Out of a record field of 245 teams from 23 countries, a student team from CBS won grand prize at this year’s Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) for an enterprise that draws upon the collaborative capabilities of microfinance institutions, the carbon market and the Internet.
MBA students Aynsley Toole ’08, Evan Berger ‘09, Hillary Garris ’09 and Matthew Roach ’08 were awarded $25,000 in recognition of their business plan for MicroEnergy Credits Corp. (MEC), an organization dedicated to providing poor, rural households and small businesses worldwide with affordable access to clean energy sources. Founded by April Allderdice ’01 and James Dailey, MEC facilitates the establishment of clean energy divisions within microfinance institutions.
By utilizing connections with the carbon emissions cap-and-trade market along with the power of a scaleable Internet technology, such divisions can make resources such as solar electric lighting, efficient cook stoves and biogas fuel available to those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to electricity.
“My teammates and I believe that microfinance institutions, the carbon markets and clean energy sources can be combined to improve both the standard of living for the world’s poor and the health of our environment, and this award validates our conviction,” said Toole.
MEC joins the ranks of former Columbia Business School winners of the GSVC, including first-place winner Mobile Medics and third-place winner Highland Tea Company in 2006; second-place winner Connect Us in 2005; best blended winner IAM, LLC in 2004; and medium-growth winner Bronx Charter School for the Arts in 2002.
The GSVC, held April 18 at the University of California, Berkeley’s Hass School of Business, was founded in 1999 to promote the creation and growth of businesses that strive for both financial and social goals.