01 October 2012
Fayetteville State University and UNC-Chapel Hill were the only two institutions among the 17 in the UNC system to have both of their teams make it to the final round of the UNC Social Business Conference competition held on Thursday, September 27th. The Social Business Conference was hosted by the UNC General Administration on the campus of North Carolina A&T State University. Each UNC institution was allowed two teams to compete and present their proposals on a social entrepreneurial business idea for a business that has one or more objectives that addresses societal needs. Thirty-one teams presented at the conference, resulting in 9 finalists who competed in the second round.
FSU’s two teams, BioWaste Energy and Fresh Starts Green Grocery, made the finals. The BioWaste Energy team won 2nd place and $1,500. North Carolina State University’s team won 1st place and $2,500, and UNC-Chapel Hill’s team won 3rd place and $1,000.
BioWaste Energy proposed a solution to the problem of environmental pollution of hog waste lagoons that often cause odors, health problems for nearby residents, and negatively affect land values for adjacent communities which many times are also low-wealth areas. With North Carolina being the 2ndlargest hog producing state in the U.S., this is a significant concern and the state legislature has placed a permanent moratorium on growth in hog farming until the pollution impact of waste lagoons can be mitigated. BioWaste Energy would be a social business solution to assist farmers in converting polluting gases from these lagoons to usable energy, while creating revenue for hog farmers who can convert these gases to an alternative energy in partnership with utility companies.
Fresh Starts Green Grocery, one of the nine finalists, proposed a full-service market offering locally grown produce and other healthy foods at affordable prices in the Southern Murchison Road community in Fayetteville, NC. By establishing such a social business, Fresh Starts would address three social problems—providing local farmers in a disadvantaged rural area of North Carolina with a retail outlet for their produce, affordable and healthy food to residents who do not live in close proximity to major grocery stores, and employment for formerly incarcerated persons who are reentering society in this community.
Mr. Greg McElveen, Assistant to the Dean in the FSU School of Business and Economics, led the BioWaste Energy team of students that included Jason Redinbo and Rina Ulrich, the presenters, and Christopher Darden, Patrik Kirsch, and Justin McLean. Dr. Melissa Barlow, professor in the Department of Criminal Justice, led the Fresh Starts Green Grocery team that included Richard Wall, the presenter, Kristian Cook, Luz Teresa Martinez, and Constance Woods.
President Thomas Ross of the UNC General Administration kicked off the event indicating its importance not only as an academic and learning experience, but because of the serious need for institutions of higher education to focus on social businesses that can and must improve the quality of life in the regions they serve. Professor Muhammad Yunus, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and world-renowned Bangladeshi banker and economist best known for his work in microcredit, was the keynote speaker.
Both FSU social business ideas were well-received by the 600 persons in attendance and particularly the judges who included CEOs, entrepreneurs, and a wide range of business and industry leaders.
FSU Chancellor James A. Anderson, who was in attendance, was very pleased with the student teams’ performances in the two rounds of competition, as well as with the social business topics selected, the extensive research conducted, and the work ethic and commitment of the students to continue to work during the summer months in preparation for this event.
“The outcome of this competition clearly demonstrates the outstanding students, faculty, staff, and academic programs we offer at Fayetteville State University. I am extremely proud of the two student teams and the support we received from our FSU Small Business Technology and Development Center who served as consultants to use. The extensive hours everyone put into the preparation for this competition was evident and paid off with our winning 2nd place and both team being finalists,” stated Chancellor Anderson. “We are going to continue to move forward on implementing these two social business entrepreneurial ideas.”
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