August 7, 2013 – San Francisco – A soccer ball that never deflates. A sandal that sends girls to school. A piece of paper that keeps food from spoiling. From refrigerators to soccer fields and hospital waiting rooms, SVN’s 2013 Innovation Awards winners are changing the way the world does business. They’ve already had enormous impact in reducing waste, promoting health and supporting education and employment in the developing world.
As the world’s leading peer-to-peer network of values-driven entrepreneurs and investors, SVN is proud to support the next generation of socially responsible business leaders. This year’s winners represent the very best of that group – people of all ages and backgrounds, working everywhere from Berkeley to Rwanda. What unites them? The belief that business has the ability – and the obligation – to be a force for good in the world.
The 2013 Innovation Awards was judged by a panel of 11 expert judges, including previous Innovation Award winner Nikhil Arora of Back To The Roots, Amy Hall of EILEEN FISHER, Inc., Renata Hron Gomez of the Hitachi Foundation and Amy Domini of Domini Social Investments. The entrants were judged on their use of innovation, impact and ability to scale.
• Kavita M. Shukla and Swaroop Samant, Fenugreen: While the world’s farmers harvest enough to feed the planet, 25% of our food supply is lost to spoilage. Fenugreen is taking on this massive global challenge with a simple innovation, FreshPaper. Low-cost, compostable and made with organic spices, FreshPaper keeps produce fresh 2-4 times longer. Fenugreen aims to revolutionize the food economy from farm to fork, and transform the lives of the 1.6 billion who lack access to refrigeration with its mission of “Fresh for All.”
• Liz and Ben Bohannon, Sseko Designs: Sseko Designs is an ethical fashion brand that uses fashion to educate and empower women. Sseko hires high-potential young women in Uganda to make sandals to enable them to earn money through dignified employment that will go directly towards their college educations and ensure they will continue pursuing their dreams. By working for Sseko during their gap year, these talented young women from impoverished backgrounds gain access to a comprehensive social impact program tailored to their needs and will earn enough income to finance their career ambitions.
• Elizabeth Scharpf, Sustainable Health Enterprises: SHE is a social venture that invests in people and ideas that are typically overlooked as vehicles of socio-economic change. SHE’s initial initiative involves developing a franchise model to manufacture and distribute affordable, eco-friendly menstrual pads for girls and women by sourcing local, inexpensive raw materials (e.g., banana fibers) and leveraging existing networks. Coupling these new businesses with public health and hygiene education and advocacy will have a significant social and economic impact on these communities.
• Tim Jahnigen and Lisa Tarver, One World Futbol Project: One World Futbol inventor Tim Jahnigen was inspired to create a nearly indestructible ball after watching news footage of kids in Darfur playing a soccer game using a ball of trash tied up with twine. With a concept and material in mind, Tim set out to design a ball that played like a real soccer ball, but would never need a pump and never go flat—even when punctured multiple times. One World Futbol Project’s mission is to bring the healing power of play to youth worldwide by making, selling and distributing nearly indestructible balls that survive the harshest environments. Collaborating with sponsors, organizations and individuals, One World Futbol Project delivers balls to disadvantaged communities where play and sport are used to foster social change.
• Michael Murphy and Alan Ricks, MASS Design Group: MASS Design Group is a nonprofit architecture firm committed to building better buildings and enabling the people who build them. Their first project, the Butaro Hospital (Rwanda, 2011), employed architectural solutions to mitigate the transmission of airborne disease and spurred local markets by hiring and training over 4,000 community members. Today, the team works across Rwanda, Uganda, Liberia, Haiti and the US, conducting immersive research in communities not only to build context-appropriate, safer, and healthier facilities, but also to leverage local material markets, lead training workshops, spur craft development and foster economic empowerment. MASS believes that this inclusive process is the key to healthier and more resilient communities, and so invests in people to drive positive change.
SVN 2013 Innovation Awards Prize
This year’s award winners were judged based on the innovation and impact their businesses displayed in solving social, environmental and economic problems. The winners will be formally recognized at SVN’s 2013 Fall Conference from October 17-20 in Baltimore, Md., where they will present their pioneering work to an audience of more than 400 CEOs, investors and social entrepreneurs. They will receive two years of SVN membership, along with free support and advisory services from SVN members, and extensive media promotion.
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SVN’s 2013 Fall Conference
SVN’s Fall Conference unites these up-and-coming innovators with pioneers like Jeffrey Hollender of Seventh Generation, Seth Goldman of Honest Tea and Majora Carter of the Majora Carter Group. The conference takes place October 17-20, at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace in Baltimore, Md., and focuses on building valuable peer-to-peer relationships among high-impact, innovative business leaders. More information on guest speakers and registration at: http://svn.org/attend-an-event/2013-fall-conference.
Since 1987, Social Venture Network (SVN, www.svn.org) has been the leading network of entrepreneurs who are transforming the way the world does business. SVN connects the leaders of socially responsible enterprises to share wisdom and resources, form strategic alliances and explore new solutions that build a more just and sustainable economy.
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