10 Years Later: Social Venture Competition is World’s Largest


California schoolchildren are munching healthier lunches, artisans in developing countries are receiving fair wages, and troubled students are using software to improve their behavior -- all thanks to businesses that have competed in the Global Social Venture Competition in the past 10 years.

Founded by Berkeley MBA students in 1999, the Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) has become the world’s largest student-led competition, drawing a record 317 teams this year. The 10th annual competition culminated with the global finals April 24 at the Haas School, followed by a daylong GSVC Symposium on Social Entrepreneurship in San Francisco.

The winner of this year’s competition was EcoFaeBrick, a team from Prasetiya Mulya Business School in Indonesia that makes high-quality bricks from abundantly available cow dung — instead of depleting scarce firewood and clay. Teams from 23 countries participated in the preliminary rounds.

The competition was founded by Berkeley MBA students Lia Fernald, Alison Lingane, and Denise Yamamoto, all MBA 00; and Nik Haas-Dehejia and Sara Olsen, both MBA 01. The event went global in 2003, when the London Business School joined. Since then, competition partners have grown to include schools in India, Thailand, and Europe.

Past Haas School winners include World of Good, founded by Priya Haji and Siddharth Sanghvi, both MBA 03, which recently built an online marketplace called worldofgood.ebay. com with eBay for products often made from recycled, reclaimed, or sustainable materials.

Another GSVC winner, Revolution Foods, founded by Kristin Groos Richmond and Kirsten Saenz Tobey, both MBA 06, was a finalist in BusinessWeek's “America's Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs” contest and profiled in Forbes. The company provides more than 1,000 healthy meals to lowincome school kids every day.


Co-founders of the Global Social Venture Competition met up with 2009 co-chairs Julia Sanders and Eric Kuhn, both MBA 10, at the tenth anniversary of the annual event. Pictured here (left to right) are co-founders Alison Lingane and Denise Yamamoto, both MBA 10; Sanders; Kuhn; and co-founders Sara Olsen and Nik Haas-Dehejia, both MBA 01. Lia Fernald (not pictured), MBA 00, also helped start the competition ten years ago.

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