Santa Clara University

SCU Today

University Press Releases

Back to Blog

Twenty-three Social Entrepreneurs Chosen for Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI) Enterprise-Building Program at Santa Clara University

Thursday, Apr. 8, 2010

SANTA CLARA, Calif., April 8, 2010—Nearly two dozen social ventures with missions like providing biofuel to Tanzanian farmers, turning pine needles into cooking gas in India, and providing cell phones to Sub-Saharan Africans, have been chosen to join Santa Clara University’s eighth annual Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI™).

GSBI is a fully funded, 12-month program of online learning and mentoring, including a two-week in-residence summer “boot camp” on Santa Clara University’s mission campus. The in-residence program will take place Aug. 15–27, 2010.

To help these businesses scale up their innovative solutions to the world’s most challenging problems, the University’s Center for Science, Technology, and Society—GSBI’s sponsor—taps veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, marketers, and venture capitalists. Together with Santa Clara faculty, they work with promising, but often resource-starved, businesses on key concepts like completing a cohesive business plan, generating ideas for capital investment sources and predictable revenue streams, and finding ways to increase their impact while maintaining positive cash flow.

This year, about one-fourth of the enterprises are focused on renewable sources of electricity for underserved populations in developing countries. Another group is developing low-cost appliances and systems (e.g., clean cooking stoves and affordable lighting systems) to take advantage of these alternative energy sources.

“Access to electricity 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 year, we are launching a multi-year focus on renewable energy for people who live ‘off the grid’ or suffer frequent disruptions to their energy supply. Through this vertical market focus, we believe we can help to accelerate the spread of economically and environmentally sound solutions.”

Other areas of focus for incoming social ventures include information and communication technology, economic development, health, and education. The 23 organizations are from 15 different countries, with India, Ghana, and Nigeria having multiple representatives.

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

* AVANI provides cooking gas made from pine needles to households in the Uttarakhand region of India.

*WE CARE Solar provides solar-powered lighting and communication systems for obstetric health care facilities in Nigeria.

* Literacy Bridge provides impoverished Ghanaians with durable audio computers that distribute vital tips for health and income improvement.

* Mobility Aid and Appliances Research and Development Centre mentors and employs otherwise-ostracized Nigerians with disabilities, teaching them to make and sell disability aids.

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 millions of people. Alumni include the micro-lending website, African solar-radio maker Freeplay Foundation, and reading-glasses provider Vision Spring.

GSBI™ is funded in part by grants from the Skoll Foundation, The RNN 1999 Foundation, and the Peery Foundation. Santa Clara University partners with Social Edge to administer its online application process.

About the Center for Science, Technology, and Society
Founded in 1997, the Center for Science, Technology and Society (CSTS) is one of three “centers of distinction” at Santa Clara University. Its mission is to promote the use of science and technology through social entrepreneurship to benefit underserved communities worldwide. CSTS implements its mission through education, public engagement, and direct social impact. The Center’s Social Impact Program includes the internationally recognized Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI), the online Social Enterprise Innovation Network, and the sourcing and judging of the Technology Benefiting Humanity Awards in partnership with The Tech Museum of Innovation. More information can be found at

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 8,600 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, theology, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

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


Printer-friendly format