Friday, June 12, 2009

Stanford Breeds Social Entrepreneurs

A recent Business Week article, “A Bull Market in Social Entrepreneurs” discusses students’ efforts to create businesses that will leave a positive mark on the world. The article gives hope to 2009 graduates. While it isn't financial hope, the article provides hope that Gen Y can do something positive in a rather unsettling time.

The article tells the story of 22 year old Stanford graduate, Josh Nesbit, founder of Frontline SMS: Medic, a company that develops communication systems in rural areas with the goal of promoting health. This philanthropic start-up’s focus is “less making money and more doing good.” Frontline SMS: Medic is a low budget company primarily run by volunteers and students. Even though they may not be making millions, they’re making a difference. The article explains how the economic downturn is actually providing an opportunity to students, freeing them to use brainpower and spur creativity. Startups that deliver results will grab attention.

In the following Prendismo clip, Linda Mason, Chairman of Bright Horizons tells students to “really follow your heart and your passions,” This is exactly what Stanford students are doing. They are becoming social entrepreneurs, combining intellect and their passion to help others in order to create an innovative and sustainable business.

"There's some real value in having some wandering time, to really explore different skills, different areas, to broaden your vistas." - Linda Mason, Chairman, Bright Horizons

Fortunately for philanthropic start-ups, the trend is towards more funding for companies looking to “save the world.” In the following Prendismo clip, Khanjan Mehta a Senior Research Associate at Pennsylvania State University, discusses how funding for his Mashavu Project was provided. The Mashavu Project is a similar project to Frontline SMS: Medic.

"We got some seed funding to get started and get validation, but the Sustainable Vision program really provides us the funding that we need to get to that next level..." - Khanjan Mehta, Senior Research Associate, Pennsylvania State University

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