Students address global poverty

As the world’s top athletes departed the 21st Winter Olympics in Vancouver BC, a global competition of another kind was getting under way in Seattle – the sixth annual Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition (GSEC) at the University of Washington.

Held March 1-5, 2010, eleven student teams from Bangladesh, Canada, China, India, Rwanda, and the US arrived at UW to pitch business ideas that address issues of poverty and global health in the developing world. They competed for $21,000 in prize money.

Team’s plans were judged on three criteria: effect on the quality of life and poverty alleviation in the developing economies; financial sustainability; and feasibility of implementation.

Nuru Light received the $10,000 Microsoft Grand Prize. The pedal-powered LED lamp system offers a safe, clean alternative to kerosene as a light source in Rwanda and was a big hit the judges. The Nuru team consists of students from Adventist University of Central Africa and the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

The $5,000 UW Global Health First Prize went to TouchHb, an affordable, prick-less anemia scanner designed for use in rural India where the disorder is a major cause of maternal and infant mortality. The TouchHb scanner was created by two medical students from India’s Maharashtra University of Health Sciences.

GSEC was organized by the Global Business Center at the Foster School of Business with the support of Microsoft and the UW Department of Global Health.

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