Seeking at least $1M in new investment, 12 'social entrepreneurs' pitch solutions for clean water, veteran homelessness, local economies and better endings to life

Entrepreneurship "Showdown" Scheduled for Saturday March 19 in Mission Viejo, Calif.

Mar 08, 2016, 07:00 ET from The Southern California Social Entrepreneurship Venture Challenge

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., March 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Bringing affordable fresh water to some of the billion people who don't have it, creating affording homes for returning veterans, promoting local products and markets and helping people receive their end-of-life care wishes may not seem like businesses.

But they are among the profit-making ideas – some already launched – among 12 finalist pitches that will be presented at a social-entrepreneurship "Showdown" at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo on March 19. Their goal – win funding, customers and business partners, attracting at least $1 million in new investment.

"These are businesses that are trying to save the world and make a profit at the same time," says Betsy Densmore, managing director of the Southern California Social Entrepreneurship Venture Challenge (SocEnt Challenge). "And this is our region's chance to figure how to invest, be a customer, or even pickup on their ideas and run with them."

The event features entrepreneurs pitching companies with names like Code Spark (gender-neutral computer science for youth), Colibri (solar installations for Latin Americans without electricity), Murgency (mobile emergency-response app) and COMPRA (low-cost, fresh food for small markets in underserved urban neighborhoods). Presenters are from as far away as Nicaragua, London, Adar Es Salaam, Tanzania, and Stockholm—and as close by as Los Angeles, Pasadena, Long Beach, Encino and San Diego.

(For a full list of presenters, see:

How It Works

The SocEnt Challenge is drawing on members of Tech Coast Angels, OC Innovators, Vistage, Social Venture Partners, and several colleges and universities to provide due diligence and mentoring that readies contestants for meetings with investors, says Densmore, who has worked with over 250 social entrepreneurs, helping bring in $10 million in revenue for charitable ventures, through training, mentoring and connections to sources of seed capital. 

The initial call for submissions attracted nearly 100 ventures, which were winnowed down by a panel of experts who screened for both social impact and a solid business model. "We had applications from all over the world," says Densmore, who also serves as managing director of the Academies for Social Entrepreneurship (

Program Partnerships

The SocEnt Challenge is based on a 2014 pilot program developed by Rich Tafel ( at Saddleback College. Saddleback, which is the presenting sponsor for the event, was joined by the California Community Foundation and the Annenberg Foundation as lead funders. To date, Pacific Western Bank, Goodwill of Orange County and the Southern California Slow Money Network have committed to being event sponsors, and representatives from several of these organizations will serve as judges at the March 19th event.



SOURCE The Southern California Social Entrepreneurship Venture Challenge