Paul College hosts state-wide competition, promotes solving variety of social and environmental issue

By Cole Caviston

Published: Friday, September 13, 2013
Source: The New Hampshire

On Sept. 30, the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics will host the first New Hampshire Social Business and Microfinance Forum for New Hampshire college students and statewide entrepreneurs.

The forum is a collaboration between the Paul College, the office of the president and the Carsey Institute.

Dr. Muhammad Yunus, a renowned Nobel laureate and “father of microcredit,” will deliver the day-long event’s keynote address.  Yunus defined the concept of “social business” as financially self-sustaining business that crafts innovative solutions to primarily social and environmental problems, such as poverty and climate change. Social businesses are market-based and are both for-profit and non-profit.

Yunus will also announce and present awards for ranking winners of the Social Business Innovation Challenge, a competition arranged by Paul College that is now open to UNH students, recent graduates and members of the New Hampshire community.

The challenge is meant to act as an “accelerator” for innovation in social business ideas. Those interested may either compete in teams or enter the challenge solo.

Dr. Fiona Wilson, a member of the Paul College faculty and the challenge’s organizer, said that Yunus is the “inspiration” for the challenge’s concept of wanting to engage in matters of social business. She also stated that Yunus is a strong believer that young people are “an important lever for change” in society.  
“We know UNH students have the desire to improve our planet and life for all humans and we know they have the smarts to come up with some great ideas,” Wilson said.

Wilson also stated that team names that have been submitted to the challenge thus far indicate that the current entries will be focused on a wide variety of social business ideas.

“In terms of the team names that have been used by students to register their intent to compete,” Wilson said, “it appears as if we will have entries for social business ideas that will address local and global issues such as access to clean water, trash and recycling, alternative energy, the obesity epidemic, and substance abuse.”

For the challenge, contestants will be asked to describe an initial idea or concept for a social business in a three-minute video and a short, two-page paper.

Competitors are advised not to submit a full business plan. All contestants must register online at the Social Business Innovation Challenge website www.unh.edu/socialbusiness/social-business-innovation-challenges.

Registration of intent in entering the challenge for UNH students and graduates is available until Friday, Sept. 13, at midnight. Competitors then have until Sept. 20 to submit their material.

The awards for the winning teams or individuals will be prize money offered by Paul College. First prize is $3,900, with second and third prizes worth $2,000 and $1,000 respectively.

The winners will also be invited to a luncheon with Yunus.  
For work on the media video, Wilson recommends that students visit the UNH Parker Media Lab. The lab staff will provide assistance and equipment for shooting and editing the video.

The lab is open Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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