Bronx Charter School for the Arts won $25,000 in seed money as the best Medium Growth Business Plan at the National Social Venture Competition, held April 6th at the Haas School of Business. The National Social Venture Competition is a student-organized event to promote businesses and non-profit organizations with both financial and social returns on investment. Columbia students, Dana Weeks '03, Lee Swedowsky '03, and Catherine DeLaura '02 are a part of the Bronx School's management team and helped present the business plan for a public charter elementary school that focuses on arts education in the Hunt's Point Area of the Bronx.
Pictured: The Bronx Charter School for the Arts team (L to R): Marya Gilborn and her daughter, Hazel, Dana Weeks, Catherine DeLaura, Xanthe Jory and Lee Swedowsky.
Wilson TurboPower, Inc. was the winner in the High Growth category for showing financial profitability within five years. Wilson TurboPower will produce microturbines that have efficiency and costs comparable to centralized power generators.
Regale Corporation was the winner of best Blended Value Enterprise for the business demonstrating the highest financial and social return. Regale Corporation designs and manufactures environmentally friendly molded packaging material. Both teams received awards of $25,000.
An additional award of $5,000, for the best analysis of Social Return on Investment for furthering research in the field, was shared by Windows of Opportunity and Regale Corporations.
The competition began three years ago as a student-organized social venture competition at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business. It expanded its national scope in 2001 with new partners: Columbia Business School in New York, and The Goldman Sachs Foundation, headquartered in New York, that has provided $1.5 million in funding for the competition. Together, the three institutions are committed to building upon their respective networks of global business leaders, academics, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs to achieve their vision of the expansion of social entrepreneurship globally.
Fourteen Columbia Business School student organizers also attended the event. They were Elizabeth Baldwin, Andrew Bauer, Shilpi Chandra, Edward Hammer, Sandra Navalli, Camilla Nestor, Dinah Perkins, Brian Pollack, Sarah Scrogin, Scott Swenson, Dawn Techow, Selen Ucak and Noha Waibsnaider.
The competition started with a kickoff dinner on Friday, giving judges, students and finalist teams the chance to meet other people from the social entrepreneurship field, and to learn more about what was going to take place the next day. Sanjay Wagle, of Sea Power Associates and the winner of last year's competition, also spoke about his experiences with the competition.
On Saturday, the competition began with presentations by the four teams competing in the Medium Growth category during the morning session. The presentations were open to the public and there was a good turnout of students and practitioners from the field.
An exhibition took place over lunch where businesses with a social or environmental mission were invited to display and talk about their products. During the afternoon session, the four teams competing in the High Growth category presented their business plans.
The nine judges represented fields such as for-profit and non-profit venture capital, private business, foundations and social entrepreneurship, and public health academics. The judges evaluated the plans on their financial and social returns on investment, feasibility, fundability, and the management team, including a focus on the contribution of the MBA student. "The guiding principle," Heather Sears, a Haas student organizer told the judges, "must be to think of yourself as an investor. Which plan would you choose?"
The winners were announced the same evening at a private dinner at The Claremont Hotel overlooking San Francisco Bay. Finalist teams, judges, student and staff organizers, and invited guests were in attendance. Noble laureate Dan McFadden supported the concepts on which the competition is based in his keynote speech at the final awards ceremony. "I approve of what this social venture competition is trying to accomplish," McFadden said, "that it is a hard-headed approach to social and environmental concerns that respects the bottom line. It does not depend on the kindness of others, and it recognizes that more can be accomplished by joining social and environmental concerns with private enterprise than by casting business as the necessary enemy of social concerns."
In addition to the winners, honorable mentions were given to Casa Sin Fronteras for the Best All-MBA Team, and Pachamama Coffee Cooperative for the Best Innovative Team. In speaking about the importance of the competition afterwards, Joern Kallmeyer of winning team Wilson TurboPower said, "In addition to being the only socially-focused business plan competition, the National Social Venture Competition is just a handful of truly national business plan competitions for MBA's."
This year, the NSVC received a record-breaking 77 business plan submissions, marking a 140 percent increase over the 2001 competition. Next year's final competition will be hosted at Columbia.