Act Global, Think Social 

Global Social Venture Conference rewards entrepreneurs for social impact.

The average business plan looks at projected earnings and ways to optimize revenue. But a stellar business plan might also consider social or ecological impacts. Such was the impetus for Haas School of Business' Global Social Venture Conference, an annual event that hinges on a global business plan competition. Now in its twelfth year, the conference allows sixteen teams to compete for a top prize of $25,000, awarded for creativity, viability, and maximized social dimensions. The guidelines give contestants a lot of latitude — past submissions focused on water treatment, medicine, and international aid — though the judging process is meticulous. This year, sixty teams went through the initial screening process by submitting a five-page executive summary; twenty-five were invited to proceed with a full business plan, and twenty-three wound up participating in the semifinals. Of those, eleven will compete for the $25,000 grand prize, and five will jockey for a second-place prize of $5,000, based on the rigor of their social impact. All that work pays dividends whether you win or lose, said conference spokesperson Jill Erbland. "At a minimum, if you submit an executive summary, you're being judged by professionals who can give valuable feedback," she explained. "Sometimes a judge might see something of interest and contact the submitter separately. Sometimes someone from the audience might even be interested." The 2010 conference takes place Thursday and Friday, April 22-23 at David Brower Center (2150 Allston Way, Berkeley). It includes breakfast, a keynote lunch, and breakout sessions, and caps off with an awards dinner at the Hotel Shattuck Plaza (2085 Allston Way, Berkeley) $40-$150.


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