Students from Samford University's Brock School of Business won Fourth Place (Honorable Mention) and a $2,500 prize in an international social entrepreneurship competition sponsored by Texas Christian University's (TCU) Neeley School of Business, April 11-13. Teams from 28 universities around the world competed in TCU's annual Richards Barrentine Ventures and Values Business Plan Competition in Fort Worth, Texas.
"We are obviously delighted that our students competed so well within this international field," said Jeremy Thornton, Samford associate professor of economics. "We have worked hard to develop our social entrepreneurship program to one that trains our students to start and lead organizations that help fix some of the world's most challenging social problems. Being invited to and doing so well in this competition provides evidence that we are succeeding in this goal. The Brock School was the only team from Alabama and one of only four from the Southeast in this year's competition."
Daniel Denning, Olivia Dunn, Drew Fahrion, Ben Goolsby and Madison Kerns wrote a business plan for Work of Worth (WoW) under the supervision of Thornton, who also is social entrepreneurship program coordinator at the Brock School. Their business plan provided a road map for the organization and details about how to employ women in northeast India to recycle silk saris into thread, and spin it into luxury silk yarn. This skill would give jobs to women in rural villages as well as provide them with a living wage on which to live and survive. This program would help prevent the women from moving to cities where statistics show many would have to become prostitutes in order to survive. After building an operation in India, the company plans to expand to Rwanda, Uganda and Ukraine, where its managers have relationships with local entrepreneurs that would help the companies get started.
Denning, a senior at the Brock School from Marietta, Ga., summed up his experience saying, " I'm am very excited to be involved in making Work of Worth a reality. At this competition, we had the opportunity to present our business plan to CEOs from across the country and prove ourselves as capable of running a business that makes a social impact. I came to Samford wanting to learn how to use business to help those in need around the world. Now I'm graduating with a team of people, who are ready to use this business to do that."
The Brock School students placed first in their division, which also included Belmont University, Regis University, St. Mary's University and Erasmus University (Netherlands). Winners from each division and two highest ranked second place teams then competed in the finals. Other finalists included the University of Arkansas, University of Houston, Monterrey Institute of Technology (Mexico), TCU, Appalachian State University and George Washington University.
"The students did an incredible job developing and presenting the business plan," said Barry Morehead, founder of Work of Worth, who attended the competition. "They developed innovative ideas for the business and a detailed plan to help guide its development. Watching the Brock School students and those from the other universities present their business ideas in this competition inspires hope that our college students are developing the skills to make the world a better place."