Fair Trade Project Takes Top Prize at Social Venture Competition

Fair Trade Project Takes Top Prize at Social Venture Competition

World of Good, a venture that promotes employment through fair trade with disadvantaged communities in developing countries while also working to support fair labor practices and encourage local economic development has won first place in the 2005 Finals of the Global Social Venture Competition. The business plan for World of Good was presented by a team of current and former Haas School of Business students.

The venture emerged as the winner from a finals field of nine teams drawn from business schools from around the world. Second place went to a health-technology venture submitted by a Columbia Business School team, and third place prize went to a fuel-efficiency venture with representatives from both London Business School and the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School.

The Global Social Venture Competition is unique among business plan competitions in that it gives equal weight to financial profitability and a social impact assessment (SIA). To compete successfully, social ventures must show a demonstrably greater impact in its SIA than the norm for existing firms in the industry. Each plan must have at least one current graduate business school student from an accredited business school on the management team.

The competition, founded by five Berkeley MBA students in 1999, has grown into a global partnership between UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, Columbia Business School in New York, and London Business School. Financial support is provided by long-time sponsor The Goldman Sachs Foundation and Omidyar Network, which joined the competition as a sponsor this year.

The top-placing teams share $60,000 in travel and cash prizes that will help them launch businesses committed to creating significant positive social impact.

"This year, the Global Social Venture Competition really came into its own with strong plans from Europe and Asia that rivaled the US entries," says Jerome Engel, executive director of the Haas School's Lester Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which hosted this year's competition. "Of course we are proud of World of Good, our home team that brought home the gold. They are a great entrepreneurial team."

The 2005 winners and the business schools they represent are:

First Place: World of Good (UC Berkeley, Haas School of Business) distributes a line of globally sourced fair trade gifts and accessories under fair trade guidelines that generate employment for women and disadvantaged communities, promise a living wage, and promote social and economic development.

Second Place: Connect U.S. LLC (Columbia University, Columbia Business School) uses wireless messaging to remind patients to take medication as prescribed to help minimize the social and financial burden placed on the US healthcare system when patients fail to follow doctors' orders.

Third Place: Fuelture (University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, and London Business School) will support converting high-mileage urban vehicles (especially taxis and small delivery vans), to automotive propane or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) instead of gasoline, which would reduce running costs and improve urban air quality. Fuelture would simplify the conversion process and create a chain of filling stations.

Honorable mentions went to Fuerza Research (Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management) and MicroCredit Enterprises (UC Berkeley, Haas School of Business and UC Davis, Graduate School of Management).

The special Social Impact Assessment Prize was awarded to Human Service Fellowship (Northwestern, Kellogg School of Management) for its plan to facilitate the hiring of skilled health workers by HIV/AIDS organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa. The honorable mention for this prize went to World of Good.