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Entrepreneurship for social impact

News + Events : Entrepreneurship for social impact


Sameer Verma, professor of information systems at SF State, also heads the San Francisco division of the nonprofit One Laptop Per Child. As the name implies, the organization focuses on getting low cost computers to children in developing countries to facilitate self-learning, where access to schools and quality education are not always available. Professor Verma discussed the challenges his organization encountered while attempting to develop a laptop that could survive the rigors of outdoor, rural village life, and operating without reliable electricity or internet access. This was done with thicker plastic casing, solar panels, and manual cranks to generate power. Since many children receiving these laptops cannot read, the software interface is designed to be icon driven, rather than relying on text. Learn more about One Laptop Per Child SF.

Do Good Communications

Jessica McKimmie (B.S. ’03, Management), chief opportunity officer of Do Good Communications, spoke to students about the differences between for profit businesses and tax-exempt nonprofits, and the different reasons entrepreneurs may have for choosing one form of enterprise over the other. Do Good Communications specializes in helping nonprofits and socially responsible businesses market themselves, and form alliances with like-minded organizations. Jessica explained that keeping pace with technological change is a big challenge, as social media and an effective website are increasingly important component of effective marketing for any organization. Learn more about Do Good Communications.

Whirlwind Wheelchair

Mark Kizack and Keoke King talked to students about Whirlwind Wheelchair’s mission to provide high quality wheelchairs to disabled people throughout the developing world, and encourage sustainable development in the process. Whirlwind’s wheelchairs are specifically tailored to people living in developing countries, boasting expanded durability for traversing unpaved terrain, local reparability, and design that allows for maximum mobility with the hands, so riders can still engage in manual labor easily. Mark and Keoke advised students to look to smaller organizations for job opportunities, as nonprofits are always in need of the strong business leadership that MBAs can provide. They also talked about their personal challenges working for brand new nonprofits without a lot of working capital or established infrastructure, advising students to be prepared for anything from cramped office spaces to the need to wear numerous organizational hats at once. Learn more about Whirlwind Wheelchair.

For detailed bios on our guest speakers, see Business Ethics Week Speaker Bios.

To learn about the history of Business Ethics Week, see Business Ethics Week 2011.

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