in Seattle for over $30,000 in prizes. The winners were announced at a celebration dinner on February 28, 2013.
Grand Prize $12,500 = Jorsey Ashbel Farms
Jorsey Ashbel Farms turn mango seeds into livestock feed. This tackles the poverty issue of protein-energy malnutrition, which affects millions of disadvantaged people in Nigeria, particularly women and children. They have already generated $31,000 in revenue, proving their business model works. When Mauricio Vivero from the Seattle International Foundation announced the winning team he said, “The final judges noted that the winners proved the model worked, which was fundamental, and also that the business plan thoughtfully and fully addressed the social good.” Blessing Oritseweyinmi Mene from National Open University in Nigeria and Ashbel Ngalabak Ayuba from Ahmadu Bello University presented the idea at GSEC. The other team member is Godson Chizurum Ogumka from Abia State University. This prize was sponsored by the Seattle International Foundation and Microsoft.
Information & Communication Technology Prize $10,000 = Social Cops
Prukalpa Sankar and Varun Banka from Nanyang Technological University launched Social Cops so ordinary citizens could easily report civic issues such as uncollected trash, potholes, leaking water pipes, etc. to local government officials with their mobile phone in their home country India. The civic reporting platform will begin a pilot this summer in Delhi. This prize was sponsored by Microsoft.
Global Health Prize $10,000 = LifeChair
LifeChair produces a wheelchair made of bamboo and rickshaw wheels. It is significantly less expensive than the wheelchairs currently available in Bangladesh and is designed and built to be used in rural areas. Makame Mahmud and Naseef Us Sakib from University of Dhaka created this company to help handicapped Bangladeshis become active members of society. This prize was sponsored by the UW Department of Global Health.
Rotary Prize for Social Impact $1,500 = Coffee Promo Co.
Coffee Promo Co. was started by Jean-Christophe Rusatira and Candide Mujawayezu, two medical students from the National University of Rwanda. Their goal is to install washing stations right at the coffee farm so the farmers can sell their beans already sorted and processed and get a much higher price, as well as improve yields by providing more training to farmers and planting better coffee trees. Once the farmers and workers make more money from coffee bean production, they will have more money to spend on healthcare and education to improve their communities and living standards. This prize was sponsored by the Seattle Rotary.
National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance E-Team Prize $5,000 and a Venture Lab Workshop = Disease Diagnostic Group
Disease Diagnostic Group uses the low-cost Rapid Assessment of Malaria (RAM) device to provide a handheld diagnosis for malaria in one minute at very low cost. This team also won the Investor’s Choice Award at the 2013 Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition Trade Show.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn spoke at the beginning of the celebration dinner. He said that while the people who proclaimed Seattle as a city of the future 50 years ago didn’t get everything right, they were right in a few areas. “They did get it right that it is appropriate, it is right to be innovative, creative, and idealistic. It is right to think about others and that’s how we’re going to keep working to build a city of the future.”
The keynote speaker at the award banquet was Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen, owner and CEO of Vestergaard Frandsen, which produces products for prevention of infectious diseases such as malaria. The company’s LifeStraw® water filters were named one of the best inventions by Time and one of the best innovations by Esquire and also won the Saatchi & Saatchi Award for World Changing Ideas. Frandsen, however, said of accolades LifeStraw® has received, “None of this matters unless it’s in the hands of the people who need it most, and that’s where the real innovation is.” He covered three kinds of innovation required to solve global health issues: innovation around creativity of new tool development, innovation around the deployment of new tools, and innovation around financing.