Currently viewing the tag: "Business competitions"

Remember last spring’s Fletcher D-Prize winners, Andrew Lala and Tommy Galloway?  Well, they’ve successfully converted their concept to a product and they are on the ground in Koudougou, delivering solar lanterns and electricity to rural communities in Burkina Faso!  For updates and details about their products, check out Clair de Lune’s website or follow them on Twitter.  As you read through the website, keep in mind that Andrew and Tommy only graduated in May.  It’s fantastic to see them turn an idea into reality so quickly!  I’m looking forward to reading more as their business gets rolling.

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Winners of two different competitions were announced this week, and one Fletcher team was successful in both!  This exciting news calls for two Cool Stuff blog entries in two days.  Here’s an announcement from Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti:

Tommy and AndrewPlease join me in congratulating Andrew Lala, F’14 and Tommy Galloway, F’14 as the winners of the inaugural Fletcher D-Prize: Poverty Solutions Venture Competition.  Andrew and Tommy will receive $15,000 (and tens of thousands more in non-monetary advice and networks) to help them pilot their Clair de Lune – Solar Light Distributor Platform, which uses existing bus infrastructure and cultural remittance practices to reach the rural poor in Sub-Saharan Africa.  This summer, Andrew and Tommy will bring this “poverty solution venture” to 400 families in Burkina Faso.  Fletcher D-Prize judges believe that, in two years, Andrew and Tommy will have an impact on the world by proving that you can provide energy to over 100,000 families living on less than a few dollars a day.

We hope that this award, and the competition among a large number of very strong proposals, signals that Fletcher prepares leaders adept not only at crossing borders of all kinds – disciplinary and geographic – but also with the ability to jump across the border of knowledge into entrepreneurial action.  We aspire to develop and facilitate international ninjas, if you will.  Andrew and Tommy are two terrific examples of such international ninjas. A family that buys a solar lamp saves money on energy expenses and is more productive outside of daylight hours.  Household incomes often increase 15-30%.  Study hours for children rise by two hours. Solar lamps also erase the far too common dangers that come with kerosene lanterns.

The award will be presented to Andrew and Tommy today, only two days after they received an “audience choice” award at the Tufts $100K New Ventures Competition, at which they were finalists (shown in photo above).

This is the 10th anniversary for the Tufts $100K, which prompted a look back.  BostInno selected Educate Lanka as one of the top six ventures to come out of the Tufts $100K competition.  Congratulations to our good blog friend Manjula!

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It isn’t true that every time I turn around there’s another update about something exciting happening in the environment field here at Fletcher, but it feels that way.  Just this spring, here’s some of what we’ve heard:

First, we received an update from Prof. Gallagher, whom you read about on the blog just last week.  She wrote:

Dear colleagues, students, and friends of Fletcher,

I am pleased to announce some exciting changes in the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP).

Last fall, I invited a number of faculty members from around Fletcher to join CIERP as Faculty Research Affiliates.  These faculty members will be working in one or more of our five research programs.  From Fletcher we are delighted to have Prof. Jenny Aker, an expert on development and agriculture.  From the Economics Department at Tufts, Prof. Gilbert Metcalf, Prof. Kelsey Jack, and Prof. Ujjayant Chakravorty.  From Political Science, we welcome Prof. Kent Portney who has agreed to direct our water and oceans program and who is an expert on water policy and sustainable cities, among other topics.  We look forward to deepening our research collaborations with these outstanding faculty members at Tufts.  As was already announced, we also look forward to having Prof. Avery Cohn in residence for the next academic year as our new professor of environment and resource policy.  Avery will lead our Agriculture and Forests program.

Mieke van der Wansem, a long-standing staff member and Fletcher alumna, becomes the new Associate Director of Educational Programs.  In this new role, she will enhance the overall effectiveness of CIERP in meeting its educational mission.  She will work to expand and sustain executive education, help guide the development and implementation of environment and natural resource policy education initiatives inside and outside the classroom, and manage some of our research projects as appropriate.

Best,
Kelly Sims Gallagher

Then we learned that Prof. Gallagher and Prof. Portney had submitted a proposal to the Tufts University provost to create a new “bridge professor” position in the field of water security.  Here’s their description:

The Water Security Bridge Professor would work in the interdisciplinary area of international environmental security, covering issues of political sovereignty, human rights, regional security, and sustainable development. It might also include a focus on the policies and mechanisms, military and nonmilitary, nations use in their efforts to gain and protect access to water. A regional focus could be both possible and desirable, for example, in Southeast Asia, the Arctic, and the states of the former Soviet Union.

As blogger, I should have the answer to the question of when the bridge professor will join us.  I have to admit that I’m not sure, but I believe it will be for September 2015.

And then, there’s the annual Tufts Energy Conference coming up next weekend, March 8-9.  As the conference website says:

The Tufts Energy Conference (TEC) is a two-day energy conference that brings together experts from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors with students and professionals to discuss critical global energy issues. The conference is entirely organized by students from a broad range of  backgrounds in engineering, international affairs, urban planning, and economics. From a two-panel event in 2006, TEC has grown into one of the largest entirely student-run energy conferences in the region.

Experts from the private, public and nonprofit sectors, students, and professionals are all invited to attend TEC 2014 on March 8-9, 2014 (Saturday and Sunday), which will focus on Shifting Dynamics in Emerging Markets.

The conference agenda looks terrific!  Come on over!

Last (or at least, the last piece of news I’ve been able to keep track of), there’s the 2014 Tufts Energy Competition, with a prize of $3,000 to jump-start an energy idea, and with a new-this-year solar competition:

Working on a project on energy or sustainability that can be transformed into a winning proposal?  The Tufts Energy Competition is looking for your ideas.  This competition is a celebration of innovative, student-driven solutions to energy challenges.  The goal of the Tufts Energy Competition is ultimately to implement projects that explore solutions to key energy issues.  The winning team will receive up to $3000 to implement their project and the runner-up team will receive $2000.  Every Tufts student is eligible to apply, including engineering students, undergraduates, medical students, Fletcher students, and more.

Previous finalists and winners include:

•  A Split Junction Solar Concentrator for More Efficient Electricity Generation
•  Giving Students the Chance to Choose Their Energy
•  Efficient Hygiene Initiatives: Bringing Ecological Sanitation to Thottiypatti
•  Solar-Powered Uninterruptible Power Systems
•  Ocean-Based Algae Energy
•  Wind Turbines and Solar Cookers in Zimbabwe
•  High Voltage Lithium Ion Battery Management System

The winner will be announced next weekend at the Tufts Energy Conference.

So that’s the round-up of a semester’s news for the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy and generally in the field.  And it’s news that assures us that next year will be exciting, too!

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Here’s a new initiative worth noting.  This year, in partnership with D-Prize, Fletcher launches The Fletcher D-Prize:  Poverty Solutions Venture Competition.  Starting off the yearlong activity, the Fletcher D-Prize will offer an “ideation session” this week for budding social entrepreneurs throughout the university.  As planning continues for the competition, I’ll be reporting back on the blog.  For now, the competition’s Fletcher sponsor, the Institute for Business in a Global Context, is spreading the word via twitter.  (#FletcherDPrize and #FletcherEntrepreneur.)

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Just over one year ago, Manjula Dissanayake graduated from Fletcher and I’ve been keeping up with him since.  We recently exchanged emails and decided it’s time for a spring/summer update.  Pulling together this blog post will require reaching into many websites and other sources, because Manjula has been a busy guy.

To recap:  After graduating, Manjula decided to focus full-time on his non-profit, Educate Lanka, from his base near Washington, DC.  Pushing Educate Lanka forward has required a combination of on-the-ground work in Sri Lanka, along with nearly continuous efforts to draw attention to the organization, in hopes funds would follow.  Manjula’s work, inseparable from the organization, has been recognized in so many ways!  Back in April, I was fortunate to grab a few minutes with him during his visit to the area when, over the course of three days, he spoke at the Tufts Social Innovation Symposium as well as at the Tufts 100K Business Plan Competition (as an alumni competitor), and also attended a research presentation, exhibition, and silent auction benefiting Educate Lanka at Harvard.  Between events, he packed in visits to staff and faculty.  During our conversation, he gave me a sense of the activities he had in front of him.  Here’s what has kept Manjula busy during the past few months:

Even while I was compiling the list of all these activities, I learned of yet another new one.  This past Sunday, Manjula spoke live (via Google hangout) at the Social Media Day in Colombo, Sri Lanka about using “Social Media for Social Good.”

Throughout the past year, Manjula told me, he has developed plans to grow Educate Lanka and possibly to carry the concept beyond Sri Lanka.  He has put together a Board of Advisors on which Fletcher is well represented, and he continues to promote Educate Lanka’s work.  From my outsider’s vantage point, I can see the extraordinary effort that has brought Educate Lanka to where it is today, but the results have been impressive!  I’ll continue to follow Manjula’s path and report back again in the coming months.

Manjula at CGIU

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Though time is tight, students at local colleges might want to submit a pitch for a product in the Extreme Inclusion Competition.

Those without a product to pitch, as well as all other blog readers, may want to attend the Extreme Inclusion Conference on May 2, a conference exploring the role and impact of financial services in reducing poverty and generating well-being for marginalized populations.  The conference will be hosted by Fletcher, in partnership with MasterCard Worldwide and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Here’s information from the conference organizers about the keynote speaker:

We are pleased to announce that Reverend James Lawson, Activist and Principal Strategist for the American Civil Rights Movement, will deliver the keynote address “Demanding Inclusion.”

We are honored to have Reverend Lawson underscore the civic and economic power of systemically marginalized groups to catalyze change as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington.  Reverend Lawson is one of the extraordinary individuals profiled in A Force More Powerful.  The film, PBS Series, and book challenge the common misconception that violence is the ultimate form of power in times of conflict.  Martin Luther King, Jr. called Reverend Lawson “the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world.”

Reverend Lawson will be introduced by David R. Harris, Provost and Senior Vice President, Tufts University and editor of The Colors of Poverty: Why Racial and Ethnic Disparities Persist.

You can register for the conference here.

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I think the word is out that I cherish students’ unsolicited contributions to the blog.  When I received a note from MALD student Lauren, I was happy not only because I was spared some writing, but also because she shared some exciting news.  Lauren told me:

A team of Fletcher and Friedman students has advanced to the regional finals for the 4th annual Hult Prize. Our team is made up of two Fletcher students (Jane Church and myself), one Friedman student (Kimberly Feeney London), and one dual-degree Fletcher-Friedman student (Christina Filipovic).  This year’s Hult Prize is themed around global food security, and the challenge (posed by President Clinton) is to create a social enterprise to get safe, sufficient, affordable and easily accessible food to the people of urban slums.  If we advance through the regional finals, we participate in a summer incubator to further develop our business.  A final round of decisions will occur in September and we could compete with the winners from the five other regions throughout the world for $1 million in start-up funding to launch a sustainable social venture.

And here’s some general information Lauren provided:  The Hult Prize is the world’s largest student competition and crowdsourcing platform for social good.  In partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative, the Hult Prize identifies and launches social ventures that aim to solve the world’s most pressing challenges.  Student teams compete in five cities around the world on March 1 and 2 (this coming weekend!).  The Tufts team will compete at the Boston regional final, with the four other regional competitions held in San Francisco, London, Dubai and Shanghai.  Each team was selected from more than 10,000 applications received, totaling over 350 colleges and universities, representing over 150 countries.

The summer business incubator Lauren referred to provides participants with mentorship, and advisory and strategic planning, as they create prototypes and set-up to launch their new social business.  The final round of competition is hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative and CGI delegates will select the winning team that receives the million dollar award, presented by former President Bill Clinton.

In a press release developed by the University, Lauren is quoted saying, “We think there is enormous potential to use market-based solutions to improve food security, economic growth and social justice despite the challenges posed due to population growth and climate change.”

In the same press release, the founder of the Hult Prize, Ahmad Ashkar, attributes the success of the competition to the global youth revolution and said, “We continue to be moved by the large number of students from around the world who are capitalizing on the opportunity to develop business models that target the bottom of the pyramid.”  And he said, “We wish every team the best of luck and thank Tufts University for supporting this initiative.”

You can follow news on the competition and the progress of the Tufts team on facebook or Twitter.  Good luck, Lauren, Jane, Kimberly, and Christina!

I hear about alumni and their activities in various ways.  There are always the official channels, and then there are the unofficial (email, facebook, etc.).  Lately, these media have directed a variety of information my way, and I thought I’d share what I know, partly because it’s such a pleasant hodge-podge.

First, there’s the update on Manjula and Educate Lanka.  They won the reader’s choice Millennial Impact competition on the Huffington Post!  Well done, Educate Lanka!

On a slightly related note (the connection being alumni who are already working with their own non-profits when they start at Fletcher), there’s Qiam and the Afghan Scholars Initiative.  While I don’t have any special news to share at this time, I might as well use the blog to help ASI, as well as your holiday shopping, by pointing blog readers toward Jawan — your source for scarves, with proceeds going to ASI.  Qiam is back in Afghanistan right now, but he left a team of scarf salespeople at Fletcher, who have fostered sales by telling the community that wearing a Jawan scarf will definitely increase your hipster cred.

A little PhD alumni news:  Maria Stephan, who also has a MALD degree, recently shared the World Order Prize for a study of civil resistance.

And then alumni news from a Fletcher friend.  Charles Scott and I got to know each other during my first (pre-Admissions) Fletcher career, when he was a MALD student.  After Fletcher, he worked for many years for Intel, but he left the corporate world a while back to pursue endurance athletics full time.  Now he has a book, Rising Son, which chronicles the bicycle trip he took across Japan with his son, Sho.  (He later biked with both Sho and Saya, his daughter, around Iceland.  Book to follow?)  While not signing books at some event, Charlie sends me regular updates on his activities (biking solo from New York to DC in 36 hours or less, running the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim, and other crazy stuff).  And he writes for the Huffington Post, too.  Even if you’re not into endurance feats, you may relate to Charlie’s work on behalf of the environment and related organizations.

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I’m going to be stuck in a meeting all morning, but I’m lucky again that students sent a blog idea into my inbox.  Not just any idea, but an exciting bit of news for lovers of competition!

The Huffington Post is sponsoring the Reader’s Choice Awards for the IGNITEgood Millennial Impact Challenge, described as “a nationwide search for ideas to make the world better through service.”  Among the 200 social innovators (under the age of 30) who submitted their ideas are TWO who are affiliated with Fletcher.  Wow!

The first is my good blog friend, Manjula and his organization Educate Lanka, already well known to blog readers.  Educate Lanka is competing in the competition’s Education category.

The second is that of PhD student Kartikeya Singh, affiliated with ENVenture, which he describes in an email as seeking “to empower youth to participate in the emerging energy entrepreneurship field, whilst simultaneously tackling energy poverty issues in the developing world.  Winning this award will launch the pilot in Uganda and will push us into being able to expand to India.  ENVenture fellows will create business plans and address the barriers to scaling of decentralized energy technologies in the developing world.”  ENVenture is competing in the Green category.

Lucky for Fletcher, you can vote in each of the two categories.  The competition ends November 26.  Good luck Manjula and Kartikeya!

Many Fletcher students plan to launch an initiative after they have graduated, but recently there has been a trend toward students starting an NGO or similar organization before enrolling or while pursuing their degrees.  New graduate Gaurav Tiwari is one of those, and I checked in with him to ask what his organization, EmpowerID, is all about.

Gaurav told me that he started EmpowerID along with fellow students at MIT, all of whom have some international development experience.  (The ID in EmpowerID stands for International Development.)  Gaurav has worked in the field over the last several years in various capacities — as a field researcher in the slums of Delhi, as a policy analyst in Washington D.C., and as a practitioner for a Nairobi-based startup called Sanergy.  He wrote that he found that “the practice of development lacked information-sharing and sustainability, which are crucial to success in any project.”

(I should note that Gaurav was a member of a Sanergy team that won the Tufts $100K Business Plan Competition and the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition in 2011.)

EmpowerID was born when Gaurav and his colleagues decided that providing the medium for sharing information would help development practitioners.  They created an online portal, through which practitioners could share information about their projects and maximize the impact and efficiency of development initiatives.  The list of projects shared through EmpowerID.org is already quite impressive!

As further background, Gaurav gave me a few bullet-points on the project.

•    EmpowerID.org is a knowledge sharing platform which links communities, development practitioners and all other stakeholders in order to maximize impact and efficiency of development initiatives.
•    EmpowerID.org blends the virtues of social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Devex, and seeks to build an online community for practitioners, volunteers, and organizations in the field of international development.
•    EmpowerID aims to revolutionize the way international development is practiced across the world.

And Gaurav has been seeking to draw Fletcher students into the operation.  In a end-of-semester email to the community, he wrote:

We are working on an online platform to publicize successful international development projects and the lessons learned, with the goal of increasing their impact and helping future volunteers to build off previous successful work!  We would like to feature YOUR projects on our online platform, and share lessons that you all have learned in your time in the field with the rest of the global international development community!

Blog readers, if you have experience in international development to share, why not connect to EmpowerID by signing up and describing your project!

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