“GSEC gets to the noble purpose of business.” – Dean James Jiambalvo
Every year, the UW Foster School of Business holds the Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition (GSEC), an international social enterprise competition at which students from around the world present business solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges—poverty, health and development. The 10th annual GSEC brought in more than 160 entries from university teams spanning 37 counties.
The competition, hosted by the Foster School’s Global Business Center, featured 19 semi-finalist teams from Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda, Uganda and the U.S.—including two UW teams—competing in Seattle for $40,000 in prizes. This year’s winners were announced at a celebration dinner on February 27, 2014.
Grand Prize, Fargreen- Colorado State University, USA
Fargreen uses zero waste farming technology to convert rice straw waste into a product that can be used for mushroom farming and the production of bio fertilizers in Vietnam. This model prevents farmers from burning waste and releasing greenhouse gases into the air while also allowing farmers to diversify their crop yields and gain additional income from mushroom farming.
2nd Place Prize, Bhitti, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
Bhitti utilizes sugarcane bagasse, an agricultural by-product, to manufacture environmentally friendly, affordable and sustainable materials for construction. These materials can be used to build sturdier housing options in Bangladesh that may offer protection from natural disasters. Bhitti products require less energy consumption and leave a zero carbon footprint.
Global Health Prize, AYUDA Food Aid, Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines
AYUDA Food Aid is a nutrition-dense ready to eat compressed food bar that is intended for victims of natural disaster in the Philippines. AYUDA is a good source of energy, protein, carbohydrates and other essential nutrients typically lacking in most disaster relief goods such as instant noodles and canned foods. AYUDA Food Aid focuses on sustainable development by sourcing raw materials from local growers while compensating them at fair trade prices.
The National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) E-Team Award went to Nanaoly Bioscience of University of Colorado. Nanoly Bioscience aims to eliminate the need for vaccine refrigeration with a nano-sized polymer that stabilizes vaccines and other temperature sensitive medicines so that vaccines may be safely and effectively delivered at a low cost anywhere in the world. This prize provides up to $5,000 in travel support to a three-day E-Team program workshop.
Seattle Rotary and University District Rotary awarded $2,500 in prize money to AYUDA Food Aid for receiving the highest Social Impact score from preliminary round judges.
At the Celebration Dinner and Awards Banquet, the room buzzed with excitement and passion. Arun Gore, keynote speaker and CEO of Gray Ghost Ventures, noted the infectious spirit in the room. He commended each of the teams for their hard work and encouraged them to continue to pursue their dream.
Grand Prize Winner, Fargreen, has no plans to let grass grow under their mushroom farmers’ feet. “We plan to use the prize money to build our first mushroom facilities for ten farmers who already signed up to be in our network,” said Tran. “The construction and production will happen this summer.”