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Ben Powell

Ben Powell ’05: Ashoka

Ben Powell

Ben Powell received a Summer Fellowship to work with Ashoka, a global nonprofit that support entrepreneurs who advance social change via scalable and systemic approaches. “I see entrepreneurs as the key leverage point in development, so interning at Ashoka made perfect sense,” he says. “The Social Entrepreneurship class provided an invaluable framework for this position.”

Powell worked on the Full Economic Citizenship (FEC) initiative, which aims to connect social entrepreneurs with for profit companies and foster “bottom of the pyramid” development models. “Low income communities are almost always underserved by business,” says Powell, “but social entrepreneurs are often closer to the market and can help business tailor and sell products needed by low income consumers, while helping small producers to develop products higher up on the value chain.”

Ben also interviewed Ashoka Fellows in Mexico, who are using market based solutions to solve social problems. “These social entrepreneurs served as a critical bridge between small producers and the global economy, and provide business models which can be replicated elsewhere.” Insights gained from these interviews now form part of Ashoka’s knowledge base and are being used to refine and implement the FEC initiative.

Powell is now working to develop a new entrepreneur-driven development organization that will make equity investments in small scale socially responsible companies in the developing world: “There’s so much human potential that’s squandered in many parts of world,” Powell says. “My passion is to use private equity partnerships to unleash some of that potential, create opportunities for outstanding socially responsible entrepreneurs, and stimulate economic development from the bottom up.”

Back to other summer experiences


2014 Social Enterprise Conference

Millennials Rising: What's Next for Sustainability?

When: October 31, 2014,
8:30 am-6:00pm

The Marriott Marquis
1535 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
Between 45th and 46th Streets
New York, NY 10036

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The annual Social Enterprise Conference at Columbia Business School brings together thought leaders from across private, nonprofit, public, and academic sectors to share best practices, debate critical issues, and collaborate on innovative concepts to inspire change. Through interactive sessions, keynote speakers, workshops, a pitch competition, and networking opportunities, the conference presents guests with the opportunity to partake in the most important business and societal conversation of this new era. For updates on speakers and sessions, please visit the conference website.

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Summer Fellowship Program

Microfinance models help women of Burkina Faso

Read about the experiences of our summer fellows as they help create social and environmental value.


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