Business Students Challenged to Create Social Business

Business Students Challenged to Create Social Business

Curbing domestic violence, enhancing green initiatives amongst ideas
Team members of Restoration Trust accept their award for best social business from professor Muhammad Yunus and University System of Georgia representatives. Photo credit: BOR Media

ATLANTA - Business students from across Georgia were challenged to create a viable plan to solve social problems in their communities, as part of the first Social Business and Microcredit Forum held Oct. 17 at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The first-time event saw 1,200 attendees and featured Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, who shared his own journey to create the social business concept, defined as a non-loss, non-dividend company dedicated entirely to achieving a social goal.

Thirty-seven student teams from 36 universities and colleges across the state developed these plans, which include initiatives to curb domestic violence, increase literacy and provide health-care for migrant workers, along with financial models to sustain them.

A Southern Polytechnic State University team took first place for their business plan, called Restoration Trust. The company aims to transform victims of domestic violence by providing a microsavings and lending program, along with access to immediate and long-term housing options, and coaching on employment, education and entrepreneurial options.

Sonal Doshi, who is pursuing a master-of-science degree in accounting, helped create Restoration Trust. She attributes her team's success to focusing on the most important community need.

“A lot of research and legwork was done, not keeping the competition in mind but the social business in mind. And that helped us narrow it down to the idea that we felt was the most pressing need for social business,” says Doshi.

While she knew the concept of social business before the competition, Doshi says the practical application to community opened her eyes to its potential.

“This is definitely something that I want to pursue.”

Other students echoed similar sentiments.

“I think (this model) is going to be necessary,” says Natasha Greene, a second year student at Atlanta Metropolitan College who along with a team of three designed a green campus initiative promoting native plant species.

The competitors underwent two different rounds of competition judged by leaders from companies like Starbucks, PayPal and Motorola, as well as university representatives and local chambers of commerce members.

Richard Bernhardt, a judge and president at Silicon Valley Investment Group and owner of Bernhardt Communications, says he was impressed by the calibre of the submissions, and would like to see the event spread to more universities.

“They need to replicate this all over the country, make it all over the world,” says Bernhardt, adding he wants to encourage more funders to attend to ensure the ideas become reality."

Related Story:
Muhammad Yunus Inspires Young People to Change their World

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Camille Jensen

Camille Jensen is an employee share ownership consultant with ESOP Builders, Canada’s largest provider of employee share ownership plans (ESOPs) for small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Prior to joining ESOP Builders, Camille was a generative journalist and team member at Axiom News. She credits her time at Axiom as fundamental to her understanding that business is one of the best opportunities to make a difference in the world.

Camille is a B.C. Partner for Social Impact and volunteer with Okanagan Changemakers.

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