- Social ventures combine the passion and purpose of a social or environmental mission with the rigor and accountability of a market-based approach to enterprise design, financing, and operations. Social ventures focus on the “triple bottom line” or on the “3P’s - People, Planet, Profits.”
- The social venture track maintains the same goals and guidelines of the overall Holloway competition.
- Two teams will move into the final round and compete with the other track finalists.
- All teams in the final round receive cash awards.
What makes for a successful Social Venture?
“We need to reverse three centuries of walling the for-profit and non-profit sectors off from one another. When you think for-profit and non-profit, you most often think of entities with either zero social return or zero return on capital. Clearly, there’s some opportunity in the spectrum between those extremes.” - Bill Drayton (Ashoka Founder)
Social ventures are often driven by entrepreneurs who envision business as a force for good. A successful social venture plan will demonstrate strong social value creation, financial sustainability, and viability in the marketplace. The team must demonstrate that its business model is likely to make a substantial contribution toward the solution of the issue it seeks to address and can be sustained for a period of time consistent with achieving the desired social or environmental impact. The social venture can be designed as a for-profit, nonprofit, or hybrid organization.
While the submission questions and judging guidelines are the same for all three tracks, social venture teams must demonstrate an additional level of analysis and impact in their proposals. Their industry and market analysis should consider both stakeholders who benefit from the product or service and those who drive its financial engine (if these are different). Similarly, its performance measurement system should consider social and environmental, as well as financial, goals.
For example, TOMS Shoes, which for every pair purchased donates a pair of new shoes to a child in need, would analyze the market for paying shoe customers, as well as the need for donated shoes and the impact that giving children shoes would have on a pressing social problem. Microfinance institutions such a Grameen Bank aspire to benefit the same people who pay for their service, though many also rely on philanthropy to support their operations. Here in New Hampshire, Revolution Energy uses innovative financing mechanisms to help their clients install renewable energy products, benefitting the environment and reducing the country’s reliance on fossil fuels. The 2012 Holloway Prize winner, Sensible Spreader Technologies, proposed a plan to use GPS technology to optimize the amount and type of de-icer to use on a particular roadway.
Interested in learning more about the Social Enterprise track?
Net Impact is a student organization at UNH that Net Impact welcomes students and teams interested in competing in the Social Venture track. Visit their Facebook page or contact President Anthony Albano (avt6 [at] wildcats [dot] unh [dot] edu) to learn about their weekly meetings and other activities. Advisors Juan Florin, Michael Swack, Yusi Turell, and Fiona Wilson also have special interest and expertise in social ventures.
For more information and resources outside of UNH, visit: Net Impact, Ashoka, Skoll Foundation, NYU Stern Social Venture Competition, Harvard Business School Social Venture Track, and the Global Social Venture Competition.