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Sixth annual Santa Clara University global business incubator program launches Aug. 17

Monday, Aug. 4, 2008

SANTA CLARA, Calif., July 24 -- You might not expect Silicon Valley venture capitalists to care about safe drinking water for impoverished residents in India or sanitary napkins for girls in Kenya. But for two weeks at Santa Clara University, area executives, financiers, and professors will again teach a class of social entrepreneurs  from developing countries how to apply Silicon Valley business principles to their own emerging, socially vital enterprises. 

The global food crisis has added urgency to the sixth annual Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI), taking place at Santa Clara University Aug. 17 - 29.  Media are invited to attend any of the sessions. 

Most of the entrepreneurs expected to attend are working on businesses that improve the lives and increase the economic self-reliance of their countries' poorest residents. That, they hope, can help offset the devastating effects of food inflation on people living on less than $2 a day.

For instance, David Okello of Coast Coconut Farms in Kenya, is working on establishing coconut-oil  "micro-franchises' for millions of poor East Africans.

Program alumni such as the micro-lending Web site Kiva.org or African solar-radio maker Freeplay Foundation now collectively serve or benefit hundreds of thousands. 

"Instead of just focusing on how to make their own ventures successful, GSBI participants are also contributing to the economic and social well-being of their countrymen," said Albert Bruno, GSBI academic dean. 

The program helps attendees complete a cohesive business plan, generate ideas for funding sources and investors, and find ways to overcome indigenous policy and cultural obstacles. 

Social Entrepreneurs

This year's attendees are expected to include four entrepreneurs with projects for water purification or access in the developing world; three with ideas for alternative or green energy production; five with economic-development and equality ventures, and four with health and education projects.

Among them is Deepinder Mohan, whose company, Environment Planning Group Limited, specializes in reverse-osmosis technology for purifying water in rural and urban India.

Thomas Stehl will attend to advance Haiti-based Meds & Foods for Kids. That company helps feed malnourished or HIV-positive children and adults by distributing a fortified peanut paste known as a Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food to care providers in Haiti. 

Zipporah Ongwenyi is expected to attend for Binti Africa Foundation of Kenya, which provides poor women and girls in Kenya's rural areas with low-cost, locally produced sanitary pads.

About the Global Social Benefit Incubator

The two-week business "boot camp" is sponsored by the University's Center for Science, Technology, and Society and the Leavey School of Business. Each year several hundred organizations from around the globe apply to participate in GSBI -- and 15 to 20 are invited to attend. Most have already won awards or recognition  from institutions such as the Tech Museum or The World Bank.

The program features hours of classroom instruction in marketing, management, micro-loans, and business models; it matches attendees with carefully selected mentors such as retired Silicon Valley executives Brad Mattson, founder of Novellus Systems and Mattson Technology, and Jeffrey A. Miller, of JAMM Ventures and former Chairman of the Board for Documentum.

The in-residence portion of the program culminates in a business plan presentation by each entrepreneur to an elite group of panelists composed of seasoned entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and senior executives. This year's panelists include Lise Buyer, a former Google executive now a principal with private-company advisory firm Class V Group; Russ Hall, a founder of the philanthropic advisory firm Legacy Venture; and Ted Moser, managing director at Mercer Management Consulting.

More information about GSBI is available at http://www.scu.edu/sts/gsbi/.

Additional Contacts:

Jim Koch, GSBI co-founder and program director, 408-551-6027 or jkoch@scu.edu.

Albert Bruno, GSBI co-founder and academic dean, 408-551-6027 or abruno@scu.edu.

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 8,685 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, 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: Deepa Arora - 408-554-5125; darora@scu.edu

Tags: GSBI

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