Santa Clara University

SCU Today

University Press Releases

Back to Blog

Global Social Entrepreneurs to Converge in Silicon Valley

Monday, Aug. 5, 2013
Entrepreneurs to Come to Santa Clara University’s Campus Aug. 15 -23 for GSBI Accelerator 
 
SANTA CLARA, Calif., Aug. 6, 2013— Husk Power Systems turns discarded rice husks into enough electricity to power thousands of homes in “off-grid” villages in India.  It also recently pledged to install 200 biomass mini power plants in Tanzania, as part of President Obama’s Power Africa initiative.
 
To get help with these and other goals, the co-founder of Husk Power, Minoj Sinha, will be among 13 “social entrepreneurs” coming to Santa Clara University’s campus Aug. 15 to 23 to receive rigorous training and mentoring from the Jesuit university’s highly successful, 11-year-old program, the GSBI Accelerator. 
 
To help social entrepreneurs achieve both their business and humanitarian goals, the GSBI Accelerator — formerly known as the Global Social Benefit Incubator — provides each of the 13 leaders with customized, hands-on help from multiple Silicon Valley mentors, who typically have decades of experience. And because a primary goal of all such organizations is to attract investors, this year the entrepreneurs also will receive input from financiers,  who will advise them how to best win the attention of  “impact investors,” who invest in this sector. 
 
In addition to Husk Power, the GSBI Accelerator Class of 2013 includes a company that provides low-cost water purification systems; a non-profit that uses talking books to help illiterate farmers improve crop yields; and a company that offers low-cost, pre-paid electricity meters that make it far more possible for alternative-energy companies to reach customers who live in remote areas with no access to an electrical grid. 
 
The 13 organizations are operating in many different countries, including India, Mexico, Kenya, Ghana, Nicaragua and Uganda. 
 
 This year, the GSBI program has been revamped to focus on ventures that have hit key business milestones, and now need extra help to rapidly expand, or “scale” their businesses.  The leaders will spend their time on campus meeting with mentors and advancing their business plans. On Aug. 22, they will present their plans to investors and industry experts during an invitation-only showcase event. 
 
 “After 11 years of mentoring social enterprises that were just starting out, we’re able to use our strong network of mentors and partners to help more-established companies prepare for the next phase of growth, and develop a rock-solid pitch to investors,” said Cassandra Staff, GSBI’s program director. 
 
The GSBI Accelerator is unique for several reasons: 
 
*The program has built up a strong group of 65 Silicon Valley mentors who are former venture capitalists, marketing experts, experts in solar or other forms of alternative energy, or other seasoned executives who find it rewarding to work with the entrepreneurs free of charge, as a way of “giving back.”  Some of them have volunteered at GSBI for 10 years or more. 
*While many university-based social-entrepreneurship programs seek to help their own students become social entrepreneurs, GSBI Accelerator seeks to help entrepreneurs who are “on the ground” around the world helping communities, who are knowledgeable about the communities’ distinct needs and challenges. 
*GSBI has spawned the GSBI Network, composed of like-minded universities around the globe who work directly with on-the-ground social enterprises.
*The Global Social Benefit Institute also offers a companion program called GSBI Online, which recently announced its third class of 15 students. Starting in October, GSBI Online students will work through nine modules of online training for six months, in key business concepts like marketing and distribution.  Throughout, they receive guidance from Silicon Valley mentors, as well as mentors in their home regions. 
 
The application process for the next round of GSBI Accelerator participants will begin Sept. 2. Information will be available at http://www.scu.edu/socialbenefit/entrepreneurship/gsbi/apply.cfm. 
 
A Billion Lives 
 
It is the ambitious goal of Santa Clara University’s Center for Science, Technology, and Society (CSTS) — home to GSBI— to positively impact the lives of a billion people by 2020, by providing them with affordable life-saving or life-enhancing products; new jobs or livelihoods; or information and tools to help themselves. 
 
“Through a combination of GSBI Accelerator, Online, and Network programs, we’re hopeful we can reach enough social entrepreneurs to collectively improve the lives of up to one-fourth of all severely impoverished people worldwide,” said Staff.  
 
 
 Reporters interested in interviewing any of the entrepreneurs or Silicon Valley mentors while they are in town may contact Deborah Lohse of SCU Media Relations, dlohse@scu.edu or 408-554-5121. 
 
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 8,800 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 www.scu.edu.
 
Media Contact
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations | dlohse@scu.edu | 408-554-5121 

Tags: GSBI

Printer-friendly format