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20 Social Entrepreneurs Chosen for Global Social Benefit Incubator Enterprise-Building Program at Santa Clara University

Wednesday, Apr. 13, 2011

Silicon Valley Mentors and Academics Partnering with Social Entrepreneurs to Address Most Difficult  Developing World Challenges

SANTA CLARA, Calif., April 13, 2011—Twenty socially minded entrepreneurs from around the world have been chosen to receive full scholarships to participate in the ninth annual Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI™). These business ventures provide essential goods and services to the poor, and often act as catalysts for economic growth in their respective areas.

The GSBI program empowers socially minded entrepreneurs to build economically sustainable organizations and to solve problems for people living in poverty around the world. The signature program of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Santa Clara University, GSBI combines online and in-residence exercises with training and mentoring from academic leaders and Silicon Valley executives over an intensive eight-month period.

Products and services being developed by the 2011 Class include: biogas-powered milk coolers for Ugandan farmers; microfranchise training and employment opportunities for slum youth in Kenya; probiotics to improve health in Mexico; solar-powered chicken and egg production in Haiti; and women-created fashion and furniture from recycled garbage in the Philippines.

Entrepreneurs graduate from GSBI with practical and strategic business tools to allow their companies to “scale”, meaning they increase revenue faster than expenses.  The final phase of the eight-month program will be an in-residence program taking place on Santa Clara University’s campus August 7-19, culminating with a business plan summary presentation on August 18.

“We are tremendously enthused by the quality and breadth of this year’s class of social entrepreneurs,” said Thane Kreiner, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society. “Their innovations in technologies, business models, and solving contextual challenges in the delivery of goods and services to impoverished communities are inspiring and exciting, with potential to positively impact the lives of tens of millions of people.”

To help these businesses scale their innovative solutions to the world’s most challenging problems, the GSBI taps veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, marketers, venture capitalists, and industry consultants to mentor the social entrepreneurs. Including noted Santa Clara faculty, the academic team works with these promising organizations on key concepts such as cohesive business plan development, mechanisms and ideas for capital investment sources and sustainable revenue streams, distribution models, and finding ways to increase their impact while maintaining positive cash flow.

This year, over half of the 2011 GSBI class is focused on developing or distributing cleaner and cheaper sources of energy for the nearly 1.5 billion people in the world who have no access to reliable, grid power.

“Access to power is one of the single most important factors impacting a family or community’s ability to escape extreme poverty,” said Jim Koch, director of GSBI. “This will be our second year highlighting companies focused on issues surrounding ‘energy poverty.’ Through this multi-year effort we are building on our understanding of the success factors in terms of technologies, business models and socio-political environments that engender successful and sustainable organizations and solutions.”

Other areas of focus for incoming social ventures include information and communication technology, economic development, health, and innovative distribution models. The 20 organizations are headquartered in more than14 different countries, including eight from Africa, as well as others from India, the Philippines, Haiti, Central America, and Southeast Asia.

Among the organizations to be represented in this year’s GSBI class:

* Thermogenn (Uganda)

Thermogenn provides small-scale renewable energy-powered milk coolers to rural and suburban smallholder dairy farmers with no access to grid electricity so they can preserve and sell their evening milk the following day, increasing their income.

* Rags2Riches, Inc. (Philippines)

Rags2Riches produces high-end fashion and home masterpieces in a co-ownership model with 400 women artisans from urban poor communities. These products are made with recycled scrap materials that would otherwise add to landfills, and are created by world-renowned designers.

* Haiti Community Development, Inc. (Haiti)

Haiti Community Development (HCDI) will implement solar-powered chicken coops in rural Haiti to help meet Haiti's food security needs. The project aims to revive Haiti's rural economy and re-engage and empower farmers as suppliers, consumers, employees, and re-sellers of chicken and eggs. The project helps create jobs, increase farmers' income, and provide high quality protein to the communities it serves.

* Solar Sister (Uganda)

Solar Sister empowers women through economic opportunity. The venture combines the breakthrough potential of micro-solar lighting with a deliberately woman-centered direct sales network. Women become their own bosses and earn an independent income as Solar Sister entrepreneurs while working to eradicate energy poverty in rural communities throughout Africa.

For more details about the program and this year’s GSBI class, visit the Center for Science, Technology, and Society’s website at

Enterprises that have graduated from the GSBI program have, collectively, gone on to serve or benefit tens of millions of people. Alumni include the micro-lending website, African solar-radio maker Lifeline Energy, Indian safe-drinking water distributor Naandi, “cloud phone” service provider Movirtu, Indian rice husk electrification pioneer Husk Power Systems, physical mobility device producer and advocate MAARDEC, optical health leader VisionSpring, and the earthquake-resistant construction nonprofit Build Change.

GSBI is currently funded in part by a grant from the Skoll Foundation and individual donors. The Center partners with Social Edge,the Skoll Foundation's online community for social entrepreneurs ( to administer the online GSBI application process, comprising three mentored exercises all applicants must complete.

"We are delighted that Social Edge, through its global reach among leading
successful social entrepreneurs, was able to attract those entrepreneurs
from around the world to be part of the GSBI life-changing experience," says Victor d'Allant, Executive Director of Social Edge.

Corporations, individuals, and foundations interested in supporting the GSBI and helping social entrepreneurs are invited to contact Tomitha Blake,

About the Center for Science, Technology, and Society
The mission of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society (CSTS) is to promote the use of science and technology to benefit underserved communities worldwide, primarily by working with socially-minded entrepreneurs.  The CSTS implements its mission through its signature program, the Global Social Benefit Incubator, the Frugal Innovation Lab and its numerous educational and public engagement activities.  More information can be found at

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University is a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley. Santa Clara offers its more than 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master’s degrees in a number of professional fields, law degrees, and engineering and theology doctorates. Distinguished by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, Santa Clara educates leaders of competence, conscience, and compassion grounded in faith-inspired values. Founded in 1851, Santa Clara is California’s oldest operating institution of higher education. For more information, see

Media Contacts:
Deborah Lohse | SCU Assistant Media Relations Director | 408-554-5121 |

Victor d’Allant | Executive Director | Social Edge | 650-331-1036 |


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