- Jan 22, 2019
On January 17th, more than 30 students participated in the inaugural Social Venture Case Competition, hosted by Ivey Connects and the HBA Social Impact Club and generously funded by RBC.
20 cross-disciplinary teams applied for the competition and 7 were selected to participate. The students were asked to think big. They were challenged to come up with a business model that would help Canada get to net-zero emissions. They were given two days to prepare their pitches and then present to judges from RBC, The Atmospheric Fund, Mastercard Advisors, Pillar Non-Profit, and the London Environmental Network.
"I think events like the Social Venture Case Competition are valuable because as business students we're focused on the bottom line, and often neglect the triple bottom line. As well, in thinking of a solution we all became more informed of the issues themselves." - Leon Geng
The case was about net-zero emissions given the pressing nature of climate change. Organizers of the event, HBA2s Anjolaoluwa Oluwole-Rotimi and Hirushan Thayalan said, “we thought it was important to organize something that demonstrated the unique and important role that business could play in creating solutions.”
Participating students came up with creative and impactful ideas from a microgreens restaurant to a compost conversion company. The ideas that won were a public transit incentive program and a system for tracking energy consumption.
The 1st place team was Portage Rewards, comprised of third-year students Jonathan Lipoth, Matthew Lou, Leon Geng, and Marc StPierre. Jonathan, Matthew, and Leon are current HBA students and Marc is in kinesiology.
The group came up with Portage Rewards, an app that uses an incentive program to encourage urban commuters to take public transit instead of driving. They were inspired by the impact that public transit can have in reducing an individual's greenhouse gas emissions. The app tracks user spending on public transit to measure their reduction in greenhouse gases. The more reduction, the more benefits - like discounts at sustainability-oriented stores - the user receives.
The second-place team was CarbonZero, made up of four first-year students: Vishal Vijay and Mary Xu from the Politics, Philosophy, and Economics program at Western and Glen A. Hèbert and Sunny Wang from Management and Organizational Studies at Western.
The motivation behind CarbonZero was to influence the carbon-emitting behaviour of facilities, workspaces and office buildings, and help to reduce global carbon emissions. CarbonZero helps buildings track utilities usage through nodes and wall plug-ins, thereby encouraging reductions in fossil fuel usage and financial savings.
Just the Beginning
The organizers hope to run the event again next year to provide more opportunity to student entrepreneurs: “Western University generates many successful entrepreneurs. Our hope is that, through events like this, a greater number of entrepreneurs will choose to operate social-purpose businesses that enable them to earn sustainable profits and benefit the world simultaneously.”