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Solar Power: Not Just for Rooftops Anymore

Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Aug.2, 2010 —Social entrepreneurs from around the globe are finding unique ways to use the sun to solve problems from infant mortality to rotten milk. Several such companies will be attending Santa Clara University’s annual business training and summer “boot camp,” Aug. 15 to 27.

-- Giving birth at night: WE CARE Solar, Nigeria creates portable solar electric systems used in mobile obstetric health care facilities, reducing infant morbidity and mortality in regions without reliable electricity.

-- Keeping milk cool, via the sun: Promethean Power Systems, India makes a solar-powered cooling system for commercial cold-storage to preserve food and enable dairy farmers to keep their milk and other products viable for a longer period.

--Hearing aids, powered by the sun: Solar Ear,  makes affordable solar-powered hearing aids with longer-lasting batteries, which also creates work and development opportunities for people with disabilities worldwide.

These three businesses are only some of the 21 social entrepreneurs attending Santa Clara University’s eighth annual Global Social Benefit Incubator, (GSBI™). GSBI is a fully funded, 12-month program for social entrepreneurs with promising, but often resource-starved, businesses. At GSBI they work with experienced mentors on concepts like completing a cohesive business plan, generating ideas for capital investment sources, and increasing their impact while maintaining cash flow. The in-residence “boot camp” takes place on Santa Clara University’s campus Aug. 15–27, 2010.

This year’s program has a special focus on renewable energy. Roughly half the class is comprised of enterprises focused on renewable sources of electricity for underserved populations around the world, or on developing low-cost appliances and that use alternative energy sources. Profiles about the incoming Class of 2010, GSBI’s largest class ever, can be found at http://www.scu.edu/sts/gsbi/socialentrepreneurs/2010.cfm

GSBI has helped dozens of businesses move from award-winning startup enterprises to mature, viable businesses collectively helping millions of people. Well-known alumni of GSBI include the micro-lending website Kiva.org, African solar-radio maker Freeplay Foundation, and reading-glasses provider Vision Spring.

Other 2010 attendees include:
*AVANI of India, which provides cooking gas made from pine needles to households in the Uttarakhand region.
*Literacy Bridge of Ghana provides impoverished residents with durable audio computers that distribute vital tips for health and income improvement.
*Mobility Aid and Appliances Research and Development Centre of Nigeria mentors and employs otherwise-ostracized Nigerians with disabilities, teaching them to make and sell disability aids.

More about the GSBI program can be found at  www.scu.edu/sts/gsbi or in this press release

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 http://www.scu.edu/sts.

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 Assistant Media Relations Director | 408-554-5121 | dlohse@scu.edu.

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