Seven finalists were selected Feb. 10 to compete for $100,000 in grants in April at the 2011 YouthBridge Social Enterprise and Innovation Competition (SEIC) offered by the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Washington University in St. Louis.
The finalists, winnowed from a field of 14 semifinalists, were chosen by a panel of judges after presenting their social enterprise idea in an “elevator pitch” competition.
A total of 45 competitors entered this year’s contest.
A wide array of concepts were proposed with the goal of improving education, communities, the environment and social programs, rather than just focusing on profit performance. All offered innovative and entrepreneurial approaches in which resources for their ventures come from market-based concepts.
“Each year, I’m so impressed by the diversity and creativity of the proposals that students and community members come up with to help those in need,” says Ken Harrington, managing director of the Skandalaris Center. “These founders truly represent some of the most committed entrepreneurs that I see.”
The finalists will present completed business plans and oral presentations at the culmination of the competition April 14 at Simon Hall. They are:
- Angel Baked Cookies. Empower youth in North St. Louis by providing employment, training and character development through production of all-natural cookies;
- Consolare. Make healing, comforting home goods by community volunteers, including ex-offenders, to provide free services to victims of crime and violence;
- DeCycleIt! Ultra-secure disposal and recycling of highly sensitive paper and electronic media to reduce identity or corporate theft, as well as reduce the amount of poisonous metals entering landfills from fluorescent lamps and related products;
- Edele. Fight malnutrition through running;
- Loosen the Leash. Promote positive behavioral changes in at-risk individuals by developing the life skills, compassion and self-confidence gained through rehabilitating and training rescued dogs;
- Open Design Prosthetics. Provides an innovative approach to availability of practical prosthetic devices; and
- Perennial. Community workshop and store offering educational programming in creative reuse, and sales of repurposed furnishings and supplies for reuse projects.
The YouthBridge Community Foundation worked with WUSTL to co-found the competition six years ago. It also is supported by the Daughters of Charity Foundation of St. Louis and the Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis.
Additional sponsors of the Skandalaris Center include the RCGA; St. Louis Commerce Magazine; RubinBrown LLP; Polsinelli Shughart PC; and Lopata Flegel & Company LLP.
Since its inception in 2005, the competition has awarded more than $650,000 in cash and in-kind prizes to 23 social ventures, including an annual $5,000 prize to the best student-founded or supported team.