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Net Impact Spring 2012 Semester

by Olivia Allen

This semes­ter, the under­grad­u­ate chap­ter of Net Impact worked to pro­vide inter­ac­tive and socially minded ini­tia­tives for its mem­bers and the North­east­ern com­mu­nity. Two of the most impact­ful and inter­ac­tive ini­tia­tives stem from Grameen Amer­ica which prompted stu­dents to under­take two inter­est­ing sim­u­la­tions of poverty: the $27 chal­lenge and the Live on $5 a day chal­lenge. The $27 Chal­lenge required stu­dents to sim­u­late the expe­ri­ence of Grameen bor­rower by oper­at­ing a busi­ness on just $27, equiv­a­lent to the loan Muham­mad Yunus first gave to impov­er­ished women in Jobra, Bangladesh. The lat­ter chal­lenge forced stu­dents to adjust their lifestyle and con­sump­tion pat­terns for one week to fit within the finan­cial para­me­ters of a Grameen Amer­ica bor­rower, pro­vid­ing insight into domes­tic poverty.

A new part­ner­ship devel­oped this spring out of the align­ing mis­sions of Net Impact and Project Repat, a social enter­prise that upcy­cles used t-shirts into new apparel, encour­ag­ing more mind­ful con­sump­tion and pro­vid­ing liv­ing wages to work­ers in the US. Project Repat achieves this through its engage­ment with Oppor­tu­nity Threads, a worker owned coop­er­a­tive in Mor­gan­ton, North Car­olina in which employ­ees receive a fair wage and work under dig­ni­fied con­di­tions. To assist in Project Repat’s ini­tia­tive to make apparel spe­cific to the North­east­ern com­mu­nity, Net Impact held a uni­ver­sity wide t-shirt drive to pro­vide North­east­ern t-shirts for upcy­cled apparel to be sold on cam­pus. A part­ner­ship with Project Repat will be sus­tained for the fall semes­ter, as Net impact is sup­port­ive of their envi­ron­men­tally and socially respon­si­ble busi­ness practices.

Cen­tral to Net Impact’s efforts this semes­ter was plan­ning the Net Impact Stu­dent Forum for Social Inno­va­tion, a social ven­ture pitch com­pe­ti­tion tak­ing place Novem­ber 17, 2012 at the Microsoft New Eng­land Research and Devel­op­ment Cen­ter. The mis­sion of the SFSI is to serve as an incu­ba­tor for impact­ful social enter­prises, inte­grate socially minded stu­dents to fos­ter a deeper under­stand­ing of social entre­pre­neur­ship, and pro­vide net­work­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents, pro­fes­sion­als, and exis­tent social enter­prises alike. Enter­prises will be eval­u­ated by esteemed pro­fes­sion­als in three rounds of judg­ing, based on their ful­fill­ment of the six-part social enter­prise frame­work designed by Pro­fes­sor Den­nis Shaugh­nessy. The final round of judges will be com­posed of audi­ence mem­bers who will vote on the enter­prise they believe will have the great­est social impact with the con­fi­dence that the social enter­prises that have advanced to the final round have ful­filled the framework.

Net Impact is proud to have secured a valu­able part­ner­ship with Ashoka Youth Ven­tures for the SFSI. Ashoka Youth Ven­tures is a crit­i­cal part­ner in mak­ing the SFSI an engag­ing and impact­ful event as it shares Net Impact’s unre­lent­ing com­mit­ment to sup­port­ing young social entre­pre­neurs and its pro­vi­sion of fund­ing for the top four social enter­prises. In addi­tion to Ashoka Youth Ven­tures, Net Impact is actively seek­ing addi­tional part­ners and spon­sors that will help grow the SFSI’s impact. Addi­tional fund­ing for the SFSI was raised through Cat­a­lyst, a North­east­ern Uni­ver­sity cre­ated crowd-sourcing plat­form. Net Impact was one of three North­east­ern stu­dent groups fea­tured on Cat­a­lyst and raised $2500 in under 30 days. 

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