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Invest in the Long Term – Social Enterprise Symposium Highlights

Mar 11, 2016
Experiential / Reality-based Learning

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“The Social Enterprise Symposium has become the University of Maryland’s premiere event on social enterprise and social entrepreneurship, and we are dedicated to exploring the connection between economic prosperity and lasting social and environmental change,” said Christine Beckman, director of the Center for Social Value Creation at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, as she welcomed attendees to the Eighth Annual Social Enterprise Symposium (SES). The event was held at the Adele H. Stamp Student Union in College Park, Md., on March 4, 2016.

Since the start, SES has hosted more than 200 thought leaders in roles involving corporate responsibility, social entrepreneurship, and sustainability, from organizations such as GE, IBM, Honest Tea, CLIF Bar, TOMS Shoes, and a variety of for-profit and nonprofit start-ups. What began in 2009 as student-run program has grown into a major university event that serves as a platform for social enterprise thought leadership throughout the region and the nation.

Keynote Speakers

The theme of this year’s event was “Invest in the Long Term.” Two keynote speakers were featured: Alex Counts, founder of the Grameen Foundation, and Jonathan Atwood, vice president of sustainable living and corporate communications for Unilever North America. The event also offered three breakout sessions, a student innovation showcase, and a networking reception.

Discussion throughout the day centered on how individuals and organizations can seek prosperity that includes both profit and positive long-term impact. Watch the keynote speeches:

Alex Counts, Founder of the Grameen Foundation
Alex Counts founded Grameen Foundation and became its president and CEO in 1997, after having worked in microfinance and poverty reduction for 10 years. A Cornell University graduate, Counts’ commitment to poverty eradication deepened as a Fulbright Scholar in Bangladesh, where he witnessed innovative poverty solutions being developed by Grameen Bank. He trained under professor Muhammad Yunus, the founder and managing director of Grameen Bank, and co-recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. WATCH VIDEO.

Jonathan Atwood, VP at Unilever North America
Jonathan Atwood is Unilever’s vice president of sustainable living and corporate communications, North America. He joined Unilever in May 2012 and is responsible for communications, Unilever Brand, and the shape and implementation of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan in North America. WATCH VIDEO.

Breakout Sessions

Two breakout sessions had panel discussions: “Investing for Impact and the Long Term” and “Social Entrepreneur Millennial Mash-up.” The third session was a workshop on “Design Thinking for Climate Action” with Cope Willis, director of sustainable business solutions at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. Special thanks are extended to the speakers who participated in these discussions.

Investing for Impact and the Long Term

  • Priya Mehra, vice president of global sustainable finance, Morgan Stanley
  • Luis Espinosa, MBA ’14, senior investment analyst, Accion
  • Brad Turner-Little, director of strategy, Goodwill Industries International
  • Liz Sessler, client advocate, Impact U.S.
  • Anurag Behar, chief sustainability officer, Wipro
  • Moderator: Rachelle Sampson, professor, Robert H. Smith School of Business

Social Entrepreneur Millennial Mash-up

  • Daniel Hill, president and co-founder, Green Impact Campaign
  • Kushaan Shah ’14, founder and executive director, Social Rise
  • Ann Yang, co-founder, MISFIT Juicery
  • Moderator: Christine Beckman, professor, Robert H. Smith School of Business; director, Center for Social Value Creation

Do Good Challenge Innovation Showcase

A highlight of the event was the Do Good Challenge Venture Showcase, where student entrepreneurs who are participating in the venture track of UMD’s Do Good Challenge pitched their business ideas. The Do Good Challenge, a partnership with the School of Public Policy Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership, is an eight-week competition created by UMD students to encourage their peers to Do Good. A panel of judges assessed the ventures at the showcase, ultimately selecting one student team to fast-track to the Do Good Challenge semi-finals held mid-April. Cocoa Queens Hair Care Extensions was selected by the judges to receive the golden ticket to the semi-finals, and Annie’s Children was the audience favorite at the showcase, having received the largest portion of “Do Good Dollars” from SES attendees. Other teams making their pitches were: Nova Prints and Apparel, The Village Youth and Family Center, The Voice: Juvenile Justice, No Taboo. Period., food x change, and Trinklints. The Do Good Challenge Finals, sponsored by Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management, will be held on April 19 in Riggs Alumni Center.

Sponsors & Collaborators

This year’s symposium was supported by lead sponsors Earth Color, Goodwill, Macy’s, PwC, and Unilever, and event collaborators: the Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at the School of Public Policy, the Do Good Challenge, and The Stamp Student Union.

“The afternoon had all the hallmarks of an excellent event,” said Beckman. “The breakout panels had inspiring and experienced speakers who weren’t shy to disagree with each other—providing excellent food for thought for the audience. I left SES energized and excited about the many talented people in our community (both speakers and students) that are dedicated to creating a better world through business principles.”

To see highlights from past events, visit: www.rhsmith.umd.edu/SES.

- Alissa Arford, Office of Marketing Communications

About the Center for Social Value Creation
The Center for Social Value Creation empowers students to create a better world through business principles. We offer hands-on learning opportunities and collaborate across disciplines to infuse students with the ability to apply business principles in creative and entrepreneurial ways that co-create economic prosperity and advance social and environmental well-being. For more information, visit: www.rhsmith.umd.edu/svc.

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.