Peanut Butter for Africa: A Story of Social Enterprise at McCombs
Are you aware UT Austin has launched a new publication called KNOW on the university home page? Last week KNOW posted this captivating new video featuring recent McCombs alum John Kidenda, BBA '09, and a team of business, engineering and biochemistry students who have proposed a social enterprise solution to malnutrition in the developing world. It got me thinking about the increasing interest in social enterprise among our students.
- John's team is called Nutty Solutions, and their business model uses the proceeds from the sale of gourmet, organic peanut butter to fund the production of RUTF (ready-to-use therapeutic food) for Africa and other developing economies. Their entry made it to the semi-finals in the Dell Social Innovation Competition.
- Nutty Solutions was recently contacted by a global charitable organization interested in implementing their model, and John is in D.C. this week meeting with them. Of social enterprise, he says, "My long-term goal has always been to be an entrepreneur, and when I discovered social entrepreneurship it was a natural fit for me. It's a new area and people are trying to figure it out, and I would love to be part of that."
- John attended McCombs with support from the RSC Foundation which strives to create opportunities for students from Africa to attend UT Austin. Their philosophy is to "pay it forward," and John Kidenda is clearly on that path.
- Other McCombs students are working on applying business principles to existing micro-enterprises in developing areas such as Panama. Maggie McCloud, BBA Marketing, reports that the Global Business Brigades worked in Rincon Claro last month helping farmers with marketing and bookkeeping practices, and they'll return in May 2010 to finish their work.
- I interviewed Doug Ulman, CEO and President of the Lance Armstrong Foundation for our VIP series last week. He objected to the term nonprofit. "Organizations that serve the social good are actually the only organizations where we all profit," he told students. - Kalin McKenna (right), MBA '11, one of our MBA bloggers, is participating in the MBA program's social enterprise concentration. Kalin believes social ventures are inherently more sustainable than nonprofit organizations, making them more scalable while broadening their impact. She is currently taking John Doggett's sustainability practicum.
- Last November a team of McCombs undergraduate students won the grand prize in the 2009 Net Impact Re-Source Challenge. The challenge asked students for innovative solutions to boost PET recycling rates on college campuses.
- Have you heard about the Student Consulting Initiative, or our accounting students who help low-income residents with their tax returns? I could go on and on about business students reaching out to facilitate social good, but I'll end with a question. Does this represent a new consciousness of the "triple bottom line," a true recognition of social responsibility as a business goal rather than just a feel-good sideline? I'd be interested in your feedback.