NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., March 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Three social entrepreneurs—providing innovative solutions to the issues of agricultural waste, computer literacy for children and clean drinking water —won the Southern California Social Entrepreneur Venture Challenge (SocEnt Challenge) "Showdown" on March 19th in Mission Viejo, Calif.
A panel of judges, comprised of business leaders and financial experts, viewed presentations from eleven finalists and selected Takachar (decentralized processing of agricultural waste into solid fuel--Cambridge, Mass.); codeSpark (teaches the basics of computer science to children five years of age and up--Pasadena, Calif.); and Desolenator (affordable, eco-friendly house water purification/desalination--London, UK).
The winners will present their businesses at an investor-only symposium in Los Angeles on May 6th to win funding, customers and business partners. The symposium's attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about impact investing and partner with these early stage ventures.
"The judges were extremely impressed with all of the business concepts presented," says Betsy Densmore, managing director of SocEnt Challenge. "But these three organizations truly shined in their ability to combine solid business practices with powerful ideas for social good."
Tod Burnett, president of Saddleback College, moderated the program. "The Challenge is based on a 2014 pilot program at our college, based on a model from Michigan," he said. "We are proud to serve as the presenting sponsor."
In addition, the Audience Favorite Award of $500 was received by Thrive LA (off-gird, tiny houses and jobs, Encino, Calif.) (For a full list of presenters, see: http://www.socentchallenge.org/finalists.html)
How It Works
The initial call for submissions attracted nearly 100 ventures—many from as far away as Nicaragua, Adar Es Salaam, Tanzania and Stockholm.
The SocEnt Challenge is drawing on seasoned entrepreneurs and business advisors from OC Innovators, Vistage, Social Venture Partners, local angel investor groups and several colleges and universities to provide due diligence and mentoring. The goal is to ready contestants for meetings with investors, says Densmore, who also serves as managing director of the Academies for Social Entrepreneurship (www.academies-se.org).
Saddleback College was joined by the California Community Foundation and the Annenberg Foundation as lead funders. Pacific Western Bank, Goodwill of Orange County and the Southern California Slow Money Network were also sponsors, and representatives from these organizations served as judges at the event.
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SOURCE Academies for Social Entrepreneurship