As readers of the CSSL blog, you’ve seen our recent work as the global launch partner for Philanthropy University – the exciting online learning initiative that has reached hundreds of thousands of learners from more than 190 countries thus far. This partnership is a meaningful way to extend the excellence of Berkeley-Haas and CSSL across the globe. We do this in other ways as well, and one particularly timely example is the Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC), which is hosting its global finals this weekend.
For the first time ever, the global finals will be in Asia – 8,745 miles from Berkeley in Bangkok, Thailand! We recently detailed many of the exciting, game-changing social ventures going to the finals from all corners of the world. But I wanted to reflect here a bit on how the resurgent GSVC is a bellwether for Berkeley-Haas’ growing global leadership on social impact.
The Global Social Venture Competition has been empowering emerging social entrepreneurs for nearly 20 years. It provides mentoring, exposure to important stakeholders, and prize money to transform ideas into ventures that address the world’s most pressing challenges. The GSVC was founded by Berkeley-Haas students in the late ’90s, and supported by Professor Laura Tyson, who was then the Dean of the school. Professor Tyson has reengaged deeply with GSVC, and is helping to fuel the growth of the competition in her role as faculty director.
Several thousand global teams have participated in this competition. Some big names – like Kiva, Ethos Water, Sanergy and World of Good, which was acquired by EBay – have emerged from it. Some of these great social ventures won the top prize, and some placed as finalists. Each of these teams, and many, many more, have benefited from participating in GSVC and used the competition as a launch pad of sorts.
And speaking of launchpads, GSVC not only empowers social venture teams, but also provides Berkeley-Haas with a platform to project our point of view on how social venture work can be done with the highest levels of social impact and connection to the actual people whose lives these ventures intend to improve. Last year, we pivoted away from traditional business plans and towards using the business model canvas along with a stronger social impact assessment framework. These powerful tools force a discipline to deeply understand how social and economic problems are experienced by the people these social ventures aim to help.
In the coming months, we will also introduce a new framework to assess the true social impact produced by social ventures. While we’ll share this broadly with the social impact field, it is also our hope that pieces of this will also be woven into the GSVC in future years.
I’ll introduce this new social impact assessment tool in upcoming posts and through other outlets. But in the meantime, I want to send good luck to team Dost (led by Sneha Sheth, Haas MBA 16 and Sindhuja Jeyabal , I-School 16), representing Berkeley-Haas as finalists at GSVC this week in Bangkok.
I’m very proud to say that three of the social venture teams from the Social Lean Launchpad class I co-teach with Jorge Calderon, made it to the western regional finals for GSVC. While Dost pushed through to the finals, two other teams – Planet Murple (led by Emily Yao, Haas MBA 16, and Dave Resnick, Cal MPH 16) and Renklikoy (led by Sevda Gundogan, Haas MBA 16) – represented the class fabulously as well.
Like the great teams that preceded them, I have faith that Dost, Planet Murple and Renklikoy will continue to rise and shine as a result of their experiences in GSVC. And, they’ll continue to do it by living all four of the Haas defining principles – challenging the status quo, going beyond themselves, having confidence without attitude and being students always. On the faculty side, we’ll follow their lead in letting these values drive our own work on elevating the field of social enterprise to have even more social impact.
Stay tuned for more soon.